Friday Wrap!

It’s Friday already?! I say we get right to it with the list of five faves of the week.

{ONE} Friday the 13th

superstitious

Am I the only one who still misses The Office? I loved that show.

It’s officially Friday the 13th! We won’t have another one until November, so here’s hoping tons of luck falls your way on this rare day. In the spirit of the “holiday,” here’s a fun quiz to see how superstitious you really are.

{TWO} Surprises in the Garden

DaffodilsSo this happened yesterday…I went out to check the mail and spied these sweet daffodils BLOOMING in the garden. I can’t wait for their friends to wake up and grow already. Not many things scream spring more than a bunch of freshly cut daffodils on your windowsill.

Quick tip: Daffodils release sap that’s harmful to other flowers, so they’re best kept to themselves in arrangements. If you’d like to mix them with other flowers, be sure to place cut stems in a vase of cool water overnight to help release some of the harmful substance.

{THREE} Rain Boots

Rain BootsWe’ve had lots of rain in the forecast lately. In fact, it’s raining as I write this. So the twins and I went shopping for new boots. Now we’re officially ready for some puddle jumping! We shopped at a local store, but I noticed Zulily has some really cute styles right now if you want to order online.

{FOUR} Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix

The box included five items, plus this handy style sheet that helps you see how to mix things up.

Okay, I might be late to the party on this one, but I had my first Stitch Fix box arrive this week. I was super impressed and especially liked the blouses they sent. It all came with a personal note from my stylist, who talked about the weather in my area, as well as how the outfits she pulled together would be perfect for my job at the PR agency. It was a home run on personalization. I didn’t keep everything because the sizes were a bit off, but overall I’d give it two thumbs up. I’m really excited to see how my next styling goes!

{FIVE} Spice Rack Makeover

Spice Rack

I glued an old wine glass between two Lazy Susan’s to make this spice rack. The entire thing spins!

I’ve been on a cooking kick lately, which means I’ve been digging in my spice rack more than usual. My cabinet was jam-packed with jars, and it was hard to read labels. That made things super frustrating, so I decided to get creative.

I took two small Lazy Suzan’s (that I bought from Walmart) and stacked them. I glued an old wine glass to the center using E6000 adhesive and created this two-layered spice rack. It’s so much easier to find things – and it made more room in my cabinet. Now I can shove more stuff inside!

That’s a wrap. I hope you’ve had a stellar week. I’d love to hear about it. Be sure and checkout all of the amazing blogs (amazeblogs) via Five on Friday, which is sponsored by none other than April, DarciChristina, and Natasha.

Fiveonfriday

Cheers to Friday!

-Kate

Share

Friday Wrap: Magazine Gems

Happy Friday, my friends! I hope you’ve had an incredible week. If not, there’s still time.  It was a fairly productive week on my end. I tackled tons of projects at work, made birthday party purchases for next week’s festivities, and finally knocked out the giant pile of magazines on my coffee table. That was a feat.

Real Simple, February

Just a few of the many…

Quick confession: What started out (several weeks ago) as three or four perfectly fanned magazines turned into a heaping mound of business. There were not only magazines, but also catalogs, postcards, a few pieces of junk mail and even some of Avery and Clara’s artwork tucked in there!

Once I sorted through everything, I found a few hidden gems I wanted to share – besides the art from my baby girls.

{ONE} Family Fun: February 2015Family FunCupid Kabobs: Page 18Cupid KabobsValentine’s Day is two weeks away. Eek! Good thing I found a few darling ideas in this issue of Family Fun – including these grape tomato and cheese kabobs. They look easy, too. Super bonus.

{TWO} Real Simple: February 2015Real SimpleArt Caddy: Page 32Art CaddyOne of my favorite things about this magazine is the “new uses for old things” section. This issue didn’t disappoint. I love the idea of using a DVD case as an art caddy for the kiddos. I’m thinking this would be perfect for car rides.

{THREE} Pottery Barn Teen: Spring 2015Pottery Barn Teen, FebruaryBeautiful Bins: Page 27Pottery Barn BinsI don’t officially have teens in my house, but some days it feels that way. (#eightgoingoneighteen) Pottery Barn must know about these days, which is probably why they send me PB Teen catalogs. I will say, there are some seriously beautiful prints and patterns in this edition. You won’t find them in the regular PB magazine, either. These bins are one example. They’re just the right amount of color to jazz up any bookshelf.

{FOUR} Victoria: January/February 2015Victoria January/FebruaryDragonfly Floral: Page 42Dragonfly FloralThis issue was given to me by my mom, who is queen of all things magazine. She might be single-handedly keeping the U.S. Postal Service in business. When this beautiful issue of Victoria made its way over to my house, I practically drooled over this picture of Dragonfly Floral. If I ever own a flower shop, I want it to look just like this gorgeous place in Sonoma Valley, California. Please.

{FIVE} Athleta: February 2015AthletaComfy Clothes: Page 32AthletaLeave it to me to pick the most non-athletic piece of clothing in Athleta’s catalog to want to buy. There are certainly some amazing workout clothes from this store, but when I saw this outfit, I imagined how perfect it would be for pretty much every day of my life.

That’s it for my coffee table discoveries. I have some exciting things in store for next week. If you weren’t aware, National Doodle Day AND National Bubblegum Day are happening. I’m also going to visit my sister in Atlanta. It should be full of adventure, and I’ll be sure to share!

Have a “super” weekend hanging with all of your favorite people. I’ll be watching the big game with my family – and cheering for my favorite commercials. Of course, it will be after I read a few of my favorite blogs:

Fiveonfriday

Visit Darci, April, Natasha and Christina!

HeaderTrans_zpscb139c50

And don’t forget Friday Confessions from Leslie!

Cheers and kisses!

-Kate

Share

It’s Not Too Late: Planting Fall Bulbs

Hyacinth bulbs with pots to plant

Hyacinth Bulbs Ready to Plant

I was watching Weatherman Dan (my favorite local meteorologist) the other day, and he was talking about a looming polar vortex that will hit most of the U.S. with a wintry vengeance this week. My initial thought after “wait, what?!” was “coat shopping!” The kids grow so fast, there’s no way they’ll zip into last year’s coats without having a Chris Farley moment. I also realized I haven’t planted my fall bulbs, yet. Good gracious, girl!

Needless to say, I need to take a knee and get to planting ASAP. If you’re like me and let the middle of November sneak up on you, let’s do this thing together. You’ll thank me come spring when your garden is exploding with color.

It always feels like a surprise party when the flowers burst out of the cold ground. Even though I carefully and lovingly buried each bulb, I somehow develop gardening amnesia come March. I’m like, “Oh, yay! Look at those little crocus in the corner! I love crocus!”

If you’re not sold on planting bulbs, let me elaborate. Bulbs are awesome. They’re low-maintenance, not too expensive, and make your heart absolutely happy when they bloom at the tail end of a dreary, gray winter. What more could you ask for?

You can find bulbs anywhere this time of year. Be sure to buy them from a reputable nursery, though. Cheap bulbs equal cheap blooms – if at all. Boo. I really like shopping at Westwood Gardens in my area or ordering online from Burpee.

Five great flowers to try:

  1. Tulips: Tulips are probably one of the first choices you think of when it comes to spring flowers – and for good reason. Tulips are classic. There are so many varieties you can have a garden packed with these beauties, while still keeping things extremely interesting. For a unique flair, try ‘Parrot’ tulips!
    ParrotTulip

    ‘Parrot’ Tulip

  2. Daffodils: Another classic spring flower is the beloved daffodil. They’re one of the easiest to grow, too. I love the layers of a double-flowered daffodil. If you want a unique color combo try the ‘Romance.’ It has rose-pink cups with gorgeous white petals. It won’t disappoint.
    RomanceDaff

    ‘Romance’ Daffodil

    DoubleDaff

    Mix of Double-flowered Daffodils

  3. Hyacinths: There are two basic types. The common hyacinth has short stalks of amazingly fragrant flowers that look like little starfish. Grape hyacinths are even smaller and have tight blooms that look like clusters of mini grapes. So cute!
    BlueGrapeHyacinth

    Blue Grape Hyacinth

    hyacinth

    Common Hyacinth

  4. Iris: These are a great addition to a garden because they’re hardy and look amazing. They’re tall and regal and remind me of an exotic orchid – minus the temperament.
    Iris

    ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ Iris

  5. Crocus: I like planting a mix of colors with these adorable flowers. Since they grow low to the ground, they make a pretty accent at the base of any other flower. And you know it’s all about that base.
    Crocus

    Crocus {Hey, there!}

Once you feel ready, here’s a quick primer for planting:

  • When: Plant anytime before the ground freezes (pretty much now)
  • Where: Pick a spot that gets full sun and has well-drained soil.
  • How many: Plant lots of bulbs just in case some don’t sprout. If you want a more natural look, plant them in random order and spacing. If you want to create groves of daffodils or tulips, you’ll need to buy and plant lots of bulbs.
  • How deep: Plant at a depth of three times the width of the bulb. If your soil’s sandy, plant bulbs slightly deeper; in clay soils, slightly shallower.
  • What now: After planting, apply fertilizer low in nitrogen and water well. Apply mulch to keep the weeds down and hold in moisture.

 You’re good to go! Have fun digging in the dirt – and try to stay warm out there!

Share

Pumpkin Seeds Three Ways

Halloween Week Banner2Happy almost Halloween! For my family, the most exciting part of this week (other than Halloween night itself) is carving our jack-o-lanterns. We’ve had one too many squirrels demolish our creations, so we learned to wait it out. The all-you-can-eat pumpkin buffet can open after Halloween!

Speaking of carving, did you know it’s easier to carve from the bottom? I had NO idea until I recently stumbled across this carving video from Better Homes & Gardens. I’m a huge sucker for a good tip like this.

Once the excitement of carving our ghoulish grins is over, we love playing with the seeds. Well, once they’re clean. Funny how the kids suddenly have something terribly important to do when it comes time to desliming the seeds. Thanks, guys.

Since pumpkin seeds are pretty much a once-a-year treat for us, I love finding new ways to use them. Here are three of my favorites!

  1. Bake them. The basic salt-and-oil roast like this from SimplyRecipes is classically delicious. If you want to mix it up a bit, try a batch of Sweet and Salty seeds from Real Simple.
hallo-pumpkin-seeds_300

Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Seeds, Real Simple

  1. Grow them. Why spend lots of money on pumpkins next year when you have a handful of free seeds this year? Once your seeds are washed and dried, store them in an envelope. Pumpkin seed envelopeThe best place to keep them is somewhere cool and dry. I like to use the refrigerator in my garage. Label the envelope with the date and name so you remember what’s inside! When to plant? In cooler parts of the country, the best time to plant pumpkin seeds is late May. In warmer parts of the country, you can wait until mid July to plant pumpkins in time for Halloween.
  1. Craft them. Seeds are way underrated in crafting, IMO. Look at this pretty ornament I whipped up. I’ll have a full DIY on these beauties Thursday. Be sure to check back!
Pumpkin seed ornament_finished

Pumpkin seed ornament. Watch for DIY instructions Thursday!

In the meantime, what’s your favorite way to serve up some seeds? Do share!

Share

Give Parsley a Chance

Parsley

Freshly picked parsley

Parsley is one of those herbs that’s usually tossed aside. And I mean that literally. In restaurants you’ll see it perched on the edge of a pretty plate – and that’s where it stays. It’s not the star player in many recipes, and it doesn’t have an elegant fragrance like basil, oregano or thyme. So what’s it good for?

To be honest, I was pretty nonchalant about parsley until I started planting it in my garden for my pet rabbit, Rosie. She looooves parsley, but only when it’s fresh. She’s a bit of a princess that way. So I always include a little patch in my garden for her.

Rosie the Rabbit

Meet Rosie the Rabbit! Pets deserve an organized and creative life, too. So you’ll see Rosie featured in posts from time-to-time.

Get creative in the kitchen

One day I casually tossed a few springs of parsley in my salad and loved its punch. It has such a fresh taste with hints of lemon and pepper. The next thing I knew, I was sneaking it into soups and stews. It’s native to the Mediterranean, but can be used in all kinds of dishes.

Here are some recipe ideas from beautiful Sunset Magazine. This article features 11 ways to cook with fresh parsley.

parsley-ravioli-with-brown-butter-sauce

Parsley Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce from Sunset Magazine. A plateful of yum.

Get healthy

Come to find out, parsley is really good for you. It’s rich in all kind of vitamins: A, B1, B3, C, and K. That’s a nice portion of the vitamin alphabet. It also keeps your immune system strong and encourages digestion. No wonder so many chefs nudge it onto our plates.

Some people even use it for medicinal purposes. A few of the more interesting options I’ve read include:

  • Reducing hair loss by massaging parsley essential oil into the scalp.
  • Relieving joint pain by eating parsley daily.
  • Treating insect bites with the juices squeezed from the leaves.

Grow your own

If I’ve piqued your interest, why not grow your own? It’s a cool-weather-lovin’ kind of herb, so right now is a great time to plant. Here’s a helpful guide from Gardening Know How.

As a tip, flat leaf parsley has a little better flavor for cooking than its curly cousin. You’ll want to keep that in mind when buying seeds or plants from the nursery. By the way, I’m a huge fan of nurseries that carry the Monrovia brand. They always have quality plants.

I hope you’ll give parsley a chance. Comment below or email me your favorite way to enjoy this healthy herb!

Share

Aromatic Herb Bundles for the Perfect Bonfire

Herb Bundle

This is the “Sweet & Lovely.”

Nothing says, “it’s fall, y’all” quite like a bonfire. Well, other than pumpkin lattes, cozy sweaters and apple-scented candles. Regardless, I’m a huge fan of glowy bonfires – especially on a crisp autumn night. Our family likes to sit out back huddled around our fire pit with blankets and cups of steamy cocoa. We usually crack open a bag of marshmallows while we’re at it. S’mores, anyone?

Now, the start to any fire, whether it’s an indoor fireplace or outdoor pit, is proper kindling. Any small pieces of flammable material will do: torn newspaper, old receipts, junk mail. It’s actually a great way to declutter. Just be sure to ask permission to burn certain items – like your husband’s Sports Illustrated. For a burst of fragrance in your kindling mix, you’ll want to toss in an herbal bundle. Mmm.

Plow and Hearth sells lavender fire starter bundles for about $25 each. They’re lovely. If you’d like to make your own for way less (MYOFWL), here are super easy instructions.

What you’ll need

  • Dried aromatic herbs – approx. 12-15 stems
  • Small strip of decorative paper – 1 inch wide x 4 inches long (optional)
  • Raffia – several strands

Neatly trim each stem to about 6-8 inches.

Divide the herbs in half. Gently gather each bundle and point the tops in opposite directions to create a “bowtie” effect. Tie the middle of the bunch with a small piece of raffia – just to hold it together.

Next you can wrap the bundle with a piece of decorative paper if you want to add a pretty design element. Hold the paper in place with another piece of raffia. This last piece of raffia will finish off your bundle, so make it into a pretty bow or just keep it simple like I did.

That’s it! You’ve made your super amazing bundle of aromatic goodness.

Herb Bundle Styled

This bundle is dolled up on a garden seat.

A few ideas to enjoy your new creation:

  • Use it for yourself! Toss into a bonfire for fragrant kindling.
  • If you’re not ready to light that flame, display a few bundles on your hearth or a garden seat like I did above.
  • Put one or two in a pretty dish on your nightstand – especially if it includes lavender. Lavender helps you sleep!
  • Give as a thoughtful hostess gift.
  • Decorate the top of a birthday or holiday package.

Here are some delicious combinations to try:

Sweet and Lovely

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Warm Spice

  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Oregano

Winter Wonder

  • Evergreen sprigs
  • Cinnamon sticks or vanilla beans
  • Small oak or maple twigs (or anything readily available)

I hope you enjoy your bundles of goodness! What fragrant combinations do you love?

Share

Lovely Lavender No-Sew Sachets

IMG_4169The smell of lavender can be intoxicatingly good. Giving someone a bundle of fresh lavender wrapped in silk ribbon always makes a nice gesture.

In fact when given as a gift, lavender flowers represent luck. They also offer the promise of new adventure. So why not go the extra mile and make a no-sew lavender sachet for your favorite travel buddy? Sachets are perfect for tucking into a suitcase for a sweet-smelling arrival. I mean, who wouldn’t that?

Let’s do this thing.

First you’ll need a bundle of dried lavender buds. Either buy some in bulk or create your own. To DIY, simply cut fresh stalks from your garden. Either hang the lavender stems upside down to air dry or lay them flat on a towel for a few days. Once the buds are dried out, strip them off the stem into a pile. This is what you’ll use inside your sachets.

If you don’t have access to fresh lavender, don’t despair. You can still make sachets with a couple of tablespoons of uncooked rice and a few drops of lavender oil.

Now take an antique handkerchief or pretty scrap of fabric cut into a 6” square. Place the lavender buds in the center of your fabric. Pull all four ends together into a bundle and tie with a pretty ribbon.

IMG_4187You can add a personalized note to complete the package. Now go surprise someone with this precious gift.

What’s your favorite way to use lavender?

Share