Lovely Pots of Potpourri

I was looking for a simple, yet thoughtful gift that I could make in batches for our friends and neighbors. When I came across this recipe for Christmas potpourri, I knew it was a sure-fire winner.

It’s the perfect blend of cranberry, cinnamon and citrus that will spark the Christmas spirit in any home. I brewed myself a batch just to make sure. Wasn’t that so nice of me? 😉

This was found on Yellow Bliss Road, which is a wonderful blog if you haven’t hopped over to see all of the delicious recipes and crafty ideas. I made several batches of the potpourri today, and I can’t wait to make like an elf and deliver my handmade goods.

Here are three quick tips for assembling these gifts.

{ONE} Get the right size jar

ball jar

You want to be sure all of your ingredients fit inside. If it’s too small, you won’t get your orange to fit. If it’s too big, it will look like you’re being chintzy with your potpourri. I found that a 16 oz. jar was just right. I had a few on hand with white lids, and then I bought the rest from Hobby Lobby just like the one shown.

{TWO} Use small oranges

Cuties

Cuties ended up being the perfect size for a 16 oz. jar, as well as the perfect amount of citrus for the rest of the ingredients in the jar. You don’t want anything to overpower. Equal fragrance for all!

{THREE} Throw all of the spices together

christmas potpourri

You can kind of see all of the spices at the bottom.

The recipe called for smaller, plastic bags to contain the “powdery” ingredients. I just put everything directly into the jar to keep it simple. No-fuss is a must in my life.

This is what my gifts looked like when they were finished.

christmas potpourri

I tied the recipe on the jar with a ribbon and used round Avery labels for the lids to add a touch of holiday flair.

christmas potpourri

Here’s the top view that shows the Christmas label. <3

Happy gifting! Only three more days ’til Christmas. Eeep!

-Kate

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December Coaster Winner & Weekend Update

We sure had a lot of interest in the coasters this month! That was exciting to see, and I’m happy to announce that Mary Elliff was our big winner this time. I can’t wait to see which coasters she picks. There were so many cute designs to choose from.

I also wanted to extend a special thank you to all of the readers who entered to win. You still have time to order from Qostr and get 20% off using the Neat Nook promo code of DECEMBER20. I hope you enjoy!

Now for a quick update on the weekend…

We had a wonderful time at the Bentonville Christmas parade on Saturday. Here are a couple of fun pics.

Bentonville parade

There was no shortage of adorable elves this year.

Santa

It’s SANTA!!!

pugs on parade

You gotta love the “Pugs on Parade.”

Bentonville Band

The marching band is always my favorite. Click for a cool video recap of the whole parade.

Oh, and we had some visitors from Little Rock join us this year. Our friends Mark and Amy drove up for the weekend. Mark owns Personalized Bottle Water, and he made some super cute labels for the annual pre-parade party at my brother and SIL’s house.

personalized bottled water

His wife Amy is a girl after my own heart and loves to sew and craft. She made me some ADORABLE fabric coasters. I’m so in love with them. If you have Christmas fabric left over from projects, you should make these as gifts. People will love them. Trust me! 🙂

Christmas fabric coasters

Aren’t these so sweet? The lower right shows the front and back.

We wrapped up the weekend with a stormy Sunday, which coaxed us into some much needed rest. Now I feel recharged for the week ahead. Get ready for the Christmas ideas to continue!

Many hugs,

-Kate

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Beginning to Look Like Christmas (Finally)

We got busy with it this week and made serious progress with Christmas decorations and to-dos. We blared the carols while we decorated the trees and strung lights on the front porch. If it weren’t for the unusually warm 70-degree weather, it would have felt like a full-on winter wonderland at our house.

Here are five of my favorite things we did, in no particular order…

{ONE} Puppy Proofed the Tree

Leo under the tree

Seeing as how Leo is still under a year old and is fascinated with shiny objects, having a Christmas tree almost seemed impossible. The kids freaked out when I mentioned the thought of it, so I went online to do some serious research. I found many contraptions, including a static electricity mat and a fence that was wrapped like a giant present. All of this seemed excessive, so I went for the simplest route I could find.

We took cotton balls and dipped them into a jar of Vicks VapoRub – like the kind you smear all over your chest when you’re sick. Then we tucked them into the branches around the bottom of the tree. It worked like a CHARM. Leo took one whiff and was like, “Ew.”

To be on the safe side, I also didn’t put as many decorations on the bottom of the tree. And I’m waiting until Christmas Eve before putting out our gifts. But at least we HAVE a tree – and one that Leo doesn’t want to touch.

{TWO} Shopped with my Girls

IMG_6886

Nothing makes holiday shopping more fun than my sweet, silly girls. I swear. As I was stressfully looking up and down the aisles of greenery, which were all picked over like a bag of trail mix with raisins, I heard Avery giggling her heart out. Her twin sister was modeling an enormous bow.

When we turned the corner and saw an even BIGGER bow, we totally had to “try it on.”

IMG_6887

They’re so good for me. Sometimes I take things way too seriously, and my girls help me remember to stop and laugh already.

{THREE} Dressed up the House

IMG_6896

Not knowing how Leo was going to do with the tree and all, I decided to elevate our decorating – literally. I hung things in places I had forgotten existed – like the pretty doorway leading into our sunroom. It’s nice to look at your house with different eyes sometimes.

{FOUR} Baked Cookie Ornaments

As you may know, I have a thing for “smells,” so I love making these fragrant ornaments every year. And they only require two ingredients: cinnamon and applesauce! Once you make the dough, simply cut your shapes and bake for a bit. The full recipe is here. They seriously make your house smell SO amazing. I recommend doing this before you have guests come over.

{FIVE} Launched the December Coaster Giveaway!!

Speaking of entertaining…you totally need some of these cute Christmas coasters. You still have until Sunday at 10pm CST to enter to win a free set. My friends at Qostr graciously offered FOUR designs this month, so the winner gets to choose!

holiday coasters Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.28 PM (1) Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.15 PM (1) Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.07 PM (1)

If you want some right now, you can get 20% off using the special Neat Nook promo code of DECEMBER20 at checkout.

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Here’s to a happy weekend ahead. We’re off to the Bentonville Christmas parade tomorrow morning. That’s always such a fun tradition. I just hope it doesn’t rain. I told my kids that if it does, we’re totally painting candy-cane stripes on our umbrellas. Nothing is going to stop our fun! 😉

Be sure to enjoy all of the beautiful bloggers at Five on Friday and Oh, Hey Friday!

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Cheers!!

-Kate

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Holiday Drink Recipes + December Coaster Giveaway!!

‘Tis the season for holiday parties!! In addition to launching the December coaster giveaway (details are below, so be sure to keep reading) I thought it would be fun to share a few delicious recipes and party tips.

It seems like I’m always second guessing how much food and how many drinks to get when we’re throwing a shin dig. In fact, this past weekend, we invited some friends to join us at my brother’s cabin at Indian Hollow. As I was planning and packing supplies, I came across this great resource.

Here are the most helpful planning tips from the article.

  • Total number of drinks: Each guest drinks an average of two drinks the first hour and one drink each hour thereafter. So, for a 4 hour party with 20 people, that should be about 100 drinks.
  • What to buy: A one-liter bottle of alcohol yields approx. 22 mixed drinks. Once you figure out what kind of bar you’re going to have, that will help you determine how much to buy. Most crowds like vodka, rum and beer if that helps to know.
  • Accommodate non-cocktail drinkers: Estimate one bottle of wine per eight guests, remembering that white wine tends to be more popular than red.
  • Ice it all down: Plan on one and a half pounds of ice per person. This will provide enough ice for drinks as well as any ice baths for wine or beer.

We seemed to have plenty of wine AND beer at our little gathering this weekend. 🙂

girlfriends

Amy, Katie and I took a quick pic right as everyone arrived.

the guys

The guys were so cute in their college hoodies. Cheers!

Okay, so let’s move on to some delicious recipes, shall we? Here are a few goodies for the holiday season.

{Hot Caramel Apple Cider}

This would be great to serve in your slow cooker to not only make your house smell divine, but also offer an option for the kids or anyone who doesn’t want to booze it up at your party!

{Cranberry & Apple Spritzers}

This is another non-alcoholic option that looks like a tall glass of Christmas when it’s garnished with fresh cranberries. You could also toss in a sprig of fresh mint. If you want to get adventurous, you could easily add a splash of vodka.

{Peppermint Stick Martini}

Don’t you just want to lick the crushed peppermint sticks right off that rim? These festive drinks would be beautiful served on a large tray lined with greenery.

PS. If you serve a fancy drink like this, you can simply offer beer, wine and sodas as your other options. No need to go overboard with lots of ingredients.

{Cranberry Mimosas}

If you can tell, I love drinks that have decorated rims. This one uses colored sugar crystals! If you’re having a holiday brunch, this would be a must-have drink on your menu.

Are you ready for some more fun? It’s time for the December coaster giveaway!!

Our friends at Qostr are offering not just one, but four holiday designs to choose from. One lucky winner will receive one FREE set of coasters, and you get to choose which of these designs you’d like.

holiday coasters Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.28 PM (1) Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.15 PM (1) Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.07 PM (1)

Here are the details!

Simply enter below from now until Sunday at 10pm CST. I’ll announce the winner next Monday. (Tip: Be sure to click each of the checkmarks in the lower right corner to get entered in the contest.)

You can also order any time and get a 20% discount just for Neat Nook readers! Use the promo code of DECEMBER20 at checkout.

Good luck and many cheers to you!!

-Kate

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Five Fun Gift Toppings!

Yesterday I shared some of my favorite Christmas wrapping papers. Now for the trimmings! Here are five ways to top your gifts that are not only easy, but also perfectly charming. Let’s get to it.

Blogged while listening to Adele’s new album and sipping a chai tea latte.

{ONE} Paper Straw Stars

paper straw stars

This is a project I worked on this week. I took three paper straws and cut them in half. I pinched the centers, stacked them on top of one another, then stapled them together.

paper straw how to

Once I had the “star” in place, I glued a red button in the middle to cover the staple. Then I hot glued the whole thing to my package. Very simple and cute for kids’ gifts. I’m also thinking we could turn this into an ornament once the gift is opened!

{TWO} Parchment Paper Flowers

IMG_6853

For another Kate-project, this one simply used a sheet of parchment paper and ribbon. I took a full sheet and folded it where the creases were. Then I cut it into a perfect square.

From here, I did the zig-zag fold – like you do with tissue paper flowers. When the whole thing was folded up, I rounded off the edges with my scissors. This is what makes pretty scallops on your flower. Next I tied the middle with a piece of ribbon. {Here are some visuals}

parchment paper how to

Top left: The sheet of parchment paper; Top right: The zig-zag fold; Bottom left: the rounded corners; Bottom right: tied in the center

After the center is tied, I carefully peeled each layer apart. Once all of the layers have been separated, you can fluff, as needed. Then you’re ready to tie the flower onto your gift.

parchment paper flower

The left shows half of the flower “fluffed” and the right shows the final flower!

I love how the flower looks translucent. You could use wax paper if you don’t have any parchment paper on hand. I love just using what you already have.

{THREE} Seashells from the Sea Shore

Seashell Gift Topper

This was a topper I featured last year. I still love this look so much. I had (okay, still have) tons of seashells from our trips to the beach. I decided to share them with family and friends by using them as gift toppers. I hot glued them right onto the ribbon.

{FOUR} Feathered with Love

I haven’t tried this, yet, but I adore how it looks. This is paper that has been cut to look like feathers. Wouldn’t this look so pretty on a Christmas package?

{FIVE} Wreathed Wrappings

This final idea is another one that I haven’t tried, yet. The full instructions are here. It looks really easy. I love how you can use this on gift bags. I plan to make treats for my coworkers and I think this will make great wrappings for them. Don’t you?

Have fun wrapping up all of your glorious gifts. It’s Friday, so I’m linking up once again. Be sure to check out all of the lovely ladies on Five on Friday and Oh, Hey Friday!

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-Kate

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Gorgeous Gift Wrap for Christmas

When you spend countless hours planning and purchasing gifts for your family and close friends, you don’t want to stop short on the wrapping. First impressions really are everything. The way the gift is presented is the part that says, “I care about you so much, I made this gift look as pretty as I could.” And that’s a warm, welcoming message for anyone!

You might remember I wrote a fun post last season that shared lots of ways to wrap gifts. Be sure to check that out if you want to break out some different wrapping techniques.

Today’s post shares a few of my favorite papers. Good ol’ Kraft paper decorated with markers, paints or stamps is my ultimate favorite.

But sometimes a special gift calls for specialty papers and labels like these gorgeous numbers…

{Rifle Paper Company: Adorable retro papers that evoke the spirit of Christmas past}

{Paperjacks: Playful labels to adorn perfectly patterned papers}

{Zazzle: Personalized paper with your photos and messages!}

{Paper Source: Glitzy polka dots and other charming patterns}

{William Morris: Non-traditional holiday colors that would look beautiful wrapped with gold ribbons}

What’s your favorite paper? Once we have that figured out, it’ll be time to top our packages. Stop by tomorrow for a few ideas on the trimmings!

-Kate

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Teaching Kindness at Christmas

Welcome back from the Thanksgiving break! Hopefully you had a relaxing weekend. We had such a memorable time in Nebraska surrounded by our sweet family – and an enormous amount of delicious food. This was my public service announcement for the day…

thanksgiving funny

Now that the turkey has been served, I’m officially in the Christmas spirit. Bring on the tinseled trees, sparkling lights, Jingle Bells and playful elves!

elf quote

{via} I love this quote from the movie, Elf.

We didn’t get back from our trip in time to decorate on Sunday, so I’ll be spending the week making multiple trips down from the attic and over to Hobby Lobby for a few dashes of fresh decor. One of the things I’m really looking forward to unpacking is our kindness elf, MaKayla.

Makayla

This is our sweet little elf, MaKayla.

She was new to the Andersen house last year and came at the perfect time. The kids were old enough and ready to transition from Elfie (our EOTS), and I wanted to find a fun way to integrate the true meaning of Christmas into our daily schedules. Enter our kindness elf.

Each day our elf delivered a message about kindness, and she gave the kids an idea for something they could do for others.

She brought a lot of joy to our house. And as we got to know her a little better over the holiday, we discovered some funny things – like her obsession with marshmallows.

One morning she had a half-eaten mini marshmallow in her lap along with her note. The girls thought it was hilarious and started leaving her treats each night. She didn’t get into any elaborate schemes like Elfie, but she had a few fun quirks that made her extra special.

Nordic Kindness Elves

These are some of MaKayla’s friends! We ordered her from this darling Etsy shop.

If you decide to adopt a kindness elf this season, here are a few activities he/she could suggest for your kiddos. These should take you from today right into Christmas Day!

  1. Donate three of your toys to a child in need.
  2. Tell a joke to make someone smile!
  3. Put change in the Salvation Army bucket.
  4. Leave a quarter in the candy machine at the grocery store entrance.
  5. Write a heartfelt thank you letter to the mail carrier.
  6. Drop off crossword puzzles and fresh pencils at the closest senior living center.
  7. Bake fresh cinnamon rolls for the neighborhood fire station.
  8. Visit a laundromat with your parents and leave quarters in the washing machines.
  9. Donate your old books to the library.
  10. Smile at someone you don’t know at school.
  11. Offer to do your sister/brother’s chores tonight.
  12. Feed the birds.
  13. Give your teacher a gift card for a cup of coffee.
  14. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth.
  15. Write a nice poem for your best friend.
  16. Make an ornament for the neighbors on either side of your house.
  17. Plant seeds that can be grown indoors.
  18. Write a “happy” note and leave it on someone’s car.
  19. Pickup litter.
  20. Say “thank you” to someone in the military.
  21. Donate shampoo and soap to the women and children’s shelter.
  22. Learn one new thing about a different culture.
  23. Let someone step in front of you in line.
  24. Make bookmarks and leave them in books in the library.
  25. Write down the names of three people you are thankful for – then let them know.

Have fun with your elf, and let me know what other things you’d add to the list. Here’s to spreading all kinds of kindness this season!

-Kate

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Five Tips for Holiday Storage

Christmas StorageIf you haven’t put away your holiday decorations, yet, you’re not alone. If it gets to be July and we’re having this conversation, we’ll want to get the decorative balls rolling into some sort of container. For now, it’s perfectly and socially acceptable to still have some lingering lights. When you’re good and ready to start packing, here are a few tips and tricks for closing out the season.

{ONE} Organize your business

Before jumping right in to stuffing a bunch of bins, stop for a moment to sort. Decide if you really want to keep everything. Toss old lights or donate items you know you won’t ever use.keep calm buttonOnce you’ve simplified, decide how you’re going to store your stuff. Some people organize by type of item. For example, all of the lights go in one big bin.

I prefer to pack by location. That means all of the outdoor lights go with the outdoor décor. As long as you liked where everything was situated this year, storing your things this way makes unpacking a cinch next year. Be sure to label the bins with the name of the room to amp up the ease. Speaking of bins…

{TWO} Color-code some bins

Plastic bins are ideal for storing your precious decorations. They’re waterproof in case you have an unfortunate leak in your roof or basement. They’re also pest-proof when they have tight-fitting lids. Nothing freaks me out more than opening a box and finding a spider. #notcool

plastic bin

Rubbermaid bins are durable and have tight-fitting lids.

I like using clear bins so I can see what’s inside. Some people like colored bins, such as red or green for Christmas items. While this makes it easier to distinguish between the holidays up in a dark attic, once you get the bins down, it’s kind of a pain not knowing what’s inside.

Tip: Stick with clear bins, but pick colored lids for each season.

Plastic lids

These are available at Walmart. You could pick red lids for all of your Christmas bins.

If you can’t find assorted lids, use various colors of Duct tape to label your bins. You could use green for Christmas, orange for Halloween, pink for Easter, etc.

{THREE} Divide those ornaments

I’ve had one too many sad moments opening a bin and finding a broken ornament. That’s why I pack them in individual compartments now.

Ornament Storage

This bin is from The Container Store.

You can either purchase special bins like this from The Container Store or take a “plain” bin and make your own dividers with a few cups glued to a piece of cardboard.

DIY Ornament Storage

Get the full DIY instructions at One Good Thing

Don’t forget to pack the ornament hooks. For small items like these and replacement bulbs, use a plastic jewelry organizer.

Organizer

This organizer is from Joann Fabrics.

{FOUR} Wrangle your wreaths and lights

You probably spent a lot on your wreaths – time and money or both! So when it comes to storage, give them some extra TLC. I splurge on plastic wreath holders because they snap shut (no bugs allowed), and they help wreaths hold their shape.

wreath case

This crush-free case is from Spacesavers.

I’ve used heavy-duty trash bags before, and some of my friends use dry cleaner bags. Those work too. You’ll just want to be sure not to stack items on top of them if you’re going this route.

Light storage

Image source: Curbly

When it comes to lights, I like to wrap the strands around pieces of cardboard. You can even jot a note directly on the cardboard about where the lights go.

hose-reel-for-holiday-lights

Image source: Real Simple

If you have a large volume of lights, keep them strung together on a hose reel from the hardware store. Smart, right?

{FIVE} Care for your cards

The last thing I like to do is take a minute to re-read all of the thoughtful cards we received and update my contacts with any new addresses.

Christmas Cards

Image source: BBC

Once that’s done, I always have a hard time throwing the cards away. Brené Brown shared a fantastic idea of snapping pictures of each card with your phone and adding them to your contacts. That way you can see the darling Christmas photo your friend sent every time she calls. Don’t you love that idea? I’m totally doing it this year.

So what have I missed? What’s your favorite way to pack or organize your holiday goods? Give me a shout either in the comments or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @Katejandersen. I’ll be sure to check my accounts between packing all of these bins. Gracious!

Have a great weekend and be sure to check out all of the amazing blogs through Five on Friday.Fiveonfriday

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Christmas Blessings

Hello, dear friends. It’s officially Christmas, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day filled with love, laughter and lots of good food! I gathered a few of my favorite sayings and song lyrics to celebrate the day. Feel free to share.

silent night

Source: Nest of Posies

sweetness

This one comes with a lesson in hand-lettering! Source: Skillshare (P.S. A great place to learn or hone your creative skills)

irish blessing

With my Irish roots, I had to include this family favorite. Source: Marie McKeown

Hugs and best holiday wishes,

-Kate

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