Winner of the Blogiversary Book Bundle Giveaway!

I’m happy to announce we have a winner! Jamie Bronis at The Bronis Family Blog has won the drawing for the Blogiversary Book Bundle valued at $80. Congrats, Jamie!! All of these awesome books are headed your way. >

It sounds like Jamie is most excited to read You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. And I can’t wait for her to dig into this book and get inspired to do some awesome, badass things!

Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing and keep supporting the blog with your visits, comments and shares. You keep me inspired to write and I love you all to pieces.

I know it’s fun to have giveaways from time-to-time, so I’ll keep looking for opportunities to share discounts, deals and free stuff to help us all live a creative life in this messy world.

For now, have an amazing weekend, and I’ll see you next week with some Halloween-inspired posts.

Blessings,

Kate

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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. >>

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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

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

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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. 😉

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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!

-Kate

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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.

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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 >>

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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 >>

mini-pumpkin-pie

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.

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{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.

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

XoXoXo,

-Kate

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

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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!!

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Much love,

Kate

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Five Highlights from 2015

As we ring in the new year, open our fresh planners, and start pushing ahead with new goals and aspirations, I decided to take a quick minute to reflect on what a blessing this year has been.

Of course it wasn’t all blissful, as I lost a friend, experienced ups and downs with work, and searched for ways to balance life with three tweens. But between the tears, questions, and touches of sass, there were some pretty special moments. In fact, here are five pretty incredible things about this past year.

{ONE} Getting our puppy, Leo

sleepy puppy

This bundle of Goldendoodle fur became an Andersen this fall. Leo Heath Andersen is his official name. His special talents include walking upright on his back legs – like a person – and finding all of our favorite socks to use as chew toys. He really is a doll, and we’ve loved getting to know him and adjusting our lives to include his sweet self.

rosie at the office

We think Rosie the Rabbit feels the same way. They don’t snuggle like something you’d see on a Hallmark card, but they’re co-habitating fairly well. Rosie loves it when Leo takes a nap. That means she gets to roam the house and help with the blog. #coffeebreak

{TWO} Visiting Oregon for our 15th wedding anniversary

K and B beach

Arborbrook Vineyard

Brandon and I officially made it to 15 years of marriage. Not that I questioned the milestone, I just can’t believe it has already been that long – and that we were able to sneak away for a long weekend together to celebrate. The stars aligned, so we hit the friendly skies and headed straight for the Oregon coast to enjoy some much-needed adult time, incredible food, and gorgeous scenery. It was such a treat and perfect way to celebrate with my best friend.

{THREE} Taking a fun summer road trip

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This summer, we packed up the truckster and hit the road for a two-week, Griswold-style family vacation. The adventure started by heading straight north to Minnesota for the Clark family reunion. (My maiden name is Clark, and this fun bunch of people are from my dad’s side of the family.) We only get together every three years, so it’s always a wild time catching up, and meeting babies and newlywed spouses. A lot can happen in three years, you know!

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emma and paul

After the reunion we ventured down to Nebraska for my niece’s wedding. It truly was a picture-perfect wedding, and we were honored to be able to share in their joy.

{FOUR} Watching my kids continue to grow into beautiful little people.

Christmas card

Life with tweens can be interesting – and entertaining. Somehow Brandon and I managed to get some really great kids with equally as sweet friends. I’ve heard the teenage years get more complicated, so I’m enjoying this phase as long as I can.

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Evan completed his first 5K this year, as well as a full season of cross country. This translates into a growing boy who eats like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously. That boy can eat. When he stands still long enough for me to get a good look at him, I’m amazed at the young man he’s becoming. He’s officially taller than I am, but still says he loves me when I drop him off for school. He can officially stop growing, now.

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The girls entered 4th grade this year and played soccer for “coach dad.” They’re super active and are starting to show an interest in swimming. So there’s hope for a few more fish in our family. These two are total peas in a pod and are always up to something creative – and stuffed-animal related. For instance, I recently found them duct-taping stuffed animals to the fan blades in their room giving free “carnival” rides. They figured out how to get up there from the top bunk bed. It’s never a dull moment with my twinsies – and I wouldn’t trade a second of my life.

{FIVE} Celebrating my first blogiversary

Blogiversary-Thank-You

I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

This blog has been one of the most rewarding creative endeavors. I have loved meeting other bloggers, sharing my experiences, and having a space where I can feel truly comfortable with my writing – typos and all! 🙂 I’ve definitely learned quite a few things in this first year, and I’m beyond excited for the adventure ahead.

Thank you for being here with me. Here’s to an incredible new year for all of us!

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Blogiversary Edition

blogiversaryIn honor of The Neat Nook turning one, I decided to reflect on some of the best blogging advice I received or stumbled upon over the past 12 months. This felt like the perfect way to wrap such a special week. So let’s get right to it, shall we?

Five Great Pieces of Advice on Blogging

{ONE} “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

I don’t remember exactly where I came across this statement, but it was big for me. I think the reason I hadn’t started blogging long before now was because I was intimidated by all of the gorgeous blogs and talented writers out there who seem to have perfected the art. It’s easy to find lots of “middles” out there, since blogging has been around for many years. Everyone has to start somewhere, though. And I’m learning to simply love where I am.

{TWO} “Be real. Be vulnerable. Show us who you are.”

This was something I heard from a friend when I veeery first started. Like before I had an “about” page, and my profile picture was a headshot from work. Yawns-ville. I appreciated her input so much. The thought was frightening, but she was right. I’m usually more comfortable sitting quietly in the background or cheering safely from the sidelines, but blogging challenges me. It gives me a space to express myself and have a voice – regardless of how quiet and scared it might sound.

{THREE} “Words are powerful.”

One of the greatest masters of words was Dr. Maya Angelou. With her passing last year, many of her quotes and interviews have been shared online. I caught this clip from the Master Class Series on OWN, and thought it was such a brilliant point of view about the words we choose to use.

For anyone who writes and shares their words in public – on a blog, in social media, and even in conversations that can be overheard – it’s important to realize the power you possess. We all need to hold this notion close to our hearts any time we lift our pens or open our mouths to speak.

I love this acronym that reminds us to think first.

{FOUR} “Remember to have fun.”

This advice came from my friend and blogger, Leslie Sisti. She told me too many people take their blog too seriously, and it turns into a chore. No one wakes up excited to do chores. At least I don’t. I took her advice to heart, and I try to do a “fun check” every now and then. On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the most fun a girl can have), I determine how much fun I’m having with the blog. If the score is low and I’m feeling stressed, I know it’s time to change something. Pronto.

{FIVE} “It’s okay to take a break.

As a typical, giddy newbie I started the year strong with frequent posts. As the months went on and life got busy with job changes and new activities for the kids, I started getting distracted. By the summer, I was fizzling out and feeling a little guilty about neglecting the blog.

Right as I was getting ready for one of those “fun checks,” I came across a post by another blogger, who talked about the importance of taking a break when you need it. If you let your readers know what’s up and when you’ll return, all will be well. It turns out, there are a lot of bloggers who take summers off. While I didn’t take a full sabbatical, I did take some non-judgmental time to get centered, inspired and excited to start writing again.

And this is where I am today. Excited. Also feeling grateful for all of the input and support from other bloggers and friends. I still have an incredible amount to learn, but that makes waking up each day more interesting. It’s about the journey, and I thank you for walking a few steps with me today!

Before you go, be sure to enter in the blogiversary giveaway! You have until 10pm Central tonight to enter to win a beautiful 2016 Day Planner or a Jar of Joy!

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I’m also linking up with some fantastic fellow bloggers on Five on Friday and Oh, Hey Friday!

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-Kate

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The Neat Nook Turned One!

blogiversary

October marks the anniversary of my first post on The Neat Nook. This crazy endeavor started out as a much-needed creative outlet that allowed me to explore new projects and simply be myself.

It gave me a spot to capture and share the things I love to do, such as writing, decorating, organizing, mothering, gardening, and putzing around my garage trying to invent the next craft-gadget.

Out of all my hobbies, I adore writing the most. I wasn’t sure how to navigate the waters of blogging, though. I felt awkwardly late and underdressed to this hip online party. There are so many beautiful blogs and amazing writers out there. So I turned to my friend and rock-star blogger, Leslie Sisti, for guidance.

She was always generous with advice and encouragement. She would say, “Just keep writing, Kate! You got this!” She was my constant cheerleader and one of the most instrumental people in the creation of The Neat Nook. She invited me to guest post on her blog and introduced me to link up parties, such as Five on Friday. All of which led to new connections and friendships.

Unfortunately, Leslie’s life ended too soon in July of this year. While I miss her friendship dearly, I still feel the echo of her gentle voice telling me to keep writing. So I do.

This past Sunday, I was feeling reflective about the past year. Outside of being proud of my kids and their accomplishments, I was hoping my writing was connecting with readers. There are no bosses to tell you how you’re doing on this thing, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. As I sat in church, praying and contemplating, a song lyric jumped off the page of the hymnbook.

“All the world awakes to light.”

Yes! What a beautiful message on so many levels. I think that’s a perfect motto for the coming year – or maybe forever! Instead of worrying, I should be asking, “How can I be a light that wakes up the world?”

I wonder if I can do this with each person I meet, project I create, and post I write? It’s certainly worth a shot. I feel like we have an exciting year ahead, and I’m grateful to each of you for joining me on this journey.

I want to celebrate YOU by offering a special planner giveaway!

2016 Planner

I depend on my planner like a fish does water. So I felt like it was the most ideal gift I could offer. And right now is the perfect time to order a 2016 planner. I chose this one because it’s not too fussy, yet it has some great features. There’s an annual snapshot, monthly views and each day gets its own page.

2016 Planner year in review

2016 planner monthly view

2016 Planner daily view

This should give you plenty of room to write and roam with your doodles. Plus, it has a gorgeous black and gold pattern, which I’m totally into these days!

That’s not all!

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For a second winner, I’m giving away 100 days worth of joy. This Jar of Joy is a custom gift I created, and it includes 100 pretty slips of paper with a different message for each day. It’s sure to spark a little joy in our life.

It’s also something I’m toying with selling in an Etsy store. I have several fun gift ideas that are all geared toward spreading positivity. I’ll be sharing more about that adventure in the coming weeks.

Whether you’ve been with me from day one or just now discovering the blog, I am honored you are here right now. You deserve a shot at winning these darling gifts!

Enter in the link below. The giveaway will end on Friday at 10pm Central. Winners will be announced on the blog and Facebook fan page this Saturday.

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Good luck, and let’s light this world together!

-Kate

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Giveaway Winner & Weekend Update

This quote made me laugh, because I’m totally wearing my Sunday outfit to work today. Anyone else with me on this? Here’s to having one decision already made before I even woke up!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Before I go any further, though, I’d like to announce the winner of the coaster giveaway. Debbie Ray is the lucky recipient of a set of designer black and gold ampersand coasters from Qostr. Yay, Debbie!

qostr

A special thank you to everyone who participated. The 20% discount for Neat Nook readers is still valid through October, so head over to Qostr and use promo code OCTOBER20 at checkout. Maybe grab some Halloween party coasters?

The next Qostr giveaway will be in November – just in time for Thanksgiving. We’ll be unveiling a custom design just for Neat Nook!

Now back to the weekend for a moment, because I’m still relishing in its joy. It was such perfect fall weather here in Northwest Arkansas. Our family spent as much time as we could outdoors.

The leaves are starting to turn bright orange and red, and the air is so crisp it cools your skin and paints your cheeks the perfect shade of pink.

We had friends visit from out of town on Friday night, so we lit an outdoor fire, cooked s’mores and sipped on wine while we visited on the back porch. It was such a happy night.

PS. I highly recommend using Nutella instead of Hershey’s chocolate bars for your next s’mores experience. The chocolate melts right into the gooey marshmallow goodness.

Saturday’s plans took us to the soccer fields to cheer for Evan, then we walked with Leo all over the neighborhood. Now that he has all of his puppy shots, we can take him out on the town. He LOVES exploring the ‘hood more than anything. So far he hasn’t tried chasing the ducks in the lake behind our house. I’m sure that’s a matter of time.

leo morning

The biggest accomplishment of the weekend, though, was pulling down all of our fall clothes from the attic. It was like a mini Christmas. I finally have boots, scarves and sweaters to snuggle in this cool air.

I promise to share some organizational tips this week on how to store your fall clothes.

All in all, I’d say it was a successful weekend. The Nebraska Huskers even won their football game. Finally. And that made Brandon a happy camper to be around!

Now that Monday has officially kicked off, here’s to a brilliant week ahead with plenty of coffee and a shortage of drama.

Oh, and tomorrow is my first blogiversary, which is hard to believe. One year?! I’ll have some fun news to share, so be sure to swing back by.

Until tomorrow, my sweet friends…

-Kate

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