Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

This post is sponsored by Ever. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

There is a lot of pressure, as a mom, to capture all of these precious moments that we get to experience with our kids. I am never without my phone for this very reason. Today’s craft is something I have had brewing in my head for years, but didn’t think I could easily execute it. I am so excited because I’m showing off an EASY DIY no-sew scarf that you can create that has a hidden pocket so you have your phone with you at all times.  Since I am constantly taking pictures of my kids, I love having the Ever app for all of those moments!


Not only am I showing off this scarf, but I’m also showing off this INCREDIBLE (and I mean it!!) phone app called Ever that you can use to backup all your photos, saving you precious room on your phone so you never get that pesky message that forces you to remove so many of those special memories.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

Let me explain a little bit about Ever and why you should be using it!  This app automatically (and securely) collects and organizes your photos and videos from everywhere they live. You may not realize how many places you are taking photos, but Ever does. It grabs all the photos from your camera roll, social media accounts, emails, and texts then catalogs them for you in the correct order so you can quickly make photo albums in just minutes. The best part is that it keeps all my photos safe and encrypted so that I can rest knowing that my family’s  meaningful moments are only for me!  

This year I decided to get an iPhone with less storage because I thought it would help hold me more accountable to deleting and only keeping what is precious on my phone. My minimalist attitude makes me feel passionately about things like this, but I quickly realized the error of my minimalist ways.

I constantly had messages that the storage was full and then I would have a daily Sophie’s Choice moment where I was forced to choose the images that were most precious.

It’s no way to live, friends.

Ever iPhone App


When Ever reached out, I couldn’t believe how much one app could help my life so much. No more warnings and  tough decisions on what to keep because this app automatically frees space on your phone and backs up all those precious moments so you don’t have to.

Ever is also like hiring a personal organizer who can make sense of all your visual clutter and package it up in a way that finally makes sense.  I, honestly, never make the time to sort and organize photos, but this app is intuitive enough that it can do it for you automatically. No more excuses to not share those memories with grandma now that Ever is doing the hard part.

It also makes adorable albums that allow you to time travel and reminiscent about the good ol’ days with your kiddos.

Ever iPhone App

Oh, and did I mention that the app is FREE? Yup, unlimited free storage with security for all of your precious photos.

Dang, that’s a lot cheaper than buying an iPhone with more storage.

I might be able to help my kids with tuition after all!

For those of you who want your pictures backed up in full resolution, Ever Plus is also available by monthly subscription for $9.99 — or you can use their optional referral program to earn free credits for this full-res storage by sending invitations to your friends. Not to worry though, you can use all the other features without signing up for Ever Plus, thanks Ever!

Ever iPhone App

Please download the app right now- it’s a game-changer for sharing, printing, and storing all of those sweet memories. I promise you won’t regret it! I know I’m looking forward to our upcoming holiday even more because I can make an album of all our memories so quickly and easily. No more excuses for not getting these printed!

In honor of this app, today’s DIY is a scarf that offers a hidden pocket so you never miss (or lose) a photo opportunity again!

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

Supplies Needed

2 yards knit sweatshirt material (you need the material to be thick enough to hide the pocket! This price is EXCELLENT- I paid $10 a yard at my local craft store)

1-2 yards tassel trim (I find the most affordable trims over here)

Coin Purse large enough to hold your phone (this is the style I purchased. As you can see, the bottom is not completely flat, but it was the ideal size for my phone), alternatively you could purchase an all purpose zipper and craft a pocket out of the scraps from your scarf

Hemming Tape- 1 roll is plenty!!

Scissors or Rotary Cutter

Tape Measure

Thread to match material

Your Favorite Scarf as a Guide For Width & Length

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from


1. First, find your favorite scarf in your closet and use this as a guide for the length and width of your scarf. The reason I am not telling you my scarf length is because I am a wee woman and my favorite scarf length might look silly on you. Do note that the width does need to be wide enough to completely hide that pocket. I actually love a wide  scarf that mimics the coziness of my favorite blanket scarves so I made mine very generous in width- it’s so wide that it can almost double as a shawl.  Cut the material to the same width and length, doubling up the fabric so that you have two pieces that are exactly the same size.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

2. Take the two pieces of material and have the pretty side facing each other so the ugly side of the fabric is on the outside of both pieces.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

3. Between these two pieces, you are going to be lining up your hemming tape. Use your wallet as a guide for where to start and stop the hemming tape, on one side, making sure that you have a little edge of the fabric above it (like I have show in the first picture) so you can fold it in a bit to support that pocket.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

4. Use your iron to iron the whole side of the scarf, taking your time so that you can make sure you have a good seal on the fabric. Repeat this process on the other side, but make sure to run the hemming tape all down it, unlike the other side where we made a space for our pocket. This takes time so be patient. This material is a little thick so you may need to go over it a few times to seal it fully.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

5. Flip the scarf out and then, slip the wallet inside. You are going to need to fold that hem back a bit to line up with where the hemming tape was so you don’t have a raw edge hanging out. Using a needle and thread stitch it into the material (I know I said NO SEW, but we do want that pocket in there nicely. Alternatively, you could try fabric glue, but I think it won’t be as secure!).

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

6. Fold in the rough edges of the scarf and slip a strip of hemming tape between these two folded sides. Take your time and seal this to finish the construction of the scarf.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

7. Finish with a strip of trim on the front of the scarf (make sure you know where your pocket is before you are adding the trim). I am only trimming the front of the scarf so I can remember where my pocket is! You can definitely add more trim all the way around or anywhere else you would like to trim it. If you have a grosgrain trim like I do, take a lighter and pass it quickly over the two sides of the ends of your trim to seal both sides so it doesn’t come unraveled. Another alternative for sealing the edges is a little fray check- I’ll let you pick! To finish,  I slipped hemming tape under the trim and then used this, once again, to secure it by ironing it in place. Repeat on the other side of the scarf.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from

I am already dreaming up ways that I can make these for holiday gifts for others and no one will ever know that I didn’t whip out a sewing machine for this craft. Wouldn’t this be such a great gift even for your kiddos to tuck their hat and gloves in? I’m thinking of pairing one of these for my daughter with knitted ear warmers for the pocket. It could even be made more masculine in a beautiful plaid fabric, just like my DIY blanket scarves, for the men in your life.

Honestly, I can’t think of anyone who couldn’t use a scarf with a pocket. Can you?

I hope you find today’s DIY inspiring and I hope you also have a blast getting those photos organized, backed-up, and printed for your family this year, thanks to Ever.

This post is sponsored by Ever. All thoughts and opinions are my own! This post contains affiliate links that help support our website- thank you! 



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Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Have you ever painted pumpkins with acrylic paints before? This was my first time painting our pumpkins this way and it could not be easier. I wanted to create a pumpkin display that would be perfect for the entire fall season and wanted to show you a cute way to display your pumpkins this year!

I am not big on decorating for Halloween and would prefer to skip right on over that part of the fall decorating. This month’s challenge was to create a Halloween display so I wanted to create a minimalistic display that would give a nod to the season, but complement our decor until it is time to deck the halls.

Let’s get painting!

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

Any size you like of their faux pumpkins- the small ones are just $.98!! (you could also do real pumpkins!)

Waverly Inspirations Acrylic Paints in Elephant, Plaster, Pool, & White

Waverly Inspirations 4-piece wide brush set

Cup with water, paper towels, and something to cover the surface while painting

Wooden Crate (I got this one with a chalkboard on the side)

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

Directions for Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

1. Remove the labels from the pumpkins and protect your surface with cardboard while painting.

2. With a clean wide brush, begin painting your pumpkins,using the stalk of the pumpkin as a handle to work around the surface. Paint the entire pumpkin and then set it aside to dry. Drying time can take anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour, depending on how thickly you applied the paint. Repeat this process as many times as you like to achieve the hue you are going for. I found the gray pumpkins only required a single coat, while the white pumpkins required two coats. Once dry,sprinkle these pumpkins throughout your house or create a crate display like I have done.
Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with

I love how these pumpkins spill out onto some of my favorite childhood reads. The chalkboard side on this crate gives me the chance to make this display feel a little more Halloween and then can be replaced with a different label later in the fall.  I added my knitted leaf centerpiece to the side of the table- I can’t believe how well these branches have held up over the years!

For a corner in our home that used to have nothing, this has quickly become my favorite focal point in our living room.

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

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 makes me hanging our front door. The pop of orange is just what our door needs for the holidays and this wreath is perfect for all fall through Halloween and Thanksgiving.

If you haven’t made a burlap wreath before, this tutorial is for you! It outlines step-by-step how to recreate this wreath with my picture tutorial.

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

The crisp coolness of fall is moving in here in the Midwest and with it comes the urge to decorate every square inch of my home to honor it. Dare I say that we do more fall decorating than we do Christmas decorating? With simplifying as our goal, though, instead of decorating for Halloween and decorating for Thanksgiving, I am trying to create pieces that can double for both holidays and be appreciated until it’s time to break out the Christmas decorations.

The best part is that this burlap wreath requires no crafting skills, no cutting, and is very inexpensive to create.The one thing I will say with making burlap wreaths is that you need to have a little patience with yourself in the beginning. My first wreath, I took apart three times before I got the hang of it. Once you get the bubbling of the burlap down though, this really is a quick and easy craft and such a great way to dress up a door. (Note: affiliate links are included)

How to Make a Burlap Autumn Wreath


Supplies Needed:



1. Begin by folding your burlap in half, like I have shown above, and keep the fold going as we go along. Select one section of the wire wreath to start in. Feed the beginning end through the wreath as shown above: over the outer ring, under the next, over the next, and under to finish. Leave a little loose end to tuck in or you can wire it to the wreath with a little floral wire in the back. Now you have started your wreath- super easy!  This is the technique we are using throughout.

Note: I am showing it to you tightly so you can see how this will work, when you do this, you will actually be pulling out the burlap a bit to give it to that bubble effect that we are going for. 

2. Using the working end of the burlap (the working end is the side that isn’t the final end of the burlap, but the end you are working with), we are going to begin making the bubbled burlap right next to this row, within the same section of that metal wreath, but we will begin weaving in the opposite direction, continuing to pull out and bubble the burlap as we go, moving the working burlap into each section, weaving one direction than weaving the other direction.

4. When you run out of burlap (it should be when you are about halfway through covering the wreath), tuck the end towards the back and pick up where you left off. Again, you can wire these ends with a little floral wire on the back.

5. Once the entire wreath is covered, secure the final end with floral wire on the back of the wreath to make sure everything is held into place, twisted around one of the metal strands of the wreath.

6. Now you can fluff your burlap out to create that bubbly effect and to cover any of the metal you can see peeking out..

7. Clip small stems of your greenery to weave into your wreath. Starting with the front, add bits here and there, but not in a pattern, to make it look natural. Repeat this process with the middle layer and then finally attach a few towards the back to add texture to this wreath.

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

I don’t want to brag, but doesn’t this look like something out of a magazine? Weaving in the texture of the greenery really makes this wreath pop and looks professional. Thanks to catching some half-off sales at our local craft store, I was able to make this beauty for less than $20 which also makes me very happy!

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

I hope you can dress your home up simply and beautifully for the fall holidays with this fun idea!

 Disclosure: affiliate links are included in this article, if you use them, thank you -they help support the site!

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How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Making a fabric wreath has been on my crafting bucket list for a long time and I finally had the perfect excuse to execute it. I joined the Waverly Inspirations Network this month and am showcasing all the fun craft goodies you can find now at your local Walmart stores- YAY!

Each month I am challenged to make a project out of a surprise box of materials and the team gives me a theme to work with. This month’s theme was BEACH so I went with a nautical spin to show you how to make a fabric wreath and rope garland for your home.

Best of all, no sewing skills required!

Let’s get crafting.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

Supplies Needed To Make a Fabric Wreath

12″ or 20″ wire wreath frame

2 1/2 yards Waverly Inspirations Fabric (for 12″) or 3 yards Waverly Inspirations Fabric (for 20″). Be sure to select two or more patterns or solids that compliment each other. Have fun with this!

6 yards Waverly Inspirations Grosgrain or Satin Ribbon (select 2 3-yard packages in complementary colors)

Fabric Rotary Cutter

Rotary Cutting Mat

(Note- if making matching garland, be sure to pick up some rope (like this) over in the home improvement section of the store)

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

Directions for Making a Fabric Wreath

1. Taking your fabric lengthwise, cut at the 1″ mark on your rotary cutter.

2. From this starting point, begin tearing down until you get to the bottom of your fabric to create strips. There will be loose threads. Pull any that are particularly bothersome, but this project is meant to have rough edges to it.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

3. Begin cutting this torn fabric into 6″ strips. Repeat these same 3 steps over and over again with your two fabrics.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

4. The same length strips will need to be cut out of your two ribbon options so begin cutting those, utilizing all of the ribbon that you have purchased..

5. Starting from the outer edge of the wire wreath frame, begin tying the fabric, making sure to keep your printed side turned out, and then slide the tied fabric down to the nearest crossbar. Repeat until you have filled the section, alternating fabrics and sprinkling a tie of ribbon in throughout. In the picture above, you can see that ALL of these have a fabric loop- this is to demonstrate your starting point for each row.  Continue doing this until you get all the way around the outside edge. Then repeat this same process on the remaining 3 wires until you have filled your entire wreath.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

I added a little pom-pom trim that I had in my crafting cart and clipped it with two tiny clothespins to finish this.  I had so much fun making this that I wanted to add a garland to match.

How to Make a Fabric Rope Garland from

Utilizing the same technique for ripping your fabrics, cut 2″ strips this time and then cut these into 8″ pieces. Repeat this step with both fabric selections (or more if you have them!). Tie them onto your rope, making sure to have that printed side facing out. I love that you can make this as long or as short as you need for your space!

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

My little painted laminate fireplace, in our basement, gets so much love and I love decorating it for the different seasons. I finished our beachy look with two rope handled lanterns. I, honestly, loved making this so much that I now have plans to make another smaller one for my fancy little she shed in yellows and polka dots.

I hope this tutorial inspires you to get out there and craft today!

Making brings me so much joy and I love sharing that with you!


How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from


This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 


DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes For Father’s Day

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Create quick & easy grilling seasoning mixes with these recipes and printable labels for a perfect gift for a grill-loving dad!

DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes for Father's Day with printable labels

Father’s Day is just around the corner and our Dads love grilling so I thought making grilling seasoning mixes would be a fun gift for your favorite dads!  I’m sharing two easy DIY grilling spice mixes that you can make and package up with fun printable labels for the perfect gift to share with a special Dad in your life.

DIY grilling seasoning mixes

The beauty in this project is that it is easy to create one or many gifts with just one assembly line of ingredients. To really make your dollars stretch on this project, buy your spices in bulk or purchase the generic brands of spices to keep the gift frugal, but still thoughtful.

The thing that I know I love about my Dad is that he is just the kind of guy that appreciates small and thoughtful gestures. These spice mixes are just the ticket for a gift that your Dad really can use.


If you are pinched for time, but still want the taste of freshly ground pepper in your recipes, utilize your food processor and pulse your peppercorns until they are ground or just run your food processor with them in there for a couple of minutes.  If you don’t have a food processor, a coffee grinder can also work to save you some time.

All-Purpose Spice Mix

All Purpose Spice Mix

The first spice mix we are going to make is an easy all-purpose grill seasoning. This can be rubbed onto any meat before grilling. The red pepper flake and ground pepper add a lot of kick to this spice rub so if you prefer a mix with less spice, feel free to scale back those two spices. Remember to utilize your food processor to help blend your pepper and save you time!

DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes For Father's Day
Recipe type: Condiment
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
An easy all-purpose grill seasoning that can be rubbed onto any meat before grilling.
  • 4 tablespoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Mix all ingredients together well and store in an airtight container.
  2. You can double or triple this recipe for your jar.

 Dad’s Secret Burger Seasoning

Dad’s Secret Burger Seasoning

The second spice mix will make dad’s burgers extra special. If your Dad really likes to show-off on the grill, this burger seasoning spice mix is just what he needs to take his burgers to another level.

DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster
Although the red might look spicy, it is actually paprika that adds a lot of warmth and flavor to your ground beef and just a hint of kick from the cayenne pepper. You may never want your burgers another way!

Dad’s Secret Burger Seasoning
Recipe type: Condiment
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: ½ cup
A spice mix for burgers that adds warmth and flavor to your ground beef with just a hint of kick from cayenne pepper.
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 c.) paprika
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • 7½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients together well and store in an airtight container.

DIY_Grilling_Seasoning_Mixes-11 DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster

We have created these beautiful printable grill seasoning jar labels for your Dad that makes them truly gift-worthy. I hope you love this fun food craft as much as I love sharing it with you!

Grab your FREE printable BBQ labels here (just click that link to open and then download).

What’s in your secret spice mix? Any dry rubs that you love to mix up for grill season?


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Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp from

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for many years I have chosen to honor this occasion with a special dish for my man. Battling crowded restaurants is one of the least romantic ways to spend this holiday so instead we choose to eat a special dinner at home.  In years past, I focused my efforts on mastering a restaurant-worthy filet, a skill I never thought I could nail. This year, I wanted to challenge myself to make a great risotto for our feast. Mastering risotto has been on my wish list of cooking skills because it is the dish I always order when dining out. Risotto is pricey for such a humble dish when dining out, but one bite has always made it worth it for me. Risotto is gluten-free comfort food at its finest and a beautiful dish to prepare for your favorite Valentine this year.

Rice Select Arborio Rice

When you head to the grocery store, you are looking for Arborio Rice. This is the exact brand I used and it was perfection. Can I be honest and say it was sitting in my pantry for months because I lost my nerve to make risotto? That is the truth! Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice. It is named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, where it is grown. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy, due to their higher amylopectin starch content. It creates a deliciously starchy and creamy dish that compliments other flavors that are added to it and it is the rice that is most commonly used to create risotto.

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp from

Have you had risotto before? If you haven’t yet, you are in for a real treat! It has a reputation for being a fussy dish, but really this dish takes just thirty minutes or less. In fact, I remember watching risotto preparation for the first time on a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal show. What makes risotto so delicious is actually you stirring the dish throughout that thirty minutes to release those starches in the rice that helps to create that creamy comforting flavor. The privilege of being the stirrer is having another hand to do the wine sipping as the dish pulls together. It’s a great reason to volunteer for the job, in my opinion.

For a first risotto these simple flavors are so easy to pull together. The shrimp dressed simply in paprika adds a beautiful smoky flavor on top of these creamy bowls of risotto. I have found that the wine, parmesan cheese, and frozen shrimp are all very affordable at ALDI.  That isn’t sponsored talk, I’m just a true store enthusiast!

For frugal girls like myself, I have even found that the risotto reheats well with the addition of a little stock to bring it back together on the stovetop. If you prefer though you can also transform the leftovers into risotto cakes, which I have found makes a delicious addition on top of a spinach salad!

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp from

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
Risotto is an elegantly comforting gluten-free dish that is perfect for a slowed down feast or to celebrate any of life's occasions. Be sure to read the tips for ideas on what to do with leftover risotto.
  • 1 pound medium shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, divided
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Rinse the shrimp and pat them very dry. Toss them with olive oil and then the paprika and a generous quantity of salt and pepper. Spread them in a baking dish and return them to the refrigerator.
  2. Warm the broth in a saucepan set over low heat.
  3. In a separate Dutch oven or wide, deep sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until they are soft and beginning to brown around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir thoroughly to make sure it is coated with the butter and onions. Cook the rice for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring and scraping the pan until the wine has evaporated.
  5. Begin incrementally adding the warm broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. This gradual addition of liquid is key to getting the rice to release its starch and create its own delicious sauce. It is important to take your time with this to achieve the creamy texture you are after. If the broth is evaporating very quickly, or the rice is boiling hard, turn the heat down so you just see a gentle simmer. Expect this stage to take about 18 minutes, and to add most of the broth.
  6. Begin tasting the rice after about 13 minutes to gauge how far it has cooked. The risotto is ready when the rice is still a bit chewy, and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge.
  7. In the last 5 minutes of cooking the risotto, put the pan of prepared shrimp in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are pink.
  8. When the risotto is ready, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and about ½ cup chopped parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Serve immediately, spreading risotto in pasta bowls and topping with shrimp and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

 Recipe Slightly Adapted From The Kitchen.

Do you have a tried and true risotto recipe or technique? Feel free to share it in our comments below!

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love- pinky promise! 

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Dora Band-Aids for a Hurting World

Monday, December 21st, 2015


When my daughter was small, I remember that each and every hurt required some type of medical treatment. We had a constant rotation of ice packs and tiny bandages, often for nonexistent wounds. It was as though the act of putting that Dora Band-Aid on her superficially scraped up knee was enough to close the floodgates of tears and make the world right again. She needed me to see her hurt, to echo how awful it was to be hurt, and then to show my efforts to repair it.

Last week I discovered that a family I had been working with, through a volunteer opportunity I am involved with, had fallen on some particularly hard times and had been living without things that I would consider basic human needs.  The gas in the home had been shut off, the stove was not in working order, medical needs couldn’t be addressed through their insurance, and there was not even a washer to care for their family’s clothing.

When you have a platform like this to work from, you can often make swift work and can create fast resolutions to problems, simply because of the large circle that comes with this type of job. In a matter of 24 hours, I found I could meet all of these basic needs for this family between our family’s resources and many, many generous givers that I reached out to who helped me close the gap through material and financial donations. If there is one thing I feel proud of, it is is the company I keep.

As I shared those gifts with this family this weekend  I had a flashback of being that mom sharing a Dora Band-Aid again- I was so unequipped. This wound was so beyond the reach of the tiny offering that I had.  I could see so very clearly that there were many other needs that were there and I knew that the gift I offered, while appreciated, was just a small bandage on a problem bigger than I could fill. 

I left my humble bandage for this wound, I echoed the hurt, and I hugged those people and gave what I could.

Those bandages though, those are mine to give out and sometimes I have a whole box at my disposal and sometimes I just have a couple to share that I can sprinkle around. This box is mine to do with what I choose, and yet,  I was surprised at some of the commentary that came from what others said about those bandages.

“Did they deserve them?”

“Were they working?”

“Why had they fallen on hard times in the first place?”

“So many people working the system….”

You have probably heard a few of these before, am I right?

Here’s the thing.

My family?

We worked the system. 

My husband lost his job for a year and we became part of the system that people refer to with that shake of their head.  We found ourselves unable to make ends meet, unable to find employment, and the seeker of any government gift that we could qualify for. My husband and I went without health insurance (a gamble that kept me up every night), we placed our son on a healthcare plan funded by the state, and we eagerly waited for those unemployment checks so we could do things like get groceries and pay our mortgage.

What helped us get through those times were those tiny bandages that so many giving and kind people shared with us. They knew they couldn’t heal the gaping wound we had…it would have been impossible!  Yet, they were happy to share the smaller bandages that made each of those dreary days in my life better.

They brought us meals, they watched our baby, they gave us gift cards to have nights out, they even bought a pizza for the volunteers who later had to move us out of our very own home that we could no longer afford.

I could not even have purchased that pizza for them as a thank you.

Our debt situation?

Well, we needed a full-body cast at that point, not a tiny bandage.

But those bandages made such a difference and I still reflect on the generosity of the people that got us through such a depressing time in my life. 

And now, I’m the lucky one who has a box of tiny bandages to help those in need.

The bandages are often the smallest gifts, but not only are they my gifts to give, but it is their gift to do what they need to do with it. I don’t worry about if that bandage is going to someone working hard enough or if they are deserving of my tiny bandages.

I know God will figure all of that out.

He has a way of sorting things out for me. 

I only hope that other people are sprinkling them in some of the same spots that I am so we can close the gap on those hurts in the world together. When cobbled together, incredible things happen like the small Christmas miracle I got to witness this weekend as we met these basic needs for a family I love.

As we close out another year here at MomAdvice, I hope you will find a way to share your gifts with others, whether they are big or small. Just as I did with my daughter,  I am acknowledging these hurts in the world today, I echo your hurts because I think about them too and pray for resolutions, and I share a tiny bandage with those of you who are hurting.

I am also hoping you are one of the lucky ones holding a box and you won’t forget to share a few Dora Band-Aids of your own, even if the wounds seem too big for such small offerings.

They all matter.

And so do you.


3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

Friday, December 18th, 2015

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3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I’ve really enjoyed sharing some new holiday gift-giving strategies and traditions that are important to our family with you. Today I wanted to talk about a gift that I really struggle with… the gift card.

While practical in so many ways, I have found it difficult to make gift cards feel personal. I want people to always know that when I give them a gift card, it isn’t because I don’t care about them to shop, but only that I want them to treat themselves to something they really love.

I can tell you that I don’t know a single girlfriend, sister, or mother that would object to a shoe gift card. I may not know their shoe sizes to always shop for them personally, but I know that if I give them a gift card for shoes that they would be more than thrilled to peruse the shoe aisles for the perfect gift. Bonus points if that gift card accompanied a gift card to their favorite coffee shop so they could sip while browsing.

Today I wanted to share with you 3 ways I have created to make a gift card to Shoe Carnival more personal and make it truly stand out!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

(Shoes: Nicole Carleigh in Black)

Create a Snow Globe Jar

If you put anything in a jar, I think it instantly amplifies its level of awesomeness on any gift. Jars are very inexpensive gifts to give and this little snowy-filled scene only took a couple of minutes to pull together and requires zero craft skills.

Simply add a little faux snow on the bottom with whatever you might have in your craft supplies or purchase those delicious rolls of snow they have out with all of the snow villages this time of year. Place a little snow on the bottom, add an inexpensive ornament, and finish with a bottle brush tree. TADA!

With just a few moments you have created something really cute for their mantle out of items that they can use for their own holiday decorating or food storage. Best of all, tucked underneath that blanket of white is a gift card to do a little shoe shopping!


3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)


Knit a Gift Card-igan

As you know, I am a knitter, so I always find fun ways to use my hobby for the holidays. This year, I stumbled upon this amazing little pattern for a Gift Card-igan and knitted this out of a little scrap yarn I had left over from another project. It is a perfectly gratifying project since it is so small in size and the pattern is easy enough to execute while watching holiday movies on the couch.

Whatever your craft skill set is, consider using it to create a unique gift card holder of your own. Sewing, embroidery, decoupage, crochet… there are so many fun ways to incorporate your own crafting skills to make a gift card holder that is unique and special. It adds that personal touch to any gift you give and showcases your talents in such a fun way!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)


(Shoes: Crocs Cap Toe Rhinestone)

Add Our Free Holiday Sparkle

I’m all about the holiday sparkle from attire to the gifts I give. These Crocs Cap Toe Rhinestone shoes add that holiday touch I love with their shiny cap toes and rhinestone embellishment. Did I mention how comfy these are? They are the perfect shoe for any gathering because you can be on your feet for days without any discomfort! I found the same holds true for the Nicole Carleigh Boots I got, thanks to their low and wider heel.

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

Of course, sparkle can also be added to your gift and I wanted to share this fun printable that our designer, MJ from pars caeli, created just for you to add that personal touch to your gift card this year!

(scroll to the bottom for this freebie!)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)


Shoe Carnival happens to be running a Give 1, Gift 1 Gift Card promotion this week which is perfect timing with our gathering of packaging ideas. If you purchase a $50 gift card, you can receive a $10 bonus reward card that can be redeemed from 12/26-1/16, in-store only.

Be sure to cash in on this incredible promo and I hope you can use a few of our ideas for your gift-giving needs this year!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)


FREE Colorful Cute Shoes Fund Envelope

FREE B&W Cute Shoe Funds Envelope


Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two winners to add a little holiday sparkle from Shoe Carnival for those upcoming holiday festivities!  Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and happiest of holidays!


*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Christmas At Mom Advice: Traditions, Decor & Food

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Christmas at Mom Advice-Traditions Decor and Food

With the Christmas season in full swing I thought it would be fun to bring you an all-in-one resource of our best holiday ideas to help with your celebrations! I gathered any family traditions posts I could find, including ideas to make the holidays meaningful for your family, tips for baking with your kids, how to keep your marriage at the top of your list, entertaining ideas, and more.

Then I pulled our Christmas decor projects together along with our little holiday home tour. If you like simple DIY decor, these are for you! Lastly, you can find all our recipes that would be perfect at the holidays for giving as gifts, using for entertaining, or just enjoying with your family.

These are all things I use again and again to help make the holidays special and meaningful, but not crazy, and I hope you will be able to pull something from this list, too!

Holiday Traditions

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day

Favorite Holiday Traditions (+Peppermint Cocoa recipe!)

Top 10 Christmas Ideas for the Family

10 Ways to Make the Holidays Meaningful for Your Kids

Tips for Baking with Kids

Family Traditions to Celebrate the Holidays in Meaningful Ways

Tips to Put Marriage at the Top of Your Holiday List

Holiday Entertaining Made Easy & Budget-Friendly

Christmas Decor

Christmas home tour at Mom Advice

A Little Home Tour

DIY Holiday Yarn Trees

DIY Holiday Mantel Ideas

Washi Tape Christmas Tree Wall Card Display

How to make a Yarn Pom Pom Wreath

How to Make a Pom Pom Wreath

DIY Yarn Pom Pom & Ornament Garland

Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Food for Giving & Enjoying

Christmas Tree cinnamon Rolls

Easy Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls

Galette Des Rois Kings Cake

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Morning Buns

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint Frosting

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes in a Jar

DIY Peppermint Mocha

Homemade Peppermint Mocha

Homemade Gingerbread Latte

Light Cranberry Bar Recipe for the Holidays

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Gingerbread Biscotti

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

2-Ingredient Cranberry Pancake Syrup

Baked Donut Recipes

Peppermint Candy Cane Ice Cream

I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas for your holiday season! I wish you the merriest Christmas of all!!

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Blind Date Book Club Exchange

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Blind Date Book Exchange from

As a minimalist, I really love to give and get gifts that I really would love and use which can be difficult when it comes to holiday exchanges. We all, I am sure, have went home with a White Elephant gift we really did not love or spent good money on exchanges where we have felt a little disappointed in what we received in exchange. It’s tricky to not look like a Scrooge when you want to opt out to save money.

Last month though, I got a little inspiration for an idea to host a book exchange for my fellow bookworms. I visited Asheville for a conference and saw my first Blind Date Book display in person at the book shop. After snapping a photo for Instagram, I started thinking what a fun idea it would be to have a Blind Book Book Exchange for the holidays with my book club. What would an evening look like where we all brought blind dates to share?

Last night we had our exchange and it was, honestly, one of the best exchanges I have been a part of.  Perhaps, a bit nerdy, I loved going home with a great book AND a whole slew of ideas for books I’d love to check out at the library. 

Blind Date Book Exchange from

What Are Blind Date Books?

If you haven’t seen a display before, they are books that are wrapped in paper and then they have words written on them that describe what the book is about. Displays can be found at many bookstores and I have even heard that libraries do this too.  You can illustrate the paper or just write words about what makes the book special. I love this Pinterest board that shows so many ideas for a fun blind date book display. As you can see, there are many interpretations.

As someone who truly judges books by their covers, this gives you a chance to think differently, perhaps, about a book you might not have picked up before. Since it is a blind date, you are taking a bit of a risk that the money you invest may or may not pay off so you want to choose wisely.

I purchased a book at the bookstore and it sounded just like something I would love.

Guess what? It was something I already loved very much. I loved it so much that it made our top ten books of 2015.

I was happy to pass it on to someone else and, honestly, if I loved it enough to put it on my top ten, I would have been happy to own it too.

Blind Date Book Exchange from

How Do You Do a Blind Date Book Exchange?

Of course, since I have never heard that anyone has done this before, I made up my very own rules. That means, if these rules don’t work for you, feel free to make your own! It’s your blind date, friends!

Tell Everyone to Bring a Book Wrapped In Paper- I encouraged everyone to bring a book that was special to them or that they would want to read themselves. You could pass down a book that you already owned and loved or purchase a book for the exchange. Have everyone wrap their books and then write their own descriptions about them. I have found that reviews on the backs of books offer a plethora of beautiful words to use.

Draw Numbers- Write down numbers equal to the amount of people participating and have everyone draw a number.

Select Your Books- Give people time to browse the descriptions before the exchange and then start going in order of the numbers drawn. Beginning with the person who has drawn #1,  have them select their book, read the description on the outside, and then open it.

Steal Away- Just like those White Elephant exchanges, the next person in line can steal the opened book, if they are wanting to read it, or they can draw from the book pile. We allowed two steals per book to keep it fun while still moving along.

Go Home With a New Book, But Keep The Exchange Going Strong- What a treat to go home with a new read! The best part is, if your book club meets regularly, you can bring the book back to the next book club meeting and share it again with your book club members. It creates a little lending library for your group with just a small investment.  I can’t take credit for that idea though, it was thought up by my fellow book club member, Kate! Smart girl!

What Book Did I Give?

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

GAVE: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

DESCRIPTION: Worldview Changer, America’s Mandela, A Voice to the Voiceless, Thrilling, Heroic Endeavors, Compelling, Hope for Humanity, Inspiration for Change

Nonfiction can be intimidating to fiction lovers so I wanted to share this one because it read like a legal thriller and completely changed my view on people in the prison system. I couldn’t put it down and I wanted someone to read it so I could talk about the injustice of so many.

What Did I Go Home With?

Looking for Alaska by John Green

GOT: Looking for Alaska by John Green

I am really excited to dig into this- have you read it? I’ve heard such good things. I think this is the only John Green book I haven’t read yet!

Blind Date Book Exchange

This was the best exchange I’ve ever been part of  and it’s not because I invented it.

Or maybe it is.

Who is to say?

Regardless, I hope it inspires you for a fun night with your own book clubs. We look forward to making this one an annual tradition and it made for a really fun evening talking about all of our favorite books. I look forward to cozying up with my book over the winter break and I don’t even have to return it back to the library- winning!

Want to be part of a book club? Join me over here for our first online book club happening in January. We are reading this one as our first selection and I am so excited!

Have you ever taken a blind date with a book? Tell me about it!

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love, I promise!

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