Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cupcakes with Pink Champagne Frosting

Valentine’s Day is a month away and in stores it’s hard to avoid. In fact, I saw Valentine outfits for babies in DECEMBER! What in the world?! I don’t typically observe Valentine’s Day in any major way like decorating the house or giving lavish presents but I do like to acknowledge it in small ways. I typically love all holidays but I guess I’m a bit of a Valentine’s scrooge. One thing I can get on board with over Valentine’s Day are the treats! Give me all the yummy meals, decadent desserts and sweets! If you don’t buy into the fancy, over-priced candlelit dinners and extravagant gifts then why not acknowledge your Valentine with a homemade sweet treat. You can’t ever go wrong with chocolate cake so I whipped up these easy chocolate cupcakes and got into the festivities with a delicious pink champagne frosting. All of the luxury and sweetness without the added cheese ๐Ÿ˜‰

Valentine's Day Pink Champagne Chocolate Cupcakes

Valentine's Day Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Valentine's Day Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Or maybe you could say “I Love You’ with the gift of peppiness ๐Ÿ˜‰ Take a look at my Vanilla Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting for an alternative caffeine fix!

How sweet are these Valentine’s apt baking items?

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Candy Cane Hot Chocolate In A Jar Gift

Christmas week is here! Can you believe it? It’s a week of last minute scrambling, cleaning and preparation to go visit family for us. While Christmas is about so much more than presents – gift buying, wrapping and giving is in full swing this week. I love thoughtful little gifts! Who doesn’t? It’s quite special to receive a gift that’s been handmade just for you! That’s why I love putting together baskets and these DIY mason jar gifts. They are perfect as stocking fillers, for co-workers, secret Santa gift giving and even as last-minute gifts for the unexpected visitor (we’ve all been there!).

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate In A Jar Gift

At this time of the year you may already have some or all of the ingredients for hot chocolate jars in your home depending on how sweet your tooth is. For me, this is not an issue. ALL of the candy at this time of the year! This particular jar has an added dose of chocolate in the form of chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli white chips for a richer flavor) and a candy cane for stirring! You could also get your peppermint flavor from a layer of crushed peppermints as a topping in the jar or by adding peppermint marshmallows instead of the regular kind.

You will need:

  • Ball Mason Jar or similar
  • Decorative ribbon or bakers twine

If you are super organized you could have some pre-printed labels for the lid (I was not super organized!).

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate Jar Gift

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate

  • Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Mini White Chocolate Chips
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Candy Cane

LastMinute Jar Gift

Add hot water or milk with two tablespoons from your jar and enjoy!

Why not try some other hot chocolate flavors such as salted caramel, spiced white hot chocolate or even gingerbread!

Jar gifts can be absolutely anything you wish so be creative.

More Jar Gift Ideas

Manicure – Nail polish remover, nail scissors, file, buffer and a festive shade of polish.

21+ – Mini soda can, mini liquor bottle, decorative drink stirrer.

Coffee Lovers – Gourmet espresso sachet, espresso mug and mini dark chocolates.

The possibilities are endless and the results so personal and cute!

 

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No-Sew Novelty Cloud Pillow

This blog has given me a serious case of craft-itis! I get so much inspiration and motivation from reading hundreds of other blogs every month that I now have a massive craft bug and I am thoroughly enjoying it. This week I tried my hand at a simple cloud pillow for Baby’s nursery. I cannot sew. At all. Even a button, it WILL fall off again. I despise sewing. What I can do however, is handle a small, low-temperature hot glue gun!

DIY No Sew Cloud Pillow

People often ask me if I’ve chosen a theme for Baby’s nursery and honestly I had not, nor had I ever considered one. Unless you can call ‘gender neutral’ a theme. Although I love to decorate and sit back to admire my handiwork, I get bored and over analytical. For me, something overly specific was an absolute no-no.

Let me tell you, choosing gender neutral decor is easier said than done. It seems these days that a lot of grey and rustic/outdoorsy decor is considered gender neutral. I personally think that stuff, although beautiful, is far more boyish than girly. After I had decided on a white crib and re-purposed my old TV cabinet into a white changing unit (check it out here!), I found the cutest cloud door handles on Etsy. What’s both baby appropriate and gender neutral? The sky! So I settled on clouds, stars, the moon etc. as my central ‘theme that isn’t a theme’.

This easy peasy no-sew cutie will be complete in 30 minutes and costs less than $10-20 depending on where you buy your supplies and the quality you desire!

You will need:
  • White fabric (cotton, felt, fleece, velour …it’s up to you!)
  • Poly-fil Stuffing 12oz (o r see amount requirements for different projects on the package!)
  • Low-temp hot glue gun + extra glue sticks
  • Sharp scissors or ideally a fabric shears
  • A sharpie to draw your cloud shape

There is no distinct pattern for this project. I completely winged it and you can too!

Method:

On a clean, flat surface fold your fabric in half and freehand draw a simple cloud shape on your fabric. If drawing is not your forte then find a shape to copy or trace with a quick google search

no-sew-novelty-cloud-pillow1

Once you’re happy with the shape, cut it out (both sides)

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Since the sides you have cut may have sharpie marks showing then make sure you glue this side up! Make sure both pieces line up and apply a thin, clean line of glue around the edge. Carefully glue edge to edge in small stages 4/5ths of the way around

Don’t forget to stop, you have to leave a hole for filling!

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When the glue is dry and you’re happy there’s no missed spots ie, holes, then turn it inside out. The reason for a thin, evenly glued edge is to avoid puckering. It may still appear puckered in spots but you can iron those out!

Start stuffing the pillow carefully, ensuring it’s totally filled! It may take a lot depending on how large you made it. Work out the bumps as you go.

no-sew-novelty-cloud-pillow6

The trickiest part is sealing the last gap since the fabric is now the right way around. Take your time and slowly glue it as neatly as possibly. Rushing will result in hot glue all over your hands and the outside of the pillow!

no-sew-novelty-cloud-pillow7

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DIY Unique Christmas Wreath

Last year I didn’t have a Christmas wreath on our sad little front door but this year in our new house with a beautiful entryway there was no way I could go without! Wreaths out there were either too expensive for me, too big, too small or just…meh. So I made my own which I love because nobody else has one. I’m feeling festive so I guess I will share with you guys ๐Ÿ˜‰

DIY Unique Christmas Wreath

I purchased a plain artificial wreath but you could also use a fresh one! Once I fluffed up the wreath and gave it a good shape, I sprayed on snow, topped with a large burlap bow and added the CUTEST pair of ice skates in the center. Vintage holiday decor is my favorite and I have been eyeing them up at Hobby Lobby since last year. When I found them again I couldn’t bear to leave them behind. I don’t really have anywhere to hang more decorations so this was the perfect solution!

DIY Unique Christmas Wreath

DIY Unique Christmas Wreath

Have you made any of your Holiday decorations?

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DIY Baby Changing Station Transformation

I don’t need to tell you that babies are expensive little beings. It is rather overwhelming looking around your home and realizing just how much you need to buy for baby. I think the worst kind of baby gear is the stuff that lasts five minutes and is then no longer of any use. Like a bassinet or a changing table.

DIY Changing Table Transformation

I was lucky to have an old TV cabinet sitting in my garage that had the perfect potential for a changing unit. This was achieved by simply changing the color! I was able to create a beautiful piece of furniture for the nursery that can be used as both a changing table and later, a storage unit. What I love about re-purposing a small cabinet is the versatility of the end result. You could remove the doors and add decorative storage boxes to make it more gender/theme specific or you can also choose toย  keep the doors and hide boring necessities behind them.

DIY Changing Station Transformation

DIY Changing Station Transformation

I am doing the latter. I have decided to turn this into the ultimate baby changing station! The upper shelf which is usually for DVD players, game consoles and the like will be a place to store basics like onesies/bibs/burp cloths and the inevitable spare outfits we will need with some changes! Behind the doors there is one shelf which will be home to endless diapers, wipes and also health and bath products. All I am really adding to this piece is a standard changing pad.

For such a huge transformation and total re-purpose, this project is the easiest I have ever done. It had two steps.

I have two words people. CHALK. PAINT.

DIY Changing Station Transformation

Paint that magic potion directly onto your dust-free, un-sanded wood and watch it transform! Granted, it took four or five coats but if you are not in a rush and have patience then you can get away without prepping. I underestimated how many coats it would need and I went through two tubs before I gave in and bought a bigger one to finish it. If in doubt, buy the bigger tin! To save time and effort you can sand and fully prep the furniture from the start. The reason I didn’t was because I began during Summer and therefore in the height of my allergy season. It just wasn’t worth the agony in my eyes and the sneezing fits! Once you are happy with the coverage you can use a clear wax to seal and protect it.

I’m SO happy with the way this unit turned out and even happier that I have a piece of nursery furniture that cost me $25! All I purchased was the paint, wax and door knobs ๐Ÿ™‚

DIY Changing Station Transformation

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Maternity Essentials for the Stylish Mama To Be

Initially, the thoughts of a maternity wardrobe horrified me which is strange because I love fashion, shopping and everything related. It wasn’t the fact that I would need bigger clothes. Or the effort of shopping for them but simply the fact that if you stick the word ‘maternity’ in front of any item of clothing it seems to triple in price. The sting in that is the amount of time you will actually spend wearing these pieces. It is so short! So in my pregnancy ignorance I assumed I would get away with leggings and my loose tunic style tops for the next few months. Yeah, I quickly learned that isn’t going to happen. My bump is still teeny tiny but I am rocking the maternity jeans a good few weeks now. Undershirts have become weird belly tops and button down tops no longer button.

Maternity Essentials For The Stylish Mama To Be

With that, I have started to pick up a few key pieces that are versatile enough to build different outfits around. Think essential basics like leggings, tanks, long tees, tunics, casual jersey dresses and layering items like shirts, cardigans and blanket scarves.

Luckily I will be spending my pregnancy sporting Winter gear. I cannot imagine being pregnant in the height of a Georgia Summer, ick. However, Winter really only arrives here in January so there is no need for heavy coats and huge sweaters. With upcoming trips to Ireland and Huntsville, I will need some cold weather attire occasionally but I hope to pull this off by layering basics with chunky cardigans already in my wardrobe!

Comfort is the winner for me with style taking a close second. Here are some of my suggested essentials to get you through your Fall/Winter pregnancy in total comfort and the height of style ๐Ÿ˜‰

BASIC TOPS

Maternity Essentials

I would suggest buying these in white, grey and black or multiples of whichever your favorite color is! These are perfect for layering. Wear under sweaters, kimonos, cardigans, blazer etc. I love the longer length to cover the waistband of my jeans/leggings. If you are still doing the hair-tie trick with your pants, they are perfect for hiding that too!

SWEATERS & LAYERING

Maternity Essentials

None of these are maternity pieces which I love because you’ll wear them long after baby arrives. Kimonos are light and airy and look great over leggings for a relaxed but dressed up look. I LOVE this plaid kimono, get your Autumn plaid shirt fix without battling buttons. Chunky knitwear is a no brainer when it comes to layers so it needs no explanation. How cute is this layered sweater? It’s also peplum which means you can wear it without the bump stretching it out! Win!

BOTTOMS

Maternity Essentials

Maternity jeans and a pair of comfy leggings (or 5!) will be absolutely lived in throughout your entire pregnancy. I was lucky enough to get a 40% off any single item code for H&M which allowed me to pick up these jeans for a steal. Overalls/dungarees are a love or hate maternity piece but I adore this skinny legged pair!

DRESSES

Maternity Essentials

If dresses are your style then they will be your splurge item. However if you find a casual dress that can take you from day to night then it will be an worthwhile investment! Add a wide brim hat and chunky statement jewelry to dress these basic dresses up! I personally would pair dress #4 with denim leggings and over the knee boots as I don’t like bare legs with knit dresses but to each their own.

Check out my ‘Bump Style’ Pinterest board for ways to wear similar styles

 

 

What were your holy grail maternity items?

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Super Easy DIY Christmas Wall Art

If you can’t stand people who love Christmas, LOOK AWAY NOW because today I am bringing you some DIY Christmas wall art!

Super Easy DIY Christmas Wall Art

Move over Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving, it’s officially my time! I’m not obnoxious about it. I won’t decorate for a while and blast carols from my speakers but I ADORE Christmas. I find it amusing how genuinely disgruntled many people become when others get in the Christmas spirit. You don’t see me pitchin’ a fit when you all go crazy for pumpkins in August so hush. We can have Halloween decor in stores in July but now I’m the worst for loving Christmas 8 weeks in advance? As they say in the South, bless your heart!

Christmas was always a special time for me and since moving away from home it’s become even more. It was incredibly difficult last year to spend my first Christmas in 27 years away from home. It was even harder to participate in others’ ‘traditions’ that just did not feel right to me. Overall it was just a really emotional and sad time for me. I feel very strongly about carrying on my own Holiday traditions especially now that we are expecting. I can’t wait to have Santa Claus again in our home and the magic of Christmas that only children can bring!

So since November is just one sleep away I am sharing with you a super easy festive wall art I made over the weekend. This involves nothing but glue and some craft paint! You know me, I like the easy stuff!

diy-christmas-wall-art

I picked up this distressed hanging pallet piece a few weeks ago at the craft store and separately, this laser cut decoration. There was no real plan for either and placing them haphazardly on the counter resulted in this project! I decided to paint the cut-out gold + gold glitter top coat and attach it to the pallet. It makes a great piece of wall art that is simple yet festive! Remember you can also stain or paint an unfinished pallet very easily if you can’t find or don’t want a distressed look.

diy-christmas-wall-art1

First I left it painted gold with the leaf element glittered only but I loved the sparkle so much, I did the whole thing! It’s not overly glittery just a gorgeous shimmer than catches the light.

diy-christmas-wall-art2

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How I Tripled My Traffic By Posting Less

More posts, more traffic, more subscribers, right? In my case, wrong. I started blogging over 8 months ago and consistency was my initial goal. While consistency is important it doesn’t necessarily mean lots of posts –ย  a big mistake I was making. I would post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday consistently for months. I was drained. Although my stats and follow count were growing, my plate was full and my brain was empty. I was drained. I had more writer’s block than interest in my blog. What good were all my readers when I was churning out sub-par content? They would get bored and leave anyway.

Triple Your Traffic By Posting Less Often

As well as poor content, by posting three times a week my posts had a shelf life of just one day. One day to promote my blog meant joining every group thread that was applicable. While it is fine to join them all, it is easy to forget that you must also complete them. Fulfilling group requirements, managing your own social media platforms, building community AND preparing new content every day was exhausting. This is all in addition to my normal day to day life. Talk about burn out.

It became somewhat manageable. And by manageable I mean I was stressed, irritable and ignoring my own needs physically and mentally. When it really became too much is when we had travel plans or social engagements and I would be forced to take a break. Note I said ‘forced’ because that’s how the self-inflicted pressure made me feel. I would return home to masses of threads to complete, comments to answer and social media to engage with. I needed to manage the blog entirely differently. It was literally taking the reigns of my entire life.

I decided to give myself the gift of time

I dropped Friday’s post. Every week I started to schedule just two posts. I would publish my ‘lighter’ and shorter posts on the Monday and save the weightier post for Wednesday. This meant that I had Thursday through Sunday to get maximum exposure. I started to see my traffic rise and my posts shared to social media twice as much as before.

Then I hit the dreaded writer’s block. After weeks of scheduling, the well had run dry and with family events and vacations planned I was under pressure again. Knowing I would be away from my laptop for a couple of weeks terrified me. I would have minimal time to post and I would have virtually no time to promote. So I bit the bullet and posted just on Monday for a few weeks. The result? Shocking. I had three times the views on my posts at the end of every week. They were shared twice as much and a few of them went semi-viral on Pinterest giving me thousands of repins and thus, thousands of unique visitors and views.

Publishing a post every Monday has changed my blog and my life. I have time again. Time to plan, time to write, time to properly engage with my readers, time to be more creative, time for myself and all with the added bonus of a growing blog!

It’s really scary to try to do less in order to gain more but for your own sanity and ability to have an authentic voice I highly recommend it. That being said if blogging seven days a week is what YOU want to do then by all means do it! You have to find your balance. Ironically I have been posting twice a week again lately, not every single week but more often than I had been. With being pregnant and the holiday season now in full swing, I simply have a lot more to say. Lucky you, or poor you depending on how you see it ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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Eat, Drink & Be Scary! The Ultimate Halloween Party Essentials

Americans may have been the ones to turn Halloween into the party that it is but did you know it’s the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain? Samhain (pronounced sow-in) marked the end of the harvest and the coming of Winter in old pagan times. The night of Halloween celebrates the short window of time in which the souls of the dead return to visit.

Ultimate Halloween Party Essentials

So there you go, it’s all a little darker than dressing like a minion and eating copious amounts of sweets!

The irony in my being in the US and enjoying Halloween now is that the holiday terrified me my whole life. Everything scares me. For about 12 years my brothers kept me out of their bedroom by threatening me with masks…

America celebrates everything and that is just one reason I love it here. I now have a vast collection of Autumn and Halloween decor which I just love to put up! This is my first year visiting a pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins and properly passing out candy the true American way and I am so excited. What I am not doing but would love to, at least one year is to throw a Halloween party. I’ve been snooping around Pinterest and here’s a list I put together of the ultimate halloween party essentials. Whether its decor, food, drinks or costumes to wear there’s something for the whole family.

Let me just put out a little disclaimer, these are all things I think are fun/clever/adorable and I hope you will too. I’m personally, not a fan of foods and decorations that are graphic or gory so you won’t find that sort of thing around here ๐Ÿ™‚

The Ultimate Halloween Party Essentials

Deadly Decorations

halloween decorations

Also check out my recent post DIY Halloween Spider Web Wreath for an inexpensive and simple project!

Frightening Food

halloween party food

Find the recipes below!

  1. Stuffed Pumpkin Peppers 2. Witches Broom Marshmallow Pops 3. Mummy Pretzels 4. Monster Fruit Salad

Devilish Drinks

halloween party cocktails

See the recipes here!

  1. Devil’s Margarita 2. The Raven 3. Liquified Ghost 4. Hocus Pocus

For the too-cool-for-school men in your life who won’t drink girly looking cocktails *eye roll* why not try a cinnamon-brown sugar rim on the glass of their favorite seasonal beer?! It adds a fun twist!

Clever Costumes

I am a big fan of DIY costumes and not only are they cheaper than store bought but you will always be unique! If you choose a good one, you can potentially re-use whatever supplies you buy to make it.

Couples

couples costumes

Oh my, I just LOVE these relatively simple ideas!

ET, Deer & Deer Hunter, Lightening Strike and Forrest Gump & Jenny

Kids

kids costumes

  1. Rain Cloud by make it love it 2. Crazy Cat Lady by Crafty Morning 3. Sadness from Inside Out by love and lionSignOff

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DIY Halloween Spider Web Wreath

There are so many spooky Halloween wreaths out there but frankly, I think the price tags are equally as frightful. I am a huge fan of Fall decor and don’t even start me on Christmas but my Halloween decorating is minimal at best. I can’t justify having a huge amount of decorations for just one night (ok, yes ironic since Christmas is technically one day as well). So I took things into my own hands using Michael’s 40% off one full priced item coupon and made this MINDLESSLY easy, spider web wreath which ended up costing just $7!

DIY Halloween Spider Web Wreath

You will need just three items:

  1. Plain, twig wreath (whatever size you want!)
  2. Spider Web
  3. Spiders, of course!

DIY Halloween Spider Web Wreath

Depending on where you are placing this and what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, you may need to use wire or glue to secure your spiders. Due to the family of geckos that likes to move into all my front door wreaths and then try jump into my house, I will probably use this indoors as wall decor! If you are displaying the wreath inside then those spider legs pretty much secure themselves between the twigs. One less step – score!

Obviously these wreaths are supposed to be round (duh!) but they are inexpensive and all vary. Choose wisely at the store. When you are ready to start, lay it flat on a table and decide what point will be the top (where it will sit on the door hanger/nail).

DIY Halloween Spider Web Wreath

After this you get to play with your webbing. I used a very small amount, stretching it to the max to ensure it looked more real. The more you use, the clumpier it will be. I wound the web around one side, spending time making it look as true to life as I could. You could also arrange it width ways across the bottom half or indeed, all over the entire wreath.

DIY Halloween Spider Web Wreath

Next up – spiders! Sparkly, plastic spiders are much more acceptable than live, hairy ones. This pack had six in it but I used just four. Again, depending on your wreath size, it’s up to you. You’re all set! Did I mention this was TOO easy?!

DIY Halloween Spider Web Wreath

Let me know if you’ve made your own Halloween wreath!

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