Burlap Wreath

Happy Tuesday! How was everyone’s weekend and start to the week? We had BEAUTIFUL weather in Northeast Ohio this weekend (66 degrees and sunny!), but the cold has returned. Sigh. At least the sun has stuck around.

I’m definitely feeling like I have a case of the Mondays…a day late.  L is not sleeping the greatest after around 1:00 pm. He sleeps great for this morning naps, but he can’t seem to settle down for an afternoon one. And don’t even get me started on 4:00 am. I know L will get in the swing of things (he turns three months old this weekend), but until then, we are going to be downing a lot of coffee in this house. I’m trying not to freak out, since I don’t go back to work until the beginning of May, but we have been so spoiled with J, our little champion sleeper.

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Literary Pumpkins

We’ve had a few days of fall food posts, so I thought today would be a good time to sneak in another fall decor post. If you follow my blog, you know I make no secret of my love for the written word. This idea for decorating pumpkins is so original – and so cute!

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How sophisticated do these look? Some variations I think are worth trying:

1. The author of the blog uses fake pumpkins to make these, but I think they can just as easily been done with real pumpkins.

2. She uses an old dictionary for her pages, but really anything with words will do. I’m thinking I may try to get my hands on an old ghost story book . Spooky 🙂

3. Personalize them! Check out what the author of the blog did:

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Ah – love! I’m not sure how easy it will be to get the cooperation of my dogs and (almost!) seven-month-old, but I’ll sure try!

4. Have some fun! Try adding a monogram, or adding seasonal embellishments:

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One word of caution – I would not put these outside uncovered. Mod Podge won’t hold up well in the rain or – gasp! – snow. Here are some tips for using Mod Podge projects outdoors.

With love,

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Decorating with Burlap

I love burlap. There is just something so rustic and chic about it, and fall is the perfect time to use it in your decor. I can’t think of another material that screams fall more than burlap.

Below are my favorite ways to decorate for fall using burlap. Hopefully you get to the Akron area craft stores before I do – or you’ll find some empty shelves were all the burlap should be. Oops. 🙂

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Another burlap pillow I love! Source

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Check out her other fall candle ideas – so cute! Source

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I have this table runner. And let me tell you – GORGEOUS. Source

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With love,

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Monogrammed Pumpkin

Looking for a fun and different way to decorate your pumpkins this year? Try a monogram!

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This is from a blog called Mom4Real – and I am so in love with the idea. However, since I have neither have a Cricut nor the intention to buy one, I plan on doing mine the old fashioned way:

Print a “b”.

Cut it out.

Trace it onto a pumpkin and paint within the lines to the best of my ability.

Sounds simple enough. Can’t wait to try this!

With love,

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin.Spice.Latte. Those three words send us into a frenzy every fall. The pumpkin. The spice. The latte. Ahhhh.

(Side note from Whitney – before we get back to pumpkin spice latte heaven, I have a confession to make: I really don’t know what a latte is. I throw the word around and confess my love for the drink, but I haven’t a clue what I’m talking about. So, in order to write this post, I had to look up the definition. According to the dictionary, a latte is “a type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk.” Ok, easy enough.)

Now, back to the important stuff. Starbucks has made the pumpkin spice latte famous, and even though the beverage has become “the company’s most popular seasonal beverage of all time”, there has been a lot of scrutiny over its ingredient list lately. So if you want to skip buying your lattes (and all the fake junk in them) this year, we’ve gathered a few DIY versions for you to try. Even though two of the three recipes don’t truly fit the definition of a latte, that’s fine by us. As long as they taste like fall, any “latte” is welcome in our mugs.

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1. “Better Than Starbucks” Pumpkin Spice Latte. Best part about this recipe: you probably have all the ingredients at home already. So what are you waiting for?! Get latte-ing!

2. Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Latte. I’m not sure making a pumpkin spice latte can get any easier than this.

3. Katie’s Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte. This recipe comes courtesy of my dearest Katie. If you don’t have vanilla Shakeology, just use whatever vanilla protein powder you have.

– 1 cup almond milk

– 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology (or whatever vanilla protein powder is your favorite)

– 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

– 1 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients. Add 5 ice cubes and blend again.

For some vegan omega-3’s and extra protein, add some chia seeds before you blend. And I always like to add a half frozen banana to mine. This treat is yummy enough to enjoy any time of day – and healthy enough that it doesn’t count as dessert!

Anyone have a pumpkin spice latte recipe they’d like to share?

With love,

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A DIY Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about telling the special people in your life how much you love them, and what says “I love you” more than a homemade gift? Plus, DIY gifts are usually easy on your wallet – and give you the satisfaction of putting effort and an added touch into your gifts.

Break out of the dinner-and-a-movie mold this Valentine’s Day, and get crafty! Here are some ideas I love:

Mugs

Does your significant other, best friend or family member live too far away for you to spend Valentine’s Day together? Let them know you’re thinking about them from afar with these distance mugs. Full instructions are here.

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Even for those lucky enough to their sweeties, DIY mugs are great gifts. Below are some adorable ones I found online:

You know I love anything with a mustache!
You know I love anything with a mustache!

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Truth.

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The possibilities are really endless. The Internet has about a million ideas, so you’re sure to come up with one that fits your loved one perfectly! Just fill the mugs with chocolate, add a bag of their favorite coffee (or tea) and the present is complete!

Scratch-off Cards

I first did this for a friend’s baby shower, and I just loved how they turned out. It’s easy to make them for Valentine’s day, and you can get really creative with how you want to make them.

My favorite way to use scratch off cards for ANY occasion is to include “lucky” in the card somehow. Try making a “Are You Lucky in Love?” card – with a few presents your loved one can scratch off. These don’t have to cost a lot of money; in fact, free presents are sometimes the most appreciated! Some ideas might include a back massage, breakfast in bed or getting to pick the next movie you rent. You know them the best – so pick things they will love and appreciate! Here is an example of a card I found online:

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Another idea is to tell someone just why you love them with a “10 Things I Love About You” scratch off card. I like the look of this card, but I wouldn’t do one every day. I couldn’t stand the wait!

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Food

There’s a saying that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. That may be true for the man in your life, but it’s most likely also true for the friend, mom, dad, sibling, co-worker and children in your life as well! Take the time to make your loved one’s favorite meal, snack or dessert and your effort will not go unnoticed! If you need some inspiration, check out some easy recipe ideas here, here and here.

Another great way to show love on Valentine’s Day is to cook WITH your loved one, instead of for them. Ryan and I did this the first Valentine’s Day in our new house, and it was such a fun time, we do it every year. Make the dinner special by whipping up something you usually don’t cook, open a bottle of wine and just enjoy each other’s company. We always do a surf-and-turf dinner with filet mignon and scallops, and we change up the sides every year to suit our taste-buds. Even with a “fancy” dinner like that, it’s MUCH less expensive than going out to eat, and we get 100% of each other’s attention. Perfection! And don’t worry if you aren’t a culinary expert – our favorite Valentine’s Day story is when we messed up dinner SO BADLY that it was inedible. It was funny then – and it’s even funnier now! So even if everything doesn’t go as planned – there’s always pizza delivery!

One last food gift: I saw this idea on Glitter Guide and fell in love with the idea. No matter what your “significant other” status is, your friends have been with you through life’s crazy up’s and down’s. So why not show them how much you love them by hosting a Friendship Brunch? Just you and your friends, with mimosas, waffles and plenty of love. I am sad that I didn’t think to do this before – but for sure next year, girls!!

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Cards

A few years ago, my college roommate started making her own cards. They are cute, they are unique, and most of all, there are personal. Hallmark has nothing on her! I’ve been inspired by her creatively and started making my own cards, and even though I’m nowhere near her abilities, I have a lot of fun doing it. Google “DIY Valentine’s Day cards” and start crafting! Whether you go with “Owl always love you” or “I mustache you to be my valentine”, you’re sure to make an impression.

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Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my loves!

DIY Cupcake Toppers

I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but cupcakes have taken over the dessert world. These tiny little cakes have stolen the spotlight at birthday parties, restaurants and even weddings. And I don’t think they are going anywhere anytime soon. One of the {many} reasons I think cupcakes have taken us all by storm is how customizable they are. One quick Google image search shows thousands and thousands and thousands of cupcakes in different colors, styles and flavors. But of course – all those options come at a price: either pony up the money for someone else to make custom cupcakes, or spend a bunch of time making them yourself.

Well, I don’t like to do either of those things.

So, when I hosted a Seagram’s Escapes “girls night in” a few weeks ago, I decided to go a different route with the cupcakes. I purchased plain “mini” cupcakes from the local grocery and had them add some colorful sprinkles at the store. They were vanilla with white frosting, very tasty and were a great price…but…they were a tad boring.

I wanted to get cupcake toppers to match the “luau”/summer theme of the party, but I couldn’t find any that didn’t cost a lot. I mean, these little things are used for about 5 minutes and then quickly tossed when the important business of eating the cupcake begins. Therefore, it doesn’t make much sense to me to send a lot of money on cupcake toppers.

Instead, I got the idea to make my own cupcake toppers using stickers and some items I had around the house.

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The stickers cost $2 per pack of 26 stickers. I was able to make 24 toppers from both packs, so the cost of each topper was just over $0.16. Niiiiiiiice.

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Start by placing a toothpick near the edge of a plain piece of paper. Use whatever scrap paper you have around the house – the paper will not show up except on the back of the topper, and who cares what the back looks like? Not me and certainly not anyone eating the yummy cupcakes.

Then, place the sticker on top of the toothpick and press firmly to make sure the toothpick doesn’t move around. Continue until you make enough toppers. Since the sticker packets I purchased had some small flower stickers too small for one topper, I clustered a few of them together.

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Cut around the stickers and the toppers are complete! This is the most time-consuming part of the process, but it can easily be done while sitting outside or while catching up on your shows. And the results are worth it:

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The possibilities are endless with these! And since they are so easy and inexpensive to make, I look forward to trying many more of the possibilities.