Sailing With The Scotts – Trip Recap

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

If you follow me on Instagram, then you recognize the above shot that I posted right before I went sailing with the Scott brothers.  Well, we weren’t exactly alone, there were a few others – 2,000 to be exact.

Earlier this year, I found out about the HGTV Sailing with the Scotts design cruise, leaving out of Miami (how convenient).  It was hosting bloggers and designers alike, with an itinerary full of fun and lots of informative design and blogger panels.  It was also sailing out the week of our wedding anniversary (again, how convenient).    I approached my husband with all these “convenient coincidences” and he said “book it!”  I couldn’t wait to see what was in store!

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

We would be leaving aboard the Carnival Ecstasy.

Carnival Ecstasy

And the itinerary included a stop in the Keys and one in Cozumel.

SWS Itinerary

I have watched the Property Brothers so many times on HGTV but they also had a lineup of talented designers joining them.  Along with Drew and Jonathan were Jason Cameron, The Junk Gypsies, Jillian Harris and Kim Myles.

 

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

Of course, I did what any reasonable person would do – I did my hair.  I figured I couldn’t go on a design cruise with my hair all crazy. Thank me later for not including the before shot.  It’s my gift to you.

I thought this hairdo would last days…

Not the first time I have been wrong, but it was fun while it lasted.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

So my hair husband and I boarded the ship after 40 minutes of leaving our home.  I love that about living in Miami.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

There was live music on the ship all the time.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

Our rooms were ready but our luggage wasn’t, so we sat down for a margarita.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

Later in the afternoon, we all headed to the top deck – the brothers and the design team were going to kick off the cruise by welcoming all their guests.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

My husband and I went on this cruise without our boys so we were soaking up all the alone time.  It’s amazing how it feels to finish sentences and even conversations without the kiddies around.  We still missed them though and were constantly saying “Oh, they would have loved that!”

The first stop was Key West.  We got out and looked at all the cute, colorful homes and took lots of pictures.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

The Keys has a certain vibe that is unlike any other place.  We live pretty close so we have been there many times.  My husband is a fishing aficionado and The Keys and fishing go hand-in-hand.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

We walked into a cigar shop where the lady was rolling the cigars right in front of us.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

We left the keys after a few hours and the ship was then headed to Cozumel, Mexico.  I have very few pictures of Mexico because we went snorkeling.  We had a blast and it’s not something that we can do with our youngest, so we wanted to take advantage of the alone time.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

So far I had no pictures with the brothers.  They gave us these fans when we arrived so I figured it was as close as I would get to the selfie-with-the-Scotts.  I had said hi to them a few times at this point but I was too shy to ask for a picture.

#IAmABigFan – quite literally.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

I didn’t feel bad asking this guy for pictures and he obliged every time.

Love him!

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

During the day, there were a ton of events and panels that I went to and afterwards I got to meet some of my blogging friends.  Here is Jen from I Heart Organizing and Cassie from Hi Sugarplum!  They are both so sweet!

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

I am also a big fan of all these awesome ladies!  Here is Mallory from Style Your Senses, Emily A. Clark, Jennifer from Dimples and Tangles, Me and Sarah from Sarah M Dorsey Designs.  It was so cool meeting them in person, as I already feel like I know them from reading their blogs.

They are all so approachable and open about sharing their success stories and even struggles with blogging.  They were part of a really informative bloggers panel.

I loved meeting them!

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

I had to include this picture.  The cruise was put together by a company called Premier Cruises that handled all the coordinating with the HGTV design crew, all of us bloggers, the designers the crew and the fans.  They were all extremely helpful and available to all the guests, so a special shout out to all of them!

This is me with Tiffany from Premier.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

While I was going to these panels, my husband would text me pictures like the one below.  He thought he could make me jealous because he was relaxing in his flip flops while I was in heels.  Like I would care about such nonsense and pettiness.

It worked.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

I did get to relax and wear flip flops after learning from all the panelists.  I was able to read a lot of this book called For the Love, which I am loving!

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

In the evening, the very talented painter, Jared Emerson would paint on a new canvas for everyone to see how he brings his works of art to life.  He paints with his bare hands.   He really is amazing!

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

There was a special reception hosted by Lug Bags, two nights before the cruise ended, and I was able to meet more people.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

And get to know more about the #LugLife story.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

And finally take a picture with this guy!  Yay!

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

They are both so nice and hard-working!  Everytime that I saw them, they were either hosting an event or chatting with their fans.  They must have been tired but they never showed it.  It was a treat to meet them!

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

Then I came home and never did my hair again.  The end.

Sailing With The Scotts - Trip Recap

I hope they do the cruise again next year.  Maybe you can come too!

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Christmas Eve Tablescape

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

Christmas Eve Tablescape

 

Christmas Eve for Hispanic households is usually the largest feast they host all year.  That statement definitely rings true with my Cuban family.  In Spanish we call it “Noche Buena”, which translates to “Good Night”, and people from each country serve food that is specific to their culture.  Cubans serve roast pork, white rice, black beans, yucca (cassava) and all the usual Cuban faire.  The pig is usually roasted over coals and it becomes the center of attention at the food table.

In our family, we alternate as to who is hosting this special dinner.  Sometimes it’s us, sometimes my parents or my in-laws.  Everyone adds their special touches and go all out with decorating their home.  When we host it, I cannot fit everyone in my formal table, so we open up plastic tables in the backyard to accommodate everyone.  Granted, I decorate the plastic tables with disposable items because I want my party to be pretty but as practical as possible.  However, I still set my formal table every year.  Those who eat first can sit there or they can eat outside if they prefer.

Because I am incredibly long-winded, I had to say all that just to share with you our table setting for this year!  Since I host a brunch the following day, I wanted this table setting to be easy to take apart, easy to put together and affordable.  All these holiday parties can add up!  $$$

Christmas Eve Tablescape

 

I went to Target (I haven’t been there in a while…promise) and I found a ton of items for my table.  I know that you are not surprised!  Most of what I found was from their dollar section.  I found all those little trees for 3.00 a piece.  The whole centerpiece was 21.oo and that’s because I needed 7 trees to fill my large table.  Not too bad, right?

I also purchased those beautiful gold hammered chargers while I was there, but I have also seen the plain gold ones at my local dollar store.  I added simple white plates, a napkin and matching goblet.  Napkins and glasses (especially green and red ones) go on clearance after the holidays so keep an eye out for them.  It’s my favorite time to shop for those items.

Christmas Eve Tablescape

As a finishing touch for my table, I added this Glade® Winter Collection candle, that doubled as the place card holder.  Granted, no one listens to me on this night and they sit wherever they want.  At least the candles have a name and I can gift them to all my aunts before they leave our home.

Christmas Eve Tablescape

 

I would love to purchase a gift for every single person in our family but it’s just not possible.  Some years we have done a gift exchange and that has been fun.  I love that this year my aunts won’t leave empty-handed, since these candles are so affordable.  Also, I love the name – Be at Peace™ ! The scent is Balsam Fir and if that doesn’t evoke holiday joy, I don’t know what does.  Although all that food I mentioned above will also get you smiling! You can see in the pictures that I alternate between the green “Be at Peace™” candle and the red “Cherish the Present™” candle in apple cinnamon for my place settings.  I like the variety and I am sure that there will be some trading involved.  The holidays are about taking moments to reflect on the love and serenity around us – and also taking home your favorite candle!

 

Christmas Eve Tablescape

Just to add a little color, I placed these pillows on the head chair.  Can you believe that the little one was $3.oo at the Target dollar section?!  The one in the back was on clearance ($13.00 I think).  The contrast with the black and the red…so festive!

Christmas Eve Tablescape

My goal with all these table settings and decorations is not impress anyone, I just want to create a home that people feel special and welcome and full (tummy and heart!).  I wish you all lots of joy during this beautiful season!

Christmas Eve Tablescape

Merry Christmas!

For more inspiration, you can visit the Glade® Social Hub here or their Facebook page here.  You can also find special coupon offers by clicking here. 

I invite you to participate in the giveaway below: 

 

Glade Latina Holiday Sweepstakes

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Gift Wrapping Made Easy

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

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I love all-things-Christmas – I’ve said it before.  I like the music (although by the end of December, I’m ready for a new CD), the food, mailing and receiving Christmas cards, I like gift-buying and gift-wrapping.  I think that gift wrapping becomes a chore because some of us leave it to the last-minute.  I admit that I don’t wrap my boy’s gifts until a few nights before Christmas.  Mostly because I don’t want them to see my stash of gifts before it’s time.  When I wrap in a hurry, I don’t enjoy it as much.

Today I want to share with you my tips for wrapping gifts and keeping it fun and easy.

Start shopping and wrapping early

The first thing I do is make a list (I know that you are not surprised) of everyone that I am giving a gift to.  I like to take my time and find the perfect gift for everyone but this takes me time.  I honestly struggle with being thoughtful with gifts.  I love to spontaneously gifts things, but when I have to buy something for an occasion, I go blank.  Since I know myself, I will start adding ideas to this list months before Christmas.  If anyone mentions they need new sandals “I take note” if they need a new watch “I take note”.  Like I don’t literally take note in front of them because that’s awkward, I do try to write it down before I forget.

This year, I knew that my mom wanted a new watch.  How did I know?  She told me in September “I need a new watch” #StraightShooter.  She has one that she uses everyday for work, but she wanted a sophisticated one for the weekend.  I headed to Dillard’s and went straight for their watch section.  By the way, I don’t go to the mall too often but every time I go I wonder why I don’t go more.  Especially during the week, when the store is quiet and during the holidays when they go all out on the decorating!  The store was in full Christmas style and it was beautiful.  I thought I would even share a picture of that…

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

There were quite a few watches but I decided on this Anne Klein 3-piece box set.  I love how it already has the matching bracelets and how classic this set is.  It is fashionable but not too trendy, so my mom will be able to wear it for a long time.  My mom (and mua) loves rose gold-tone jewelry and she loves sparkle – the Swarovski® crystals add just enough bling, which is exactly what she wants.

I know she will love it!

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

These beautiful watches are packaged in a box that are easy to wrap and as soon as I came home, that’s what I did.  That is what I do when I buy gifts – I wrap them right away and skip the bows so that I can stack the boxes inside a cabinet.  Once my tree is up and ready for gifts, I will add the bows and tags.  In this case, I went ahead and added the bows because I wanted to share with you some easy gift-wrapping tips.

Create a gift wrapping station

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I have shared with you how I organize my gift wrapping cabinet, but before I had that set-up, I had a large bin full of tissue, wrapping paper, bows, tape and a pair of good scissors.  It makes wrapping a lot easier when everything is at hand.

Trim your paper the right size

I love those nice gift wrapping papers that have the grid outline on the inside.  It is so much easier to cut straight using that grid, but in this case I followed the stripe outline which was visible on the underside of the paper.

Always fold the paper over your gift before you cut it, so that you don’t have too much leftover paper around your gift.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

 

Use double-sided tape

I like to use either double-sided tape or invisible tape when wrapping gifts, this way you don’t see as many tape marks.  Of course, that’s just me being picky but well…that’s just me. :-)  Admittedly, when I am wrapping the boy’s gifts, I look like a madwoman and I would use purple tape, if that was handy!

Make sure that the seams are not at the very top, as that will be your main presentation area.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Make sure that the edges are sharp and tucked in.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Add embellishments to the gift wrapping paper

I love adding a thick lace, a paper doilies, a strip of another gift wrap paper or a piece of tissue on top of the gift-wrapped box.  It’s all the textures and layers that make this gift wrap look fancy.

I added tissue paper that I folded lengthwise on top of the gold-striped paper.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I love the two different designs together that are “tied” by the same color.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Use ribbon instead of ready-made bows

I do use ready-made bows when I wrap the boys gifts.  Geez, I feel horrible about the boy’s gifts…  With everyone else’s gift, I like to finish off the wrapping with a ribbon.  It makes such a difference!  I purchase ribbon during the year when it goes on sale and especially after Christmas.  It’s not that expensive and you don’t have to worry about crushed bows.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Add greenery to your gift

As if the pretty ribbon were not enough, this takes it over the top.  It really makes the gift come to life when there is a little sprig of greenery attached to the gift.  I often purchase bowl filler holiday bags and use the greenery for my gift wrapping.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I add a little embellishment to almost all my gifts.  If bought in a large bags, these little sprigs are pennies.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Create your own gift tags

This is the time of the year that I actually use all those punches that I purchased years ago.  Back when I told myself that I would scrapbook our memories weekly….sigh.

It is so easy to create your own gift tag or little gift accent by using punches, like the ones below.

Punches

Or you can print this free printable  that I have created for you…

You can cut it as squares or as an imperfect circle, like me.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I then hole punched a little hole and fed a string through the opening, to add my tag.

Gift Wrapping Tag

 

Assign kids a specific gift wrapping color or print

One last tip – I have been doing this for a few years now and it’s one of my favorite tips.  I still write the boys names on their gifts but I will usually pick one to two gift wrapping rolls per boy and tell them on Christmas morning which one is theirs.  This way they all know which their gifts are and they don’t mistakenly open one of the adults gifts.  I would hate for them to open one of those since those are the ones with the invisible tape and all.

I’m kidding.

I hope you all enjoyed these tips.  I think this year I will kick up my wrapping for the boys because this post made me feel super guilty!  Ha!

This is the finished product.  Isn’t she pretty?  

Gift Wrapping for Christmas

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful time of the year already.  What color/colors of gift wrapping papers will you be using this holiday?  Which of the Ann Klein Box Sets is your favorite?

 

 

 

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Panettone Bread Pudding

Panettone Bread Pudding 1

I have shared with you all how every year we host a Christmas Day breakfast in our home.  It is a time that I look forward to every year because it is so much fun for the kids and the adults alike.  We basically have an open door policy and our family knows that they don’t have to RSVP, they are just welcome to swing by during the morning…and there will be food and lots of it.

I make a few dishes the night before and I simply re-heat them in the morning.  There are a few items that I will make on the spot, but mostly I like to relax and enjoy the morning with all my loves ones.  I do like to balance out savory and sweet components in my food spread and one of the dishes that always makes it on the table is a bread pudding.  Sometimes I make Ina Garten’s recipe for bread pudding that involves croissants (I love that woman and I love croissants!) and sometimes I like to make my panettone bread pudding because panettone is so perfect for Christmas.

That’s the recipe that I will be sharing with you today but there’s so much more!  You see, I am joining a holiday blog tour full of amazing ideas from some of my favorite bloggers.  My friend Sondra, over at Sondra Lyn at Home is hosting it, and it will be 5 days full of recipes and decor – you don’t want to miss it!  You can find all the links (to the ones that have been published) at the end of this post.   

Home for the Holidays 2015 - SondraLyn at Home

Now back to the bread pudding!  This recipe has evolved over time since I have taken some of my favorite bread pudding recipes and added and taken away, until I absolutely loved the finished product.

These are the ingredients for my favorite Christmas bread pudding:

Ingredients:

1 Panettone

5 Large egg yolks

3 Whole eggs

2 1/2 Cups of whole milk

2 1/2 Cups of half and half

2 Teaspoons of vanilla

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 Cup Hazelnuts (optional)

 

Panettone Bread Ingredients

Steps:

Set the oven at 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.

Cut the panettone into cubes.

The following step is optional, which is to toast the bread in the oven.  If you enjoy a really soft bread pudding, you should skip this step and place the panettone cubes directly into the buttered baking dish.  If you like a little texture in the bread, then go ahead and place the cubes on a sheet tray and then into the pre-heated oven  for 7-1o minutes.  I toasted mine this time, but either way it will be delicious.

 

Panettone Bread
Make the custard mix by whisking together the eggs (whole and yolks) whole milk, half and half, vanilla and sugar.

Panettone Milk

 

Arrange the panettone in the buttered dish and start to ladle the custard over the panettone.

Panettone Mix

 

Sprinkle 1 Cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips over and in between the panettone cubes.

Panettone Chocolate Chips

 

Press down on the dish to make sure that all the panettone is submerged in the custard.  I use the back of a measuring cup to do this.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Panettone Press

 

This is also optional, but if you are a texture fan like me, chop up a cup of hazelnuts for the final topping.

Panettone Hazelnuts

 

Sprinkle over the top.

Place the baking dish inside a larger pan and place about 2 inches of water in the larger pan.  Do this carefully so that you don’t get any water in your dish.

Panettone Bain Marie

 

Cover with aluminum foil and cut a few slits to allow the steam to escape while it’s cooking.

Place inside the oven for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes.

Panettone Foil

 

Doesn’t that look crazy delicious?

Allow to cool a bit before serving.  All your hard work will pay off soon…

Panettone Oven Ready

 

For now, just stare at it.  Take pictures of it.  Take a selfie.

Panettone Done

 

Then serve yourself a piece, because you deserve it.

Panettone no sauce

 

Of course, it is delicious on it’s own and you don’t need to add anything to it.  But why stop the indulgence now?  You are on a roll, and you need to take this over the top by adding an amaretto sauce to your bread pudding.  Yes, amaretto sauce…

Panettone no sauce side

#IJustFainted

Panettone with Sauce

#ICan’tEven

Panettone sauce

Making the amaretto sauce is so easy!  I follow a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis and I didn’t change a thing:

1/2 Cup whipping cream

1/2 Cup whole milk

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup amaretto liqueur

2 Teaspoons of cornstarch.

Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix the amaretto and cornstarch to blend and then whisk into the cream mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

You can make this a few days before you will serve it.

Panettone with Amaretto

Seriously, this is so delicious and so perfect for Christmas morning.  I hope you try it, I hope you love it!

Ready for more Holiday fun?  Follow the hop that started yesterday and don’t forget to check back every day as the new posts will automatically update everyday at 7am EST/6am CST.

xo,

Maria

Welcome to the 2nd annual Home for the Holidays Blog Tour hosted by Sondra Lyn at Home. Wow, do we ever have a great week of holiday celebration ideas lined up for you!

Join us each day for inspiration from nearly 30 of the today’s finest blogs!

Home for the Holidays 2015 - Sondra Lyn at HomeYou’ll see everything from gorgeous decor to yummy holiday recipes… and everything in between! Here’s a look at what’s coming up this week:

Monday – Holiday Decor

featuring…

Just a Girl and Her Blog | Lilacs & Longhorns | What Meegan Makes

Windgate Lane | Worthing Court

Tuesday – Holiday Recipes

featuring…

Duke Manor Farm | Graceful Order | Rhubarb and Honey

Snappy Gourmet | The Happier Homemaker | Two Thirty-Five Designs

Wednesday – Mantles and Tablescapes

featuring…

Dandelion Patina | {Home-ology} modern vintage | Organize and Decorate Everything

Sondra Lyn at Home | StoneGable | The Everyday Home

Thursday – Holiday Crafts

featuring…

An Extraordinary Day | Cottage at the Crossroads | Making it in the Mountains

Our Southern Home | 2 Bees in a Pod | Two Purple Couches

Friday – Gifts and Wrapping

featuring…

Addison Meadows Lane | DIY180 | Domestically Speaking

My Creative Days | Southern State of Mind | unOriginal Mom

Be sure to check back every day this week to enjoy all the goodies we’ll be sharing with you! Each day’s links will be posted that day and will go live at 7am EST/6am CST, so don’t miss a single day!

Cause we all know…

there’s no place like…

Home for the Holidays!

Monday – Holiday Decor

Tuesday – Holiday Recipes

 


Wednesday – Holiday Mantels and Tablescapes

Thursday – Holiday Crafts

 


Friday – Holiday Gifts and Wrapping


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Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

 Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

 

It’s no secret that I love personalized items and anything monogrammed.  If it has a G on it, I’m buying it.
The holidays are the perfect time to gift items that are personalized.  It’s a gift that has been thought of and ordered ahead of time and people appreciate that.  Today I am partnering up with Walmart Photo to show you some beautiful gift ideas – all personalized and even better, some with a same-day turn around!

 

Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

Personalized Calendars

Usually, the words personalized and same-day don’t co-exist.  These beautiful calendars are an exception.  Every year I gift my aunt and uncle a calendar with my boys’ pictures.  They have it up in their kitchen year-round and it’s become a tradition to receive a new one for Christmas.  I love them so much and they are amazing with our boys! I chose this really fun and earthy theme calendar because it blended well with my pictures, but you can find more same day calendars here.  Also, they are on Rollback through 1/5/16 so a 8×11 calendar that was $17.47, is now $12. I can’t wait for July….

Personalized Gifts for the Holidays
Or November.  Be still my heart….
Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

Personalized Ornaments

These are new this year at Walmart.com/photo and available for ordering in-store at the photo kiosk.   They are available in various shapes and I chose the square.  I rarely buy new ornaments anymore but this may be a new tradition as well.
Personalized Gifts for the Holidays
Can’t wait to see it up on my big tree!
Personalized Gifts for the Holidays
You can find more ornaments here.

 Personalized Blankets

This blanket is Grandma’s Christmas gift.  You know how it is…if it has a picture of the grandchildren, they will love it!  I used the same picture for a few of these gifts but they will be in different homes so I won’t grow tired of them (the picture, not the boys).   Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

There are so many blankets to choose from and you can browse through the blankets here.  Also, Walmart.com/photo is running a 25% Rollback on all blankets through 1/5/2016.

Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

I loved the gifts and I am glad that my family doesn’t keep up with my blog because otherwise this would need a spoiler alert.  All these gifts were affordable and the quality was great. Here is some more info about Walmart Photo gifts:    3,500 Walmart Photo locations nationwide or order online at Walmart.com/photo. Many gifts available for free Same Day pick-up in store. Walmart.com/photo is offering free shipping on all cards + gifts through 12/30/15. Mobile Image Transfer in-store is quick + easy with the Fujifilm Kiosk Photo Transfer App or connect with cable at kiosk. This stationery card from Walmart Photo is the same quality at a lower price. What are your favorite personalized gifts for the holidays? You can follow them here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Be sure to visit Walmart Photo’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts.

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5 Tips for a Worry Free Holiday Season

5 Tips for a Worry Free Holiday Season

I love sharing little tips that have made a big impact in my life as far as enjoying the most joyous (and hectic) time of the year…Christmas!  The Holidays do not stress me out at all – as a matter a fact, I love every aspect of Christmas as long as I am not rushed.  I love sitting down and addressing my holiday cards by hand, baking cookies, wrapping gifts…  I enjoy everything unless I feel like I am forced to do it in a rush.  So here is what I do to keep my Christmas merry:

1- Order my holiday cards ahead of time

I usually order my Christmas cards before November ends.  This way I can sit down in peace with some Christmas music (yes, I am that cheesy) and handwrite my envelopes.  I can no longer hand write the actual cards because we send out so many, so I appreciate these pre-printed cards with beautiful messages.  This year I ordered these beautiful foil cards from Tiny Prints.  I love them!

Minted Christmas Cards

They are wonderful!

Minted Christmas Card

I usually set up a little holiday card station and get to work.

Card Station Christmas

I do the same for my Holiday Business Cards, that I also picked up from Tiny Prints.

Christmas Business Cards

2 – Simplify shopping

Shopping can be one the most stressful part of the holidays.  If I can buy it online, I do.  There is no need to make those long lines unless you are absolutely convinced that you are getting a superior deal.  I love the convenience of online shopping!

3 – Stock up on baking supplies

Isn’t it annoying when you are ready to start baking and you think you have all your ingredients ready to go, only to find out there are little bugs in your flour?!  Always buy fresh flour and essentials right before the holidays.  I also like to start baking and freezing scones and cookie rolls.  I will individually wrap my scones in parchment paper and then place them inside a Ziplock bag. I also wrote on the outside the temperature that I am supposed to cook them and for how long.  I do the same with logs of cookies that I can later slice and bake.

Chirstmas scones

4 – Wrap gifts as you go

I wrap all the gifts that are inside boxes as soon as I purchase them.  I skip placing the bow on them so that they can easily stack on top of the other.  I do write the name in a little corner of the gift so that I can later add a bow and a tag.  I really enjoy wrapping gifts when it’s not a marathon.  Although, when it comes to wrapping the boys gifts it’s always a mini-marathon!

Stress Free Christmas

5- Focus on the awesomeness of Christmas

It is so easy to get distracted or stressed out with all of the holiday hustle.  Stop and remind yourself that Christmas only comes around once a year and it’s a really special time with a special meaning – and stress shouldn’t be part of such a beautiful time!

It’s almost Christmas – stay committed to being “present” and aware of all your blessings!

xo, Maria

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Foolproof Thanksgiving Plan – Part Two

Foolproof Thanksgiving Part Two

A few days ago, I shared Part One of my Foolproof Thanksgiving Plan that centered around the week prior to Thanksgiving.  Today we are talking about the week of…crunch time and soon munch time!

My first tip in Part One was making a list (of the menu) and my first tip of this post is also a list.  Being organized on a hectic holiday can make a difference between having fun and being exhausted and running around finding items on the day of your party.

Create a timeline of your dinner preparation

I write down a timeline, working backwards of when items need to go into the oven and when they need to come out.  Every detail goes into this timeline.  I write down when to turn on candles when to turn on music, when to pour water into the goblets…everything.  This list can be a little tedious to put together, but I use it every year so it was worth the work.  Also, when you have a lot of things on your mind, you start to wonder if you are forgetting something.  I am relaxed when I follow this list because I know that I am right on track to everything being made in a timely manner.  I actually enjoy the prep work before my guests arrive because I feel more confident about my time-keeping.  This is the best tip I can give you!

Use multiple timers to keep track of dishes

I have about 5 timers and I use them all on Thanksgiving day.  I place a post-it in front of the timer with the name of the dish that it pertains to, that way I know when to pull it out of the oven.  Also, when I am cooking casseroles that say “cook at 375” and another that says “cook at 325”, I usually cook them both at 350 to maximize my oven use.  I do this with dishes that I know will be fine with the slight temperature change.

Thanksgiving Timer

Use a cooler as a warmer to conserve oven space

This is the time to pull out all the stops when it comes to conserving oven space.  A good cooler can also serve as a warmer for your casseroles that need to be kept warm.  Just be sure to clean your cooler, place a folded towel in the bottom and then the casserole (covered in foil) on top of the towel.  You can cover that with another towel and make sure that you don’t peek, as the heat will quickly escape.  Of course, keeping the food warm in the oven is ideal, but this is another option.

Also, to conserve oven space, you can place the mashed potatoes over a double boiler or inside a crockpot.

Chop your onions, celery and garlic

A few days before Thanksgiving, you can chop up your onions, celery and garlic and place them inside an airtight container.

Set your table

Not sure what it is about the table setting but I am so relieved once that is done, plus I enjoy it so much!  I set the table a day or two before my dinner party.  I recently posted about setting a proper table and you can read about it here.  Although if you are having a lot of guests over for Thanksgiving, you may not want to mess with so many utensils.  Keep it pretty, simple and fun.

Foolproof Thanksgiving Plan - Part Two

Make your sides the day before

I purposely choose side dishes that can be made ahead of time.  If I can make them all the day before, even better.  I love waking up on Thanksgiving day knowing that most of my meal is ready to go!

Purchase containers for left-overs

I love to send my guests home with left-overs!  It also clears out my kitchen and fridge, so it’s a win-win.  Most of my food containers are glass and I prefer not to give those out, so I purchase disposable ones to give out after big meals.  I take them out of the wrapper and have them in a corner ready to go.  I try to think of as many details as possible before the dinner.

Set-up coffeemaker 

Once dinner is over, I like to hang out with my guests.  When it’s time for coffee, I like the convenience of pressing the “on” button instead of starting to grind coffee beans.  Sometimes, I make the coffee ahead of time and place it inside an insulated thermal coffee carafe, which keeps coffee hot for hours.

You can also set aside little bowls of different sugars and a pitcher of creamer inside the fridge to serve with your coffee.

Fancy in Five 7

Keep the kitchen free of crowds

Of course my family is free to roam around our home, but placing a drink station in the kitchen can make for some real rush hour traffic.  You will need your space to move around, and it is best to set up stations elsewhere.

Place extra garbage bags inside the trash can

You will definitely have more garbage during big gatherings than usual, so place a few extra garbage bags at the bottom of your trash can, so that you don’t have to go looking for them in the middle of the party.

Empty dishwasher before the dinner

This is a great tip for any dinner party.  Chances are that you won’t be able to fit everything into the dishwasher after a huge dinner, but even clearing out half the items is a big help.  You don’t want to deal with emptying your dishwasher after working so hard during the day.  An empty dishwasher will be waiting for you.  Let’s hear it for dishwashers!

Thanksgiving Dishwasher

 

Have fun!

All the planning in the world cannot produce a glitch-free event and honestly, that shouldn’t be our goal.  I make lists and check them twice so that I can enjoy the party along with my guests.  The lists are not meant to control you, quite the opposite.  Once the guests arrive, whatever is not done – go with it and just have fun.  People will always remember how you made them feel way more than whether the pie crust got a little burnt.  Seeing that their hostess is having fun is the best gift you can give your guests.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family and friends and know that I am thankful for all of you!

xo,

Maria

This posts contains a few Amazon affiliate links – purchasing through affiliate links do not affect what you pay for the item.  Thank you for your support of Graceful Order! 

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Foolproof Thanksgiving Plan – Part One

Foolproof Thanksgiving Plan

It’s around the corner and I can’t wait!  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (trumped only by Christmas) and I start preparing for it weeks in advance.  If you have ever hosted Thanksgiving or will be doing so this year, then you know that besides being an endearing holiday, it can be stressful.  There are so many dishes that need to be prepared on this day.  Some dishes are such staples that people feel like if they didn’t have them, it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving.  All this can put pressure on the hostess to have all the favorites on the table – pumpkin pie, pecan pie, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole.  Ok, I’m now starving.

I thought I would do a 2-part post detailing the plan that I follow year-after-year that keeps me sane and my guests happy.  You know that I make lists for everything and that includes dinner parties.  But this is “the dinner party of dinner parties” and without a detailed plan, I can’t imagine it tuning out well.  It’s just too many items to rely on just memory, so get out the note pad.

After confirming the guests that are attending, I:

Set the Thanksgiving Menu

Write down which dishes you will make and the ones that your guests will bring.  I only ask my guests to bring items that are served room temperature or cold.  This will lessen the stress later on when someone shows up with cold sweet potatoes that need to heat up in an oven that is already full.

Make a Thanksgiving Binder

Once you have your list of dishes, print out or make a copy of the recipe.  Before I created a Thanksgiving binder, I used to fumble year-after-year through my recipes wondering “was this the mashed potato recipe that everyone liked last year?”.  I decided to dedicate a small binder (a folder will do) to holding all my Thanksgiving favorites.  In there I have the recipes and the timeline that I use year after year, since we always eat at the same time.  I place all the recipes inside clear plastic protectors, just in case there is a spill on the sheet.

Make a List of Grocery Items

I make a list of all the ingredients that I need and I separate them into perishable and non-perishable.  You can go ahead and purchase the non-perishables right away and leave the other items for the week of your dinner.

Foolproof Thanksgiving Plan

Clean out Your Refrigerator

This is not the week to stock up on items that are not Thanksgiving related.  You will need the space to place covered casseroles that you make ahead-of-time and also for leftovers after your dinner is done.  Make sure your refrigerator is clean and only holding the essentials.

Foolproof Thanksgiving Plan

Make Sure Your Oven is Clean

Any spill that is currently inside your oven can cause the oven to smoke up on Thanksgiving day.  I always clean my oven the week before and I try to place a sheet pan under items that are known to spill, such as cobblers.

Also, if you store pots inside your oven, this is a great time to move them elsewhere.  You will need all the oven space that you can get.

Iron Linens and Wash Glasses

Have you ever pulled out a glass (especially the ones that rarely get used) for a dinner party, just to find that they are dirty or murky?  Cleaning all your glassware can be time consuming and should be done the week prior to alleviate pressure and time constraints the week of your party.  I love knowing that my plates and linens are clean and ready for the big day.

Foolproof Thanksgiving Plan

This is only Part One and it’s mostly suggestions for the week prior to Thanksgiving week.  I will share Part Two in a few days and that will be full of tips for the week of Thanksgiving.  I hope you found this helpful!  I know that it can seem overwhelming to have so many items on your to-do list, but I promise that if you have a good, clear plan you will enjoy your dinner along with your guests!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dinner tips?

 

This posts contains a few Amazon affiliate links – purchasing through affiliate links do not affect what you pay for the item.  Thank you for your support of Graceful Order! 

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Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

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

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

I probably go almost the entire year without having overnight guests.  My family and my husband’s family are both Cuban, and many of us live within 20 miles of each other.  Don’t worry – we like everyone so that’s not a bad thing.

During the holidays, that changes.  Not the liking family part – just the overnight guest thing.  There is one person that spends every Christmas Eve overnight at our home year-after-year and that is my mom.  Like most Cubans, we host a large Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) party and all the family is invited.  Sure, we have little parties and get-togethers during the year that we invite just a few family members, but this special night – everyone is invited!

My mom spends the night because my kids wake up super early (Christmas or not) and are eager to open up their gifts.  She fears that if she goes home with my dad, she will oversleep and miss out on the boys’ reaction.  She is awesome like that.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

I know that I am not the only one that has overnight guests over the holidays, so I wanted to share with you some ideas to make your guests feel really special during their stay.  I love the feeling when I check into a hotel and all the towels and toiletries are laid out for me.  It’s a message that says “we’ve been expecting you” (the bill under the door sends a less welcoming message..ha!)  We can convey the same sweet message to our family that stays overnight with this welcome basket.  Many of the items, you probably already have around the house.

Place a stack of towels either inside your basket or in the bathroom, but make sure that your guest knows it’s for them.  White Towels are my favorite.  I love how fresh they look and they match any decor.  If you want to make it even more special, tie a silk ribbon around your towels like I did here.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

If you like the sweet little square printable that is next to my towels, you can click below and print one.  You can re-use this little sign every time you have an overnight guest.  Even if all you do is place a sign or a note, a chocolate and a bottle of water by their bed, it sends your guests the same message – “We’re so glad you are here!”

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

At the very bottom of the basket, I placed a super comfy throw for my guest to snuggle up wherever they choose.  It also added height so that the contents could pop out of my basket.

Here is what I included inside the basket – A box of Kleenex, some Cottonelle wipes, little soaps, a candle

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

I found this little orchid at BJ’s Wholesale Club and I tucked it in there.  Usually, I will place flowers by the bed.

Place necessities like toothbrushes, bottled waters and chocolate inside the basket.  Chocolate is a necessity, ya know.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

Tucked away in the back is a magazine and lotion.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

During the holidays, I stock up in the bathrooms with a lot of Kleenex and toilet paper.  Remember to make it visible so that your guests know that they can help themselves.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

That’s the entire welcome basket.  Of course, you can add even more goodies and customize it for your guest.

Oh, I almost forgot!  You can also write your wifi password on the back of the little printable (above).  Your guests will surely ask for that.

Truth is my mom always feels welcome in our home, but this year I intend to make my mom feel extra special with her basket.  This year I will handle the little things so that we can all focus on the big things.  Things like this…

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

The Kimberly Clark products at BJs make it easier for you to be there for your family with the cooking/prep/etc, so that you are able to be there for them emotionally and spend more time with family and less time shopping for what you need to prep for the Holidays.  If you don’t already have a BJ’s membership, here is a FREE 60-Day BJ’s membership offer (Valid through 12/31).  For more great ideas on how to stock up and make family feel special during the holidays, you can check out the #HolidaysConFamilia Social Hub here.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

I purchased many of the items above at the place that you go to when you want high quality and quantity – BJs Wholesale Club.  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!

KCC BJs Holiday Giveaway

 

Picture Ledges as Storage Solutions

Picture Ledges as Storage Solutions

This week Graceful Order was featured in a House Beautiful article that shared some creative ideas on using picture ledges as storage solutions.  I use a picture ledge in my closet to place my perfumes, and that’s the project they featured.  You can read more about my closet organization here.

Picture Ledges as Storage Solutions

I also use picture ledges to place my little one’s books.  You can check out the details of his room here.

Picture Ledges as Storage Solutions

Picture ledges can be the perfect solution for small areas that need big storage!

Picture Ledges as Storage Solutions

If you want to see the rest of the House Beautiful article and check out all the cool projects that were featured, you can read about it here.

Thank you House Beautiful and mostly, thank YOU – my awesome readers and supporters!

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Christmas Woodland Dining Room

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

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

I know what you are thinking…”at least let me finish eating my turkey!”  I know it’s a little early for Christmas decorating, but I wanted to share with you as many ideas as possible before you break out the dusty holiday boxes from the garage.  You know that I love tablescapes and this is the first Christmas table that I share this year.  I usually mix and match items that I already own and maybe add in a little new touch each year.  However, this year I am participating in Big Lots’ National Decorate Your Home for the holidays week by decorating a room in my home.

Big Lots has declared National Decorate Your Home for the Holidays Week as the week of November 16th- 22nd and I chose to concentrate on my dining room.  If you are going to decorate a dining room from scratch, you want to find beautiful and affordable options.

This was my dining room last Christmas.  I did like it, but this year I wanted to make it more colorful and cozy.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Big Lots has everything you need – for inside and outside your home, to get a start on the holiday season.  There was an incredible selection – some items were fun, others more formal, but when I saw their woodland-themed items, I knew those were the ones for my table.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Our dining table is huge and I often struggle to find the right decor that will fill up the space.  I want to share with you how to create a dramatic table setting by filling up your table without emptying the bank.

  1. Unite components instead of purchasing a big centerpiece.

Large centerpieces can be really expensive and then you feel like you have to use it year after year to make it “worth” your investment.  I would rather unite pieces that I can use together or split them up throughout the house if I choose to.  In this case, I purchased 2 pinecone garlands, 2 medium sized candleholders (with attached greenery) and the cutest deer ever to create a long and dramatic centerpiece.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

2.  Keep the decorations low.

It is tempting to use tall items to decorate your table, but then Aunt Suzzie can’t see little Billy across the table.  I mean, maybe she doesn’t want to see Billy and in that case you can totally place a Christmas tree between them – but usually one of the best things about holiday meals is the interaction between family – especially family that we don’t see all the time.  Keep the decor low and instead spread out the items.

And seriously, how sweet is that deer?!

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

3.  Mix and match styles in order to tie the room into the decor.

In my kitchen I have a casual table that has marks from doing homework and serving dinners, however my dining room table is fancy and shiny.  When I want to use a casual and warmer theme like this one, I incorporate fancy elements with more casual ones.  In this case a red charger with beading, and a casual woven placemat.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

4 – Skip napkin rings or make your own.

I love napkin rings and I actually collect them, but I admit that those little touches can really add to the cost of your tablescape.  I also love a simple napkin with a sprig of thyme on top of a white plate.  In this case, I am using kitchen towels as napkins and instead of a napkin ring, I am using this set of ornaments that I also found at Big Lots.  The existing loop fits perfectly over the napkin!  Next year I can use them for their intended use – ornaments.  For now, I love the earthiness that they add to the table!

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

5 – Not everything has to match.

Actually, it shouldn’t.  The table setting is more interesting with added colors and textures.  Things do have to “go” together but that doesn’t mean they have to be a perfect match.  When I found these mugs at Big Lots, I decided to purchase 4 green and 4 red.  This is what my Christmas morning breakfast table will look like and those sweater mugs are perfect for coffee or hot cocoa!

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

I added quite a few LED candles to my table.  Some were simple pillars and a few were these sweet little trees.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

In the background of the table you can see this cute little wreath that I picked up when I “thought” I was done with my shopping.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Also, since there is a small table in the corner of the room, I decided to remove the vases that are usually there, and display this lit-tree.  It was one of the first things that I picked up when I got to Big Lots.  I love that twinkle in the corner of the room and I intend to leave it simple and not add decorations.  I also picked up this little sign while I was there.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Talking about signs, I loved all of them!  I picked up another two to add some Christmas touches to my small buffet table.  The “Baby It’s Cold Outside” sign brings clothespins and an attached line, making it perfect to hang a few Christmas cards.   I also found these 3 little trees that really brought the woodsy theme into that dining room corner.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Up on top of the table are some appetizer plates, utensils and a gold bowl that I decorated with a box of filler from Big Lots.  And of course, another sweet sign!

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

I had a great time purchasing the items for this room and decorating this table.  I absolutely love this time of the year!  I completely transformed my dining room for my Christmas Day Brunch and I know my family will love it!  I was thinking of letting everyone take their mug as a gift.  What do you think?

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Planning ahead for the holiday season and decorating earlier can mean less stress and more time for the things that matter most!  Join in National Decorate Your Home for the holidays week and transform your home into a Winter Wonderland Nov. 16th- 22nd.

Although styles and assortment vary by store, you can visit biglots.com/christmas to view the Christmas catalog and for ideas, tips, and more inspiration!

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Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

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

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

You had me at label.  You all know that I love a good container, a good notebook, a good planner and lastly, a good label maker.  I use all of those to create systems in my home, in my clients’ homes and for my organizing business.  Once an area is organized, the goal is to keep it organized or at least have a great system for getting it back under control with little effort — those systems usually involve labeling.

Besides the blog, I have an organizing business that I need to keep tabs on – literally.  When you are a small business (in my case, only me) it is easy to get overwhelmed with record keeping and all the necessary papers that go into having a business.  I want to share with you my best tips for keeping your desk organized and your small business under control.  For this project, I used the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Bundle Pack.

This LabelWriter has been on my wish list for a while since I have seen so many people using and loving it.  The first place I saw it was at my son’s school, where they use it to create name tags for visiting parents.  I ordered my DYMO LabelWriter online from Staples  but I encourage you to check HERE since selected stores do carry it.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

Within 2 days, this beauty was at my door.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

And all these goodies come along with it.  I purchased the bundle pack so it brought A LOT of labels in different sizes, the software CD and the corresponding plug and cable for the LabelWriter.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

I was able to install it in a few minutes.  Since I have a MAC, I had to download the installer file online (there is no CD-drive in Mac desktops).  Although the main purpose that I wanted this machine for was to organize my business files, I thought I would try it out for labeling the pantry.  I just opened the DYMO app on my computer, selected the label that I had inserted into the machine, and typed away all the items in my pantry.  Also, there were custom labels to chose from with over 60 different label styles and layouts.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

I would normally label containers when organizing clients’ homes, especially containers that are always used for the same item.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

Back to work!  Here are 5 steps in keeping your work desk organized.

  1.  Clean and organize your desk.

I know, sounds silly and obvious but a messy desk can make you feel drained and overwhelmed even before you start working.  I like to start with a clean slate and then slowly add the items that I need.  Go ahead and discard all those pens that no longer work and give away the ones that you don’t like.  There is no need to give precious real estate to items you no longer need and love.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

2.  Create a Filing System

I have a filing system for personal and a different one for business.  Actually, I have one for the blog and then another for the professional organizing business.  Here is my personal which I color code:

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

I have another one for each business that is not color-coded.  On my desk, I keep the business files that I am currently working on and also the receipts.  After those files are no longer necessary to have on hand, I file them in the cabinet.  I know myself and I would not have the discipline to open the cabinet every time I had a small piece of paper to file, so the small system on the desk works for me.  It is important to know yourself.  No system will work if it isn’t suited for your living or working style.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

I created these files using the DYMO which literally took minutes.  Each folder is dedicated to an aspect of my organizing business and I can file things immediately without allowing them to stack up on my desk.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

3.  Keep essentials at hand

Although you don’t want a bunch of visual clutter, it is important to have a spot for all the items that you use and reference daily.  For me its these books, calendars, tape and stapler and a few other essentials that I keep close by.

 

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

4.  Make lists and keep one calendar

I make lists about making lists!  Seriously, lists keep me from feeling like I am out of control, especially on really busy weeks.  I keep a master list and check it off as the day progresses.  I am also a fan of planners that I can write in.  I like the sense of accomplishment in crossing a task off with a pen.  Whatever planner/calendar works for you is fine but keep just one.  I keep 2 but only because one is solely an editorial calendar for the blog.  If you have a digital calendar and then a physical calendar, things can get confusing and you can end up missing an appointment.  I do use my phone for reminders but I log everything in my one planner.

5.  Sort mail immediately

This is huge!  One of the largest contributors of a messy desk is mail.  I have tried to unsubscribe to as much junk mail as possible but somehow it keeps coming in.  If you cannot sort the mail the moment you walk in, then don’t come in with mail in your hands.  The moment you bring the mail inside separate it into files or bins that read: To File, To Read, To Contact and discard the junk mail ASAP.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

After working on my files, I decided to use the address labels that came in my bundle for my business holiday cards.  Of course, yours would actually have a real address. 😉

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

This machine has earned a spot on my desk and it is now considered one of my essentials!  Here are a few details about what makes this LabelWriter unique:

  • Eliminate the waste and hassle of sheet labels – print precise quantities without difficulty.
  • Customize and print address, shipping, file folder labels, plus name badges and more – all from your PC or Mac®*
  • No need to buy ink for this printer (we all know how expensive ink is) as it is a thermal transfer technology.

I can’t imagine this machine being any better, but there is also The LabelWriter® 450 Turbo that is available, taking the outstanding performance of the LabelWriter® 450 to another level.  The Turbo prints up to 71 labels per minute…wowzer!  It eliminates the waste and hassle of sheet labels by printing precise quantities without difficulty.  It also allows you to print USPS®-approved postage stamps directly from your desktop, taking the outstanding performance of the LabelWriter® 450 to another level.

Work Desk Organization in 5 Easy Steps

  • Be sure to go check back every week for Staples Daily Deals for special deals on your favorite DYMO LabelWriter® products including DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Bundle, LabelWriter® 450 Turbo, and LabelWriter® 4XL Turbo!

Walking into an office that is neat is not only welcoming but it encourages you to build your business.  Why?  Because visual clutter becomes mental clutter.

Enjoy your clean desk and let me know what are your favorite tips for keeping your office under control.

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Glamping in the Fall

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

Glamping in the Fall

Have you ever been camping?  How about glamping?  GLAMping pairs camping and luxury and it’s just what we did this past weekend.  I asked my boys if they wanted to get away overnight and go camping, eat s’mores and pizza.  They said yes before I finished explaining.  I know…what sweet, self-sacrificing boys!

So we headed out to the Florida Keys to a campsite inside Long Key State Park.  This is about an hour and half from our home.  We invited my parents to come along and they didn’t hesitate.  So we (as in my husband) loaded up the car and headed south.

Glamping in the Fall

This is the famous road leading to the keys.

Glamping in the Fall

And my awesome, hardworking husband who doesn’t mind driving, setting up camp and grilling up a storm.

Glamping in the Fall

Before arriving at our campsite, we stopped by another state park to look around.  It’s so much fun to leave the house and explore places that you didn’t know were right around the corner.  Seriously, there is always something to do and sometimes we have to press the pause button and get away.

Glamping in the Fall

My lovely Mom enjoying the scenery.

Glamping in the Fall

And my sweet “baby” that was so happy to go on his first camping trip.  His older brother and my husband camp often, but he stayed behind because he was too little.  Until today!

Glamping in the Fall

We got back on the road and finally arrived at our camping spot.  I was happy to find out that the bathrooms were very close.  That’s an important “glamping” tip.  I have been to campgrounds that don’t have bathrooms and … yeah, bathrooms are better.

Glamping in the Fall

My boys immediately wanted to check out the spot.

Glamping in the Fall

Checking things out with Grandma.

Glamping in the Fall

Before the car was even unloaded, my husband turned on the camping grill.  We were starving!  We didn’t have lunch before leaving the house and we were ready to tear into the pizzas.

Glamping in the Fall

And then everyone pitched in to build the tents.

Glamping in the Fall

And there they are!  They built them in no time because they are so used to it.

Glamping in the Fall

My little explorer in the background.

While the boys were building the tents, I got to work with setting the table.

Glamping in the Fall

These were paper plates and real utensils.  I can’t do plastic utensils when we are camping because while plastic works for some food, it’s not sturdy enough for everything.  I would dispose of the plates, but I would wash and re-use the flatware.  I always bring a small bottle of detergent and a sponge to wash things.   There was a nearby water pump that  made it really easy.  Running water — glamping must.

Glamping in the Fall

I also picked up some broken branches and used them for my little centerpieces.

Glamping in the Fall

Some even had little wild flowers.  Aren’t they sweet?

Glamping in the Fall

The pizzas were still frozen so we took them out of the box and got them on the grill asap.  We have grilled Freschetta® Naturally Rising pizzas before and we love them.  Their crust is made like fresh baked bread with only natural yeast and no chemical leaveners.   As far as grilling, a closed grill will work better and will yield that beautiful browning of the cheese.  This kind of open grill with the breeze, yielded a perfect crust and taste without too much browning.  I assure you that the taste was amazing and it was so cool to be making pizzas while camping!

Glamping in the Fall

  • Preheat grill on high for at least 5 minutes
  • Remove pizza from carton and clear overwrap film
  • Place double layer aluminum foil large enough to cover the bottom of the pizza on center of grill (we cut out a piece the size of the pizza and placed underneath to protect the crust).
  • Cook for 13 to 16 minutes and allow to stand 2 minutes before serving

Glamping in the Fall

Hot and ready!

Glamping in the Fall

As a dipping sauce, I served an olive oil and roasted garlic sauce.  We used this sauce for dipping the pizza and also the meats that we made for dinner.  It was delish!

Part of the Glamping experience is to know what to make ahead of time and what to make on the spot.  I made this sauce earlier in the morning before leaving home.  I heated up a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and I peeled a whole head of garlic.  Over low heat, I allowed the garlic to “roast” in the oil until it was this caramel color.  Of course, you can roast garlic in the oven or even over the campfire, but it takes longer.  Everyone loved this sweet garlic sauce, especially to dip the pizza crust!

Glamping in the Fall

I also used some of the little broken branches to decorate my table.

Glamping in the Fall

And some chocolate chip muffins that I brought from home.  We actually ended up eating them for breakfast next day.

Glamping in the Fall

Because we devoured these!  In little mason jars, I placed two chocolate cream cookies and crushed them.  Then I topped them with some cold whipped topping and finally some crushed Honey Maid crackers.  Just for the boys, I added a few gummy worms.

Glamping in the Fall

We all loved them!

Glamping in the Fall

See?

Glamping in the Fall

Then my little one asked if he could eat pizza again — while holding onto dessert.  I’m thinking you have to finish one before you can move on to the other.

Glamping in the Fall

After lunch the boys played and got in the water for a little bit.  These smiles don’t lie.  They were having so much fun just being out there!

Glamping in the Fall

So I placed my attention to the tent.  I made the inflatable bed with a bedspread that I found at Wal-Mart and it was perfect for camping.

Glamping in the Fall

Then I took out another glamping touch – my little chandelier.  I have to admit that I got a few eye rolls from the boys but they had to concede that the outcome was really cute — or as they say “really cool”.

Glamping in the Fall

The candles are battery-operated so there is no danger there.

Glamping in the Fall

We enjoyed the rest of the day talking and watching the boys play.  It is so important to unplug sometimes.  Unplugging from the little picture and plugging into the whole.

Glamping in the Fall

These moments give you life.

Glamping in the Fall

And these moments feed your belly.  Dinner time was here and we cooked up some chicken and churrasco.  They had been marinating since we left the house.

Glamping in the Fall

Our courteous chef did all the cutting for us.

Glamping in the Fall

We also cooked some baked potatoes at home and wrapped them in foil.  We heated them up on the grill and added some butter and that was dinner!

Glamping in the Fall

The first day was so much fun and I was fully aware that I was making memories, with my husband, parents and boys.  I was so grateful!

Glamping in the Fall

We tried to stay up really late so that we can keep chatting, enjoy all the stars and of course – eat s’mores!

S’mores are so much fun and no camping trip is complete without them.

Glamping in the Fall

So this made me laugh when I walked into my tent to finally sleep…

Before we left, my husband starts researching how to make an AC for the tent.  He purchased a styrofoam cooler (maybe $5.00), a little battery operated fan ($6.00) and some pipe (a few dollars), and a frozen gallon of water.  He placed the gallon of ice inside the cooler, cut out a place for the fan up on top and cut out the two holes for the pipe.  When he turned on the fan, cool air naturally emerged from the pipe.  Genius idea but I had to laugh when I saw the contraption.  But hey, if he overlooks the chandelier, I will overlook this thing by my bed.

This may seem silly but when you live in Miami, you fear the heat, not the cold during the camping evenings.  So did it work?  It did, but it wasn’t as powerful as he wanted.  He thinks next time he will try with a more powerful fan.

Glamping in the Fall

The night was beautiful and the next morning I went for a stroll down the beach and got these beautiful shots.

Glamping in the Fall

Breathtaking Florida Keys mornings.

Glamping in the Fall

When everyone woke up, it was time for breakfast.

Glamping in the Fall

After lunch we started getting ready to leave, but the boys (“aka” the chocolate inventory keepers) alerted us that we still had chocolate, Honey Maid graham crackers and marshmallows left over.

Glamping in the Fall

We decided to make skillet s’mores on the cast iron pan.  One layer of Hersheys chocolate bar, one layer of marshmallow, place pan on the grill and let the magic happen!

Glamping in the Fall

Ooey and gooey and Delish!

Glamping in the Fall

This little one enjoyed his first camping trip so much that he kept saying in as we drove home, “Mommy, that was the best (only) camping fun ever!”

Glamping in the Fall

You can make camping as simple or as posh as you like!  Here is a free printable list (that you can add to your basic camping checklist), that will add some glitz to your next camping adventure!

I purchased these products in my local Wal-Mart, along with a lot of the glamping items pictured above.  For some more great ideas, check out the Glamping Social Hub !

Glamping in the Fall

 

 

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My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

BattleOfthePiesGraphic

My friends at Wayfair.com announced last week that they were hosting a “Battle of the Pies”.   I was selected as well as 39 other bloggers to participate — all I had to do was submit my favorite pie recipe.  I knew that I wanted to do this challenge and I knew which pie recipe I would share.

For many years I have been the designated pecan pie maker in the family and I make it every Thanksgiving.  Every. Single. One.  Well, except for that time that we took a Thanksgiving cruise and complained the whole time that it didn’t “feel” like Thanksgiving.  Maybe we were missing home, maybe the pie…

Today I share with you my recipe.  I have tried many pecan pies and none come close to this one.  I hope you like it and love it and eat it a la mode!

 

The ingredients:

1 Cup of toasted, chopped Pecans

1 Stick of Butter

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

2 Teaspoons of Vanilla extract

1 Cup light Karo Syrup

3 eggs, beaten

1 unbaked pie shell (homemade or frozen)

Note:  Before chopping the pecans, set a few aside to scatter on the top of the pie before it bakes.  This does not affect the flavor, but does make the pie prettier when there are some whole pecans on the finished pie.

My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

 

The Steps

Make sure that the rack is positioned in the center of the oven.  Set the oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a saucepan but do not brown the butter.

Add the sugar and the Karo Syrup to the butter and allow the sugar to dissolve.

Add the vanilla extract, the salt and the pecans to the saucepan.

Set aside the mixture and allow to cool before adding the beaten eggs.

Once cool, add the eggs and stir into filling.

My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust (I used frozen store-bought) and scatter a few whole pecans to make the pie prettier once it cooks.  It actually looks pretty good already, don’t you think?

My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

Depending on your oven, bake between 50 minutes to 1 hour.  In my oven, the pie is ready in 55 minutes.

My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

It is also delicious a la mode!

My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

There will be a total of 40 pies submitted for this “Battle of the Pies” contest!  That’s a lot of delicious pie and as my friends post their recipes, I will add their links below.

My Favorite Pecan Pie Recipe

So if this is a pie battle, how does one win?  Well, the blogger with the most social interaction (pins, shares, likes, comments) wins!  Friends, I ask that you share this recipe in your social media and use the hashtag #WayfairPieBakeOff.   I will let you know the results as soon as the winner is announced.  Thank you so much!

xo,

Maria

This post is a collaboration with Wayfair.com and I thank them for hosting this fun battle!  

 

 

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HGTV Feature – Small Spaces

When I started this blog almost 3 years ago, I thought it may just be a space where I could journal my progress with decorating and organizing my own home.  I thought maybe a handful of friends would like it, and perhaps even be inspired by it.  My close friends and family supported me and told me how awesome the blog was even though my photography was terrible at the time (it still needs work) and I had no idea what I was doing (that still needs work, too) — they saw potential in this little blog beyond what I could see myself.  Granted, I still see this as a “little blog” and I am incredibly grateful to all of you who tune in to my projects and take the time to comment and share on your social channels…seriously, thank you!!  Blogging can be a lot of work and the published post itself is only part of the iceberg of a blogger’s daily tasks.  Maybe soon I will share more on that.  My point is that you all make the work worthwhile.  Your encouragement never goes unnoticed!

You already know that I am super long-winded and I wanted to say all that before sharing with you that this past weekend a Graceful Order project was featured online on HGTV.  I am so excited!  The post also featured other bloggers and super cool ideas, but I am grateful to be among those names!  It was a post about creative ways to use small spaces which is a favorite topic of mine.  My bathroom was highlighted since my sink area is tiny, and I use small shelves to make up for the lack of space.

HGTV Bathroom Wall

Here is the full post so that you can see the other awesome ideas for maximizing small spaces!  Enjoy and know that you are part of any triumph that I may have in this little corner of the web called Graceful Order.

xo,

Maria

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Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

I want to let you in to something about blogging.  When you have been blogging for a while, you get the opportunity to work with some pretty cool brands.  Of course there are some that you can’t genuinely recommend to your readers, so you pass.  Others are just out of your scope, so you pass.  When I was presented with the opportunity to partner with Buddy Box, I thought “this really has nothing to do with organization, decorating, or entertaining but I love this concept and want to share it with my readers.”  So I decided to make an exception and I hope that you will love this concept as much as we do.

It’s not often that I share about my faith on Graceful Order because the focus of this blog is organizing, decorating and entertaining at home.  In my home our faith is part of the fabric of our family and whenever I learn about companies like Buddy Box, I want to give them a try and if I like it, I want to share it with the world.  You guys are part of my world!

So what is this box that merited this looong intro?  You know how subscription boxes are really popular?  We can get makeup or food that gets delivered to our door monthly, and we get super excited to see what goodies we are getting this month.  This box tailored to kids and includes new products and themes every month, that help to build their faith.  I think it’s the coolest concept!

So look at the pictures of my 4 year old as he received this month’s Buddy Box.  I don’t know if it’s because he is my kid but when I look at these pictures I crack up!  That kid is expressive!

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

I wanted to photograph the whole process and you can imagine how hard that was with this little one wanting to start playing with everything!  It was a joy to watch him pull out every single item.

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

Here are most of the items that came in the box, although they didn’t all fit in the picture.  You get the idea…it’s a lot.

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

Here he is “reading” the explanation to all the items/games included in the box.  It bears mentioning that the book was upside down, yet he pretended to read it.  Haha.

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

Something that took me by surprise is how much my 11 year old liked the box!  He is very artistic and loves anything that allows him to get creative.  He also loves to help his little brother.  Them working on the activities together was not something I anticipated, but I was so happy to see.

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

And next came out the slime.  I said “Gross!”, they said “Cool!”.

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

I can’t even tell you how long they played with the slime.  They loved it.  Can these pictures lie?

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

Love that kid!

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

You may notice that there a lot of bat items in the box.  Appropriately so, the theme this month was based around fear.  The words “Fear not” were the reoccurring message in every game.  The box brought this little pillow that they were able to decorate with a fabric marker that was included, reminding my little one to “fear not”.  Clearly the side of the pillow that is in the picture below was courtesy of my oldest.  He is such a great big brother!

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

So he loves his Buddy Box!  I love it because it’s a way for him to experience the Bible at his level — and that includes chatty teeth!  I want my boys to know that God’s love is relevant, real, and even fun! 

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

If you want to check out the Buddy Box for yourself, I encourage you to take advantage of the following offer:  

Try Buddy Box for $15!  You can try Buddy Box for $15, this promotion can be used on any length of subscription and will apply a $12.99 discount on the order. Use Promo Code: BUDDYBOX by October 23rd

Buddy Box Subscription for Kids

Until next time!  Let’s all adopt that stance and FEAR NOT.

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Laundry Room Organization Ideas

Laundry Room Organization Ideas

Let’s talk laundry rooms — organized laundry rooms that make you want to gather everyone’s basket and get to work.  You know I tend to exaggerate but seriously, these laundry rooms that I am about to share with you are awesome!

I recently shared my laundry closet post with my Hometalk community and they asked me if I would be willing to gather some of my favorite laundry rooms, belonging to fellow bloggers.  I would never say no to someone asking me to look at pretty things so I was happy to put together a board of some of my favorite laundry room ideas.

If you missed my post about my laundry room, you can read it here.

Laundry Room Organization Ideas

It’s a tiny space but there is function and practicality in every corner.

Laundry Room Organization Ideas

And check out this amazing laundry room from Rambling Renovators!  That glass tile…swoon!  It is an amazing before and after transformation so you may want to check it out.

Laundry Room Organization Ideas

To see the rest of the laundry rooms that I chose (17 in total) click on my Hometalk board , that I have put together just for you.

Also, if you are not already familiar with Hometalk, they are an online community of people that share ideas about home improvement, gardening and DIY projects.  I love that I can clip (kind of like pinning) pictures onto boards and later reference my favorite projects.  That is exactly what I did with the board that I am sharing with you today.

Enjoy, my fellow organization-obssessd friends!  (Because I have no laundry-obsessed friends)

xo,

Maria

 

 

Go Batty Party

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

Go Batty Party

 

 

You will notice that Graceful Order during the holidays is a little less about organizing the home, and a lot more about entertaining in the home.  After all, what’s the point of having all our platters organized if they never peek out of the drawer?

My kids love to have little parties for every and any occasion and Halloween is no exception.  On Halloween night, I set up a large table with treats and I will also have butternut squash soup cooking on the stove.  The adults and kids in our family know that they are welcome to stop by, grab a bite and walk around the neighborhood getting treats with the boys.  My boys enjoy the setup and they take turns between getting candy from our neighbors and giving out candy to the little ones that knock on our door.  Last year we had over 100 kids stop by our home!  I know this because I make the little treat bags ahead of time and we ran out (I had made 100).  Other years it’s less, but we have to be prepared because I hate to turn down a swarm of cute princesses, superheroes and astronauts!

Halloween is definitely fun, but also hectic — there is no way to get around that.  This is the time to employ as many shortcuts as possible and give kids and adults what they want — silly-looking sweet treats!  I headed to Target to find some decorations for my party (you know you can count on Target for that!) and these fun combo packages of PEEPS® Brand Marshmallow that are available exclusively at Target.  I also picked up a few Betty Crocker™ favorites to add to my party.

Go Batty Party

Many of the decorations I found in the Target dollar section, and the products I used were found in the baking and Halloween isles, seen below.

Go Batty Party

I followed package instructions for most of the items but I embellished the Yellow cake in the following recipe, by using a few bananas that were past their prime.

Banana Bread Cupcakes

Prep time 10 minutes        /         Cook Time 15-20 minutes        /      Servings 24 cupcakes  

List of Ingredients

1 Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix

1/3 Cup of Vegetable Oil

3 Eggs

3 Ripe Bananas

Optional: Add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease the pan that you will be using.  I was using liners in my cupcake pan.

Mash the bananas using a fork.

Combine the bananas and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and beat using a mixer (or vigorously by hand).

Pour into the cupcake pan.  It was about 3 tablespoons per cupcake liner.

Bake for about 15 minutes and take a peek.  If you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean, they are done.  Otherwise, allow them to bake for a few more minutes.

Allow them to cool completely before icing.

 

Go Batty Party

I iced these cupcakes with different flavors. One was a vanilla icing topped with yellow sprinkles.  The other was simply some hazelnut spread mixed with whipped topping (I totally licked the spoon).  The finishing touch were these cute little PEEPS peeking out of each cupcake!  My boys loved these!

A good idea for displaying cupcakes is carefully stacking pedestals to create a little height in your party table.  Also, nestle decorations around your cupcakes.

Go Batty Party

As far as the decor, I like to keep it cute but not scary because I don’t want to scare the little ones and by little ones I mean me.  I chose a fun bat theme and instead of hanging fabric as a backdrop, which I tend to do, I adhered these bats to the bamboo shade as if they were flying out of the table.  I used 2 tablecloths which is a good tip for adding interest to a party table or creating zones (drink zone, sweets, savory…).

Go Batty Party

Another tip for setting up a party table is creating your own cake stands by using an inverted bowl with a plate on top and voila – a pedestal.  I found this little bowl in the Target dollar section.  Most of my plates are white so it was a fun way to add color.

Go Batty Party

If you notice above, I didn’t use all the PEEPS that were in the box for the cupcakes.  These ghosts had to make an “appearance” elsewhere.  I placed them on a bed of whipped topping and added a stick so the kids could help themselves!

Go Batty Party

I wanted the food to match the decor as much as possible (I know…totally type A) so I added some queso and black corn chips to the spread.

Go Batty Party

Here are the brownies that I made.  I just followed the instructions on the box and once cooled, I cut them into little squares so that everyone could have a little bite.

Go Batty Party

Following with the bat theme, below is a free printable for you!  I had a separate tub with drinks but I thought it would be cute to set aside a few water bottles and customize them for our party.

Click image below to print.  

Just A Little Batty

I removed the label from these water bottles.

I printed these thanks to my little Brother (as in the printer).

Cut them out by hand following the lines provided.

And with a small piece of tape, I adhered them to the water bottle.

Just a little Batty!

Go Batty Party

Here are the other drinks which were apple juice and water.  Not that I was trying to stick with the color scheme or anything.  Ok, I was 100% trying to stick with the color scheme.  I’m a little batty.

The trick or treat sign was also a Target dollar section find!

Go Batty Party

I also made special treat bags for our special neighborhood friends.  Those included Peeps, stickers, candy and glow sticks.  Glow sticks are so inexpensive and kids love them!

Go Batty Party

So we are just a little batty over here!  What are your traditions on this night?  Do you get together at your home or do you go to a friend’s house?

Go Batty Party

For more fun ideas, visit the Collective Bias Hub page.  Also, be sure to check out more sweet recipes at Betty Crocker.  I’d love to hear about your favorite recipes for fall parties.  Do you decorate on the spooky side or do you also keep it cute and silly like we do?

 

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BBQ Corn Cakes

Corn Cake Cover

If you follow my Instagram account then you know that I love to cook!  I am not a professional cook, I am a busy mom and wife who loves to sit down with my boys during dinner and hear the stories about their day.  You know what I would love to make for dinner?  Fresh pasta.  Yup, in a perfect world I would be rolling up my sleeves mid-day and start making and cutting perfect noodles.  Then I would dry the noodles and work on my sauce.  It would take hours, but hey, it’s a perfect world!

Well there is nothing wrong with homemade noodles, but who has time during the weeknights for that?  There are days that I have very little time for cooking.  Two days a week for me are extra busy because after school and homework, my son has sports.  Those days I need to crank out a good meal fairly quick without sacrificing flavor.  That meal has to be flavorful, easy and fast.  Oh, and kid approved!  Tall order, right?

With that in mind, last week I went shopping at Walmart and I added these two items to my cart.  Well, I added a ton of items but these are the two stars of today’s post: Steamfresh® Flavor Full Barbecue Sweet Corn and  Farm Rich® Smokehouse Pulled Beef Brisket.  I decided that I would make BBQ Corn Cakes and that I would use as an inspiration “Venezuelan cachapas”.  I am not from Venezuela and this is not at all a traditional recipe, but it was the inspiration behind this idea.  I hoped it would work and you will see below if it did.

Spoiler: It did.

BBQ Corn Cakes

Ingredients for the corn cake:

2 Cups of the Birds Eye Steamfresh® Flavor Full Barbecue Sweet Corn (I used the whole bag)

1/3 Cup Masa Harina (a finely ground flour found in the International section of most markets.  You can probably sub it for finely ground cornmeal.)

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/4 Teaspoon of Pepper

Canola Oil for sautéing the corn cakes

Ingredients for the filling:

Mozzarella cheese (desired amount)

Farm Rich® Smokehouse Beef Brisket (desired amount)

Note: The amount of brisket in the picture was not even a quarter of what was inside the box, so the next day we used the leftovers for brisket sandwiches.

 

BBQ Corn Cakes

I added all the ingredients for the corn cake to a blender (a food processor would work great).  I didn’t have to add any other liquid because the corn had it’s natural juices in the bag but if it is too dry for the blender to “get going”, you can add a tablespoon of milk.  The consistency is meant to be like a thick pancake batter (see picture).

BBQ Corn Cakes

I was able to get 6 patties out of the mix.  I heated a non-stick griddle pan but you can use a sauté pan and add a little bit of the oil.  I cooked each side for about 5 minutes on medium, and was careful not to burn the corn cakes.

I then added some mozzarella cheese and allowed it to melt for a minute.  I followed with the brisket and allowed it to heat through. You may want to put a lid on the pan until you see the cheese has fully melted.

BBQ Corn Cakes

I folded the corn cakes like mini tacos and served them after these pictures.  My family loves it when I make them wait to eat delicious food because I am taking pictures.  Smirk.  It’s ok, I gained back my popularity once they tried them.

There was a little cooking involved, but once that 15 minute process was done, I was left with a full meal.  Sometimes you need shortcuts that don’t taste like shortcuts!  These cakes were not just flavorful, but very filling.  This night it was just me and my two boys but if my husband were joining us, I would be sure to double the recipe.  I sent him a picture of the food and he sent me back an angry emoji face.  Hehe.  Sorry babe.

BBQ Corn Cakes

Also, below is a special limited time offer for you, if you want to try this quick and easy dinner during the week or weekend.  These cakes also make a great appetizer for friends!

For a limited time, earn $0.75 on Birds Eye Vegetables and unlock $1.00 off one Farm Rich® Smokehouse product with Ibotta while supplies last.  If you haven’t used Ibotta, you have to download the app available on iOs and Android. Before you shop, be sure to unlock the rebates for both Birds Eye Vegetables and Farm Rich® Smokehouse. Then, shop! Buy the products that you’ve unlocked at major retailers. Finally, verify your purchase by scanning your barcodes and submitting a photo of your receipt!

Corn Cakes Cover

 

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Birds Eye®, and Farm Rich® but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #FullnRichFlavor  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

 

 

 

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Autumn Around the Home

Autumn Around the Home

It’s been raining here in sunny Florida quite a bit lately and I think it’s a sign of the changing season.  My trees love it and my hair hates it!  But inside the house it’s a different story and since we have been going out less, it’s nice to be in a cozy space to snuggle and watch movies.

A few days ago I shared my Fall Buffet.

Autumn Around the Home

My dining room.

Autumn Around the Home

And today I am sharing the adjacent room, our living room.  I have to be honest and say that we rarely hang out here.  It’s a nice space to have coffee or tea but not exactly where the boys prefer to relax, since they are always in our family room.  However, this is the first impression room because there is no foyer in our home.

Autumn Around the Home

When you walk through the front door, this is what you see.   I love this neutral couch because it seems to work with so many colors.  I often change the pillows and throws to achieve a completely different look.

Autumn Around the Home

And that’s my collage wall in the background.  I love it!  I either like walls to be super simple or purposely busy.

Autumn Around the Home

The “thankful” pillow is from Target and so is the throw.  I love this little pillow and the moment I saw it, I knew it was coming home with me!  It is perfect for fall but I can use it year-round if I choose to.

Autumn Around the Home

This oval table has books on it’s second shelf, so I keep the top glass simple with this gold leaf tray and the gold-accented fruit/pumpkin.

Autumn Around the Home

These chairs I have considered changing ever since we bought the couch but I still can’t make up my mind whether I should change them or re-upholster them in a lighter color fabric.  In the meantime, I like to add white throws and pillows to tie it in with the rest of the furniture.  It’s amazing what a nice pillow or throw can do to transform a chair!

Autumn Around the Home

Another gold pear and little alstroemeria flowers brighten up this table.  Totally unrelated, but I buy those flowers often because they are so inexpensive and last quite a while.

Autumn Around the Home

In between the couch and the chairs is this wall that only has this frame and key on it.  Since this wall is adjacent to the busy collage wall, I wanted to keep it simple.  I added the gold vase and branch as a little fall touch.

Autumn Around the Home

I hope you enjoyed all these fall tours of my home and I will continue to share all my holiday ideas throughout the season.  For now, enjoy this beautiful time of the year and be grateful for sunshine, rain and even frizzy hair!

Autumn Around the Home

Guess what?  It’s not over!  Here are some really talented bloggers that want to share their homes with you today.  I hope you are inspired this season and always!

 

 


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Fall 2015 Home Tour Blog Hop

BlogHop Fall Collage

Hi friends!  Have you already started decorating for fall?

I have joined some of my blogging friends to share with you a ton of ideas and inspiration for the fall season.  It is a Fall Blog Hop – My post will go live tomorrow and I will be sharing my living room space.  In the meantime, below are the links to the tours that are already live.  Everyday you can check back here and new links will be added.

I hope you enjoy it!

xo,

Maria


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Decorating a Fall Mantel

Decorating a Fall Matel

October is here and it’s a great time to start transitioning into fall decor!  I typically don’t decorate every room in my home for fall, but I did already sprinkle some autumn love on my porch , dining room and my simple autumn-inspired mantel, which I am sharing today.  You may remember what it looked like before when I shared how I organize the entryway but I wanted to start with a blank canvas (minus the lamp) which is the best way to decorate a mantel.

I live in Miami and fireplaces are rare (for obvious reasons) and therefor so are traditional mantels.  Many of us use our buffets or long coffee tables to serve the same decorative purpose as a mantel and here is mine.  This buffet is in the entrance of our home which holds everything but dishes!

Fall Mantel before

I started adding and taking away elements and this was the result!  What do you think?

 

Decorating a Fall Matel

I purchased this pumpkin a few years ago in Homegoods and I placed it on top of a wooden beverage dispenser to add height, interest and the perfect spot to nestle these beautiful hydrangeas!

Decorating a Fall Matel

The gold vase we purchased at IKEA 10 years ago and it used to be white.  A few years ago I spray painted it gold and I love how it made the texture more visible.  The wreath had actually been hanging outside my front door for months – yes, it was a really a little dusty but I cleaned it with a can of compressed air.  It was the perfect finishing touch!

Decorating a Fall Matel

I love this print from Emily Ley.  “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection” – I love this message!

Decorating a Fall Matel

Here is the before and after and I love how it is simple, semi-neutral but it decidedly fall it turned out!

Decorating a Fall Matel

And now for more fun!  I have joined a team of talented bloggers that are opening up their doors to show you their Fall home decor.  Below are the links as they have been sharing their homes for days.  Check them out as I will also be hopping over for some inspiration!

Thank you, friends!

Fall in Love With Your Home Tour

 

Thank you for joining me for the

Fall In Love With Your Home

sponsored by The Everyday Home.

Please join these fabulous Bloggers to see what

amazing Fall Inspiration they are sharing to help

you “Fall In Love With Your Home.”

Fall Crafts Button

{Monday, Sept 28th}

Create and Babble

Major Hoff Takes a Wife

Anastasia Vintage

What Meegan Makes

Fall Recipes Button

{Tuesday, Sept 29th}

*links will not be active until 6amEST

Imparting Grace

Hymns and Verses

White Lace Cottage

Tried and True

The Kim Six Fix

Fall Decor Button

{Wednesday, Sept 30th}

*links will not be available until 6amEST

Denise Designed

Setting for Four

DIY 180

Mom Home Guide

Fall Mantels Buttons

{Thursday, Oct 1}

*links will not be available until 6amEST

Worthing Court

One More Time Events

Graceful Order

Shabbyfufu

SondraLyn at HomeFall Home Tours Button

{Friday, Oct 2}

*links will not be available until 6amEST

Atta Girl Says

Celebrating Everyday Life

Town and Country Living

The Everyday Home

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Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

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

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

The holidays are not just for the kids and Halloween is no exception.  On Halloween day we do make it about the kiddos and their cute costumes but I also love the idea of the adults getting together to celebrate before the 31st.  Today I will share with you 2 things – How to put together a BOO kit (I will get to that later) and how to put together a little dessert party for your friends and family.  I promise that both ideas are super easy and super fun!

First I want to share with you a little party that I put together and how quickly it came together.  I chose an empty wall in my home and placed a small 4ft table against the wall.  Then I placed a black tablecloth to cover the ugly little table (sorry table).  Then I propped up a piece of cardboard on the table and rested it on the wall.  I covered that with another black tablecloth and got to work on my favorite part – the decor!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Part of the ease of this little party is that everything is store bought.  I purchased pumpkin scones and caramel apples and used the white pumpkin to hold the chalkboard sign.  I found a pack of those chalkboard signs for a dollar a while back and I had not used them until now.  I am not sure if they are re-usable since they are made out of cardboard but hey…$1.00?  I’m not complaining.

Tip:  Think of the backdrop for your party.  Will it be greenery (if outside) or a blank wall?  Adding a piece of cardboard to rest on the wall creates an easy and inexpensive backdrop.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

I found these caramel apples at Walmart.  I dressed them up with a little ribbon and placed them on a stand.

Tip:  It is important when setting up parties to think of varying heights on the table.  Cake stands can be used for more than just the obvious.  If some items are high up and others low on the table, there is more visual interest. 

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Everyone loves tiny desserts, at least I hope they do because I made a whole bunch of these!  These little containers and spoons are disposable which is a plus.  Inside is greek yogurt (you can also use a quick cheesecake filing), caramel drizzle and a TWIX® for a finishing touch!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Delish!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Fall is in the air and in your punch with this yummy fall drink.  It’s a 2L bottle of 7UP®, 1 orange sherbet, 8 oz or orange juice, 8 oz of cranberry juice, cinnamon sticks, sliced lemons and oranges.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

I rested the dispenser on a small, black cupcake stand and these cans were a perfect fit underneath it.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Cute straws also decorate the table.  I have so many colorful straws in my party stash!  They are inexpensive and I often buy a pack before I even need it.  If I don’t use it for a party, my boys will gladly use them for their juices.  I also scattered little M&M’s® on the table as little edible “confetti”.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

In the beginning of this post I promised that I would help you put together a BOO kit.  To be honest I had never heard of this but now I love the idea!  BOO’ing is when you put together a kit that usually includes yummy treats and other Halloween inspired items and you place them inside a bag, and finally you drop it off on your neighbor’s doorstep.  Although dropping it off at our neighbor’s is a great idea, this year I will use these BOO kits as teacher’s gifts!  I love any excuse to treat my boys’ teachers and extend my gratefulness to them.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

So here is what I did:

1- I printed the card and sign.  You can download the sign here.

2- I cut the “We’ve Been BOO’d” sign.  You can use this to place on the outside of your bag or inside so the recipient can continue to BOO others!

3- I folded the “You’ve Been BOO’d” sign and taped the edges.  This card will be placed inside the bag.  I signed this card with my boys’ names since they are giving them to their teachers.

4- I chose the bag that I would use for my Boo kits.  I chose simple black paper bags.

5- I decided what I would place in each bag.  I used chocolates, pencils, teeth, paper straws, soda can, necklaces and a little pumpkin.

6- I made tags that read “You’re a Spooktacular Teacher” and used a 2 inch round cutter to cut.  If you don’t have a round cutter, you can use scissors and cut a square shape.  You can find the free printable here.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

I hope they love it because we sure had fun making them!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Take advantage of this coupon to create your own BOO kit: Save $1.00 on TWO (2) 2L or 6pk 8oz cans of any flavor Sunkist® Soda, 7UP®, Canada Dry®, A&W®, Squirt®, or Sun Drop®

Here is a shot of where I found the items at Walmart.  Speaking of Walmart, make sure to enter (look below) for your chance to win the #BOOitForward sweepstakes for $1000 Walmart gift card!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

You can also enter to win a $1,000 Walmart eGift Card!  How exciting is that?!  See below for details.

#booitforwardsweepstakes

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

If there is ever a time for short cuts, the holidays are it.  Today I am sharing with you 4 recipes/ideas that are sure to sweeten your holiday without you breaking a sweat.  So what are the short cuts?  I am using Sara Lee® frozen butter pound cake to make a pumpkin tres leches and Hershey’s® syrup to dress up a ready-made cheesecake – I found both of these items in my local Publix.  It’s super easy but the desserts still look amazing.    Let’s jump right in and get these done in no time!

 

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

The first dessert we are making is a pumpkin tres leches which is spanish for “three milks”.  Traditionally, you would make your own cake and while it’s still warm, you would pour the three milks mixture over the cake and allow it to absorb.  Today we are using the store bought poundcake and saving a ton of time in the process.

Ingredients for the tres leches:

1 –  Store bought pound cake

1 – 14 oz can of Evaporated Milk

1 – 14 oz can of Condensed Milk

1 Cup of heavy cream or whole milk (I used milk)

1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin (not pumpkin filling)

Dash of Cinnamon

Ingredients for the pumpkin whipped topping:

1 Cup of whipping cream

1/3 Cup of Canned Pumpkin

2 Tablespoons of Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Dash of Cinnamon

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

1 – Mix all the ingredients for the tres leches cake (minus the pound cake) and place over medium heat in a saucepan.  Allow the mixture to get hot and set aside.

2 – Meanwhile using a skewer, start poking holes in the pound cake…a lot of holes.  Be careful not to break through the aluminum as you will be poring the liquid in the aluminum pan once you are done.

3 – Carefully (so you don’t get burned) pour the milk mixture over the poundcake and allow to rest for a few hours, preferably overnight.  You will have to pour slowly to allow the pound cake to absorb the milk.

4 – Using a mixer (or by hand for the super brave) mix all the ingredients for the pumpkin whipped cream until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

Once the cake has absorbed the milk, cut a slice onto a plate and spoon extra sauce over the cut piece.  Top with the whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and grab a spoon!

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

As if that wasn’t delicious enough, we are on to our second recipe using another short cut –  a ready-made cheesecake!

The ingredients are:

1 cheesecake

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup of store bought caramel

1 small apple thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

In a medium saucepan melt the butter and add the apples with the brown sugar.  After the apples have cooked down a bit add the caramel and the pecans.  Heat through and remove from heat.  This mixture will have to completely cool before adding as a topping to the cheesecake.

Once cool, spoon mixture over the cheesecake and voila!  Doesn’t it look delicious?

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

Up next is not another recipe, but a super simple and delicious idea!  Simply pour some of the Hershey’s syrup on the cheesecake (leaving a slight rim of the white cheesecake visible) and decorate with fresh berries.  Doesn’t get easier!

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

Finally I wanted to share a cute idea that you can use for the upcoming holiday.  Using the Hershey’s syrup bottle, make perfect (or incredibly imperfect ones like mine) circles on the cheesecake.  Then drag a toothpick or a sharp knife through the syrup creating a web design.

Tip:  I make sure the syrup is really cold before I draw the design on the cheesecake so that it doesn’t run. 

Easy No Bake Fall Desserts

These recipes were a lot of fun to make and incredibly easy to put together. Of course you can still feel free to sprinkle flour on your face and look like you have been baking for hours to cash in on a foot massage. I’m kidding. Not really.

 

Receive a FREE 17-24oz Hershey’s® Syrup when you buy any ONE (1) Sara Lee® Frozen Dessert item now thru 10/09/15 while supplies last.

 

  • “This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Sara Lee®, and Hershey’s® but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #SweetTreatDessert http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

 

Decorating the Porch for Fall

Decorating the Porch for Fall

If you follow me on Instagram then you probably know that we are building a pool and we have been for months.  Basically, our front yard and back yard look pretty scary which means that I can skip decorating for Halloween…it’s scary enough.

I actually considered not decorating for fall either.  I mean with everything else looking so bad, (my apologies if you are my neighbor) why bother?  But sometimes you have to create beauty where the eye can’t find it, right?  And the “why bother” attitude doesn’t suit me.  So last weekend while my husband was bringing down a large canning pot from one of the top garage cabinets, a pumpkin literally fell from one of the boxes onto the garage floor.  Of course I took this as a sign, and so did he – I thought it was confirmation that I should decorate this fall and guess what the hubs thought?  That it was a sign that the fall decorations needed to be pushed back even further in the cabinet and that I should’ve closed the bin’s lid last year when I put it away.  What a silly interpreration.  Of course, it meant that I had to break out the pumpkins!  My sweet husband obliged and brought down all the fall boxes.

I am still in the process of decorating the house and I shared my fall table with you last week, and this week I concentrated on the porch.  Here is the view of the porch as you exit my front door.  I won’t show you a view of my front yard because I love ya and want you to enjoy your day.

Decorating the Porch for Fall

If you remember last year I shared images from my front porch during fall and you will notice that I changed the positioning of the bench.  I think I like it better this way since I can place a wreath right above it.  What do you think?

All those big wreaths can be expensive and I buy them when they go on sale right after the season is over.  You just have to get to the stores right away because the pretty items run out the fastest.  I also check online for clearance wreaths.  One of my favorite stores to buy wreaths online is Kirkland’s and of course Target has beautiful ones as well.

Decorating the Porch for Fall

Since I live in Florida we pretty much have to “inject” fall colors into the outdoor spaces because it is green and sunny here year-round.  I found this orange-stripe throw online and on clearance at Crate and Barrel.  It’s not meant for outdoors so I won’t be leaving it there during the day, but it’s nice if we sit on the porch at night.  Of course, in Florida we aren’t keeping the chill at bay, it’s the mosquitos that we shield ourselves from.

Decorating the Porch for Fall

The green pillow is meant for outdoors and I have had this one outside for over 8 months and it still looks new.  I splurged on this one pillow because I was tired of throwing away others that kept getting yucky from being outdoors.  I love green because it works for summer, spring, fall and even winter decorating.

Decorating the Porch for Fall

I am using all these faux pumpkins to decorate because there is no pumpkin patch open this time of year by my home.  Also, I love how feather-lite they are and how long they last.  This white one is sitting on a beverage dispenser stand.  Of course it adds height but it also makes it easier for me when it comes to cleaning the porch, since I avoid getting the pumpkins wet.

Decorating the Porch for Fall

This urn stays here year round because I love it and because it weighs more than I do.  I added this monogrammed pumpkin that I purchased a few years ago in Kirklands.

Decorating the Porch for Fall

And that’s the porch!  Next I will share my fall mantel, but first I have to decorate it and empty it of miniature race cars.

Decorating the Porch for Fall

Are you decorating this year for fall?  What are your favorite colors to decorate with – white pumpkins and neutrals or warm orange tones?

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Organizing Sunglasses

Organizing Sunglasses

I shared details about my closet here and how I display my jewelry, but there were still a few accessories that needed attention…my sunglasses.  Organizing sunglasses may sound a little silly but since many of my sunglasses don’t even come with a case.  Long gone are the days that I would spend beaucoup bucks on sunglasses!  After having kids I find that getting them in and out of the car, in and out of the supermarket cart can often result in my sunglasses taking a dive!  This past Christmas my husband gave me a beautiful pair of Ray Bans (with a case, of course) and I love them and take care of them as best I can, but I often grab for a cheaper pair when I head out.  And the cheaper pairs were…everywhere!  They didn’t have a spot and if I bought cases for them, I knew I wouldn’t even remember what they looked like – meaning I wouldn’t wear them.

When I finished my closet, I wanted to keep it simple and functional so I hesitated to use that free little wall space beside the mirror – but function won over simplicity as if often the case with me.

 

Organizing Sunglasses

 

I moved the watch and bracelet display so that I could work more comfortably.

Organizing Sunglasses

 

I had this idea a while back to place a pair of my sunglasses on a hook that I had in the bathroom to see if they would hold in place and they did!  So I purchased these Command hooks which were small and clear and perfect for that narrow space.  I purchased them on Amazon but Walmart and Target also carry them.

Organizing Sunglasses

 

I didn’t really measure because I’m bad like that…bad as in good.

Organizing Sunglasses

 

Anyway, their placement wasn’t perfect but the sunglasses would cover them anyway.  Maybe I’m not that “bad” after all.

Organizing Sunglasses

 

I chose to hang my sunglasses facing forward.

Organizing Sunglasses

 

But you can also hang them this way.  Just choose the way that they feel more secure.

 

Organizing Sunglasses

 

What do you think?

Organizing Sunglasses

Yes, they made the area a little busier but it solved an annoying problem in 2 minutes flat.  Also, since the command hooks are removable, I am not committed to this solution forever.  Maybe I am a little bad.  Just a tiny bit.

Organizing Sunglasses

 

Do you have a similar organizing issue with sunglasses or do you limit yourself to one or two pair?

Organizing Sunglasses

Other related Graceful Order posts:

Master Closet Transformation

Laundry Closet Organization

 

This posts contains some Amazon affiliate links. Buying through the links does not affect your price of the item. As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

 

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Decorating the Table for Fall

Decorating the Fall Table FB

 

The hot pink and bright blues are gone and it’s fall y’all!  I can hardly believe that I am already bringing down the bins from the garage labeled “FALL”.  I love the warm colors of fall and like I have mentioned before, I live in Florida and it always looks like summer over here.  But inside the house, we can create a fall atmosphere with a little yellow and a dash of orange.

My fall table last year was really simple and I used some faux florals to decorate.  While the faux florals will last all season, these pretty roses went on sale at Whole Foods and well…how much will power am I supposed to have?!  I had already said no to buying the organic chocolate that they were sampling.  I did say yes to the sample, by the way.  I’m not that crazy.

Decorating the Table for Fall

 

I didn’t have a tablecloth that would work with this color scheme, so I purchased fabric from Walmart and folded it lengthwise and created a runner.  No sewing = win!

Decorating the Table for Fall

 

These orange goblets are from Crate and Barrel , I purchased them online on clearance!  They were less than half of their original price.  I don’t know about you but I always go straight to the sale/clearance items in a store or online.  Sometimes the items on sale are not that nice (and that’s why they are on clearance) but there are times when you can find items that went out of season but not style, like these.

Tip:  I always purchase an extra plate or goblet just in case one breaks, I still have a set intact.

Decorating the Table for Fall

In the picture below, I added a pretty white pumpkin which would make this setting perfect for Thanksgiving.   I only have one pumpkin like this (which I picked up at Target) but last year I showed you some inexpensive ones that I have a full set of.  Either way, pumpkin or no pumpkin – this would work for Thanksgiving.

Decorating the Table for Fall

 

I used a maize color napkin that I have had for years and they launder beautifully.  I purchased these at World Market , they usually have a great selection of color for their napkins.  Remember to take advantage of online reviews because they will tell you things like “these napkins shrink when washed” or “they lose their color”.  I have avoided lots of dud purchases by reading reviews.  Plus, I am horrible at returning items so I would rather read than return.

Fall Table Setting Pic

 

And how beautiful are these flowers?  In a few days I will show you how easily I put together the arrangement.  If I could, I would have fresh flower arrangements in every room, even the bathroom!  I know that they are an added unnecessary expense but they certainly complete the table.  I used roses and hydrangeas this time, but I usually buy whatever bundle is on sale.

Decorating the Table for Fall

 

I had leftover roses so I made 2 tiny arrangements for either side of the table.  It would also be pretty to have these little arrangements down the length of the table instead of a large centerpiece.

Decorating the Table for Fall

 

I have these gold and white fruit that I purchased last year at Target and I scattered them down the center of the table.

Decorating the Table for Fall

I know that in less than a week I will have to change out the centerpiece when the flowers wilt but I will enjoy their fragrance and beauty in the meantime.  As soon as I change out the centerpiece, I will let you know what I come up with.  Don’t you love decorating for fall?

This year I am happy to be part of Stringtown Home’s annual “Harvest Tour of Homes” where some amazing bloggers share their harvest home ideas.  There are recipes, decor, crafts…you name it!  I am planning to stop by all of them and I hope you will too.  Let them know that you are visiting from Graceful Order.

Have a blessed season everyone!  

Decorating the Table for Fall

If you are already in the Thanksgiving mood, you may also like :

Must Have Kitchen Tools

5 Kitchen Gadgets that Work

How to set a Proper Table Setting

 

 

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Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

I don’t use a whole lot of makeup but I do like to have the right tools for the job.  Makeup brushes over time get dirty and need cleaning and I wanted to share my easy method of cleaning makeup brushes.

We all know that you can buy brush cleaners and if your brushes are really dirty then maybe that’s the way to go.  However, when my brushes are just lightly dirty, I use a simple method to clean them with an item that you may already have at home – baby shampoo.

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

 

Here is how I clean my brushes.

  1.  I wet the brush head under the running faucet with warm water.  Be careful to wet them pointing down so that water doesn’t go into the handle.  If water goes into the handle, it can later cause the bristles to come loose and that will ruin your brush.

  2.  I place a dot of baby shampoo on my hand and I slowly swish the brush in my hand to loosen the makeup.

  3.  I place the brush back under the running water and carefully press on the bristles which will spread them slightly.  It is important to do this carefully so that your brush does not lose it’s shape after drying.  You may have to repeat step 2 and 3 in order to really clean the brush from makeup buildup.

  4.  I gently dry the brush with a towel, also being careful to keep the shape of the brush.

  5.  I lay the brushes flat on the sink counter, allowing the brush head to hang over into the sink.  Do not stand them up before they are dry because water will travel into the handle which will ruin your brush over time.

Once dry, I place them in an acrylic cup full of beads, just like the fancy makeup store.

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

 

One last tip:  I find great makeup brushes at Marshalls (the ones in the picture are from there) or TJMaxx so check those stores out before shelling out the big bucks at the makeup stores.

Hope you have a great week, friends!

 

This posts contains an Amazon affiliate link.  Buying through the link does not affect your price of the item. As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

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Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

I recently shared my toddler’s new “big boy” room but we also changed the furniture in our oldest’s room.  It’s been busy around here!  I haven’t done a complete post on my 11 year-old son’s room in the past but you can see what his room looked like here and here.  We had been wanting to update his room for a while because it just wasn’t working for him.  So we recently went furniture shopping and decided it was a great idea to bring him along for his input – not the first time that one of my bright ideas was less than bright.  Of course, he wanted a bunk bed and was attracted to anything “cool” and disregarded all practicality in the process.

I really wanted for him to be excited about his new room but I know that what he likes at 11 may not be what he likes at 13 or 14 so his dad and I had to take charge.  I want to show you the bedroom set that we chose and why we love it, and ultimately why our son loves it too!  At least now he does.

There are a lot of reasons why I love this bed but the first is that he finally has a full size bed (he previously had a twin bed) so we can comfortably get in his bed at night and chat with him before he sleeps.  It’s not something I do all the time, but I cherish those moments when he asks me 102 questions before falling asleep.  The second reason is that this bed included a trundle as an add-on option.  The trundle was an added expense and we briefly considered not getting it, but now I am so glad that we did.

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

It is a trundle within a trundle.  It’s not easy to distinguish in the picture but the trundle has a sliding shelf that allows almost double the storage.

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

 

Since all his books didn’t fit inside the bookshelf, I placed some of them under the bed.  On the sliding drawer, I placed felt-lined bins (from Target) to store smaller toys that end up not having a home.  And that means they end up on the floor.

 

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

 

Ok, and how cool is this?  The bedpost hides a reading light – I was kinda jealous!  My son loves to read and this was a huge plus!

 

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

 

We were only able to fit one nightstand in his room because the other side of his bed is next to his closet which needs to open towards the bed.  This nightstand also had a great little feature…look on…

 

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

 

There is a lid towards the back of the nightstand that conceals all the cords!  Seriously, how perfect is this bedroom set for kids?!

 

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

 

Inside that small compartment is a plug that allows all his electronics to be plugged in next to his bed.

 

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

 

We also purchased the desk that came with the set and the bookshelf.  There were some other pieces available (a dresser and desk topper) that were great but the room was filling up and the wallet emptying by the time we tallied up the items!

 

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

 

The other side of his room has a t.v. and an ottoman that he places all his bed pillows on before going to bed.  Well, that was the idea anyway…

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

One of my favorite organizing solutions in his room is being able to hang up all his skateboards and pogo stick.  These were items that used to be in the garage but out-of-sight was out-of-mind and he stopped using them.  We want to encourage him to be active so we brought them into his room and it has worked because he now uses them often.  Since I didn’t want those skateboards all over the house, I found these hooks that are probably meant for garages, but they are heavy-duty and perfect for holding bulky items.   Also, I think it decorates the room a bit and adds character to the wall.

Teen / Tween Bedroom Organization

After some convincing that the bright blue bunk bed wasn’t the best choice for long term, our son now loves his new room!  It has been easier to keep organized now that he has so many systems in place!

Is your teen naturally organized or does their room make you sigh just thinking about it?  I would love to hear from you…

xo,

Maria

You may also enjoy reading:

Back to School Organizing Tips

 

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Must Have Kitchen Tools

Must Have Kitchen Tools

 

Buying the right kitchen tools can really make a difference in the food that you serve and how easily and quickly you can make a meal for the family.  When I married my husband (eons ago) we had a wedding gift registry like everyone else that included a set of pots, china, champagne flutes and that fondue set that we never used.  All of the decisions about the items that I wanted for my new home were done in a rush and some of those products ended up being great and others not so much.

As time went on and items started showing too much wear, I made more educated decisions about each item and I researched everything…even a simple vegetable peeler.  That’s actually what I love about online reviews- I can avoid making someone else’s mistake.  Below are 5 of my favorite kitchen tools.  I added a link to almost every item but I encourage you to do your own research so that you can find the best price and brand for your kitchen!

1. Good Knives

Must Have Kitchen Tools

Buy the best knives that you can afford.  They will last for years and this is something that you will use daily.  Don’t buy knives without first holding them and making sure that they feel comfortable in your hand.  I have had these knives for 10 years and they still work like day one.  You don’t need to purchase a knife set or fill up all the slots of your knife block.  Just purchase the individual knives that you will use most.  My favorites are a medium sized santoku, a pairing knife and a serrated knife.  My husband usually goes for the chefs knife but I find it a bit large for my hand.

Tip:  Hand wash your knives.  The dishwasher is convenient but the high heat of the drying cycle can damage the rivets of the knife and the blades can also get damaged with the high pressure of the jets, causing items to vibrate and clash against each other.  Protect your investment by hand washing them which is so easy to do.

2.  High quality Dutch Oven

Must Have Kitchen Tools

Here is another workhorse in my kitchen!  Le Creuset  dutch ovens carry a hefty price tag but it is so worth it in my opinion. If you are only purchasing one dutch oven, choose one that is on the larger side so that you can really get your money’s worth as far as the versatility of the pan. To me dutch ovens equate slow comfort food and consistent results.  

Tip:  Le Creuset has outlets throughout the U.S. and although all the colors are not always available, the prices are lower.

3.  Quality Skillets

Must Have Kitchen Tools

I am not a fan of purchasing big sets of pots.  You will end up using 3 of them all the time and the rest just take up space in your cabinet.  My favorite skillets are All-Clad  brand and I have purchased them one-by-one over the years.  They are pricey but I have never had to replace them, they cook evenly and clean up beautifully.

Tip:  Stores like Homegoods and Marshalls sometimes carry great quality pans at a discounted price.

I prefer stainless steel pans but I do have a few nonstick skillets for omelets and pancakes.

My other favorite tool which is not expensive at all are cast iron skillets.  If treated properly you can hand these down from one generation to another.  The downside is the weight but the upside is how durable and versatile they are.

4.  Baking Sheet Pans

Must Have Kitchen Tools

You can find a good baking sheet pan for less than $20.00.  My favorite Half-Size Sheet Pan is from Vollrath because it’s the best I have found for the money.  I use baking sheets all the time to roast vegetables, which I cook at a temperature between 400 and 425 degrees.  Most baking sheets would buckle and then warp in that kind of heat.  These brown food nicely and when I am done I soak the pans in a little water and they clean up beautifully.

As an accompaniment to the sheet pan, this cooling rack is my favorite and although it’s main use is to cool cookies, I use it to cook bacon in the oven.  This cooling rack fits perfectly into the half sheet pan and I lay a whole pack of bacon on it, cook it in the oven, and avoid all the splatter that occurs when cooked on the stovetop.

5.  Cutting Board

Must Have Kitchen Tools

Find a cutting board with good online reviews.  Wooden cutting boards are also the most gentle on knives and therefor preserve the edge of the knife more than other cutting board options.  If you clean and oil your board regularly you won’t have to deal with a board that easily cracks which you would then have to dispose of.  Tip:  I have also found a lot of good cutting boards at Marshalls stores.

If you cook all the time (like I do) treat yourself to good tools. Think of how much one good restaurant meal is…usually the price of a good pan that will last for many years.  Choose your tools wisely and let them help you in the kitchen!

 

Related posts:

How to Clean a Cutting Board

How to Clean a Microwave

Cleaning with Lemons

 

 

This posts contains some Amazon affiliate links. Buying through the links does not affect your price of the item. As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!  

 

 

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5 Kitchen Gadgets that Work

5 Kitchen Gadgets that Work

I am not a fan of having too many kitchen gadgets and I have purchased many that have been an absolute waste of money.  Some gadgets are complicated to use and I end up frustrated, and others are so difficult to clean that they completely defeat the point of saving time by having a specialized gadget.

Today I am sharing a few of my favorite gadgets that have worked for me and have made cooking prep time so much faster.

1. Garlic Press

We love garlic in my family and I add it to almost every dish.  Many years ago I purchased a garlic press and hated it.  I”m not one to “mince” words.  It seemed to juice the garlic instead of pressing it and it would leave a good part of the garlic clove inside the gadget.  Eventually, I tossed it and decided that I didn’t like garlic presses and I would rather keep using the good ol’ knife method.  Then one day looking through Amazon, I found a garlic press (pictured below) that had so many good reviews and decided to give it a try.  I figured it could always return it (let’s hear it for Amazon Prime memberships!).  There was no need for returns because this Kuhn Rikon press has worked amazingly well, and with little effort the clove comes out perfectly minced.

Honestly, if I am only using a clove or two for a recipe, I don’t use a garlic press at all, but when I use more than that…this press is my friend!  Tip: I always wash this right away after using so that none of the garlic left behind in the press has a chance to dry.  It is super easy to use and clean.

 

5 Kitchen Gadgets that Work

 

2.  Ice Cream Scooper

What’s better than a gadget that does what it’s meant to?  A gadget that does double duty!  I use these ice cream scoopers for the obvious but I also use them to form meatballs (keeps them a uniform size), and to scoop out cookie dough onto a baking sheet.  They are also perfect for transferring the perfect amount of cupcake batter into lined muffin tins.  Since I use them for different purposes, I have more than one size.

5 Kitchen Gadgets that Work

 

3.  Meat Mallet

This meat pounder is sturdy and perfect for tenderizing meat or to even it out for even cooking.  I also like to thin out chicken cutlets so that I can add a stuffing mix before rolling them and cooking in the oven.    I do keep this one in the hand wash category because many mallets are not dishwasher safe since they can lose their shiny finish.

5 Kitchen Gadgets that Work

 

4.  Zester

Zesters are also double-duty kitchen tools.  With these Microplane zester / grater I zest citrus, I grate small amounts of hard cheese, nutmeg and grate ginger.  They are effective, lightweight and easy to use.

5 Kitchen Gadgets that Work

 

5.  Stainless Steel Scraper

This stainless steel scraper is perfect for dividing bread or cookie dough and I always keep it handy to transfer chopped onions or peppers to the pan.  I usually leave this out on my cutting board.

5 Kitchen Gadgets that Work

These are some of my favorite gadgets but there are a few more that I will share with you soon.  I added a link to all of these items in the post but you can find many of these at Homegoods or a local restaurant store.  Have fun cooking and don’t be afraid to invest in items that make your job a little easier!

 

This posts contains a few affiliate links.  Thank you for your support of Graceful Order! 

 

Other related posts:

My Favorite Pesto Recipe

Delicious Roasted Salsa Recipe 

Organizing Kitchen Gadgets

Organizing Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

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Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids’ Bedroom Storage Ideas

I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough ideas and inspiration for keeping my boy’s bedrooms organized.  Sometimes I create systems that I think will work but after putting them in place, I notice they aren’t the best for my boys.  When it comes to organizing for my youngest, I have to keep in mind that I will be the one doing a lot of the picking up so the systems have to work for me.  While creating systems for my oldest, I have to think of his habits and personality since he will do most of the work – at least that’s what I tell myself when I am enthusiastically labeling things in his room!

Every child is different and an organizational style that works with one, may not work with the other.  Also, the kinds of toys they play with changes as they get older and so does the size of the toys.  Today I am joining some of my talented blogger friends that are also part of the Wayfair Homemakers team, and sharing some awesome storage ideas for kids’ bedrooms.  All of our kids are different ages and I hope that you can find some inspiration for your littles in one of these images and awesome blogs.

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

The first idea and super stylish solution, comes from Emily at Table and Hearth.  I have so many thin books for my 4 year old and this is the perfect storage solution to keep them handy but also stored away.  You can see a step-by-step tutorial on how to make this little beauty here.

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

And since I’m a boy mom, Angela at Blue I Style definitely inspired me with this cute solution for organizing boys’ accessories!  How adorable is this denim pocket wall storage?!  I know my boys would love it.  You can follow her step-by-step instructions here.

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

Angela also explains how she organizes her basement/play room and shows us some real-life pictures of what it really looks like to live with kids and how to pick up the mess faster!  You can read about it here.

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

If you have little boys, then you have little cars everywhere!   I love this cool storage idea from Jillian at I am A Homemaker who used an old mechanics bolt storage tray to store the tiny cars.  Love that!

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

Enough about boys for a minute.  Let’s add a little sweetness and whimsy to the mix.  Lindsay from My Creative Days used old frames to create a gallery wall in her daughter’s bedroom.  You can see the details here.

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

Jenna from Wife in Progress shows us how she added a piece of pegboard to her baby’s nursery.  She transformed it into this cute and practical storage solution for the changing area and you can read about it here.

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

And lastly, my little one’s room and how I organize his closet and toys.  You can see the details about his room here.

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

 

If you want even more ideas and tips on storage solutions for kids’ rooms, check out this article from Wayfair where they highlight their favorite storage solutions.

What is your advice for keeping kids rooms clutter-free?  Do you have a favorite storage solution?

Wayfair Housewarming Party: Kids' Bedroom Storage Ideas

Also from Graceful Order :

Back to School Organization Tips

Big Boy Room Reveal

5 Tips for Organizing Toddler Rooms

 

 

 

 

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Easy Berry Trifle

Easy Berry Trifle Cover

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Sara Lee®, and Breyers® but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #EasySimpleSweet http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Hello friends!  Summer is almost coming to a close and while the kids have been home from school, all the meals and desserts that I have prepared have one thing in common – they are all easy peasy.  The summer is not a time where you will find me cooking coq au vin (did I even spell that right?  Even my spelling ability takes a dip in the summer).

Kids and adults alike have a sweet tooth and I can’t think of an easier dessert than a bowl of ice cream.  Scoop and serve – voila (why do I keep inserting french words that I am not sure how to spell?).   Of course the trifle in the above picture isn’t quite as easy as serving ice cream but with only a few steps you can make this fancy dessert for friends or even just for your kids.

I love how easy and versatile trifles are.   If you are serving for friends or a nice dinner you can certainly place it in a trifle bowl, but you can make these in simple clear glass cups as well to serve them individually.  The vessel doesn’t affect the taste and anything garnished with fresh fruit looks beautiful anyway!

 

Easy Berry Trifle

 

Here are the ingredients that I used for the trifle.  There are a few steps and shortcuts that I took (the ready-made Sara Lee® pound cake) but you can take even more short cuts if you want.  For example, if you don’t want to cook down berries to make the berry sauce, you can just use jarred preserves.  If you don’t want to whip the cream, use ready-made whipped topping.  This recipe is already easy but you can simplify it even more with a few tweaks.

Ingredients:

1 Butter Pound Cake

16 oz package of Strawberries

12 oz Raspberries

6 oz Blueberries

1 juiced Lemon

2 cups of Heavy Cream for the filling PLUS 1 Cup of heavy cream for the topping

8 oz Mascarpone Cheese (room temperature)

1 1/4 cup of Sugar plus 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon of cornstarch

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

 

Easy Berry Trifle

 

The first step is slicing the pound cake and then wash the berries.  Remove the tops of the strawberries and slice them.

Easy Berry Trifle

 

For the berry sauce:

Place almost all the strawberries (reserve a couple for the topping) and the raspberries (reserve a few for the topping) in a pot over low heat.  Add the juice of one lemon, the cornstarch and the two tablespoons of sugar allow the berries to start breaking down for a few minutes.  Set aside and allow to cool and thicken.

Easy Berry Trifle

For the whipped filling:

In a mixer whip 2 cups of heavy cream with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract to soft peaks.  Then fold in the mascarpone cheese.   Set mixture aside in a separate bowl because you will need the mixer again.

Mix the remaining one cup of heavy cream with a 1/4 cup of sugar until you get soft peaks.  Set this aside for the topping.

Easy Berry Trifle

Now you are ready to assemble your trifle!  You have the pound cake, the strawberries and the whipped filling with the mascarpone and the plain whipped topping.

Easy Berry Trifle

 

Place a small layer of whipped topping on the bottom of a trifle dish or clear vessel, then top with a layer of the pound cake.  Follow with a layer of the berry sauce and top with whipped filling.  Again pound cake, berry sauce, whipped filling.  As you build the trifle look at the outside of the bowl to make sure that all the layers are somewhat showing.  That’s what makes a trifle so pretty after all.  You can also start to sprinkle in some of the fresh blueberries within the layers, always reserving some for the final topping.

Easy Berry Trifle

 

The final topping will be the plain (not the one with the mascarpone) whipped topping with the fresh berries.  And there she is!

Easy Berry Trifle

 

So easy, so elegant!

Easy Berry Trifle

 

Of course you can serve the trifle on it’s own or with a side of Breyers® ice cream.  Or you can save a few slices of the pound cake and add a few scoops.  That way you have options for your guests, especially picky little ones.

Easy Berry Trifle

 

But when it comes to ice cream, I am a purist.  Breyers® ice cream has a lot of variety and they are made with fresh cream, sugar and milk but my go-to is always the Natural Vanilla.  You know that I live right on the edge of life and food choices.

Easy Berry Trifle

 

If I am feeling especially daring, I add some fudge.  It’s as crazy as I get when it comes to ice cream.  Of course my kids love different toppings – they take after their dad.

Easy Berry Trifle

 

So whether it’s the trifle, the ice cream or both – keep it sweet and simple!

Easy Berry Trifle

By the way, I purchased both the Breyers ice cream and the Sara Lee pound cake at Publix and you can take advantage of $3.00 off any ONE (1) Sara Lee® Frozen Dessert 9.6-30 oz. and Breyers® Ice Cream 48 oz. (combined purchase required) now through 8/28/15 at your local Publix while supplies last.

What are your favorite ice cream flavors and toppings?  Have a great week everyone!

 

 

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Back to School Organization Tips

Back to School Organization Tips

 

My boys will be going back to school in 14 days and 3 hours but hey, who’s counting?!  As soon as the school year starts once more, I jump for joy start missing those sweet boys!  All kidding aside, the summer is fun but the school routine is a welcome change in our home.  Here are my favorite tips to get organized for getting back to “school mode”.

 

1.  Restore the sleep routine.

Yes, all those weeks of saying “ah, let them stay up.  There’s no school.” can catch up to you.  It’s important that a week or two before school starts, we start to cut back on bed time.  They should start to slowly adjust back to their sleep schedule prior to summer.

Back to School Organization Tips

 

2.  Create a space for homework.

Clearing out their desks or designating a spot in the home to do homework can be important in them being able to focus once again on school and their homework responsibilities.

Back to School Organization Tips

 

My son’s desk has a few items including a desk mat to protect his desk, sharpened colored pencils (he loves to draw) and a diffuser.  I use the diffuser to either diffuse oils that help him focus while doing homework or lavender to help him rest at night.  If the boys have colds or congestion, I use oils that help with that.  We all have diffusers in our rooms but I was glad to find this black one for him because it was a perfect match for his room and as he would say “it’s manly”.

 

Back to School Organization Tips

 

3.  Buy school supplies.

Many school websites already have a general list available detailing what the kids will need for the school year.  I like purchasing supplies as soon as I can so that I can beat the rush at the stores right before school.  I also like to stock-up his desk with new supplies so that he is excited to work at home as well.  Freshly sharpened pencils are waiting to be used in his drawer.

Back to School Organization Tips

 

4.  Create a launch/landing pad.

Depending on the age of the child, they will need a spot to place their book bag and possibly a wallet or keys.  I found this little shelf at Target last year (from the Young House Love line for Target) and I spray painted it to match his room.  For now, it only holds his book bag.  It’s important to have a launch/landing pad so that mornings are smoother and important items don’t get lost.  This will help them develop this important habit for the future.

Back to School Organization Tips

5.  Organize clothing and closet.

My boys use uniforms for school so I just removed last years uniforms and replaced them with the new ones.  This is a great time to go through their clothing and get rid of items that no longer fit.  That way you don’t have to hear in the morning “Mom, I don’t have jeans!  Nothing fits!”.

Back to School Organization Tips

 

Kids (and parents) can be anxious before school starts and having things in order can make us all feel more calm and ready to tackle the next school year! What is your favorite tip to avoid the back-to-school madness?

~ This posts contains links, a few are affiliate links.  Affiliate links don’t affect what you pay for the item, so you don’t pay more by purchasing through the link.   As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

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Quick Breakfast Ideas with Jimmy Dean

Quick Breakfast Ideas with Jimmy Dean

Quick Breakfast Ideas with Jimmy Dean : This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Jimmy Dean, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #JDGreatStart http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

 

You know how when you are craving breakfast food, nothing else will do?  There is something comforting about any dish containing eggs, sausage and cheese.  I mean, cheese and comfort are pretty much synonymous right?  The drawback is time.  All these breakfast meals take time and time is what we are short of during the work/school week.

Admitedly, because the weekday mornings are rushed, the boys will sometimes leave for school after eating just a bowl of cereal.  But I don’t want them to have cereal every day and frankly, they get tired of cereal.  As for the adults, many mornings I just have a cup of coffee.  The most important meal of the day is sometimes the one that gets the least attention.

Some of my favorite quick breakfasts include:

  1. Greek yogurt with honey

  2. Fruit Bowl (our favorites are strawberries, blueberries and any melon variety).

  3.  Cappuccino (I usually have a regular cup of coffee so a cappuccino feels pretty special).

  4. Smoothie (Always different depending on what fruits and veggies are in the fridge).

  5. Breakfast Sandwich (great because they are nutritious and portable)

 

Quick Breakfast Ideas with Jimmy Dean

 

I want to share with you two of my favorite Jimmy Dean breakfast options and why I like them.  I am more of a bacon fan but the boys love sausage so I usually buy the sausage sandwiches because I am outvoted over here!  This past week while at Publix Supermarket, I purchased the Jimmy Dean Delights English Muffin and the Jimmy Dean Delights Breakfast Bowl – both made with turkey sausage.

This particular morning my son wanted the breakfast bowl and I opted for the sandwich.  These breakfast sandwiches pack protein, calcium and fiber and they are so convenient for school days.  In our home when mom (me) is working on a food post, there are suddenly lots of visitors in the kitchen who always casually ask if I am done taking pictures of the food.  What is it with boys being hungry all the time?!

So after I took this picture of his breakfast bowl:

Quick Breakfast Ideas with Jimmy Dean

He sat down to feast!  Notice how he is laughing in the last picture…I was sneaky and served him grapefruit juice instead of orange juice.  I’m sneaky like that!  He is still aquiring the taste for grapefruit but we are not quite there yet.

 

Quick Breakfast Ideas with Jimmy Dean

 

 

And then mommy sat down to eat because taking pictures of food will open up your appetite!

Quick Breakfast Ideas with Jimmy Dean

 

What are your favorite easy breakfast ideas?  Have you tried the Jimmy Dean breakfast varieties?

 

 

Links to more info:

http://www.jimmydean.com

 

 

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