Thankful for Awesome People

We’re at the halfway mark of November, as well as day 15 of the 21-day Gratitude Challenge! So I’m sharing today’s message and personal reflection. >>

Front

Back

The white text is little hard to read, so here’s what it says:

Who are the people around you – friends, co-workers, neighbors – that you don’t always pay attention to? Are there certain people whose presence you may take for granted sometimes? List some people below and write a brief reason why you’re thankful for them.

In the next few days, tell one of these people why you’re thankful for them. It’ll be an encouragement to both you and them.

———————————————————

Personal Reflection

Gosh, this message struck a chord. I can get so wrapped up in my day-to-day schedule…keeping work projects moving, carpools rolling, kids studying and playing sports – not to mention fed, that I probably take a lot of people for granted.

This bums me out just thinking about it, because I don’t mean to overlook the generous people or acts of kindness in my life.

I will definitely open my eyes and take a moment over the next few days to thank these people in particular:

> My husband for being more than my better half. In fact, many days he’s my better 3/4. He’s such a great listener – no matter what I’m rambling about. I can vent about hard days or chatter about craft supplies and he patiently listens to it all. We tag-team on pretty much everything around the house, and he always runs errands with me (even when his schedule is full) because he knows spending time together is my love language. He’s a calming presence when I get weird bouts of anxiety, and life just wouldn’t be the same without him.

> All of the moms and families in our carpools. They save my bacon on a weekly basis. Honestly, I can’t imagine life without carpool. (Someone needs to put that on a t-shirt.)

> All of the teachers and coaches who carry the baton of making my kids amazing people while I’m at work or cheering from the sidelines.

> My dearest friend in California who never gives up on us no matter how much time passes between visits, as well as my super fun friends in Kansas City and here at home.

> My kids who continue to be good eggs no matter how much I mess up. My adoring parents, talented brothers and sisters, in-laws whom I honestly love, and nieces and nephews who make me feel incredibly proud.

> My sweet neighbor who’s always willing to help feed our rabbit, bring in our mail, watch over our house, or even visit over the fence about life. She’s amazing in so many ways.

> My co-workers who not only inspire and push me to new levels of creativity, but also take time for lunch and sharing parts of their lives beyond work.

> The people at DogParty who give sweet Leo a home away from home when we take trips.

> The girl who cuts my hair and doesn’t get mad when I trim my own bangs between appointments.

I know there are so many more…

I appreciate you all and send you my deepest love.

XoXo,

Kate

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5 Ways to Decorate with Corn Husks

{This beautiful print can be purchased here}

As a graduate of the University of Nebraska, you could say I have a deep appreciation for corn husks. (Go Cornhuskers!)

This fact also brings me to a slight confession. I’ve never really decorated with them. Crazy, right?

You would have thought this craft-loving alumna had rooms wallpapered in husks – or at the very least multiple craft bins dedicated to various shapes, sizes and colors of husks. Sadly, no.

After spending several years surrounded by fields of corn, it took moving to Northwest Arkansas and having some amazing, authentic, homemade tamales (which are steamed in corn husks) to fully appreciate the versatility of a corn husk.

And now that we’re in harvest season, I can’t help but have husks on my mind!

So…this is the year I’m finally going to decorate with them. I’ve rounded up lots of ideas – all with links to their DIY instructions!

Which one is your favorite??

{ONE} Rock Them Around a Wreath

(above) This reminds me of a giant sunflower! And I love the pinecones in the center. So pretty!

(below) This project is an Anthropologie look-a-like, which instantly makes it Pinworthy. I like the idea of a grapevine wreath as the base, too. Smart.

{TWO} Cover Your Candles

Now I could totally see these on my dining room table or lined on the mantel. The feathers add just the right amount of softness next to the grainy texture of the husks. Yes and yes.

{THREE} Fashion Them Into Flowers

If I can summon the patience to make these, I can already think of a bazillion places where I can glue, tuck and tie these beautiful blooms. (on wreaths, in vases, on napkin rings, etc.)

Remember the time I made flowers out of pumpkin seeds?? I still keep finding places to use them. Most recently, I tucked one on the top of a birthday gift for my sweet Mom.

{FOUR} Gather Them In a Garland

(above) Isn’t this such a cool idea?! The concept is to loop the corn husks – like you would for a wreath – but instead of securing them to a wreath form, you attach them to each other and form a swag or bunting or garland – whatever you like to call these things!

(below) This is a wider shot so you can see the big picture here. (Cool clock, too.)

{FIVE} Create for Christmas

I have a feeling if I started something like this now, it will be ready in time for Christmas. Maybe?

I really like these little trees and could see them in a display with a wooden nativity or as part of a “winter woodland scene” on a buffet table. Don’t you think?

Oh, and quick tips on husks >

Shopping: Buy packs of dried corn husks (used to make tamales) in the international foods section of a grocery store or at Walmart or from this Etsy seller if you have time to wait for the shipping.

Using: Soak husks in water until they are pliable, then shape for your projects.

That’s a wrap! I honestly don’t know which project I’ll start first. Maybe the wreath?

Have a fantastic weekend.

Blessings,

Kate

PS. I’m linking up with all of these fantastic bloggers again this week. Be sure to check them out. >>

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Thankful for Creativity

Last week kicked off the season of thanks, as well as the series of Thankful Thursdays.

{This is a spot on the blog where I pause, try to appreciate what’s in front of me, write about it, and then invite you to join in.}

This year I’ve decided to take on a 21-day Gratitude Challenge. I ordered a set of cards and everything. Having these prompts has been super helpful, and I’m currently on day 8.

Let’s take a look. >>

Front

Back

Personal Reflection

How can I bring more creativity into my life?

For me, it comes down to making it a priority in my schedule. Thanks to Pinterest, the countless magazines stacked on my coffee table, and the close proximity of my house to Hobby Lobby, there definitely isn’t a shortage of inspiration or resources around here. It just comes down to setting aside the time – and not feeling guilty about spending it on a creative project that might not seem necessary.

The idea that “God created us to be creative” is pretty powerful, though. Essentially, that means it’s a sin when we don’t use our talents and look for opportunities to be creative. And perhaps if we can be creative in a way that also expresses our love and acceptance of others, we’re on the path of our purpose?

I’m thankful for this message today – and for the ability to use my mind, hands and heart to create things. I suddenly feel like painting a kindness rock or something.

What about you??

Blessings,

Kate

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Friday Wrap: Is October Really Over?

It’s been a wild week at the Andersen house. We closed out the month with plenty of fanfare. Can it really be time to roll into November, though?

Before we do, here are a few of our favorite moments from the week. >>

{ONE} Halloween Shenanigans

The girls had two costumes this year, which I guess makes up for no costume for my teenage son. Haha. Actually, he and his friends were super sweet and took the littles out for trick-or-treating before they did their own thing.

First up were The Little Hungry Caterpillar and Rainbow Fish, which the girls wore to school for book character day. {It was a creative way for their school to let the kids dress up, but not really make it be about Halloween. I guess schools aren’t doing Halloween anymore??}

The “official” Halloween costume of the year were these bear outfits. It turned out to be a pretty cold night, so they were pumped to be walking around in these cozy, fuzzy onesies.

To make them look like Beanie Babies, we just made tags that hung around their neck with ribbon. So simple. My kinda outfit.

Brandon and I made a last-minute decision to dress up. I’m talkin’ 20 minutes before we went to our friend’s house for dinner.

Once Brandon found the red, white, and blue hat in the attic, we scrounged around for anything we could wear with those colors (including the red plastic glasses from the dress-up bin) and just went with it. Go ‘Merica!!

We had such a fun night chillin’ with friends – especially these sweet ladies (even if they did talk me into drinking a “beer” from Bolivia that tasted like black licorice and burned my throat.) I swear I still have indigestion from it.   

Oh, and I made the pumpkin-shaped cheeseball again. The tradition continues…three years and running!!!

{TWO}  Chai Love You

I’m a seasonal sipper when it comes to coffee and tea, but I’m not a huge fan of PSL (I know, I know). What I do love, though, is the touch of spice in a chai latte this time of year. So I stocked my pantry full of some yummy K-cups.

+ This drink reminds me of my sister, KJ. It’s her favorite, too. And she warms my heart. Cheers to more chai!

{THREE} Black & White Photo Challenge

Have you seen the black and white photo challenge circulating on Facebook these days? It’s actually pretty cool, and I have no idea how it all started. Do you??

I was nominated by a co-worker and am currently on day two. My first post included Leo (above). I bribed him with a treat to sit next to me while I did yoga that morning. Lol.

It has only been a couple of days, but so far I feel like it’s great practice for mindfulness. I’m spending the day being more aware of what’s going on around me as I look for the right shot.

Want to join me? Here’s the wording for the challenge. Feel free to use my name as the person who challenged you. Because I am!! Copy and paste this into your next Facebook post – with a photo of your day.

I was nominated by Kate Clark Andersen
Seven days, seven photos in black and white of your everyday life. No explanation, no people, challenge a friend to join every day.
Day 1/7
Today, I challenge {you get to choose!}

{FOUR} Becoming Buzz Worthy?

Y’all, The Neat Nook was mentioned in a BuzzFeed Nifty article! Here’s a link to the post, and here’s a post about the link. Haha! There are so many great tips in here, too. Check it out!

{FIVE} Transitioning to Thanksgiving

In addition to some pumpkin makeovers, I’ve started back up with Thankful Thursdays. I’d love to hear from you each week and share in your thanksgivings. Yesterday was the first post, so be sure to check it out.

That’s a wrap, my friends!

Many blessings,

Kate

PS. I’m linking up with all of these fantastic bloggers again this week. Be sure to check them out. >>

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Thankful for November – And All That Comes With It

I adore the month of November so much I got married in it. Lol. My sweet B and I will be celebrating 17 years of marriage this month – and we still love each other. Like a lot!

This guy is such a good dad, caring husband and all around best friend. The picture below was taken two years ago when we went to Oregon for our anniversary. Oh, how I want to go back…right now.

Thinking about how lucky I am and the approaching holiday of Thanksgiving, I decided to take on a gratitude challenge.

You may remember last year I wasn’t sure I was up for it. Well, I recently stumbled upon these cards from Proverbs 31. They’re daily prayer cards that offer a prompt for each day. Something about them felt right. Maybe it’s the timing or the topic – or both? I ordered them. And they arrived just in time for my first Thankful Thursday post of the season!

This is the complete set, which includes one colorful card for each day of the challenge.

Below is the first card in the deck to kick things off.

Day 1

Personal Reflection

I like the thought “worship puts our problems in the right perspective.” When I think about it, I probably let too many problems get blown out of proportion. There have been days when I felt so overwhelmed something simple, like one too many red lights on the way to pickup kids from school on an already tight schedule, have sent waves of anxiety through my skin. For what, really? Being a few minutes late somewhere? Will that matter in a week, a year, ten years, or more importantly in eternity? Definitely not. But the way I handle these times…the way I treat other drivers, greet my kids when they hop in the car, and view the overall stress around it? Probably does matter. There are bigger, more important things at play, here.

Today, I’m grateful for this perspective.

What were you able to get out of today’s prompt? I’d love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

Kate

PS. It’s not too late to order your own set of cards here.

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5 Perfectly Easy Pumpkin Makeovers

Halloween is just a few days away, but there’s still time to dazzle up some pumpkins before your doorbell starts ringing. And I have some super easy, no-carve ideas to share.

As an added bonus, when the Halloween clock strikes midnight, all of these can turn into whole new pumpkins that will last until Thanksgiving!! (No fairy godmothers required.)

Here’s a snapshot of all of the projects. The Halloween edition is on the left and the Thanksgiving makeover is on the right in each photo. >>

Now let’s get down to the details!

Here are the five projects, which include supplies and instructions. You won’t believe how easy these are. For reals!

{ONE} FROM MINI MASQUERADE TO MANY THANKS

– SUPPLIES –

Orange Pumpkin * Pretty Mask * Tulle * Feathers

– INSTRUCTIONS –

Cut strips of tulle and lay them under the pumpkin – like a star. (shown on left)

Gather up the tulle at the stem of the pumpkin and secure ends with another piece of tulle. (shown on right)

Tie on the mask and add feathers for extra fabulous flair.

I used feathers with wire stems so I could just poke them right into the pumpkin.

 – MAKEOVER –

Remove the mask and feathers and gather a few extra supplies.

 – SUPPLIES – 

2 Pieces of Gold Ribbon * Short Strip of Burlap Ribbon * Tag and Gold Pen

– INSTRUCTIONS –

Wrap the gold ribbon around the pumpkin. I used two separate strips of ribbon and tied them at the top.

Make a tag using words like “give thanks” or “grateful” and then tie it onto the stem with the burlap ribbon.

I plan to put this on the buffet in my dining room.

{TWO} A SPIDER TURNS TURKEY

– SUPPLIES –

White Pumpkin * Extra Fuzzy Black Pipe Cleaners * Sharpie

– INSTRUCTIONS –

Use the Sharpie to make two black eyes.

Insert the pipe cleaners directly into the pumpkin. Super easy!

This guy is resting on the armoire in my living room at the moment.

PS. You’ll see why I didn’t make a mouth in a moment.

 – MAKEOVER –

Remove the spider legs and gather a few supplies.

– SUPPLIES –

Brown Feathers * Gold or Bronze Sharpie

– INSTRUCTIONS –

Draw a turkey beak under the eyes.

Add the fancy feathers behind the stem, so it looks like a little turkey.

These feathers had wire stems, so it was a cinch to poke right into the pumpkin.

This might be my favorite pumpkin of all time.

{THREE} SPOOKY TO SENTIMENTAL

– SUPPLIES –

White Pumpkin * Black Tulle * Orange Ribbon * Fake Spider

– INSTRUCTIONS –

Layer the black tulle and orange ribbon into a bow and tie around the stem of the pumpkin.

Hot glue or tie on the spider to jazz up the spook factor.

 – MAKEOVER –

Strip down the pumpkin to its beautiful self.

– SUPPLIES –

Silver or Black Sharpie

– INSTRUCTIONS –

You could start a lovely tradition of The Great Thanksgiving Pumpkin.

Have each person at your Thanksgiving table take turns writing something they’re grateful for – on the pumpkin.

I love the one pictured below.

{FOUR} A CHANGE OF PACE IN THE VASE

– SUPPLIES –

Small Orange Pumpkin * Carving & Scooping Tools * Floral Foam + Gothic Feathers/Flowers

– INSTRUCTIONS –

Okay, so this one requires some carving, but you can preserve the inside of the pumpkin with this handy tip.

Now, cut a “lid” on the top of the pumpkin. Open and scoop out the insides.

{Remember to keep your seeds for these yummy recipes or this darling flower.}

Insert the floral foam in the bottom of the pumpkin and arrange your feathers and flowers.

I used a little Spanish moss to fill the gaps around the edges of the arrangement.

 – MAKEOVER –

Pull out the Halloween-themed flora and gather up a fall harvest.

– SUPPLIES –

Large Bundle of Wheat

– INSTRUCTIONS –

I was able to reuse the floral foam. If it’s too crumbly from your first arrangement, you can always use a fresh one.

Insert a few stems of wheat at a time. I inserted them at an angle so they fanned out of the pumpkin.

You could add Spanish moss or even tuck in a few pine cones at the base to help cover the gaps.

I also added a pretty bow, because I just like them.

{FIVE} THE GREAT RIBBON SWAP

– SUPPLIES –

Orange Pumpkin * Black and White Ribbon * Gold Paint and Brush

– INSTRUCTIONS –

Wipe down the pumpkin and paint stripes and polka dots – or any fun pattern.

Tie a bow around the stem. Boom. Done.

 – MAKEOVER –

Remove the bow.

– SUPPLIES –

Burlap and Gold Ribbon

– INSTRUCTIONS –

Um, all you do is swap out the Halloweenish bow for this beautiful fall bow. I layered the burlap under the gold ribbon.

You could paint lots of smaller pumpkins and arrange them down the middle of your dining room table.

For the Halloween pumpkins, add black candles to help goth-up the look. When it’s time to give thanks, swap out the candles for a cream or burgundy color.

That’s a wrap! I hope this gave you a few fun ideas to try. Which one’s your favorite? Or do you have other ideas to share? Do tell! 😉

In the meantime, I’ll be busy gathering goodies (mountains of candy, more like it) for our little treaters next week.

Blessings,

Kate

PS. I’m linking up with all of these fantastic bloggers again this week. Be sure to check them out. >>

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish each of you the happiest of Thanksgivings filled with the sweetest of blessings! Thank you for being such dear friends and readers of the blog. I cherish your support and want to share this Thanksgiving poem written by one of my favorites, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Together, let’s give thanks…

Love and hugs,

-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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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving MessageHello, sweet friends. I hope you’re having the best Thanksgiving so far filled with scrumptious turkey and all the fixin’s. I know I am. Why is this not also National Yoga Pant day? Not that anyone is doing any actual exercising, though.YogaWhat will we be doing? Well, I thought it would be fun to share a few of our family traditions.

  • We always travel to Nebraska to visit the in-laws, as well as my sister KJ and her sweet family. So I get to partake in two Thanksgiving meals, making me one thankful girl.
    Nebraska...the good life

    The sign speaks truth.

  • If we don’t oversleep (because my amazing in-laws let Brandon and I sleep in while they hang out with the kids who wake up like roosters), we catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love the fanfare, the creativity, and the death-defying inflatables cruising down the street.
    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

    That is one big turkey.

  • We watch college football like most of America. I should probably clarify. Brandon watches football while I sit next to him catching up on the latest issue of Real Simple and the kids play games on their phones. It works for us. With the Huskers not playing so well the past few weeks, football has turned into a sore subject with the hubs. “Want the November or December issue, honey?”
    Husker Power

    “Please play well, Huskers. My husband’s joy depends on it.”

  • As you may have read on an earlier post, Brandon and I were married on Thanksgiving weekend, so we always carve out some time for each other. This year we’re headed to Lied Lodge in Nebraska City – home of the National Arbor Day Foundation. Gorgeous trees and apple orchards everywhere. I’ll share some pics on Instagram: @katejandersen.
    Lied Lodge & Conference Center

    Lied Lodge & Conference Center

    I’d love to hear about your family traditions. Share in the comments, Tweet or tag me on Instagram. In the meantime, have a wonderful day. I’m thankful you’re here!

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