Easy Easter Flower Arrangements

It’s almost time to break out the Reece’s peanut butter eggsJelly Belly Beans and Peeps! That’s right. Easter is a just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Ever wonder how some of the traditions, like dyed eggs and the Easter Bunny, started? This interesting article from Real Simple helps shed light on some of the folklore, such as the term Easter itself. Some claim the word derives from Eostre, a goddess of spring and fertility. I never knew that.

Okay, so other than treating myself to a bit of extra candy this time of year, I enjoy decorating the house with spring flowers. And when I say enjoy, I really mean L.O.V.E. Not many things brighten my day like a bundle of fresh, spring flowers from the garden – other than my sweet family and fuzzy bunnies.

Here are a few simple, yet beautiful arrangements to try on your Easter table this year.

Eggs Three Ways 

Easter arrangement with egg planters

I made this grouping of planters out of hollowed out egg shells and other items I found around the house. Keep reading to see how I pulled it together.

{1} Egg Cups

Check this out, I bought a set of egg cups at a flea market several years ago and have always found interesting ways to use them – outside of holding poached eggs, which I have never made. Here’s one of my faves: make egg planters.

Egg cups

Hollow out an egg (just crack the egg on the pointy end, drain the egg through the small hole at the top, and scramble for breakfast), let the egg shell dry, then fill it with soil and add your plant. Now it’s a mini flower pot! It might sound a bit fussy, but it really isn’t. Pinkie promise. And it will look so cute on your table.

{2} Nest Egg

For idea number two, display an egg planter on something unique that you have around the house.

Nest egg Easter flower arrangement

This adorable nest is actually a candle holder my SIL gave me one year. I filled it with a piece of moss and nestled my egg planter inside.

Tip: Look around your house for inspiration and get creative with how you display things!

{3} Egg on a Pedestal

Egg planter on a candlestick

I spray painted a clear candlestick holder from Dollar Tree with white gloss paint to give it a cohesive look with my egg cups. Then I used the holder as a makeshift egg cup! It adds height to my overall grouping. I actually used all three of the ideas I just shared on my table this year. I created multiple groupings and arranged them down the center of the table on a burlap runner.

{Bonus} Egg Cup Vases

I couldn’t help myself. I had to give you at least one more idea for jazzing up your egg cups. It’s not that often we get these things out of our cabinets.

Fill a hollowed out egg with water and tuck in a few dainty blossoms like lily of the valley, lilacs, and violas. Several of these would be gorgeous lining the center of your table. You could add a few tealight candles and sprinkle some jelly beans between each of the vases to give it an added Easter touch.

Moving on to other fun types of planters and arrangements…

Moss Pot and Pansies

I love the look of moss. It adds such a woodsy feel to any pot of flowers. This one uses a combination of ferns, English ivy, pansies, and violas. I’m actually going to be making a moss-covered pot later this week, so check back for the DIY instructions.

Rustic Hydrangeas

Isn’t this charming? For this rustic look, cut 30 to 40 twigs to the height of a glass vase. Hot-glue them to its surface and finish with some twine tied in a bow. The flowers featured are Queen Ann’s lace and white hydrangea blossoms. This would be gorgeous as a centerpiece or on an entryway table.

Daffodil Delight

This is probably the easiest way to Easter-up your table. Snip several bunches of daffodils from your yard – or the yard of your very kind neighbor who who will let you have some in exchange for Peeps. Arrange several vases in the center of your table. Egg cups work, too! Be sure the vases are varying heights, but all the same color so the look is more of a “collection.” Then fill each vase with as many daffs as you can stuff in there. Remember not to mix them with other flowers.

Carrots and Daisies

Why, yes. This arrangement just screams Easter – in a lovely kind of way. Find yourself some big, juicy carrots with their tops still on and stand them upright in a vase with a bit of water. Add a fresh bunch of Shasta daisies (mums would work, too) for an instant arrangement. I totally love this. I could wash the carrots and feed them to Rosie the rabbit after Easter!

I hope some of these ideas inspired you to try some fresh flowers on your Easter table this year. Let me know which one you like best or if you have another favorite bouquet to share. I’d love to see it.

As always, wishing you the best day, yet!

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Spring Break!

Spring is in full swing around here. Soccer officially started, more flowers are emerging in the garden, our first wave of storms just passed through town, and this week was spring break!

For this year’s break, we took a short trip to Kansas City and then drove on to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit family. Before we knew it were were pulling back into our driveway. It went entirely too fast. That’s a sure sign of a good time, though, right? Here are some of the highlights of the week.

{ONE} Sporting KC Soccer

Sporting KC Soccer Game

Look at that cute cheering section. And when did Evan get so tall?!

We attended our first Sporting KC soccer game! The kids love the sport, including my biggest kid (Brandon), so everyone was excited. Even though it was a tie game, the experience won us over. We’ll do that again.

{TWO} Bunny Cards

Cards from PaintedBliss

Cute cards from Painted Bliss

While we were in Nebraska, one of my incredibly thoughtful nieces, Mallory, gave me these hand-painted cards. Aren’t they precious? Not quite as precious as Mallory’s triplets, though. They definitely take the cake. I loved my snuggle time with those sweet babies!!!

{THREE} Homemade Dog Treats

Once we got home, we had the pleasure of dog sitting Mr. Frito, who belongs to one of my other nieces. (I have a big family – and I love them all.) Frito is THE most relaxed dog around. I even taught him yoga (proof below). I decided to spoil him a bit and make homemade doggie treats. I think they turned out okay. Frito gave them two paws up as far as I could tell.

Frito

{FOUR} Origami Tulips

With Easter on its way, the girls and I decided to get crafty. Avery bought an Origami book and decided to make paper tulips. They turned out so cute, I put them in vases. I’m thinking anyone could do this for a longer-lasting centerpiece for your Easter table. Or you could make a flower for each person’s place setting. Tissue paper flowers would be gorgeous, too.

{FIVE} Pretty Egg Planters

Speaking of centerpieces, look at this beautiful display using egg shells as planters that contain little succulents and violets. I’ll be doing this project later today.

I’ll post more flower arrangement ideas for Easter on Monday. Be sure to stop back. In the meantime, check out the other great blogs through Five on Friday with April, DarciChristina, and Natasha.

Fiveonfriday

Cheers to a wonderful weekend, my friends!

-Kate

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Hello, friends! I wanted to wish you a proper Irish blessing on this special day. There are many special sayings shared on St. Patrick’s day, and the one pictured above is my favorite Gaelic prayer.

I’ve always been a fan of St. Patrick’s day, and not just for the shamrocks, green beer, parades and pinching of any non-green wearing friends. That’s certainly fun, and I enjoy partaking in a pint of Guinness when I can, but the holiday feels deeply personal to me. In addition to attending St. Patrick’s school from kindergarten through 8th grade (no joke), I have deep Irish roots.

My maiden name is Clark, and my great great grandfather stowed away on a ship from Ireland. Legend has it he got into a fight with is school teacher and was frightened to face his family. So he headed for America to start a new life.

Clark Coat of Arms

This is the Clark family coat of arms in Ireland. Try looking up your own family’s coat of arms. It’s a great way to feel connected to your lineage.

For me, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is a way to honor my heritage, as well as the patron saint and apostle of Ireland who was said to have driven all of the snakes out of the country.

Whether you’re Irish or not, I hope you find some fun in the day and enjoy learning about a beautiful culture.

Be sure to raise a glass and say “Sláinte” (pronounced SLAN-cha), which is the Irish word for “health” to celebrate. Your friends will surely be impressed.

I’ll leave you with another great Irish saying, because you indulged me while I talked about my heritage – and you’re still reading.

“May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.”

-Kate

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Perfect Pancakes!

Pancake PicIt’s officially Pancake Day! In our house that means it’s brinner time (fixing breakfast foods for dinner).

As a little background, Pancake Day is also called Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, which is the last day of feasting before Lent. It represents a tradition of eating rich foods before fasting begins.

To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to share some creative ideas and helpful tips for making the most perfect pancakes – regardless of when you choose to flip your cakes.

Tips for the Tastiest Pancakes

This is my favorite recipe because it uses buttermilk, which makes a difference in the flavor and fluffiness of your pancakes.

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk and let sit for 10 minutes.

Williams-Sonoma Vanilla

Source: Williams-Sonoma

No matter which recipe you use, adding a dash of vanilla to your batter will truly enhance the flavor. Using a high-quality vanilla, like this one from Williams-Sonoma, makes a difference, too.

Fix the Fluffiest Pancakes

One of the most helpful tips for the fluffiest pancakes is to be sure and not over stir the batter, which makes your pancakes tough.

pancake batter

Source: Say Yes

Letting your batter rest, separating and whipping your egg whites, waiting until you see bubbles and flipping only once are other super helpful tips. See more details on this post.

A No-drip Tip

Use plastic squeeze bottles to pour your batter and keep the clean up to a minimum!

Plastic Squeeze Bottle

Source: Amazon

You can find condiment bottles like these online or in most grocery stores. You can also recycle and clean out a ketchup or salad dressing bottle for the same purpose!

Get Creative

Add a little creative flair to your hot cakes and try one of these recipes tonight. It is a holiday after all!

Nutella and Mini Pancake Kabobs

Nutella pancake kabobs

Source: Tablespoon

Stuffed Pancakes

Stuffed Pancakes

Source: Prepared Pantry

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Pancake Pops

pancake pop

Source: Number 2 Pencil

Rainbow Pancakes

Rainbow Pancakes

Source: I Am Baker (Nothing says “Mardi Gras”, which is actually French for Fat Tuesday, like a stack of bright-colored cakes! These might be the winner for our dinner tonight.)

Regardless of how you stack ’em up, I hope you have a happy and delicious pancake day!

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Five Faves of the Week

Hello, friends! We’ve had a happy and memorable week at the Andersen house filled with birthday parties, Valentine’s treats and jewelry-making projects. The fun keeps truckin’ this weekend with a date night, basketball game and possible visit to my brother’s farm. So what do you say we ring in this weekend already? Here are our favorite highlights of the week – so far!

{ONE} Neon Ninth Birthday

Avery and Clara turned nine this week and we had a glow-in-the-dark, neon party to celebrate. We used black lights and tons of neon decorations to create a glowing good time.

Neon Birthday

Top left: Avery and Clara getting their dance poses ready; top right: dance party U.S.A.; bottom left: That would be Brandon getting the DJ booth ready; bottom right: My son and his best friend getting into the spirit of the night. They were brave to hang out with screaming and dancing third grade girls all night.

Glow Stick Chandelier

I had to show you the glow-stick chandelier I made! Look at the center of the pic. I took a garden hanging basket and hung it from the ceiling. Then I hung glow sticks from the rim. It turned out to be one of my favorite decorations of the night (other than the neon paper chains made with poster board! That took the prize for the least-expensive-highest-impact decor.)

{TWO} Monogrammed Sweatshirts from Initial Twist

Okay, y’all. My friend Karrie has a business called Initial Twist where she does applique’, embroidery and vinyl designs on the most comfortable shirts in the world. She can pretty much do anything, so message her through her Facebook page and she’ll hook you up. Tell her The Neat Nook sent you!

Monogrammed shirts

I ordered these cute, monogrammed shirts as birthday gifts for the girls. So cute!!

{THREE} Kate Spade Inspired Earrings

If you’re looking for the easiest and prettiest DIY project this weekend, you HAVE to do this. A sweet and super creative friend of mine showed me how to do this one. The best part, they look just like Kate Spade earrings, but will only cost you about $5 total. Not. Even. Kidding.

Glitter Earrings

This is all I did…took these fun earrings from Walmart and painted a layer of clear polish on top. I sprinkled glitter on top, let it dry and did a few more layers (paint then glitter) until my desired look!

{FOUR} Mother & Daughter Necklace

I received an early Valentine surprise from my darling husband. I showed him a picture of this beautiful necklace by Erin Pelicano on Pinterest (because I was so touched by how sweet it was) and he ended up ordering it for his special girls – that would be the twinsies and I. I’m in love all over again. That guy. I tell ya. <3

Mother Daughter Necklace

The smaller hearts have an A and C stamped on them for Avery and Clara. My own heart is the one melting.

{FIVE} Strawberry Heart Kabobs

The kids had their Valentine’s Day parties at school yesterday. I volunteered to make sweet treats, and ended up making this easy-peasy strawberry number. It was a hit – and didn’t send the kids spiraling into too much of a sugar craze. Win-win.

Strawberry kabobs

I found short bamboo sticks in the Martha Stewart party section at Walmart. The trick for the strawberries is to scoop out the tops. Then when you slice them in half (which is all you do), they look like little hearts. I slid them onto the skewers and served with fresh whipped cream. Yes, please!

I hope you have a fun weekend planned and have an extra sweet Valentine’s day!! If you want more details about ANY of the things mentioned above, let me know and I’ll either email you the deets or post more details next week.

Be sure to check out the rest of the ladies on Five on Friday. I know they’ll have fun things to share, as well!

FiveonfridayXOXO

-Kate

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Friday Wrap + Five DIY Valentine’s

Happy Friday! It’s been an inspiring week visiting my dear sister in Atlanta. She’s been having some health issues, so I went to help out around the house and just catch up on life. It’s been awhile since we’ve done that. We live many miles away from each other and both carry a lot of responsibilities – so it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. Do you ever get that way? Before you know it, weeks and sometimes months have passed before you’ve talked to the people you probably need the most – like a sister? Well, that was us. We were overdue for some serious sister time, so I was beyond excited to jump on a plane to fly further south to see her.

sisterDuring my visit we caught up on great stories, and I gathered some of the best advice on raising healthy girls, creating strong friendships, and being honest about your own limitations. I can sincerely say my sister has all of these things figured out. How blessed am I to have her in my life as a role model and friend? Beyond.

Between chats, loads of laundry and meeting her friends, we found time to flip through a few magazines. You know how much I adore magazines. So now I have some fun ideas and projects I want to do around the house.

conversation heartsI’m also excited to get my Valentine’s cards started this weekend. I’m a sucker for Valentine’s Day. It’s such a sweet holiday to reach out to friends – and of course your special love – to let them know how much they’re appreciated. No big fancy gifts are needed.

I think a handmade card with a thoughtful note is the best kind of gift you could give – or receive.

I’ve always enjoyed making cards, and I have a few simple and cute ideas to share with you!

{ONE} “I Love You” Sign

I Love You ValentineThis card uses the “I love you” sign in American Sign Language, which is to tuck your middle and ring finger down while leaving all other fingers up. What better way to show your love on Valentine’s than with this sweet card? My daughter Clara made this by tracing her hand on a piece of construction paper, then we cut it out and taped a roll of Smarties under the two “down” fingers. Any round candy would work great. <3

{TWO} Cupid’s Arrow

Finished Arrow

This is the finished Valentine. Once I assembled the arrow, I tied a message onto the Pixie stick with a little piece of tulle.

Cupid’s arrow is a classic Valentine design. This is a sweeter version that uses a shot of sugar. I used a Pixie stick as the base and taped the arrow designs right onto the stick.

Cupid's Arrow

I drew triangles on a piece of construction paper (left) then cut them out to make an arrow tip and end (right)

Cupid's Arrow

Next, I made fringe by cutting diagonally on the end (top left) and then I simply taped the arrow pattern to the Pixie stick.

{THREE} Highlight of My Day

Highlighter Valentine

This is probably the simplest idea. Tie a bright-colored ribbon around a highlighter and attach a cute message. Voila, Valentine!

If you’re looking for a non-candy Valentine option, this is a fun (and kind of practical) idea that uses a highlighter. Isn’t it a darling way to brighten someone’s day?

{FOUR} Coo Coo for You!

Cocoa Puffs

I layered white copy paper that had the Valentine message over a piece of pink construction paper (left) then I tied a plastic spoon to the side of the box (right)

I’ve always loved those little individual boxes of cereal – the kind that come in an 8-pack of different flavors. Here’s a cute idea that turns them into a Valentine gift. Write a quirky message that ties in the cereal to include on the box, then tie a plastic spoon to the side. Super easy. Here are some quotes to try (with a typical breakfast pack):

  • Lucky Charms: You’re my luckiest charm.
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch: You’re cereal-esly cool.
  • Cocoa Puffs: I’m coo coo for you.
  • Cheerios: You bring cheer to my day.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios: Nuttin’ is better than your friendship.
  • Golden Grahams: Your heart is good as gold.
  • Frosted Cheerios: You’re the frosting on my day.
  • Trix: No trix, you’re a great friend!

{FIVE} Award-winning Friend

Award Winning Friend

To finish this design, I stapled a Valentine message on the back and then covered the staple on the front with a heart-shaped foam sticker.

Every award-winning friends deserves this kind of Valentine. It’s also a basic Valentine that doesn’t require candy – unless you want to attach this to a beautiful box of chocolates. That would be perfectly okay! The only things this project needs are baking cups (various designs and sizes so you can stack them), ribbon and a stapler.

Award winning Friend

I cut “fringe” on the baking cups (top left) then folded a piece of ribbon (top right) before stapling it to the back of the stacked cups (bottom left). You can see the front view of the assembled ribbon (bottom right)

I hope these ideas inspired you to pull out your glue sticks, scissors and markers and spread a little love in your world. Here’s a free downloadable PDF of the Valentine’s messages shown in all of the pictures above.

Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to hug your sister if you have one!

-KateFiveonfriday

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It’s a Friday Wrap

Happy Friday!! Despite my son nearly breaking his wrist playing indoor soccer (x-rays came back clean, thank goodness), it’s been a pretty good week. The weather has been beautiful, so we’ve tried to play outside as much as possible – knowing wicked winter weather is bound to be on the heels of this warm spell.

With that, here are a few highlights from the week:

{ONE} Explored the outdoors of Crystal Bridges

Exploring Crystal Bridges

This is a quick pick of the girls resting their legs on a rock bridge that spans across a little creek. The day was absolutely gor-geous!

Crystal Bridges Museum is a wondrous place to visit whether you live here or ever plan to visit beautiful Northwest Arkansas. It has taken the art industry by storm with its all-American art collection. (I should be a docent for them or something.) Anyway, curving along the edges of the museum’s gorgeous landscape are several hiking trails, which are sprinkled with sculptures and other fun art displays.

Kids playing with art

This giant frame is found along the Tulip trail. Can you tell which famous pieces of art they’re portraying? (Answer guide: Scream, The Thinker, American Gothic) I should remember this for Halloween!

The kids were out of school on Monday, so we decided to spend the day hitting the trails. We also stopped for a few laughs, because we’re goofy like that.

{TWO} Jazzed up the door with decorFront door wreathOur front door has been naked ever since we removed the holiday decorations! It seems too early for a Valentine wreath, too. Sometimes transitions are hard. When I found this adorable wall hanging on sale at Hobby Lobby, I thought the laurel pattern felt kind of wreathy. I decided to hang it outside, tie a white burlap ribbon from the back hook, and add a bow for some pop. What do you think? Will this get me through until heart season?

{THREE} Started the paperwhite watch

Forcing paperwhite bulbs

Left: What I planted two weeks ago. Right: What it looks like today!

The indoors also felt a tad bland. I thought it would be fun to force paperwhite bulbs for some color – and life. I wasn’t exactly sure how long they’d take to bloom. I started two weeks ago and have been watching these suckers grow like crazy. The first blooms popped open Wednesday. It was like a little party in the vase.

I’m thinking about growing some to give as Valentine’s gifts. If you want to do the same, I’d recommend planting them by early next week so they bloom in time. I’d be happy to post a “how-to” on this if anyone is interested. Just comment to let me know.

{FOUR} Read about moments of grace

Small Victories by Anne Lamott

This is such a great book!

I received Anne Lamott’s latest book for Christmas and finally got around to reading it this past week. It’s a treasure. Her writing is hilarious, honest and spiritual. In fact, it would make a great Valentine gift for a friend if you’re looking for non-food items – other than the gorg paperwhites above. One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“…we stood outside an inner gate, showed our IDs to the guards, and got our hands stamped with fluorescent ink. “You don’t glow, you don’t go,” said one cheerful, pockmarked guard, which was the best spiritual advice I’d had in a long time.”

{FIVE} Caught up on my stash of cards

hallmark_logo

“When you care enough to send the very best.”

I’m still a fan of sending greeting cards – especially for family and close friends. Facebook is awesome, don’t get me wrong. I just like sending the very best when I can. And yes, Hallmark is my favorite greeting card company. They have some of the funniest, prettiest and poignant cards available, IMO.

Once a month, I like to take my list of birthdays and anniversaries and stock up. I use a perpetual calendar like the one pictured below to keep track. Definitely get one of these if you can!

Perepetual calendarWhile I was in the store stacking up for February, I pulled the last card from one of the slots and discovered this funny sign. I noticed there were others, too. I had to share.

Hallmark cards

There were several messages like these behind all of the cards. You know how much I love bunnies?! The top one made me laugh out loud.

That pretty much wraps the week. I’m off to make igneous rock out of Rice Krispies for Avery’s science class. #lifeofamom Have an incredible weekend. I have tons of fun in store for next week, so be sure to stop back by!

In the meantime, check out some amazing bloggers at Five on Friday.FiveonfridayYou can also see some honest, and sometimes hilarious Friday confessions at A Blonde Ambition.HeaderTrans_zpscb139c50<3 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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Friday Wrap and Year Beginnings!

New Year's Cheer

A New Year’s Cheers!

In case you haven’t been properly wished upon, yet, Happy New Year!!!

Our family spent the evening with a group of friends playing all kinds of crazy games – and tricks. It was the kind of fun that literally landed me on the floor laughing. It had nothing to do with the Moscow Mules, either. It was all about the awesome people, which we’re super thankful to have come to know.IMG_5099Then yesterday we kicked off the year with an amazing meal. My SIL served up a proper, southern New Year’s feast of Hoppin’ John (black eyed peas for good luck), collard greens (for wealth and abundance) and cornbread (for good fortune). I made sure to have seconds – for the luck and all. Wink.

hoppin-john

I was so busy eating, I didn’t grab a photo! This is basically what it entailed – a bowl full of delicious rice, black eyed peas and other veggies and seasonings.

This meal, and the past few days to be honest, has left me feeling incredibly blessed. Good food, good friends, good family moments…the best gifts of the season. I hope you’re feeling equally as thankful and are excited to keep the good things going.

Speaking of good things, here are five I’ve truly loved and/or obsessed about this past week that I had to share – outside of my SIL’s incredible food. I wish I could share that, too.

{ONE} Horse Race

horse race

We played with a cool, handmade version of this game.

This was THE best party game of new year’s eve. If you ever have a chance to play horse race, do it. And don’t fall for it when someone tells you it’s a game where you run with stick horses around the kitchen. Just trust me – and the floor I fell on.

{TWO} Melting Moments Cookies

Melting Moments

Seriously so good.

I made a few batches of these for our neighbors over the holidays, and I have since made several more batches (who’s counting?) for our own family to devour. These are seriously sinful. And like the name says, they melt in your mouth.

I tried making a gluten-free version for my parents using GF flour. They didn’t turn out so great. I might have botched things when I melted the butter vs. used room temp. I’m not the best baker in town, so I honestly don’t know if that made the difference? Maybe someone has a better GF version? For now, here’s the real deal from Give Recipe (that even I could bake):

Ingredients

  • 1 and ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup powdered sugar + 1 cup to sprinkle on top
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (not melted!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine flour, cornstarch and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture until everything is blended.
  5. Chill the dough for half an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Make mini balls from the dough, and place on the baking sheet leaving about 1-inch space.
  9. Bake for 13 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before sifting powdered sugar over the top.
  11. Eat them. All. Then lick your fingers.

{THREE} Vision Boardssample vision boardEarlier this week I wrote about vision boards. They’re a pretty powerful way to map out your goals if you haven’t tried your hand at making one, yet. I finished mine (for now) and feel pretty good about how things are mapping out this year. I hope you’re able to take some time to do the same for yourself. Once you have an idea of what you want, it makes it so much easier to break things down into mini steps that you can put in your calendar (or gorgeous planner), which so eloquently brings us to number four…

{FOUR} Day Planners!

Day Designer

I’m so in love with this Day Designer. Belle & Blush sells these beautiful planners. They have tons of other amazing things, too. (Thank you notes, anyone?!) They’re definitely worth checking out. Tell ’em The Neat Nook sent ya!

This time of year reminds me of the first day of school. Stocking up on fresh notebooks and new calendars. I plan to kick it old school this year and use a day planner. I think the act of putting pen to paper makes things feel more official – like a contract. I’m going to see if it makes a difference getting things accomplished this year. Wish me luck!

There are so many great planners to choose from. I landed on a Day Designer by Whitney English. When I read, “It was created with creative professionals, busy mamas, and girls-on-the-go in mind,” I was like, um, that pretty much sums up my life. So I looked no further. I’ll be sure to share some of my favorite tips and tricks with the planner as I go!

{FIVE} Solmate Socks

Solmate Socks

These are from Handmade Market right here in Fayetteville. Darling store!

This was the dark horse of all the gifts in my stocking this year. I didn’t realize how much I could love a pair of socks until these precious things came into my life. They are super cozy, yet not too thick to fit inside your favorite boots. I live in them as much as I can – and probably need to get more for this winter we’re about to have. Snowy weather + cozy socks = happiness. Yes?

So, 2015…I feel good vibes about this one.

I’m looking forward to growing friendships, enjoying lots of family time, venturing into new projects and embracing my imperfections through it all. Thanks for being on this journey with me. Let’s make this year memorable!!

Love and creative wishes,

Kate

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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