A Mini Cheese Plate for Fall

Thanks to Babybel for sponsoring this post. Without tiny, tiny cheese wheels I would not have been inspired to make this whimsical cheese plate!

Fun fall snacking

I tweeted about cheese recently without thinking too much about it, and almost instantly it became one of my most-liked tweets ever. People really like cheese. And when it comes wrapped in wax like a miniature cheese wheel, it’s easy to like it even more. Babybel cheese even got its own Halloween costumes this year:

Make a miniature cheese plate

I thought about all the recipes I could create for this post. I thought about delicious pizza or a decadent sandwich melt. Then I remembered the night I was babysitting two toddlers, and I sliced their Babybel cheese into miniature cheese wedges. And I realized that I could NOT pass up the chance to share my miniature cheese tray with you!

Ingredients

Here’s what it includes:

Babybel cheese, sliced into wedges with a sharp knife

Small chips or crackers

Raspberries from the garden (they’re pretty small so they fit in well!)

The center of a Kale plant

If you don’t have all these things, feel free to improvise with whatever you can think of! Small cookies, grapes, baby carrots…so many possibilities. Isn’t it so cute?

For snacking and entertaining

Maybe you’re wondering what the point of a tiny cheese tray is! Well, it’s a fun snack for kids. It’s a fun snack for adults. If you add a bunch more cheese to the tray, it’s perfect to bring to parties. Cheese gives people something nutritious to snack on right away while they’re waiting for dinner to be served, so I’ve found it’s a fantastic party appetizer. It’s nice to have healthy snacks around at home and at parties during the holidays.

Check out these other amazingly cute snacking ideas to try with your cheese, too!

The individual rounds are perfect for grab-and-go snacks when you have a sports event or are packing a lunch! Who has time to slice a brick of cheese, anyway? One friend even says they taste good frozen, but I have yet to test this theory!

Find Babybel (100% cheese made with real milk) in the refrigerator section at Target, where there are deals this month! It comes in regular, light and more flavors.

Are you a cheese fan? Share your favorite cheese or cheesy food in the comments!


4 Simple Ways to Decorate with Squash and Gourds

Eco holiday decorating

Every year I seem to have a few more squash from the garden than I know what to do with! They end up inside as decorations, which is okay with me. After all, nothing says fall like a bowl of heirloom squash and petite gourds on the counter. It’s an eco-friendly and incredibly easy way to bring a little autumn to any house.

An easy to make fall centerpiece

One thing I love doing with squash is making a centerpiece, as seen above! You can add votive candles and pinecones if you wish, or just use the pretty fruit itself. Decorating, done.

A variation of that, below, is to set the fruit on some pine branches, eucalyptus or other greenery.

Painted pumpkins

This was a fun, easy DIY. Just add metallic paint and glitter to a small gourd for a little shine around the holidays. This will render it inedible though, so save your best pie pumpkins for glitter-free decorating.

Put a bow on it

I had this beautiful black watch plaid ribbon, which totally seemed like fall! So I tied it on the stem of a squash and a little decoration was born.

Outdoor fall decorating

Spruce up the front step with a little display of your squash crop. It’s seasonal, decorative, and totally eco-friendly.

Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite way to display fall’s garden harvest.

I originally published these photos on Midwest Living.

Check that site out for more fall decorating ideas and see what my fellow bloggers have planned for holiday decor, including:

Here’s how to have a minimalist Christmas

How to cure your own olives

Mason jar recipes

Holiday garden gifts

Make a holiday sign with scrap wood

 

 

Stay Warm with Fall Layering

Thanks Cuddl Duds and Bon-Ton for sponsoring this post.

Fall fun

Like any lifestyle blogger, I love fall! Pumpkin spice! Pumpkin patches! Harvesting raspberries and pumpkins from my own garden! But ya gotta be warm while you do all that fun fall stuff.

As a native Minnesotan, I’ve learned how to layer to stay warm. And believe me, when it’s 20 below zero degrees Fahrenheit, the goal is to STAY WARM. (But also to look somewhat cute and be comfortable while staying warm.)

live in layers

Live in Layers

Ways to layer up this fall!

  1. Throw a soft, plushy vest over a turtleneck or sweater
  2. Don’t forget a scarf! Worn draped over your shoulders like I’ve done here, it’s like bringing a little blanket around wherever you go!
  3. Use soft, stretchy leggings like Cuddl Duds (available at Bon-Ton and online) under jeans or pants for extra warmth
  4. Add a base layer like Cuddl Duds cowl neck under sweaters (thumb holes give extra hand warmth)
  5. Tie all the layers together visually with a fun decorative pin. This adds a flair of personality and dresses up your layers. I got this pheasant pin practically free at a rummage sale.

Layering with Cuddl Duds

I am a big, big fan of Cuddl Duds leggings. The waistband is so comfortable, you guys. You don’t even notice it! They’re made with modal and spandex so they’re soooo stretchy. When winter comes, they’ve got you covered in every way. Wear them to bed, under a dress or tunic, and as long underwear under pants.

I went basic for this post, but the brand also has patterned leggings for a pop of fun! I wore a patterned pair in California and got tons of compliments even at the super upscale Stanford Shopping Center.

And now I tried for the first time a Cuddl Duds top, which has a cowl neck and flattering cut. Remember to layer! Throw on a fuzzy vest, a cardigan, another pair of pants over the leggings when it gets REALLY cold.

Have you done any fall things like picking pumpkins yet?

How to swap plastic beauty products for bamboo

I switched to bamboo beauty products. Here’s what happened.

Why use bamboo beauty products?

So why bamboo? It’s a sustainable resource that grows easily in poor soil–no need for fertilizers or pesticides. At the end of its life I can compost it, keeping it out of the landfill completely. Plus bamboo just feels luxurious. It’s fun to use these high-quality products knowing that I’m doing something good for the Earth.

Four Eco-friendly products to switch to right now

This year I discovered that many everyday products we all use that can be found in bamboo instead of plastic! So I switched to a bamboo comb, bamboo hair brush, even bamboo toothbrushes (and more!). Here’s what I used and what changes they resulted in for me.

I’ve linked to the products I use below, using affiliate links. There are tons of other brands that are probably just as good, these just happen to be the ones I used and liked.

1. Bamboo Comb

This comb is super affordable online (I paid twice as much for it at my local food store). Unlike plastic, bamboo combs have less pulling and no static. That makes it better for your hair, especially if you comb while it’s wet. I honestly can’t go back to using plastic combs anymore! They just don’t feel as sturdy when I comb through my thick, knotty hair.

2. Bamboo Toothbrush

From a friend who runs a Facebook group about zero waste living, I learned there is such a thing as bamboo toothbrushes! I’d never thought much about it before, but if you use 3-4 toothbrushes in a year, that amount of plastic adds up. So I decided to try a bamboo handled brush.

I ordered this 12 pack linked below for $10.50, which is easily the cheapest toothbrush option out there. I was a little concerned that the description said they were for “orcal care,” since I don’t have whales. But despite the sketchy copy editing, it seems like a decent product and you can’t beat the price. I will definitely order these again. The bristles are gentle and my teeth feel as clean as using any other toothbrush. No better or worse, just a good solid alternative to a plastic handled brush.

3. Bamboo Hairbrush

Also cost-effective, a bamboo bristle hairbrush should last you a long time! Like the bamboo comb, it’s anti-static and feels great on your scalp. If your hair is hard to brush through, thick or tangly, a brush like this is a must have. It’s supposedly gentler on hair and leads to less hair loss. It helps keep hair shiny and manageable, two things for which I will take all the help I can get! The only downside is that it’s a little more difficult to remove hair from the bristles of the brush.

4. Bamboo Straws

Refusing plastic straws is the way to go these days, since growing concerns about them littering oceans have made major media outlets. Once you’ve seen the video of what plastic straws can do to sea turtles, there’s no going back. Luckily, there are these reusable, sustainable alternatives to plastic straws. You may have heard that drinking tea and coffee through a straw helps prevent tooth staining. Bamboo straws are ideal for this because you don’t have to worry about the straw melting!

After each switch to a bamboo product, I can honestly say I can’t imagine going back! I personally think the products are well made as well as sustainable, and work just as well if not better than their plastic counterparts. What do you think? Is using bamboo beauty products weird or inspirational?

Floral Arranging with Wildflowers

Using wildflowers as wedding florals

When my dear little cousin got married last year, she did a DIY farm wedding. Her florals were almost all made of wildflowers picked from the property. It was genius, and it looked so good! She saved $$$, and it fit the style of the wedding exactly. Here’s a photo recap of the wildflower wedding floral arrangements, taken by me and first published in Midwest Living.

How to make your own rustic chic wildflower wedding bouquets

Think about storage and how to keep the flowers fresh! The day before the wedding, a group of friends and family scoured the farm for the best wild blooms. After putting the cuttings in big 5-gallon buckets of water, we made bouquets and then stored them in a walk in refrigerator in the barn. Here’s what it looked like behind the scenes.

Rules of floral design

If you’re doing a DIY floral arrangement, don’t forget this rule of flower design. No matter which type of flowers you’re choosing, use a big, unique bloom as a thriller, one to create mass as a filler, and a drapey one to hang down as a spiller. Getting the style right for wildflower weddings is pretty easy if you keep this in mind.

wildflower wedding

Mix it up

In addition to farm wildflowers, the bride bought roses, lavender, eucalyptus and baby’s breath to mix into the decor. Putting them into re-used glass containers of various sizes added depth and variety to each table. This approach was thrifty and Eco-friendly but so rustic and beautiful!
wildflower weddings

Here you can see the simplicity of the idea behind the floral arrangements. The wildflowers are a seamless complement to the lavender and baby’s breath, don’t you think?

wildflower wedding

Wildflowers in floral arrangements are perfect for outdoor events. How flawless does this look on the outdoor bar?

rustic elegant floral design

Do it yourself floral design

This event totally changed any preconceived ideas I had about do-it-yourself flowers and wildflowers for weddings. It just looked good, and that’s all there is to it! Here’s the bride’s professional bouquet along with the bridesmaids’ wildflower bouquets.

wildflower weddings

Get a peek at the organic farm where the wedding was held, Trillium Wood Farm.

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