5 Ways to Celebrate the Kentucky Derby in Style

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend… The most exciting two minutes in sports. (Ha!) The race of the roses has a special place in my heart since my inlaws are regular attendees, horse breeders, and Kentucky dwellers. In fact, I was lucky enough to hobnob in Millionaire’s Row with the fam a few years ago… (You know pre-kids… Man, do I look like a fresh-faced baby!) You can still get in on the exciting action from home. Turn on the TV, place your bets, and enjoy these five fun ideas for celebrating in style.

Buy a Fancy New Hat or Headband

  1. Pink and Turquoise Fascinator Headband, $39/ 2. Dot Veil Fascinator Headband, $39/ 3. Dot and Feather Fascinator Headband, $39

Want to look like you belong in Millionaire’s Row? Try rocking a fancy-schmancy fascinator with your next ensemble. It’s a fashion-forward risk worth taking, and a serious style statement. And if it’s good enough for Kate Middleton… These headband options are any way to add some serious flair to any little black dress. (Keep the outfit and accessories simple, and let the fascinator do all the talking.)

Sip a Mint Julep

A little bourbon (or a lot!), some sugar or simple syrup, mint springs, and tons of (crushed) ice, and you’ve got yourself the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Strong, flavorful, fresh, and festive as can be! Here’s an easy recipe to follow!

Download Free Printables

Throwing a little gathering with some horse enthusiasts? (Or just people who like an excuse to eat and drink?!) These fun free printables from Hostess With the Mostess will turn a get-together a party! (Image c/o HWTM.)

Create a Fun DIY Craft for Your Friends

It’s the run of the roes! Create these beautiful red crepe roses to celebrate or have supplies ready for guests to make their own fancy-hat straw toppers! How fun is this idea from Pizzazzerie. (Photo c/o Pizzazzerie too!)

Get Your Dollar Bills Ready

You don’t have to be at Churchill Downs to get in on the action. Place your bets and host a big betting game. BYO-Dollar bills!

This is not a sponsored post.

 

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3 Easy Holiday Manicures

T’is the season to be totally festive. I’ve always loved nail art and firmly believe that even adding a little bit of an accent completely ups your outfit. The problems with nail art is that it’s expensive and/or time consuming. (My favorite nail place charges $68 for a designer manicure. That’s without tip!) What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be either of those things?

Oh yeah, you’ll want to keep reading. I’ve come up with three different ways you can achieve the perfect holiday manicure without breaking the bank. You’ll want to, and be able to, have fabulous nails all year long.

Original nail art:

I’m no artist, okay? My stick figures would scare David Cronenberg. But! I have found an unbelievably easy to way to create adorable designs on my manicures using a nail art pen. They come in oodles of colors and are very simple to use. I like the ones by Sally Hansen because the tips are fine an you can get as detailed as you wish. 

Decals:

You can use stickers if you’d like. But I prefer to make my own! Watch how I make custom decals made out of nail polish that last for days. Match them to your outfit, cut them out using scissors or punchers, and apply them easily with a top coat.

The fakers:

I was never a fan of fake nails because I always felt that they looked, well, fake. When I was introduced to imPRESS nails, it was love at first…nail? Because they are sooooo easy to use (like, a 5 minute application) and last for about a week, they have quickly become a beauty staple. If you didn’t know, you probably wouldn’t know, would you?? This matte look is so trendy and the glitter accent makes it very merry. 


Hope you “nail” your holiday mani. Let us know which one you tried or if you have another favorite way to decorate your nails!

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MOMS HOLIDAY PREP

MOMS HOLIDAY PREP

Most of us tend to forget the spirit of the season because we get lost in the hustle and the bustle that is inevitable this time of year. The Holidays are all about spending time with family and friends so make sure to keep that in mind when planning for the season ahead. I’ve got some tips to make entertaining easier.

My focus is always on three areas of the house: the kitchen, the pantry and the dining room. Keeping your pantry, kitchen and fridge stocked with the essentials is key.

MOMS HOLIDAY PREP

One of my favorite entertaining essentials is stocking a bar cart like this Threshold Metal & Stone Bar Cart and matching Barware Tool Set with festive beverages and mixers. That way, your guests can have fun mixing their own cocktails and you’re not stuck behind the bar all night.

Pre-Mix one custom cocktail and set out wine, beer, sodas and a big bucket of ice and it’s totally self-serve. Another time saver? Pre-washed and pre-cut Archer Farms Veggies ready to go as soon as you open the bag. Need to freshen up your snack rotation? Try Archer Farms holiday trail and snack mixes that are available for just a couple of weeks during the holiday season, so grab them while you can!

Cranberry Rice Pilaf Recipe

Another tip? Don’t sweat the menu. Sure you want some wow-factor (like a great turkey stuffed with sage and basted with Madeira), but you need some easy go-to recipes. Success® Rice takes just 10 minute to make and can be a key ingredient in some tasty recipes. like this  Cranberry Pecan Brown Rice Stuffing. It’s tasty, elegant and effortless. It’s a great classic recipe with a modern twist that will wow your guests. And there’s a variety of products available including White, Whole Grain Brown, Jasmine and Basmati. Everyone in the family will love it. Success is in the Bag.®

Cranberry Pecan Brown Rice Stuffing

2 bags Success® Brown Rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp dried orange peel
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp margarine
1/2 cup celery, finely sliced
2 Tbsps shallots, finely chopped (may substitute onion)
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare rice according to package directions. In a medium microwave safe bowl, mix cranberries and orange peel with chicken stock and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside. Heat a large sauce pan over HIGH heat and add margarine. Stir in celery, shallot and poultry seasoning and sauté 3 minutes. Stir in cranberry mixture, pecans, parsley and rice and cook over medium heat for 3 more minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

To toast pecans: Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Place pecans on a small cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn pecans. Cool.

For more recipes head to https://www.successrice.com/en-us/recipes/search/default.aspx

Hope these tips help to make your season more fun and let you actually enjoy hostess duty this year.

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Digital Storage of Family Photos

epson-photos

Family memories are everything. It’s what we work so hard for to create a loving environment and figure out a way to bottle some of that goodness. In a way, our photos make time stand still. Photos bring us back in touch with those who are no longer with us.

For many families precious photos aren’t doing their work. They are sitting in boxes in dusty closets. They aren’t evoking memories and telling stories. Epson hopes to fix this with their latest high-speed scanner called FastFoto. It’s a way to preserve photos at a high speed with care and crispness.

I tested out the scanner and I absolutely loved it. I was able to work through dozens of photos in seconds (Epson says ” you can thousands of photos as fast as 1 photo per second* at 300 dpi”). The resolution is excellent as was the color quality.

Check out this video of my tech test:

 

Digital Storage of Family Photos

Here’s how it works. You know by now that I am not a huge techie, I need things to be fairly intuitive. But I am the family’s CTO (Chief Technology Officer). So while I don’t get things quickly, I do take on these projects to make life better. To get started you need a laptop or computer. First you download the software (that was pretty easy). There are mac and PC options. It takes a few minutes and clicks and you’re done.

Digital Storage of Family Photos

Then you need to sort you photos in piles. When  you upload you will want to sort and “bucket” by year or occasion. When you scan you will want a way to file the photos. This is the fun part, you’ll want to enlist your parents help here–they know best which photos go into which year.

Before you scan you enter some data about the year and location of the photos onto your computer. You’ll also pick the resolution.

epson-scanning-process

From there, it’s really easy. Load the photos into the scanner and hit scan. Boom! They slide through like shuffling cards. Bonus: The photos will be scanned on both the front and the back so all the precious hand-written notes will be preserved forever.

Once all the photos are scanned they are incredibly easy to share with FastFoto custom software, which features unique file/folder naming, as well as date and subject tagging. From there you can also share to Facebook and Dropbox. I added mine to my iPhotos so I could easily share them with my family members.

Digital Storage of Family Photos

In addition to a being fast, the photos can also be color corrected automatically with Smart Photo Fix (SPF) technology. With the Epson software, faded photos can be restored with a click. You can also fix red‑eye issues. This means my photos look better than ever, like this one of my dad circa 1969.

dad-skiing-1969

Epson calls it the worlds “fastest photo scanner”–I can only say it works like a gem. It’s also a regular scanner too. That means you can scan artwork and school projects in a flash too. I know my mom was never going to let me send her photos out to a scanning service, for $650 we can scan at home fast and efficiently. It’s a great family gift!

Get FastFoto on Amazon here 

This is not a sponsored post. I was given a scanner for testing purposes which was returned after testing.

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HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines: The Magnolia Story

Chip and Joanna Gaines

Chip and Joanna Gaines are a household name for moms like us who regularly watch HGTV. This quirky couple renovates houses in Waco, Texas much to the amazement of its audience. Their hit show is now entering its fourth season, much to the pleasure of its loyal fan base. Once again, fixer upper houses will be  renovated and restored to model home worthiness right before the audiences’ eyes.This pair is the absolute envy of house flippers everywhere. It seems like everything they touch turns into gold. Yet, that’s not how their fairy tale story began. Believe it or not, this couple started out flat broke.

Chip has always been an entrepreneur, even back in his college days at Baylor University when he began flipping houses to make ends meet. His wife Joanna, on the other hand, spent time in New York City interning with news legend, Dan Rather. Soon afterwards, Joanna returned home to work at her father’s tire and auto repair shop. There, she met a handsome fella in need of auto repairs, and the rest is history.

Chip and Joanna Gaines

Looking towards the future

Nowadays, Chip and Joanna Gaines have grown their business into an empire. In their new book release, The Magnolia Story, they share their rags to riches tale complete with their lovable banter fans have come to adore. The design team even sheds some light on styling tips such as decluttering, adding texture, and using shiplap. The pair also divulges their secrets for juggling work and family. The couple has four children whom they prefer to keep out of the limelight. Whether it’s their Magnolia Market at the Silos, their upcoming magazine, The Magnolia Journal, or their successful furniture line, this couple relies on their faith and love to guide them along their once in a lifetime journey of success.

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How to Celebrate the Olympics

Tonight is the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games. Who’s pumped?! You could say that I’m overly excited about this. I love the competition, the diversity, the strength, and support that the athletes bring to the games. I’m sure I’m not alone! Here are some super easy ways to get your spirit on:

Team USA Gear: 

This Alex and Ani bracelet is the perfect way to show your pride while staying super stylish. The USA flame symbolizes pride and achievement and you can stack it with your other bangles.

team usa alex and ani bangle olympics

I love Corkcicle. And now they have a canteen dedicated to Team USA. The blue body has a little bit of shimmer and white stars adorn the sides. The red cap also has a star which is just the right amount of patriotic. It keeps your bevvies cold for 25 hours and if you’re an Olympics junkie like me, that’s plenty of time to get all your favorite events in and never get dehydrated.

olympics corkcicle canteen team usa

A Team USA shirt is great for working out or heading to the bar to watch the games. You can find these anywhere, but I love this one by Nike. Go for your favorite sport’s crest or athlete’s name. You can’t go wrong.

team usa shirt olmpics

If you’re interested in getting a little crafty with it, you can make a tiny framed piece of art by tracing a quarter to make Olympic rings. Put it in a frame and you’re good to go for the entire Olympic season. Go team USA!

olympic craft

rio olympic games

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It’s a Party: 4th of July

4th of july decorations and party

I know it’s hard to comprehend, but did you know that in the 1700’s there were no cell phones? No emails? No texts?!? To communicate, everyone wrote letters. As I’ve stated many times before, letter writing is a major part of my correspondence with family members, co-workers, and friends. This year for my 4th of July party, I’m including the lost art of letter writing in my decor and activities.

door decor 4th of july holiday easy

One thing I should note about my 4th of July party planning is that I think less is more. For my front door, I chose a silver circle banner, a USA cut out map sign, and this Heidi Swapp 4 decoration that I covered in washi tape. 

teleflora bouquet holiday 4th of july

Teleflora sent this fabulous patriotic flower bouquet and I knew that would be my centerpiece. I wanted to serve thematic foods (things that are red, white, and blue) but I also didn’t want to do anything heavy or over the top. I decided on blue corn chips with a sour cream and tomato dip. To prevent the sour cream from getting everywhere, I used a medium sized circle cookie cutter to keep it in place. As you can see, I used a mini envelope and a vial of glitter to create food place cards.

nachos for the 4th of july

I made fruit cups using whipped cream cheese, blueberries, and strawberries. You can add whipped cream on top or use honey from these quick honey packs from Wedderspoon. (These things are a life savor, by the way. Easy to use and perfect for on-the-go).

easy 4th of july dessert fruit cup

easy 4th of july dessert

To make paper plates a little bit more exciting, I punched three holes in the side and knotted red, white, and blue bakers twine. I used mini envelopes and a tiny version of the fruit tin to make place cards for guests.

4th of july decorations and party

Everyone was also given the opportunity to write a letter. Stamps, plain stationery and red and blue pens were placed around so that people could write and create whenever they wanted. I like organized activities, but giving someone the opportunity to be creative on their own time usually garners more results.

letters

We hope you like these tips for having a fabulous 4th of July. Stay safe, have fun, and enjoy!

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Best DIY Father’s Day Gift

Dad totally rocks. He is always there when you need him which also makes him an emotional rock. Last year we made cool crafts featuring dad’s bike, and for this Father’s Day we are crafting with the rock theme. My dad and I have always had a special bond and because all little kids should be able to look to their dad as a hero, here’s a super fun way to remind him that he’s your favorite guy.

Here’s what you need for this craft:

father's day printable

Some amazing socks like these from Gold Toe
Our super cute Father’s Day printable
Craft paints and brushes
Ready Made Canvas Banners
Twine
Hole Punch

father's day gift

Sketch out what you’d like your banner to say with a marker. Then get some paints and get to work. Let the kiddos dip their fingers in to make polka-dot finger prints. Or let them make a special picture. It’s Father’s Day– let them praise dad however they want.

father's day gifts

After you’re done and it dries, use our Father’s Day printable and some twine to wrap the socks and banner together into a little bundle.

father's day gifts diy

father's day ideasWatch our Father’s Day video for the full tutorial!

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Watermelons and Narwhals: Summer Gear

Okay, I know it sounds a little crazy. But I love both– watermelons and narwhals. Not necessarily together, mind you. Similarly to the pineapple, I have become enamored with practically anything featuring the sweet fruit and magical mammal. Most people hopped on the unicorn train, I, however, took the more realistic counterpart and gravitated towards the narwhal. Now, these two favorites of mine are becoming part of my summer essentials.

narhwal plate and snacks

I’ve started seeing this funny little marine animal show up on everything from stationery to home decor. Take this fantastic enamel plate for example. I got this at West Elm and have found that it is the perfect out-door tray. I don’t have to worry about it breaking and it holds practically anything I wish to serve. (They also have a bowl and right now both are on sale.)

Another favorite narwhal piece is this romper from Old Navy. They have this design in both a romper and a tee so that it is easy to mix and match (and the shirt could easily go on a boy). narhwal old navybest summer kids clothes

And, of course, if you need some DIY inspiration, this little narwhal banner is so easy to make with just felt, ribbon, and hot glue. It’s super festive and you can do it in 10 minutes.

narhwal bannerWatermelons are not only totally delicious and versatile (I love a fresh mint, feta, and watermelon salad!) but also super cute. I decided I would try my hand at growing some using the adorable egg crate gardens from Backyard Safari Company. You can grow anything from herbs to fruits and veggies. I’ll keep you posted on my melon progress…

egg crate garden

I found this giant watermelon floatie at the dollar store. Even though we live in the concrete jungle, we still manage to have a ton of fun with it sans the water.

watermelon ringwatermelon floatieAnd the best way to stay hydrated this summer? A watermelon water bottle of course! This one came from Nalgene and I love the little phrase printed on the sides, “Always use your melon”. A good reminder to think before you act. I also love this giant Silo 48oz bottle—it’s perfect for long hikes, when I’m horseback riding, or even sitting outside.

nalgene bottlenalgene bottles

Momtrends was not paid for this post. We did receive water bottles for review. 

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Craft Corner: Pineapple T-Shirt Bag

The Pineapple is so trendy right now and I see them popping up everywhere from party decor to Beyonce. You can slap a pineapple on pretty much anything, and it will automatically become Pinterest worthy. We’re certainly big fans of le pineapple around these parts…So, here’s our ode to this delicious fruit (which is NOT a citrus, by the way). Our latest project is a DIY no-sew t-shirt bag that your kiddos can put all their treasures in.

pineapple t shirt bag

Heres what you need:

A white T-shirt
Spray bottle paints
Scissors
Twine
Marker

pineapple bag

This easy no-sew t-shirt bag takes under 30 minutes to make and looks oh-so-cute! What kiddo wouldn’t love to carry her treasures around in it? In fact, kids can help make it! Don’t be afraid to let your little ones get in on the DIY action too! These spray bottle paints are very kid friendly and they will have a blast seeing the color instantly adhere to the t-shirt material. Maybe do that part outside. Haha! I Weekend fun…here you come!

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