4 Tips for Holiday Entertaining


Carmen Ordonez, from Viva Fashion, is giving us some killer tips for holiday entertaining. Don't stress out about the perfect holiday decor- we've got you covered.

The holidays are right around the corner, which means tons of gatherings with friends and family and holiday decor wherever you turn.  Whether you’re hosting a gift exchange with friends or hosting a Christmas Eve dinner with family, here are a few tips to help you entertain with ease this year.

Tip #1: Set the scene.

Set the mood by decorating with  flowers or candles in a holiday scent (I love cinnamon spice). One of my favorite items for decorating during the holidays is pine cones. They are widely used in Christmas floral displays and can be found pretty much anywhere (even your own backyard).

Holiday-Decor(Photo via pinterest)

Tip #2: Set the table.

If you have more than eight guests, I always recommend using place cards for your table. Nobody likes playing musical chairs, and place cards make things a lot easier. You can use fruits, such pomegranates, the symbol of abundance, as place card holders for your guests or how about these adorable miniature wreaths.

Place-Cards-for-Holiday-Tables(Photo via stylemepretty)

Tip #3: Make the food festive but easy.

You don’t want to be a slave to the kitchen, so instead, consider serving your guests tapas-style dishes. These are ideal for entertaining because your guests will have a variety of small dishes that are full of flavor. Some of my favorites includes figs with goat cheese, fresh olives, and cucumbers with chicken salad.

Small-Holiday-Dishes(Photo via thetomkatstudio)

Tip #4: Create seasonal cocktails.

Seasonal inspired cocktails are sure to wow your guests. Think cocktails with cinnamon and peppermint flavors and cherry garnishes. You can also create your own holiday sangria (normally consisting of wine, chopped fruit and a small amount of brandy).

Seasonal-Cocktails-to-Wow-Your-Guests(Photo via thetomkatstudio)

That's really it! Just a couple of small, easy-to-make details will really help spruce (get it?) up your home for the holidays!

For more decorating tips, check out the rest of the Home Expert Series, or visit our Pinterest page

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DIY Plaid and Fur Christmas Stocking


Courtney Hamby, from The Hamby Home, is taking holiday DIY to the next level. She's showing us how to make adorable Christmas stockings to hang by the fireplace. Enjoy!


This year I decided to change up my Christmas decor theme from a glitzy red and gold to a traditional/country Christmas full of red, green and plaid. To keep from buying all new decor I decided to DIY as much as possible. I love the coziness of plaid and fur so I decided that is what I wanted to use for my DIY stockings.


Plaid fabric
Permastick Tape or sewing machine
Needle and thread


Step 1:
On the backside of the plaid (I used
a plaid tablecloth), trace or draw out the shape of the
stocking. I used our old stockings as a guide.
Step 2:
Using the permastick tape,
tape the outside of the traced line.
You want to make sure it’s on the outside
edge of the line to make sure you’re stocking stays that correct size.
Also, remember the top of the stocking needs to be open
and without tape. If you forget, like I did,
you can just remove the tape when you realize your mistake.

Step 3:
Cut out the stocking shape.
I cut about half an inch from the tape,
this will be on the inside of the stocking so you won’t see it.

Step 4:
Trace the stocking shape that you just cut.
Make sure to draw on the side that will be on the inside.
I tried to match up some of the plaid lines
but that isn’t required. Then cut out that side of the stocking.
Step 5:
Now you should have both sides of the stocking
cut and one will have the tape on it.
Remove the backing of the tape and attach the top side.
It’s easier to do a little at a time while keeping them stacked appropriately.

Step 6:
Once you have it taped,
follow the package instruction and iron
the edges to make the bond permanent.
Then, flip the stocking right side out.
Step 7:
Cut the fur to be long enough to go around
the whole stocking top and the width
you want plus an inch or two that will tuck inside.
Step 8:
Stitch the fur together on the ends.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, the fur hides the stitching.
Then, slip it over the top of the stocking.
I put the seam towards the backside,  
but it’s really not noticeable and having it on
the sides would be fine.
Step 9:
Fold the top over into the inside of the stocking
and stitch to the plaid stocking.
Once again, it doesnt have to be perfect,
you just want it to be secure.
Step 10:
Cut a narrow strip of fur and
sew into the inside of the stocking
to get you the hook you need to hang your stocking.

It may sound like a lot of steps but they’re all very simple and easy to do. This is a great DIY for Christmas! It’s customizable, trendy and very affordable and I hope you love them as much as I do!

Note: If you plan for these to hang and hold a lot of goodies you may want to sew them for durability. The steps would be the same, just substitute sewing for the fabric tape.

For more easy DIY projects, check out the rest of the Home Expert Series or visit our Pinterest page!
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DIY Holiday Pillow Covers


Karin Chudy, from Art is Beauty, is showing us how to make fun and festive (and easy!) holiday pillow covers to give your home that extra sprinkle of holiday cheer. 


Hello again my Beauties! The holidays are coming and it's time to get our home ready for family and friends. Today I have a fun and simple way to add some holiday cheer to your home with a very simple DIY pillow cover. 

Here is how you start.I started by going to my local craft store and picking up these fun little canvas pillow covers.They aren’t that expensive (under $5) plus you can use store coupons and get them for around $3.I also grabbed this cute little deer stencil (you can use what ever pattern or stencil you want) for only a couple of bucks. 


If you don’t have any paint, grab some colors you like when you are there as well. I just used acrylic paint I already had at home. If you want a softer feel to your pillows you can purchase fabric paint, but my pillows weren’t going to be used to sleep on so I wasn’t worried about a stiffer feel. 

Lay them out flat. At this point I would advise you to put a piece of cardboard or magazine inside the pillow covers. It makes the covers easier to work with and keeps the paint from bleeding through to the back.I was not worried about the creases because I would be taking care of those later. I used painters' tape to add some lines to my covers.I laid them on a flat surface next to each other and just ran my painters tape across them both, making sure to press down my edges firmly so paint would not weep under the tape.


This way my lines would be the same on both pillows .I did this in no specific spacing,  just by eyeballing the space. Next, I grabbed my foam dauber and started laying down my black paint. Again, when working with this you want to make sure you don’t overload your paint so it doesn’t bleed through under the tape.


When all my lines were painted on I pulled off my tape. When the paint was dry, I grabbed my fun little deer head stencil and my gold craft paint.


I centered my stencil and loaded up my foam brush again and painted on my gold deer head. I pulled it off and waited again for it to dry. At this point I could have left it, but I wanted to add a little more, so I grabbed a small craft brush and some cream paint and just randomly brushed it on in the spaces between the black lines. 


Once dry, you need to grab your iron and a towel.Turn on your iron and lay the towel across the top of the pillow covers.This is called "heat setting." It permanently sets the paint so you don’t have to worry about paint washing off.
Heat set for a few minutes on each cover and then let cool.


At this point you could leave them just like this and be good to go. But I wanted to add just a little pop of color, so I grabbed my KRINK permanent paint pen and added Rudolph's little red nose. Since it's permanent I didn’t have to worry about heat setting. 


Now the pillows are ready to display. I put my pillow inserts in them and they instantly made my home feel festive for the holidays! 


Thank you so much for joining me for this holiday craft edition of the Home Expert Series! I hope to see you over on Art is Beauty for more fun! Until next time, have a beautiful day. 

For more easy and creative DIY ideas, check out the rest of the Home Expert Series, or visit our Pinterest page!

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How to Create a Budget-Friendly Holiday Tablescape


Cassie Bustamante, from Primitive and Proper, is back and bringing us some holiday cheer! She is going to show us how to dress up your table for the upcoming holiday meals. Enjoy a table setting that looks as good as your food tastes! 

I am just going to start by saying I LOVE CHRISTMAS!  Ok, that came out more as a shout, but it needed emphasis. I love the baking, the giving, the decorating, the smells of the season, the time with family and friends, the music… I love every nook and cranny this season has to offer.  

One of my favorite things is opening my home to friends and family on a cold winter’s night to celebrate.  Being indoors gathered around a beautiful table, reflecting on the year behind us, and cherishing our relationships fills my heart like no other meal around a table does.  Of course, creating a beautifully set table can cost a pretty penny as everything adds up.  I am going to show you how I created this gorgeous and festive table with thrifted finds perfect for a hostess on a budget.

(I do want to note that this tablescape was created for my shop, Sweet Clover, so pardon the concrete floors and shop background, but it would look even lovelier in a home!)


The first thing you want to do when creating a budget friendly table is hit the thrift shops and flea markets to collect pieces that will work for your aesthetic.  Better yet, if you have items and dishes at home you can use, shop your own house before even heading out to purchase anything.

We were creating a blue, white, gold, and silver table, so we gathered a collection of blue, white, and gold dishes, blue goblets, and blue and white vases.  Gather anything else that might work to accessorize your table, such as the woven wall hanging we used as backdrop.

Before doing anything, clear your entire table off to prepare.


Once you have cleared your table, you can start placing your layers.  In this case, our base layer was this vintage woven round piece which fit our table almost perfectly, acting as a tablecloth.


Start arranging your dishes and accessories.  As you can see below, we placed blue and white thrifted fish plates on the table to start.  We also added a trio of vintage thrifted blue and white vases to the center.


We had started arranging the table, when we found a set of beautiful white vintage china with a blue and gold rim that we knew would be a perfect addition.  We added it in, layered under the other plates, and mixed onto the table.  We also layered cloth napkins between plates.  Layering napkins this way is a great way to hide imperfect napkins.  At this point we added in silverware as well.


The final steps really make the table come to live and also bring out the holiday feel.  Accessorize by adding ornaments into your table.  We filled a bowl with vintage silver and gold vintage and newer ornaments, but you can use anything that fits the look of your table.


And finally, fresh flowers will always take any space up a notch and breathe life into it.  We shopped the inexpensive flowers at the grocery store and found these white over-sized mums for just $5 for the bunch.  We loved that they were neutral and large.  I cut evergreen branches from a tree in my own yard to mix in with the flowers for a wintery feel.


All you need to make this table perfect is a gathering of your favorite people!  I hope you enjoy this holiday season, and wish you and yours the coziest and happiest times. Cheers!

For more fabulous decor ideas, check out the rest of our Home Expert Series, or visit our Pinterest page.

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Fall in Love with These Cozy Autumn Decorating Ideas


With the chill of fall in the air, it’s time to cozy up your home! Gabrille Anschau, from Trend Mogul, is highlighting some of the important elements in fall decor. Pair these items with a fabulous sofa or sectional and you'll have a fall-ready home in no time. Get ready to get comfy! 


Nothing says fall and holidays quite like tucking under a warm, fuzzy throw with a fire crackling in the background. Make a cozy statement with nature based fibers - think, faux fur, wool, cable-knitted cotton and mohair. 

Fuzzy-Throw-Blankets(Photo credit: Pottery Barn) 

(Photo credit: West Elm)


As with throws, cushions made of raw, natural materials provide an added sense of warmth during fall and winter; think faux-fur, leather and wool. Don't be afraid to pile up the cushions for added-coziness!

Leather-Throw-Pillows(Photo credit: Pottery Barn) 

Fuzzy-Throw-Pillows(Photo credit: Pottery Barn) 

Gather Around The Hearth 

People are naturally drawn to a crackling fire. Rearrange seating in the living room to center around the hearth. Provide extra seating in the form on poufs and large cushions. 

Warm-Fireplace(Photo credit: Bloglovin) 

Create A Reading Nook 

As we make our way into the cooler months, and it becomes more difficult to spend time outside, carve out a reading nook to catch up on the classics. Creating a cozy reading corner doesn't require much more than a good reading lamp, a comfy chair, a warm throw and lots of cozy cushions.

Cozy-Reading-Corner(Photo credit: Wayfair) 

Seasonal Patterns 

Fall calls for plaid, herringbone, paisley and tweed. Be sure to add in these rich textures in small doses and in a way that compliments your existing decor. 

Plaid-Throw-Blanket(Photo credit: Domaine Home)


Ditch the overhead light for the warm glow of lamps, candles or a crackling fire to add instant coziness to any space. 

Fall-Lighting(Photo credit: laurenconrad.com)

For more awesome decorating tips, visit the Home Expert Series section on our blog or head to our Pinterest page

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Three-Cheese Bacon Baked Mac & Cheese Recipe


Alicia Pileggi, from The Crafterglow, is showing us how to take a traditional side dish and elevate it into a flavor-packed favorite. Dig in!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and by the end of the parade Thanksgiving morning, Santa will be making his appearance to let us know the celebrating has only just begun. For the next month our calendars will be loaded with parties and family get-togethers, and we all know one way to really bring the family together: good eats!

This past weekend my boyfriend and I offered to make an early Thanksgiving dinner for the family to get a practice round in and hone our menu for the actual day. (Plus, we just wanted an excuse to eat a turkey dinner with all the fixins!) I couldn’t wait to try out a new baked mac and cheese recipe we had been working on and oh man, it lived up to the hype!


This baked mac and cheese was a hit with everyone! It’s simple enough to still be the kids’ favorite and the adults loved the savory mix of sharp cheddar and parmesan. This is a rich and creamy comfort food that is perfect for the holiday season. 


1 8-ounce container parmesan cheese
3 8-ounce blocks of extra-sharp white cheddar
1 8-ounce bag of shredded mozzarella
1 lb. box of elbow noodles
1 package bacon
Panko bread crumbs (enough to spread over the top of mac and cheese)
1 pint heavy cream
3 cloves of garlic
½ stick butter
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Boil the noodles until fully cooked and drain the water.
Place noodles in a large bowl and set aside.
Cook whole package of bacon in pan or microwave
until nice and crispy and transfer to a plate
covered in paper towel to dry and cool. Set aside.  
Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat,
dice your garlic and cut your white cheddar into small cubes.
Once butter is melted, add garlic into the pot and let brown.
Slowly add shredded parmesan while stirring until fully melted.
Add the cheddar cheese, a few blocks at a time,
continually stirring until completely melted.

Crumble bacon and mix into bowl of noodles
along with 1 cup of mozzarella.
Pour your cheese sauce into the bowl of noodles and mix.
Pour mixture into large casserole dish.
Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the top.
Then add a layer of panko over the entire surface.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until top is slightly browned and crispy.

We hope you enjoy this yummy dish and feel free to add your own spin on it! Experiment with other cheeses or try a little ground mustard or tomatoes for a different taste - you can’t go wrong with mac & cheese!
Happy eating!

For more mouthwatering treats, visit the recipe section on our blog or head to our Pinterest page!

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DIY Rustic Wall Decor


Hello again my Beauties! It is so good to be back with you today again to show you another easy and DIY way to add some fun and rustic fall decor to your home. Anytime I get to go out into my scrap pile to make some wall art is a fun time for me. Now if you don’t have a scrap pile of wood, like I do, that's ok.You can do this type of wall art on many types of material.You could go buy blank canvas, or find some free pallets and cut them up, or even go to the hardware store and buy some lumber.The fun part is that whatever you choose, this project will look good.


As I said before I started with my scrap pile of barn wood. Since I wanted to keep it rustic, I kept the pieces uneven.I grabbed four boards that I liked and laid them down. 

I bought my stencil at the local craft store. There are so many options, the possibilities are endless.You could use what ever type of stencil you like.

I chose gold paint because I love the metallic trend that's taken over lately.I have this paint that I have used on multiple projects for Furniture.com and I just love it. I bought it at Target in the home decor section. It's a nice warm gold color.I grabbed my stencil dauber and got to work. 


As I mentioned in the personalized mug tutorial, don't overload your paint.You can see from the picture I wiped excess paint right on my stencil so that the paint doesn’t bleed under the edges and ruin the design. I lightly filled in the stencil area and then pulled up the stencil.I did this three more times for the other boards.


Once the boards were dry, it was time to arrange them for hanging. I chose to attach mine all together in a grouping, but you can hang them individually if you want.


I grabbed another board from my scrap pile and laid it on the back of my feather boards.I used screws (make sure they aren’t too long, as you don’t want them going through the front of your boards) and screwed my backer board to my artwork.


Next, I used a picture hanger and pounded that into the back of my project. It was now ready to hang.


I hung them up gallery style in my den with the DIY vintage artwork I previously made for Pursuit of Home. I love to mix textures and colors and having the rustic, gold addition gave my wall the extra pop of style I was looking for.


I hope you enjoyed this latest Home Expert Series post. Until next time, have a beautiful day!

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DIY Autumn Book Page Wreath


Julie Grimmett, from Julie is Coco and Cocoa, is teaching us how to make a quick and easy decoration to brighten up your home for the fall season. Time to get crafting!


Watching the leaves change colors has to be one of my favorite fall events. Bring those autumn colors indoors, or to your front door, with an autumn book page wreath.  I went to a local dollar store and found the largest book that they had for one dollar. The thrift store would also be a great place to pick up a used book for this project. 

In addition to a book you will need:

Watercolor paint (I used 6 different colors)
Paint brush and sponge
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Cardboard wreath base

Mix your watercolor paint with water to get the
consistency and transparency that you desire.
I went a little darker with most of my colors.
I found using a paintbrush and a sponge to
be the best way to paint my book pages.


After allowing the painted book pages to dry,
I folded each page in half twice to create a rectangle four layers thick.
Then I cut out a leaf sheet from each folded paper.


Then it's time to start applying the leaves to the wreath base.
I divided each colored stack in half.
One color and one leaf at a time, I added the half stack of leaves to my wreath base,
attaching the leaves with hot glue.
This was a great way to make sure that the
wreath base was completely covered by the leaves.


Then I added the other half of my book page leaves.
Knowing these would be the ones most visible,
I took my time and laid out a pattern for the leaves before I started gluing them down.
Once I had them placed where I wanted, I hot glued them in place.


I decided to hang my wreath in the kitchen, next to the “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry” sign I made earlier this year.


Bring in more fall sights by adding some acorns to your wreath. You can also attach some cranberries to give it a Thanksgiving touch. Enjoy the autumn colors hanging on your wall for the entire season! 

For more fun seasonal crafts, check out the rest of our Home Expert Series or visit our Pinterest page

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Yummy Sweet Potato Biscuits


Mary Beth, from Cupcakes and Crinoline, is sharing her famous sweet potato biscuit recipe with us! These flaky treats are perfect for any holiday meal. Enjoy!


When I was growing up my Mother made a sweet potato casserole every Thanksgiving.  I never tasted it.  I was a kid and sweet potatoes just seemed too orange to me and possibly even too healthy. They were strange and I was not going to eat anything that might even be remotely associated with them.  

Fast forward to now.  I love sweet potatoes and so do my boys.  I love to bake them, fry them, mash them and eat them….often.  

I found my Mom’s casserole recipe after she passed away and decided to make them. That triggered my love affair with this delicious root vegetable.  Now I make my Mom’s casserole every year and to keep up with my sweet potato passion I’m always on the lookout for new ways to add them to some of my family’s favorite recipes hence the reason I’m sharing these fluffy and fabulous sweet potato biscuits. They are so easy to make and you will be bombarded with requests to make them again and again.



1 cup of cooked peeled and mashed sweet potatoes (about 1 large or 2 medium potatoes)


½ cup milk
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting and rolling
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter cut into slices



Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  
Grease a baking sheet lightly.
In a bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add the butter and sweet potato.  
Stir just until incorporated.
Add the milk a little at a time.
Gently fold until the dough is moistened.
Sprinkle flour on your work surface.
Roll dough in the flour until a ball is formed and then knead 3 to 4 times.
Gently roll the dough approximately ½-inch thick.
Using a 2 ½-inch biscuit cutter cut the dough.  
(Coat the bottom of the biscuit cutter in flour to make the cutting easier.)
Gently re-roll the biscuit dough and cut more biscuits.
Place on baking sheet with the edges touching and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.  
Serve warm with butter or at room temperature.  
Yields approximately 18 biscuits.

We use any leftovers to make mini sandwiches and sliders.  
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Festive DIY Fall Hat Box

Festive-Fall-Hat-Box-TitleFestive Fall Hat Box

Jessica Bures, from Live Randomly Simple, is giving us a quick tutorial on making a festive fall decorationg using a hat box. It's so easy and so gorgeous- enjoy!

Can you believe it's November already!? I know, I am still in shock too! I love fall but here in Pennsylvania our leaves are falling off way too fast! I wish the leaves that changed colors lasted on the trees for more than two weeks. Sadly they seem to change and fall out instantly.

To keep the fall colors visible, I am bringing you a fun upcycled project that is so easy anyone can do it. The best part is that you could totally change it out for every season! How great is that?

To start you need a large hat box. I found this one at a thrift store, but you could always go to a craft store and pick up one up. It is probably where this one came from to begin with.

Then you need to pick out some flowers that you would like to add inside. I would suggest getting some long dangly ones to give it depth. You will also need a piece of foam to stick the flowers in, hot glue gun, chalk paint and a chip brush.

Festive Fall Hat Box Materials

To start I spray painted my hat box brown. It was cardboard but I cannot find the photo I took of it so you will have to use your imagination. Oops!

I did this so that when I did the chalk paint over it the brown would show through instead of the cardboard color.

Fall Hat Box Painting

Once the first layer of paint is dry grab your chip brush and chalk paint and dry brush on the color of your choice. I went with an eggshell color for a more vintage feel.

Eggshell Paint on Fall Hat Box

One of my favorite things with dry brushing is that you get to be messy on purpose! Just paint the whole box until you are satisfied with the coverage. Once this is dry I sprayed a matte clear coat over it but that is optional.

Flowers and Leaves for Fall Hat Box

Then gather up the flowers you want to use. I went with some burlap leaves and a little pumpkin in mine for a cute fall decor piece.

Burlap Pumpkin for Fall Hat Box

Grab a piece of foam and start arranging your flowers inside of the box. Do not glue them in yet. You want to be able to adjust if needed and if you glue them in before your are finished arranging them, you could risk having to start all over.

Final Fall Hat Box

Once you like how the flowers look in the box, grab your hot glue and start gluing them into place now. I just remove the whole thing and put glue around all of the stems. I also added a bit of moss just in case there were any holes I could not see and the foam would be completely covered.

Then glue the foam to the box so it does not fall out.

Final Fall Hat Box

And there you have it! A super simple and cute fall decor piece that you can sit out on a shelf, or if you want to get fancy you can add a wire hanger and hang it on the wall.

To add a wire hanger you want to get a long piece of wire and drill two holes in the back, one on each side. Put the wire in the holes and curl the ends. You could even do the holes on the sides so you wont notice the wire curls as much.

Festive Fall Hat Box DIY Decor

If you wanted to change this out for every season you would just pull the whole foam piece out and make a new one for Christmas/winter or whatever holiday you choose.

Have fun and I hope you get to make one of these soon because it has become one of my favorite pieces in my home!

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Easy DIY Personalized Coffee Mugs


Hello again my Beauties! For this week's DIY I thought I would show you a fun way to add some festive flavor to your fall.With the autumn holidays coming up it’s fun to be able to create seasonal decor for your home. Today, however, instead of furniture I am going to show you how to personalize a coffee mug.This DIY craft would make a great hostess gift for your upcoming turkey dinners, but they would also be a great addition to your mug collection. 


First things first: find yourself a plain white coffee mug. You can find these at your local craft store, or if you're lucky, a dollar store. I chose white because this shows off your pattern best. 


Next, you will want to buy some enamel craft paint.They run about a dollar for the little bottles.Some bottles will even have a picture of a wine glass on top of them to let you know they are for using on glassware. 


I also grabbed a festive autumn-style stencil that only cost $1.39. 

Before you start, make sure you cup is clean. I also suggest wiping the cup down with rubbing alcohol. It just makes sure the paint has proper adhesion. (Think of this step as lightly sanding a piece of furniture before you paint it. It's all about getting the paint to stick.) Now that all that is out of the way, it's time to start painting. I chose some festive colors for my mug to go along with the autumn theme. I squeezed a small amount of my paint onto a little plate and used a foam dauber to paint on my leaf stencil in a random pattern. (Be sure not to overload your paint, this can cause the paint to bleed underneath the stencil.) 


The nice part about this project is you can lift up your stencil and see if the stencil bled. If it has, you can just wipe it off with a wet cloth and start over. 


I did several leaves around my mug in a random pattern and decided I wanted a little bit more pattern so I simply dotted little dots with a q-tip between each leaf. 


When you are finished with your mug let it sit and dry for an hour. Next is the important step. In order for your mug to be hand washable the paint needs to cure.You can either choose the air dry method, which is 22 days, or you can choose to heat set your paint. I chose the heat set method. To do this do not preheat your oven.When you heat set something you need to allow the mug to slowly adjust to the temperature of the oven.To heat set simply set your air dried mug on a cookie sheet, put it in the oven and close the door.


Then, set your oven to 350 degrees. Let your mug bake for an hour. Once an hour has passed, turn off the oven and take out the cookie sheet with the mug on it and let it cool, just like you would with a batch of cookies. Once the mug has cooled, (I would wait an hour, just so you don’t burn yourself) it will be ready to be filled with a liquid of your choice. As I said before this would make a great hostess gift or gift for yourself. 


I went back to my local dollar store a few days ago and they had their plain white mugs in again so I grabbed a bunch so that my kids can each make their own mugs for their hot chocolate this winter. The possibilities are endless.I hope you enjoyed this latest DIY tutorial. Until next time, have a beautiful day!

For more fun DIY projects, check out the rest of our Home Expert Series or visit our Pinterest page!

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Super Delicious Homemade Chicken Pot Pie Recipe


With the cold weather chilling our bones, it's the perfect time to make some soul-warming food. Chicken pot pie is the ultimate cold-weather food. It's hearty, filling, and, most importantly, ridiculously delicious. This recipe is easy and the leftovers are perfect for lunches or more dinners later in the week. Get ready to go on a tasty trip to the land of gravy, chicken, vegetables, and flaky crust. 


The most important part of any pie is the crust. We like to use a regular pie crust (not too sweet, or too savory). This crust is super easy to make and only requires four ingredients. 


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups + 2 tbs vegetable shortening
4-6 tbs cold water
Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and mix.
Cut in the vegetable shortening using two butter knives.
(Once the shortening is added to the bowl, take two butter knives
and drag them in opposite directions through the shortening
until you have small, pebble sized bits of shortening
spread evenly throughout the mixture.) 
Then, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, to the mixture. 
Try combining the ingredients when you have added 4 tbsp of water.
The dough should be combined into a large ball that is slightly
sticky, but not overly wet. 
If you need to add more water, feel free to do so until you 
have reached the consistency you want.
Once the dough is in a ball, split the ball into
two, even, smaller balls.
These will be the top and the
bottom of your pot pie. 
Next, flatten both of the smaller dough balls 
slightly and wrap them individually in 
plastic wrap. 
Place in the fridge until the
recipe calls for the dough.

Now we can start working on the filling. Chicken pot pie filling is basically chicken, gravy, and vegetables combined. Tasty, right? 
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 cup carrot chips
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Get a large pot and dump in the
chicken, carrots, peas, and corn. 
Add enough water to cover the ingredients
and boil for 15 minutes. 

After 15 minutes, take the pan off the heat, drain
the ingredients and set them aside.
In a separate pot, on
medium heat, cook the onions in the butter until
they are soft and translucent. 
Add in the flour, salt, and pepper to create a roux.
Slowly add in the chicken broth and milk. 
Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally,
until the mixture has
thickened to a gravy consistency.
While your gravy is thickening, roll out one of 
your dough balls and place it in the bottom of
a 9X13" glass, oven-safe dish.
(You don't need to butter the dish because the
shortening in the crust will prevent sticking.)
Put the dish with the dough in the oven for about 10 minutes.
This is called parbaking and it helps prevent the dough
from getting super soggy when we add the gravy in.
Make sure the dough doesn't get too brown. 
We don't want it to be fully cooked, just partially.
Next, pour the chicken mixture that you had set aside into 
the parbaked crust. 
Pour the now gravy-like mixture over the chicken mixture. 
Take your other crust out of the fridge, roll it out and
cut three slits in the middle of it to
make sure steam can escape while the pie cooks.
Then, lay on top of the gravy/chicken
mixture in the glass dish. 
Seal the edges by pinching the bottom dough and
top dough together. 
Lastly, crack the egg into a small bowl. 
Add 3 tbs of cold water and whisk
until just combined. 
Use a pastry brush (or a paper towel) to spread the egg
wash over the top of the dough.
Sprinkle with a touch of salt.
Bake at 425 for 30-35 minutes* and
let cool for 10 before serving. 
*Note: if your crust starts to get too dark, put a piece
of foil over the top of the pie (but don't seal it, so steam
can still escape).
Voila! Now you have a scrumptious pot pie, perfect for a cold day.

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The Best Recipe for Halloween Punch


Tim & Mary Vidra, from 17 Apart, are back- ready to trick and treat. They're showing us how to making a scary, but tasty, punch perfect for any Halloween party. Prepare for a scare!

Concoct a haunted punch for your next Halloween party or gathering as a "bone-chilling" and festive spectacle, sure to be an instant hit.


The secret to this haunted refreshment is the appearance of floating hands bobbing and swirling around mysteriously within the red punch. These life-size icy hands are simple to make with the help of vinyl food-service gloves, which can be found in most convenience stores and come both latex and powder-free.


Prepare the ice molds a day in advance by filling several gloves about 3/4 with water, dropping in items like candy corns or small plastic spiders* if you like. Tie a knot in the base of the gloves, trying to remove any air bubbles. Arrange the water-filled gloves on a flat baking sheet and place in the freezer overnight.
When ready to serve, bring this haunted (and delicious!) punch to life with the following chilled ingredients.


Simple Punch Ingredients:

  • 1 2-liter bottle, Ginger Ale
  • 1 2-liter bottle, Sprite
  • 1 12-ounce container of frozen juice concentrate

Combine the two sodas inside the punch bowl, then mix in the frozen juice concentrate stirring to dissolve.


Uncover each ice hand by carefully cutting the tied end of the glove mold and score the hand gently with a knife. Gently peel away the vinyl covering, going slowly over each finger as not to break them.


Slide the hands in the punch bowl, reserving a few in the freezer to replace as necessary when the night moves on.


The ice will slowly melt, changing the shape of the hands throughout the evening, which not only keeps the punch at a chilled temperature, but adds to the spooky fun.


Continue to drop in new ice hands throughout the duration of the gathering to keep the punch chilled and reinvigorate the overall fizz of the punch. For a kicked-up version of this haunted punch, substitute in a bottle of bubbly for 1-liter of each soda — we won't tell!

*Please note: Carefully watch for the spiders as the ice melts to prevent a choking hazard.

For more festive DIYs and recipes, check out our Halloween board on Pinterest
or take a look at the rest of the Home Expert Series
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DIY Mummy Candy Holder


Ada, from Ada's Interior Design, is showing us a fun way to add a little more fun to Halloween this year. This DIY mummy candy holder is sure to please!

Hi, it’s Ada here again! Want to give trick-or-treaters a little extra treat this Halloween? Then skip using a bowl to give out candy this year and instead mummify a water gallon jug. 



Empty water gallon jug
Permanent marker (to draw)
Neon label dots (for eyes) 
White out (for the teeth
Black nail polish (for the eye area) 
Black 9x12 felt sheets (inside the mouth)
Adhesive medical wraps 
Draw the eye area, mouth, and the teeth
Paint the eye area with nail polish
Attach the neon dots as spooky eyes.
Cut out the mouth going around the inner edges of the teeth (you want to keep the teeth attached).
Paint the teeth with the whiteout.
Insert two black felt sheets into the water jug.
With medical gauze, wrap the water jug (head) to bring the mummy to life.
Cue sinister laughter ... muahahahaha.


Beside it’s adorableness, using a water jug (which has a handle) keeps you from constantly having to constantly bend down to offer kids candy. Two birds.

For more amazing fall DIY projects, check out the rest of our Home Expert Series or follow our Halloween board on Pinterest!
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How to Decorate with Natural Elements



Sharon, from Mrs. Hines' Class, is showing us how to take the beautiful outdoor elements of fall and bring them indoors to create colorful, seasonal decor. Enjoy!



With the cooler air and changing leaves, fall is the perfect time to take a nature walk and collect leaves of all shapes, sizes and colors, gather fallen acorns and pine cones, and search for interesting buds and bright colored berries.
Take a pair of garden shears and a basket to store nature’s treasures.

Decorating with natural elements is a great way to bring the outdoors in, incorporate the colors of the season, and add interesting textures to your home decor.


Here is an example combining artificial apple vase filler with natural elements that I gathered on my nature walk the other day.

I started with this bowl of apple vase filler that I keep out year round.


To update it for fall, I lined the rim of the bowl with the largest leaves,


then filled in the gaps with pine cones, smaller leaves and couple of bud stems.


Now, I have a simple centerpiece full of fall color and texture.


Watch the full transformation in action: 

For more fall decor ideas, visit the Fall Inspiration Gallery at Mrs. Hines’ Class or the rest of our Home Expert Series
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Create Faux Woodgrain Using Gel Stain


Welcome back my beauties! I am going to show you how you can add some interest to a piece of furniture with some paint and some gel stain


Aside from the fun handles and little detail in the middle, this dresser lacked some serious style.


The orange stain was quite outdated and was the reason so many had passed this piece up at the thrift store. I had just the thing to liven it up. Since the top was in such great condition I decided to use a little Java Gel Stain, by General Finishes. Gel stain is a topical stain that you can use on top of old stain. The top was in great condition so all I did to prep was lightly sand it and wipe it with a damp cloth to remove any particles. You don’t need to sand through the finish, you are just slightly scuffing the surface to give the stain good adhesion. This is the same process I used on my Persian Blue desk.


Now to get the woodgrain look I am going to give you the easiest tool in the world to use…your hand! Yup..that’s it. When the top was ready for the stain I use a lint-less cloth (think old clean t-shirt) I drape the cloth over the top of my hand holding the cloth in my palm with my thumb and dip it in the stain. Going in one direction starting at one end I run the cloth to the other end. I do the same for the next row and the next until you get the faux grain you desire.(Move in only one direction, you don’t want to go back and forth or you will pull the stain back up.)


I told you it was simple! Adding a the faux woodgrain effect gave the piece a more detailed look versus the plain pine.While the top was drying I started painting my base.For the base I chose to mix up a custom mineral style paint.That just means it will need to be waxed and buffed to cure the paint. 


After painting, waxing, and buffing, the piece was ready for its close up. Look at what a difference it made. If you can use paint, you can use gel stain. The possibilities are endless.


For more amazing DIY transformations check out the other posts in our Home Expert Series, or head to our Pinterest page!

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Early Predictions for 2016 Design Trends


We recently had the opportunity to listen to Tod Shulman, Pantone Creative Direct, Orlando Soria, Homepolish West Cost Creative Director, Christina Shanahan, Senior Editor of InStyle, Carley Knobloch, Technology Expert, and Cat Dash, Trend Expert discuss their predictions for 2016 trends. We learned some insider information that we want to share with you. Brace yourselves.

1. Colors

Tod Shulman was all over this one. He hinted that pinks would be trendy in 2016.This doesn't mean eye-melting neon pinks or overused Marsala; he's talking about muted, soft pinks. He also mentioned champagne beige and silver along with other muted, neutral tones and metallics. We're so excited for a cleaner, more sophisticated palette in 2016. 
2. Materials
Interestingly, Carley Knobloch had a lot to say about the materials we should expect to see in 2016. She mentioned that people seem to be leaning more towards natural, organic materials like woods, leathers, and ceramics. She talked about this trend from a technological perspective (i.e., wood grain phone cases, leather being built into the phones themselves, etc.) but these trends are also applicable to interior design. 
(Photo credit: homizen.com)
3. Styles
All of the panelists had a lot to say about the different styles that would rise to the top in 2016. First of all, they said mid century modern is out. We know, shocking right. They said it is "overdone" and "so over." Fine, but what should our north star of design be now? Scandinavian. Simple, clean, Scandinavian-inspired decor is definitely a must in 2016. They also mentioned more "artisan" products and Turkish rugs. 

For more decor tips, check out the "Tips" section on our blog or head to our Pinterest page.
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Apple Spice Crumble Bars


Pamela Reed, from Brooklyn Farm Girl, is back with another mouthwatering recipe. The air is crisp and leaves are starting to fall, so it's the perfect time of year for a delicious apple spice crumble bar! Enjoy.

I love everything about fall! I love cozy sweaters, coats, boots, the crisp wind on my cheeks in the morning and most importantly, the food.  

Why else is Fall the best?  Apple picking!  With a bunch of apples, you can make so many goodies.  One of my favorite is homemade cinnamon sugar apple sauce, it’s the perfect nighttime snack, especially warmed up!  Did I mention sea salt apple chips too? I can’t get enough of them. But for this apple recipe I wanted something sweet, something I can sink my teeth into with a nice cup of tea - that’s how Apple Spice Crumble Bars came to be.

These bars are delicious, they will quickly become a family and friend favorite.  Take them to a party and they will be gone within minutes.  I hope you enjoy these bars, it’s one of my favorite apple recipes!



The Bars
1/4 cup butter - softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup applesauce
1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

The Crumble
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

The Bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
Spray nonstick spray to 8x8 pan.
In a bowl mix butter, sugar, egg and flour. 
Add in applesauce and continue stirring.
Add pumpkin pie spice, baking soda
and salt and stir until smooth.
Spread mixture into your sprayed pan.
After crumble is made (directions below),
sprinkle on top and bake 35-40 minutes.
Let cool for 10 minutes and then cut up into sized bars desired.
The Crumble
Combine flour, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Cut in your butter until it's crumbly.
Add it on top of your mix and into the oven it goes for 35-40 minutes.
And when it comes out of the oven golly molly it’s Apple Spice Crumble Bar time.  You want to make sure the bars sit for about 10 minutes so it has time to settle.  You should be able to run a knife down the sides easily to pull it away from the pan.
*Dances*  Now it’s time to dive in!
Enjoy your Apple Spice Crumble Bars! Good luck not eating them all.

For more delicious recipes, check out the Recipes section of our blog, or head to our Pinterest page!
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How to Get Your Home Fall-Ready


Carmen Ordonez, from Viva Fashion, is giving us tips to get our homes ready for autumn! Cool air and colorful leaves call for an interior that matches and Carmen shows us how to achieve the perfect fall decor.

(Photo credit: nesttogether.com 

The air feels crisp and the dog days of summer are slowly behind us. I don’t know about you, but every time the season changes I get an itch to give my space a little refresh. Luckily, there are several ways you can get your home fall-ready in a pinch. Here are just a few:  1bbf8e

Add Warmth and Texture

Nothing says fall like furry or knitted accents. Instead of decorative pillows in bright, summery colors, consider adding some in warm tones or a chunky knit. You can also add an unexpected item like a shaggy rug. Oh and don’t forget a cozy blanket so you can cuddle up with on the couch (with your pumpkin flavored drink of choice, of course).  

Photo-2-CO-2(Photo credit:  overstock.com)

Bring the Outdoors In

Since you’re probably going to spend more time indoors, it’s a good idea to bring the outdoors in. You can start by adding some houseplants to your home. Try to look for plants that require minimal light, such as succulents or a snake plant. They also work great at purifying the air (another plus). 

Photo-3-CO-2(Photo credit: mnn.com)         

Mix Prints of the Season

Florals and nautical tones are great for the summer, but just like fashion, why not switch things up for the fall? Instead, you can look for decorative accents in autumn vibes such as a plaid pillow. I also love the idea of adding brass and gold elements such as a brass candle holder and a gold flower vase. 

Photo-4-CO-2(Photo: StyleByEmilyHenderson)

For more amazing decor tips, check out the rest of our Home Expert Series, or visit our Pinterest page!

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DIY Wooden & Iron Pumpkin


Courtney, from The Hamby Home, is back! This time she's showing us a way to create super unique, super chic fall decor. These pumpkins are adorable and so trendy. 

I was walking through a local store that has booths full of furniture, décor, etc. when I saw these unfinished furniture feet in a box with some other unfinished wooden pieces. I have pumpkins on the brain and immediately saw them as potential pumpkins. These could be painted or stained but I loved the contrast of the unfinished wood and cast iron “stems” so I decided to leave them as is.


Wooden Furniture Foot – similar to these
Drawer Pull (I purchased these) 
Hack Saw
Power Drill
Felt or Cork
Hot Glue

Step 1: Using the hack saw, saw the
existing screw on the furniture foot. 
Note: It would be easier to remove with
pliers but these were glued too tightly.
Step 2: Using a hack saw, saw off the flat
end of the screw that comes with
the knob.
Step 3: Drill a hole into the center of the
“bottom” of the foot
(opposite side as the original screw)
and then twist the drawer pull
screw into the hole.
Step 4: Screw the drawer pull onto
the screw until it’s tight.
Step 5: Cut a circle out of thin cork
or felt and hot glue on the bottom
to protect your surface from
the old screw. Note: If you have a grinder or
metal file, you could file the edge of
the cut screw until smooth and
skip this step.
That's it! I have never seen pumpkins like this so they’re unique and easy to make, which is the best kind of DIY project! You can customize it to fit your style, just stain it, paint it, distress it or switch out the drawer pull to suit your taste!
For more fun fall DIY projects, check out the rest of our Home Expert Series or head over to our Pinterest page!
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