As soon as the temperatures start dipping, I know it is almost my favorite footwear season… boot season, friends! There is nothing cozier than a warm pair of boots and this season, embellished boots and boot toppers are all the rage for making your boots feel fresh again. Whether you score your boots at Goodwill or if you find the perfect pair elsewhere, I have some fun and creative ideas for making a tired pair of boots feel like new again with these 7 tutorials for fun ways to dress up your boots.
Happy Halloween, friends. It has been a flurry of parent teacher conferences and Halloween preparations over here. My big plans this weekend only involve indulging in a marathon of Netflix-bingeing with my favorite quilt on our giant couch after our trick-or-treating! What about you?
Let’s talk about what is making me happy this week!
A New Coffeemaker
My coffeemaker died last week. I did everything I could to get that thing to hobble along, lovingly flushing it with vinegar periodically and caring for it. I would have to hit the power button three times to get it to brew, the water never fully went through, but then the coffee just stopped being hot. You cannot imagine my stress levels. To get up THAT early and have no HOT coffee was a travesty.
I am thankful that I can rectify this so quickly though thanks to our Amazon Prime membership. The next day I had a brand new coffeemaker sitting on my front step and I am happily having the hottest coffee with my favorite Michigan cherry coffee beans. After reading all of the reviews, I settled on this Cuisinart Grind & Brew because my last one held up so well for so long and it was still under $100.
This one is loud when it is grinding so I grind the beans at night and then turn off the grind for my morning when I program it. I no longer have to hit the power button three times to finish a brew and the ratio of beans to water is much smoother thanks to the grinder. My mornings got oh-so-much better
HOT Coffee To Go
I started volunteering at school again and I always like to take my coffee with me when I visit there and read with the kiddos.
My husband went to an event for some kind of prize drawing for Lexus because he has a used Lexus and gets the fliers from the dealership. He didn’t win the drawing, but he came home with a thermal mug that he said would be perfect for my coffee. And I hated it. I hate carrying around a mug that advertises a car that we got for less than my Subaru, but seems like we are part of some kind of weird exclusive club.
So I keyed it.
I know. I have issues.
I scratched the logo off, but I could still see it and I was planning to craft something out of washi tape over it because it bothered me that much.
Instead, when I went to Celestial Seasonings shop I found this amazing carafe and I snagged it for my mornings. My coffee is brutally hot (just the way I like it- I did admit to keying things!) and it has a lock on the top to doubly insure that your coffee doesn’t escape. Did I mention it vacuum seals? It’s seriously awesome and has made my mornings at school better. And now I don’t have to carry around that awful mug so…winning!
The Perfect Tote for a Petite Girl
I have been eyeing tote bags for awhile now that I could use for travel and for the errand running that I do throughout the day. We popped into Urban Outfitters this weekend because I have been eyeing this bag online forever. When I saw it, we laughed hysterically because it is as big as me. I tried to sling it over my arm, but I could have probably crawled inside it. I love the concept of the reversible vegan leather, but the bag was too big for this petite gal. I was thankful I did not add it to my Christmas list since I was not in the market for a beach tote.
I did spy though this mini tote in the corner and it is just perfect for me. The $49 price tag fits well for me since I am usually a TJ Maxx purse shopper and I plan to use this until the straps fall off.
It has a crossbody strap too that you can use when you are out running around and it sits upright when rested on a table. I mean, it really is that perfect and a far better price than most bags that look like this. I am a happy, happy girl! It goes well with my vintage Forever 21 cape I have had since the store opened in our tiny mall. May herringbone capes never go out of style. Amen.
On a personal note, I have been one proud mama this week! My daughter had her first guitar recital and she played her songs beautifully. I have never seen her more scared and then more proud than she was on this day. We have the best guitar teacher in the world and it was so fun to see all the kids play and sing so beautifully.
I went to conferences this week for both kids who truly rocked their report cards with the best grades a mom could ever hope for. More than that though, they all remarked on just what good people they are. I want to raise good people. I think the world needs more of those.
*This post is sponsored by the Empowered SAFETY. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
When my children were small, I was absolutely obsessed with tracking recall information. Let’s face it; the sheer amount of equipment needed to keep your baby safe in that first year is astounding. Back then I subscribed to Parents Magazine and would skim the magazine for the latest recall information. Over the course of those first few years as a mom, there were many recalls, but I was so busy and so tired that I struggled to stay on top of that and keep up with it all. Thankfully, there are faster and easier ways to stay on top of recalls now.
This week I am partnering with a fantastic site called Empowered SAFETY to share with you all of the great advantages of a membership & how it can help you keep track of legitimate complaints & recalls when it comes to items you use in your home and the food you consume. We are giving everyone one free month to try this service and giving one lucky reader a six month subscription.
What Does Empowered SAFETY Offer?
Did you know that there can be hundreds of complaints made to government agencies about child-specific products before a recall is actually issued? Instead of waiting for the recall to occur, a subscription to Empowered SAFETY can alert you of the complaints prior to the recall even is issued.
With a premium membership you can simply match the products in your home with the half-million child products in Empowered SAFETY’s database, and you will receive an email notification on that product should complaints be made against it. It is as easy as that!
We aren’t just talking car seats and baby equipment though; the service also offers valuable information about food safety which, as we know, can be potentially life-threatening to a child with food allergies. You can receive the food recalls in the area where you live so you can stay on top of potential allergens and safety hazards in your home.
How Can This Help You When Making Purchases?
When I make purchases for my family, I spend hours online trying to decide which item will be the best for us based on the reviews of other shoppers. I hate wasting my money or time on purchase that don’t have longevity in our home. When it comes to purchases that keep our family safe, I really want to know that the items that I am choosing will do their job well and that I won’t find myself needing to replace them later.
Empowered SAFETY can let you know if the product you are thinking of purchasing has had any complaints on it, allowing you to be a more empowered consumer and saving you valuable time.
What Do They Monitor For You?
Complaints can come in many different ways and Empowered SAFETY monitors all the different sources so you don’t have to. Not only do they monitor actual consumer complaints, and product and food recalls and warnings to government agencies, they also follow news reports, legal filings, press releases, blog postings, federal & state agency websites for outbreaks & health alerts, as well as member-reported product issues.
As a busy mom, I certainly don’t have time to monitor all of that so a membership like this can save your family a lot of time, hassle, and unnecessary clutter from items that are potentially unsafe and won’t have longevity in your home.
Everyone is a Winner
Today I am giving EVERY reader a free 28-day promo code to try the Empowered SAFETY site. Just enter code the code ES28DAY93 (Expires 11/30/14) upon sign-up on Empowered SAFETY.
Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter to win a FREE six-month premium membership to Empowered SAFETY. Good luck, everyone!
I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new ways to decorate the holiday table that are festive while staying easy on the budget. The gold trend has really been catching my eye this year so I wanted to create something beautiful and gold that anyone can do, no matter what your craft level. Today’s tutorial is for a decorative thumbtack pumpkin that requires just two items for a fun and festive touch to your table.
Some people lean towards the spooky decorating for Halloween. This girl leans towards a more classic look from dressing up my front door for the season to the small nod to autumn through our home decor. I have loved our knitted leaf centerpiece so much that I thought it would be fun to add some knitted pumpkins to the mix this year. Since Walmart challenged me to take on a Halloween craft, I thought it would be the perfect time to try something new. Not only are these a knitted stuffed item (something new for me), but they are also felted.
Before you run away, I was SO scared of felting that I have thought about felting for years and never tried it. Seriously, folks, could NOT be easier.
This project is super fast to create and will get lots of love in your home as a fun addition to a bookcase, a cute centerpiece for a Halloween party, or could even make a place card holder for the Thanksgiving table.
4- US Size 11 double pointed needles (I prefer bamboo for their gripping ability in this project)
You need to be able to knit in the round- This is much easier than knitting a hat and can teach you how to increase and decrease your stitches. If you have never knitted in the round before, check out this picture tutorial that I created to help you navigate the tricky terrain of 4 needles. You will need to be able to knit both the body and the stem in the round. I actually find the stem to be more difficult due to its size.
You need to be able to i-cord- The first time I i-corded, I was like…”That’s it?” Seriously, it sounds complex, but it is just moving your stitches back and forth on a double-pointed needle. This is a fantastic video tutorial if you are trying to get the hang of it.
You need to be able to felt- Again, this one was a new one for me, but the pattern I shared offers some great tips for felting. I will note below how I did this in my front-loader.
Words from a First-Time Felter
As you can see, wool shrinks up beautifully. I wanted to still have a little bit of stitching showing, but you can continue to shrink your piece if you want it to be completely smooth. For these pumpkins, I knitted them loosely (advice given by my wise knitting pal, Deb) so that the stitches would shrink well. For my front-loader, I placed these in the washing machine with two pairs of my jeans to help create agitation and friction on the yarn. I used the Whitest White cycle (which is the hottest cycle on my machine) and let the machine decide the level of water. For detergent, I just used a small amount of Woolite (or you can use Eucalan Woolwash). To replicate this, I just ran the cycle for ten minutes and then hit cancel. I then ran a spin & drain cycle just for a few minutes to get rid of the excess water and then stuffed my pumpkins while they were still damp.
You can read more about felting in the pattern above.
*This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I don’t travel as much as I used to, thanks to two busy kids with two grueling schedules, but when Celestial Seasonings contacted me to see if I would like to learn more about their teas and how they create them, I just could not turn them down. I credit their Sleepytime Extra with breaking my melatonin habit, I got my husband (who drinks neither tea nor coffee) to indulge in a cup of Sugar Cookie Tea with me on cold days, and I consider all of their holiday teas the ultimate stocking stuffer. I could not wait to hear more about how they develop their products and how I could share about that with my readers.
I was expecting the best in tea offerings because that is what I know as a consumer.
As an observer to the inner workings of the company, I was surprised by the passion and enthusiasm from EVERY employee I talked to. These people have a passion for tea and they have a passion for their customers.
We got the chance to hear about where and how they source all of their ingredients and even heard from a farmer who provides the mint for the tea from his family farm. We got to see, smell, and hear the stories of where the ingredients are sourced and how these herbs are processed into the tea bags. Although Americans might not embrace tea the way our European friends do, it is still the world’s second most popular beverage, topped only by water.
Do you know the difference between the different varieties of teas? I did not until this week!
Herbal “tea” actually does not have any tea in it, it is a combination of herbs, which is why it is naturally caffeine free! Whether hot or iced, naturally caffeine free herbal teas can calm, energize, refresh and delight naturally, depending on their ingredients—including herbs, spices, flowers and leaves.
Black tea, or what we commonly think of when someone mentions “tea”, is made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, a white-flowering evergreen bush about 3–5 feet high, native to China and India. Most people don’t think of black tea as an herb, yet it is the most widely used herb in the world. Black tea actually comes from the same plant as green, white and oolong teas—differences in processing determine which kind of tea the leaves become.
Green tea has become increasingly popular in the United States, but it has been enjoyed in Asia for more than a thousand years, especially in Japanese tea ceremonies. The leaves used for green tea are initially the same as those that make black and oolong teas, but they are steamed right after being picked, so they stay green. Brewing green tea is a little different than brewing herbal or black tea – be sure you use water that is very hot but not quite boiling.
In the mountains of China, white tea is harvested only from springtime’s first tender buds and top leaves that are covered with soft, silvery-white needles. Very simply and naturally dried, white tea retains the unique flavor of a freshly picked tea leaf—mellow, delicate and slightly sweet. This also preserves an even higher level of healthful antioxidants than in green tea. Because it is so delicate, white tea requires less brewing time than green or black tea.
Not only did we get to actually smell, touch, and hear the farming stories behind where the ingredients were sourced, but we also got to do a tasting of teas and experience how these teas are meant to be prepared. What I discovered from this process was that I absolutely leave my tea bags in far too long, especially when it comes to green and chamomile tea, and a shorter duration of steeping really yields a better flavor experience overall. Distilled water was recommended for optimum flavor, but I can’t say that this is an extra step I would take at home. I can, however, be more diligent about removing my tea bag after 1-3 minutes so that I have a better flavor experience overall.
I am a coffee drinker in the afternoons and have always considered tea to be something to relax with only in the evening hours. I asked their team if I was making the afternoon switch from coffee to tea what they would recommend for someone who desires to be highly caffeinated all day long (*ahem*) and they shared that Fast Lane just might be the tea for me. It is a black tea, sold exclusively online and in their gift shop, and this tea has 20 milligrams MORE caffeine per 8 ounce cup than coffee. I snagged a case of it for myself and I am giving a case away below (along with tons more stuff!) for one of you. I believe everyone should be as highly caffeinated as me so I am excited to share this tea with you!
Did you know that you can tour the Celestial Seasonings factory? Check their schedule for factory tour times and consider it a must-see attraction in Boulder. I happened to visit while recovering from a sinus infection and I think there is, perhaps, no greater cure in the world then getting to stand inside the mint room to open up those sinus cavities. Getting to tour the factory gives you a chance to really see how the product is made from start to finish!
One thing I haven’t thought of is using tea more as an ingredient in my cooking. To inspire us, our evening meal was created utilizing the Celestial Seasonings tea in each dish from a delicious tea-infused sorbet to a tea brine on the main dish, a roasted chicken. We also got to have a happy hour where the tea was utilized in simple syrups to create a variety of cocktails. I happily indulged in their Jammin’ Lemon Ginger Drop and came home to make it myself. The combination of the Jammin’ Lemon Ginger Tea brewed into a simple syrup, bourbon, and fresh lemon juice makes an elegant and easy cocktail perfect for entertaining. You can find the recipe below our giveaway today!
Today I am giving away $100 worth of tea and tea accessories from Celestial Seasonings! Not only am I including over a case of Fast Lane tea, but I am also including a few seasonal favorites, a beautiful handmade tea mug, a tea bag holder, and a thermal carafe to take your teas on the go. Follow the instructions below to enter to win!
A fast and delicious cocktail made from Celestial Seasonings Jammin' Lemon Ginger Tea, fresh lemon juice, and a splash of bourbon.
1.5 oz Bourbon
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz Jammin’ Lemon Ginger simple syrup (see instructions)
To make the Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup: Combine 4 Jammin' Lemon Ginger Tea bags, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Using two spoons, remove tea bags and squeeze out excess liquid. Allow syrup to cool.
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker as listed above. Add ice and shake. Strain and serve in an old fashioned glass with a sugar rim.
I am so excited to be sharing another tutorial for how to make a burlap wreath today! I can’t begin to tell you how happy this wreath has made me on our new front door. The pop of orange is just what our door needed for the holidays and this wreath is perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving. I created this beauty for Kenmore and have had to wait an entire month to share this project with you. If you haven’t made a burlap wreath before, this tutorial is for you. It outlines step-by-step how to recreate this wreath in my picture tutorial.
Head on over to the Kenmore Blog today to find this EASY and no-crafting-skills required craft for decorating your door with a handmade autumn burlap wreath for the upcoming holiday season!
With the fall temperatures upon us, it is time to start thinking about an extra outer layer to help keep us warm for these cooler Midwest temperatures. Jackets can be an expensive investment and finding one that is the perfect cut and style can sometimes be difficult especially with everyone’s unique sizing and build. Today’s tutorial offers some fun ideas for refashioning a Goodwill jacket into something you really love.
I was so excited to get a chance to preview the new Jodi Picoult book, LEAVING TIME, that will be hitting store shelves on October 14th! Through a partnership with Walmart Moms, I was given the chance to take a peek and share my honest opinions of this new book with you.
Over the years I have been a huge Picoult fan and I have read almost every book she has written. My love affair with her began with MY SISTER’S KEEPER and I was thrilled when she came to visit our town and our book club got a chance to meet her in person. She was as charming and genuine as I could have hoped so I continued to read her books despite the similar themes with courtroom battles and a surprising twist. Even though I wasn’t as enraptured as I once was, I decided to pick up THE STORYTELLER last year which ended up making my top ten list for one of the best books she has ever written. If I was going to make any recommendation at all, I would pick that one up and devour it immediately. It is, in my opinion, Picoult’s finest work. It is because of this book that I was so excited to see what she would tackle next.
In LEAVING TIME Picoult embraces a mystery theme that brings an unlikely cast of characters together to piece together the disappearance of Alice Metcalf. Jenna Metcalf’s mother’s death is now a cold case and one that consumes Jenna’s every thought. Alice Metcalf mysteriously disappeared during a tragic accident at the elephant conservatory where she works as a scientist studying the grief among elephants, working alongside her husband. Jenna believes that there is a bigger story to her disappearance and hires Serenity Jones, a disgraced psychic, and Virgil Stanhope, an alcoholic private detective, to help her find out once and for all if Alice is alive or dead. The true question though, is what if Alice has been alive all along and never wanted a relationship with Jenna?
In predictable Picoult fashion, this story alternates between the different characters, and it also weaves in the scientific journals and observations of elephant behavior by Alice. As the story builds, more and more layers are added and we are given a host of possible suspects for Alice’s disappearance. As more of puzzle pieces are added, Jenna begins remembering more and more about what happened when she was a child as it all comes together in a shocking twist that readers will never see coming.
One element I thought worked really well was the storyline of Serenity and her rise and fall in psychic stardom and her struggle with no longer having the gifts she had before. I also loved the private detective and the demons that he was battling since this case was one he never thought he performed well. Most of all, I really appreciated the ending to this one that makes you want to reread the book again to find all of those hidden clues that Picoult placed in there for you that you might not have noticed before.
You can tell that Picoult has thoroughly researched this one, but at points the researched portions dragged on and on for me. Alice’s scientific journals add predictable parallels to her own mothering. At times though, the research was so long that it felt as though you were reading a nonfiction story. If you are a fan of elephants or the struggles of elephant conservation, you will be swimming in all of the facts and have plenty to read. For me, I felt that this created a bit of lag in my reading and I found myself skimming through those portions to get back to the meat of the story.
Truth be told, the ending is really what makes this Picoult book shine and worthy of a read- I would recommend this book simply for that reason alone! The final forty pages have a way of tying this story together that will have you begging your friends to read it so that you can discuss the plot twist you never saw coming.
Walmart will be offering LEAVING TIME at a deep rollback discount! You can preorder your copy today at the price of, $20.52.
What is your favorite Jodi Picoult book? I’d LOVE to hear!
*This post is sponsored by the Post-it Brand. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
It is such an honor to be working with the Post-it Brand for the back-to-school season. I am so thrilled that you loved our DIY Homework Stations we created for our family and today I wanted to continue along that theme and share with you some additional ways that we keep our kids organized for back-to-school.
Since we live in a small home, organization is truly necessary to keep our small spaces functional. I also am someone who prefers to not have a lot of visual clutter and appreciates smart hidden storage for our homework area rather than bulky caddies that can take up a lot of space since we don’t have a lot of storage space in our home. With that in mind,here are some of our ideas for organizing for back-to-school in a small space.
Designate a Small Area for Homework Organization- I recently created a bar cart for our shed bonus room and this cart has become the hub of this room for our back-to-school organization this year. I purchased a chalkboard for tracking our to-do list, a small globe, and then stackable hollowed books for school supplies storage. This little area is efficient and has just what we need to stay organized.
A hub can be created in a corner of your own home, tucked away in a closet, or even just a designated drawer of supplies. The key isn’t how much space you have to organize, but just that the space is functional and that you always have on-hand what your child needs to complete their assignments.
Put Them in Charge- I can admit that I am a bit of a helicopter mom and it is hard for me to let my kids be in charge of their own tasks. This year I am really going to work on helping them to be more independent and make them be in charge of their own to-do lists and schedules.
Imagine if they went to college and wondered where their mother was to keep them on task.
This could get a little embarrassing.
I purchased this chalkboard and each child can jot down their own to-do list on Post-it Study Super Sticky Notes to attach to the chalkboard to remind themselves of the important tasks they need to accomplish for the week. I am loving the new Post-it Study Collection because it offers a fantastic new line of Notes, Notebook Kits, Flags, Tabs, and Page Markers that stick securely to papers, notebooks, folders, and more, yet remove cleanly. The products all work together to help your family stay organized on-the-go. In this case with our Study Super Sticky Notes, once the task is accomplished, they can remove it from the board. As new tasks and assignments are added, they can create their own reminder list to attach to the chalkboard. Each child gets their own color of Post-it Study Super Sticky Notes so that they know exactly whose task is whose, eliminating the need for two boards and creating a visual area for them of necessary items to accomplish.
Make Those School Supplies Part of Your Décor- Pinterest has many ideas for creating storage caddies of homework supplies for your children which is great, but we don’t really have somewhere we can store it when those items are not being used. I happened upon these hollowed out books for storage at our craft store and realized that this was the perfect spot for camouflaging our homework helpers and adding visual interest to a room.
Inside the smallest book I stored crayons and glue sticks, the middle storage is for pencils and pens, and the largest book holds our Post-it Study collection homework helpers like Study Super Sticky Notes, Study Grid Notes, and Study Message Flags. This also houses our extra Post-it Super Sticky Notes for our chalkboard to-do list.
Cut Down the Distractions- The reason I love our bonus room for our homework area is that this area is screen-free and there is absolutely nothing in this room to distract them. I can be in the room with them to help them work through problems in a distraction-free environment. The DIY Homework Stations we created for this room help each child to stay in their own zone and keep focused on their own list of tasks. Once everything has been completed, the kids can exit the space and head off to their technology-filled lives.
I really hope you enjoyed this fun series on back-to-school organization that I created with the Post-it Brand. Thanks to this job, I feel more confident than ever that we will have a successful and truly organized school year! To purchase some fun Post-it Brand items of your own, you will find that they are available at office superstores and mass merchandise retailers nationwide!
This post is sponsored by the Post-it Brand. I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.