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Tips For An Effortless Outdoor Late Summer Party

Jam-cellars-wine

School is back in session, but that doesn’t mean that summer fun can’t continue! How about an effortless outdoor late summer party? Late summer is the perfect time to have an outdoor party, and I have a bunch of tips to make it easy and enjoyable!

I’ve often been told that I have a certain touch when it comes to entertaining, which always makes me smile.  My goal is for people to feel loved and have a great time when they come over, and I accomplish this by being the queen of shortcuts! I’ve been known to sweep piles of dirt under the rug, order takeout and put it in a pretty dish (always being honest about it, of course), and just close the doors of rooms I don’t want seen, telling people if they enter, to enter at their own risk!

I’ve learned that in order for my guests to have fun, I have got to be present and willing to just– be. To let go of perfect and show up, creating lasting memories full of laughter and fun.

Thankfully I have learned some great shortcuts, tricks and tips to plan an effortless party, which really help me enjoy the party just as much as my guests do!

polka-dot-mug

13 Tips For An Effortless Outdoor

Late Summer Party

USE DISPOSABLES

It is ok to take a break from doing dreaded dishes and instead use utensils, plates and napkins that you can toss. If being green is a goal of yours, there are awesome disposable products out there that are kind to the environment. The key to keeping things fun and pretty is to display them in containers that have some personality, like the above polka dot mug.

Choose disposables that match the vibe of your party. There are so many cute disposable plates and napkins out there! I especially love bringing in some color with napkins, as there are so many great prints out there.

EFFORTLESS GREEN

Cut plants and flowers are a great way to add beauty in an effortless way when entertaining. Don’t want to buy cut flowers? Grab a few cuttings from a fern or houseplant! That is what I did! Look closely at the photos and you will see that I trimmed my fern and stuck the trimmings in little jar vases. I also cut palms off of a palm plant and used them laying flat on the serving table. So simple & FREE!

cracker-cheese-tomato-platter

CASUAL DELICIOUS BEVERAGES

If you read this blog, you know I’m all about my lemon water, but when it comes to a fun, effortless, causal party, I want my drinks to match the vibe. Enter JaM Cabernet. It is an easy-to-love, berry-licious, velvety-rich & bold wine. This wine is a luscious Cab that doesn’t need a gourmet meal…it’s right at home in a casual backyard setting and is totally my kinda JaM! I’m a wine lover, specifically red wine. JaM Cellars makes three everyday California wines with names that make me smile; Butter Chardonnay, JaM Cabernet and Toast Sparkling. JaM Cab is my favorite to chill out with. Bursting with the flavor of juicy berries, it is the best cab $20 & under, and is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Want this JaM to be your JaM too? Check the JaM Cellars Wine Finder page to find where to buy it near you.

USE FRUIT TO ADD COLOR

A favorite trick of mine to brighten up any room or table is to grab whatever fruit I have and display it in a great dish, or, like the lemons in the photo above; a great pot! It adds instant color, and often I will use fruit that can be eaten straight from the dish, like whole strawberries, grapes, peaches, plums, cherries, clementines, apples or pears. No need to do a bunch of chopping to make a fruit salad! Just set pretty dishes or jars of whole fruit out. I recently had a party and set out small, wide-mouthed mason jars filled to the brim with blueberries, and they received so many comments about how cute they looked from my guests.

Vegetable-platter-2

BUY A VEGGIE TRAY

The veggie tray you see in the photo is under $10 from our local big box store, and comes with the yogurt ranch dip. This allows me to skip making a green leafy salad or pasta salad and the work of all that chopping, but I can still offer guests some healthy self-serve vegetables which compliment and round out any casual meal.

sloppy-joes

MAKE SELF-SERVE FOOD

By late summer, I’m ready to put the grill away but not ready to turn the oven on. This is when I pull out the slow-cooker. My 30 Minute Sloppy Joes are self-serve and can be made and kept in the slow-cooker. I even start early in the day and let the ground beef cook right in the slow cooker, then drain it and add the sloppy joe sauce ingredients. I’ve also bought a frozen foil pan of BBQ Pork from my big box store, threw it in the slow-cooker and it was ready when guests came to help themselves. Can’t get much easier than that!

Fire-pit

BUILD A FIRE

Late summer into fall is our favorite time of year to build a small pit fire. Some evenings are starting to cool down around here, so a fire is a great way to stay warm and gather people around in one place with JaM Cab in hand, of course!

MUSIC IS A MUST

There is an article called “Summer’s not done, chill with JaM!” on the Scoop! if you are looking for a fun party playlist. Music can add instant fun to a party, and can really control the mood of a party. The above linked playlist has everything from Coldplay to Billy Joel, and one of my favorites to chill the night out with: “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran.

BLANKETS ON HAND

If the evening is expected to be cooler, take a wicker basket of rolled-up blankets outside with a chalkboard sign that says “help yourself.” Another way to use blankets while entertaining outside is to spread them out on the lawn for a casual, picnic feel.

smores

MAKE S’MORES

Might as well take advantage of that fire and make some s’mores! We get creative around here with our s’mores and use nice thick cored apple slices in place of graham crackers and offer peanut butter cups along with the typical chocolate bar. One thing that we don’t change is the marshmallow! There is something about putting a big white marshmallow on a stick, watching it puff up and nursing it to the perfect gooey golden brown, that brings out the inner child in all of us. S’mores are another fun way to have your guests make their own and serve themselves, and are so sweet that you don’t really need much more for dessert.

Cupcakes-Jam-Wine

Peanut-butter-cupcake-2

CUPCAKES FOR DESSERT

If you DO want more for dessert, make cupcakes! Everybody loves a cupcake, and they are a great dessert to make ahead of time. I love how they look on a white platter, and often I will take the platter around to guests and let them grab the one they want. No need for dessert plates, just pass out a napkin with each cupcake.  Use a cake mix, find some fun sprinkles & use gold or silver cupcake liners for a bit of sparkle.

Jam-cellars-cabernet

Use Glass Jars

Fill them with nuts for guests to munch on before and after dinner. Put a candle or starry lights in them. Use them as casual water glasses, as containers to send leftovers home with your guests, and as vases to hold flowers or greenery.  Put slices of lemon in one for guests to help themselves to for their water. Put butter or condiments in them–they will be so much prettier on a table than the bottles that most condiments come in. Yes, even ketchup and mustard can add color and beauty to a table if in a glass jar!

Lighting

Lighting is a must. Keep it simple. A few candles, some string lights or a jar of battery operated starry lights are all it takes to set a mood. When we are going to have a get-together in our backyard, I love plugging in our string lights over a sitting area, and I make sure the lightbulbs work in our spot light to light up the basket ball area. Use citronella candles to keep the bugs away and add ambient lighting at the same time. Light is important!

Jam-cellars-wine-glasses

So there you have it. My 13 Tips To an Effortless Late Summer Party. Keep it simple! Use what you have! Good drinks, lighting and music make all the difference. Add some cut greens in jars & easy, self-serve food, and you will have a party that all will enjoy…including the hostess!

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Want to know more about JaM Cellars?

Second-Generation Napa Valley vintners John and Michele are the “J” and the “M” in JaM Cellars, and I want to meet them just to tell them how much I love the clever names for their wines. They make their wines in the tradition of great California winemaking, rich bold and luscious, and in a style to enjoy with friends any day of the week.

We take our wines seriously; we just don’t take ourselves seriously!” – JaM Cellars

Yep, I’d love to meet them…we could hang for sure!

Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for daily wine-aspiration #JaMCellars @JamCellars.

Want to know where to find JaM Cellars near you? You can purchase JaM Cellars wine at leading grocery stores. Enter your zip code to identify local stores at JaMCellars.com/WineFinder {<–click}

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Decorating/ FAMILY/ Homemade Gifts/ Kids/Family/ Sponsored

Office Makeover Surprise For Father’s Day With Snapfish

Father's Day Photo Mug From SnapFish

I recently surprised my husband Todd for Father’s Day and made over his work office. I had the help of fun personalized photo gifts from Snapfish.

My Todd spends much of his time serving and giving to others, especially to our girls. He works at a non-profit organization helping under-resourced youth & then comes home and is the most hands-on Dad with our 3 teen girls. There is a lot of estrogen in our house and he embraces every moment– especially the dramatic ones–and brings a beautiful calm.

I wanted to do something super special for him to honor him on Father’s Day and to thank him for being such an amazing Dad to our 3 girls.  He is the best example of the modern dad who is engaged with his kids, redefining what being a great dad looks like. I know he is so proud of his girls and is going to love showing the world that by displaying it in his office. The only thing close to decor that was in his office before I tackled it was one small picture of his girls, so I knew he would really like being surrounded with more photos of wonderful family memories.

Best Dad Wall Hanging from snappish

Father's Day Wall Hanging from snappish

I asked for the keys to his office and told him not to ask questions. I like getting bossy like that. I loaded my car with a hammer, nails, a few select decor items, and my personalized Father’s Day photo gifts from Snapfish, and drove to his office after-hours.

I started by hanging the above wood panel that I created on Snapfish with a photo from one of Todd’s favorite places on earth–Universal Studios. I love this captured memory of Todd and the girls walking down the street toward fake studio buildings. I love that it captures movement and the backpack that Todd insisted on carrying the whole trip–my sweet gentleman husband! It shows us wearing matching, made for comfort shoes, something that would never happen now that my girls are teens & too cool to match Mom & Dad!

Snapfish allows you to make one-of-a-kind gifts & embellish your photos with just a click. I kept it simple with this wood panel. I used a small background black rectangle, faded it so the image could come through a bit, and added text saying “BEST DAD” on top of it in white.

Here are examples of what you can do:

  • Photos: Upload pictures from your device, Facebook, or Instagram.
  • Layout: Layouts vary per product, so check out what is available for each
  • Designs: Pre-designed templates make it easy to create. Edit and switch out designs to your liking.
  • Backgrounds: Select colors, patterns, or designs as a background
  • Embellishments: Hundreds of cute embellishments, sassy sayings, and themed collections
  • Text: Add phrases that help caption the moment.

Father's Day Snapfish Photo Gift

I also made a personalized aluminum photo panel that sits upright on his desktop. This is the coolest! It is a super thin & modern metal panel, and looks great with the round silver platter I put on his desk to gather his supplies.

I chose one of my favorite photos of Todd and the girls when they were little. We were at the lake standing on a dock and were about to go on some paddle boats. I remember it like it was yesterday! Look at their curls! Look at how happy they are with their Daddy! Look how little Avery hugs his leg! Be still my heart…so precious.

I added a pendent-type overlay embellishment to this one, and chose a text template that says “Dad,we love YOU.” It was already created, I just had to drag and drop. So easy!

Snappish Father's Day Gift

Dad's office

I spent some time organizing his bookshelf & added a plastic plant & grey storage box at the top. Fake greenery is good as my Todd does not have a green thumb! I put a second silver platter on a middle shelf and put his water bottle & some supplies that will be within arms reach from his office chair.

I added another brown storage bin at the top of his tall file cabinet with a gold himmeli that I handmade. I also hung up a bulletin board that had been leaning against the wall on the floor for a couple of months.

Dad's Office

Father's Day Photo Mug From SnapFish

I added a plastic but pretty green succulent to his desktop and put some pens into a personalized photo mug, also made on Snapfish. I made two mugs for him, one to store pens and one to drink out of. I added a heart embellishment to one of them and font to both of them. So much fun!

PHOTO-GIFT-SNAPFISH-PIN

{for your pinning pleasure}

Todd went to work the next day and walked into his office to find my surprise. He loved it. He told me “everywhere I look I see family. I’m surrounded by family & I love it.” Aww! I love HIM!

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WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE YOUR OWN SNAPFISH PERSONALIZED GIFTS?

Check out all the cool photo gift options at Snapfish and enter to win one of thirty-five $50 Snapfish codes below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

18+, US Residents Only and only one winner per household. Winners will be selected and notified by Clever Girls and/or Snapfish by Friday, June 17th. Good Luck!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

HOME/ Homemaking/ Simplifying/ Sponsored

Kitchen Savings Tips

stack of dish towels on a dish

7 Kitchen Savings Tips

I love spending time in the kitchen, but if I’m not careful, it can go from a place where we eat to a place that eats up my time and money!

I’m all about simplicity, efficiency and saving money, and a kitchen is a place that offers many opportunities to practice all of these things! Below are 7 of my favorite tips saving in the kitchen.

Hefty-Trash-bags

Use Quality Trash Bags

Hefty Ultra Strong is the trash bag for me. I have ditched cheaply made bags and now use Hefty Ultra Strong trash bags because of their outstanding quality and their new, lower price. Their name says it all, they are ultra strong are tear and puncture resistant, which means no more ripped trash bag disasters!

This saves money in the long run, with no need to double up on bags. I love a strong trash bag, but my favorite thing about these trash bags is that they use Arm & Hammer odor neutralizers– they smell great! I love opening my trash cupboard and catching a whiff of an invigorating, clean scent.

My favorite scent is their Citrus Twist. For those of you who prefer unscented, Hefty Ultra Strong offers that option, too.

 

Hefty-Trash-Bags-2

Want to try them out too? Here is a Swagbucks offer for you..purchase two or more Hefty trash bags at Walmart and earn a $10 Walmart gift card!

sliced lemon
Lemon slices in a jar
mason jar of lemon slices

Freeze Lemon Slices For Instant Lemon Water & To Keep Them From Going Bad

I always buy organic lemons, as I don’t want pesticides swimming around in my water. I have noticed organic lemons do seem to go bad faster than non-organic.

My solution? Slice the lemons, stack them in a mason jar, and freeze them. It keeps them from going bad, it makes your lemon water nice and cold, and they can be used in teas & cocktails, too.

Prefer limes? I have found limes super refreshing in a glass of sparkling water with just a touch of real organic maple syrup. It is like making your own healthy lime soda, and limes can be sliced and frozen, too!

frozen mason jar
can of tomato paste in freezer
can of tomato paste

Tomato Paste Saver

Most recipes call for only a small portion of tomato paste, using just a tablespoon or two, and the rest often goes to waste.

To prevent this, open both ends of the tomato paste can. Remove ONE end, BUT LEAVE THE OTHER IN PLACE.  Store in a mason jar in the freezer overnight.

The next day, use the metal end to push the paste out of the other end. Slice into one-ounce disks, place back into the mason jar and store in the freezer up to 3 months.

 

refrigerator full of mason jars

Use Mason Jars For Storage to Save Money on Plastic Bags or Containers

I have very little plastic in my kitchen, thanks to mason jars! I use them every day for food storage and boy, do they make me happy!

Food looks pretty in them, I don’t have to keep buying plastic that just gets thrown away, it is easy to see what is in them when they are in the refrigerator, & glass does not stain like plastic containers do!

I keep all lids and rims in one big bowl & the jars on a shelf in the cupboard.

mason jar lids
mason jar lids

Make Your Own Taco Seasoning

Never buy over-priced, way-too-much-salt, sometimes ‘msg added’ taco seasoning packets again! This taco seasoning mix is so easy to make and tastes so much better than store-bought packets!

It gives a much richer, “homemade” flavor to every recipe I use it in. I have used it to season ground beef for tacos, nachos, and taco pizza. I have used it to season refried beans or lentils for vegetarian tacos. It is great to season shredded chicken, too!

 

Taco Seasoning Recipe

Taco Seasoning
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

Save money by making your own taco seasoning. This tastes much better than any seasoning you will buy. It is worth making your own! 

Recipe Type: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: taco seasoning
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix all together & store in an air-tight container. I use--yep, you guessed it--a small mason jar. Use 3 teaspoons (more if you want a stronger flavor) per pound of meat. Add 2/3 cup water and simmer down until water is absorbed.

Kitchen-Savings-Tips

Use Cloth Napkins

I have two dear friends who taught me to do this by doing it themselves. Whenever I would go to either of their homes, even just for coffee and snacks, they would set out their beautiful printed, cloth napkins.

I loved that they gave a bit of a fancy, special feel to our little get-together, & the prints that each of them chose showed off their individual personalities.

Cloth napkins are so pretty & one can save a bunch of money by not having to buy paper napkins over and over!

a window with a curtain hack

Simple Curtain Hack

I’ve featured this Simple Curtain Hack here at New Nostalgia before, but it is so good I gotta share it again! It is so inexpensive & easy.

All you need is a tension rod, two tea towels, and some drapery hooks. No sewing or tools required!

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mason jar and metal lids and rings

{For Your Pinning Pleasure}

So there you have it, my 7 top Kitchen Savings tips. Do you think you will use any of them? Do you prefer scented or unscented trash bags? Which Kitchen Savings tip is your favorite?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

RECIPES/ Sides/ Sponsored

8 Simple and Delicious Sandwich Thin Snack Recipes

SANDWICH-THIN=RECIPES

It can be tricky to keep calories low when the urge to snack hits. I am a carb lover, and can easily over-do it when it comes to consuming too much when I’m hungry and need a snack. I’ve found that staying mindful while consuming is key to snacking in a more healthful way.

I was recently asked by Weight Watchers® to share that their products can be found at Walmart & how they have made mindful, low-calorie snacking so much easier with a variety of products. They have popcorn, string cheese and more!  My new fav?  Fiber-filled Oroweat® Sandwich Thins!

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I picked up a couple of packages of Oroweat® Sandwich Thins from Walmart, knowing that they are Weight Watchers® endorsed and just 100 calories made me eager to get creative with them. 100 calories each means that half of one is just 50 calories! That is way lower calorie & fewer SmartPoints® than regular bread. With this sort of portion control and low calories, I feel free to top them with all kinds of goodness which makes a satisfying and hearty snack.

Keep reading for fun ways to top your sandwich thins & for a list of specific Weight Watchers® products that you can find at Walmart.

8 Simple & Delicious Sandwich Thin Snack Recipes

8 Simple Sandwich Thin Recipes -Black Berry Cream Cheese Round

CREAM CHEESE & BERRIES SANDWICH THIN

Toast your sandwich thin. Spread with cream cheese. Top with your choice of berries & dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Blackberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Thin Round

Cinnamon Sugar Sandwich Thin Round

CINNAMON-SUGAR SANDWICH THIN ROUND

Toast sandwich thin. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. I’ve read that the perfect ratio of cinnamon to sugar is 1/4 cup cinnamon to 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Cloud Sandwich Thins Recipe

PEANUT BUTTER CLOUD SANDWICH THIN ROUND

This one is delicious! Toast the sandwich round, spread with peanut butter, top with marshmallows. Pop under the broiler for just a minute, until the marshmallows puff and brown to your liking. Be careful…they burn easily!

Herbed Cheese & Tomato Sandwich Thin Round Appetizer Recipe

GARLIC HERB TOMATO SANDWICH THIN APPETIZER

Spread toasted or non-toasted (I liked non-toasted for this one) sandwich thin with a prepared garlic-herbed cheese spread. Cut into triangles & top with a halved grape tomato. So delicious and makes a pretty appetizer platter!

Sandwich Thin Round Appetizer Recipe

Sandwich Thins Garlic Bread Recipe

GARLIC BREAD SANDWICH THIN ROUNDS

I made spaghetti for dinner tonight and served these garlic sandwich rounds along with it. Much healthier for you than a big hunk of french bread. Did you know these Oroweat® Sandwich Thins have 5 grams of fiber and no high-fructose corn syrup? That makes me happy.

Sandwich Thin Round Pizza

PIZZA SANDWICH THIN ROUNDS

My teen girls gobbled these up as an after-school snack. Toast the sandwich thin, top with pizza sauce (I just used spaghetti sauce), sprinkle with cheese & stick under the broiler until the cheese melts. Top with a chiffonade of basil.

Simple Sandwich Thin Recipes - Grilled Cheese

INSIDE-OUT GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH THIN

This was so gooey and satisfying! Spread the inside of the sandwich thin with butter. Place buttered side down on a pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with cheese and top with the other buttered half. Flip when browned on one side, and cook until the cheese is melted.

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I plan on using these easy snack recipes during our late afternoon snacking sessions. My kitchen is full of teenage girls every day after school who are all looking for a hearty snack, so I will keep these sandwich thins around so they can get creative themselves.

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Want more after school snack ideas?

You can find the below Weight Watchers® products available at Walmart. There is even an iBotta offer up to $4.00. 

-Weight Watchers® Endorsed Jolly Time Healthy Pop microwave and pre-popped Popcorn
-Weight Watchers® Ice Cream Novelties
-Weight Watchers® Sweet Baked Goods
-Weight Watchers® String Cheese

& of course

 -Weight Watchers® Endorsed Sandwich Thins (Arnold®, Orowheat®, and Brownberry®)

Sandwich-Thins-Recipe-Collage

{Pin It}

A few other ideas for Oroweat® Sandwich thins:

Peanut Butter Banana Chia:

~Toast & spread with peanut butter. Topped with sliced bananas & a sprinkle of chia seeds.

Breakfast Thin Sandwich

~Make a breakfast sandwich–sandwich thins are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack! Fry an egg within the confines of a round mason jar lid ring to make it into a round shape. Top the egg with cheese, place within a toasted sandwich thin and enjoy!

Bruschetta Thins

~Dice some tomatoes, add a bit of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with a bit of garlic salt. Mix. Place on toasted sandwich thins & sprinkle with a bit of pepper.

Parmesan Pesto Thins

~Toast a sandwich thin. Spread with prepared pesto. Top with a few shavings of parmesan cheese.

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Follow Weight Watchers® On Facebook for more snack ideas!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Weight Watchers®. The opinions and texts are all mine.

Holidays/Parties/ Homemade Gifts/ Mothers Day/ Sponsored

Why I’m Getting My Mom Butter For Mother’s Day

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My Mom is the type who loves me no matter what I do–even if I were to get her butter for Mother’s Day–which is what I plan on doing.  Butter as in BUTTER CHARDONNAY!

A Mother’s Day Butter Chardonnay Gift Basket

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I made my Mom this fun wine gift basket for Mother’s Day, and I just might add a real tub of butter in it right before I give it to her, because, who doesn’t love butter? My Mom has a great sense of humor and would smile at my butter tub.

I know for certain that the star of the gift basket,  JaM Cellars Butter Chardonnay, will bring a smile to my Mama’s face.

MomPic3640

Isn’t she beautiful? My Mom’s name is Sharon Rose, but even though there is a beautiful flower in her name, I think she would enjoy a bottle of delicious wine over a bouquet of flowers as a Mother’s Day. She deserves a gift that will delight her and that is as fun as she is. I didn’t want a typical Mother’s Day gift for her. I wanted to personalize a gift for her that would put a smile on her face, show her that I know her and was thoughtful with what I bought her, and one that would pamper her.

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I had a ton of fun choosing gifts to fill my basket, and I cannot wait for her to see them, which she will when she read this post. She is my biggest fan and has to live with me posting her gifts online before she even receives them! She won’t mind, especially after she tastes the wine! This wine melts in your mouth! It is smooth, ‘buttery,’ and drinkable with just about anything.

JaM Cellars Butter Chardonnay is  100% Chardonnay, grown in sunny California spots with just the right touch of cool from the coast. JaM Cellars uses great winemaking traditions to make easy-to-love, everyday California and Napa Valley wines. “JaM is actually short for John and Michele, second-generation vintners who own and run JaM Cellars. They have a passion and gift for making exceptional quality wines. You can find Butter Chardonnay in a store near you with the JaM Cellars WineFinder. It is at select stores across the nation including Wholefoods, Kroger & more.

How To Make A Customized Wine Gift Basket

Choose a Wine

I chose JaM Cellars Butter Chardonnay & you should too! Rich, bold, easy-to-love creamy Cali Chardonnay. It is Butter-licious, aged in a blend of oak for a lovely, long, vanilla finish that’s uniquely Butter! Especially choose this wine if the gift basket is for your Mom, because Mom’s deserve Butter!

Choose a Basket

~Choose one that fits the taste and personality of your recipient. I think my Mom is going to love this modern, gold geometric basket. If she doesn’t like the basket, no worries–I will steal it!

~Choose one that will coordinate with your wine. My item was of course, JaM Cellars Butter Chardonnay, so I chose modern & fun, gold with cool angles.

~Choose one big enough to hold all of the gifts you want to include.

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Add something sparkly or something with texture

I got my love of sparkly things from my Mom so when I saw this sparkly ball I knew it would be the great added touch. It is like adding a bow to the package but it is one that is usable and will remind her of me for years to come. It was between this sparkly ball or another ball I found that was soft and fuzzy. I could not have gone wrong with either! Sparkly or soft texture would both add a great effect.

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Add a candle

Wine and candles are always a good thing! I’m loving the wickless- type candles that are battery operated.  My Mom adores scented candles, but she also has some sensitivities to certain scents, so I played it safe and got her a wickless candle. I found one that had the perfect saying on it. It says “You Are My Sunshine.” She IS my sunshine, and it also looked so great with the rest of the basket. I thought the gold basket has a sunburst type quality to it, plus the black, gold and yellow color scheme of the candle fits perfectly, so the word “sunshine” just works for me!

Decided On a Color & Accent Color

~ I used the color of the label of JaM Cellars Butter Chardonnay bottle for my main color

~Choose an accent color or two.  Keep it minimal. I choose black, shades of gold and yellow, and grey.

Add a personal touch

I added a picture of my Mom with my niece and nephew– her grandkids. It is one of my most favorite pictures of her.  A photo is always a great way to add a personal touch, and the photo frame is a great way to add color to your basket. I purposefully chose a holder for the picture that is clip board style, because my Mom makes beautiful art and I thought she could exchange the picture for her drawings if she so desired.

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Add some sweets

My Mom loves butterscotch candies so I thought they would be very fitting for my Butter Chardonnay basket! She also loves chocolate so I added some and paid attention to the wrapper, making sure it would coordinate with the rest of the basket. There were other chocolates that she would like but they were in a variety of bright-colored wrappers. Coordination is key when putting together a beautiful gift basket! Choose sweets with wrappers that coordinate, and again, keep colors to a minimum to avoid clashing & get a more streamlined, professional, custom look.

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Add a filler

This could be anything from shredded paper, to a set of fun cloth napkins or place mats. I chose to use soft grey tissue paper.

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I Love You, Mom!

I sure hope my Mom feels spoiled when she receives her gift. I hope she feels loved and knows what a gift she is to me. She is so fun and has always shown me how to embrace the part of myself that is free spirit. She would sing silly to me as a child, which I passed down to  my children by doing the same when they were young. She giggles when something delights her and her eyes twinkle when she does. She delights in small details, that too many walk through this life and miss.  I love my Mom!

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Want to know more about JaM Cellars Wines?

~Their 2014 Butter Chardonnay and 2014 JaM Cabernet won SILVER at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Awards.

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What about you?

Wouldn’t you love this Butter Chardonnay Basket for Mother’s Day? Yep…me too.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

FAMILY/ Featured/ Kids/Family/ Parenting

3 Reasons Why You Should Let Your Teenager Have A Messy Room

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I have 3 teenage girls, and I am super surprised that as a parent, I am at peace with all 3 of them having a messy room.  Does this mean their rooms are always messy? Well, honestly it depends on their personalities. They all 3 eventually get to a point where they can’t stand the mess anymore and give into choosing to pick it up. But that time frame differs for each of my girls, depending on how organized they like to be & how they are wired.  I have been shocked at times to see how long it can take for them to get to the point of picking up their room!

My pastor is the one who is responsible for the peace I have found in just shutting their doors and moving on. I am so glad I was there the Sunday he talked about parenting and gave some practical tips.  I don’t remember much from that sermon, accept the tip that surprised me the most, and that was to allow your teenager to have a messy room.

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3 Reasons Why It is OK For Teens To Have a Messy Room:

 

It Is A Place For Them To Just BE

This was the main reason he gave for letting your teen have a messy room, and the one that really hit home with me.  He said that in this day and age our teenagers are under immense pressure to perform, everywhere they go.  Social media has taken this to the extreme, where teens are constantly feeling the pressure to be ‘on’ & to present the best of themselves to the world. Presenting self authentically in such a public space is something I talk about often with my girls, recognizing it is a hard thing to grasp for adults, much less for a teenager.

I love this tip that my pastor gave, to give teens a space in this world that they can call theirs, where they can totally exhale and be who they are with no pressure to perform. What better place to do this than in their own bedrooms?

Continue Reading…

Featured/ HOME/ Homemaking/ Simplifying

18 Things You Need To Throw Away

18 Things You Need To Throw Away

It is springtime, and while most people are getting their spring cleaning on, I find myself once again much more motivated to get rid of clutter, throw things away & organize.  I do not like to clean, but I love the feeling of organizing & minimalizing, and in order to really get things cleaned, I need to get the unnecessary out of the way & out of here!

 

Get Rid Of Clutter

There are 3 big things I have learned that motivates me to get rid of clutter.

~You Cannot Organize Clutter

~Clutter Attracts Clutter

~The More Items You Keep, The More Those Items Will Need From You. (putting them away, dusting them, fixing them when they break, etc)

 

Throw It Away

 

Old Magazines

Thanks to Pinterest, I don’t subscribe to many magazines anymore.  The few catalogs that come in the mail, keep in a round, shallow wooden bowl in my living room, to grab & read when I have a moment of slow living. I purposefully chose this container, as it will only hold a few magazines at a time, so it forces me to cull & recycle magazines before they pile up

Vitamins/Medications

These can pile up quickly and if not organized, can become expensive as buying duplicates can be pricey! Check the dates on medications & vitamins & dispose of them properly.

Receipts, Bills & Documents

Get the paper shredder out and get rid of out dates receipts & bills.  Something we do every day that really helps with this type of paper clutter is going through the mail shortly after it comes, throwing out what is trash & filing what isn’t.  My Todd gets credit for this daily habit.

School Papers

Now that my girls are all teenagers, we don’t have as many school papers as we did before, at least, the crafty kind.  I have a system in our home that works well for school papers. Each girl has a designated drawer in our home office desk. When I find my girls school papers laying around, I will gather them and put them in the drawer to whom they belong. That way I am not throwing away papers that need to be turned in.  My girls will go through their own paper drawers when they get full.  If you don’t have extra desk drawers, these stackable letter trays work well for this, too. You can use a labeler and put each child’s name on their letter tray.

Boxes

I stopped keeping boxes “just in case I need them.” I used to keep them just in case I wanted to return the item, store the item or because the box could be used to wrap or mail a gift.  I have decided that living a minimal life means getting rid of a lot of things I usually would keep “just in case.” Boxes, no matter what size, take up way too much room to store just have them hanging around. I break them down and take them to recycling as soon as possible.

Extra Plant Pots

I have great plans every year to use up all my pots but have found that they just sit around, year after year.  I use a few large pots & got rid of all the small ones, including peat pots that I had good intentions to use, but always end up buying starter plants from the store instead of starting my own.  I let go of that ambition to keep life simple.

Pens in a mason Jar

Pens & Pencils

I have invested in some good quality pens and pencils, and keep them in just a couple of places in the house.  I find they last longer than cheap pens and are much more enjoyable to use.  There is something about a container of matching pens & pencils that just makes me happy! I keep a jar in our living room area where I like to sit and journal, a few in a kitchen drawer and the rest go in our home office.  I also keep a few in my purse.

Dishes

We just had our kitchen remodeled and updated last summer, and it was a great opportunity to get rid of dishes.  Just like my pens and pencils, I am all about dishes that match.  No more cupboards full of unmatched cups, mugs, and glasses.  I buy square white dishes, use mason jars instead of plastic for food storage, and all other dishes & serving trays white and as simple as possible. These 16 oz goblet glasses are what we use for water now that we have teenagers, we do not have a need for unbreakable glasses or plastic.  This has made a huge difference in keeping our kitchen cupboards organized & even simplifies loading the dishwasher since everything matches and fits well.

Shoes

If a whole season went by and you didn’t wear them, get rid of them! If you don’t love them, get rid of them.  If they only will go with a couple of outfits, get rid of them. You won’t believe how good it feels to donate unloved shoes to your local thrift store.

Nail Polish

I recently went through our bin of nail polish and was amazed to find how many had become thick & gloppy.  Some bottles were even empty & some we couldn’t get the lid off of.  It is so nice to just grab the bin and know the few colors left in it will actually open and go on smoothly.

Books

We updated our basement & moved a couple of bookshelves.  In the process, we got rid of a bunch of unloved books.  Oh my, talk about freeing! I now have empty shelves to decorate with things that I love.  I was also amazed at what dust collectors books can be.  We all have Kindle Fire’s, so we only kept reference type books & some classics that we couldn’t bear to give away.  I noticed most of my cookbooks went, thanks to Pinterest I rarely use them.  I also gave away a bunch of gardening books for the same reason...Pinterest! Another huge hull–old piano books that my girls used for piano lessons when they were young.

Clothes

I tackled my closet last week and got rid of 2 big bags of clothes.  Same rule for shoes applies here–if a whole season goes by and you don’t wear it, get rid of it.  I started working on a capsule wardrobe, & I’m really enjoying the simplicity of my closet, even if I’m not doing the whole capsule wardrobe perfectly yet, I’m already experiencing how great it is to take away excessive options of what to wear each day.

Jewelry

I recently came up with a new system of jewelry storage & got rid of all my out-dated jewelry. I will share with you soon how I store my jewelry.  It is a simple, non-perfect system that includes an egg carton and small cardboard bowls in a dresser drawer. It is not typical but it sure is working for me!

Makeup & Perfume

I am very minimal when it comes to makeup and all that I own can fit in one makeup bag. Yay! I recently went through all hair products, lotions, perfumes & essential oils and kept only that which is pure and that I use daily. Everything else I got rid of.

Notebooks

I used to buy so many notebooks when they went on sale during back-to-school time.  Not anymore. It is just extra clutter.

Memorabilia

Don’t keep it unless you love it. If it was given to you and you want to remember it but don’t love it, take a picture of it. Did you child make it? Again, take a picture and make an album of their creations instead of keeping every single creation.

Old Electronics

These can sit and sit and collect dust. Updating our basement helped us get these moving, but we moved them upstairs and then they sat and collected more dust. Gotta get them out the door, not just moved around!

Home Decor

Minimalize, minimalize, minimalize! It is so easy to keep decor for years because you don’t even see it anymore as it has sat in the same place for so long.  Look at each item and think “is this worth the dusting that I have to do to it?” “Does this bring me joy?” “Does this make my home beautiful and warm?” “Is this item dated?”

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I am sure there are many more things that one could throw away, but this list is a great start and has really helped me lately.  Our home is feeling more and more streamlined & simple, but I do have more work to do, especially when it comes to our craft closet, an upstairs desk, and our laundry room.  I am seeing progress, especially as I get rid of clutter instead of trying to organize clutter!

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The More Of Less Book 

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Want more inspiration to get rid of clutter and learn just how much purpose there is in doing so? Joshua Becker’s The More of Less is super inspiring and one of my favorite reads. Buy it on Amazon here.

What about you? Does clutter frustrate you? What are your clutter problem areas? Do you have a hard time throwing things away?

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