Archive of ‘Life & Home’ category

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

 

 

Adventure Pets

My hobbies include french braiding and pretending my cat loves me back

Have you ever traveled or hiked with a pet?

More than once I’ve seen someone out walking their cat or small dog in a stroller, which basically reminds me of this. I’ve never taken a cat camping (I did take a dog though) but apparently some people are braver (crazier?) than me because I’ve seen this happen.

I recently got a chance to review this cat carrier, gifted to me by Pet Magasin. And my cat was sorta happy to oblige in product testing, since she doesn’t get out much. She’s an indoor cat so this is a way she can experience the great outdoors. And if you need to fly with your small dog or cat, this is an airline approved crate that you can put under your seat.

The pockets expand to give your pet more room, as well as a mesh window they can peek out of. It’s super sturdy and great quality. What I like most is that it can be either vertical as a backpack or horizontal as a little kennel for travel.

I’m not going to make a habit of hiking with my cat, but what I think it would be really good for is hiking with small dogs. My brother and sister-in-law have a small dog that overheats easily and gets tired on walks so they end up carrying him home. Pop him in the backpack and it’s easy walking time for Gus!

Before you send me hate mail about how unhappy she looks, please know that’s just her face. RBF Syndrome is a real condition that affects cats as well as humans. Don’t be rude about it.

Lullaby the cat’s other product reviewing experience includes the Cat Bonnet.  Where have you traveled with your pets?

Make Magical Unicorn Snacks

Thanks to Hostess brands for sponsoring this post. The recipes and views expressed in this post are all mine. 

Unicorn Party Recipe

I’ve been using the hashtag #myunicornlife a lot on Instagram lately. Unicorns are trendy, colorful and awesome. I put on my creative hat to create some treats using Twinkies that are perfect for a unicorn themed party — or just because you deserve something magical.

Make a unicorn dessert bowl

To make this colorful, Instagrammable unicorn bowl, I sliced strawberries and fudge-covered twinkies into a ramekin dish. You could also use the chocolate brownie flavor twinkies pictured above! If you haven’t heard of this chocolateful twist on Twinkies before, that’s because they’re new — find out more. 

Next is the fun part — add shredded coconut and sprinkles for pizzaz. Eat with a tiny spoon!

Well that couldn’t have been easier, right? It barely counts as a recipe, because you’re just slicing stuff up and adding toppings. My next unicorn party treat idea is just as simple and also more adorable.

Unicorn Twinkie Pops

In Minnesota, there’s a huge state fair in August with every kind of food on a stick, including deep fried twinkies. In the state fair spirit, you can make your own no-bake unicorn cake pops!

The key to these cake pops is unicorn candy decorations — you can order something similar at Etsy. You could also use a  cupcake topper for a similar effect.

Push a candy stick into the snack cake, and decorate it with a curled ribbon. Add sprinkles to the top of the snack cake. You’ll want to frost the cake first. Fudge covered twinkies already have a layer of soft frosting, but you might choose to add a  bit more to secure the sprinkles.

For more fun ideas, check out the Hostess Facebook page.

Would you or your little one have a unicorn themed party?

Wishing you a magical day!

How I gained 1000 Instagram followers in two months

How to Grow Your Instagram

I started off spring 2017 with just under a thousand followers. I honestly didn’t think fast growth was possible for me on Instagram. My other platforms, including Pinterest and Twitter, had more followers and a faster growth rate than my Instagram and I assumed it would always stay that way. I was wrong! Today, Instagram is my largest and fastest-growing platform. It was the first of all my social media to reach 2k.

how to grow your instagram account

Gain Instagram Followers

Now, numbers aren’t everything! As a smaller blogger, I’ll be the first one to say that I’m more focused on my engagement rates than my numbers, because that’s what’s important to me. But growing your accounts also means you can reach more followers who are interested in your content. You may wish to grow for the fun of it, or because you want to get brand collaborations and sponsorships that come with a higher following.

I’m also no Instagram expert. I’m an ordinary blogger with only 2k followers. I’m not here to tell you the latest secret, formula or magic trick for success on Instagram. I’m just sharing my story about how I increased my growth rate by ten times in just two months. This is what I did and what worked for me.

how to grow instagram

Here’s what I did to reach 1000 Instagram followers in two months.

The basics of Instagram growth are: make good content + follow others + engage.

Here’s a specific breakdown of things I changed to gain 1000 more followers.

I committed to posting once a day. There are still days that I end up skipping because I’m in a National Park or something, but having a schedule helps.

I followed a lot of people. Now this may be obvious and you’re rolling your eyes right now. But to be honest, I wasn’t actively following accounts before this. To grow, I had to follow 100-200 per week. I don’t follow random accounts, however. I check their profiles first to see if they show signs of liking content similar to mine. You can find people who are interacting with hashtags you use to find like-minded accounts to follow.

I upped my engagement. I commented on others’ pictures. I do this authentically when I like the content and have something to say about it. So I don’t go around spam liking and commenting, but I set aside time each day to engage on Instagram.

I strategized. I focused my energy on accounts with similar numbers to mine. If an account has 15,000 followers and they’re following 600, do you really think they’re going to follow and engage with your content? It’s unlikely.

I organized my content better. Since I cover lifestyle and fashion content, I have to balance the variety of my photos (see what it looks like). Instead of haphazardly posting several fashion shots in a row, I’m trying to bring balance to my feed.

I still have a long way to go in branding my content, keeping it consistent and engaging more on Instagram. But I hope reading my experience was somewhat helpful to you.

Do you use Instagram? How are you working to grow your account?

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