Polka Dotted Planter

I’ve got a confession to make—I’m a horrible mother. Plant mother, that is. I certainly did not inherit a green thumb from my own mother. I’ve never succeeded in owning a plant and I’ve even killed cacti with my horrible caretaking.

But one day at Home Depot, I decided to buy a simple terra cotta pot and give it a makeover to house a pretty plant, one that I am determined to help survive. So I grabbed a few acrylic paints from the craft store and got to work.

Quick and easy polka dotted planter

Now, since I’m such a bad plant parent and don’t know much about taking care of them, I’m not sure how well these paints will work in the long run…but for now, they look pretty wonderful!

This project was incredibly simple. I purchased a terra cotta planter, two small bottles of acrylic paint, and a pack of foam brushes and found a new pencil with eraser lying.

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Lay out a newspaper or paper towels to protect your work surface.
Tape off the upper rim of the planter, if desired.
Using a foam brush, paint the base color on your planter. Let dry about 15 minutes and paint second coat.
Once both base coats are dry, remove the tape from upper rim. Using a clean and dry foam brush, paint the accent color around the upper rim and let dry. Apply a second coat if needed.

For the polka dots, dip a new pencil eraser in the accent color paint.
(You may need to try a few practice dots on the newspaper or work surface. It helps to dunk the eraser in paint and do one dot on the paper to get rid of excess paint.)
Apply the paint from the eraser to the base of the pot. You can choose to apply the dots in a random or an organized pattern, like the one I did.
Give the pot plenty of time to dry before placing a plant in it.
(I’d give it at least a day to make sure the paint is really fully dried.

Polka dotted planter

And voila! It’s super easy, really adorable, and would make a great gift! Or if you plan on keeping it around like I am, it makes a lovely centerpiece to liven up a table or desk. You can customize it to match any and every color scheme you want!

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Friday Favorites: Halloween!

In the midst of midterms, papers, and working part-time, Halloween has certainly snuck up on me! Since we have just under a week to prepare, I thought I’d lend a hand by sharing a few easy DIY costumes and a recipe for this week’s favorites.

Friday Favorites: Halloween

1. DIY Grumpy Cat Mask
Grumpy Cat was huge this year. And how adorable is this felt mask? The materials, some sheets of felt, glue, and a string of elastic, can be picked up from your local crafts store for just a few dollars. Throw on a matching tan tee shirt and you’re good to go! You might even win some Halloween costume contests with this hilarious mask.

2. Bjork Swan Dress
Do you remember this swan dress Bjork wore to the Oscars a few years ago? It’s now infamous and if you have an hour or two to spare, you can make a pretty good replica that all your friends will love. This costume is definitely more time-consuming than the Grumpy Cat mask and requires some more effort and sewing skills, but it’ll definitely be worth it to have a conversation-starting costume like this one.

3. Pumpkin Cake Pops
I love cake pops. They’re delicious and bite size and a lot of fun to make. These precious pumpkin cake pops would be a great item to bring to a potluck style party or, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, prepare for your trick-or-treaters and neighbors.

And those are my favorite finds from this week! What are your plans for Halloween?

Favorite Apps for Saving Cash

Today I’ve got somewhat of a different post for you. We all love saving money and we all love our smartphones—why not combine these two loves for something super useful? I’m all about helping you save some money, so today, I’ve got my three favorite apps for saving cash!

Favorite Apps for Saving Cash

Mint
Mint is a super useful personal budgeting tool. You can use it online, as an app on your computer, or even use it mobile on your iPad or iPhone (and Android devices, but I’m an Apple girl through and through). Mint lets you enter all your bank accounts and credit cards (it’s completely secure!) and tracks your purchases from each account. You can set an overall monthly budget, as well as budgets for any category you want, whether it’s shopping, school supplies, groceries, or fast food. Mint uses handy charts and graphs to help you visualize your incoming and outgoing money and really helps me stay on track.

Target
Target’s app is great if you’re at all like me and do all of your shopping there. I go to Target at least once a week, always with a new list of things I need to buy. The Target app lets you keep track of these shopping lists. The list feature is still in beta testing, but I really enjoy it. The weekly ads are published on the app, so you know what’s on sale before you enter the store. There are even mobile deals & coupons that you pull up and simply have the cashier scan.

ShopKick
ShopKick is a really neat app that utilizes the GPS and camera features on your smartphone and rewards you with kicks, or points that accumulate and go toward a gift card to the store or outlet of your choice. You simply open the app before you enter a store and it checks you in and rewards you with kicks, ranging between 35 and 150 (so you have a better idea, 1250 kicks equal a $5 gift card). I use my weekly shopping trips to Target and other stores toward my Target gift cards, helping me save money down the line. You also have the option to scan the barcode on specific items throughout the store to earn more kicks, as well as unlock coupons.

Do you use some other apps to save money and stay on track?

Pumpkin Spice and Cocoa Granola

Granola is a wonderfully versatile little snack. You can make almost any variation and any flavor you want! I saw this pumpkin and chocolatey version on Alyssa and Carla, and decided to give granola-making a try!

Pumpkin Spice and Cocoa Granola -- the perfect healthy fall treat!

I love granola in my yogurt for breakfast, or on its own as an energy-boosting snack (it’s especially good on a hike!). Plus, it’s much healthier when made at home. This version had just a handful of healthy, natural ingredients. You can adjust each ingredient to suit your taste and it takes just minutes to throw together and bake.

Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:
1/3 c. pumpkin puree
3 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. honey
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cocoa
2 c. oats
1/3-1/2 c. chopped nuts, I used hazelnuts because I had them on hand
1/3 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Combine pumpkin, softened coconut oil, honey, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cocoa in large bowl.
Once combined, stir in oats and nuts.
Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Once you remove the granola from the oven, let it completely cool. Then add chocolate chips.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice and Cocoa Granola, with just a few simple ingredients
New to granola? Try it mixed in some plain or vanilla flavored Greek yogurt for a healthy and delicious breakfast! Then let me know what you think!

Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition!

If you can’t already tell, I’m head over heels for pumpkin, as you can see here, here, and here. I just can’t resist it! So here are some of the loveliest pumpkin recipes I’ve come across this week. I can’t wait to give them all a try!

Friday Favorites 10/17

1. Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and White Chocolate
I’ve always been a baker and cookies have always been my favorite go-to treat. I love every aspect of these cookies: oatmeal cookie base, cranberries and white chocolate chips, and, of course, pumpkin! They seem like the perfect combination of delicious ingredients and will be a fabulous fall treat.

2. Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
This recipe is from Martha Stewart, so you know it’ll be good. I think this will be the perfect update to the classic pumpkin pie. I plan on making it for Thanksgiving to add an interesting twist to the dessert we all love!

3. Sparkling Pumpkin Cider ‘Beertail’
I’m not much of a beer fan, but since many are still celebrating Oktoberfest, I figured I’d give these a try. When in Rome, right? Er… Germany. Anyway, I do love some apple cider and cinnamon, and I can tolerate Blue Moon. I figured these would be great for an upcoming Halloween party, an autumn bonfire, or even a post-Thanksgiving feast drink.

Have you found any pumpkin recipes you’re dying to try? Let me know!

Snickerdoodle Puppy Chow

Puppy chow, muddy buddies, whatever you like to call this sweet treat, I lived way too long without it in my life. And that’s no surprise! When my father came in the kitchen and asked what I was making, I had to tell him at least three times that this puppy chow is indeed for human consumption. I discovered this incredible snack just a few years and have been loving it ever since. What makes puppy chow so great is that you can be so creative with it! I’ve loved trying new flavors and combinations. This snickerdoodle recipe is a recent love of mine!

Snickerdoodle Puppy Chow -- quick, easy, and absolutely delicious!

Snickerdoodles are definitely my favorite cookie and this puppy chow incorporates all that cinnamon-sugary goodness I love. It’s definitely a great treat for fall! And bonus points to puppy chow for being incredibly easy and cheap to make! It’s a snack that everyone will enjoy. I love taking it on road trips or gobbling it up while I watch a movie.

Here’s what you’ll need for this quick and delicious snack:
5 cups Corn Chex
12 oz. white chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

Measure out 5 cups of corn chex and set aside in large bowl.
Mix together the cinnamon and powdered sugar. Place in a gallon size zipper bag and set aside.
Melt the white chocolate. You can use a double boiler method and melt it over the stove or microwave a bowl for a few minutes, stirring at 30-second increments.
Pour the melted white chocolate over the chex cereal and mix until cereal is coated.
Place the coated cereal in the gallon zipper bad and shake until all cereal is coated with the powdered sugar mixture.

Snickerdoodle Puppy Chow -- perfect for fall!

What are your favorite puppy chow recipes? I can’t wait to try some new ones!

Pumpkin Spice Lip Scrub

I’m loving scrubs lately and couldn’t resist making this one I came across on the Cat & Bot Blog last week. Around this time of year, the weather starts to change and it can wreak havoc on your skin and body. This sugar scrub will help exfoliate those dry lips and reveal soft, smooth, moisturized lips. Have I mentioned yet that its pumpkin spice flavored too? This scrub is delicious enough to eat and is made of wholesome ingredients you probably already have lying around. Give it a try!

Pumpkin Spice Lip Scrub -- easy, delicious, and just four simple ingredients

It’s incredibly simple. All you’ll need is:
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. honey
1 ½ tbsp. white granulated sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
(you can adjust these ingredients as needed to get the consistency you want)

Pumpkin Spice Lip Scrub -- just four ingredients to soft, smooth lips

Once you’ve got all the ingredients gathered, simply combine them in a small bowl and stir. Store it in a small container and it should be good in the fridge for two weeks.

What are some other scrub flavors you like? I’m excited to try some more!

Friday Favorites

It’s that time again! Here’s this week’s round up of my favorite things on the web.

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1. Yarn Pumpkin Garland
How adorable are these little yarn pumpkins? These would be a super quick and easy craft to add a little something extra to your fall décor. You only need yarn, green piper cleaners, some scissors, and twine to make this autumn-inspired garland. These are up next on my crafting to-do list!

2. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
There’s no hiding my love for everything pumpkin flavored. Baking is my favorite thing to do, and I can’t wait to make these cupcakes. They’ll be great for fall parties and bonfires, or just sitting around at home. Bonus points for the delicious cream cheese frosting!

3. Gold Dipped Wooden Coasters
I am in dire need of coasters and have been looking around for some nice, but affordable, options. I came across this post this week and they couldn’t be more perfect! I have been on a major gold kick lately, and these charming coasters just speak to me. They are right up my alley!

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

Have you caught the pumpkin spice bug too? As soon as September hits and all the way through the holidays, I am all about pumpkin flavored everything: cakes, cookies, breads, and, of course, the infamous pumpkin spice latte! Unfortunately, I can’t afford a delectable $5 Starbucks creation everyday. This spiced pumpkin coffee creamer is the solution to all my woes.

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The ingredients in this homemade creamer are simple and make me feel better about what I’m putting in my body than that icky orange coffee from Starbucks. It’s a wonderfully delicious way to welcome autumn!

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You can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste, but here’s what you’ll need to get started:
2 cups half and half
3 tbs. pumpkin puree
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
4 tbs. maple syrup
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg

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  1. Whisk the half and half, pumpkin, syrup, and pumpkin pie spice together over medium heat.
  2. Once combined and warmed through, remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into covered bowl and let set for 3 to 6 hours in fridge.
  3. Using a strainer or sieve, transfer the cream into a jar, pitcher, or bottle of your choice. (Don’t skip this! It’s important!)

And there you have it! It’s quick and easy and will last quite a while in the fridge.

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What other pumpkin recipes are you looking forward to this fall? I’ve got a loooong list of recipes I can’t wait to try! You can see what I’m looking forward to on my all things pumpkin Pinterest board. 

Espresso Cream Cheese

Bagels are definitely my favorite breakfast food. I usually put a little pad of butter on one half and a smear of regular cream cheese on the other. For those days when you just want an extra special treat, though, this coffee-infused cream cheese hits the spot!

Coffee Infused Cream Cheese

I am a morning person through and through. Once my alarm clock goes off, I’m ready to get up and get going. For most people, I know this isn’t the case. The instant coffee mixed in this cream cheese should give you that extra perk to start your day off right! It’s also incredibly quick and easy. Whip it up the night before and you can have a to-go breakfast that makes you happy and wakes you up!

All you’ll need is:
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir and fold in all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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So what do you think — easy enough?