Friday, November 15, 2013

DIY S'mores Kit Favors

Hi everyone! The last few weeks have been pretty tough on me but I'm ready to get back to blogging now. As some of you know, I'm getting married soon ... 43 days away to be exact or December 28th for those of you that don't like math, like me. When my fiance & I got engaged, we decided we wanted to DIY pretty much everything. We couldn't see spending $27k (national average) on a wedding but it was also because we love to DIY whenever possible, so favors were no exception. We tossed around many ideas but ultimately decided on s'mores. Originally we wanted to do a s'mores bar but our venue is against open flames so we decided on individually packaged kits that our guests could bring home. S'mores are classic American treats loved by everyone and we also thought it tied in with our winter wedding. Most everyone we know loves to light a bonfire and gather around with friends and family during the winter. We made 120 s'mores favors for around $40. That is almost unheard of, right? And they were very super easy to put together. 





WHAT WE USED:
(4) Wilton Cellophane Treat Bags 25pk - $8
(3) 5-Yd rolls of 1/4" ribbon - $3
(3) Boxes Honey Graham Crackers - $6.50
(20) Hershey Fun size bars 6pk - $20
(4) Bags of Large Marshmallows - $4

HOW TO:
1) Break a graham cracker sheet in half and put it in a treat bag. 
2) Add 1 hershey bar and 1 large marshmallow. 
3) Tie the bag shut with ribbon and trim most of the excess treat bag off. I left about 1 1/2" above where I tied.

My fiance and I were able to complete this project in just a couple hours and it was well worth the time to save so much money. It was also pretty fun to assemble these.

Happy DIYing!
~Taylor

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Reason for my Absence

Hi everyone, I wanted to give a quick update on why I haven't been around in the past week. Some of you are friends with me on my facebook account so you already know but for those who don't, my mother passed away on Tuesday. It was extremely unexpected and sudden and we (my family & I) are completely devastated over it. She had just turned 47 the day before Halloween so she was very young and we expected to have so much more time with her. I didn't grow up with her and up until nearly 6 years ago, I lived 500+ miles away from her. Moving close to her was so exciting and I truly cherish what very little time I had with her. I have many regrets when it comes to things I should have said, shouldn't have said, should have done, etc. so this is incredibly difficult. I just need to take some time away from blogging and eliminate as much stress as possible to grieve and learn how to cope with this. I'm sure all of you understand, just wanted to fill everyone in.

I'm not entirely sure on exactly when I'll be back but I hope it will be no longer then a couple weeks from now. I enjoy blogging, have many projects planned after my wedding, and I'm incredibly grateful for the success I've had thus far. Thank you all for reading my posts, pinning, sharing, etc. It's all so appreciated. 

~Taylor



Friday, November 1, 2013

Favorite Five Friday: DIY Christmas Decor

With Halloween over and Thanksgiving only right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start planning Christmas decor. One of my many favorite things about Christmas is definitely all the decorations but it can easily get expensive. Luckily, this is the age of DIY so I'm sharing my favorite five DIY Christmas decor projects.

{Photo credit: Done Over Decor - Blog no longer exists}

1) I'm a sucker for no-sew anything so this no-sew ruffle tree skirt is on my to-do list this year. I can't find the tutorial that goes with the picture shown but I managed to find someone else who made their own. Click HERE to view the tutorial. 

{Photo Credit: MopHeads}

2) I remember the days of boring, plain wreaths and I wasn't really a fan but I'm loving all these over the top wreaths now. The one pictured is no exception. You can buy them but I think its way more fun to make them personally. There are tutorials everywhere but they are pretty simple to make even without. 


3) This is crazy easy yet super cute and cheap to make. You could also make these to spell out a word and hang on the wall. 


4) This is just too cute and again, very simple! You can find lanterns like this anywhere and with a quick paint job (if needed), some extra ornaments, and a scrap of ribbon you can make this.


5) I LOVE this for families that have small children. Picture yourself as a child and imagine how cool it'd be to have your fridge be a snowman during Christmas time. Maybe its just me but I think that'd be pretty awesome. This is super cheap to do and I bet all kiddos would love it. 

So now that I've covered my favorite five DIY Christmas decor projects, I'd like to hear what your favorite are. Share in the comments below. 

~Taylor



Friday, October 25, 2013

Favorite Five Friday: Fall Printables

One thing I knew for sure when I started my blog was that I not only wanted a place to share my ideas and projects but I also wanted a place to share all of the great ideas I come across on a daily basis. So what I came up with was Favorite Five Friday (say that three times fast). Each Friday, I'll pick a certain topic and share my five favorites in no particular order.This week, I'm sharing my favorite Fall decor printables. 




1) This fall printable from Howdy Honey is amazing! I just can't get enough of subway styled printables!



2) I'm in love with this vintage styled banner from Fleece Fun! When you click the link I provided to download, you'll see that she included a list of items you'll need and a tutorial to complete this look. I think this would be gorgeous hung above a buffet or on a dining room wall. 



3) If you're looking for a simple fall printable that sums up some of the best things about Fall, this printable from Creatively Southern is it!



4) A friend of mine & fellow blogger Vivian @ For the Love of Family came across this fantastic printable & shared it with me. I'm sort of obsessed with subway styled printables if you couldn't tell by now.



5) Lastly, I found this adorable Fall quote printable from Blissful Roots and couldn't resist sharing it. According to Blissful Roots, its part of a children's song from the 1800's which just adds to the awesome factor to me because I love old things!


Do you use printables to decorate for holidays? If so, feel free to share your favorites in the comments. 

~Taylor

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Ultimate Guide to Planning Thanksgiving - Part Two



Hi everyone! On Saturday, I posted part one of my Ultimate Thanksgiving Planning Guide which can be found HERE if you haven't read it yet. Today is part two and is primarily focused on all things food. I'll share some general tips along with giving you a basic guideline to follow in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. So here we go...

Easy Clean-up Tips:
  • Consider using disposable foil pans, plates, etc. 
  • Try to clean kitchen messes as you go. 
  • After everyone is finished eating, recruit some help. If someone offers to help, let them. You've busted your butt the last few days, you deserve it. 


4-5 Days Before:
  • Create a cooking timeline.
  • Clean linens, silverware, serveware, etc. 
  • Give your home a good cleaning.
  • Clean out your refrigerator and try to use up what you have stored in it. 
  • Check over your recipes to make sure you have everything you need.
  • If you haven't assigned dishes (food dishes, that is) to specific cookware, do that now.


3 Days Before:
  • If you're using a frozen turkey, put it in the fridge TODAY to start defrosting. This is a lengthy process and you don't want to be like my mom one year putting a turkey in her tub at the last minute. True story.
  • Do some basic prepping like washing and chopping vegetables, shredding cheese for salad, etc.


2 Days Before:
  • Things like cranberry relish, pecan pies, cornbread for stuffing, etc. can be cooked today. 
  • You can also assemble casseroles now to bake the next day.
  • Set up tables. Put clean linens on, add the centerpieces, etc. 


1 Day Before:
  • Most side dishes can be done today. My only exception would be mashed potatoes as I find they taste best when made the day of. Candied yams, casseroles, etc. can be cooked now.
  • Any breads you make from scratch can be made and warmed right before serving.
  • Finish up any baking such as apple pies, pecan pies, etc.
  • In general, make whatever you can today.


Day Of:
  • First things first, make the stuffing & stuff your bird. Start cooking it first.
  • Assemble appetizers on serving trays if you haven't already.
  • Turkey, ham, and gravy should be just about all you have to cook for the day.
  • If you didn't make mashed potatoes in advance, cook those.
  • After everything is cooked, warm up side dishes and enjoy!


General Tips:
  • Rule of thumb for how much turkey you need is 1lb. per person if using a whole turkey and 3/4lb per person if using a bone in breast.
  • Rule of thumb for ham is 1/4lb - 1/3lb per person for boneless and 1/3lb - 1/2lb for bone-in
  • Invest in a probe thermometer that has insulated wire & an alarm. Then you just insert the thermometer, set the alarm, and forget about it. Plus, The pop up timers that come with most turkeys don't pop up until your bird is 180 degrees which means an overcooked bird. Turkey should have a temp of 165 degrees when done.
  • Although not required, a gravy strainer is a good thing to have. An alternative if you don't have one is to pour the turkey juices in a measuring cup, allow 5-10 minutes for the fat to separate from the juice, and skim it off with a spoon.
  • A sharp carving knife is an absolute MUST unless you're looking to serve shredded turkey. 


So there you have it, everything you need to know to ensure a stress-free Thanksgiving this year! I have one more post to share regarding Thanksgiving and that will be my menu and cooking timeline along with some Thanksgiving dish recipes. Share your tips for an easy Thanksgiving in the comment section. 

~Taylor

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Ultimate Guide to Planning Thanksgiving - Part One


 (Credit)

Do you find yourself at the grocery store a day or two before Thanksgiving scrambling to buy what you need and frustrated when they are out of stock on popular items? Then you spend the following days cooking like a mad (wo)man and before you know it, Thanksgiving is over and you didn't even get to enjoy it. I've spent the last few years hosting Thanksgiving and its always exhausted me to no end because I wasn't prepared. But this year all of that changes. I WILL prepare and enjoy Thanksgiving and I hope you will too using my ultimate guide to planning Thanksgiving. In this post I'll show you how to plan everything from decor to food and even give you helpful tips that I've learned through trial & error. 

BUDGET & GUESTS:

  • Decide on the setting you'll want & set a budget accordingly. Do you want an ultra fancy meal or are you taking the traditional route?
  • Do a rough plan of your menu. Again, ultra fancy or laidback? Modern or traditional?
  • Make a guest list and take note of any food allergies and drink preferences. 
  • Figure out if you have enough room for everyone to eat. If not, look into renting tables & chairs or borrowing some from family and/or friends. 


DECOR:

  • Decide on the decor you'll want, if you haven't decorated already. A wreath on the door, mantle decorations, and a nice table centerpiece are good choices that truly make it feel like fall. 
  • To save money, check out yard sales, online "yard sales", thrift stores, etc. for gently used decor. 
  • If you're planning to buy decor from places like Hobby Lobby, Michaels, etc. watch the ads for coupons. Hobby Lobby, for example, has a 40% off one item coupon in EVERY ad and they usually put holiday decor on sale every so often where you can save 30-40% on everything. 
  • Get creative! Pinterest is LOADED with tons of DIY projects, most are cheap to do and some even involve repurposing things that would otherwise be junk. 


FOOD/SUPPLIES:


  • A good rule of thumb for side dishes is 1 per person for up to 5 people and 1 for each additional 2 people after that. It may seem like a lot but that is going on the average recipe size (4 servings). If you double a recipe for say mashed potatoes, count that as 2 side dishes. 
  • When creating your menu, consider items you can cook in the oven at the same time, in advance, etc. Also, consider dishes that taste good at room temperature. The less stuff you have to heat up, the better. Plus you don't want to be worrying about your cold dessert melting before its time to eat. 
  • Finalize your menu & gather up all the recipes you'll need. Print or write them down and keep them together. 
  • Make your grocery list and don't forget things like condiments/dressings, seasonings, foil pans, and any other disposable things you may need. 
  • Look through your cookware, utensils, and serveware to make sure you have enough of everything. 
  • Don't forget things like a meat thermometer, carving knife, etc. It would be bad to realize you don't have the essentials at the last minute. 
  • I recommend making a list of the cookware/serveware you have and assigning a dish to each piece. That will prevent a bad surprise on Thanksgiving of being short a pan, casserole dish, etc.
  • Start shopping as early as possible! Things like brown sugar, canned cranberry sauce, etc. can be bought early in advance and those popular items are likely to be out of stock if you wait til the last minute. Trust me, I know from experience. 
  • If the thought of cooking everything is too overwhelming or you aren't able to, consider a potluck style Thanksgiving or at least a partial potluck where you cook the ham, turkey, etc. and everyone else brings a side dish or dessert. Most people have no issue with this and I find many don't like to show up to an event without bringing something anyways.
  • Check your local grocery store ads before shopping. Many stores put popular items on sale early on. You can usually find an on-sale turkey at times and just freeze it until its time to use. 
  • If you're planning to order a turkey, do it ASAP. Its not unusual for them to sell out in early November. 


I hope you find these tips helpful in making your Thanksgiving easier this year. Check back on Tuesday for part 2 of my Ultimate Guide to Planning Thanksgiving where I'll give you a thorough timeline starting a week before a Thanksgiving to guide you through hosting Turkey Day the easy way! Totally didn't try to rhyme there but its kind of catchy, right? 

~Taylor

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 7 Mini Challenge - Organizing Your Workspace

Well this is it everyone! Our last mini challenge was to organize your workspace whether you have a desk or just work from your dining room table. I thought this would be perfect for the last day because then it'd be clean to start the new week. 

My desk was absolutely disastrous ... seriously. I have a tendency to start projects and then not feel like finishing them. I also drag lots of stuff out and then don't feel like putting it away in its proper place. The result is this ...


Crazy, right? I decided to go through some pictures & other keepsakes, got distracted, and left the mess. Then the rest is just random stuff I sat on my desk that came from other rooms. I have an office but when my fiance is home, I tend to work in the living room or kitchen. 


Here's the after of my desk. I removed all the junk that shouldn't have been there & put it up. 

Here's my tips for organizing your workspace:

  • Remove everything that doesn't belong & put it where it goes. Don't move one pile of junk from one spot to another. That's what I call double working yourself. 
  • Keep only your bare essentials on your desk. Pens, sticky notes, etc. For me, I keep my "on-the-go office basket" which is filled with pens, flags, washi tape, and sticky notes. I also keep my labelmaker which I use frequently, printer, lamp, and 2 decorative pieces on my desk. 
  • If you choose to add decorative accents, make sure to keep it simple and make sure it won't be in the way of you working. 
  • To maintain your clean space, put everything away each time you leave your desk or put things away immediately after you're done with them. 
I hope everyone enjoyed this week's mini challenges and I hope they have motivated you to continue on your journey to organizational bliss! Continue with baby steps and you won't get burned out. What you will get is an organized life. 

Happy organizing!
~Taylor