Friday Wrap: Feelin’ a Little Like Fall

As the days turn cool and crisp, my excitement for fall quickly builds. I want to bust open the windows and let the breeze fill and clean each room of the house. I also look forward to pulling out cozy blankets, baking recipes, and anything else that screams “fall.”

The official first day is next Thursday, so here are five ways we can gear up for a grand entrance into this fresh season.

{ONE} Seasonal Planters

I shared a post yesterday that went into more detail about fall planters. So be sure to check that out for lots of inspiration.

In the meantime, I think this might be my favorite (below). I have a pair of urns just like this in front of our house, so I want to try and pull this off. That purple fountain grass is gorgeous with the yellow mums and orange peppers. As we get closer to Halloween, I could stack some cute punkin’s around the base.

{TWO} Cozy Blankets

I’m a big fan of snuggle time. I’ll even make the house a tad colder in the summer just so I can wrap up in a blanket. Crazy, I know. Now that it’s actually getting chilly, I feel good about having them out on display.

Our mini Goldendoodle chewed through a few of my favorites when he was in full-on puppy stage, so I’m in the market for blankets. I love this plaid number from Pottery Barn. And it’s on sale?! Yes, please.

{THREE} Soul Food

I heard through the vine that Pecan Pumpkin Butter is back at Williams-Sonoma. Yay! That means it’s time to whip up a batch of warm pumpkin dessert squares.


1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1 jar Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter
1/4 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Flour
3 Eggs
3/4 cup Butter
3 Tbsp Milk
1 tsp Cinnamon

Reserve 1 cup of the cake mix, set aside. Mix remaining cake mix with 1/2 cup melted butter and 1 egg. Press mixture lightly into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan. Mix 1 jar of Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter with 2 large eggs and 3 tbsp of milk. Pour over cake mixture in pan.

Mix the reserved cake mix with 1 tbsp flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup of soft butter and 1 tsp cinnamon. Crumble over top of pumpkin layer. Bake 35-40 min. @ 350 degrees or until golden. Cool and serve.

{FOUR} Simmering Scents

As you may know, I’ve always had a “thing” for smells. Nothing makes our house feel more like fall than a big batch of simmering spices on the stove. Here’s my favorite combination. Mmm…

{FIVE} Fresh Colors

Every season Pantone Color Institute develops a palette that helps summarize the hottest colors worn during New York Fashion Week. And here are your beautiful, jewel-like colors for Fall 2015. >>

This year’s line up is heavy on blues. And beautiful, soft blues at that. Below shows you each color in more detail and what their exact number and names are in the Pantone Color system. (This is especially helpful if you’re a designer.) Have fun styling your outfits, accessories or even your house with these trendy hues.

color3color1 color2

That’s a wrap! Have a great weekend and let me know what you’re up to. How are you flirting with fall?




 photo 73bab94a-1595-47db-8a1e-0ee7d930f9df_zpsihedecfg.jpg


Friday Wrap: Friends & Fun

We had an action-packed week with some dear friends in town visiting. Once things settled back into a routine, I found a few tidbits I wanted to share, so this week’s top five list is a bit of a mishmash. One thing that is the same…I’m happy it’s already Friday. Love me some short weeks.

excited otter

This is how I feel inside.

Now let’s get to wrappin’ up this week like a present, shall we?

{ONE} All Kinds of 4th Fun

I’ll start by sharing some pics from the weekend. It went by so fast, which usually means we were having buckets of fun. And I’m here to say that fun was had by all – kids, adults, and even the animals.


The girls are showing off their first fireworks of the day. They shot off some parachutes, which were fun to chase down. In fact, I think we still have some on the roof.

friends at the market

This was taken on our way to the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. Look at our colorful ensemble.

avery and bear

You know how Avery loves bears? Well, she found one to play with at the market. (This is a beautiful mural on the side of a building in downtown Fayetteville, btw. I just love street art.)

weekend activities

This is a snapshot of a few more activities that filled our weekend. The kids had a blast painting each other’s faces, visiting Crystal Bridges Museum, eating Pedal Pops at the Farmers Market, and finally lighting some sparklers!! Notice the Solo cup hand protectors in the lower right? That was the best decision of the day. The kids could light sparklers without getting burned. #momwin

friends and tats

The adults had some fun, too! We’re showing off our temporary tats.


Leo was such a trooper to put up with all of the madness.

{TWO} Lemonade for the Animals

As you can see, we packed in a lot of activities over the weekend. We even squeezed in some time for a lemonade stand! Our friends had the idea of donating the money to charity, and the kids picked our local animal shelter.

lemonade stand

Look at those cutie patooties. They even had stuffed animals on their stand to help sell the idea of helping animals. 😉

After the sale, the girls gathered their profits and shopped at PetCo for treats and toys. When we arrived at the shelter, the lady who greeted us said to go ahead and give everything to the animals. So we spent the next hour or so visiting each cage handing out treats and making some furry friends. They were so excited to see us. It was hard not to take them all home. This is why I need a farm, people.

animal services

We could have stayed and played for days. In fact, the girls asked if we could go back soon to check on the friends we made. <3

evan with dog

This is Evan and Yoda. I have to tell you, at first Evan didn’t want to go with us. He was being a bit of a moody teenager. Once we got inside, though, something changed. His face softened and I think he really felt for these animals. He wanted to stop and pet each one. Later that night, he told me he was really glad he went. A good lesson for both of us. 🙂

{THREE} Vanilla Nut Bites

Okay, so on Saturday we decided to go swim at our friends’ pool. It was awesome to have our new, local friends meet our long-time college friends. It turns out they’re all from Nebraska, which is even cooler. (Go Big Red!)

Anyway, this is the occasion where I was introduced to these balls of goodness called Vanilla Nut Bites. They are delicious, easy to make, and healthy – my three favorite ingredients.

vanilla nut bites on a pan

I forgot to mention they’re also no-bake, which makes them ideal for summer snacking. Don’t go heating up that oven if you don’t have to. I rolled these up in less than 10 min.

Are you ready for the recipe? Here’s all you need…

vanilla nut bites

Vanilla Nut Bites

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Roll into balls (using a cookie scoop or something similar to make it easier) and put in freezer or fridge to set.

I’m tellin’ you, they are so good. And be prepared for inappropriate jokes about balls and nuts when you serve them – especially if anyone has had a glass of wine or two and/or has seen the SNL skit about schweddy balls.

{FOUR} Sweetest Tomatoes

While we’re on the topic of food, I have to announce we had our first garden tomatoes this week. It really happened.

With so much going on I hadn’t properly tended to the garden in awhile. The kids were playing outside and noticed something bright red in the tomato patch. Lo’ and behold, we had not one, but almost a dozen ripe tomatoes!

We quickly had a salad celebration complete with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a dash of sea salt. (That’s my favorite way to eat a fresh-sliced tomato. Sometimes I’ll add a basil leaf on top.)

They tasted so good, and I was reminded to add a bit of baking soda to the soil to help sweeten our next batch. Do you do that, too?

I also plant marigolds around the base of my tomatoes to help naturally keep bugs away. I think my mom gave me that tip. Anyway, happy tomato season!


I decided to put my tomatoes in whiskey barrels this year, because I read that the leaves are poisonous to dogs. I needed to keep them out of our backyard and away from Leo.

{FIVE} Fruit Fly Trap

This last item on my list is super random, but super helpful if you’re dealing with fruit flies at the moment.

All of the fresh summer fruits and veggies I’ve been picking up at the market (and now growing in my garden) have been attracting some unwanted guests. I get flocks (?) of fruit flies in one spot of my kitchen, so I started filling a small measuring cup with apple cider vinegar and a drop of dish soap (to help the flies stick to the vinegar). It works like magic!

fly trap

This darling cup is from the Pioneer Woman set. If you look closely, you can see a fruit fly already landed. I literally just poured this and it’s already working. Bam.

Thanks so much for stopping by and seeing what we’ve been up to in the Andersen house. We leave for our big trip to South Dakota next weekend, so you might see me pinning lots of things to my new Road Trip Tips board. All ideas are welcomed, so let me know your must-do, must-have road trip items!




 photo 73bab94a-1595-47db-8a1e-0ee7d930f9df_zpsihedecfg.jpg



Eating & Drinking with Fresh Herbs

My herbs are growing like mad in the garden! There’s so much more than I can personally consume, so I decided to share some lemon thyme and sweet mint with my co-workers. I left large mason jars full of herbs in the kitchen area, and it was fun walking through the building and seeing so many people enjoying the harvest.

It appeared most people were quick to snatch up the mint, putting it in their ice water and teas, but no one took the thyme. They kept saying, “ I wouldn’t know what to do with it.” I’ve also heard this about lemon balm, sage, oregano and dill.

Culinary herbs have been a staple in my kitchen since I was a little girl. I owe that to my master gardener mom, who is also affectionately called The Herb Lady by her gardening friends. So maybe I’ve come to take my understanding of herbs for granted?

Herbs are pretty miraculous, really.

They not only spice up a dish or sweeten a drink, but also soothe stomaches, heal wounds and calm emotions. Once you understand their flavors and properties, they can become an essential part of your home.

While I have a decent understanding of basic culinary herbs, I’m definitely no expert. I ask my mom questions all the time. I also lean on google. In my searches, I found a few charts and recipes I thought were perfect for printing and posting in the kitchen.

In the spirit of sharing, I though you might enjoy them, as well…

If you want to dive right into heaven, try making herb butters. These are one of the items listed on the chart above, and they’re super easy to make. Here’s a an incredible recipe from a fellow blogger…

You can find 29 more butter herb recipes here!

As the saying goes, “I cook with wine. And sometimes I even add it to the food.” That’s me to a T. Check out this amazing chart that shows how to pair wine with herbs. Yes! I’ve never seen it laid out quite so nicely. Get a full look here.

Still on the topic of drinking herbs, here’s a lovely recipe for Summer Herbal Tea.

herbal teas

summer herbal tea recipe

Get the full recipe here.

Hopefully some of these charts and recipes give you a few ideas. (I promise to keep sharing.) And if a neighbor offers fresh goods from the garden, you can take full advantage of this flavorful gift.

Also, feel free to leave a comment with any additional tips or even questions you might have. If I don’t know the answer, I bet my mom does. 😉

Happy growing (and sipping) season, my friends.



Friday Wrap: Diggin’ the Dirt

katie daisy

{In case you haven’t noticed, I adore Katie Daisy designs.}

We’ve had sunny days with 60-degree temps this week, which means this girl has been totally diggin’ the dirt. It also means this week’s Friday wrap is all about gardening in some form or fashion.

Here are a five faves from the week that fell into the “must share” category.

{ONE} Feeding the Hummingbirds

hummingbird feeder

My glass hummingbird feeder somehow cracked over the winter, so I knew the day was coming that I’d need to replace it. I found this darling mason jar feeder at Lowe’s. It was the only one on the shelf, but you can get them here. Once I got it home, I boiled up some of this sweet nectar, filled the jar and then hung it in the garden with care. Now we wait for those magical birds to appear. <3

{TWO} Repelling Bugs – Naturally

bug repellant

I love a good natural remedy when I can find one – especially if it enables me to keep Deet off of my skin. Remember the time I posted this recipe for homemade bug spray? Well, I found essentially the same thing in the Handmade Market here in Fayetteville. I went ahead and bought some of this, since it was already brewed and bottled. And I’m stocking up on it now, because I have a feeling we’re in for a bugpocalypse this year. We had such a mild winter, the bugs didn’t freeze. #winterthatneverwas

{THREE} A Bee & Bug House

bee and bug house

Okay, so not all bugs are bad. The girls are in a garden club at school, and when I spotted this interesting-looking house near their project garden, I asked Avery what it was. She had all of the details. “Each of the spots attract different kinds of friendly bugs that are helpers in the garden – like ladybugs. They go in the smaller hole, and things like bees go in the bigger holes.” Very cool, and P.S. someone was listening at school.

Speaking of friendly bugs and bees, I spotted this sweet bumble in Mimi’s garden yesterday. He’s so fluffy!!


He was so busy drinking from all of the flowers he didn’t even care that I was this close.

{FOUR} Fresh Veggies

fresh carrots fresh lettuce

While I was in Mimi’s garden yesterday, we pulled up a handful of carrots and snipped some fresh lettuce. Oh, so yummy! It made for such a delicious lunch. I actually didn’t intend to hop right into her garden and bunny-nibble through all of the produce. The real reason for my visit was to gather some Black-eyed Susans for my front garden. Mimi offered to share some of her spouts, and I left with three boxes full of plants. Such a happy day all around.

{FIVE} Garden Hands

hand cream

The only real “side effect” of gardening (other than a few bug bites, potential sunburns, and gardening elbow – which is a thing, but we still love gardening anyway!!) is the dirty hands. I use a natural nail brush to scrub the dirt away and then treat my skin to some luxury hand cream.

While I was in the Handmade Market getting the natural bug spray, I found this “perfectly perfect hand creme” made in London. The girl in the store said it reminded her of a spring day. I completely agree. And I’m a sucker for good marketing.

That’s a wrap! Here’s to a fantastic weekend, my friends. If you need me, I may be back in the garden – or at the garden store…

garden happiness




The Diary of a Real Housewife



Five Fall Garden To Dos

While the temperatures are still mild and it feels pretty darn awesome to be outside, I think I’ll get organized in the garden. Here are five simple things I plan to do this weekend to tend to my plant babies:

{ONE} Clean it up

This might sound like a no-brainer, but now is the time to cut back perennials and clean out any dead leaves or annuals that have called it quits. So I’ll get out my pruners and go to town.

{TWO} Plant some bulbs

I always have dreams of having fields (yes, plural) of gorgeous spring tulips, daffodils and iris surrounding my home. Then I wake up and realize I must first plant them. Now is the time to get those suckers in the ground. The best thing to do is find a sunny spot to plant and set them deep enough in the ground. How deep, you might ask? I’ve actually heard this is the most common question about planting. So…

A good rule of thumb: Dig a hole two times deeper than the bulb is tall.

{THREE} Water everything in sight

We’ve had a dry fall so far, so it’s super important to turn on those sprinklers or my favorite: the hose that grows (not pictured, btw).

{FOUR} Spread some compost

I don’t have an official compost pile at the moment. It’s one of those things on my “to do at some point in my life” list. So for now, when I need to apply a quality compost, I get mushroom compost or something similar and put about an inch in the garden. This will break down over the winter months and improve the quality of the soil. That equals a happy, healthy home for our plant babies. It also means you might not have to fertilize come spring. Yay!

{FIVE} Apply mucho mulch

I might not get to this step until a little later. Once the ground is cold, I’ll put down some mulch over all of the perennials. I like to use fresh fallen leaves. Here’s a great article on how to process your leaves for mulching. Hay from your Halloween decorations makes great mulch, too.

Isn’t this a gorgeous porch?! This might have to be my next “to do”. Have a great week and enjoy the garden!



How to Protect Your Garden Goodies

For the first time in my life I planted lettuce in my garden. I know, I’m gettin’ crazy. Well, I’m happy to report that it’s way easier than I thought, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised how quickly these seeds have sprouted. I’m talking just days ago I sprinkled seeds in the ground and now look at them!

lettuce crop

As I’ve been admiring my row crop, I’ve also noticed a few pesky critters starting to show up – like I’m going to be handing out forks and bibs. Um, no. I’m usually good about sharing, but I really don’t feel like giving up my tender lettuces to the wild rabbits, bugs and weeds.

What’s a gardener to do?

Well, this one called her one-and-only Mimi who knows a million things or two about gardening. She gave me a few ideas (all natural, of course) that I wanted to share. I also found a few ideas online to round out the list for us.

If you have wild rabbits, squirrels or other vermin:

Chicken wire placed carefully on top of your plants like a tent will physically keep animals away. They won’t be able to reach through the wires. The leafy greens can still grow through the holes, but at least you won’t lose an entire head of lettuce to an entire burrow of hungry bunnies.

chicken wire

Crushed red pepper…like the kind you find at pizza joints next to the sprinkle Parmesan. Spread this around the base of your plants to deter any nibbling animals. This spice is too hot for their little tongues.


If you have slugs or other bugs:

Beer traps. Yes, beer. Pour some into a plastic cup or Mason jar. Then tuck it down into the soil next to your plants. Slugs will be drawn to the yeasty smell and will crawl right into the container. Cheers!

beer trap

Crushed egg shells also work for slugs. Spread them around the edge of your garden and the slugs won’t cross the line, because it wouldn’t feel so good on their squishy bodies. “No shell up in here, baby.”

crushed egg shells

Liquid soap is the answer for aphids (those tiny whitish bugs you find under leaves and that make small webs). Simply put a drop of dish soap in a spray bottle with water. Wet the surface of all of your affected plants to get rid of these suckers.

liquid soap

Natural insecticide sprays can work well for pretty much any kind of bug in your garden. Here’s a recipe to try. To make homemade 2% insecticidal soap, mix together 5 tablespoons soap (like the Castile soap shown above) to 1 gallon of water. Then add one of the following items to enhance your solution:


    • Cooking Oil: To help the solution stick, add two tablespoons of light cooking oil per gallon of water.
    • Vinegar: This also targets powdery mildew. Add a teaspoon of cider vinegar per gallon of water.
    • Garlic or Pepper: To repel chewing insects, add a teaspoon of ground red pepper or garlic per gallon of water.

Here’s another recipe…mix 1/2 cup brown sugar to one gallon of boiling water (to dissolve sugar). Let the solution cool and pour into a sprayer to apply on your plants. So simple. I haven’t tried this one, but it had raving reviews. Doesn’t hurt to try, right?

If you have rascally weeds:

Dig by hand right after a rain, when the soil is good and loose, to pull the invaders all the way to their roots.

hand-garden-tools-300x300Natural weed killer is also good if you’d rather take the “spray and pray” approach. A simple recipe is 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of table salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid soap. Mix together, pour into a bottle, and spray carefully onto your weeds. You don’t want to kill everything, including your prized petunias.

natural weed killer

That should cover most of your gardening nightmares. Let me know if I missed anything, or if you have other natural tips to try. Here’s hoping no matter what crawls, hops, or flies into your garden that you enjoy your time in the great outdoors!



DIY Moss Planters

Okay, so earlier in the week I shared a few easy Easter flower arrangements. One of the pictures showed a darling moss-covered planter.

moss pot

I researched how to do this and found a variety of methods. Most of the DIYs involved a concoction of buttermilk and live moss mixed in a blender and then painted on the side of a terra cotta pot. While I appreciate this natural approach, it sounded kind of gross thinking about a dairy-based anything growing on the middle of my table. I mean, would it begin to smell? I have a super sensitive sniffer. It’s borderline bionic. I can’t do weird smells or anything close to rancid or my gag reflex kicks in. Needless to say, I opted for the easy and safe/non-smelly route.

All it required was a few items:

Moss planter supplies

L to R: Raffia, terra cotta pot, moss ribbon, glue gun

The key was this moss ribbon I found at Hob Lob. It was super easy to work with, and it wrapped around the pot very nicely in strips.

Moss ribbon

Moss ribbon is thin and the back is lined with mesh that makes it easy to hot glue to any surface.

My pot was taller than the moss, so I hot-glued two strips of moss ribbon around the pot and trimmed the excess along the bottom with scissors.

Moss pot

This was my first strip of ribbon.

Tip: Wear garden gloves when you work with the glue gun so you don’t burn your fingers when you pat down the moss. Hot glue hurts like the dickens.

Once you’ve trimmed the edges of the moss, you can wrap a few pieces of raffia around the pot to cover where the two pieces of ribbon came together.

Finished moss pot

My moss pot is finished, filled with soil and ready for some flowers already!

I chose pansies for this pot. I plan to make another one and give these as Easter gifts to my mom and SIL tomorrow. Shh! They’ll be a surprise.

Finished moss planter

Ta-da! It is ready to give as a surprise little gift.

I hope you found this easy to follow – and much easier than the buttermilk madness. Let me know what you think. Have a super Saturday and check back tomorrow for a special Easter message.