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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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. 😉

visa-gift-card

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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Thankful Thursday: Special Recipes

As I dream about and prepare for turkey day, I’m feeling thankful for all of the recipes shared among my family and friends.

I keep these treasures tucked in a little recipe box in my kitchen, but it’s more like a memory box. I’m amazed at how food can conjure up such strong memories.

rifle recipe box

The smell and taste of a certain dish – or even an ingredient, like cinnamon or chives – can instantly take you back to an event or special place in your life.

Cheese pizza on Christmas Eve, hand-spun Ovaltine milk shakes, shoestring potato snacks, and Jell-o cheesecake all bring me back to my Gramma Lettye’s apartment, where we spent countless evenings camped out in front of her TV watching episodes of Dallas, Fantasy Island and Love Boat together.

I will seriously high five anyone who can name all of these characters.

{via} I will seriously high five anyone who can name all of these characters without Googling.

When it comes to special recipes, I think about the time my friend Katie brought over this amazing poppy seed chicken right after Evan was born. I was an exhausted and nervous first-time mom, and the comfort of this warm, home-baked meal made me feel grounded again – even if it was just for a few bites. It was a welcomed treat, and I still think about that moment every time I make it for the family.

Of course my sweet mom, Mimi, has many recipes that make me feel “home.”

Growing up, her savory hot Virginia dip was one she made for holidays or when company was coming over. I knew it was time to dress up when the smell of buttery roasted pecans filled the house.

Any time you’re feeling chilly or under the weather, Mimi’s chicken noodle soup is more soothing than anything you can buy from the drugstore. That, and her ice chips…

ice chips

When we were little, she’d hit a piece of ice with the back of a spoon to make crushed ice. We didn’t have fancy dispensers back then. Whenever you heard that cracking sound coming from the kitchen, you knew someone wasn’t feeling well.

Mimi also makes this amazing banana bread that cannot be recreated. Both of my sisters (and I believe my SILs) have tried our hand at whipping up some of this special bread using the same recipe. It simply doesn’t taste the same, unless my mom delivers it to your door. We think something magical happens in the car on the way. By the time it arrives, it’s perfectly delicious.

banana bread

{via} I don’t have an actual picture of Mimi’s bread, because I’m usually too busy stuffing my face. This picture reminded me of her version, though – even with the little cutting board and all!

There are so many more fond memories I have around food, family and friends. I know you have some, too. So as you’re gathering together and giving thanks this coming week, think about this prompt.

What dish reminds you of “home?”

Join the conversation with a comment below or share on your social channels using #ThankfulThursday.

In the meantime, here’s my mom’s hot Virginia dip recipe. Enjoy, and go have yourself a party!!

Mimi’s Hot Virginia Dip

1 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp butter
16 oz cream cheese, softened
4 T milk
5 oz dried beef, minced
1 tsp garlic salt
1 cup sour cream
4 tsp onion, minced

Directions:
Sauté pecans in butter. Reserve. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Place in a 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Top with pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve hot with crackers.

-Kate {hugs}

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A Thankful Thursday

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought it would be nice to bring back Thankful Thursdays. Each week throughout the holidays, I’ll post a little something I’m thankful for and offer a prompt for you to do the same. I appreciate all of the blessings in my life, and I know you do, too. So we can expand our habit of gratitude together!

Today: I’m thankful for the friendships in my life.

I’ve had many come and go over the years, and I’ve learned that’s okay. At the time, I never imagined going a full 24 hours without talking to my high school besties or summertime pool buddies. Now, it has been decades since I’ve seen most of them, but it doesn’t mean our friendships weren’t strong or that they didn’t serve a purpose. Each of those people taught me about acceptance, gratitude, and compassion – and maybe a little mischief. They set the groundwork for the kind of friend I could be to others.

I used to stress out about not calling enough or doing a better job at keeping in touch. Then I decided to be nicer to myself – and allow my heart to take the lead. It’s amazing how things work out. People show up in our lives at the right times, for the right reasons. And sometimes that person is us – being home when the doorbell rings and a friend needs to talk.

I think one of the most beautiful things about friendship is that people are friends because they want to be – they choose each other. As we search for a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life, we realize we can’t do it alone. So we chose friends to help us along the way.

I love this quote from The Atlantic, “Friendship is a relationship with no strings attached, except the ones you choose to tie, one that’s just about being there, as best as you can.”

Some of my most treasured friends are the ones who are willing to forgive long lapses in communication, because they feel life’s obligations, as well. When we finally pick up the phone, grab a cup of coffee, or schedule a road trip to each other’s homes, everything falls right back into place. We become the same people we were the last time we talked. That has to be one of the best kept secrets of friendship. And I’m incredibly thankful for all of them.

Prompt: Which friendship are you most grateful for?

Join the conversation with a comment below or share on your social channels using #ThankfulThursday.

Oh, and how perfect is this…today starts the “buy one, share one” promotion at Starbucks. And if you go online, you can make a cute little e-card to send to someone special. I made this for my dear friend who just moved back to the states from France. “Hi, Ovey!!” Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 5.11.22 PM

Cheers to a happy week shared with friends – old and new!

-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!

IMG_6419

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

-Kate

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