Updating your Coffee Bar for Fall Entertaining

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. This post was sponsored by Starbucks as part of an Influencer Activation. I received compensation and complimentary products to facilitate my review. #StarbucksCaffeLatte #MyStarbucksatHome #CollectiveBias

It's time to start entertaining for the fall season, and that means making sure your coffee bar is well-stocked for guests. Make it look super cute with this sign DIY and a little seasonal update! #ad #StarbucksCaffeLatte #MyStarbucksatHome

Now that fall is in full swing, it’s time to recognize the fact that Thanksgiving is approaching pretty rapidly. I know, I can hardly believe it either, but now that Zack and I have our Halloween costumes squared away, it’s pretty easy to think that guests will be arriving soon for the various fall and winter holidays… That’s why I couldn’t put it off any longer– it was time to update my coffee bar to prepare for fall guests.

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How to Save Money and Time on Your Bathroom Makeover!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CraftedExperience #CollectiveBias

Doing a major bathroom makeover but want to save time and money on your bathroom renovation? How about a fresh coat of paint to update your bathroom without the high price tag of new fixtures? Here's how to change the look of your bathroom for less. #CraftedExperience #Ad

A few months ago, my mom decided to change her guest bathroom completely. Keep in mind, this is my mom, who banished white walls from the house years ago, replacing everything with plenty of color. When she decided to do an updated black-and-white bathroom with white walls, we were all pretty stunned, but it didn’t take long to start transforming the bathroom with some white paint and a new shower curtain. However, that’s where the transformation ended… and it was time to finish the process, but the budget was just starting to run low with a million other home updates on the list (like a new patio and new shed). Luckily, we were able to complete the look of the bathroom by spending less than $20 more, and in less than 2 hours. Yes, really.

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Easy Fall Mantel Decor (Even if You Don’t Have a Mantel!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LoveAmericanHome #CollectiveBias

Looking for the perfect fall decor ideas? See inspiring fall mantels on pinterest but don't know how to recreate them at home? Here are some tips-- even if you don't have a mantel of your own! This uses floating shelves, but you can use these tips for any mantel or shelving this fall! #LoveAmericanHome #ad

Okay, so I have to admit, I’ve had a lot of Pinterest Envy (Pinvy???) when it comes to mantel decorating. It seems like everyone has this gorgeous mantel that they update with the seasons, and I had just about had it. I was about ready to just quit Pinterest so I could stop feeling so desperate for a mantel space when I realized… hey! I have shelving that I could decorate just as easily! So, whether you have a mantel or not, I want to give you a few tips on the best fall decorating ideas for that space– from back to school to Halloween to Thanksgiving, I’ve got an idea that will transition throughout the fall, without a lot of crazy effort.

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DIY Glitter Traveling Lanterns for Nighttime Confidence

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ConfidentKids #CollectiveBias

These DIY glitter lamps are perfect for helping kids build nighttime confidence. It can be hard to get even potty trained kids to make it to the bathroom at night, or to stop kids from wetting the bed, but if going in the dark is part of the problem, these lamps are awesome!

 

My son is stubborn. Anyone who has met me has probably figured out where he gets it from, I’m sure, but it seemed like potty training took us a little longer than it did for many of his peers. It wasn’t like he didn’t know he needed to go– it’s that he just… didn’t want to take the time away from what he was doing. We tried timers. We tried bribery. We tried just about everything. When he finally started to get the hang of it, it was a serious celebration. We even had a potty party to celebrate NO MORE DIAPERS!

But then he continued to need one at night. We had made it during the day, finally broken the cycle of constant accidents, but night was a totally different story. And this time? It wasn’t stubbornness. He either didn’t wake fully to make it to the potty, or when he did, he struggled to get there in the dark without nervousness.

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Weekend DIY: Table and Chairs Makeover!

Looking for a quick renovation to totally upgrade your style? Check out this weekend DIY that was achieved with spray paint! It's like a whole new table!   | DIY Furniture Renovation | Table Makeover |

Sometimes, a little magic happens when you go to renovate. Take this table and chairs, for instance. A gift from friends several years ago when I got my first apartment, the table had been well-loved for years. It had been perfect for my apartment, but as my tastes and styles changed, I realized the table needed to change, too. I had purchased some spray paint for the project, and I had fabric I planned to use, but I wasn’t like… in love with it. It was more of a reflection of my tastes and a thought on what might look good. But then, fate intervened.

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1 Tray, 4 Ways for the Holidays

Put your favorite decorative tray to use this holiday season by checking out these great holiday ideas! From family time to girls' night in, this is the perfect Christmas idea for using those super cute trays you find in stores!  | christmas idea | holiday decoration | christmas party |

I’ll admit it, I’m obsessed with those adorable decorative serving trays you find in stores. Every time I go to Target, I lust after the newest one they’ve released, and every time, I pass it by. I mean, how will I use it, outside of breakfast in bed? I’d really love to use it, but I mean, is it practical? I ask myself every time. After passing up this particular tray all last season, when I saw it reappear at Target, I knew I had to have it! So, I sat down, determined to figure out ways I could use this tray before I spent the money. And trust me, I was not disappointed with the ways I’ve been able to use it. Are you longing for a beautiful serving tray?

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10 Can’t-Miss Places to Clean Before Guests Arrive

Yikes! Thanksgiving guests are coming. Think you've cleaned everywhere? Guess again-- here's 10 unconventional places you might have missed when cleaning house.

 

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I’m going to guess that more than a few of you are hosting this year. I know how it is– you clean, and you clean, and you clean in places you think you’ve never cleaned before. But just when you think you’ve cleaned it all, sure enough, your Great Aunt Martha comes in and peeks in that one place you didn’t clean… yikes. Never fear– I’m listing out ten places you need to clean before guests arrive (but may have forgotten).

Front Closet

It’s November. Unless you live in Florida or Hawaii, you’re probably going to be taking a few coats. Beyond just cleaning it up a bit and making sure you have room for coats, now is a great time to purge any old, ill-fitting coats, make sure you have plenty of hangers for your guests, vacuum the floor inside in case any coats fall on the floor, and consider investing in a floormat for the closet if you live in an area where you may get some mucky, snowy, wintery boots.

Likewise, when you clean before guests arrive, you’ll want to consider cleaning a spare bedroom if you plan on keeping your coats in there instead of a hall closet. Wash the bedding both before and after you place coats on your bed (you never know what someone’s carrying on their clothing!) or consider just hanging the coats in a bedroom closet to keep them off of your bedding altogether.

Medicine Cabinet

Why the medicine cabinet, you might be asking? Because think about it… you know there’s going to be that one guest who snoops to see what you’ve got in there out of sheer curiosity. Go ahead and pack away any prescriptions, just for the day, and move anything you don’t want someone seeing out of sight. Better yet, stock your medicine cabinet with some extras just in case, like extra soap, mints, or feminine hygiene products, to help your snooping guests find what they may be looking for. Are you a family that likes having fun with each other? Stick a funny image that says you KNOW they’re snooping– like “Ha! Caught You!”

Refrigerator

Before your guests arrive, make sure you clean out your refrigerator. If you’re serving pot-luck style, there’s likely something that needs to be chilled until you sit down to the table, and how often does a guest end up helping themselves to something, even if you’ve set it all out where they need it? At the very minimum, cleaning it out allows you plenty of space for leftovers after the meal, so being proactive and getting it cleaned before guests come is a good way to have it done whether guests see it or not.

Couch Cusions

This is a MUST if you have pets or kids. For one, allergies are everywhere these days, so the last thing you want is a guest hacking and coughing because you missed some pet dander. You’ll remember to vacuum and sweep, but don’t overlook couch cushions. Further, make sure to check for any stray toys, and if you haven’t done it in awhile, pull the couch all the way out to sweep or vacuum underneath. You might be surprised!

Trash Can

On Thanksgiving, you’re bound to have a lot of trash getting tossed, from turkey carcasses to dinnerware (particularly if you go dish-free and serve on paper, because hey, we aren’t all Martha Stewart). The last thing you need is a smelly trashcan when guests go to toss something (even if it’s gum before the meal). Trust me, if you’re hosting, at least one person will use your trash– and that goes for the main trash and bathroom trash! Give your trash can a good rinse, air dry it, then either place a sachet under the liner, use a scented trashbag, or sprinkle in some baking soda to absorb the odor. Make sure your trash is empty (or close to it) when guests arrive and you shouldn’t have any issues!

Front Porch

It’s fall, and during the fall, you’re going to get some fall leaves. At a minimum, when you clean before guests arrive, you’ll want to sweep the porch free of debris. Not only does it make your house look prettier at a glance (because trust me, we all have that relative who will judge), it cuts down on what guests are tracking into your house, helping you beat some of that post-holiday cleanup before it starts.

Keurig or Coffeemaker

Is anything better than some coffee or cider after dinner? Well, coffee or cider from a clean Keurig, for one. When you use a Keurig, even if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and brew an empty cup after each cup of coffee or cocoa. Check the coffeemaker section for special cleaners for your Keurig or Coffeemaker to keep them nice and cared for, or follow the manufacturer’s instructions (google your machine if you don’t know how to properly clean it) and get it spruced up so every cup on Thanksgiving tastes like the first cup.

Tupperware Cabinet

This is more for your own sanity and less for your guests seeing anything… but if you’re having leftovers, or think you might have some, check your tupperware cabinet in advance. Try pairing lids with containers and make sure you have matches in a variety of sizes. If yours are worn, broken, or missing, toss the old and get some new ones before the holiday– it’ll be a wise investment through Christmas and beyond. Planning on sending some leftovers home with your guests? Investing in some take-and-toss style tupperware is a nice touch. This way, if you get it back, great, but if you don’t, you didn’t send them home with your good stuff.

Microwave

This is particularly important if you happen to host a pot-luck style dinner, but even if you’re hosting a dinner where you plan to cook it all, something is bound to need reheating. Even if you keep a clean microwave, it never hurts to give it a good wipe down before your guests arrive.

Master bathroom (or another secondary bathroom)

I know, in a perfect world, you clean one bathroom and everyone uses that one and you can tuck clutter safely away in the other one, but it isn’t a perfect world. Someone is guaranteed to need to use the bathroom while someone else is, and you’re going to end up sending someone to a secondary bathroom. Save the embarrassment and clean up a second bathroom for guests to use. Oh, and don’t forget to clean out that medicine cabinet, too!

 

Did I miss any places you should definitely clean before you have guests arrive? Let me know in the comments below!

DIY String Art

 

Don't pay $24.99 at Target for String Art! Make it yourself with a few nails, some embroidery floss, and a corkboard! #diy #easy

I was walking through Target the other day, and, as much as I love the fact that there’s a million things inside I just have to have, there’s definitely a limit. You see, not long ago, I was looking for some new wall art. I came across some adorable animal string art at Target, and I was totally smitten! Then I saw the price tag. $24.99. Really? To me, I was looking at $25 for some nails, a bit of string, and some wood. I had to try it myself at home!

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Spring Product Round-Up: Walmart

I mentioned earlier how much I love seeing the new products in store, and checking out the influx of new stuff that comes with every season. At Walmart, I noticed that a lot of new products are coming in, and some of them aren’t just limited edition for spring! As always, it’s near-impossible for me to bring my DSLR into the store, so I apologize, but I just took cell phone pics for this post.

I started off in the food section, searching for a few hidden gems that are brand new.

While Krave cereal isn’t exactly new, this delicious S’more variety is. It might be a little cruel that the people who bring you Special K also bring you ooey-gooey Krave cereal, but they’re actually fairly close nutritionally, so I’m excited about having an occasional treat to enjoy. For the record, these actually taste surprisingly like S’mores!

While we’re on the topic of cereal, the folks at Hershey’s are doing a great job. This year, we’ve seen some delicious brand new Hershey’s cake mixes, frosting, pudding, and more… and now we’ve got Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme cereal! They’re killin’ me here! Cookies’n’Creme is one of my favorites!

I love when a show about cooking helps me improve my skill in the kitchen, or at least fake it when I’m hosting a dinner party. First, it was Duff Gordon from Ace of Cakes, providing amazing Fondant, tools and accessories, and even cake mixes to the masses to allow you recreate a few techniques he demonstrated on his reality show during the scenes showing the inner workings of the bakery. It was a starter lesson of sorts, bringing easier cake decorating to the masses. After that, it was Buddy Valastro from Cake Boss, who introduced his own line of cake mixes and decorating helpers.

Now, Hell’s Kitchen has joined the lineup with a dessert that seems so complicated, but is now easier than ever to reproduce. Typically, when making a creme brulee, you’d need time, and a blowtorch. With a mix like this, you don’t bake it, you don’t torch it, you just prepare the mix and serve. I love that! Plus, it comes in coffee flavor AND vanilla flavor, meaning no matter which you prefer, you’ll have a delicious dessert that looks so much more impressive and difficult than it really was.

Also in the baking aisle, I found some fun new items from Pillsbury! Have you seen their line of Happy Birthday products! They come in amazing bright colors that make mixing at matching for any theme easy, plus they come with the sprinkles already, so no need to make two separate purchases for decorating.

They also have these great Mix-and-Match Neon cake mixes. While my store was sold out of all but yellow, the colors they’re making are so much fun– greens, blues, and oranges fill out the lineup! I love the idea of picking cake mixes and frostings to mix and match for any party’s color theme.

On the topic of colored cake mixes, I have to tell you about something really exciting! See, this product is extra special to me because it’s one of the special products I got a sneak peek at while I was at Duncan Hines last fall. I’ve had to keep it a secret all this time, but it’s finally on shelves! The one thing I was sad about was that the Blue Velvets were not in stock at my Walmart yet. I did find Blue Velvet from Duncan Hines at my local supermarket, though! These fun new Velvet mixes give you more selection when choosing a color and are SO moist and delicious. I’m glad I can stop keeping the secret now that they’re in stores!

Also, remember the limited edition Holiday Velvets that Duncan Hines released at Christmas time, giving you a Red Velvet and Green Velvet in each box? Well, they’ve made a really special Spring Velvet to celebrate this season! I love the pretty pink and yellow mixes, and can’t wait to use them. This is another Duncan Hines product I had to keep my lips zipped about, and I’m so glad that it’s released– I know I picked up several boxes as soon as I saw them in stores!

I’ve been a long-time buyer of Nestle Toll House Christmas colored chocolate pieces, the ones that come with Chocolate, then Green and Red pieces. If you remember, I used them to make this delicious Christmas Bark that was SO easy just a couple of years ago! Well, now I’m thrilled that I can make the same treat for Springtime using the new Spring colored chocolate pieces! I love the bright springy colors they chose!

After I conquered the baking aisle, I decided it was time to check out the Easter products! The first one kind of blew my mind– Carrot Cake M&Ms? I am so excited about the Carrot Cake flavor, and I can’t wait to taste them!

At Valentine’s Day, I was totally obsessed with the boxes of Jack Links instead of chocolates. I mean, what better gift for a guy (or meat-loving gal) than a box of jerky instead of chocolate? And who could resist the furry Sasquatch box? So when I saw them re-releasing the product for Easter, I was excited! I love the bunny ears. This would be great for an Easter basket!

As soon as the weather gets to about 50 degrees, I tend to swap my morning coffee for iced coffee or iced sweet tea. This swap means that I go from travel mug to tumbler. I love these fun, bright colored tumblers from Peeps! Plus, they’re filled with lots of mini peeps! Too cute! One in every color seems just about right for my daily tea habit!

On my way over to the non-food side of the store, I stumbled upon two more products that looked insanely good, both from Oreo. First off, Cookie Dough Oreos? As if Oreos weren’t good enough already, they’ve now crammed it with one of my favorite things in the world– cookie dough!

If you’re more of a Golden Oreos fan, check out these yummy Marshmallow Crispy versions of the Golden Oreos… Oh. My. Gosh. I want to eat the whole package! I had to escape the food side before I blew my diet completely.

The Easter section is always so fun because you get to see the newest egg decorating products, basket stuffers, and other fun Springtime gifts. But the thing that blew my mind were these awesome plastic eggs! According to the package, they dye and decorate JUST like real eggs, but without the actual egg. This is perfect for people with egg allergies, as well as people who want to hide dyed eggs without the risk of food poisoning or anything else. Plus, kids can dye and decorate without the wait of cooking or the risk of cracking a shell. I love the idea!

Spring also means great new Garden products, and I love the garden section for that reason! I found these amazing kitchen herbs from Buzzy, and I can’t wait to buy my own set for my windowsill. It comes with the tray, the pails, the seeds and dirt, and even those super-trendy slate labels! I love the look of slate and metal, so these fit my decor seamlessly, and allow me fresh herbs to use in cooking. Buzzy totally nailed this one!

For families with little garden enthusiasts, these Crayola pots are great for creating a first flower garden! Filled with seeds and supplies to plant beautiful flowers, these allow kids to get a taste of gardening with a BRIGHT pop of color! Definitely worth collecting one of each, especially if you’re a Crayola enthusiast like I am!

 

Are you loving the new spring products in stores right now? Did you see something great at Walmart that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

Spring Product Round-Up: Target

One of my favorite parts of each new season is going shopping. Seriously, I’m obsessed with the new stuff that stores stock, from the delicious foods to the adorable decor. Ask anyone who knows me, and they know that, yeah, the post-holiday sales are great, but I’m happiest when the new holiday products come out. After Christmas, I get so stoked for Valentine’s Day, and after Valentine’s Day, I’m ready for all things spring and Easter.

I made sure to stop by my favorite stores to check out what was new. I started with Target. You’ll have to excuse the phone photos– I don’t usually carry my DSLR into a store when I’m shopping, so I thought phone photos would work just fine to show you what great things were in store!

I started in the One Spot, that little section in front that features goods priced from $1-$3, and is SO impossible to resist! I fell in love with several items over there, but my absolute favorite was the brightly colored watering cans! Can you imagine how adorable one of these would be filled with fresh flowers as a centerpiece at a spring banquet, or filled with baked goods to take to a neighbor as a sunny spring gift? I couldn’t pass it up and bought an orange one, but I know I want a blue one, too. They’re just too pretty!

Another find that I ALWAYS love in the One Spot is seasonal sprinkles! They’re only $1 per tub, and they look so adorable topping any treat. I always buy a variety of these every season. At only a dollar each, why wouldn’t you want them all?

Every season, my next favorite place to look when I’m at Target is at the new tableware! Each season, there’s a brand new theme,and I always want to collect the entire set. It’s reasonably priced (between $2 and $6 for the various pieces– from cups to divided plates to serving trays) and is so durable, dishwasher safe, and easy to care for. I have never been disappointed with a purchase from this section, and OMG. Target did not disappoint this season. The collection with cute phrases like “Lettuce Be Friends” is so garden fresh and fun that I know it’ll make adding seasonal color to our plates so much easier. I love the thought of prettying up these divided plates even more with some fresh fruits and veggies from the garden this season.

See? Way too adorable. I’m practically craving carrots now.

Every time I go to Target, I find myself in the seasonal department. I can’t seem to escape the store without a trip over there. And, to my luck, Easter and Spring products were already on the shelves. You can tell that we’re still not over the Fox trend, thanks to Ylvis singing “WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?!” ad nauseum, which means there are plenty of cute foxes to be found among the traditional bunnies and chicks at Easter this year. I love these cute character baskets. At only $3, they’re reasonably priced, and after Easter, they can be reused for storing socks or small toys year-round!

The same animal themes carried into these absolutely precious spring ornaments. They’re made to compliment adorable wooden trees that Target also had on the shelves, but they would also be great on a year-round tree if you keep one up like I do.

I’m a pretty big fan of things made into seasonal shapes, so Reese’s Eggs, Snickers Eggs, those are all fair game for me. This year, I noticed one I hadn’t seen before, either because it’s new or because I’m oblivious at times, and I’m SO stoked about it. Twix Eggs. Wow. Twix is easily one of my favorite candy bars in the world– that cookie! That caramel! That chocolate! The only question I have for Twix with these eggs is… did they come from the Left Factory or the Right Factory?

Pillsbury also had some great new product out. Last year, they developed a really nice spring line of cake mixes, cookie mixes, and frostings that were in really great flavors like Orange Cream, Pink Lemonade, and Key Lime. This year, Blue Raspberry joined the lineup from last year, and also had it’s very own cookie mix, cake mix, and frosting.

Oh yes. That amazing blue looks like it’ll be perfect in my spring baking!

 

Target definitely had some amazing stuff on the shelves this year, and I snatched up more than my fair share of it, so keep your eyes out and see what pops up on the blog this season. Product stock and pricing varies from store to store, so I can’t promise what’s available at my local Target will already be on the shelves at yours.

 

Found anything exciting at Target this season so far? Tell me all about it in the comments below!