Fall Wreath Tutorial

Fall Wreath-3
With today being Labor Day, fall is officially here. Although, it is still 85+ degrees here in Virginia. I’ve been bad about making new wreaths all summer so I have had the same one on my door since late April. I love fall crafts so I was very excited to finally make a new one for September. I will probably make another for Halloween, but this one can hold me over until then, and throughout November.

Originally I was going to make a burlap loop wreath. I went to Michaels and got my supplies but by the time I finished with one roll of the burlap, I realized I had not bought enough. So, back to Michael’s I went. However, when I got there I realized I had bought all the burlap they had in stock. Instead I chose this tan and green striped ribbon which was a thicker canvas-like material and turned out really cute. However, I will say that using burlap is much easier as it holds the shape of the poofs much better than the ribbon.

This was also my first time being able to use a W initial on our wreath for my new husband and I’s last name! Pretty exciting :)

This wreath is pretty simple, but time consuming. Once you get in the groove it is certainly not difficult, but it will take up a few hours of your time so be forewarned. It was also fairly inexpensive. All of the supplies cost about $30 total, with using my 20% off coupon.

What you need:


-12″ wire framed wreath (the ribbon will make the actual wreath appear larger)
-Several rolls of thick wired ribbon, or wired burlap for your base color (I purchased 4 and used almost all of the ribbon)
-One roll of hick wired accent ribbon (I chose an orange glitter chevron)
-One roll each of medium and small decorative ribbon, without wire
-Pack of pipe cleaners
-Decorative fall flowers
-Wooden initial
-Hot glue gun and glue

What to do:

  1. Cut your pipe cleaners into thirds to have smaller pieces handy. Unroll your thick base ribbon completely off of the spool. Gather one end and pinch together. Attach the ribbon to one of the support bars of your wreath frame with a pipe cleaner. Be sure to twist your pipe cleaner several times to keep the ribbon in place.

2. Starting from the inside of the frame, begin weaving your ribbon through the frame, over one bar, then under the next.

3. Gather up the loops made by the weaving and puff them out. I typically make each puff approximately 2″ high.

4. When you have reached the outside out of the frame, weave your ribbon the opposite way, toward the inside of your frame. Please note that if you are using burlap ribbon or a solid color that looks the same on both sides, you can keep weaving without flipping your ribbon. However, if you are using a patterned ribbon like mine, you will want to twist your ribbon right before you begin weaving back toward the inside, to ensure that the pattern is facing out.

5. Continue weaving and puffing out your ribbon. I did about six weaves (3 outward, 3 inward) in each section of my frame. Make sure you are gathering the ribbon together to create a full look and tight loops.

6. When you have reached the end of your ribbon, simply pinch the end and attach it to the wire farm with a pipe cleaner, just as you did with the beginning. Be sure to attach at the back of your wreath.

7. Start a new spool of ribbon and repeat until your wreath frame is full.


8. Now, to add your large accent ribbon, attach one end to your frame with pipe cleaner, right in the center. Make sure the long end of the ribbon is pointing up. Create a little poof or bubble with your ribbon, over top of your base. Pinch together and attach with a pipe cleaner, again in the middle of your frame.



9. Continue this until you have attached the accent ribbon all the way around your frame. Cut off the excess and tuck the tail into the base ribbon so that it is hidden. If your base ribbon is tight, your accent ribbon will stay in place just fine.


10. For the decorative ribbon, cut 5-6″ pieces of your medium and small ribbon. Cut a V shape into your medium ribbons to give the ends a more attractive appearance.


11. Layer the small ribbon on top of the medium ribbon and pinch together. Bend a pipe cleaner in half and wrap around your decorative ribbons.

12. Attach to your wreath sporadically where it appears it needs some filler, twisting the pipe clearer at the back of your wreath.



13. Stick your decorative flowers into your frame, wrapping the wire stems into the wreath frame, or using hot glue, depending on your type of flower. Attach your wooden initial with hot glue.



You’re all finished! Once you get the hang of the weaving, this wreath is really easy and fun! There are so many options you can make with burlap and ribbon wreaths for every holiday, occasion and style. Have you tried a burlap weave wreath?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Green Smoothie

Sometimes green smoothies can taste so delicious you’d swear you are drinking a milkshake rather than fruits and vegetables! This chocolate peanut butter protein smoothie is like a rich and creamy dessert packed with vitamins and nutrients. I love to make one of these after a good workout for some muscle recovery. It’s so good it will make you want to work out just to have the smoothie afterward!


What you need:


  • 1 banana (frozen preferred)
  • Handful frozen blueberries
  • 1 1/4 cup spinach
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • Almond milk
  • 1 cup (or 1 package) vanilla yogurt


Mix everything in your blender, adding milk in small batches to ensure your smoothie isn’t too runny. To make a thicker consistency, I often freeze my banana and yogurt ahead of time. This will make your smoothie more like a milkshake.


This is a great green smoothie for beginners because the strong peanut butter and banana flavors hide the spinach taste almost completely. Top with a little whipped cream if you are feeling adventurous, and enjoy!

Easy Slow-Cooker Chicken N Dumplings

I love comfort food. Anything savory, warm, gooey, and hearty is a hit with me. But what makes a dish even better is when it requires little to no effort to make! That is why this super easy slow cooker chicken n dumplings recipe is one of my favorites.


What you’ll need:


  • One pack chicken breasts, thawed
  • Two 10.5 oz. cans cream of chicken soup
  • One can ready-to-bake biscuts
  • 12 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Non-stick cooking spray

What to do:

Spray your slow-cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place the chicken breasts at the bottom of the cooker. Season with salt and pepper.

Next you will pour in chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Add onion flakes. Stir slightly to mix cream of chicken and broth.

Cook on low for 10 hours.

By this point, your soup will be fairly runny. Don’t worry, it will thicken up after you add the chicken and biscuits. After chicken is cooked through, pull chicken apart to shred.


Break off small pieces of biscuit and drop into soup mixture. Stir to make sure all of the biscuit pieces are covered with the soup mixture. Cook for an additional hour in your slow-cooker until your biscuits are cooked through, but just barely! Let cool and enjoy!


“Sea Creatures” by Susanna Daniel

I picked up Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel on a whim at a used bookstore to read on my honeymoon. I knew nothing about the author or storyline, but the title intrigued me as something that might complement days spent lounging about the Caribbean. I was pleasantly surprised with what turned out to be a beautiful tale of motherhood, love, and to what extent one will go to protect their family.

Sea Creatures is set in Miami, where Georgia, her husband Graham, and their three-year old son Frankie, have recently moved. For Georgia, the move back to her hometown comes as a welcomed surprise when her husband receives a job at the University of Miami.   The family moves into a houseboat on Georgia’s father’s property, and Georgia takes to being a stay-at-home mother with Frankie, while Graham spends many long hours at work. Much of Georgia’s time is spent learning and teaching sign language to Frankie, who mysteriously stopped talking several months prior to their move. As Georgia begins to grow bored of the slow pace of her new life, her stepmother sets her up with a job as an errand girl for a mysterious old acquaintance named Charlie, who the locals refer to as “the Hermit.”

Overtime, Georgia and Frankie develop strong relationships with Charlie as they spend more and more time on his stilt house secluded in the middle of the ocean, accessible only by boat. Daniel spends plenty of time slowly and beautifully describing the hours the new friends spend together, and the experiences and emotions they share.

But when a string of tragedies hit that affect Charlie, Georgia and her whole family, relationships are tested, challenged and changed and Georgia’s picture of family takes on a new shape.

Sea Creatures is a lovely painting of following what is best for one’s self and family, and the consequences, both good and bad, that can result from these choices.

“Paper Towns” by John Green

With the movie opening in theaters this week, I decided to check out Paper Towns by John Green. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an 88%, and I would give the book version a pretty similar rating. This is the third of Green’s young adult novels I have read, the other two being The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska. I would say Paper Towns falls in between these two as far as quality. I’m still not emotionally over The Fault in our Stars and never got emotionally invested whatsoever in Looking for Alaska, so Paper Towns was a nice happy medium. It kept me interested and entertained, but also didn’t completely shatter my heart.

Paper Towns follows main character Quinten, “Q,” as he embarks on an unexpected journey during the last week of his senior year. Q grew up being best friends with his neighbor Margot, who since high school has blossomed into the most beautiful and popular girl at school. Considering Q spends most of his time hanging out at the band room and cruising in his parent’s mini van, it’s safe to say the two have grown apart in recent years.

Until one night when Margot randomly shows up outside Q’s window and takes him on a night-long adventure he would have never expected. But as quickly as Margot shows up, she then disappears, leading Q and his best friends on a wild goose hunt to discover her end destination, both literally and emotionally.

Green does a great job in painting a reality of high school friendships in a crowd that just doesn’t quite fit in. Q and his friends are extremely likable, which may be why I had such a hard time with the amount of effort they put into searching for seemingly self-absorbed Margot. Although, her character, as egocentric as she may be, is extremely believable, in a teenage angst and emo sort of way.

“Paper Towns” is a quick and fun read that may not have all of its puzzle pieces perfectly aligned, but will make you yearn for your days of teenage freedom, friendship, and adventure.

Beginner’s Guide to Green Smoothies


I love green smoothies. There is no way in hell you’ll ever catch me eating handfuls of raw kale, celery, spinach or cucumbers. But a tropical smoothie? You betcha. Green smoothies are the perfect way to ensure healthy vegetables and fruits make their way into your daily diet, ensuring powerful punches of vitamins and nutrients to help you stay healthy and lean.

But what exactly is a green smoothie and how do you make one? How will you know what combinations will be deletable and which will taste like pond sludge? When I first began my journey into green smoothies, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the information that was out there. I hope that this guide will give you a place to start in an exploration into your healthier side.

First, you will need a good blender. I personally use the Nutribullet, but have heard great things about the Ninja and Vitmaix lines. I know what you are thinking: “$90 for a blender? Seriously?” Yes, seriously. You can try your $15 blender from your wedding registry if you’d like, but the likelihood of needing to use your teeth to get your smoothies down the hatch will be pretty high. Being a notorious cheapskate, I balked at the price tag too, but I guarantee you, the investment is worth it! I love the personal portable size of the Nutribullet, which is the main reason I chose this blender over others on the market. It is so easy to pop my smoothie in the blender and head right out the door without having to transport it into a separate travel mug and dirty up more dishes (and the Nutribullet is dishwasher-safe!) Additionally, you never have to worry about waste with the Nutribullet. It blends up the perfect personal sized smoothie with no extra leftover. I can personalize a smoothie for myself and one for my husband without pouring remnants of either down the sink.

Now, what makes a green smoothie work? You need three main components: greens, fruits, and liquid.


Here are some typical staples I use for each category:

Greens: kale, spinach, swiss chard

Fruits: bananas, peaches, berries, mango, pineapple

Liquid: water, coconut water, almond milk, low-calorie orange juice, low-calorie lemonade

I use something from each of these three areas in every green smoothie I make. They are your staples. Then you can add in your extras. Some common ones I use include:

Celery, carrots, peanut butter, greek yogurt, ground flax seed, almond butter, protein powder, coconut oi;

The key in any green smoothie is to perfect your fruit to vegetable ratio. You want the sweetness of your fruit (or extras like peanut butter or yogurt) to overpower the bitterness of your greens and other vegetables. I typically use approximately 1/2 cup of fruits to ever large handful of spinach or 3 leaves of kale. Celery and kale have a stronger taste than spinach, so you might want to up your sweets a bit when using these.

I prefer to use fresh vegetables and frozen fruits. I like buying fruit already frozen and bagged up from the store due to the convenience factor, but you can certainly buy fresh fruit and freeze it yourself if you have that kind of time.


I recommend starting light on your liquid. You can always add more, but cannot take it away! You want your smoothies to be a creamy, smooth consistency. Too much liquid will cause a runny mess. Too little will cause your blender to not work correctly and result in a chunky soup.

I recently blogged about juicing. I am certainly still a fan of juicing but green smoothies have found a special place in my heart. Two benefits of smoothies come to mind in comparison to juicing: 1. Smoothies fill you up better than juice. I will often replace a meal with a smoothie and find myself feeling fully satisfied when pairing one with a slide of cheese, handful of almonds, a few pretzels, etc. 2. Produce goes much further with smoothies than with juice. When juicing, I found myself using two apples and a half a bag of kale for one juice concoction. For smoothies I can use only three kale leaves and a half an apple. So with this being said, smoothies are a much more budget-friendly option. However, I still do juice and find it can be a great way to add nutrients into my diet without making myself stuffed.



There are plenty of recipes out there for creating a variety of green smoothies, but be creative and try your own! Just be sure to follow the key formula listed above. I swear they taste 100 times better than they look! I’ll post some of my favorites in the weeks to come, so be sure to check back!

What are your favorite green smoothie recipes?

Spaghetti Squash “Lasagna” Casserole

Lately I have been trying to curb my carb intake. I personally don’t believe in completely carb-free diets, but I do think that limiting carbs and being more conscious of how much I eat has made my body both look and feel better. This, however, is quite the challenge for me because I love bread, pasta and potatoes! So I’ve been seeing a lot about “spaghetti squash” lately and decided to try it out. Spaghetti squash is a big oblong squash that runs about $2-3 at the grocery store and can be found just about all year long. When roasted, the meat breaks apart into long skinny sections just like spaghetti noodles! It is the craziest thing. One cup of spaghetti squash has only 42 calories and 7 carbs! Can’t beat that! You can eat spaghetti squash on its own as a side dish, with a little white wine and scampi, in Asian inspired dishes, and just about any other way you would like to enjoy pasta. I decided to try out a classic Italian spin and made a “lasagna” spaghetti squash casserole. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this dish turned out, and how easy it was to prepare! I tried to make this as healthy as possible and used ground turkey instead of beef, and part-skim cheese.

What you need:




-1 spaghetti squash
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Salt & pepper
-Ground turkey
-Spaghetti sauce
-Part-skim mozzarella, shredded

What to do:

1. Slice your spaghetti squash in half. This might be the hardest part, as the skin is pretty thick!


2. Scoop out the insides and discard the seeds and pulp. Just like a pumpkin! Rub each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fill a baking dish with 1/2 inch of water and place the squash halves cut side down. Bake on 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes.


3. Meanwhile, brown the ground turkey. Once browned, add spaghetti sauce and heat until bubbling.

ss4 ss5

4. Remove squash from the oven. Use a fork to start “fluffing” the squash. It will very easily break apart into “noodles.”
ss6 ss7 ss8


5. Start layering your casserole. Alternate layers of squash, cheese and sauce. Finish with a top layer of cheese and put back in the oven 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
ss9 photo (1)


The squash is sweeter and crunchier than normal pasta. Definitely a different consistency. So go into this expecting squash rather than actual noodles and you might just fall in love! This was so simple to make and the spaghetti squash has endless possibilities as a base.


Do you have any good recipes you have made using spaghetti squash?  

Loop Ribbon Wreath Second Attempt

This weekend I tried my second attempt at a loop ribbon wreath. My little city of Winchester, VA has a huge festival holiday in May called Apple Blossom which is all about pink and green. So this is in celebration of Apple Blossom! Again, was super easy, just a bit time consuming.

Apple Blossom loop ribbon wreath

Apple Blossom loop ribbon wreath

Have you tried yet to make a ribbon wreath?

Loop Ribbon Wreath

sp12I have been making wreaths for quite some time, usually with ribbon, in a wrapped technique. I love the way the bright colors look in the sunlight against my blue front door. And Hobby Lobby has such cute prints, it’s hard to resist!

I have been wanting to take my wreaths a step further and try a loop ribbon technique but was actually pretty intimidating. I found many tutorials on Pinterest, and it just seemed like so much work. But, needing to make a new wreath for St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to take the ribbon plunge. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this was and how great it turned out! 



What you need:

Round foam wreath (I used 12″)
Lots of ribbon spools! I used 8 in a variety of patterns and sizes. (Make sure one is a solid thick width to use as your base wrapping.)
Pack of stick pins
Any desired embellishments or decorations

What to do:

First of all, you need to wrap your wreath foam with a wide solid color ribbon. Attach eat end with a stick pin. I did not have quite enough, so you can see some of the white showing through.

Next comes the most tedious part. Cut your ribbon into strips between 4-5″ each. You will want at least 20 strips of each ribbon, but I suggest going ahead and cutting the entire spool. If you want a more staggered look, you can cut different lengths. For this one I kept them all the same.

Once your ribbons are cut, congrats! You have passed the hardest part! Now you will start making your loops. Bend the ribbon and secure with a stick pin or two for wider ribbon.

Poke the pins into the wreath to secure your loops. I used up all of one pattern at a time. I began with the thickest ribbon and tried to space them out evenly on the front and sides of the wreath. Don’t worry about which direction they face, it has a better effect if all are different.

Continue until you are out of ribbon! Try progressing from thickest to thinnest. This seems daunting at first and a bit overwhelming, but as your wreath fills up more and more you will easily start to see the wholes where you need to fill in.


I added a shamrock centerpiece and some top ribbon to hang my wreath.


I was so happy with how this turned out! It is easily my favorite wreath so far. The entire project took me approximately two hours, and things were a breeze after the cutting. What I like best about this wreath is that nothing has to be perfect. In the end, the loops will all fit together and look great!


Have you ever tried to make a loop ribbon wreath?

The Addictive World of Juicing!

Recently my boyfriend quit smoking (so proud!) and we decided to go on a mini-health kick. In addition to regular exercise and hydration, we’ve started making more of a conscious effort to eat healthy, while still not depriving ourselves of things we love. Some of my friends have gotten on the juicing kick (credit fellow blogger Evin–www.pcslife.wordpress.com) and rave about how easy it is and and how great they feel. So one night we just up went to Wal-Mart (one of our favorite night-time activities, don’t judge) to find a cheap juicer. We didn’t want to invest too much money into this thing in case it tasted horrendous or was a one-time fad. We settled on a cheapo Hamilton Beach machine for around $70.

Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juicer

juice2 Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juicer

Then we set off to the produce section to pick out our first ingredients. I had looked up some recipes on Pinterest ahead of time, and we settled for  a “Green Machine.” Looking back, we definitely under-purchased. One thing you will quickly realize with juicing is that it takes a LOT of fruits and veggies just to produce a small amount of juice.


Green Machine

Green Machine:
2bundles of kale
2 Granny Smith apples
2 green pears
1 lemon

This particular machine boasts that its wide mouth can fit and juice whole apples! I was skeptical at first, but it really worked. You can juice fruits and veggies whole as long as they will fit, being mindful to peel any rind that may not be edible. For example, you can put in a whole cucumber or apple, but be sure to first peel a lemon, orange, or papaya. Small seeds are fine to include, but large pits as in peaches and nectarines must first be discarded.


juice5photo 1 Finished Green Machine

I was surprised at how easy the whole process was! It only takes a few minutes of your time to get a delicious concoction. Yes, I said DELICIOUS. I couldn’t believe how great it tasted to drink KALE!

Long story short, we have become JuiceHeads (and no, not the steroid type.) Since purchasing the machine about three weeks ago, we have each had at least one juice per day. I personally don’t use the juices as meal replacements, per say, but I do drink one every morning for breakfast. Before juicing I typically never had anything for breakfast except for coffee (BAD, I know!) so this has been a great addition. It starts my metabolism and keeps me (almost) full until lunchtime. I’ve cut out coffee almost completely, except as a treat every now and then. The juice wakes me up and gives me all the energy I need.

Now, let’s talk NUTRITION! Juicing is incredibly HEALTHY! Thinking about all of the vitamins and minerals you pack into one pint of liquid. My new favorite Google search is “what are the health benefits of ______?” So many cancer-fighting, vision enhancing, heart healthy benefits in each little fruit or veggie. My office has been passing bugs around all winter, and I (knock on wood) have yet to get sick. I definitely attribute this to all of the vitamin C and other nutrients in my juice! Throughout the week, Itypically stick to alternating between green kale or spinach based juices and orange carrot and ginger based juices. Several of my favorite recipes are listed below.

But first, a few words of advice for new juicers:

1. Buy MORE produce than you think you will use! Per week, we typically go through anywhere from 7-28 apples, 10 pears, 3 bunches of kale, 1 large bag of spinach, 2 bags of carrots, 1 ginger root, and 12 oranges. These are our “essential” ingredients. We more sparsely purchase “enhancer” ingredients, such as melon, cilantro, mangoes, and beets. I try to shop once on Sundays to avoid going to the store throughout the rest of the week.

2. Juice right before you want to drink. Juices lose nutrients the longer they sit. Something about oxidation or…I have no idea.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new combinations or be turned off by weird colors. Brown juices can be delicious! Get out of your comfort zone and use ingredients you don’t really like. I am not a huge fan of celery, but I try to hide at least one stalk in each of my green drinks to reap the health benefits.

Happy juicing!

Green Monster:  2 Granny Smith apples 1/2 cucumber 1 celery stalk 4-5 large leaves of kale (Add a handful of cilantro to kick up the flavor!)

Green Monster:
2 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cucumber
1 celery stalk
4-5 large leaves of kale
(Add a handful of cilantro to kick up the flavor!)

Beets Me! 2 beet roots (peeled)  1 sweet apple 2 carrots 1 inch ginger root 1 orange 1 lime

Beets Me!
2 beet roots (peeled)
1 sweet apple
2 carrots
1 inch ginger root
1 orange
1 lime

Mango Madness 1 mango (peeled)  4 carrots 1 inch ginger 1 orange 1 green apple

Mango Madness:
1 mango (peeled)
4 carrots
1 orange
1 green pear
1 inch of ginger root