This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.
With the holidays just around the corner, now is a great time to begin preparing your home for guests. Since we live in a smaller home, we have never had the luxury of having a guest room in our house since every inch of our home is just filled with…well, us. Recently though we finished our shed into a bonus room and realized that this is actually the perfect space to share with our guests when they come to visit. It makes for the perfect guest room because you can come and go as you please with your very own space to escape from our wild and crazy family, since it is separate from our living space.
As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them this month to showcase an idea for welcoming guests in your home that you can create with products from BHG that are available at Walmart. Since we don’t have a dedicated guest room for just this purpose, I thought it would be fun to create a guest room welcome basket that you could tuck away in your basement storage or a linen closet to share with your guests when they arrive. There is no need to make an addition to that house when you have a basket prepared of guest essentials that you can bring out when the unexpected house guest arrives.
One of my favorite things about staying at a hotel is the plush sheets, fresh linens, the do not disturb sign I can hang on my door knob for privacy, and the welcoming touches and amenities that hotels offer. You can create that same experience for your very own guests at home with a few of the thoughtful touches that I have pulled together for our welcome basket. Fresh white linens, a welcome sign you can display on a nightstand or table, a do not disturb sign for your door, plush white sheets, and a delicious smelling candle complete the touches in this lined chicken wire basket for a guest to enjoy when they come to visit.
You can find all of these special touches from the BHG product line at Walmart stores. A simple gathering of these items creates a sweet & thoughtful guest room basket instantly. Other sweet offerings could include chocolates, bedtime teas, a favorite good read or the morning paper, and a note to let them know how excited you are to have them as a guest. Think of all of the things you appreciate when you are a guest somewhere and include them in your basket to let your guests know how much you appreciate them.
Add our, “Be our Guest,” printable to a BHG 8×10 frame (priced at less than $10) and it really adds that special warm welcome that I hope we can achieve when hosting friends and family in our home.
To help your guest feel warmly welcomed, my amazing designer & contributor, Sarah Milne with sarah m style, has created these amazing printables that you can print and share in your basket for your guests! Aren’t these BEAUTIFUL and such a sweet touch for a welcome basket for guests?
What are some special touches you love to offer you guests? Any tips for families that don’t have a dedicated guest room? Feel free to share your tips below!
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.
I am so excited that my book club was chosen to participate in a This Is Where I Leave You book club before the film hits the big screen on September 19th. When I was asked to participate, I had heard of Jonathan Tropper, but had never read one of his books before. I can honestly say that if you are wanting to add a little sparkle and hilarity to your book club discussion, This Is Where I Leave You is the book for you.
I read this book in a record two days and my husband kept finding me with it in some state of crying-laughing almost every moment I read it. Although he isn’t much of a reader, I handed it to him and said, “You must read it.” Each night when I crawl into bed, I hear random laughing and snorting on his side of the bed. It is that kind of book that you finish and hand off to someone else so you can laugh about it together.
When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.
In this story, each of the siblings are told that it is their father’s dying wish for them to sit shiva together as a family. The irony is that their father is an atheist who made it known he didn’t believe in religion, but with their mother’s persuasion, she manages to get their family together under one roof for one week. With no escaping each other and a lot of time to reflect on life and the choices they have made, it really makes for some hilarious moments of family dysfunction at its best. What I loved about this story more than anything is the message that even when they drive us crazy, we will always love our family.
I love it in the way that I loved the movie Bridesmaids- so wrong and so right. Raunchy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming, and so perfectly pitched. I would highly recommend this one for fans of Arrested Development as it reads just like my favorite episodes of the early seasons of the Bluth family. The crazy family dramas are always my favorites and this family does not disappoint in the craziness department. For better or worse, they are family, with all that history and messiness and love.
Love stories told from male authors sometimes fall short for me, but that was not the case in this one. Tropper does such a fantastic job of sharing what a failing marriage looks like, what it would feel like to lose the love of your life (interweaving old stories of the couple and new), and how one can find love again. Even in the darkest of moments of this marriage, Tropper finds a way to bring the hilarity into even the depressing situations of losing your life partner.
Since the movie will be hitting the big screen on September 19th, I hosted our book club to read the book and then we plan to make an outing to see the book on the big screen. Sometimes it is difficult to find a book that we all like, but this one fit the bill perfectly for our group and we used the time to have a delicious brunch together and celebrate the kids heading back-to-school.
After seeing the trailer, I already know that this is going to be one of my favorite movies this year. I have to say that after reading the book, the film could not have been more perfectly cast and I kept seeing these actors in these roles even as I read the book. Many times the movies just don’t live up to the books, but I can already tell that this one won’t be the case.
TIWILY Boozy Brunch Ideas
Here are some delicious brunch options for a fun morning with your girlfriends that are some of my favorite when I am entertaining. I am selecting these because they can be made before everyone arrives so that you can really enjoy book club with your friends. You will also find a fun drink I have created just for your book club that you can sip while chatting about the book.
In the theme of the book and all the food that is brought to the family as they sit shiva, you could also make your friends bring you brunch dishes potluck style in excessive abundance, taking the pressure off of you as the hostess.
Perhaps you could even pass some of these recipes on to them and ask them to make them for you.
It just seems like something awkward that the Foxman family might try in the book.
What is a book club without a good discussion? LAME. Here are some of my favorite book club questions that I gathered for our discussion together!
TIWILY Book Club Questions
1. What was your first impression of Judd’s wife, Jen? Because you see her almost entirely from Judd’s perspective, was there any chance to see her as a sympathetic character before Judd finds her so? Do you think that Judd and Jen have a chance at salvaging their relationship, with or without a baby girl to raise?
2. Discuss Judd’s mother and her relationship with each of her children. Do you think that Hillary Foxman was truly a bad mother? Was there any real irony in her being a child-rearing guru? What was your opinion of her character?
3. Most of the characters in this novel struggle against living up to an ideal established either by themselves or by a friend, family member, or spouse. Judd fails to be the perfect husband, brother, and son; Jen fails to be the perfect wife; Wendy fails to be the perfect mother and Alice fails to become a mother at all. Mort and Hillary Foxman, it turns out, fail their children spectacularly in some ways while succeeding in others. What do the lives of these characters reveal to us about perfectionism, ideals, and our expectations for ourselves and others?
4. For all of their faults, is the Foxman clan a likeable group of people? What makes them an endearing group of people? Who did you like the most, and who did you find the least appealing, and why? Were there any characters you would have liked to see developed further?
5. Clearly, Judd is an adult, yet this book can also be seen as a delayed coming-of-age story. What does Judd learn in the end about himself and his role in helping to create the world in which he finds himself?
6. Discuss Judd Foxman, the novel’s protagonist, from his very ironic and dry sense of humor (shared also by his brothers and sister), to his anger and vulnerability regarding his wife’s infidelity, to his conflicted emotions regarding his immediate family. What was your first impression of the protagonist/narrator of this novel? What did you find the most engaging aspect of his character? Did you find any aspect of him off-putting?
7. What comment is Tropper making about the role of trauma and tragedy in our lives? Almost every character in this book suffers or has suffered: Phillip from his neglected/overindulged childhood; Judd from his wife’s infidelity; Horry from his brain damage; Paul from the Rottweiler attack; Wendy from her unhappy marriage; and Alice from her infertility. What does their unhappiness, and the way each person copes with that unhappiness, teach us?
Be sure to head to the theaters to see This Is Where I Leave You on September 19th!
Share your own book club and hashtag it with #TIWILY #TIWILYbookclub
In honor of the movie, I am hosting a giveaway today for one (1) $50 Visa gift card and a copy of the book so you can enjoy reading the book and then catch the film in theaters September 19th! Please follow instructions in the Rafflecopter below to enter to win by September 12th! One winner will be chosen at random! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Back-to-school season means back to the daily grind of controlling paperwork, keeping track of schedules, checking homework, figuring out meals, and corralling the backpack clutter in the home. Thankfully, it is easy to create a DIY Command Center for your family on a budget and even in a small home. Today I want to showcase eight ideas for command centers that would work in small spaces, or in a larger home, and how you can utilize Goodwill for some of the supplies for your project.
I have been so excited to show off this incredibly cute DIY Family-Friendly Bar Cart that I created for Kenmore this month. This DIY bar cart is my new favorite thing in our house and I love that I can wheel it out for all of our entertaining needs.
Have you ever seen the pricing on beverage carts? It is quite astounding! I love to have a cheap chic home, especially when it comes to entertaining needs, and I just can’t picture spending $500 or more on a cart that houses our drinks. I decided to wow my friends with a budget-friendly and family-friendly drink cart that would sit perfectly in my budget. You know what fits right in my budget? A tool cart.
Today we are making over a Sears Hardware Cart into a beautiful bar cart. Say what? I know! This cart retails for a mere $82.87 and has just the type of clean and modern lines I was looking for in a more expensive cart. The best part is that you can personalize it to your own taste and color scheme.
I don’t know if I ever devoted an entire post to grapes in over a decade of running this site, but perhaps this showcases how underappreciated this fruit is. It is a staple around here as a side to round out our sandwiches, it’s an effortless appetizer paired with wine and cheese, and it spends its freshly rinsed self at the pool with us as a snack that can withstand the heat and temperatures. We are definitely fans of the humble grape and I am sure you are too.
Unlike some of the more difficult fruits I have featured, it is quite easy to spot a good batch of grapes. Did you know premium grape season is actually September and October? It really is the best time to buy a big bag of grapes for your family. It is advised to select grapes based on the color of them. For green grapes, they should have a slightly yellowish, translucent hue rather than a true, opaque green. Red grape varieties should be mostly red and have a rich, crimson tone.
One other way to check for a good grape is to look at the stem of the grapes. A dry and brittle stem indicates that the grapes might not be as fresh and seeing a little peek of green on the stem is a good indicator of a fresh batch. The shape of the grape should not be misshapen or wrinkled, but plump and juicy. Of course, you can always bring them back to Walmart if they aren’t perfect thanks to their 100% money back guarantee so selecting great grapes is foolproof.
I decided to incorporate these grapes into a gluten-free pasta salad to take to a cookout. This salad was hearty and filling for someone who is often unsure if she will be able to eat at social events (ahem). Not only is this just the kind of creamy pasta dish I love, but it incorporates the smoky saltiness of turkey bacon and chopped toasted pecans for a protein punch that really fills you up. The smokiness is balanced with the sweetness of the grapes making for an interesting flavor combination and perfect for showcasing the beautiful in-season grapes.
Oh, grape, you certainly are a wonderful fruit and I’m sorry we haven’t loved on you more over the years! I promise to do better!
A gluten-free pasta salad laced with pecans, bacon, and sweet grapes.
1 bag of gluten-free pasta (any variety)- 16 ounces
1 lb. fresh broccoli
½ cup light mayonnaise
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 packets Stevia
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups seedless red grapes
10 cooked turkey bacon slices, crumbled
½ cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for about 6 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Once done cooking, rinse well before assembling.
Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems and separate into small pieces using a paring knife. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, Stevia, red wine vinegar and salt and toss with broccoli, hot cooked pasta (that has been rinsed) and grapes. Stir to coat.
Cover and chill for up to 3 hours. Stir in bacon and toasted pecans just before serving.
Note- The sauce on this can be doubled if you desire a more creamy pasta.
Back-to-School requires a lot of planning and getting back on track with a healthy breakfast is one thing I want to work on this year. Today I wanted to show you a recipe for Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos that can be made ahead and also created for your gluten-free or dairy-free family members. One batch of these freezer breakfast burritos can yield 15-18 burritos, depending on how you stuff ‘em, and they are filled with everything your kids need to start their day on the right foot. I am partnering with Walmart on this back-to-school idea today so you can snag all the supplies you need right at their store.
What I love about these burritos is that they are not only filled with fresh whole foods, but also that they are inexpensive to create. With kitchen staples like eggs, cheese, potatoes, and tortillas, it is likely you already have a few things on hand for this back-to-school breakfast. Create an assembly line of ingredients in the kitchen and have your kids jump in on the fun.
The potatoes are tossed in paprika and garlic powder for a tasty topping to the eggs. I love a little Italian turkey sausage, red peppers, and cheddar or colby cheese for these burritos. You can create your own flavor combinations or consider clearing out items from the fridge and making a unique combination all your own.
Be careful to not overstuff the burritos so they can be wrapped easily and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet to place in the freezer until frozen. Once these are frozen you can tuck them in a freezer bag and just grab them when you need them. Do you know how to wrap a burrito? If not, I love this tutorial for perfectly wrapped breakfast burritos!
With one kid in middle school (GASP!) and a daughter who prefers not to eat in the morning, I am hoping that these burritos will be the perfect way to get them motivated to eat a healthy breakfast. Just grab one from the freezer and wrap it in a dampened paper towel for the microwave for three minutes (flip it halfway through). Wrap in foil and let them eat them on the way to the bus or in route to school. These also make a great after school snack, after sports activities, or an impromptu dinner with their pals while doing homework.
To make them dairy-free substitute the cream with almond milk (which is what we did) and add a vegan cheese to them or leave them cheeseless. For a gluten-free burritos, Walmart offers this option in their stores.
We hope you love this delicious breakfast as much as we did. We have already started raiding our make-ahead breakfast burritos for quick lunches this week. I am shocked how beautifully these reheat and taste. There are no excuses why you can’t tackle a healthy breakfast. Be sure to check out my recipe for Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal for another fun breakfast treat!
A make-ahead breakfast burrito that you can tuck in your freezer for a healthy breakfast, snack or meal.
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper
1 lb Italian Turkey Sausage
1 dozen eggs
2 tablespoons cream (or milk substitute)
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
½ pound cheese of your choice (or vegan cheese)
18 tortillas, soft-taco size (8-inch), whole-wheat, flour, or gluten-free tortillas
To roast potatoes, preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle diced potatoes with oil and season with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Toss the potatoes together to evenly coat in oil and seasonings, and spread out into a single layer on the parchment. Roast until browned on the bottom and tender, about 20-25 minutes.
Brown your sausage. Once it is cooked through, set aside in a large bowl, leaving about a 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan for the eggs.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream (or milk substitute) and pour into the sausage skillet. Cook over medium heat until just set, stirring as needed. season with salt and pepper and stir to combine, and transfer to the bowl with sausage.
In the same skillet, cook your red peppers over medium heat until fragrant and softened, about 10 minutes.
Make an assembly line- tortilla, cheese, followed by a small handful of potatoes and a scoop of the egg/sausage mixture. Roll the tortilla up.
For freezing, place burritos on a wax- or parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm, at least an hour. Transfer to large freezer bags and keep frozen for up to one month.
For reheating, place a frozen burrito in a dampened paper towel and microwave for three minutes, turning halfway through.
I hate to say it, but we are heading back-to-school in just a couple of short weeks! It’s always bittersweet for me. I have enjoyed this summer with them so much and love the lazy days, but I also look forward to fresh starts and routines. In honor of the season, I created these cute DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils for the first day of school to remind your kiddos just how much they mean to me.
I always try to do one special thing for my kids on their first day of school to remind them how much they are loved. When my daughter started Kindergarten, I made hair bows that had a heart center, reminding her that my heart was with her on her big first day. For my son, it was always lots of jokes and comics tucked away in his lunchbox to share with his friends.
I can’t believe that we have lived in our home 11 years now. What I saw as just our temporary residence until something better came along has now become our forever home as we inch closer and closer towards paying it off. This is the longest I have lived anywhere and I am so proud of the updates that we have made to our space and creating a place that we can be proud of and share with our family and friends.
Tackling a big renovation on your space can feel daunting and overwhelming. When I look around there is so much that I wish I could do, but just isn’t in our budget. The good news is that small switches in your home can still make improvements to your space that can sit sweetly in your budget and time constraints.
Walmart challenged me to refresh a corner in my home using some items from their store and I knew exactly which corner in my home I wanted to tackle. This corner is where I live during the school year. You will find me happily flipping through library books between getting my kids off to school and on their buses or spending my evenings knitting and sipping tea in this chair in the evenings. The wall has had these three black-and-white pictures of shoes on it for ten years and I find that as I get older and develop my style more, I am drawn to lighter and brighter things in my home, rather than the masculine tones and colors that I was drawn to before.
I decided to brighten up the space with a few things we had around our house (rearranging, after all is always the most budget-friendly option), to add a few fresh picks from Walmart that would fit in my budget, and then combine it with our love for great art. At Walmart, I found two throw pillows for my chair, beautiful picture frames for under $20, a fiery red flower pot, and a small succulent that would require very little watering. I pulled in a light throw I had to bring in the lighter tones and moved a wreath that I had from our kitchen into the spot next to our clock.
The entire color scheme hinged around some beautiful prints I found from Janet Hill Studio on Etsy. If you haven’t heard of her, I would just run right over and spend your afternoon coffee with her shop. We had so much fun picking art for our wall and her pictures were so amazing that it took my husband & I almost three weeks to come to an agreement together on which prints to select. These prints brighten up the space so much more than my black-and-white photos and are a beautiful conversation piece. I love them so much that I have asked my husband if I can have a print for my birthday each year. I want to fill my home with her art, it really makes me that happy.
Of course, once you start, it can be difficult to stop. For me, it is a never ending process of rearranging and adding and taking away items in our home. My view from the chair was rather uninteresting too so we went ahead and ordered one extra print.
I now have a pretty view of this beautiful piece titled, “Tallulah Shaw Rehearses Before Her Final Show. 1959.” With our new front door and the pop of color we embraced while turning our shed into a bonus room, it is a very different hallway view from a few weeks ago.
I hope this inspires you to makeover a corner in your own home. The beauty for me is that next week this corner could look entirely different because the joy is in the rearranging, the repurposing, and the frugal additions that can make your space so fun!
I have so much fun gathering up ideas for repurposing items on the Goodwill Tips Blog and look forward to showcasing these ideas for you each month. Today’s post is all about a furniture staple…the dresser. I have gathered 8 fun ways you can you can makeover a Goodwill dresser that I know you will want to run right out and find this thrift store gem to create a new fun piece in your home. In fact, I can’t wait to snag a dresser myself so I can implement these ideas in my own home.
The back-to-school season is just around the corner and today I wanted to share some easy strategies for packing those lunches this year. I have teamed up with Walmart to share three fun products that you can purchase this year for those lunchboxes: Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread, Frito Lay Chips in their 20-count variety pack, and Danimals Smoothies 12-packs (that just so happen to be worth triple the Box Tops for Education points!). These are all affordable and easy additions for this year’s lunchboxes.
Here are some additional fun ideas for making lunchtime fun for your child this year:
Get Organized- As with all things related to back-to-school, getting organized is half the battle. Our family relies on this lunchbox creation station for creating our lunches for the week. Take advantage of those back-to-school sales and get your lunchbox station stocked with reusable containers and baggies, water bottles, drinks, snacks and chips for the year.
As my children get older, I put more of the responsibility of lunch preparation on them and our lunchbox station really helps when assembling lunches the night before school as well as packing drinks & snacks for our extracurricular activities.
Insert Fun- Every year, I feel a little melancholy about my kids going back to school especially when we have spent so much time together in the summer. This is the perfect time to add a note to let them know how much you love them or add a comic strip and joke to an older child’s lunchbox.
If your school lunch hour is anything like our lunchtime, our kids have very little time to eat. Try to keep the gesture simple so that you can be assured that they were able to tackle their lunch and not just your note.
You can also add fun details like pretty straws, washi tape flags with special messages on them, or a fun treat like Frito Lay’s Chips & a fruity Danimals Smoothie to round out the meal. I love to use Rick Rack Scissors to trim my washi tape to add a fast & easy detail.
Try a Sushi Sandwich- Have you ever made a sushi sandwich? These are so fun to create and couldn’t be easier. Grab a loaf of Sara Lee Whole Grain White Bread and your favorite rolling pin. Roll the bread out thinly, but not so thin that the bread will no longer hold together. Add a few slices of your child’s favorite lunch meat and then a cheese stick in their favorite flavor (my kid’s love a swirled stick). Carefully roll this up and then slice in half with a sharp knife. For kids that don’t love sandwiches, these spin on the traditional sandwich is always a hit.
Keep Them Organized Using Their Lunchbox- Trying to keep myself organized is difficult. Keeping my kids organized too? Well, that seems even more impossible. I have found that my children rarely forget their lunches though and this is the perfect spot to clip items that they need to remember for their day. Utilize a binder clip or heavy-duty clothespin and use this spot to jot down notes of activities they need to do for the day, apparel that they need to bring for extracurricular activities, appointments they might need to be picked up for, or forms/permission slips they need to turn in to school. This has been a great system for us and helps remind us all of what needs to happen each day.
I hope you love these ideas for freshening up those lunchbox routines and wishing you easy and sweet transitions back into the swing of the school year!