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DIY Burlap Christmas Stockings
I know it seems like I sew things. I mean, I do sew things. But I would never call myself a seamstress. What I do, you can do too, I promise. Can you sew in a straight line? Wait. No, me neither. Ha! See? That's not even required. Let's just sew in a basically straight direction and we'll get there. We had several mismatched stockings for Christmas and really none for the two additional members of our growing family. We had two sets for us as a couple and used one set for the kids last year. Lame! It worked and all, but it's time to class up our img_7005Christmas decor game. When we visited Nate's Coffee roastery this past summer, he mentioned the burlap sacks the coffee beans come in. He offered some to us and I knew I wanted some, but had no idea what I would make! Well then I came across some adorable burlap stockings on Pinterest. Here's how I made them:

DIY Burlap Christmas Stockings

Materials Needed: Burlap, Marker, Sewing Machine, Scissors, Straight pins, fabric for lining (optional)

Step 1: Trace your stocking.

img_7007 This is pretty simple. Just lay out your burlap, folded in half, and take a stocking you already have to use as a stencil. Trace around the stocking using a marker. img_7006

Step 2: Cut out your stockings!

img_7004 Ok, since you folded your burlap in half, you can cut both sides of the stocking out at once. Timesaver! I cut about a half inch outside of the drawn line from tracing. I also traced fairly generously around the edges of my stocking. You want to ensure there will be plenty of room for sewing, without losing too much room in your stocking. You can always trim off the extra fabric once you've sewn it up. You should end up with two identical pieces.

Step 3: Pin

img_7001 This part is slightly tedious, but not too bad. Just lay your two stocking pieces together, marker side out (so that the marker ends up on the inside after sewing and turning right side out) and line them up as best you can. Place your straight pins along the perimeter of the stocking to ensure the pieces don't slide around.

Optional Step: Adding a lining

If your burlap is fairly loose, you may want a lining to keep any stocking stuffers from poking holes through. I used an old white bed sheet, folded over and traced same as the burlap. Then I laid the white lining pieces on the outside of the burlap when pinning. So I had four layers to sew through. I worried it might be too thick for the sewing machine, but it handled it just fine. I also put a plaid cuff on the top of the boys' stockings. I just pinned it to the top of the white lining and sewed that part together first. It takes a little thinking through, but it's also very simple. img_7002 I had some lace lying around and added that to top of the girls' stockings. I pinned the lace to the top of both the lining and burlap (all three were pinned together along the top edge of each stocking piece). Then I sewed along the top of the stocking pieces before sewing the two stocking pieces together.

Step 4: Sew

Sewing time!! Thred that sewing machine (the trickiest part for me!!) and the bobbin thread (even worse!!) and now it's easy peasy. The hardest part for me was the foot of the stocking. In order to make sure it's rounded the way you want, you may want to draw a rounded line for yourself with your marker. No one will see it in the end since it will be inside your stocking. Then when you get to the foot, just move slowly, rounding the fabric and following the guide you've drawn for yourself. To Hang: Slip in a piece of ribbon or jute at the top corner of the stocking. Just fold it in half and stick the end through the two pieces of stocking (creating a loop). Then when you sew it up, the ribbon will be sewn into place, ready to hang the stocking. Once it's all sewn together turn it right side out and make sure there are no holes. You may have to iron it flat to get it to hang correctly. img_6999 All done! That wasn't so bad was it? Time to hang them with care in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon will be there. Merry Christmas, Salt & Lifers! Go be the spice of life this holiday season. Amanda Signature  
DIY Monogram Laurel Wreath
Greenery is the perfect "every season" decoration. Pine and cedar during the winter, fresh flowers and vines in the spring and summertime, magnolia wreaths... okay. Those are great every single day, let's be honest! Laurel wreaths are everywhere these days, including our fall printables from a few weeks ago! A good friend of mine saw this tutorial on Pinterest, and asked for my help to make one to mount above her headboard. We modified the tutorial a bit and found the perfect greenery for every season at Hobby Lobby (where else!?!). Of course, I had to share it with you because it's one of those projects that turned out even better than we were hoping! The best part? It's easy and inexpensive. Win-win! pinterest-image-laurel-wreath

What You'll Need:

Wire wreath form (we used this 24" one) Greenery garland (we used this) Wire cutters Hot glue Floral tape Decorative wall letter The first thing we did was disassemble the wire wreath form. The best method we found was to wedge a flathead screwdriver into the connections to pull them apart. You'll only need the outermost ring of the wreath form. Using the wire cutters, cut the circular wire in half. Once you do that, you'll be left with two half-circle lengths of wire like this. laurel-wreath-5 Next, lay out one of the half circle wire lengths on a flat surface (save the other for your next project!). Take your garland and cut it in half using the wire cutters. Lay out each piece of garland over the wire and trim any excess. I wanted the garland to come well above the ends of the wire, and the garland I purchased was the perfect height once I cut it in half to use on each side. I also wanted the ends to cross at the bottom, which helped use any extra length. Once you've got the garland and wire laid out the way you want it to look, start hot gluing! More is better with this because you definitely don't want the garland to start popping off the wire. laurel-wreath-4 The final step once all the glue has dried is to go back and reinforce the glue by using floral tape. This stuff is awesome. It sticks to itself and matches the branches (we used brown tape). Wrap small pieces around your wire and garland in strategically spaced areas (like the bottom center where the branches cross) to ensure the branches won't slip off the wire even if the glue doesn't hold. laurel-wreath-3 Then admire! Your laurel wreath is done. All that's left is to hang the wreath and mount the letter of your choosing! We used 3M strips and hooks to hang the wreath form and the gold letter because they're so light. The whitewashed letter is wood, though, and much heavier so it will require nails. laurel-wreath-2 Here is how my friend's turned out! As soon as we got it up on the wall, I did a happy dance because it was just so perfect! Since we did this project, I've decked our halls for the upcoming Christmas season, and love how the laurel wreath fits in with our holiday decor! laurel-wreath-m This was such an easy and beautiful project. I hope you'll give it a try, and let us know what you think! jess-signature  
How to Host Friendsgiving
This year will be my first year making a turkey. I'm a little nervous about it even though the instructions are clearly written on the back of the turkey packaging. I figure it could go one of three ways: I burn the turkey a la The Santa Clause; the turkey is so dry its inedible a la National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; or it could turn out perfectly. I'm rolling with option number three, and I'm pretty sure our friends are as well considering they'll have to eat said turkey tonight. That's right! I'm making the turkey this year because we're hosting Friendsgiving! Apparently, it's a thing. If you host, you make the turkey. I didn't know that, but there you have it. Thankfully, I planned a Friendsgiving last year (a successful one, I might add, yay!) and one last week with a friend of mine, so this wasn't a total stretch. Really, I love decorating and cooking for the holidays, so you won't hear me complaining about hosting. If you're finding yourself hosting a Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving this year and still don't feel like you have all the details down, I've got you covered! Here are all of my tips on how to host for the holidays! And I'll be sure to let you know how my turkey turns out. Wish me luck!

Pick a date, a menu and a few friends.

cinnamon-stick-514243_1920 Invitations are one of my favorite things about a party! You can design your own or browse Etsy for some incredibly beautiful ones to download and print yourself. This year, we went really informal and sent out invites via text because we were a little rushed. Thankfully, it made planning the menu a heck of a lot easier because we were able to decide on potluck items in the same string. I love a good potluck, especially around the holidays because it's a great way to get new recipes from friends! Here's a printable to make sharing recipes even easier! downloadable-recipe-card I always try to make sure the turkey (or ham) and stuffing are covered by the host, and also that I have one or two appetizers and a dessert on hand. That way most of the basics are prepped, and all of your friends get to pick their favorite side to bring! This year, I made my favorite stuffing recipe, this beer bread and garlic garlic dip, sausage balls, pumpkin pie and pecan pie in addition to the turkey. I told you I like to cook for the holidays! stuffing-balls-recipe sausage-balls-recipe

Decide on decor.

Admittedly, aside from planning the menu, this is my favorite part! I showed you how to create a fall tablescape a few weeks ago, and Amanda hit the decor portion of Thanksgiving yesterday with tons of inspirational ideas! I pulled from those ideas, and this is what I came up with. host-friendsgiving-1 My go-to tablecloth is either a burlap sack or brown kraft paper. This year, I went with the kraft paper, and wrote out seasonal words like "friends" and "give thanks". I hand-lettered each of these using the tips Liz provided in her post on handlettering which you can find here. If you've read the premiere issue of the Magnolia Journal, you know there are tons of ways to use greenery in your decor. I took a cue right off the cover and hung cedar boughs from our dining room chandelier. I also placed some on the table, along with those white pumpkins I used in my fall tablescape. These adorable burlap-wrapped pine trees are from Home Goods and made a perfect addition to the centerpiece. Continuing the greenery theme (thank you, Joanna Gaines) I took clippings of fresh rosemary and tied silverware and napkins up with twine. Underneath each, is a chalkboard printable that says simply "give thanks" which you can find here. Hobby Lobby had all fall decor 80% off, so I snagged the dinner and dessert plates there. I also incorporated our fall printables into the decor. You can enter your email here to download our printables! The hot apple cider bar was the perfect addition to our Friendsgiving decor, too! You can read all about the details of that here. friendsgiving-1

Prep Everything the Day Before.

I mean everything! We had the turkey thawed and seasoned and even in its roasting pan. Any dips, appetizers, sides or desserts that you can make ahead of time, get those taken care of. It will save you such a headache the day of (trust me!). There is always something unexpected that happens or an ingredient I realize I don't have. Anything that needs to bake, you can prepare the day before and pop in the oven the day of your shindig. A little trick I learned when I was first starting is to cover everything in aluminum foil and write on the foil what temperature it needs to be baked at and how much time it will take. It makes me feel super organized which leads to less stress (that's good for everyone!). turkey

The Extras.

One of my favorite ways to go the extra mile during the holidays is by providing takeout boxes for our guests. It also saves me from having to buy all new tupperware because I will inevitably forget who has what. That's just how I roll. I told you Hobby Lobby had 80% off all of their fall items, and these to go boxes were no exception. Line them with parchment paper or wax paper, and your guests will have to go boxes for all of those leftovers! to-go-boxes Another great way to make your guests feel special is party favors. These don't have to be extravagant, just a little something to say "thanks for coming". I picked up these white kraft paper bags, filled them with Reese cups and candy canes, taped them closed and tied them with twine and rosemary sprigs. It took less than a minute to make each one, and they didn't go begging! party-favors

Relax and Have A Good Time.

This is always the hardest part for me because event planning and enjoying myself don't usually go together, but it's the most important part! Why go to all the trouble of throwing a beautiful party if you're not going to love on the people you're throwing the party for? Once the food is ready, the prayer is said and everyone takes their seat, enjoy spending time with those you love. Laugh a little. Relax, and think about the mess after the last person has gone. If you love games, have some cards or board games on hand. We put kraft paper on the kids table along with some crayons to keep the little ones entertained, and designated a play area for them with books and a movie. If you all love making things, set up some craft stations. If you just love to chat and drink cider, set up a cider bar. The possibilities are endless, and you'll be free to enjoy all of these things without having to be in "host mode" all night. laughter Speaking of kids, this little cutie was helping set the table, and I just couldn't resist snapping his photo. How cute is he and that little sweater!?! simon

Cleanup.

Okay, this part is the worst, but it can be really quick and easy if you've prepped right. I use a throwaway roaster pan for the turkey (mostly because I don't actually have a roasting pan, but also because I can just toss it at the end of the night). All of our dishes were disposable. The printables were gifts along with the party favors, so guests will take those with them when they leave. Set all of your tupperware aside during your prep the day before so you can easily store any leftovers that weren't taken with guests and get those dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher. The kraft paper table covers are recyclable (yay!) and help keep your table from getting too messy. All that's left is to pick up any trash lying around and wipe down the counters and tables. That's it! Easy cleanup. header Need some ideas on what to do with all of those leftovers? Check out these recipes from Jessie at Life as a Strawberry. Happy hosting, friends! **Update: We roasted our turkey in Reynolds Oven Roasting Bag, and it turned out perfectly!!! Follow the instructions on the package, and you will be amazed at how simple it is!!!** xoxo jess-signature    
Thanksgiving Centerpieces & Decor
It's so easy for this great holiday to get overlooked. When we decorate for Halloween in August & Christmas the day after Halloween, where is the love for Thanksgiving? Even as I am thinking these things, I am listening to my Pandora Christmas station, watching Miracle on 34th Street, and slowly transforming my home into a winter wonderland. I'm not hosting any thanksgiving festivities this year, so I can get away with it! But maybe you are and need some fun and festive inspiration for this beautiful and often passed over holiday. We always think of the great food for feasting, but rarely do we think of it for decor. I'm going to change that today by sharing some of Salt & Life blog's favorite Thanksgiving centerpieces & decor. There is still time to incorporate these ideas into your own home for your turkey day festivities.

Centerpieces

There are so many different, beautiful options for centerpieces. We are a little obsessed with all things bright, white & rustic. Throw a little gold in for some subtle glam and you have our current style in a nutshell. These are just a few that we found that highlight some of our favorite aspects of Thanksgiving table decor. Wood slices in all sizes are pure rustic charm and these large ones used as as base for the centerpiece or even as a place setting are perfect! Pine cones, either au naturel or dusted in gold as they are here, make an easy rustic addition. diy-metallic-gold-pumpkin Never in a million years would I have imagined that antlers would be something I would add to my favorite items for decor. I thought antlers were stictly for Gaston in Beauty & the Beast. Then suddenly, styled with white pumpkins & hydrangeas here, they are stunning! antler-center-piece-table These wheat bales tied with satin ribbon make me swoon. Paired with the copper bin filled with cotton blossoms and it's a gorgeous, yet understated Thanksgiving display. I love everything about this. Check out more great photos and instructions on how it was put together by clicking on the photo. black-and-gold-tablescape-29_thumb  

Place Settings

Nothing makes your guest feel more special than a little decorative touch at their place setting. It's in the details, every time. Here are some simple things to add charm and personalize each place at the table. Here the wood slices are used at each place setting. The napkin tied with twine, greenery & a cinnamon stick is a perfect combination of pretty & festive. The cinnamon could even be used to stir some hot apple cider from your cider bar. Please click on the photo above for a more extensive look at the gorgeous table setting and beautiful photography from Jacque Lynn Photography. Originally for a winter wedding, it is breathtaking! greenery-and-cinnamon-napkin-600x400 This rosemary tied to the napkin is another gorgeous touch of green. Why are green & white so pretty together? It's clean, simple elegance. Follow the link on the picture above to go the source and find a free printable for your holiday napkins. You could even alter it to say each person's name in place of "give thanks." thanksgiving-give-thanks-napkin-holder-printable Chalkboards are a sweet spot for us. We are loving the idea of adding one to each place setting with a gold chalk marker. The gold pine cone & feather are the sweetest touches of nature to make this setting something truly unique and special for your guests. beautiful-thanksgiving-table-ideas-01-copy_thumb  

Table Coverings

Some brown craft paper is the perfect, disposable table covering. You can use all your lettering skills or simply lay out crayons for your guests to personalize their own space. Grab a bunch of white candles in varying sizes from the dollar store, throw in some greenery and you have the most inexpensive and low maintenance table on this page. I'm a fan! friendsgiving-1510027 A wide burlap table runner is the perfect way to add some depth and coverage to your table while still utilizing simplicity and rustic charm. The mason jars of dirt & greenery are a nice nod to Christmas while still being perfectly appropriate for thanksgiving. falldecoratingideasforyourhome_thumb  

Banners 

A banner made from burlap or other cloth, even paper, can be a great addition to your thanksgiving display. I lucked out and stumbled across one at Marshals (who doesn't love that place??) in October for 8 bucks. There are several available on etsy. But if you are pushed for time, grab a blank burlap banner from a craft store and get to stenciling! There are also several DIYs and free printables available from other amazing bloggers. 9_1441383576_1966_lg thanksgiving-decor-ideas Amanda Signature Well we hope these amazing photos give you some great inspiration for your own holiday decor. Be sure to share your photos on social media and tag us so we can check them out and possibly feature them on our blog! Happy Thanksgiving!
Attitude of Gratitude
Which of us hasn't at one time or another envied someone else? In our culture of putting your best face forward on social media, most of what we see from others is their "highlight reel." We rarely hear of the struggles and dark times until they are over. It's easy to look at someone else's life from the outside in and think, "Gosh, they are living the dream life. If only I had what they had, or did what they did." When in reality, we know nothing of the private struggles and hardships that either brought them to where they are, or face them everyday. If we knew, perhaps we wouldn't envy them quite so much. We are each on a journey through life with a different purpose and end goal. I want to encourage you to run your own race to the finish line. If you are constantly glancing beside you, over your shoulder, or up ahead to see what everyone else is doing, you will lose this race called life. You will live with regret and miss out on the great adventure you've been called to live. It is only when we keep an attitude of gratitude alive within us, that we can accomplish this on a daily basis. I can't tell you how many times in my life I've let comparison hold me back from doing and being my own personal best. I have a competitive nature, but it's not your typical "I'm gonna win no matter what!" mindset. It's more, "I want to win and I won't be satisfied until I do!". But when I see someone else succeeding at something I want to be good at, I immediately feel defeat. I tend to think, "They are doing SO well at that. I can never achieve the same level of greatness so why even try?" That kind of thinking will get us no where. Just because someone else has or is something we want, doesn't mean we it isn't available for us too. Hebrews 12:1-11 img_6427 Maybe it's not a literal "winning or losing" for you. Maybe it's possessions, whether material or immaterial. You see that girl on stage and think, "Why couldn't I have been blessed with such an amazing voice?" Not even to sing on stage, but just to be able to carry a tune in the shower! Maybe you see the slender mom of four who seems to have it all together, including the adoration of her handsome husband. Meanwhile you've struggled to get pregnant, suffered through a messy divorce, or you are still single and all these things are still a figment of your hopeful imagination. You lose a little bit of hope with each passing day, assuming God must have forgotten about the desires of your longing heart. Or maybe you see people years younger than you, living the lifestyle you've dreamed of. A nice new house with a (figurative) white picket fence, multiple vehicles, vacations to Disney and the beach, weekly shopping trips with nary a budget in sight and zero financial stress. Now, some of you reading this maybe have some of those things. But I bet there are things people don't know when they look at what you have. Like the fact the there is financial stress involved and it's killing your marriage. Or the fact that you had very humble beginnings and know what it is to struggle and now are reaping your rewards of hard work, patience and delayed gratification. Still others of you have simply been blessed with all of these things and you're not sure why others don't have them. That's OK! Your struggles may lie elsewhere. We all have them. They just take different forms. The point is that it doesn't matter. You were made to live YOUR story. Not someone else's. You've been equipped with exactly what you need to tackle both the struggles and the joys of your life. Romans 12:6-8 img_6430 So how do we go from comparison, envy and covetousness to joyfully celebrating our own lives, strengths and blessings?

In every thing, give thanks. 

By choosing to have an attitude of gratitude. When you begin each day with a grateful heart, it is nearly impossible to covet or envy someone else. It's difficult to feel sad or to have a bad attitude. If you begin to list all the things you are grateful for in your life - focusing not on your lack but what you have - you will find that you have a lot more to be grateful for than you thought. And maybe you don't really need anything else to be happy. Hebrews 13:5 There will always be lack in your life. You will never reach a point when you finally have everything you want or think you need. There is always the next thing. Rather than look at that as something depressing, see it for what it is. Part of the journey. If we have nothing to strive for, life could get boring! But there is a reason for the cliche "life is in the journey." It's the pursuit of these things that make up the majority of our days here on earth. If we spend them, wishing them away for the end when we obtain the elusive "everything", our lives will then be over. Don't miss the abundant blessings that God has gifted you with today. I encourage you to start a gratitude journal and daily list what you are grateful for. Or at the very least, take a few minutes in your morning and offer up a prayer of thankfulness. If you have to start as basic as thanking him for clean air to breathe and water to drink, start there. There is always something to be thankful for, during this holiday season & everyday.   Amanda Signature
Hot Apple Cider Bar
Yesterday, my mom and I were talking about Thanksgiving and who's bringing what for the big family meal, and it hit me. Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! Does anyone else feel like this year has just flown by? Once I recovered from that realization, happiness took over because, as y'all know, this season is my absolute favorite! Celebrating Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving, ringing in Christmastime, my birthday falls in there... It's just a wonderful few months! One thing is for sure... Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without hot apple cider. My father-in-law always has mulled cider on the stove, and my grandfather has a percolator full of it when we visit them! Last year for Christmas, I set up a hot cocoa bar in the house, and it was a big hit. So I got to thinking... why not have a hot cider bar? I couldn't find a whole lot on Pinterest for inspiration for an indoor bar, but I knew there were some basics I needed to make it happen and wanted it to be rustic to celebrate fall. Everything I used to make this cider bar I already had at home, so you can totally make this yours with pieces you already own! Of course, what cider bar would be complete without a printable? You can download the one I made at the end of this post! hot-cider-text-small Our dining room is where everyone in our family gathers for meals. Sometimes we spill over to the back porch, but knowing that Friendsgiving was going to be at my house this year, I put it in the dining room on the shelves I built a year or so ago. You can find the tutorial for the shelves here. It's the perfect little eating space for kids that doubles as a workspace for me when I'm having coffee. Plus it gets tons of natural light! hot-apple-cider-bar-7 The wood gather sign is available here for $35.00 {you can get 15% off by subscribing to Salt & Life Blog} or you can check out our tutorial here. I stumbled on the gold and white polkadot mugs at Home Goods a few weeks ago, and set them on top of a tree slice. hot-apple-cider-bar-3 My hubby cut some tree slices for me last year with a chainsaw, and I painted the bark white to fit our decor. All of the pumpkins and acorn squash pictured are from Kroger ($1 each!). I picked up the galvanized drink dispenser at Walmart at the end of the summer season. We have lots of get togethers and birthdays during the August and September months, and it came in handy! I filled it with hot cider, and it works perfectly for a cider dispenser as well! Amanda has a great cider recipe here! hot-apple-cider-bar-2 The only thing I actually had to purchase for the cider bar were the Pirouette French Vanilla sticks. I have a ridiculous number of mason jars sitting around the house for when I planned on canning veggies from our garden and never did. Thankfully, they make great displays! I also set out cinnamon in a glass bowl that my Great Aunt gave me years ago. hot-apple-cider-bar-4 I told you there was a free printable coming! Because I love rustic wood frames, I built the one pictured, painted a chalkboard background and added the white chalk marker text. You can absolutely do that, and I hope to have a tutorial up in the next couple of months showing you how. In the meantime, I've created an 11x17 resizable print that you can download here. cider-bar-printable hot-apple-cider-bar-5 The last step was adding some harvest colors. I have a habit of buying fresh flowers every two weeks at the grocery, and the orange sunflowers were my latest purchase. The white distressed pitcher came from Big Lots years ago, and I simply wrapped twine around the narrowest part of it to make it feel a little more rustic. The apples and acorn squash are sitting in a white Wilton pie dish I purchased at Home Goods years ago for next to nothing, and the candle also came from Home Goods. I hope you're inspired by this cider bar! The best part about it is it can be easily made into a Hot Cocoa Bar for Christmas. We'll be showing you how in December!!! Happy Monday! xoxo jess-signature
Toddler Trick or Treat Costumes
It's November 1st and MIXmas is playing on the radio, but we're still getting over how much fun last night's Trick or Treating was! It was the first time for two of our kids to dress up and head out for trick or treating in the neighborhood, and there was a ton of excitement (and way too much candy)! This year, we had an Elsa, a Lady Bug and a Wolverine as well as a Sock Monkey since we went with friends. img_5892 We walked up and down one street in Lexington's historic district, which is full of some of the most beautiful homes you will ever see! It looked like a scene straight out of Gilmore Girls. (Yes, we have Gilmore Girls on the brain... who's binge-watching the entire set of episodes on November 25th!?!) house We found Ash's Elsa costume at Walmart, literally the only long-skirted Elsa costume left and it just happened to be her size! Oh, did we mention it was on clearance? We were completely prepared to have to make a cape and dress ourselves, but this won us over. Jess gave Ashlyn a french side-braid, put on some Frozen house slippers and called it a princess costume complete with glittery cheeks! At one point, there was a snowflake ring and snowflake headband, but those quickly got discarded. ashs-hari Amanda found the ladybug costume at Marshalls, and it immediately captured her daughter's heart. Something about tulle & wings wins any little girl over. The mini Wolverine costume was a consignment find, but it was new in its package. Brand new costume at consignment price? Yes, thanks! img_5889 We added a long sleeved black shirt & some black shorts (not visible) under the lady bug costume to ward off any itchiness from the tulle. And even though it was a pretty warm evening for Trick or Treat, the long sleeves helped to ward off any evening chill (does anyone remember going trick or treating in winter coats?? I do!). Alas we had no black boots, so light up mini mouse shoes had to do. A little lady bug dot on the nose finished off our adorable little lady bug. img_5890 When Wolverine's costume was purchased, he wasn't quite coordinated enough to remove the mask. Not so a month or so after. Also, his head must've been a bit smaller. It's pictured here in one of only a few moments that he actually wore the mask. Bless him, it gave him a perpetual pig nose and he was such a good sport to let us get some photos with it on. img_5891 We've already made plans to return to this particular neighborhood next year. The historic homes were gorgeous, the decorations were so festive, and the streets were lined with little children in costume. We had a blast! With a few lessons learned on "breaking and entering" (people did have their doors open, in the kids' defense) and taking only moderate amounts of candy at each stop, (people, lets hand out the candy and not let toddlers self serve - we all know they have no concept of self control where candy is concerned! Lol!) we know that these kiddos are gonna rock their costumes even harder next year!   What did you & your littles dress up as for Halloween? We want to see your pictures so tag us on social media! We're gonna go partake in our "parent tax" candy now. Happy Halloween! Jess Signature  Amanda Signature  
Fun Activities for Fall
We share so much on here about our latest projects and favorite recipes, and probably just look like busy bees all the time! There's so much more to this season than cute outfits, fall scents and good food, though. One of the best things about this season (or any season) is who you spend it with, and we love spending time with our families!!! So today's post is all about giving you a little peek into our lives beyond the blog and how we're celebrating fall with our loved ones this year! Two of my favorite fall activities are cider drinking and pumpkin picking, and what better place to do that than the pumpkin patch? If you have kids, or even if you don't, this is such a fun day trip! We have a few farms near us here in Kentucky and have tried two so far and loved both! In previous years we've gone to Boyd's Orchard with the entire family, which is a blast, but this year on a whim we decided to head to Evan's Orchard & Cider Mill. It was a gorgeous fall day. Absolutely jacket weather (which I love!), but not so chilly that your face hurts from standing in one place. My daughter is two, so when my husband and I saw that there were pony rides, bouncy houses and giant slides we knew she was going to love it! It's really the first year she's been able to run around and play with other kids, which was such a joy to watch. Chuck and I just stood back, sipped on cider and took in all of her joyful squeals! cider By the time we made it to the farm, I'd already bought no less than 20 pumpkins (most of them mini, in my defense), so we only came away with three cute little white pumpkins, one for each of us, that I used to decorate my floating tables on the patio. That was absolutely cool with Ash because the second she spotted the bouncy house, she was off! Like I said, it was a perfect fall day, so I was rocking almost all of our fall fashion favorites including a leather purse, jacket and my plaid scarf! We put in a solid four hours out there, listening to a live band, sipping cider, going down the slide repeatedly (it was so much fun!) and of course letting Ash bounce around on the bouncy house. Really, she was more like bouncing twice then falling and cracking up, but she enjoyed herself! Me & Ash at Evan's Orchard If you have the chance to go to a local pumpkin patch, take advantage! They are so festive! The best part is the cider mill attached, though, because you can get apple EVERYTHING. I'm not an apple pie lover (yes, I am an American), but show me the apple cider, apple butter, apple fritters, etc., and I am in! Plus they have fresh pressed apple juice and apple sauce for the kids! The only down side to this fun day? We had to go home which didn't sit well with the little one, but alas, it was naptime (for all of us). We've done the whole pumpkin carving thing in the past, but I have to be honest. Carving pumpkins with a two-year-old can just get downright crazy sometimes. This year, I opted to paint pumpkins instead! There are so many ways you can do this, but I've been loving the distressed look with a little bit of glam! Here's how Ash and I painted our pumpkins, and yes, she really did help! painted-pumpkins At Target, they have decorative pumpkins in the Halloween section that are, of course, orange, white and black. I was not really feeling the orange theme on the back porch, mainly because I have lots of blues and whites going on back there already and any pops of color come from my red mums. Orange just seemed like overkill. So I bought the six pack of mini pumpkins for $6.00, brought them home and decided to paint them. I also got the pumpkin pictured above on the right at Target (it was originally orange), and stumbled on the speckled pumpkin on the left already painted in this beautiful gray at Target for $3.00. We're talking less than $12 for decorative pumpkins! pumpkin-painting-4 I got Ashlyn all set up on the patio with a chalk marker, and she went to town decorating the black pumpkins. While she was coloring on hers, I spray painted the rest of the pumpkins turquoise and gray. I stumbled on some gold spray paint, too, and added a very light layer of gold spray over the dark grays to give it a little glam. Once they dried, we piled all the pumpkins up in this lantern, set out a white tray on the patio table and now we have a festive, handmade centerpiece! pumpkin-painting-2 pumpkin-painting How are you decorating your pumpkins? Have a great weekend, friends! xoxo jess-signature
Favorite Fall Recipes: Part 2
Didn't you just love the recipes from Jess in Part 1? White chili is one of my favorite things to eat, ever! Only in my house, we break the rules and eat it year round (shhh! Don't tell anyone.). Now it's time for Part 2! Most of my favorite fall recipes are made by other people, to be honest. I don't consider myself much of a whiz in the kitchen. I do bake, better than I cook, but even then simplicity is key. The following are some quick and easy fall appropriate recipes sure to make you feel all warm and cozy by the fireside. They're also perfect for entertaining unexpected guests. Hey, even if you did expect them, you might not have time to do much more, but no one will mind. They taste amazing!  

Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe

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Ingredients:

I can of pureed pumpkin 1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix Cinnamon to taste Pumpkin Pie Spice to taste Cream Cheese Frosting                                                                                                                                 Brach's Candy Corn Pumpkins for topping

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Instructions:

Combine yellow cake mix & pureed pumpkin in bowl and beat with a mixer until well blended. Add a few teaspoons each of cinnamon & pumpkin pie spice, more if you like. Grease your cupcake wrappers, pour in the batter & bake as instructed on the cake mix box. Once cool, pipe cream cheese frosting in top and place a candy pumpkin in the center of each cupcake. You can certainly make your own cream cheese frosting, but in the interest of simplicity, we chose to use store bought. This is a great recipe for kids to help out with! Both of my toddlers enjoyed helping to mix and adding in the spices. Since there's no exact science for how much spice you need, it's pretty stress free to just let them go to town with them. They loved it!  

Spiced Cider Recipe

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Ingredients:

Equal Parts Apple Juice & Orange Juice Cinnamon Sticks Whole Cloves 1 Orange, sliced

 Instructions:

Mix the apple & orange juices in a large stock pot or crock pot. If you use juice concentrate, be sure to add the appropriate amounts of water. Throw in 4-5 cinnamon sticks, sprinkle in some cloves, and spread your orange slices across the top. Bring your cider to an almost boil, and then simmer. Once it's hot, it's ready to drink. But the longer you let it simmer, the better it tastes and the better your home smells. I love having this brewing on the stove top during holiday gatherings! img_5449 There you have it! My super simple fall recipes. Anyone can make them, I promise! Just so you don't forget them, here are some free recipe cards to add to your collection: [caption id="attachment_2457" align="alignnone" width="300"]give-thanks-spiced-cider170 Give Thanks Recipe Cards[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2456" align="alignnone" width="300"]blackboard-pumpkin-cupcakes167 Blackboard Recipe Cards[/caption] Be sure to tag us in you Instagram foodie photos if you use our recipes. Or show us one of your favorites! Amanda Signature