5 Favorite Fall Posts…so far

Happy Friday! I’m still in celebration mode this week as the blog just turned three years old. It’s crazy how this little baby keeps truckin’ along and making new friends.

By the way, if you haven’t already, be sure to enter your name in the Blogiversary Book Bundle Giveaway valued at $80.

The drawing is tonight, so get the details here!

As I’ve looked back at some of my favorite posts, I realize I really do love fall most of all. <3

I thought it would be fun to share my top five fall posts (in no particular order). >>

{ONE} DIY Pumpkin Seed Flowers

This was a fun post to write, because it involved getting creative with my leftover pumpkin seeds from our Halloween jack-o-lanterns.

If you’re carving up some gourds soon, be sure to check out this super simple idea.

The post also includes ideas for what to do with your flowers once they’re made – like napkin ring holders for your Thanksgiving table or even pretty Christmas ornaments. #crafty

{TWO} Fall Up Your Home

This post was written when the temps were finally dipping, and it really started feeling like fall around here in Northwest Arkansas.

I wanted to spruce up the house with some fall flair, but didn’t want to spend tons of money or time doing it. So I found five key places around the house that would instantly transition the home into a warm and cozy spot. Check it out.

{THREE} Inspiration for a Fall Garden

The cool air not only nudges us into sweaters and cozy throws, but also also inspires us to freshen up the garden.

I usually change up the color scheme of my flowers from summery pinks to cooler purples. And as I was searching for ideas for my front porch, I rounded up five of my favorite planters. >

{FOUR} Fall Chore Checklist

Okay, so the idea of “chores” isn’t the most exciting, but it must be done. I wanted to simplify the whole process (and even delegate a few things to my sweet husband and kids), so I decided to make a checklist for us.

To this day, I still refer to this handy PDF. Feel free to print a copy for your fridge and check out the full post here.

{FIVE} Halloween Treats!

While I’m not a food blogger (by any means), I still like to share some recipes from time-to-time.

This special Halloween post includes my all time favorite pumpkin-shaped cheeseball recipe. >

It also features these sweet cinnamon bat pita chips that I serve with fruit salsa.

Mmmm. I can’t wait to make all of these recipes again. There won’t be any tricks at this Halloween party, just plenty o’ treats!!

That’s a wrap! Have a terrific weekend, dear friends. And seriously, enter to win this amazing book bundle!!

The winner will be announced on Saturday here on the blog, as well as on Facebook (so make sure you “like” and follow The Neat Nook!)

Many blessings,

Kate

PS. I’m linking up with all of these fantastic bloggers again this week. Be sure to check them out. >>

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share

3rd Blogiversary + Book Bundle Giveaway!

Hello, dear friends! I’m super excited today because it’s not only lucky Friday the 13th, but also the 3rd blogiversary of The Neat Nook. Threeee years!!!

This is my all-time favorite creative project. And at the same time, I can’t believe I’ve kept up the discipline (some months better than others, I’ll admit) and the courage to keep writing and sharing. This has become a sacred a spot where I can be myself, explore new topics, dig into projects, share a few perspectives, and even journal about my family from time-to-time. I’m terrible at filling scrapbooks, so some of my posts serve this double purpose.

I love that you’re here right now and thank you for reading. Hopefully you’ve been inspired at some point along the way. I’ve certainly learned a lot over the past three years and know there’s still plenty of room to grow. My hope is that we continue to cheer each other on and learn together. I encourage you to leave comments when you can, and introduce yourself so I can get to know you better!

And just for being here today, whether you’re new or a long-time Neat Nooker, I’m offering a special giveaway:

It’s a Blogiversary Book Bundle with FIVE amazing titles that will go to ONE lucky reader. It’s valued at $80. Each book was handpicked with a focus on five topics I love to talk about on the blog.

{ONE} Creativity

You may remember my recent post about “unleashing curiosity” that was inspired by this book. Well, I think my favorite synopsis might be by Daily Beast: “Big Magic will resonate with writers and artists who find the process of producing work to be particularly painful…Through anecdotes about her creative failures and resourcefulness, as well as those other artists, Gilbert encourages readers to pursue a creative life ‘that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” Let this book be your muse!

{TWO} Organization

This “Do It All Planner” is beautiful – and designed to keep you on track in 2018. It includes monthly and weekly planning pages, tear-off shopping and to-do lists, inspirational quotes and 300 stickers to keep you all sorted out!

{THREE} Inspiration

Ok, y’all. I listened to the audiobook version of this on my way home from the beach this summer and was astounded by how much truth Jen Sincero packed into these pages. You Are A Badass is described as “…an entertaining how-to guide of hilarious stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you identify and change self-sabotaging beliefs that stop you from getting what you want, and create a life you totally love.” You won’t be the same when you put this book down.

{FOUR} Simplicity

As you may know, I recently discovered the Swedish philosophy of Lagom (the art of a balanced life.) So I was super excited to see this new release in Barnes & Noble. Consider it a primer on how to introduce Lagom to your personal life, relationships and broader world. A lovely little read that would also be sweet on your coffee table.

{FIVE} Relaxation & Fun

This book is called Peaceful Dot-to-Dot, which is full of thoughtfully constructed illustrations designed to help you find a sense of peace. Think of it like those adult coloring books that help you get into a meditative state by chilln’ with your colored pencils. This amazing book has more than 150 images waiting for you to reveal them – one dot at a time. This might be my new jam.

There are multiple ways to enter, so be sure to check ’em out below. The drawing will be held next Friday night, that’s October 20, 2017 at 10:00 pm CST. Open to all U.S. and Canadian residents.

Good luck and many blessings to you!

-Kate

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PS. I’m linking up with all of these fantastic bloggers again this week. Be sure to check them out.

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share

5 Things We Can Do When The World Feels Crazy

I don’t typically post about things like this, but it’s hard not to be affected by the state of our country right now.

We just had the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, Puerto Rico is in ruins, and Houston is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey…among so many other situations around us.

The fear, anger, and desperation can feel overwhelming. How do we even begin to process and even make sense of it all?

Like many of you, I want to do something. So I opened my computer and pulled out my planner, (because that’s what I do), and I made a list of how I can help. How any of us can help, really.

The list is small by comparison, and I know it won’t completely fix our crazy world, but at least it’s progress. And I’ll take that over complacency any day.

{ONE} Give of ourselves

We can do this quite literally. Blood donations are needed now more than ever in Las Vegas. You can go to www.redcross.org and click on “donate blood.” Type in your zip code to see donation sites closest to you.

There’s still a lot of need in Houston and Puerto Rico (and will be for quite some time). Maybe consider an ongoing donation to an established charity in those areas?

This list includes local Houston charities with boots on the ground and are providing some of the best support in the area.

Puerto Rico’s first lady, Beatriz Rossello, launched an emergency fund with help from private companies. United for Puerto Rico (Unidos Por Puerto Rico) lets you donate through PayPal or directly to its bank account.

Maybe you have a cause that’s closer to home or your heart? Find a way you can give of yourself. Volunteer your time, share your money, or round up much-needed supplies. Be a contributor.

{TWO} Stay open minded

I get mental fatigue sometimes scrolling through Facebook and Twitter and reading hateful posts from people who only care about their own opinion – and forcing it down everyone else’s feed.

Free speech isn’t a one-way right. It should be okay to disagree…have different thoughts about issues and intelligently work toward solving problems, but it seems like egos keep getting in the way of meaningful discussions.

I was enlightened by this article that was recently shared by a friend. Here’s an excerpt worth noting:

“…You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.”

(Love that last line.)

{THREE} Inform our kids, with guard rails

I think it’s important for kids to be smart about life. They need to know how to protect themselves from strangers, bullies, severe weather, and people with guns. So I talk to my kids about safety tips and even talk about what’s going on in our country – but not in too much detail.

I try not to let them watch the news, which is full of terribly graphic images. I don’t want to scare them into becoming hermits or doomsday preppers. We take the Skimm approach and talk through just the headlines.

This great article outlines how (and how much) we should inform our kids at various ages. I found it extremely helpful.

{FOUR} Watch what we consume

Heavy news can be hard for adults, too. It can be hard to avoid it, though, as it fills our social feeds. And we fall into the rhythms of checking statuses so often.

When we do give ourselves a break, we might sink into a Netflix series that’s a little more violent than we’d like, but the storyline is just so good. I get it. I’m in the same boat.

All of the content we consume adds up, though, like calories in our minds. How healthy are we, really? How much of what we’re consuming is good for us?

A few weeks ago I was feeling a little down in the dumps…for no apparent reason. As I was brushing my teeth before bed, I looked in the mirror and realized I was behaving like a character in a show I had been watching. A sad, lonely dude…and here I am a vibrant woman, mother of three, with plenty of people around me to love. It really made me stop and recalibrate what I’m feeding my mind.

We’re more affected by what we see than we realize.

I’m not going to bury my head in the sand about current events, but when I’m given a choice between a murder mystery or a funny episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, I think I’m going to let myself laugh for a bit.

{FIVE} Pray for everyone involved

There are plenty of people offering their prayers right now – politicians included. And I truly hope everyone treats this word as a verb, not a noun that can be tossed about for the sake of niceties.

Prayer is powerful and necessary.

And regardless of your religion, if you believe in a higher power, now is the time (more than ever) to actively pray and ask for healing, understanding, and peace to wash over us. To help us see what’s truly going on and what’s needed from us to correct course.

I’d love to know what you think about all of this. And maybe share what your families, friends or co-workers are doing for others? There’s plenty of room in my day planner to add ideas 😉 

Many blessings, my sweet friends.

-Kate

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share

Looking for a Life of “Lagom”

The word lagom (pronounced: laaw-gum) is a Swedish twist on minimalism, and it translates to “just enough.”

I read about this philosophy in a recent Skimm update and was super intrigued. We live in a world of wild contrasts. We spend too much time with our phones, iPads, and Netflix, and at the same time are encouraged to reduce things from our diets and simplify our workouts and schedules. So it makes sense the idea of lagom hits home with so many of us.

It’s a way of life that strives to be in constant and steady moderation. So essentially, you can have your cake and eat it too, as long as it’s a reasonable bite.

Fascinated by this idea, I decided to assess my home and see where I could use a little lagom makeover. Where were areas of excess and stress?

Well, I found five specific places. Here’s where they are – along with inspirational pictures of what I hope to accomplish.

 {ONE} My Closet 

Doesn’t looking at this picture make you feel so calm and happy? I strive for a closet that’s this simple – and downright pretty.

Problem: I keep too much variety in my closet at any given time. I have at least three different pant sizes going on: aspirational, just right, and PMS/holiday. And I let the seasons overlap too far, as in wool scarves and bathing suits. I also hang on to things that I don’t totally love, but they fit. So, eh, I’ll keep ’em.

Plan: Get real about my size, what feels good, and what I really love wearing – then donate the rest. I’ll take my nicer things to our local Dress for Success location to help women who are truly trying to better their lives. The rest can be shared with friends or donated to other local shelters.

I’ll also be smarter about how I divide and organize the clothes I want to keep. For example, I’ll sort fall/winter and spring/summer and only have one set in the closet at all times. The clothes not in my closet will go in clear, labeled bins and stored the attic.

Also, I think having matching hangers and grouping clothes by similar colors will make me feel like I’m going shopping every time I open my closet door!

{TWO} The Pantry

As a mom who feeds three square meals a day (plus snacks) to five hungry mouths, the pantry can get a little crazytown. Everyone has their own favorite foods, and I like to plan ahead for at least a week’s worth of meals, so that = a lot of pantry items. What’s a momma to do??

Problem: My pantry always feels like it’s crammed with stuff, and I’m not even a doomsday prepper. I keep a reasonable amount of food. I think the problem is that I don’t have the right kind of storage solutions to fit the space. For example, my pantry shelves are really deep, so I can’t reach the very back of the space.

Plan: Invest in sliding baskets so I can easily store and reach items in the entire space. I will also group like items, such as all of the canned goods together on a shelf and all of the lunch items (chips, granola bars, etc.) together in a basket.

I do have some room to reduce the amount of items. The next time I plan meals, I’ll start with what’s already in the pantry and just add what’s needed to round out the meal. That way I can finally use up the extra wide egg noodles that keep looking at me every time I grab my morning cereal.

{THREE} Bathroom Closet

Bathroom storage can be a hot button for many of us. For starters, we rarely have enough room to begin with. Where are we supposed to put all of the towels, linens, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and sometimes even our makeup and hairstyling tools? Serenity now!

Problem: Space. I have a small closet in the bathroom that’s trying too hard. Poor thing.

Plan: Spread the love. I can put spare toilet paper in our laundry room (where there’s more vertical storage) and the cleaning supplies can go in a caddy under the kitchen sink. In fact, I could probably stand to reduce a few cleaning solutions.

The things that are left in the closet, such as towels, linens and some lotions, I’ll do a better job organizing and labeling. Ahh. I feel better already just saying that.

{FOUR} The Bookshelves

I love books. With my whole heart. Real ones, too, that you can hold and turn page by page. The side effect of this passion, though, is having piles of books teetering on shelves.

Problem: Thinking I’ll read all of these books again, or that my kids will want to read them one day. #nope

Plan: Give myself a set number to keep. And a realistic number that allows room for other interesting objects on the shelf, like a beautiful shell we found on our recent trip to the beach or the cool beer stein I brought home from my girls’ trip to Germany years ago.

Then I’ll donate the rest of the books to the library so I can feel good releasing them into the wild – where others can be inspired or learn from them.

{FIVE} Craft Supplies

Craft supplies. My love language. Even my family knows it. There’s a spot in my garage we call “mom’s craft corner.” It’s my mini Hobby Lobby that continues to grow – and get a little out of hand from time to time.

Problem: I tend to keep every scrap of pretty wrapping paper, ribbon, and fabric swatch. And since I don’t have a specific craft hobby, I’ve collected a large variety of items.

Plan: Toss anything that has been cluttering my space for more than two years. I mean, if I haven’t used those pink glitter pipe cleaners by now…I can donate to the art department at my kids’ school.

Everything else that’s left will go in clear plastic bins that are clearly labeled by type. For example, all of the ribbon will go in a “ribbon” bin and my scrapbook scissors and punches can go in a “paper tools” bin. Sounds reasonable, anyway. I also love the idea of pegboard storage. So I foresee a project in my future!

Wish me luck as I dive into this whole idea of simplified living. Here’s to beautifully simple weekend ahead!

XoXoXo,

Kate

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share

Back from the Beach & into the Blog

Hello, lovelies. I’ve missed you and am excited to be back on the blog.

I had a fantastic trip with the family (many weeks ago) and had to jump right back into the real world the moment we got home. School, soccer and work all came calling…at once.

Coming to this space and writing on the blog gives me a lot of joy. So, I’m happy to carve out this moment to sit in front of the computer – and not for a work assignment!

As we dive back in, I thought I’d share a few things we’ve been up to in the Andersen house these past few weeks:

{ONE} Creating fresh starts

My twin girls are in middle school this year, which completely blows my mind. Top that off with my son starting 9th grade, and I plunge into denial. They’re still babies, right?! Just a little taller and several shoe sizes bigger than me. >>

{Um…he’s not even standing on anything – other than his own two feet!}

In my effort to slow time, I decided to spend more of it focused on my kids…getting ready for new schools, different experiences and deeper friendships.

For my girls, it also meant getting ready for a locker. (Another “first” for the books.) As you can imagine, we had a blast cruising the aisles of Hob Lob looking for everything and anything to glue to magnets.

Here are a few of our favorite projects >>

Project 1: We decorated a round mirror with folds of ribbon. Upper left shows the finished product. Upper right shows the supplies: mirror, ribbon, magnets (not pictured are glue gun and felt). Lower left shows how I looped and glued the ribbon. Lower right shows the back. I used felt to soften the edges of the ribbon.

Project 2: We found small aluminum letters and just glued magnets to the back. A super simple way to personalize a locker!

Project 3: Another easy one. We found these darling metal flowers in the jewelry section of Hob Lob and just hot-glued small magnets to the backs. We went back for more of these little pretties.

Project 4: This is a small craft supply tin with a clear lid. We took a magnet sheet (available at Hob Lob) and cut it to fit the entire bottom of the container. Then the girls filled them with mints so they can freshen their breath between classes!

Project 5: We found these clothespins already decorated, but we decided we could also make more using washi tape. Then we glued magnet strips to the back to make them locker ready!

This magnet (and the one below) were purchased “as is”. We found them on our way back from the beach. There was this darling pecan farm that also had a gift shop and deli. We stopped for treats and couldn’t pass these up.

Aren’t these great messages to greet the girls every time they open their lockers?

Yes they are!!

{TWO} Spreading kindness through rocks

Speaking of rocking, kindness rocks are still on my agenda of life. The girls and I recently made a new batch and plan to keep making more this fall. Yay!

I painted all of the rocks a base color (using acrylic paint) and the girls decorated with designs and messages (using fine tip paint pens). I loved how this one turned out.

Avery had fun turning a few of them into critters.

Clara worked on this one. I love her twin popsicles.

PS. I love that this trend continues to grow across the country. I hope you’ll give it a try, if you haven’t already!

{THREE} Making not-to-do lists

{affiliate}

I was inspired by my Day Designer to create a list of things NOT to do. How liberating is that?

We’re encouraged to fill this list with things we would be better off eliminating from our daily routine. Things that have turned to habits that prevent us from accomplishing our to-dos and deplete our time and energy and affect our happiness and success. Not-to-do lists help us be more productive because…

“What you don’t do determines what you can do.”

For example, my not-to-do list includes:

  • Check email before coffee in the morning
  • Sit for longer than 30 min at a time (this is a thing, y’all!)
  • Focus on my mistakes

What would yours include?

{FOUR} Chillin’ with my furry babies

Even through all of the busyness, I still make time to hang out with our pets. It’s so amazing how calming they are.

Rosie is our resident chubby bunny. We’ve had her for about five years now.

Leo is our two-yr-old mini Goldendoodle who looks like a forever puppy, because he’s a mini. He’s full of kisses – and energy!

{FIVE} Decorating for fall

Today is the first official day of fall! While I haven’t gone into full pumpkin mode just yet, I’ve started the transition into fall around the house.

Like on the front door. I pulled out my chalkboard sign, which is the perfect way to handle in-between seasons. The style doesn’t have to change, just update your message! >>

I’m excited to have some time next week to decorate the inside of the house – and maybe even get it smelling like the season.

I’m a fan of this cranberry woods candle because it’s not too sweet. I’m taking suggestions for a new fall fragrance this year. What’s your favorite?!

I hope you have a fantastic fall weekend. Excited to see you back next week.

Blessings,

-Kate

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share

Friday Wrap: Sunny Summer Fun, So Far

{shop this darling print here!}

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted family pics and shared a little about what we’ve been up to (other than painting kindness rocks…my girls and I are super into this right now, btw!!)

With 4th of July literally around the corner of this weekend, I had a flash of realization that we’re already at the halfway mark of summer. Dang, sisters. That happened fast.

We haven’t had our big beach trip just yet, but we’ve made the most of our days so far. A few highlights >>

{ONE} Serious Soccer & Wolfpack Wednesdays

My son and his soccer team placed first in the the state of Arkansas for his age group, which means they qualified for regionals in North Carolina last week. They practiced such long hours and played their hearts out. In the end, they didn’t advance to finals, but we were so proud of their accomplishments.

I love this picture my husband took of the team before their first game of the tournament. #praybeforeplay

Evan and his teammates were excited for opening ceremonies. Each player received nice shirts and lots of soccer swag before the “show.”

Between soccer practices, Evan and his friends made time for driveway hoops.

We extended an open invitation every Wednesday night for the boys to come over and play basketball. We just fill the outdoor fridge with Gatorade and let them do their thing. Their team is called the Wolfpack, so “Wolfpack Wednesdays” kinda stuck. I think this tradition will, too.

{TWO} Puppy Playtime

Our mini goldendoodle, Leo, recently turned two years old!! We had a puppy birthday party for him that included his “cousin” Frito. His hat and treats all came from Three Dog Bakery. That place is the cutest.

In other puppy news…we’ve been dog sitting for a friend of ours over the past two weeks. The dog’s name is Rocky, and we’ve had fun coming up with all kinds of nicknames for this sweet boy…Rocky Road, Rocky Balboa, Rocky Mountain High, etc.

As you can tell from this picture, Leo kinda likes having Rocky around. He puts his paw on his back when we watch TV. Srsly the best. He’s gonna be sad when his friend has to go back home.

Here’s a glamour shot of our little friend. Haha!

{THREE} Lots of Swim Time

My family called me “fish” growing up because I swam so much. It’s no exaggeration to say that every day in the summer I was either in a pool splashing around, beside a pool catching some rays, or watching over a pool as a lifeguard as I got older. I loved (and still love) the water.

It’s super cute to see my girls following in my wet footsteps. They had their first swim meet of the season a few weeks ago and these Ducks rocked it.

Swimming isn’t just about competition. We love to close down our neighborhood pool each night with friends! Summer memories right there.

{FOUR} Cheerin’ & Chillin’ 

My girls decided to try some new things this summer, too. So…

Clara just started a cheer and tumbling class. Totally out of the blue for her, since she’s never taken any sort of gymnastics. She barely knew how to do a cartwheel when she started. One week later, she’s doing backbends and attempting back handsprings. I love her adventurous spirit.

While Clara was flipping around, Avery decided to chill at home and do other things, like swing in the hammock, watch hummingbirds (yes, a hummingbird perched and drank from the feeder while Avery talked to it!!), and read her book club book. A little quiet time away from her twin is perfectly acceptable.

She plans to start tennis in the near future. So more on that later!

Speaking of book club books…a mom in our neighborhood started a cool group for girls entering 6th grade next year. She picked The Giver as their first book, and they’ve all been reading and discussing the book once a week.

This picture was from their first meeting at Freddy’s. The frozen custard afterward definitely sealed the deal. The girls were hooked – and have been reading more this summer than any other that I can remember!

{FIVE} 70’s Style Bowling & Outdoor Concerts

The kids shouldn’t have all of the summer fun, right?! Brandon had a hilarious 70s-style bowling party with his work friends a few weeks ago. They were celebrating a co-worker’s birthday…in Big Lebowski fashion.

Brandon is in the middle with his Star Wars tee tucked into those sexy polyester, baby-blue trousers.


Aaand I managed to squeeze in a girls night out! (Mama’s get to party, too.)

We went to the Elle King concert at the Walmart AMP, which is a beautiful outdoor amphitheater here in Northwest Arkansas.

(The guy in the photo is the husband of my friend, Jen. He was veeery brave to hang with us that night. Haha!)

Elle King has such a soulful, powerful voice. I went to the concert only knowing two of her songs and left loving many more.

That’s a wrap for now!

We’re heading to Indian Hollow this weekend for some fireworks and family time. We head to the beach at the end of July, so we’ll keep doing all of the above until that time. And I’ll keep on postin’.

XOXO,

Kate

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share

Five Beautiful Wedding & Anniversary Gifts

Hey, friends! For my weekly list of fun things to share, I wanted to dive into some gift ideas for weddings and anniversaries. June is the month for weddings, so you might be looking for some creative ideas.

Here are a few for us to consider!

{ONE} Pretty Address Book

If someone very dear to you has just gotten engaged, an address book would be perfect for a shower or early wedding gift. Here are two of my favorite finds:

{This book @ erin condren is so pretty – and it can be personalized!)

{This one is via Rifle Paper Co. – one of my favorite brands and has a cloth book cover with gold foil detailing and a ribbon page marker.}

{This is the inside cover of the address book above. Such pretty details.}

Any bride-to-be would love receiving a beautiful book that has been pre-filled with names and addresses of their family and friends.

They’ll be sending save-the-dates, invitations to showers and the big day, and then following up with handwritten thank you notes. So having addresses organized and handy is such a thoughtful gift. You could even tuck in a few “love” stamps as an added bonus.

P.S. This would also make a great gift for a high school graduate. My sister-in-law, Lisa, plans to do this for my niece when she heads off to college in the fall. In fact, she’s the one who gave me this idea in the first place!!

{TWO} Memory Keeper

Not to be confused with a high school trapper keeper, this memory book is a gorgeous place to record details of each anniversary from the first year all the way through the 60th. Details include writing prompts such as: how we celebrated our anniversary, our favorite things at the moment, memorable moments from the year and what we’re looking forward to.

My parents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary next summer, and I was just thinking how cool it would be to read something like this…to see how their relationship grew and evolved over the years. They’re such an inspiration to me.

{THREE} Wedding Flowers

Fresh flowers are always a good idea when it comes to gifting. And if you can recreate the same wedding bouquet as an anniversary gift, that’s even better!!

Back to my parents for a sec…my dad loves giving yellow roses to my mom because that’s what she carried in their wedding. Isn’t that sweet?

{FOUR} Registry Leftovers

Many retailers keep wedding registries active for up to a year after a couple gets married, so you could shop for anything left on their list as an anniversary gift!

At the very least, you could double-check their china pattern or towel colors so you can coordinate a gift to match their home.

{FIVE} Save the Date

If you’re feelin’ up to a DIY project, you could tackle this super thoughtful idea. It’s a pillow that includes a copy of a marriage license. These instructions show you how to enlarge and transfer the image to the fabric. You could do this with a wedding invitation, too.

Another way to set the date in stone (or wood in this case) is to paint it on a rustic sign. This cute design includes the couple’s initials and wedding date. <3

That’s a wrap! I hope this gives you some fun ideas to think about this wedding season. Tomorrow I’m sharing a super easy recipe (and really cool jar) for homemade bug spray. Yes, it’s also that time of year. Sigh. We can manage, though, and smell good while we’re at it. See you back soon!

Blessings,

Kate

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share

What to Do on a Summer Crafternoon?

Let’s start with the basics…

Haha! I love digging into a project of any shape or size. When I’m able to keep my hands busy…tied up with ribbons, pens, glue or string…it’s usually a happy day around here.

Now that summer is upon us, my girls and I decided to pull together a go-to list of projects. These have all been “Avery & Clara approved”, so…

If you have tweens in your life, they might like these projects, too!! >

{ONE} Play with rocks

The great thing about this project is that it requires you to spend time outside collecting the perfect set of rocks before you begin. Then you get to play inside (or on a cool porch) with crochet needles, ink pens or paints.

For instance, look at this first set of stones! I would love a bowl full of these beauties in my house. Each one is covered in a different crochet pattern, and takes on a personality all its own.

If this seems too tricky, you could skip to the next idea and just treat yourself to beautifully crocheted pebbles here!

Next up is an idea that just requires a Sharpie or ink pen.

As a tip, you might want to pencil-in your design first. That way you can plan out a more intricate pattern like the ones pictured below.

PS. I love the one with white ink on the dark grey stone. So pretty.

If you’re more in the mood for painting, here’s some inspiration: Paint one of your favorite quotes and add a few floral touches.

Wouldn’t this be sweet sitting on a coffee table or desk?

{TWO} Crochet cute animals

Have you seen the trend of these teensy-tiny crocheted animals?! I’ve recently learned the correct name is amigurumi, which is a Japanese word. You can learn more about the origin of these darling yarn creations here.

In the meantime, let’s look at a few designs that my girls are dying to try – like these starfish!

I can just picture us crocheting a few of these sitting beachside. >

I’m becoming obsessed with hedgehogs these days. When I saw this pattern, my heart melted a little bit. >

And what’s cuter than one saddleback seal with her furry white coat? Two…a mama and her precious babe. I mean, those eyes. >

{THREE} Build a fairy garden

Most of the projects so far could turn into full-on hobbies, including this one.

Building fairy gardens is a never ending experience because they’re living projects. They continue to grow and change right before your very eyes.

There are so many ideas out there, too! You could create new fairy spaces all of the time. In fact, here’s further inspiration…

This post shows one of the earlier gardens that my girls and I made together. You’ll get tips on what kind of flowers to plant, too.

This is a more recent post that was inspired by a trip to my local garden store where I spied several darling gardens. The one pictured above is included in this post.

I’ve also collected tons of ideas on this board. Feel free to hop over!

{FOUR} Color a card & keep in touch with friends

If you’re into adult coloring books, which are very meditative, then you’ll love this idea.

Turn your drawings into greeting cards. Cut out your favorite pattern and glue to the front of a plain card. That way you can share your pics + keep in touch with friends while you’re away on a summer adventure.

It’s an easy project to take on the road, too.

I recently spotted these playful postcards you could color, tear out and send right out of the book. >

{FIVE} Learn brush lettering (finally)

As a lefty, the idea of calligraphy sounds impossible. The ink doesn’t dry fast enough between letters to keep the entire page (and your hand) clear of smears. I’ve tried many times. A dear friend of mine even bought me a gorgeous quill with a small bottle of ink, and it turned into a sad mess.

But nowadays, it seems like there are more convenient options to choose from. Even some of the fancy brush pens dry fairly quickly. I think it’s time I re-attempt this much-loved look. Don’t you?! 🙂

There are lots of tutorials on this topic, and I found this one to be especially helpful.

And as a further nudge, I found several pretty ways to display and share all of the hard work. >

Clip it on a bulletin board or drop it in the mail as a greeting card.

Write out a funny quote like this one and frame it for your office or kitchen.

Write out your “word of the year” or a phrase that makes you feel strong and then take a picture of it. Select it as the screensaver on your phone or computer for a daily dose of motivation.

If you want to get really artsy, put your lettering on a small canvas and prop it up on a plate stand. You can display it on your dresser or in your living room – wherever you want to see your special “note to self.”

I’m just now getting into bible journaling, so my hand lettering skills will definitely come in handy for this new hobby.

Look how pretty these letters are with the gradient colors.

Alright, friends, that’s a wrap for now. If you need me, I’ll be cruizin’ and droolin’ through the craft store aisles. Lol. Have a fun summer and let me know what kind of projects are on your list!

Blessings,

Kate

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

P.S. For hundreds (literally) of additional ideas for summer fun, check out these lists!

Share

All the Peonies, Please!

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Haha!

Peonies have been a love of mine since the first time I saw and smelled their sweet layers of petals.

I’m pretty sure the nuns at St. Patrick’s had a few bushes next to their front porch. I would have been in grade school at the time, and the nuns lived in a small house nudged between the school and church. They had a modest garden right outside of their house. I seem to recall peonies, but I didn’t know what they were called at the time.

In college, during my days of unpacking and labeling flowers at the floral shop where I worked, I came across several bunches of peonies. The fragrance brought back memories of walking between buildings on the St. Patrick campus.

Lilacs and honeysuckles can bring me back to childhood, too. Summers in our southern neighborhood were always filled with warm, sugary air.

While peonies are reminiscent of my younger days, they carry specific meaning for others. >

Outside of how to pronounce the name, I didn’t know any of that!

After doing a bit more digging about my favorite flower, I came up with five reasons why I’m so obsessed with peonies!! >

{ONE} They represent good luck & love

There are many sources (Greek, Chinese, and even our Western culture) that describe various meanings of peonies. What I found was that they universally stand for love (romance, happy marriage, affection) and good luck (good fortune and wealth).

Both are good things to have in life, so it’s no wonder so many brides (and apparently celebs like Drew Barrymore and Hillary Duff) love to include them in their bouquets.

PS. Peonies are also known as the 12th wedding anniversary flower, so tuck that piece of knowledge away for a gift idea!

{TWO} They’re a springtime special

Spring is one of my favorite seasons. And early April showers bring these May-June flowers to life in most parts of the country. That means you should be able to find them at your local farmer’s market right about now. Yay!

Or if you’re super lucky, you’ll have them growing in your own backyard. Btw, if you’re thinking about planting them, it’s totally worth the investment. One bush can bloom as long as 100 years! You can pass them along to your precious grand babies.

{THREE} They’re perfect in arrangements 

Just like that rockin’ statement necklace that completes your outfit, peonies can add a bold splash to an arrangement. Blooms can grow up to 10 inches, depending on the variety. Bam.

And they’re easy to work into pretty much any color palette since they come in shades of red, pink, coral, white and yellow. Apparently they don’t come in blue, but you could tuck in a few other flowers to add a blue or purple punch.

I love the arrangement above. They used ranunculus (another top five, most favorite flower ever) and wispy greens (that remind me of seeded eucalyptus) to surround two bright pink peonies. Doesn’t it look like a fresh-picked, country-garden bouquet?

Okay, and before we move on, I have to show you this arrangement above. Look how they included succulents and hydrangea in this darling bundle. I honestly can’t tell if they’re real?! Regardless, it’s simply gorg.

 {FOUR} They can be healing

In addition to simply making me happy, I discovered peonies can actually make you feel better. In ancient times, peonies were used to relieve headaches and help with asthma. A quick search on WebMD lists even more uses and benefits – like cramps. #thankyouverymuch

The suggested method is to use the dried root and boil it like a tea. I’m no nurse, so definitely check things out with your doctor first. It does sound fascinating, though.

{FIVE} They’re just so darn pretty with their layers of loveliness

While my preference is to enjoy peony blooms in person – like these stunning beauties from Pigmint that I received on Mother’s Day…

…I even love looking at pictures.

Take a scroll with me down this virtual walkway of flowers that are pretty enough to print and frame for your house.

Seriously, y’all. >>

Okay, now for the grand finale, because those are always the best. Here’s a glossary of peonies to help guide us in our shopping.

That’s a wrap, my friends. May your weekend be a bowl of fun with extra peonies on top. Yum!

Many blessings,

Kate

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share

Friday Wrap: Happy Moments

Hello, my friends! I was a little quiet on the blog last week because I was busy celebrating with my sweet family. We had graduations, baptisms, birthdays and even a surprise visit from my sister who lives in Nebraska!! My goodness, my heart was bursting with happiness.

So for a more personal entry, here are a few highlights from my short time away. >>

{ONE} All of us – sitting still!

I honestly can’t remember the last picture I took with all three of my kiddos. Maybe last summer when we went to Mount Rushmore?!

I don’t even think we got one on the first day of school this year. Evan had to leave so early, and the girls were still rolling out of bed. Story of our life.

Anyway, this picture took place on Mother’s Day. Everyone was chillin’ on the porch while Brandon was grilling his family-famous chicken. I announced that I wanted one more gift…a picture with my too-grown-up-to-be-called-babies-but-I-still-do, babies!!

They were kind to oblige, and we all snuggled in to capture this moment. (Can you believe my 14yo son is taller than me – even when sitting?)

This lovely scene was followed by this moment below…with our furry toddler, Leo. (Clara’s face still make me laugh. He had just licked her entire left cheek.)

{TWO} Graduations and inductions

Avery & Clara are officially out of elementary school. It really happened. They’re off to middle school next year, and while I’m a little sad about them growing up so fast, there’s some joy mixed in because I can see what lovely girls they’re becoming.

I’m also a tad proud (okay, gushing with pride) as they received a President’s Education Award during their “graduation” ceremony at school. It represents not only their hard work in school, but also their upstanding character. It’s so affirming to have others see the potential in your child, too. While they’re not necessarily straight-A students, they have so much greatness to offer.

Evan had his moment to shine this week, as well. He was inducted into the Junior National Honor Society. And yes, he’s my kid. Haha. I’m super proud of him and all of the effort he puts into school and pretty much anything he’s involved in.

As a typical teen, he didn’t want any pictures with his award or anywhere near his school. When we took him to his favorite restaurant for dessert after the ceremony, I was able to sneak this cute pic with his sisters.

In addition to all of the excitement with my kids, one of my nieces graduated from high school!! Maggie is such a beautiful and extremely creative and talented girl. I can’t wait to see where life takes her. We had a lovely day (filled with lots of family) celebrating her accomplishments.

{THREE} Birthday for Papa

We celebrated another birthday for my darling dad (Papa Joe). His birthday happens around Mother’s Day each year, and he’s so kind to let my mom take center stage. We didn’t totally let him off the hook, though. We showered him with love – and some special “Papa-corn” from Hill City Popcorn. 🙂

I’m bummed I didn’t get a picture of him. We were too busy giving hugs, I guess. Here’s a sweet picture of him from another time, though.

{FOUR} Soccer wins

Evan’s soccer team has been on a roll this year. They either won or tied all of their games, and they competed in the state championships last weekend…and won! This means they advance to regionals in North Carolina toward the end of June. Yay, Comets!!!

This will be the first time Evan has qualified for regionals, so it’s a big deal for him. We’re all so excited – and trying not to embarrass him with the happy tears. #sorrynotsorry

Evan is the first player on the right (next to his coach).

{FIVE} Peonies that lasted, and lasted

Fresh flowers are the path to this mama’s heart and soul, and my family knows me well. They brought home a fresh bouquet (including peonies!!) from my favorite shop on Mother’s Day, and they lasted for nearly two weeks. I literally just tossed them out, y’all. That’s why I’m still talking about them!!

Right when these beauties got home I took a picture (because it lasts longer) and now I can share them with you. Enjoy! Feel free to download it, share it or just soak in the prettiness. 🙂

That’s a wrap. Thanks for letting me share a few family memories. Here’s to a lovely weekend ahead for everyone!

Blessings,

Kate

friday-favorites-01-1h54f2_zpsc7e1f4e7-2

Share