15 Reasons I Know It’s Fall

15 Reasons I know it’s Fall:

15. No more iced caramel coffees, bring on the hot pumpkin spice lattes.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

14. Blankets come out of the linen closet and are placed on the end of the beds.

13. School supply aisles become school supply sections. Notebooks for brand new to-do lists and schedules. Highlighters! Post-its! Sharpies!

12. Cardigan sweaters are worn in the hours of 7am-9am and 6pm until bedtime.

11. Goodbye beach and coconut scented candles and lotions… Hello sweet cinnamon pumpkin scents.

Bath and Body Works Fall Scents

10. Time to pack up the American flag and beach home decor and take out the apples, autumn leaves, and pumpkin decorations.

9. Beautiful blank calendars to color-code with our new school year schedules. Events like Pool and Water Park are replaced with Fall Festival and Apple Picking.

8. Kiss away clear lip gloss for autumn brown and maroon lipsticks.

7. I sip my last gin and tonic and clean out the crockpot for hot butter rum apple cider.

Hot Butter Rum Cider

6. Jeans that are never worn in summer are pulled out as the pool bag, towels, and bathing suits are sadly packed away.

5. My daughter starts the daily question: “What are you going to be for Halloween?”

4. My sister sends around the Annual Thanksgiving Recipe Google doc.

3. We return to magical places like Shondaland, Chicago, and Berkley (for just 13 more episodes *sniff*.) Time to fill the DVR again!

Parenthood Final Season

2. Words like Eagles, Giants and Jets are suddenly all over my Facebook newsfeed. On the positive side, my Pinterest homepage is full of snacks, dips, and chili recipes.

And the last reason I know it is fall…

1. People start talking about Christmas and anxiety sets in!

Happy Fall everyone!

Back to School Brunch

Yesterday, I hosted a small Back to School Brunch for Olivia and my girlfriend’s two kids.  Fall is almost here and I hope that I can get back into some of my usual routines – one being blogging!

Besides a fun time for my friend and the kids – the best part about this party was it was completely outfitted from the dollar store!  (Except for some items left over from The Cat in the Hat party!)  I also only served food that was already in my fridge.  Affordable and fun – my favorite things!

Back to School Brunch 2014

 

 

 

Back to School Brunch 3Red and white striped wrapping paper table cloth with black poster board “chalkboard” place mats.

Back to School Brunch 2Craft supplies!

Back to School Brunch 4Every Back to School Party should also celebrate summer – and what better way than with an ice cream bar?

Are your kids back to school tomorrow?  Already started?  How did you celebrate the end of summer?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  Up next – my Fall preview for TV!!  I’ll publish this week before all the good shows start again.  Have a great Sunday and thanks for reading.

Helpful Hump-day Hints 07.30.14

HHH gingham

Today I need YOUR hints!  You know where I am NOT organized at all? In my email inbox!  Which is weird because I am super organized about my files on the computer. Folders for everything, clean desktop.  But for some reason, I cannot get my head around a good email system.  I make the folders, but then I never move emails.  I just “search” when I need to, which works, but then I have so many emails that I just never delete!

Email Inbox Image

Ok, mine isn’t THIS bad, but it’s pretty bad!  A few weeks ago I started tackling moving emails I need / want to save to folders.  I decided my next course of action was taking my email OFF lists so I don’t get a ton of emails that I usually never open.  Here are the steps I took:

1.) ANY social media site (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter) I turned OFF my email notifications.  NO NEED to get these emails!  I check these sites regularly and can click on notifications to see who’s tagging me, who’s pinning my stuff, who’s tweeting to me! Then I searched those emails and deleted all the ones that were just sitting in my inbox – 99% that I never even opened!

2.) Stores – going through my emails I asked myself – which ones do I REALLY read and use the coupon / sale deal?  Not many!  Off with the email lists with those too!

Queen of Hearts _Off with their heads

3.  Other notifications that maybe I used in the past – but don’t need anymore I.E. – TRULIA!  I loved this when we were house hunting.  They would send me emails of houses I marked as “favorites” to alert me of any price changes or sale news.  They also sent me new listing in the zip codes and price ranges I had checked off.  Great, right?  When we first bought the house, I kept the notifications because I liked seeing what was going on in our neighborhood.  Now it’s time to stop – I’ve become an email hoarder!  I love when they email me that my house has been bought. I KNOW! I bought it!

This is as far as I have gotten, but obviously an area I need help in!  How do you keep your emails organized? Any tricks or systems that work for you?  How many emails are “too many” to have in an inbox?  Have you ever just wiped the whole slate clean? Leave a comment and help me out.

Until then – here is my motto:

Keep Calm and Delete Delete!

My Friday Favorites 07.25.14

Friday Favorites gingham

Happy, umm, Sunday! Hope you all had a fabulous week. Here are all my favorites this week (2 days late!)

On TV -

  • Well, as you can imagine since this post is two days late – my DVR is full!  I finished OITNB (much to discuss there) and Suits is still the only show I am currently watching.  The Divide now has 2 episodes on my DVR.

On the Page – 

  • I’m reading Better Homes and Gardens August 2014 issue cover to cover.  Budget friendly decorating finds, an amazing kitchen rehab, post-vacation party tips,  and stylish storage options are just a few things you’ll find on this month’s pages.

 

BH&G Aug 2014 Issue

On the Computer – 

  • I’m currently upgrading our hallway linen closet.  So the search is on for inspiration from Pinterest and other bloggers.  I have already taken my hideous before shot, all of the contents of the closet are on either our bedroom floor or in Olivia’s crib (good thing she doesn’t sleep in it anymore!)  In my online search I found suburble…just a bird in the ‘burbs: MY LIFE IS EMBARRASSING: THE LINEN CLOSET.   An amazing linen closet transformation!  I hope my after shots will be this neat and organized. 
suburble MY LIFE IS EMBARRASSING: THE LINEN CLOSETpicture originally from suburble.com

In the Kitchen -

  • Budget Bytes – Italian Wonderpot listed originally on Apron Strings I found this recipe when searching for one-pot pasta meals.  Looking to spruce things up in our pasta repertoire.  I have not tried this yet – but it looks delicious and – my favorite – EASY!Italian Wonderpot-from Budget Bytes
    picture originally from BudgetBytes.com

     

     

On my Pinterest Boards – 

  • I started a new Pinterest Board – check it out here:  Linen Closet Upgrade.  All the inspirations I am finding as I tackle this next project. (Before and after pictures to come!)  One thing I have discovered is that most pictures of linen closets I am finding are the smaller types of closets where the shelves are all all the way to the door.  My closet is a little bigger – you can walk in – but not a “walk-in”, if that makes any sense!  I’m trying to figure out the best way to construct the shelves for maximum space use.  If anyone has a picture of a closet like this – send it my way via Pinterest! Thanks!Here is a picture I pinned from

    A Sort of Fairy Tale. Love that this is a dollar store makeover! A Sort of Fairy Tale - Linen Closet

    picture originally from A Sort of Fairy Tale 


On the Sales Rack – 

  • Carters -  40% off everything. 50% off all PJs – just today (Sunday 7/27.)  I like to buy bathing suits in the next size this time of year.Carters Sale
    This weekend marks the anniversary of my Mom’s passing. And in a tradition I started last year, I will end this post with some of her favorites!  We miss you Mom!

    Sangria from Cow Town Chow

    picture originally from CowTownChow


    Gingerbreadmen by Post Punk Kitchen

    picture originally from Post Punk Kitchen


    Black Eyed Susans by Bailey's Buddy

    picture originally from Bailey’s Buddy

Hope you had a great week.  What have you been up to? Leave me a comment and let me know some of your favorite things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farfalle Basil Salad

 

Farfalle Basil Salad .jpg

While making a basic pasta dish the other evening, I saw this recipe of the side of the farfalle box.  I had all the ingredients so I decided to cook the whole box and try this out. It was a great cold pasta dish and very easy to make!

Farfalle Basil Salad 

12 oz of farfalle (I used half the box since I was dividing the pasta between two meals)

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1/2 Tbsp salt

1/4 Tbsp sugar

1/3 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

1/2 cup olive oil

black pepper to taste

cherry tomatoes to garnish

Cook pasta according to package.  In a blender or food processor, combine vinegar, basil, garlic, salt, sugar, cheese, and olive oil.  Blend until smooth.  Combine with cooked and drained pasta.  Cover and refrigerate.  Sprinkle with pepper and garnish with tomatoes before serving,

Whole book of pasta serves 6, half box of pasta serves 4

Enjoy!

My Friday Favorites 07.18.14

Owl Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Here are all the things I’m loving this week!

On TV -

  • I haven’t talked about TV in awhile. We did have some great season finales this spring!  Chicago Fire & PD, Scandal, Grey’s, Parenthood!  I can’t wait for all of these to start back up. I binged watched Orange is the New Black Seasons 1 & 2 (I never watched it!  It kind of gave me anxiety.  Anyone else? But I still watched it.) The Divide (new on WE and produced by Fitz from Scandal is taped on my DVR.) I also am watching The Night Shift – even though I would call it Grey’s Lite.  TC (combo of Derrick / McDreamy and Owen / War Issues) has unresolved feelings for his ex Jordan (Meredith) who is dating Bailey from Party of 5 while TC is dating Anna from One Tree Hill…. look, not much is on in the summer.  Growing up summer always meant – no more TV until Fall.  But YAY for USA Network who does summer shows!  I’ve been watching Suits all summer. Mike and Harvey are a divided team.  Jessica is dating and hired Dr. Joe from Parenthood. Rachel is in dangerous territory!!

Suits Season 4

On the Page – 

Here are two magazines I have been flipping through a lot! Good Housekeeping June 2014 Issue – great recipes for BBQing on the grill this summer from main dishes, to sides, to s’mores desserts.  House Beautiful July / August 2014 Issue – tips on small spaces, using color, and creating storage.

hbx-july-august-2014-cover-mdn

On the Computer – 

  • I had two bananas left in a bunch and I knew they weren’t going to last many more days.  I wanted to try something different than my usual banana bread.  Off to Pinterest I went! There I found: A Little Bit of This, That, and Everything – Banana Cookies .  Directions looked easy, cookies looked delicious = perfect recipe for me.  Olivia was a big help making them. They are really yummy!  
banana-chocolate-chip-cookiespicture originally from Little Bit of This, That, and Everything 
Olivia helping bake Olivia helping make the cookies  Yes, even my mixer is apple green!
Banana Cookies Baking Our cookies baking in the oven 

In the Kitchen -

gelato_frozen desserts BHG

In my Beach Bag-

  • Besides towels and sunscreen – Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld. I’m not too far into the book yet but I am intrigued by these identical sisters who seem anything but identical!

Sisterland _ Curtis Sittenfeld

On my Pinterest Boards – 

  •  I’ve been researching outdoor / patio spaces (even though I already made over my patio!)  But I’m helping a friend organize ideas for her patio.  I came across this picture and I just loved it!  So colorful!  I would give credit, but the website Pinterest links the photo to, no longer exists.  (Is that something that drives anyone else crazy on Pinterest?)

Summer Patio

 Hope you had a great week. What are the things you are loving this week?  Something you bought, cooked, or watched?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading!

Helpful Hump-day Hints 07.16.14

Helpful Hump-day Hints. Fall. Owl.

 Now that my daughter is getting older, we have several different bags that she uses.  When she was a baby,  it was one-stop shopping – everything in the diaper bag.  Now she has her school bag, a pool/beach bag, a ballet bag, the list goes on!  I have always saved the plastic cases from pillows, sheets and other household items as carriers to pack things.  You can read about how I used these for baby items in my post on Practical Packing Part 2.  Now that Olivia is officially potty-trained, I combined that idea with the plastic containers that toddler underwear is packaged in.  

plastic package for underwearHere is a typical package of multi-pairs of toddler underwear,  The packaging comes with a button snap at the top.   I take out all the underwear and cardboard branding and it’s a perfect size to make small bags of essentials.  I have three basic types I make up.

dry snack bag A dry snack bag with napkins, a few types of snacks, and a spoon and fork.

cold snack bag A cold snack bag with a juice box, applesauce or some type of fruit, and a small ice pack.

Emergency bathroom kit An emergency bathroom bag with extra underwear, wipes, hand soap, and a pull-up.

Repurpose Plastic Packaging

These are all easy to assemble. I make multiples of each and put in all the various bags we have, plus the car and my purse.  Do you repurpose any packaging on items you buy a lot of?  How do you handle packing different bags for a toddler?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading.  It’s Hump-day – we are almost to the weekend!

 

 

Gift Wrapping for Superheroes

Olivia attended a superhero birthday party a few weeks ago.  I knew I wanted to wrap the presents we brought to go along with their theme. It was a brother and sister who were celebrating, so we needed two gifts.   Through a quick search on Pinterest, I found the Meaningful Mama and her awesome free superhero printable. (Her whole Superhero Party is incredible!!)

superhero printables

I still had some red and white striped wrapping paper left over from our Cat in the Hat Party – and luckily it can also look very superhero-y with the right accents! After printing and cutting the printable out, I started to play around with how I would decorate the presents.

superhero_wrapping

While shopping at A.C. Moore, I stumbled upon this yellow ribbon with stars – and it just screamed Justice League to me!

superhero gift wrap

Hmmm… what to do with the remaining printable superhero words?  They were just too cute not to use.  Self-serving part of the present … in addition to the wrapping paper, we had so much candy left over from the Cat in the Hat party – why not throw in a little bag of candy with each gift?  (More on these favor bags at the end of this post!)

superhero_candybags

In order to tie the whole gift together and make it easier for my little three year old to carry the gifts, I put the presents in gift bags, used the last two words on the printable, and tied on small inexpensive superhero dolls we found at Target.

superhero bagsMy little Superhero – ready for the party!

mylittlesuperhero

Ok – so a small note about the Spritz red and white striped candy bags (purchased at Target): they might have been the best purchase of the summer!  First, I used them at our Cat in the Hat Party, then for these Superhero gifts, and once again for 4th of July!  I have two left …watch out – I will think of some way to use them!

red and white bags



4th of July Fun!

I’m looking forward to just relaxing this 4th of July, spending time with family and having fun in the sun.  I decided to put together small gift bags for the kids to give them some fun things to do poolside.

4th of July Fun

I put all this together from the Target dollar bins and my own computer! I printed out 4th of July coloring pages and puzzle pages, and clip art to decorate the bags.  Then I added cards, bubbles, sparklers, pencils and mini flags.  All three bags together cost less than $20. If this means not hearing “I’m bored!” that equals a deal to me!

The smaller red and white striped bags are for candy.  They are left over from The Cat in the Hat Party and honestly were the best purchase this year!!!  I used them for Cat in the Hat, a Superhero gift for a birthday party (more on that later) and now 4th of July. Red and white stripes are very versatile!!!

Wishing everyone a relaxing week and Happy 4th of July!

Patio Makeover Part 2

I shared with you the beginning of our Patio Makeover in my previous post.  I have finished spray painting the rest of the chairs.

This chair was in our backyard when we bought our house.

chair before

Drumroll…

chair after

This chair was from my childhood.  My mother spray painted it green when I was a kid.

wooden chair before

And after …

wooden chair after

 

My patio is all set for summer!

Patio side view

 

Patio view from the yard

I have been enjoying sitting out here during the day while Olivia plays in the yard and enjoying quiet time with a glass of wine and a magazine in the evenings.  I know I want to put lights up, but haven’t decided what kind yet.   I also want to paint the black storm door, but not sure what color.

Have you been working on your outdoor spaces?  Leave a comment and share what you love about your outdoors.  Have a great day and thanks for reading.