Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

Last Minute Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Last Minute Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas from I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I am hosting both sides of our family and as a hostess, I know the struggles of decorating AND getting the feast on the table. Today I wanted to show you a few easy last minute ideas for decorating your Thanksgiving table that don’t cost a lot and can be pulled together rather quickly for the holiday.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips blog where I show off these easy to execute ideas for your holiday table today!

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

  Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. 

I don’t think any holiday meal is complete without a good stuffing. Being gluten-free can be a challenge around the holidays, trying to recreate those comforting holiday dishes, but without the gluten. Today I wanted to show you a delicious Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Stuffing that you can make for the holidays with a few delicious ingredients at Walmart that you will never guess is gluten-free and so affordable to make too!

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

The star of today’s ingredient line-up is definitely this Wright® Bacon! I love that this thick bacon is naturally hickory smoked which adds a rich depth to your stuffing. This grocery staple can be found in the refrigerated section of Walmart.

Rounding out our ingredient list are sweet apples, savory celery, onions, Great Value Brand chicken broth, a gluten free-cornbread mix, fresh thyme, fresh sage, and just a pinch of cayenne pepper to add a kick to this dish. I love that these ingredients are all available at one store, even my gluten-free cornbread mix, leaving me more time for making those family holiday memories!

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

Confession time! I was really nervous about creating this dish for you. This was actually my first time baking any gluten-free bread so I was really nervous about the texture of this bread, but even more nervous that the bread wouldn’t stand up to cubing. I am so happy to say that it actually cubed up and toasted beautifully in my oven for this dish.  I would recommend baking it the day before and cubing it the next day to help it keep its shape and prevent any crumbling. In 15-18 minutes you have your base for a beautiful bowl of stuffing.

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

Great stuffing is all about the layering of flavors and this one has them all. From the sweetness of the apples to the savory of the celery and onions to the deliciously salty and chewy bacon to the kick of spices from the cayenne, each bite is like a little holiday symphony in your mouth.

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

I would definitely say that this dish takes my holidays from good to great. You can find this and so many other great recipes over at the Joy to the Meal site to help inspire you in the kitchen. I hope you can experience a few #joy2themeal dishes at your table and I hope this recipe helps you to be brave and tackle your own gluten-free stuffing for the holidays!

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
It's hard to believe that this stuffing is gluten-free thanks to the richness of the bacon & cornbread. I hope you love this dish as much as our family does this holiday season!
  • 1 package of prepared Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix (12 ounces), prepared one day prior
  • 10 oz Wright® Brand Bacon, chopped, ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of thyme, removed from stem and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons of sage, leaves removed and chopped finely
  • 1 cup Great Value Brand Chicken Broth
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cube your prepared gluten-free cornbread and spread on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cubes are lightly toasted. Reduce the heat on your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Fry bacon until crisp, remove with a slotted spoon to a plate layered in paper towels. Drain the fat from your pan, reserving three tablespoons to sauté your veggies.
  4. To the pan, add your onion and celery and sauté these until golden about 6-8 minutes. Add apples, thyme, sage, and cayenne pepper. Cook until apples soften, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Toss cooked apples & veggies in a large bowl with cornbread cubes, broth and cooked bacon. Mix well.
  6. Bake at 375° in a buttered dish covered with foil for 40 minutes, remove foil and bake until top turns golden, about 15 minutes more.



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Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

I love the concept of Friendsgiving and plan to continue this special tradition – the giving to both our friends AND our added component of giving to our community at the same time makes this a perfect post to share again with our November M Challenge Focus on Giving. I hope you all are inspired – it really is a wonderful time!

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

This post is sponsored by Walmart AND ALL PROCEEDS WERE DONATED.

I feel like such a lucky mom to have so many incredible women in my life. Most of these friendships started when I was a new mom still trying to figure out the ropes of motherhood.  Now my kids are growing up, but I need them as much as I did in the early days. Unfortunately, our schedules have all become so crazy that it becomes nearly impossible to get our group together anymore. I decided a few weeks ago that I really wanted to see them all before the holidays took over and we all began to hibernate for the Indiana winter. I invited them to my home for my first annual Friendsgiving feast to share in a meal together before the holidays and I couldn’t wait to share about it with you.

Let me disclose by saying that I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible and, if you are considering hosting a feast of your own, I would advise you do the same. I wanted to do it on budget, make it as effortless as possible, and I wanted the cooking to be easy too.

Here is how I executed the world’s easiest Friendsgiving Feast and helped give to our community in the process.

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Create a Facebook Event (And Get Positive Responses)

Like I said, my friends are crazy busy and getting our group together is nearly impossible. Instead of setting up an event and shooting blindly in the dark for a date or receiving a million responses and being responsible for sorting people/dates, I utilize Doodle to schedule get togethers. Simply plug in the dates and times that will work for you and send out the link to the scheduling tool for each person to vote for the days that work best for them. Once you receive the responses you can set the date for the one that received the most positive response.

Once you have the date, it couldn’t be easier to invite your friends especially since everyone (at least in my group) is on Facebook. I just put up an event and asked that everyone respond there. It was easy to create, to monitor, and gave me an accurate headcount for making food purchases. Make sure that you set the privacy to, “Invite Only” for viewing otherwise everyone who is a friend can see a response (and might not be included- ouch!) I admit, the only time I wish I had a bigger house is when I host events like this. Believe me, Invite Only for viewers is the way to go.

Herb Roasted Turkey

You Supply the Turkey, They Supply the Fixins’

Last year I hosted my family for Thanksgiving all while photographing each and every dish for the site. This year I wanted to take an easier approach so I offered to supply the turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but requested that each person bring their own dish and a bottle of wine to share. To make sure all the categories were filled, I utilized Jooners to create a sign-up sheet for dishes. Be sure to specify what you need under the, “Needed,” box. That is where I asked for side dishes, desserts, bread, and appetizers. This will help you have a well-rounded feast and since everyone can fill in the dish they are bringing, it  helps cut down on anyone bringing the same dish.

Not only did I do store-bought stuffing and gravy, I purchased turkey breasts (here is my favorite method of preparation) instead of dealing with the bones and carving. It killed me a little bit to do this when I know I could do so much more, but this also helped me to truly enjoy the evening with my friends and allowed me to not worry about laboring over dishes and missing out on all the fun together. Not to mention the cost factor that I saved on by having everyone help me with dishes and drinks.

Decorate Store Bought Pies

Of course, there is always our make-ahead feast that gets you out of the kitchen that day altogether!  Here are my make-ahead mashed potatoes, make-ahead fresh green bean casserole, make-ahead gravy, make-ahead stuffing, make-ahead cranberry sauce, make-ahead appetizers, make-ahead rolls, make-ahead pie crust, and even some great make-ahead ways to dress up a store-bought pie… just to name a few!

Knitted Leaves Centerpiece

Invest in Smart Party Supplies That You Use Over & Over Again

Over the years we have hosted so many gatherings that I have accumulated an arsenal of tools so that I can pull a get together at a moment’s notice.  I honestly didn’t buy a thing other than disposable cups for our get together, but that is because I have invested over the years and I try to create handmade items that can double as centerpieces if I don’t have time to run out and purchase fresh flowers.

The things that I have used the most over the years:

Centerfold Table- I bought this three years ago and I use it at least three times a year. It has a handle on it and folds down the center making it easy to pack up and take it if you need to and also making it easy to store when you don’t.  I purchased this tablecloth (you can see it here in a game day party I did awhile back) because it was stain-resistant.  To save on time ironing, I just wash it and then spread it on the table the night before since it is so lightweight and dries quickly without even going through the dryer. It helps cut down on wasting time ironing and is wrinkle-free in the morning.


Elegant Plastic Dishes- Elegance and plastic might not seem like they go together, but plastic dishes have come a long way. I hosted a shed-warming party (totally a thing!) this summer and since we had so many guests coming, I decided to buy twenty of these dishes. If you go to Walmart, you can purchase the plates individually, which is exactly what I did.  Unfortunately (but then fortunately), they didn’t have enough in a single style so I ended up getting three different styles which adds a bit of fun to the dinner table. I love that these are lightweight and can be reused over and over again.

DIY Bar Cart

Bar Cart- This summer I transformed a tool cart into a bar cart and it is truly one of my favorite entertaining tools. Since we live in a small home (which we are very committed to) we don’t have a lot of counters or surfaces to use for putting out drinks and food. My bar cart resides in my shed, but I wheel it in when I am entertaining and it offers a fun place to tuck bottles of wine and glasses.

Inexpensive Silverware- I actually hit our local restaurant supply store for inexpensive silverware that reminds me of some of my favorite diners. There is never a shortage of forks, spoons, or knives at our home.

Decor That Can Be Used Over & Over Again- I love to craft and in the back of my mind, I am always thinking how I can weave these items into our seasonal decorating especially when it comes to the holidays. For our Friendsgiving feast my Knitted Leaf Centerpiece was perfect for my table (and is on display year-round in my craft room). This winter the table will be adorned with these Yarn Pom Pom Trees that I made. Think of creating something that you can get out every year and that can save you money when entertaining.


REALLY Make it a FriendsGIVING

I have some truly generous friends so I called upon them to assist me with giving back to our community.  First, I asked each of them to take a moment to clear out their pantries so that we could make a donation to my church’s food pantry. Right before the holidays is a great time to clear some space and make room for all of those items you will need to tackle your holiday baking and dishes.

The shelter that I have helped in the past where we achieved our MomAdvice Big Give, the Elkhart Faith Mission, is a charity that I love to support. Longtime readers may recall the MomAdvice Big Give we executed with them. Here is a little throwback footage for you.

It costs a mere $.1.79 to give a Thanksgiving meal to one person at the shelter. I left an envelope out and asked if anyone felt like giving that they could donate as little as two bucks to give someone something to look forward to for the holidays.

Consider making a true FriendsGIVING experience and find a scraps of life way to give back or gather together to make care packages for the homeless.

Faith Mission of Elkhart

Each year I like to dedicate one post from Walmart to those in need and today’s post is for the families heading to Faith Mission that need a holiday dinner to look forward to.  

I understand that sponsored posts aren’t always the favorite posts here, but the proceeds from this post today and the donations I collected fed 187 PEOPLE a Thanksgiving meal and many of our posts this year gave a community of  people clean water this year.  How cool is that? Please support our sponsors because they do help many- perhaps, more than you realize! 

I hope my Friendsgiving inspires you to give back to your community and to throw a get together with your own amazing friends!

Have you ever hosted a Friendsgiving? Any tips or tricks you would like to share!


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Fall Wreaths That Wow

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Fall Wreaths That Wow from

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  Of course, the first thing our guests see when they pull up to our house is our front door adorned with a festive wreath for the occasion. I have made a lot of wreaths over the years. In fact, I used to shadow a silk florist at one of my first jobs and she taught me so much about creating beautiful wreaths.

Today I want to talk about dressing up a doorway, mirror, window, wall, or frame in your house with a fall wreath that really wows. There is just something so great about a well-dressed door. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to create a beautiful wreath and I have a stunning collection to share with you today of unexpected ways to decorate.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips blog to find some great ideas for creating beautiful fall wreaths today!

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DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

This post is sponsored by Airheads. Thank you for supporting the companies that support us! 

Are you a skilled decorator of cakes? I wish I was, but I am not!  I have never been good with fondant decorating and have always found the flavor lacking. Thankfully, there is a delicious substitute lurking in the candy aisle that you can mold & shape into whatever your heart’s desire is. Did you know Airheads candy can add that decorative touch to your cake decorating in just a few easy steps?

Today’s tutorial shows you how to transform Airheads into the perfect crown cake topper in just 5 easy steps. Wouldn’t this be a great princess cake? The best part is that, unlike fondant, it tastes sweet and delicious and will be a crown worth fighting for when those slices are dished up. For those with food allergies, it is also peanut and gluten-free! Yay!

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

Supplies Needed:

Airheads (I used Blue Raspberry, Cherry, & White Mystery for my crown)

Mini cookie cutters- metal or plastic, I used a heart with a jagged edging

Parchment Paper

Fondant Roller

Cake (we picked ours up in the bakery section of our supermarket)

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from


  1. Pull out 3 cherry Airheads and line them up in one long line, slightly overlapping the edges. Place these between two sheets of parchment paper and roll with a fondant roller to smooth out your seams. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect because we will be adding a dot detail to camouflage any flaws on the crown. Set aside.

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

  1. Microwave a white mystery Airheads for 3-5 seconds and then roll them out between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a mini heart shaped cookie cutter, press the cookie cutter firmly into the white mystery Airheads and pull up. Push the heart shape out gently and then place it upside down (with your heart tip pointing up) to create your crown points. Do this all the way around, layering one heart between two hearts as pictured. Feel free to microwave and re-roll the Airheads to get as many hearts as you can out of each one.  Press these firmly into the crown and continue layering until you get to the end.

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

  1. Bring one end of the crown, to the other to create your shape. Using your fingers, gently rub the seam in a bit to create a smooth finish. Set your crown aside.

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

  1. Grab your Blue Raspberry Airheads and pull off small sections of the candy and roll between your hands until you have created a dot shape. Take the dot and press firmly into the crown, spacing it as evenly as possible to add a decorative detail to finish.

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from


  1. Place the crown in the refrigerator until it is time for your cake so it can harden up a bit and to help it keep its shape. Once it is cake time, remove from the fridge and rest it on the top of your cake. How easy is that?


DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from


DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

 For more fun ideas on how to craft with Airheads visit and follow them on Pinterest. To learn more about Airheads candy visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

This post is sponsored by Airheads. Thank you for supporting the companies that support us! 

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Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding with

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

I just love the holidays and one of the things I love to do for the holidays is cozy up our bedding for the cooler months. I am partnering up with the BHG Live Better Network to show you some incredible bedding offerings that you can find at your local Walmart store when entertaining holiday guests.

Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding with

Can I be honest with you and say that this is one of those purchases that snowballed? I purchased this beautiful Better Homes and Gardens Velvet Plush Reverse to Sherpa Bedding Comforter for our bed and two things ended up happening as a result of this purchase.

1. I could not get out of bed. The womb-like environment of sherpa and velvet has been incredibly awful to leave and I have found myself unmotivated to do anything except lay in this bed with a good book. My family can’t find me and they know…they just know that I am in this bed and not doing what I should be doing around the house.

2. I could not remove the children from my bed. They began to resent me and the coziness that I had and so they would join me in my bed (that I could not rise from) and so I never got any time alone to be lazy anymore.

As a treat for their report cards, I treated them (and myself, frankly!) to two more of these sherpa comforters and now we have them on every bed of our house. Let me repeat, we love them so much that every bed in our house now has them. If that is not a testament to our love, I don’t know what is.

Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding with

I hate to be hot, in fact, I can’t stand it one bit so I debated if these would be a smart investment or not especially since our bedrooms tend to be the warmest in the house. Despite, the warmth of the sherpa, they are surprisingly lightweight and, in fact, are much lighter in weight than our previous comforter. I love that if you get tired of the pattern on one side, you can flip it and show the other side instead, creating an Anthro-feel with that ivory sherpa turned out.

I paired this plaid sherpa comforter with these quilted shams and two faux leather pillows. Last season’s minky blanket is still a big favorite. We also added two more in the Fog color to the rest of the beds and I love the sherpa stripe on them for a little added detail.

Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding with

Although there are many great things about having me as a wife, one of the pitfalls is constantly feeling like someone in yarn bombing you. I decided to pull up my DIY Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland for the holidays and I still have my DIY Yarn-Wrapped Letters spelling LOVE over our bed. I found these adorable yarn trees on Walmart too and loved their affordable $6 price tag to nestle on top of our nightstands.

I hope these ideas inspire you and RUN, RUN, RUN to your store or online to get these sherpa comforters. As a disclaimer, I cannot be responsible for children piling up in your bed or a loss in productivity- ha!

To help your guest feel warmly welcomed,  Sarah Milne with sarah m style, has created these amazing printables that you can print and share to add that special touch to your guest room. Aren’t these BEAUTIFUL? I love a good freebie to round out this budget-friendly holiday room makeover! 

Grab These FREE Printables For Your Guest

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE


In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Note: From November 2012, this is one of the articles I’m most proud of on Mom Advice, and I’m SO happy that it’s also one of the most pinned, making me proud of YOU. I’m republishing it for our November Focus on Giving M Challenge with the hopes it will see a whole new group of people who will be inspired to give!

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity as well! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!


How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?


I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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How To: Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

Friday, November 6th, 2015

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from

Gift-giving season is upon us and I am always looking for great gifts that don’t cost a lot, can be made in bulk, and will actually be used! Do you remember when we made Citronella Candles in our slow cooker for thoughtful hostess gifts for the cookout season? I am so excited to show you, yet again, how to make candles in your slow cooker and this time we are making easy Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles for the holidays.

As a Pumpkin Spice everything addict, these are full of my favorite holiday scent and can be made with just a few purchases from your craft store and your slow cooker! I just want to warn you how good your house is going to smell so GET READY!

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog to get the scoop on how to make these beautiful candles for the perfect hostess gift for the holidays!

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What We Have Learned From Adopting a Shelter Cat

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Tracking Pixel

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fresh Step® litter.

I had never had a cat growing up, but when we were newly married the only type of animal that we were allowed to have in our apartment was a cat. We naively headed to a pet store and purchased our first cat who lived with us through the birth of our two children and a move that brought us from Massachusetts to Indiana. When she passed away, my home felt empty and I found myself incredibly lonely. I never realized how much she filled my days and how much I would miss her daily presence in my life.

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from our first family selfie with Lulu

This time, I was a little older and a little wiser than my newly married self. I knew that there were many cats available at the shelter that needed a home and I wanted to get our next animal from there to support a great local shelter. We knew that kittens went quickly while the older cats tended to stay longer so we picked out our sweet Lulu who was still a young lady at three, but had been at the shelter for awhile. What a hard selection it was though as we browsed pages and pages of cats looking for a home to call their own. Lulu captured our hearts thanks to her sweet disposition with kids, her sassy tuxedo, and her adorable name (I happened to play a Lulu in a high school play).

On July 15, 2013  we brought her home with us and I immediately moved into crazy cat lady loving territory. I have never loved an animal more than I love this cat.

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

Lulu has brought so much joy to my life and to our kid’s lives that we all fight over who gets to hang out with her.  She follows me from room to room like a puppy when it is just us two and enjoys the pets and snuggles from our kids when they get home, waiting by the door patiently for their arrival.  We celebrate her birthday every year on Halloween like the crazy cat lovers we are and sing her the birthday song, much to her disappointment. The torture!

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

What Are the Benefits of Adopting a Shelter Cat?

There are so many benefits to adopting a shelter cat and today I want to share a few important reasons with you about what a special gift it is to give one a place in your home:

You Are Saving a Life- There are over  2.7 million animals who are euthanized each year because there are too many pets and far too few families to adopt. This number could be dramatically reduced if more families adopted instead of buying animals. Not only that, but by adopting an animal you also free up space for another animal to take their place and find a forever home.

You Can Take Advantage of Adopting an Adult Animal- Kittens are so fun, but can be a lot of work. Lucky for you, you can skip the toddler stage and jump right into adorable calm and companionship. We found an adult cat fits perfectly in our family and adds so much to our household.  With adult cats their sweet dispositions are already established and you can move right into world’s best couch companion without the crazy! 

You Support the Work of a Great Non-Profit- When you adopt a pet from our shelter, you assist a not-for-profit organization, but you also send a message to others who will be asking you for years to come where you obtained your adorable pet. There are so many incredible volunteers who spend countless hours caring for these animals as they await their forever homes. Nothing makes me happier than to honor the hard work of these volunteers by adopting a pet and supporting great companies like Fresh Steps®  who help support organizations like these.

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

How Fresh Step® Helps Shelter Cats Through Their Million Meow Mission

Fresh Steps has a Million Meow Mission that strives to help all cats experience a loving home. Whether it is through caregiving, volunteering, or financial donations, they consider every act of kindness to a cat in need a true gift.

Although I was aware of the program, I wasn’t aware of the work they did to support fospice care. I am not sure if you have even heard of the term, “fospice care,” but it is one mission in particular that is so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes.  Fospice care is when a family foster cares for a cat that is terminally ill and gives a shelter cat a loving home where they can spend their final days with a family. It certainly takes a special family to do this and Bosley was  one strong cat who overcame the odds and spent a beautiful year with one family who opened their home to make it a place of sanctuary for Bosley in his final days.

Watch this video about Bosley and the family who got to be his family during these last peaceful moments. How can you not want to support a mission like that?

This year, Fresh Step® continues its commitment to shelter cats by offering enhanced opportunities for its Paw Points loyalty members to get involved. Members can:

    • Enter their Paw Points Code to show support for shelter cats and receive a Million Meow Mission badge to share on social media
    • Donate Paw Points to support shelters and receive a $2-off Fresh Step® coupon and a Million Meow Mission badge to share on social media
    • Share their Adoption Story with the community. For more information on the Million Meow Mission and to get involved, please visit their website.


We hope you can join us in supporting this great cause through your purchase of Fresh Step® Litter. Now that we know their mission to assist others, it makes our purchase feel even more special!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fresh Step® litter.

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How to Easily Stain Furniture

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

While I usually use paint to makeover furniture, I tried my hand at staining furniture – this sweet table I found that needed a ton of help to be beautiful – and I love how it turned out! It’s been one of my favorite transformations ever, so of course I wanted to share it for our Transforming Your Space M Challenge.

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Staining furniture seems like a pretty intimidating project if you have never stained before. Today’s tutorial is going to showcase how to easily stain wood furniture and how you can turn a tired piece into that piece of furniture you have been dreaming of with a simple stain technique.

Today I am working with Cabot Wood Stain to share their new Premium Wood Finish, a stain + sealer product that you can use to restore the finish on your furniture. This H2Oil™ formula provides the best of oil and water-based stains and makes for easy clean up with just a little soap and water!

What I really love about it most though is that it conditions, seals and protects in one step and doesn’t require primer or wood conditioner. You can find this stain at your local Lowes store and the stain color I am working with today is their Espresso finish.  Don’t feel like you have to be committed to just the traditional stain though because it can be tinted to nearly thirty different colors including non-traditional colors like teal and purple!

Premium Wood Finish Colors

Let’s get started on our fun project- I can’t wait for you to see the results!

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I headed over to our local thrift store and found this beat-up wooden table for $50. I sent a picture of it to my husband and he replied, “Please tell me you didn’t bring that home.” Yes, you know that you have picked the perfect piece if your husband requests that you not bring it home.

As you can see on the top, this was in extremely bad condition. The top of it looked irreparable and the drawers were deeply damaged. I knew that I would have to be creative with this piece, but the legs and pretty drawers made it a piece worth working on for our office. Because this piece is so damaged, my process took a few extra steps, but even with all the damage, I was able to finish it in a mere 24 hours. You won’t believe this transformation.

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Supplies Needed

Cabot Premium Wood Finish Stain + Sealer (in your color choice- I have used espresso)

Optional : Cabot Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (I used this because my piece was so incredibly damaged, but it is an unnecessary step if your piece is in better condition)

Wood Filler

Medium & Fine Grit Sandpaper

Sander (or you can do this by hand)



Drop Cloth

Painting Supplies (if adding painted details like me. The drawers are spray painted using this technique here)

New Hardware or Spray Paint for Old Hardware

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How to Stain Furniture

1. Begin by thoroughly cleaning your piece well with a clean rag. Once the piece has been cleaned, apply stainable wood filler to any gashes you may see on your piece. Allow the wood filler to dry (two hours) and then using your medium grit sanding paper to smooth and make the filler level to the rest of the surface.

2. Using a sander (or you can do this by hand), sand the piece to remove any old stain and any scratches. Due to the damage on my piece, this took a half hour to do which gave me a chance to begin painting the drawers to this piece.  Make sure that you have on gloves and a mask when sanding your piece and once finished that you clean it well with a clean tack cloth to remove any of the sanding particles before staining.

3. Because of the condition of my piece and how uneven the top still looked on this, I decided to brush on some Cabot Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (be sure to do this with the grain of the wood)  to make sure that my stain really took evenly. If your piece is in better condition though, you can definitely skip this step. 

On larger surfaces, you will want to work quickly in small sections. Saturate wood with a uniform coat of Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner using a clean brush or sponge. Allow no more than 5 minutes for penetration. Then wipe off all excess. Immediately after removal of Conditioner, apply your Cabot Wood Stain If you are pre-conditioning DO NOT allow the Conditioner to dry. Surfaces which are allowed to dry will not accept stain!

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4. Now we are ready to stain and seal our piece. Before you begin, make sure your piece is clean and free of any debris using a clean tack cloth.  Again, using a foam brush apply the stain with the grain of the wood. Raw wood is very thirsty so it will absorb the stain quickly. After five minutes, using a clean tack cloth, and wipe it down to remove any stain that hasn’t been absorbed.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by is what my tabletop looked like after the first coat. You can see that there is definitely still some unevenness to it, but we are off to a good start. Allow this to dry for 2 1/2 hours before applying the next coat.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by

Sand very lightly with 600 grit sandpaper to smooth wood grain. Remove sanding dust with tack cloth and apply a second thin coat. For full color and maximum durability, apply 2 or more coats. For a muted, distressed look apply 1 coat.  For my table, I applied just two coats so I still had the distressed look that I was after. Since I am impatient, I really love that the Cabot Wood Stain is a fast drying formula that dries in 2-1/2 hours between coats and fully dries in only 6 hours.

Since I also have two kiddos that are rough and tough on my furniture, I also love that it offers a durable finish that will hold up to our abuse and that it protects against spills, water rings and even household chemicals like bleach, alcohol, and nail polish remover.

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Hello beautiful new table of mine! I am absolutely smitten with this piece and I can’t believe the transformation. We updated the hardware with a couple of new drawer handles since the previous handles were falling apart. The drawers were distressed and antiqued up to match their chippy former days and then I applied my decorative glaze over these spray painted drawers to antique them up a bit more.

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I swear that this new-to-me table looks just like a table I was coveting in my West Elm catalog, but at a fraction of the price. This has become my new favorite corner in our house and I can’t believe the transformation! For other indoor stain ideas, check out Cabot’s Indoor Inspiration Pinterest board and be sure to follow me on Pinterest for more DIY inspiration! 

Have you ever stained furniture before? What are your tips and advice for updating a piece?

This post is sponsored by Cabot Wood Stain.  I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



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