Friday, October 30, 2020

A Spooky Charcuterie + Happy Everything


Whew - what a week! Hurricane Zeta left us all with a lot of tricks and no treats. But that's okay...from where I stand (and thankfully it's no longer in the dark) we still are having lots of spooky fun. 

Due to the hurricane canceling school, we found ourselves with a lot of extra playtime and Halloween activities we could sneak in. To make everything extra festive I decided to break out my favorite Happy Everything serving pieces and have a fun Spooky Charcuterie set up for everyone to snack on while the kids were busy turning their playhouses into haunted houses. 

| Black Stripe Bowl with Large Haunted House Attachment |

Even with the hurricane damage everywhere, this little spooky set up was super easy to put together. Most of the charcuterie items and drinks I already had on hand. And the Happy Everything serving pieces made my theme come to life with just a quick switch of the attachments

One minute these pieces were set for a football get together we hosted, but within seconds I had my spooky bat, large haunted house, and candy corns put on all my bases for a completely spooktacular setting. 

Charcuterie boards are always so fun to put together and they are usually crowd pleasers no matter what age the crowd. I also like the idea that you can do theme boards or mix and match different snacks to make holiday themed boards. 

For the Spooky Charcuterie I grabbed a variety of cubed cheeses and crackers as the base. Then I filled in with some pumpkin themed treats (Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter Pumpkin No-Bake Cookies) and some Fall themed candies (candy corns and pumpkin gum drops). It was a good mix of salty-sweet snacks that leaned a little more kid friendly. 

For the rest of the food we had Monster Funfetti cupcakes the kids decorated and a pretzel platter with both soft and hard pretzels to dip into mustard. This time of year it is so easy to find themed snacks. Just like the ghost chips above, I was able to find pretzels that were in bat and pumpkin shapes. 

Between the Happy Everything bases with fun attachments and the easy snack idea, I was able to put together an entire spooky spread with in minutes. I love being able to host, and when it is low stress - even better!

We are hosting another small gathering of neighbors Halloween night so all my Happy Everything plates and platters will stay in their Spooky modes for now, but after this weekend...

 Like everyone else, I'm tempted to get all things - even my serving pieces - ready for the holidays!

To learn more about Happy Everything and their line of fun bases and attachments, you can visit their online store or see where you can shop locally.  

Happy Halloween everyone! 

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Join the Fur-Ever Bad Kitty Read-A-Long {Giveaway!}


I am lucky that my kids love reading as much as I do. I remember the days that it was a struggle to get my oldest to read. It was a process and part of the switch was due to finding books that he really enjoyed. Now having several readers in the mix, it's always fun to find books - or series - that the whole group enjoys. 

Topping the list lately is the Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel. 

L.C. is cat obsessed (that might be the understatement of the year), and was instantly drawn to the idea of reading a series about a silly kitty who wrecks havoc on her owners home. Over the summer she read Bad Kitty Joins the Team, and since it has a soccer ball on it (and soccer is his favorite sport), Cute picked up the book and read it too. 

The stories are laugh out loud funny, and have the best illustrations to accompany the hilarious antics of Bad Kitty. 

The kids love them so much that when I saw there was a fun activity they could participate in leading up to the latest release in the series, I instantly reached out to the Bad Kitty team to ask if we could have a little fun of our own. 


In anticipation of Bad Kitty's newest release, Bad Kitty Goes on Vacation (out December 29, 2020), Macmillian Children's Publishing Group is hosting a fun read-a-long. It started a few weeks ago, but there is plenty of time for kids to pop-in when ever they want and join in on the fun. 

Here are some fun check lists they created to follow what they will be chatting about each week. 


When I reached out to the Bad Kitty team I also asked for a little something for you guys. I know lots of parents are always trying to find ways to encourage their kids to read, and seeing how much my two (very different) children enjoy this series, I know yours will too! 

One lucky reader will win a set of Bad Kitty books from the series!

 Leave a comment letting us know who you are excited to give the books to and you are all entered! 
Winner will be announced on November 2, 2020.

To learn more about the Bad Kitty series visit HERE

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Home Sweet New Home: One Year Update

It's been one year. ONE. I can't even believe I'm writing this - but it's been one year today since we purchased our new home

We didn't really have a plan other than we knew we were going to renovate it, and it would be some time in 2020 when we moved. If you had told me on October 22, 2019 what the next year would have been like I would have laughed and laughed and laughed at you. Here's why...

New House Thought #1: The bulk of the renovations will be done by end of January, so we will move February Winter Break. 

Reality: We moved in June. Into an unfinished house. 

New House Thought #2: Our current home will sell quick. What will we do about the kids schools? 

Reality: A major pandemic hits the world and we need not worry about things like schools. 

Or homes selling too quick.

New House Thought #3: It will be so nice having a GC (that is not us) taking care of all the details. 

Reality: "Hi. We're GC Mr. Magnolia, his assistant Jen, and our three tiny foreman. Welcome to our remodel!"

New House Thought #4: We can't wait to go pick out all the new shiny home things!

Reality: Is it available on Amazon? (See pandemic comment above.)

New House Thought #5: "Hey kids grab your masks! Mom's painting something."

Reality: "Hey kids grab your masks! Mom's talking to the contractors, picking out flooring, grabbing new towels at Target, standing in the driveway with the landscapers..." 

In short, the things we were most stressed or worried about never came to fruition. Things we weren't even thinking about became the largest hurdles. However - and I'm in the minority of this thinking - I actually think the slower pace and limitations we faced actually made it a more enjoyable process. 

2020 cut out a lot of extra in our lives for a few months. So that freed up a lot of time that Mr. Magnolia and I normally wouldn't have to concentrate on the remodel. Granted lead times, shipping times, and quarantines dragged out the process in some portions of the build (especially towards the end), but having the time to focus on it all made it less stressful. 

It also gave us more time to stare at the house and add an extra project. Or ten. 

All that extra free time allowed us to tackle projects we didn't think we would have time for until next year or the following. 

So pandemic remodeling...honestly not that bad.

From start to finish, construction/remodeling took us about nine months. We still have a few small things to tweak and a few outdoor projects that seem to be dragging, but otherwise we're done! 

Out of all of us, I was the most hesitant about moving and doing a major remodel. In the end, I think it was one of the best decisions we could have ever made. It was fun to do as a couple and as a family. It has been a dream to let our kids have so much space to run around and play. And it has been a much easier transition in terms of schools/activities/lifestyle than I could have ever planned. 

I'll try to share some fun before and afters soon of all the different rooms. It's amazing how much some of the spaces have changed! 

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Fun 2020 Advent Calendar Options for Kids

 Okay, so we know this post is a little early. We know it isn't even Halloween yet, and it's crazy we're sitting here thinking of Christmas. But... as we were going down a rabbit hole online to avoid the baseball loss that happened last night (we don't want to talk about it), we stumbled upon the fact that our favorite Advent Calendars we get each year were on major sale. 

Needless to say we clicked "add to cart". 

But also saw some other fun options as well. And most on sale! 

We're tempted to change things up this year and get one for each child. Do you do that? Or do you just do one option for all the kids together? 

Here are some of the ones we found...

Advent Calendar Ideas for Kids

1: Disney Storybook Collection Advent Calendar - This book themed calendar contains 24 fun stories from the kids favorite Disney and Pixar characters. Each book is individually wrapped and contains a 24 page holiday themed story. 

2: Lego Advent Calendars - This is the calendar our kids have loved the most over the years. Each day they open a mini-figurine or small build to do. We've done the City version over the last few years, but there are also Lego Friends, Harry Potter, and Star Wars holiday themed Lego Advent Calendars as well. It's the perfect countdown for any Lego lovers! 

3: Thomas & Friends Calendar - We remember when our kids were obsessed with trains and Thomas. We would have loved this back then. This fun calendar has 24 mini train figurines, including 6 exclusive holiday themed designs. 

4: Nickelodean Storybook Advent Calendar - Similar to the Disney version, but with the kids favorite Nick shows. Twenty-four individually wrapped books featuring Paw Patrol, Dora, Butter Bean's Cafe and more!  

5: Crayola Christmas Countdown Calendar - If you have a craft loving little one - this is the perfect calendar! Each day opens a new window to a craft, art supply, modeling dough, or coloring page. 

6: Purple Cow Countdown to Christmas with Science - Of all the calendars we thought this was unique and so fun! Each day contains a new science experiment for kids to do. The box contains 24 individual experiments and detailed instructions. Recommended for ages 8+. 

7: Charm Bracelet Advent Calendar - This is a calendar we might actually steal from the kids for ourselves. Comes with a bracelet and each day opens to a new charm for kids to create their own Pandora style holiday themed charm bracelet. This would be a great option for tween/teen girls! 

8: Hot Wheels Advent Calendar - Oh how many Hot Wheels did we own back in the day?! Our boys would have loved this calendar! Contains 24 cars and accessories. We love the holiday themed car-sleigh!

9: Wire Puzzle Advent Calendar - Have older kids? This one is for you! Our older elementary schooler has just gotten into these wire puzzles, and we can't lie - we find them fun/difficult too! With 24 different puzzles (ranged from easy to super tricky) we think this is a calendar the whole family could get into. 

10: Barbie Dreamtopia Calendar - Barbie obsessed little ones will squeal in delight. Contains a Dreamtopia themed Barbie and each day opens to a new accessory or part of an outfit to dress Barbie for the big day. 

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Affordable Fall Fashion {From Walmart!}

The past few weeks we have experienced much cooler temperatures and it makes me SO excited for Fall.  Don't get me wrong...I love summer. We so enjoy the lazy days of hanging at the lake, swimming with friends, and soaking up the hot sunshine. However, that first day when the weather starts to turn cool and crips, the leaves start to change, and you can walk outside without breaking into a sweat I remember just how much I love this time of year. 

I also love dressing for the fall. Lots of layers fun patterns and cozy styles. I recently ordered a few things from Walmart and was SO impressed with the quality, comfort and style. Even my label obsessed 13 year old saw the items and was said, "Walmart has stepped up their game!" 

Camo Sweatshirt (from Walmart)//Leggings//Sneakers//Earrings

Snakeskin Sneakers (from Walmart)//Bag (from Walmart)//Denim//Tee//Necklace 

The best part of all of these items is you don't have to stress about a big price tag. It's no secret that I am a Walmart lover, especially for adding a few fun pieces to your closet without the guilt of spending too much! If you check the reviews on many of these items you will see that I'm not alone.  Tons of great reviews and lots of praise.

Everything is linked below. Left --> Right, Top --> Bottom 

1. Zipper Bootie ($14.00) - These come in several colors and area also available in a wide width. 

2. Snake Skin Slip On ($14.00) - These are a great type of shoe for transitioning to fall.  You can wear the with denim, leggings or dresses when you feel like it's too late in the summer to wear sandals, but not quite time for booties. Plus the snakeskin print is still so trendy for this fall. 

3. Star Sneakers ($19.00) - I have the other version of these and they are really comfortable and give you the Golden Goose look, for much less. 

4. Sneaker Wedge ($8.00) - I believe these are left over from last year because I have something really similar that I wore a ton last winter with denim.  It gives a little more of a dressed up look, but still keeps your feet comfortable. 

5. Sleeveless Knit Dress ($9.00) - This is the perfect type of transition item. Throw a denim jacket on top and you are ready for cool mornings and warm afternoons. This one has a TON of amazing reviews and comes in several different colors. 

6. Camo Sweatshirt ($11.00) - I actually own this one, too!  It's a lightweight sweatshirt, which I like for this time of year and comes in several colors/prints.  I sized up for an oversized fit which is perfect for leggings. 

7. Denim Jacket ($19.00) - My light washed denim jacket is probably one of the most worn items in my closet. I wear it year round and it is the perfect layering piece. 

8. Sleeveless Knit Dress ($9.00) - See number 5! This is the same dress in a basic black. Dress it up with fun jewelry or dress it down with cute sneakers. 

9. Fleece Pullover ($15.00) - Last winter everyone went crazy for the Walmart fleece and this year's version is even cuter!  For this price you should stock up for everyone you know!  Monogram them, wear them with jeans or leggings, and stay warm and cozy all season long. 

10. Stretch Knit Jegging ($12.00) - Another highly reviewed item and a great basic that you'll get so much wear out of. These come in several prints and solids. 

11. Sofia Vergara Denim ($24.00) - Only available at Walmart, these jeans have been called "Magic Jeans" fitting all body types and with just the perfect amount of distressing help keep you looking trendy. 

12. Fleece Pullover ($15.00) - See number 9! We love a basic black, but the leopard gives us all the heart-eyes! 

13. Snakeskin Star Sneakers ($24.00) - I own these and LOVE them so much. I've worn them a ton, they are so comfortable, have a memory foam foot bed and I know I'm going to wear them all season long.  

14. Checkered Tote ($47.00) - A total knock-off, but I'm here for it! This is another item I personally own and while obviously not the real-deal, it looks pretty good and for the price can't be beat. It's also a great size! 

15. Checkered Tote ($47.00) - See number 14!  Same bag, different color. 

16. Lightweight Anorak Jacket ($21.00) - I've seen this one in person and it looks really nice.  It's lined with a coordinating print and just super stylish with the way you can cinch in the waist.  


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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Kitchen Confessions: Cream Cheese Bacon Cheddar Dip

 A few weeks ago I shared about few easy dips that were my new go-to recipes when I needed an appetizer. The Black Bean, Corn & Feta dip is delish and literally takes minutes to make.  Bonus, it's relatively healthy, too.  Today's dip is still easy to make, bakes in just 20 minutes, and not healthy, but in the yummiest way! 

It's the perfect dip for watching football, it's always a crowd pleaser, and you can make it ahead of time and just warm it up when you are ready to serve it. I made this on Saturday when it was raining and we were happy to be stuck at home watching football.  It was the perfect comfort food for that kind of day. 

Cream Cheese Bacon Cheddar Dip


  • 1 package cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar 
  • 3-4 green onions, diced 
  • 8 slices bacon, crumbled 
  • hot honey (optional) 
  • Mix all ingredients and spread into pie plate. 
  • Top with crumbled bacon and sprinkle a little extra cheese on top. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 
  • Drizzle with hot honey (optional). 
  • Serve with an assortment of crackers. 
Speaking of the hot honey...I am obsessed with this stuff.  The Mr. and I went to a restaurant that served a wood-fire pizza drizzled with hot honey and it was delicious!  I searched for something similar and found this Kroger brand hot honey at my local grocery store.  We now put it on everything. We do make-your-own-pizza night and I drizzle it on my pizza, I put it on this dip, on roasted brussels sprouts...all sorts of things! I honestly don't even like honey, but I love this because it gives it just a little sweetness with a kick. If you have a Kroger near you be sure to grab this! 

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Amazon Prime Days 2020

 Okay people - the holiday shopping season has officially begun! Sure we might not even be to Halloween yet, but this is 2020 and all the rules have been thrown out the window. Today kicked off the greatest of all shopping events - AMAZON PRIME DAYS

Really this event has happened the last few years, but this year it kicks off the holiday retail season. We can't even begin to think about where to start this year, and have browsed briefly through some of the deals. And a lot of them are really great deals. 

We noticed that a few a lot of our all time favorite products are on major discount right now. We own them already and have gifted a lot of them too! Otherwise, we'd be priming with the best of them today and tomorrow. 

We keep all of our Amazon favorites in one spot. We keep these lists on hand if we ever need to re-order something or to keep track of something we want to purchase later. But they might be helpful to you too - especially since a lot of them are on sale right now. 

Also, we have a few Amazon posts we've done that might be helpful. Things we've purchased lately, gifts our kids have loved, or decor we've found that coordinates well - all with the click of a button, and brought to our doorsteps in two days or less. You can check some of them out here: 

Amazon Fall Decor

Amazon Lately July/August

Amazon Wall Organization Systems

Amazon Lately June

Amazon Lately May

Activities for Kids 

Amazon Kindle for Kids Review

A bonus of Amazon Prime Days occurring...other retails have followed suit. Here are some other major retailers hosting their own deals or matching Amazon's:

DSW - 30% off with code FALLIDAY

Target - Online Only

Macy's - Free Shipping + 30% off with code THANKYOU

Nordstrom - Up to 60% off, plus an extra 25% off select items.

GAP - 40% off with code OCTOBER

Old Navy - 50% off everything.

IT Cosmetics - 25% off site wide. 

Rack Room Shoes - 15% off with code GREATDEAL. (This one works through 10/31.)

Happy Shopping Friends! 

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Book Club: September

 Today is Book Club Day! Some of you are super excited, and some are all "Meh. Just give me the home decor or the yoga pants I never knew I needed in my life."

To those of you we wish we had a few new Netflix shows to offer up to you. But sadly, watching Selling Sunset or Schitt's Creek in car pool line is generally frowned upon - so book reviews it is. 

And we aren't mad about that one bit. 

Especially because in September we read some good ones. Like go ahead and get your Kindle fully charged good. 



I'm the reason this blog post is happening in the middle of October instead of at the beginning like it normally would. I was really trying to finish my second book so I would have something that I loved to share because my first book this month was just so-so. 

The first book I listen to this month was Kevin Kwan's Sex and Vanity

I had really high hopes for this book because I loved the Crazy Rich Asians series, but for some reason I just couldn't get into this one.  I don't know if it was because I was listening instead of reading it, but the  first half felt very long, drawn out, and never ending.  I did enjoy the crazy lavish settings and the outlandish characters made me laugh. The second part of the story had me rooting for certain characters and kept me very interested to see how things would turn out, but unfortunately I could have passed on this book all together.  

My next book this past month was a recommendation from my mother-in-law and it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  

The Last Flight by Julie Clark is a suspense thriller about two different women who want to escape their present lives and for very different reasons. They end up switching boarding passes at an airport and what happens next changes everything. 

This book had a lot of unexpected twists and chance meetings that kept me guessing how things would turn out.  I really enjoyed it! 


This month's book club is brought to you by Fall Break at the beach and 9,938 hours playing mom taxi. Seriously though. I calculated it and I spend at least 2 hours and 45 minutes of each day in the car between car pool, school drops offs, and sports drop offs. That logs me a lot of Audible hours each day if I don't listen to music. I still thank Carrie Beth every day for introducing me to the app, otherwise I'd be listening to the Frozen 2 soundtrack and Taylor Swift on one continuous loop the entire school year. 

My grand total for the month - six books! Five of them I loved. One I am on the fence about. 

First up for the month was 28 Summers by the queen of beach reads - Elin Hilderbrand. I finished this book and immediately sent it to a few girlfriends telling them to read it on their Fall Break trips. It was a bit controversial in material, but I think it is now one of my favorite Elin Hilderbrand books to date. It follows the two main characters over the course of 28 Labor Day weekends. The two make a pact that no matter what happens in life or whom they are with, they must spend Labor Day weekend together. No questions asked. For the rest of the year? No communication. No social media. No text. Nothing. It is interesting how this plays out over the years. The end was perfection and if it doesn't make you at least a little teary eyed, you aren't human.  

Next up is a book I had been waiting for for awhile. I loved reading The Royal We a few years ago, so when Carrie Beth told me there was going to be a sequel I was so excited. The Heir Affair is the only book out of the month I'm kind of wishy washy on. Part of that is on me. I hadn't read The Royal We in years, so some of the details were a little hard to follow at first because I couldn't remember how the last book ended. Also, for me, the first part of this book was slooooow. Like I couldn't figure out why I loved The Royal We so much and this one was falling flat. But I hung in there and the second half and the end more than made up for it. If you read the first one in the series, give it a whirl. If anything just to get some closure on the characters and a "where they are now". Otherwise, just fall in love with The Royal We

In keeping with the royal YA trend that I was on, I also read the sequel to one of my other favorite royal series in recent years. Last year I read American Royals and loved it. Now Majesty was a sequel to me that lived up to the hype. The is set in modern America, but America as a monarchy and the Washington Family became the first royal family of America after the war. What I loved most about this sequel is it started right where it left off, and then took whatever you remembered from the first story and completely obliterated every relationship and what you loved most about it. But in the best way possible. It ends up making you like it even more. All the love interests swap. All the gossip changes around. All the characters grow, change and surprise you more. It was a great sequel, and one that wrapped up everything nicely, but also left somethings up in the air that I could almost see a third book being added to it. At the end of the day the story is just plain fun, and even though it is considered YA, I really enjoyed it. 

The One to Watch was an Audible suggestion that popped up for me, and I'm so glad I went ahead and clicked "listen". I think this is one of my favorite listens/reads for the year. The story follows a plus size fashion blogger who gets asked to participate on a Bachelor style show after she rants about it online for not being diverse in its casting. It's a super fun read that covers a lot of topics (i.e. body diversity, eating disorders,  sexual preference, race, social media influence...), so I would deem it along the lines of a beach read with a little more meat. You fall in love with the main character in so many ways, and the humor throughout the book balances some of the tougher messages the author tries to convey. I'm also going to give this one the PG-13 disclaimer in case you're planning to listen to it while mom-taxiing too. 
(read: bring headphones)

Same with Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover. It gets the double headphones warning. All of her books are that way, but don't let that be a deterrent because she usually makes you feel all the feels by the end of the story. Okay I texted Carrie Beth after I read this one to put it on her radar since I know she is a huge Hoover fan. I loved it at the time, but as I'm reading my notes, I'm torn as to what drew me in. The story follows Beyah after she becomes homeless when her mom overdoses. Beyah has lived a rough life in every way possible, and is so close to rising above her circumstances until her mom's death. She has no choice but to track down her estranged father and ask to live with him for two months before going to college in the Fall. 

Are you still with me? 

Okay, as if all that wasn't dramatic enough throw in a rich handsome neighbor love interest with secrets of his own, a mysterious dead body, a fun step family, and a big twisty secret. I couldn't stop reading, but looking at my's a lot to unpack. :) 

If you haven't read a Colleen Hoover novel, start with It Ends With Us

Okay this might be the most random selection I have to offer you for this month, however it was SO FREAKING GOOD. This was an Audible suggestion as well. (Amazon just gets me, you know?). I'm guessing this fell into my queue because I read the two royal YA series novels and some of the things my son is reading in the middle grades category. I was intrigued by the synopsis of The Inheritance Games and pushed "listen".  

The story follows Avery Grambs who is a half homeless high school student sleeping in her car. All that changes when a boy not too much older than her shows up a her school informing her she is named in the will of a billionaire. Not just any billionaire. THE billionaire of all billionaires. And the entire fortune? Hers. But why? 

The story unfolds as a mystery, toned down thriller, and romance all wrapped up into one. I couldn't stop listening. There were so many twists and turns and new discoveries I wanted to learn more. It was extremely well written, and gives your brain a workout in some places. The love triangle is perfection. The characters are all very well written and each one is special to the story. The book finishes with a lot of answers and closure, but a clear opening to a sequel. Count. Me. In. 



I just downloaded One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London and can't wait to get started on it.  I always take Jen's suggestions and am excited about this one! 


I am actually on the fence about what I want to start up next. I have Nicholas Sparks' newest book, The Return, ready to go. But...I don't know if I'm ready to sink into it just yet.

Bring on any suggestions because the carpool/mom-taxi life only increases this month with added activities and our area opening up even more from all things COVID. Pass along all the entertaining goodness you have in your arsenal - we'll need it! 


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