Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

t’s been a bit of a foodie week here on IBC. We had Spiral Apple Bread, Nutella Magic Shell, and today we are washing it all down with an insanely delicious martini! Remember a few weeks ago when I made that Pineapple, Mango, and Basil Sangria? It had a splash of St-Germain in it. I mentioned that it was on the slightly expensive side (around $30 a bottle). So I thought it would be fitting to give you another recipe using St-Germain to further convince you, despite its price tag, that you need it on your bar cart.

Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

So I hopped on over to the St-Germain website to do a little recipe research. When I found a recipe for a pear martini, I knew I’d struck gold. With fall quickly approaching I thought pear was more than appropriate. Plus, it gave me an excuse to pick up some pear vodka. I’ve always found the flavor of pears to be pretty incredible even though I rarely eat them. That’s kind of weird, right? I suppose it makes it an extra special treat when I do have them.

Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

Anyway, this martini is stellar. If you love the flavor of pears, then I promise you will adore this.

Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

Pear Martini

3 ounces pear vodka
3 ounces St-Germain
1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 dash angostura bitters
Pear, sliced

Shake all of the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a slice of pear.

Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

Tell me that doesn’t look and sound delicious.

Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

And did you spot anything else in these pictures?

Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

I used my DIY gold magnetic letters and my new vintage cocktail shaker. Total perfection, right? This is why I make and buy these things. They make photo shots like this special and personal. Oh, and if you want to see a little behind-the-scene’s shot of how I photograph this stuff, check out this image on my Instagram feed.

Okay, enough about this drink, it’s time to share some other greatness I found this week.

Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

Cheers to these awesome people!

I really enjoyed this post form Lisa Congdon about comparison.

Despite Miley’s outrageous VMA performance, I love her song “Wrecking Ball” off her upcoming album.

Do you love indoor plants, but just aren’t sure how to incorporate them into your decor? Check out this article.

Have you seen Sarah’s (Thrifty Decor Chick) ombre wall? Words cannot express how much I love it.

This Herbed Blackberry Cocktail from Erin Gleeson looks sensational!

Have I convinced you yet that the color gold is amazing? Whether you answered yes or no, you must check out these eight gold-inspired DIY projects.

I recently picked up Heather Christo’s Generous Table, and I cannot tell you how fabulous it is. You need this cookbook on your shelf. Like right now.

I’m kind of in love with these jeans. Do you think I could DIY a pair?

Did you know that I was featured on MarthaStewart.com? I feel like I completely forgot to tell you. Talk about a dream come true! Anyway, if you want to check it out, click here. I’m sharing 20 Tips for Throwing One Last Summer Bash.

Pear Martini | Inspired by Charm #drinkandlinks

Okay, I think there are over a dozen links throughout this post. That’s plenty to keep you busy for a while. I’m off to Pittsburgh, PA tomorrow for a fabulous and fun-filled long weekend with my friends. Anyone live in the Pittsburgh area?

What’s on your Labor Day weekend agenda? Have a happy one!

t’s been a bit of a foodie week here on IBC. We had Spiral Apple Bread, Nutella Magic Shell, and today we are washing it all down with an insanely delicious martini! Remember a few weeks ago when I made that Pineapple, Mango, and Basil Sangria? It had a splash of St-Germain in it. I […]




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Nutella Magic Shell | Inspired by Charm

Ever since I had that Mint Moose Tracks ice cream last weekend, I keep thinking about it. I know, that’s kind of sad. I don’t know what it is about the combination of chocolate, mint, and ice cream that is so delicious. Given the fact that I’m trying to drop a few pounds, I should steer clear of cold, creamydesserts, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Magic Shell, right? For anyone who hasn’t, it’s basically chocolate sauce that hardens when you pour it over cold ice cream. It gives the ice cream a little shell. It’s pretty amazing stuff. Plus, once it’s hardened, you can hit it with a spoon and it cracks into wonderful pieces of chocolate goodness.

Nutella Magic Shell | Inspired by Charm

While I wish I could say I came up with the homemade version, I didn’t. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers making it and just had to give it a try. When I saw the Nutella version, I couldn’t resist. I was happy to discover that it’s insanely simple and only requires two ingredients.

Let me show you.

Homemade Nutella Magic Shell

Here’s what you’ll need:
1/3 cup Nutella
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Let’s get cooking:

Combine the Nutella and coconut oil in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until combined. If needed, microwave at 10 second intervals, stirring in between. The resulting sauce will be very smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

Then, simply pour over cold ice cream.

Nutella Magic Shell | Inspired by Charm

Yep, it’s truly that simple. I really don’t like to mess around with overly complicated recipes.

I personally love this with mint chocolate chip, but your options are endless.

Nutella Magic Shell | Inspired by Charm

You can store this magic shell in an airtight container at room temperature. Should it harden based on the temperature in your house, just microwave the sauce for a few seconds until smooth.

Nutella Magic Shell | Inspired by Charm

And doesn’t it look totally adorable in these stoneware ice cream cones? I got them from Pottery Barn and they may just be the coolest (no pun intended) pieces of serveware I own. They even havethe little diamond pattern in the cone. Perfection. (PS. They are totally on sale right now!)

Nutella Magic Shell | Inspired by Charm

I mean, they don’t even need anything in them and they look great! Wouldn’t it be fun to have a little ice cream bar and fill them with toppings? So cute.

I also got this vintage-inspired Ice Cream Soda sign. (Also from Pottery Barn and also on sale!) I think it will look perfect on my side porch.

Nutella Magic Shell | Inspired by Charm

Okay, enough talk about ice cream. I need to get back to work.

Nutella Magic Shell | Inspired by Charm

Have you made magic shell at home? If not, have I convinced you to try it?

Ever since I had that Mint Moose Tracks ice cream last weekend, I keep thinking about it. I know, that’s kind of sad. I don’t know what it is about the combination of chocolate, mint, and ice cream that is so delicious. Given the fact that I’m trying to drop a few pounds, I should […]




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Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since the last Year of Yeast post. Clearly, I’m getting more comfortable with my yeast-bread skills and I don’t need to practice as much anymore. (Or it could be that it was too hot to do much baking in August.)

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been craving something with apples and cinnamon. I blame it on the fact that fall is just around the corner. I hate to admit it, but I’m totally crazy excited for fall to come. Like many folks, fall is my favorite season and I plan to live it up this year. As a bed and breakfast owner, fall was always my busiest time so I was never able to fully enjoy it. I blinked and it was over. This year I’m taking full advantage of the season and planning lots of cooking, baking, and crafting. You’re in for a treat – and maybe a trick or two!

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

Anyway, back to this craving for something apple-y and my overwhelming need to do a little baking, I did some research and found this awesome recipe via Treat & Trick. Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze looked like a winner to me!

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

While the bread sounded fantabulous, I felt it needed a little something more. In other words, it needed another layer of sugar and butter to take it over the top. So I continued my search and found a recipe for a Caramel Apple Glaze from Culinary Concoctions. I was pretty sure that together the bread and glaze would be epic.

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

I did make a few adjustments to the Spiral Apple Bread recipe.

I thought the dough and the topping could benefit from a little cinnamon. I mean, you really can’t have baked apples without cinnamon, right? I was glad I made this addition.

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

Oh, and you’ll be happy to know that this recipe comes together very quickly. As with most yeast recipes, you need to factor in some rising time, but other than that, it’s a piece of cake.

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

I’ve actually learned to enjoy the rising process. The world moves too quickly these days. Today, I took the time to really enjoy every step of the process. How the dough felt in my hands, how it smelled when it was rising, the flavor of the apples. It was like a bit of baking therapy.

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

And honestly, with very little effort, the resulting loaf looks pretty gorgeous. It’s like a mini-work of art.

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

Believe me, if I can do this, so can you. Let me show you how.

Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze

Here’s what you'll need:

Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cinnamon, ground
3 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used Granny Smith.)

Topping
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

Glaze
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Let’s get baking!

Place flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and yeast in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl add your melted butter into your warm milk. Then, with the mixer on low, add this mixture to the flour mixture until it forms a soft dough ball.

Knead with the mixer for about 4 minutes. Then transfer dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area for 1.1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down then divide into 2 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball into an approximately 8 x 11-inch rectangle. Cut into 9 strips.

Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch round pan. Starting at the center of pan, coil apple slices with dough strips into a spiral, pinching ends securely as strips are added.

Repeat the same steps for the other half of the dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Toward the end of rising time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

For the topping, mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Once the bread is removed from the oven, brush each loaf with melted butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

While the bread cools, melt butter in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat to low. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Stir in cider. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Gradually stir powdered sugar into glaze mixture. If the glaze becomes too stiff, stir in additional cider, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. If the glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over the bread.

Print

IMG_2742-2Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

Cut into wedges to serve.

IMG_2731Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

Totally scrumptious looking, right? Let me tell you … it is! That caramel apple glaze is what dreams are made of! You won’t even know what hit you.

IMG_2721Spiral Apple Bread with Caramel Apple Glaze | Inspired by Charm

So whether you are ready to embrace fall or not, take a few minutes for some baking therapy and give this recipe a try. Be sure to stop back and let me know what you think!

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since the last Year of Yeast post. Clearly, I’m getting more comfortable with my yeast-bread skills and I don’t need to practice as much anymore. (Or it could be that it was too hot to do much baking in August.) Over the past couple weeks I’ve been […]




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Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

I have a fun project to share with you today. I decided to create some DIY candle holders for my dining room table. In true Inspired-by-Charm style, I wanted something a little rustic and a little modern. After searching for some inspiration online, I came up with these white and gold wood colorblock candle holders.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Thanks to their simple design, you can easily customize them to suit your space and style. In just a few hours, with little money spent, you’ll have a new centerpiece for your table or a bright addition to your sideboard. Let me show you how they came together.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 – 4×4 piece of lumber (The length will depend on how many holders you want to make.)
ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape
Sandpaper
Hand Sander (Optional, but it will make the process so much easier)
Drill
Wood Boring Bit (I found that the 7/8 works perfectly for a standard taper candle)
Paint (I used spray paint, but you could use acrylic craft paint.)
Pencil
Tape Measure

Let’s start creating!

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

First, measure the wood to the size you’d like for your candle holders. I made a total of seven holders. The largest measures 11 inches high; the smallest is 5 inches.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Once the wood is cut, sand all of the surfaces. A hand sander makes this process quick and easy. Sand until all surfaces are smooth to the touch.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Next, you’ll want to cut the hole for the candle. To find the center of your wood block, draw two lines joining the corners of the square. The point where those lines intersect is the center.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Once all of your centers are marked, use your drill with the wood boring bit to create a hole. For my particular candles, the 7/8 bit gave me a perfect fit. Drill down about 3/4 inch.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

If the drilling created any rough surfaces, quickly sand them for a smooth finish.

Next comes the fun part! Grab your ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape and start covering all of the areas that you do not want painted. For a unique look, vary the areas that will be painted. Create horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines with the tape to give each piece a different look. Completely tape over any area you do not want painted. Press the tape down to ensure clean lines.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Once all of your blocks are taped off, it’s time to paint!

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

As I mentioned above, I used white and gold paint. Feel free to use one color or a variety of colors to get the right look for your space. Since my lumber was treated, I started off with two coats of white primer, then two coats of my final color. Take your time and spray multiple light coats to avoid any runs in the paint. Allow the paint to dry between coats.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Once your blocks are completely dry, it’s time to remove all of the tape. Am I the only one who finds this part immensely satisfying?

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Look at those crisp, clean lines! It’s a beautiful thing.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Once all of the tape is removed, your candle holders are complete!

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Just set them on your table or console and add some candles!

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Pretty simple, right? I’m absolutely loving the finished holders. You could certainly take this a step further and seal the exposed wood, although I prefer to keep mine raw and natural looking to contrast with the gold and white.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

The final look is rustic, contemporary, and super stylish. I can’t wait to light all of these for an evening get together. It’s going to look gorgeous. (Since these holders are wood, be sure to never leave your burning candle unattended.)

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

As I was making these, I kept thinking of so many fun variations. Chalkboard paint would be amazing. This would allow you to add fun patterns and text. Neon would also be an awesome color scheme. The options are endless.

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

Wood Colorblock Candle Holders | Inspired by Charm

So what do you think? Are you digging these wood colorblock candle holders? How would you customize them for your space?

Thanks to Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape for their help on this project. Stay informed of all their fabulous products and ideas by following along with them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


rsz_1screen_shot_2013-08-27_at_74537_am
This post is a collaboration with ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape. To join the creative community, visit www.facebook.com/ScotchBlue.

I have a fun project to share with you today. I decided to create some DIY candle holders for my dining room table. In true Inspired-by-Charm style, I wanted something a little rustic and a little modern. After searching for some inspiration online, I came up with these white and gold wood colorblock candle holders. […]




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Join the conversation.






Weekend Wanderlust: No. 27 | Inspired by Charm

I can’t tell you how wonderful the weather has been this past week. Sunshine and warm temperatures during the day and cool nights. It’s been kind of magical. I’m soaking up every last bit of summer and hoping these beautiful days are a hint of a blissful autumn to come. Whatever lies ahead, it was another fun weekend around here.

Weekend Wanderlust: No. 27 | Inspired by Charm

Closed – This Saturday was the final day for my little Gift Shoppe. Overall, the sale went really well. There is still a chunk of merchandise left, but most things have found a happy home. I may pull a few of my favorite pieces for giveaways here on IBC. The rest is being packed up and donated. I’m really hoping to start the office transformation in September. I’m dreading it a little bit as I need to repaint the ceiling and a few other areas. But I am bound and determined to have this space functional before the end of fall. Ideas are already filling my head.

Weekend Wanderlust: No. 27 | Inspired by Charm

Craft – On Sunday I was busy working on a fun new project that involved lots of painter’s tape. I wish I had an excuse to paint everyday. Minus the sanding, prep work, and clean up, of course.

Italian Pesto Pasta Salad | Inspired by Charm

Cook – I whipped up a batch of this amazing Italian Pesto Pasta Salad. It’s seriously fantastic. I could eat pasta everyday. Throw in some grilled chicken and this could be a meal on its own. You can get the recipe over on BHG’s Delish Dish.

Weekend Wanderlust: No. 27 | Inspired by Charm

Drink – Have you purchased any of the new blue mason jars yet? I still haven’t, though I did enjoy some wine out of one at my friend’s house this weekend. It was kind of perfect.

Weekend Wanderlust: No. 27 | Inspired by Charm

Hang – Speaking of friends, we (my friends and I) went on a local wine tasting adventure this weekend. It was a blast. We visited five local wineries. We ended up in Benezette, PA which is about thirty minutes from my house. This town is known as the home to one of the largest natural roaming elk herds. We even spotted a few elk on our adventure. (Elk picture courtesy of Tyler.) Have you ever been to a wine tasting in your neck of the woods?

Weekend Wanderlust: No. 27 | Inspired by Charm

Treat – I’m pretty sure I’ve told you how much I enjoy Hershey’s ice cream. While Cotton Candy is usually my go-to flavor, I’ve been branching out recently. I completely fell in love with Mint Moose Tracks. Seriously, it’s to die for! What’s your favorite flavor?

Weekend Wanderlust: No. 27 | Inspired by Charm

Dream – I caught this little moment this weekend. Oh, to be a cat! Wouldn’t it be awesome to snuggle up on a giant bed surrounded by a huge pillows. A boy can hope, right?

Weekend Wanderlust: No. 27 | Inspired by Charm-08-25 21.16.47

Watch – I ended the weekend watching the VMAs. At first, I was feeling pretty old because I was totally confused by the entire show. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one. That was pure craziness, but there were some awesome moments. Three of my favorite performances were Lady Gaga, Macklemore, and Justin Timberlake. Did you watch the show? What was your favorite performance of the evening?

So that’s what’s kept me busy these past few days. How was your weekend? Any fun adventures?

I can’t tell you how wonderful the weather has been this past week. Sunshine and warm temperatures during the day and cool nights. It’s been kind of magical. I’m soaking up every last bit of summer and hoping these beautiful days are a hint of a blissful autumn to come. Whatever lies ahead, it was […]




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Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm


Most of you clearly know this by now – I am pretty much obsessed with cheese. Way back in first grade I brought cheese and crackers for snack time at school. My favorite was that sharp cheddar cheese that came in a small plastic tub and was sandwiched between two crackers. It was heaven. I don’t recall many specifics from first grade and kindergarten, but I do remember that. I think it was because one time I forgot my snack and was very upset about it. And by upset I mean totally devastated. Thankfully, being the angel that she is, my mom brought in my snack at some point during the day. It was cheese and crackers.

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

This obsession with cheese, unlike many other things, has stayed with me into adulthood. In fact, I love just about anything with cheese. So when I came upon this recipe for ‘Sharp Cheddar Cheese Crackers’ from the fabulous Joy the Baker, I knew I had to give them a try. I mean, how cool would it be to say I actually made a cracker. Not many people can say that, right?

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

Armed with two of my favorite cheeses from Cracker Barrel, I knew I couldn’t go wrong. I decided to make two varieties of these crackers. The first would be with Sharp Cheddar Cheese and the second would be with Jalapeño Cheese (I didn’t mean to double up on the heat, but that’s how these things go sometimes.)

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

Clearly the cheese is the superstar in this recipe. The full, rich, and authentic flavor of Cracker Barrel‘s cheese shines through and packs these little bites with so much flavor you wouldn’t believe it. Plus, one package of cheese is exactly how much you’ll need to make one batch of these delights. I was actually surprised by how easily they come together. You start with butter and lots of delicious cheese. Mix in some spices, flour, and a little water and the dough just comes together beautifully. I was amazed.

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

As I mentioned above, I made two variations of this recipe. You could use any combination of cheese that you like. You could also add in different spices and ingredients to create a really unique flavor. For another option, be sure to try Joy’s Chili Cheese variety.

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

Split the dough into two equal discs and chill for thirty minutes. Once chilled, roll out thin.

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

At this point, I used a pizza slicer to cut out squares. You could also use a cookie or biscuit cutter if you prefer a different shape.

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by CharmCheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

Prick each cracker with a wooden skewer or something similar in shape, pop into the oven, and prepare for your house to smell like cheddar cheese heaven.

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

Let’s check out the full recipe.

Cheddar and Jalapeño Cheese Crackers:

Here’s what you will need:

8 ounces Extra Sharp Cracker Barrel Cheddar Cheese, shredded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
10 slices of jarred jalapeños, finely chopped

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter, cheese, salt, and pepper until blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add flour. At this point, your mixture will become dry and crumbly.

Mix in chopped jalapeños. Add water, one tablespoon at a time. Beat until the mixture just comes together into a ball. At this point, the mixture should be moist. If it feels wet, simply add a touch more flour. Divide the mixture into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 25 – 30 minutes.

Once chilled, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough very thin, about an eighth of an inch thick.

Then, using a pizza slicer, cut horizontal and vertical lines into your dough to create about 1-inch square crackers. Poke each cracker with a wood skewer or fork. Place crackers on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Cool before serving. Chill in an airtight container for up to three days.

*To make the Jalapeño Cheese Crackers, simply omit the jalapeños and replace the Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese with Jalapeño cheese.

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

I can’t begin to tell you how delicious these little suckers are. The taste is similar to those oh-so-familiar crackers you can buy in the store, but nothing compares to the freshness, flakiness, and super cheese-filled flavor of homemade goodies. You’ll be so glad you made them. And trust me on this one, you can do it! Now go give them a try and report back on your success!

Cheese Crackers | Inspired by Charm

$100 VISA GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY

Since my friends at BlogHer are helping out with this giveaway we are going to do things a little differently that regular IBC Giveaways.

To enter to win a $100 Visa gift card, courtesy of BlogHer, answer the following question in the comments below:

Since autumn is just around the corner, what’s your favorite cheese-inspired dish for the fall?

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 8/22/13 – 10/31/13.

As always, good luck and happy cooking!

To learn more about Cracker Barrel Cheese you can visit their website! And if you have a free minute, take this fun survey all about cheese!

Most of you clearly know this by now – I am pretty much obsessed with cheese. Way back in first grade I brought cheese and crackers for snack time at school. My favorite was that sharp cheddar cheese that came in a small plastic tub and was sandwiched between two crackers. It was heaven. I […]




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Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

I can’t believe it. I finally got a light fixture in my upstairs hallway. Remember back in March when I showed you the exposed wires sticking out of my ceiling? Well, they are gone and finally there is a light.

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

I really have no good explanation for why it took months to complete this project. Part of the problem may have been what I found under the old canopy cover attached to the ceiling. This required patching, and I thought I would have to repaint the entire ceiling. Also, since my house is close to 100 years old, it used to have gas ceiling fixtures. Which, to be honest, is totally amazing, but it makes hanging a new fixture a nightmare. There is a capped off gas pipe sticking out of the ceiling where most of the light fixtures hang. That means everything needs to be retrofitted to fit properly and safely.

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

At any rate, the light fixture is hung and I’m totally loving it. It’s the Clarrisa Glass Drop Chandelier from Pottery Barn. I’ve loved this fixture since it first came out. A few weeks ago my BFF hung a similar one in her house and that sealed the deal for me. Plus, I had a gift card, some store credit, and a coupon – so it was quite the steal. I’m actually a huge fan of Pottery Barn’s lighting. I have five fixtures from them. Crazy.

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

I thought this would be a good time to also show you some other changes around this area. Other than getting new carpet in December, I haven’t really done much in this space since closing my B & B. I figured it was time to make it feel a bit more like my home. So I pulled some random accessories from around my house to give it a little something-something.

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

First, I found this amazing set of letters on Etsy a couple months ago. Yes, that’s A,N and E. Hung on it’s side it just looks like a fun squiggle or symbol. If you remember, there used to be a giant mirror on this wall. It was there to block a door into this bathroom. I always hated having the mirror there, but it was essential to block off the space when my house was functioning as an inn. Blocking the door kept the bathroom private and secure for those in the room. This was actually the only bathroom in the house when it was first built. As you may or may not be able to tell, it needs a major update.

The room to the left of the bathroom is currently being used as a (very cluttered) storage space. (That’s where my cowhide chairs have been hiding out.) Before I decided to close my shoppe, the room was going to be my office. Now I have plans for turning it into a spare bedroom.

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

Last week I showed you the temporary office portion of my bedroom; this is the actual bedroom. Not much has changed in here. I did find this art at a local antique shop. I’m not sure I love it here, but it works for now. Also, I just noticed that one of the frames is a tiny bit smaller than the other. So that will surely drive me crazy. I think the ikat pillows are also new. I found them at HomeGoods. The pattern is gorgeous, and I figure they are neutral enough to work anywhere.

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

My wonderful mom bought me these amazing gold sculptural spheres from West Elm for my birthday. I freaking love them!

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

I also got this mini-frog (at least that’s what the folks at Buick called it). It was a gift from the designers I worked with when I created my dream Encore. This was actually the color I choose for my winning design. Isn’t it beautiful?

Upstairs Hallway | Inspired by Charm

That’s it, folks. My new light and a couple other small updates. I still have lots of plans and ideas so it feels good to be making some baby steps. What spaces are you working on in your home?

I can’t believe it. I finally got a light fixture in my upstairs hallway. Remember back in March when I showed you the exposed wires sticking out of my ceiling? Well, they are gone and finally there is a light. I really have no good explanation for why it took months to complete this project. […]




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30 Empowering Songs | Inspired by Charm

Today is the first post of another new series on IBC. As you know, I turned the big 3-0 a few weeks ago, plus I love to make lists. Put those two together and the idea of 30 lists of 30 things over the course of the next year was born. I’ve actually been wanting to start making some videos, too. I thought a cool first video would be “30 Things About Me.” What do you think? Hopefully, this new plan will give me the courage and motivation to create it. (Check out more of my favorite tunes HERE.)

30 Empowering Songs | Inspired by Charm

For my first list of 30, I’ve decided to share some motivational, feel-good, empowering songs. You know those songs that you turn up as loud as you can in your car and feel unstoppable when you listen to them. Yes, those songs. I wanted to put together this list after the release of Katy Perry’s latest, “Roar.” (I may or may not have been listening to it nonstop since last Tuesday.) For as long as I can remember, music has had a profound way of speaking to my heart. I often find myself turning to music when I’m sad or when I need a quick pick-me-up. A song can instantly change my mood. For the past few months, I’ve been in a really weird rut and completely off my game. I’m doing everything in my power to dig my way out of it. I’m thinking some sort of change is in order, but I haven’t figured out what. Anyway, even though it’s technically a break-up song, “Roar” has been an awesome source of encouragement for me. So, before I get completely sick of it, I thought I would create a go-to list of all the songs that make me feel awesome.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my taste in music can sometimes be confused with that of a teenager girl, but I’m totally okay with that. Whatever makes you feel good, right?


You can listen to the playlist above via Spotify or directly on Spotify by clicking here.

Don’t miss a beat. Subscribe to my Spotify profile to stay in the loop with all of my playlists. Know a song or artist I’d enjoy? Please let me know in the comments below. I’ve also linked up all the songs below to their coordinating videos on YouTube.

Also, be sure to visit my NEWEST motivational song list HERE!!

Tuesday Tunes / 04 - Empowerfulled | inspiredbycharm.com

And if you liked this playlist, be sure to check out my NEWEST playlists below:

 

MORE PLAYLISTS HERE:

You’re welcome! Enjoy!

1. Bulletproof – La Roux
2. We Can – LeAnn Rimes
3. Who Says – Selena Gomez
4. Fighter – Christina Aguilera
5. Roar – Katy Perry

6. Defying Gravity – Wicked
7. Titanium – David Guetta
8. Born This Way – Lady Gaga
9. Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
10. Strip Me – Natasha Bedingfield

11. Play On – Carrie Underwood
12. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
13. Champion – RuPaul
14. Bitch – Meredith Brooks
15. Good Life – OneRepublic

16. The Climb – Miley Cyrus
17. I Got A Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
18. We R Who We R – Ke$ha
19. Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
20. Settlin’ – Sugarland

21. Proud – Heather Small
22. Raise Your Glass – Pink 
23. Stand – Rascal Flatts
24. Firework – Katy Perry
25. Brave – Sara Bareilles

26. Rolling in the Deep – Adele
27. So What – Pink
28. I Love it – Icona Pop
29. Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks
30. Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine

Today is the first post of another new series on IBC. As you know, I turned the big 3-0 a few weeks ago, plus I love to make lists. Put those two together and the idea of 30 lists of 30 things over the course of the next year was born. I’ve actually been wanting […]




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Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Wow. I can’t believe how fast the month of August is going. I guess it seems especially quick since the local schools start back up this week. It’s just pure craziness. I had grand plans for what I would accomplish this summer. I’m now feeling like a missed that mark in a pretty major way. Anyone else? Oh well. I will say that I did make some wonderful memories with my friends and family these past few months. And that’s most important, right?

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Read – Have you had a chance to flip through the September issue of Better Homes and Gardens? It’s pretty fabulous – possibly one of their best. It’s the annual Stylemaker Issue so it’s packed with beautiful things, including Joy Cho’s house, Eddie Ross’s NYC apartment, and delicious recipes from Stephanie Izard. Get your hands on a copy ASAP.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Inspired – Speaking of magazines. I was going through some other ones this past week and found this gem of a quote in Country Living. Not only is it perfect advice for decorating, but it can be applied to so many other areas of life.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Fling – Wings (as in chicken wings) are kind of a big deal in my town and surrounding area. This past Friday was the 14th Annual Wing Fling. Local restaurants fry and sauce up their best recipes in order to win the coveted prize of Best Wings! There were hundreds of people, delicious wings, and an all-around good time. The theme was 80’s. I even dressed up, but failed to take a head-to-toe picture to share with you. Oops!

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Thrift – I stopped at Goodwill to purchase some 80’s-inspired clothes, but didn’t end up wearing what I bought. While I was there, I found these adorable little ceramic containers. I love the pattern, and the colors are perfect for my bedroom. They came home with me for a whopping $3. They also seem very Nate Berkus in style, right?

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Work – I’m happy to report that the sale in my shoppe is going well. Last week was pretty busy. The sale continues this week and the discount is moving from 40% to 70%. It’s time to get more stuff sold!

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Celebrate – In some exciting personal news, my face and kitchen were part of a Glidden paint ad in the September issue of House Beautiful. Plus, I had the honor to curate a “20 Tips for Throwing One Last Summer Bash” collection for Martha Stewart! Yes, you read that right. Martha-freakin-Stewart. I can’t even. You can check it out here.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Hang – As I mentioned above, this summer will always be a wonderful collection of memories. On Sunday night my friends and I had a little campfire. There was corn dip, mountain pies, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup s’mores. (They are as amazing as they sound.) But most importantly, the evening was filled with lots of laughter, reminiscing, and the creation of new memories. It was a perfect ending to the weekend.

So that’s my story. What did you do this weekend? Are you excited or disappointed about these final days of summer?

Wow. I can’t believe how fast the month of August is going. I guess it seems especially quick since the local schools start back up this week. It’s just pure craziness. I had grand plans for what I would accomplish this summer. I’m now feeling like a missed that mark in a pretty major way. […]




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DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

Okay, so I have a super easy and totally fabulous “I Create” for you today! You know how much I’m loving gold these days. Well, I’m taking it to a whole new level with this project. As much as I wish I could take credit for the awesomeness, I actually saw the idea on Pinterest. Go figure. As soon as I did however, I knew I had to recreate it. I believe it was Jan of Poppytalk who pinned the idea. So thank you, Jan!

DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

As you may have guessed from the title and pictures, I made gold magnetic letters. Tell me they are not fun! I loved these letters as a kid and I may love them even more as an adult.

DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

To make the letters, you will need magnetic letters, plastic primer spray paint, and gold spray paint. I found these particular letters on Amazon because that’s pretty much where I find a lot of things these days. Both paints are from Walmart. I am crazy about this gold paint. Remember I used it to paint my plant stands? Despite how it looks on the cap, the color and sheen are perfect.

DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

In a well-ventilated area, on a piece of paper or cardboard, start by spraying the back of your letters with the primer. I sprayed right over the magnets. They hold just as well with the paint. (Though, be aware that these letters aren’t really designed to post notes and pictures since the magnet is very small.) Cover both sides of the letters with two coats of the primer; then follow with two coats of the gold or until the letters are completely painted. Allow time for drying in between each coat.

That’s it! I told you this project would be super easy.

Aren’t they beautiful, too?

DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

I immediately covered my refrigerator with them. I think they would look amazing on a black magnetic surface, but I don’t have one. Taking pictures on a white glossy refrigerator is a challenge. I considered making a magnetic chalkboard, but I ran out of time and didn’t have the necessary supplies.

DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

DIY Gold Magnet Letters | Inspired by Charm

I know I’m going to have some fun with these!

So what do you think of the gold letters? Are you going to make some “bling” for your fridge?

I Create: 1. Tabletop Cactus Garden  2. DIY Gold Magnetic Letters

Okay, so I have a super easy and totally fabulous “I Create” for you today! You know how much I’m loving gold these days. Well, I’m taking it to a whole new level with this project. As much as I wish I could take credit for the awesomeness, I actually saw the idea on Pinterest. […]




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Brownies | Inspired by Charm

You’ll have to forgive my absence these past couple days. As I mentioned last week, I’m shutting down my little gift shoppe and the big clearance sale started yesterday. I spent most of the weekend and Monday setting everything up, pricing items, and then, inadvertently cleaning out my basement. I actually have more than 20 bags of stuff to trash and donate. I can’t tell you how great it feels to be clearing things out. I want to simplify everything now.

To make up for a few days away, I want to share a bodacious brownie recipe with you. A couple weekends back my friend Krista’s in-laws were visiting her new house. Her mother-in-law Dot made some of the most fabulous brownies I’ve ever tasted and I decided I just had to recreate them. They literally take minutes to make. Plus, you can customize them to your liking. It doesn’t get any better than that, right?

Brownies | Inspired by Charm

First off, a huge thanks to Dot for the delicious inspiration.

To make these brownies, you will need two boxes of your favorite brownie mix and four king-size bars of your favorite chocolate. Dot used Hersheys Milk Chocolate Bars. I’m using Hershey’s Cookies and Cream.

Brownies | Inspired by Charm

I didn’t have the exact recipe, so I did a little research online and found a few variations. This combination seems to be the best.

Basically, you just mix up your boxes of brownie mix according to the package directions. I like mine “cake like” so I throw in an extra egg.

Brownies | Inspired by Charm

Half of your brownie mix goes into the pan, then you layer in the chocolate bars. Then cover with the other half of your brownie mix. I lined my pan with aluminum foil as directed in one of the recipes. This made removing and cutting the brownies super easy.

Brownies | Inspired by Charm

Brownies | Inspired by Charm

That’s it! I told you they were simple. Just, wait ’til you try them. They are so wonderfully delicious. I recommend eating them warm because the layer of melted candy bar is perfect that way. The candy bar will firm up a little bit as the brownies cool. But, in all honesty, I’ll eat them either way.

Brownies | Inspired by Charm

Cookies and Cream Filled Brownies

Here’s what you’ll need.

2 boxes of brownie mix (plus the ingredients you’ll need to mix them together)
cooking spray
4 (4 ounce) candy bars

Let’s get baking!

Prepare the brownie mix according to the directions on the package.

Line a 13 x 9-inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Spray the bottom with cooking spray. Spread half of the brownie mix into the cake pan. Place the candy bars as close as possible to one another on the batter. You may have to break up one of the bars. Cover with remaining batter.

Since you are doubling up on the cake batter, these take about 35 – 40 minutes to bake. You can test their doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. When it comes out clean, your brownies are done.

When the browinies are cool, the aluminum foil allows you to easily lift the brownies out of the pan and makes cutting them a breeze.

Brownies | Inspired by Charm

I hope you enjoyed this simple recipe. Have you tried this before? What other fun ideas do you have for jazzing up store-bought brownie mix?

You’ll have to forgive my absence these past couple days. As I mentioned last week, I’m shutting down my little gift shoppe and the big clearance sale started yesterday. I spent most of the weekend and Monday setting everything up, pricing items, and then, inadvertently cleaning out my basement. I actually have more than 20 […]




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Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

Well, once again I’m officially covered in Christmasy glitter. I’m frantically trying to get my shoppe in order for the big sale which starts on Tuesday. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here.) My intention was to do a little craft / DIY / tutorial, but plans fell through this week. Have no fear, however, I have a fab project in the works for next week. I may even attempt to squeeze in two in order to stay on track with my goal of 50 for the “I Make” project.

Anyway, I’m taking a break from my shoppe to do a show-and-tell about the cool things I found antiquing last weekend. I figured I’d show you what I got and tell you how I planned on using it. Hopefully, that will give you an idea of how my brain works when I’m thrifting.

When I go antiquing, I always keep an open mind. If I go hunting for something specific, I never seem to find it. But, if I go with no expectations, I usually come back with some sort of treasure. This trip proved that theory correct once again.

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

My first find on this expedition was this silver pitcher. I love staple pieces like this one. It will look good with anything and at anytime of the year. It was a bit tarnished, so I used a little elbow grease and silver polish to brighten it up a bit.

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

My silver polish is terrible, but I did make some progress. It’s looks a little cleaner, but I honestly don’t mind some tarnish. It gives it character. I initially bought this piece to use as a vase for flower arrangements. I think it would also look be the perfect holder for vintage wood spoons or a collection of paint brushes in my home office / studio. I paid $10 for the pitcher.

 

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

Next, I found this adorable pair of gold oval-shaped framed portraits. I’ve actually been on the hunt for a larger portrait, but never found one. I thought these were perfect! Not only are the frames (huge bonus points for being gold) in great condition, but I love both portraits inside. Their faces just look familiar to me. If that makes sense.

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

I’m not positive where I will place these, but I have a couple ideas floating around in my head. I do think they would look stunning in a gallery wall. They’d add such a unique touch of whimsy and interest. I shelled out $16 for the pair.

 

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

I also brought home this adorable little cocktail shaker. This is the one thing I’m not sure what I’m going to do with. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a collection – something to always look for when I’m antiquing or visiting a new city. I’m thinking cocktails shakers may be my thing. Even if decide not to collect them, this one was just too cute to pass up. Plus, it would make an awesome prop for my Drinks and Links photo shoots. Cost: $8.

 

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

This old wood drawer also grabbed my attention. I just adore things like this. First, its yellow color is simply magical. Second, I love the scratches, nicks, and peeling paint. That’s character you just can’t replicate. I’m also a fan of any item that can be used as storage.

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

This would be great on the back of the toilet to store extra rolls of paper. The other section could be used for a plant or candles. Turned on its side, it could be hung on a wall in the kitchen to store spices. It would also be great on a desk with little mason jars inside to store pencils, pens, and sundry office supplies. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. I’m clearly a sucker for any beat-up, colorful wood box. I got the drawer for $15.

 

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

Last, but certainly not least (Thanks to my friend Emily!), I found this amazing metal chest of drawers. It’s seriously incredible. I assume that in its former life it was a storage unit for hardware – screws, nuts, bolts, etc. Other than a little rust, it’s in fabulous condition. All of the drawers are intact and functional. They even have little dividers with built-in notches to label everything. I am actually loving the color of this piece, too. It’s an army / emerald green.

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

I’m thinking that this piece will end up in my future office / studio for storing office and craft supplies. There is a small chance that I may decide to use it in my bedroom for storing ties, colognes, jewelry, and other little treasures, but I think the office would be my first choice.

Antiquing with Charm | Inspired by Charm

Isn’t it awesome? Well, I haven’t told you the best part. This bad boy came home with me for a little over $55. What a steal!

After such a successful trip, I’m itching to go hunting again! But, before I do, I need to get some of my spaces cleared so I know exactly what I need and want. Have you been antiquing or thrifting lately? What awesome finds did you come home with?

Have a great weekend, everyone! (By chance, are you going “treasure hunting”?)

 

Antiquing with Charm: No. 3 // Antiquing with Charm: No. 2  //Antiquing with Charm: No. 1

Well, once again I’m officially covered in Christmasy glitter. I’m frantically trying to get my shoppe in order for the big sale which starts on Tuesday. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here.) My intention was to do a little craft / DIY / tutorial, but plans fell through this week. […]




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Homemade Buffalo Cheese Ball | Inspired by Charm


I don’t know about you, but this summer has been a busy one for me. I am thankful, though, because it has meant lots of fun times with my family and friends.

Whenever I head to someone’s house, I always like to bring something with me. Whether it is a big pitcher of sangria, a tray of cupcakes, or another yummy treat, I try not to show up empty-handed.

Although I tend to rely on a few standard recipes, I always keep an eye out for something new. Any recipe that is delicious, easy, and affordable is a winner in my book! If it involves cheese, so much the better!

Homemade Buffalo Cheese Ball | Inspired by Charm

I’ve found that cheese balls are always popular at parties. They are a tasty snack, and you can get really creative with the ingredients. Since I’m also a big fan of buffalo chicken, I knew that combining the two would be a match made in heaven.

Homemade Buffalo Cheese Ball | Inspired by Charm

I started off with some delicious, rich, and full-flavor Extra Sharp Cracker Barrel Cheese. When you are making a cheese ball, I’ve learned you need to use really good cheese. And when you can buy award-wining cheese at the grocery store, I’m all about it! Cracker Barrel Cheese is know for it’s rich and full flavor. It really does make this recipe shine as it’s bursting with flavor!

Homemade Buffalo Cheese Ball | Inspired by Charm

This dish comes together so quickly; you may just want to bring it to every party.

Homemade Buffalo Cheese Ball | Inspired by Charm

Homemade Buffalo Cheese Ball

Here’s what you will need:

3 tablespoons blue cheese dressing
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons buffalo sauce (Frank’s Red Hot)
8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1½ cup Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
½ cup walnuts (finely chopped)

Let’s get cooking!

In a large bowl, mix blue cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, buffalo sauce, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese. Then, form the mixture into a ball.

Spread out the chopped walnuts on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll the cheese ball in the walnuts. Wrap the plastic wrap around the ball and refrigerate it for at least thirty minutes. Serve with celery and crackers.

Homemade Buffalo Cheese Ball | Inspired by Charm

That’s it! A delicious, quick, and easy recipe for any get together! Your friends and family will gobble it up. Just be prepared – they may be inviting you to every party from now on.

Okay, enough talk. It’s giveaway time.

Homemade Buffalo Cheese Ball | Inspired by Charm

$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

Since my friends at BlogHer are helping out with this giveaway we are going to do things a little differently that regular IBC Giveaways.

To enter to win a $100 Visa gift card, courtesy of BlogHer, answer the following question in the comments below:

You know I’m always looking for a new go-to party recipe. What’s your favorite? 

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner  will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 8/8/13 – 10/31/13.

As always, good luck and happy cooking!

And if you have a free minute, take this fun survey all about cheese!

Be sure to check out the Cracker Barrel brand page on BlogHer for more bloggers’ reviews.

I don’t know about you, but this summer has been a busy one for me. I am thankful, though, because it has meant lots of fun times with my family and friends. Whenever I head to someone’s house, I always like to bring something with me. Whether it is a big pitcher of sangria, a […]




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A Temporary Office | Inspired by Charm

As some of you have already guessed, I have decided to close my Gift Shoppe. Earlier this year, I closed the doors to my little inn with plans of keeping the Gift Shoppe open. However, as life moved forward, my plans changed. To be honest with you, I haven’t had the shoppe open since March.

A Temporary Office | Inspired by Charm

I’m not going to get into all of the nitty-gritty, but the shoppe just wasn’t working for me anymore. A part of me feels terrible because I’ve had some amazing and supportive customers throughout the years that it was open. With my work here on IBC and my other freelance writing opportunities, I just couldn’t do it all. I think the brain, or at least my brain, can only focus on so much at one time. Plus, my travel schedule continues to pull me away, leaving the shoppe unstaffed. I also realized I wanted to invest more time and energy on IBC. While I could have hired someone to assist me, I felt that wasn’t the best option for me. I’ve been longing to turn this house into my home for so long now and I feel that the gift shoppe and all the “stuff” that comes along with it, has been preventing me from doing so. Bringing someone in to work in the shoppe would have only made this house less homey. Does that make sense?

A Temporary Office | Inspired by Charm

Anyway, that’s where I am today. Starting next week, I’m having a huge clearance sale to empty the shoppe of all merchandise. (If you live around Central PA and want to visit, you can find more information about the sale here.) Once the shoppe is cleared, I’m going to turn the space into a large office / studio / living space. I can’t tell you how excited I am about that.

A Temporary Office | Inspired by Charm

Over the past few months, I’ve used a section of the shoppe as a makeshift office. Since I’m about to open the shoppe doors for this one last hurrah, I needed to find a temporary office. I thought the little sitting room off my bedroom would be the ideal spot. And since I haven’t had you all in my bedroom for a couple months, I figured I’d invite you back in for a minute.

A Temporary Office | Inspired by Charm

Even though it’s not an ideal setup, it should work for a couple weeks. I have my computer, a few journals and notebooks, and some extra storage space for things like cameras and other devices while I work. I’m also surrounded by windows which is a huge plus! Since you’ve last been in here, I’ve added some plants (including my tabletop cactus garden) and a few other accessories.

A Temporary Office | Inspired by Charm

I love so much about this space, but since this room was originally designed as a bed and breakfast room, it still doesn’t feel quite like my room. Once things are settled in the shoppe, and I can move my office back to its permanent home, I’m hoping to make a few changes in here as well.

Next week I’ll try and snap some pictures of the shoppe. In a few weeks, I’ll be able to share more about my exciting plans for the space.

A Temporary Office | Inspired by Charm

Speaking of offices, you MUST head over and visit Joy the Baker today. She recently redid her home office and it’s fabulous. Thanks to my friends at My Colortopia I actually got a chance to help Joy with her redesign and was even featured in her fabulous video! While Joy had the vision and ideas, it was a blast chatting with her on the phone about color and techniques. Talk about a dream come true! Anyway, you be the judge. You can check it out here.

So that’s my news for the day. Are you working on any exciting projects in your home?

As some of you have already guessed, I have decided to close my Gift Shoppe. Earlier this year, I closed the doors to my little inn with plans of keeping the Gift Shoppe open. However, as life moved forward, my plans changed. To be honest with you, I haven’t had the shoppe open since March. […]




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Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Yesterday I officially turned the big 3-0. (If you follow my social media channels you probably already know this, and I apologize for all of the pictures.) While entering this new decade hasn’t been a particularly easy transition for me, I’m so thankful for my wonderful friends and family members. They really made this past weekend extra special and completely unforgettable.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Fly – My friends were the absolute best this weekend and treated me like a king! On Friday we had lunch at the local airport. There is something about dining al fresco that makes any meal more enjoyable!

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Watch – My mom, Krista, and I went to see The Heat. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time. The entire theater was cracking up throughout the movie. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend it. Though, I will warn you, if you are easily offended by profanity, it may not be the movie for you.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Adventure – On Saturday, my friends and I headed up north to Salamanca, New York for a day of fun and adventure. Our first stop was at a little roadside restaurant where we had Hershey’s ice cream (my absolute favorite). I had Mint Moose Tracks which was insanely delicious. They also had a cowstatue which was begging for a little silliness. This is what 30-year-olds do, right?

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Antique – We stopped at one of my favorite antique shops, Salamanca Mall Antiques. I found this amazing metal drawer unit. I’m super excited to figure out exactly how I’ll be using it. I picked up a few other treasures which I’ll share later this week.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Luck – After a little antiquing, we headed to a nearby casino. I’m really not a huge gambler, but the experience was a blast. For a few hours of fun, I walked away losing only $20. I don’t think that’s too bad.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Brew – Our next stop was Ellicotville, NY. It’s an adorable little town that exists thanks to a nearby ski resort. I actually drive through this town every time I head to the airport. It was nice to actually stop for a visit. We grabbed a quick beer at the recently renovated Ellicottville Brewing Company. They reopened with a marvelous outdoor space and a gorgeous new interior. I was especially impressed with their new lighting fixtures, which I later discovered were from Restoration Hardware. They are a craft brewery and are known for their Blueberry Beer.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Enjoy – I thought it was slightly important to have a picture of me jumping in front of a cornfield, so we made a quick stop to do that.

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Cheers – We finished off the night with a round of birthday cake shots made by our favorite bartender at one of our favorite bars. I’m not exactly sure what was in the shot, but I pretty much wanted to lick out the inside of the glass.

Roast – On Sunday we had dinner by the fire. Hot dogs, s’mores, and mountain pies! I was actually surprised by how many people on Instagram didn’t know what mountain pies are. You are missing out, folks. For those of you who are familiar with mountain pies, what’s your favorite filling?

Weekend Wanderlust | Inspired by Charm

Celebrate – To finish off this spectacular weekend, my mom cooked a delicious dinner on Monday evening to celebrate my actual birthday. Plus, she made the most divine coconut cake. It was pure heaven.

Remember – Overall, turning 30 has not been one of the easiest things for me mentally. I wish I could explain why, but I really can’t. There is a certain sadness or desperation inside me that I just can’t seem to shake. I’m sure over time this will subside. So many people have said that their 30s have been some of the best years of their life, so that will certainly be my mission. Either way, I am so thankful for my MANY blessings – my family, friends, job, and each of you (Seriously, you are the best. Your unwavering support and encouragement is mind blowing.) I couldn’t be more grateful for all of these amazing things. Here’s to another 30 (and hopefully more) years!

I hope you had a fun-filled weekend! What interesting things did you do or find? Did anyone else ride a fake cow or hang out near a cornfield?

Yesterday I officially turned the big 3-0. (If you follow my social media channels you probably already know this, and I apologize for all of the pictures.) While entering this new decade hasn’t been a particularly easy transition for me, I’m so thankful for my wonderful friends and family members. They really made this past […]




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Pineapple, Mango and Basil Sangria | Inspired by Charm

To say that I’m kind of excited about this weekend would be a bit of an understatement. I’ve been talking about this for a couple months now, and the inevitable has arrived. Today marks the start of my 30th Birthday Weekend. My actual birthday is Monday, but I might as well make it a weekend-long event, right? You only turn the big 3-0 once, right?

My friends and I are planning a trip north to do some wine tasting, antiquing, and sightseeing. We may even stop at a casino to try our luck at the penny slots. It should be a blast of a day, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Pineapple, Mango and Basil Sangria | Inspired by Charm

I thought a round of Drinks and Links would be the perfect way to kick off the weekend! I’m super excited to bring you today’s recipe. It’s a Pineapple, Mango, Basil Sangria. Last week when I was in Chicago I was served one of these as part of a fabulous dinner. While I didn’t have the exact recipe, I got creative and made a pretty close, if not better, replica at home.

IMG_1835

Pineapple, Mango and Basil Sangria | Inspired by Charm

This is such a fun take on traditional sangria. It’s really fresh and not overly sweet. Instead of the usual brandy, I used St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur. It gives a unique flavor and freshness to the drink. I will warn you – it’s a bit expensive (about $30-35 per bottle), but it’s worth every penny! Also, mangoes are readily available in the supermarket these days and are so sweet and juicy. They make a great little garnish.

Pineapple, Mango and Basil Sangria | Inspired by Charm

Pineapple, Mango, and Basil Sangria

To mix up a batch at your house, here’s what you will need:

1 bottle of dry white wine (I used Cupcake Vineyard’s Pinot Grigio.)
2 1/2 cups of pineapple juice
1 cup St. Germain
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1 cup fresh mango, diced
6-8 basil leaves, chopped into 1-inch pieces

Let’s mix up a few drinks:

Put all of the ingredients into a large pitcher and stir. Refrigerate for about 2 hours and serve in a glass with ice.

Pineapple, Mango and Basil Sangria | Inspired by Charm

Yep, it’s really that simple! This might easily become my favorite drink for those late-summer evenings on the porch. It also gives me an excuse to use up some of my basil that is growing like a weed.

Now, in true drinks and links fashion, let’s check out what’s inspired me this week.

Pineapple, Mango and Basil Sangria | Inspired by Charm

Cheers to these awesome people:

Any other Drop Dead Diva fans out there? It’s the only show that I watch religiously throughout the summer.

Although, I’m not the biggest Ikea fan, I am always excited to browse their annual catalog. The 2014 issue is out!

Four way to be happy NOW! More awesomeness from the always inspiring The Simply Luxurious Life.

Did you hear the good news? H&M just opened their online store to U.S. costumers! I am pretty excited about this. They even have a home line!

What changed you? Things to think about from Oh Joy!

Have you heard of WhimsyBox? It’s a box that comes in the mail every month with all the ingredients to complete a craft. I’m thinking about getting a group of friends together every month for a WhimsyBox party to make our crafts as a group. How fun would that be!?

This rainbow cake from The Cake Blog is gorgeous!

I’m so excited to see my DIY Dot Table Runner featured on both The Huffington Post Home and Centsational Girl’s Best of the Blogoshere. It’s such an honor!

In a really strange way, I am kind of loving Selena Gomez’s new CD. In fact, the other night it helped my run three and a half miles in 28 minutes. I was so excited. I’m also really looking forward to The Civil Wars’ new album which comes out on Tuesday.

Pineapple, Mango and Basil Sangria | Inspired by Charm

All right, I’m off to enjoy a fabulous weekend. Feel free to follow along on Instagram if you want to see what I’m doing to celebrate my big day. It should be pretty fun! You can find me at @inspiredbycharm. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to my Uncle Bill, I will leave you with this…

Rollin'

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

To say that I’m kind of excited about this weekend would be a bit of an understatement. I’ve been talking about this for a couple months now, and the inevitable has arrived. Today marks the start of my 30th Birthday Weekend. My actual birthday is Monday, but I might as well make it a weekend-long […]




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Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

I can’t remember if it was here, in social media land, or maybe both places, where I mentioned I have decided to start a new series on IBC. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, it’s called “I Create.” It’s sort of inspired by my “i create” Pinterest board. At any rate, over the next 365 days I’m challenging myself to create, make, or DIY 50 things. That may not sound like a lot, but if you think about it, that’s about one project per week.

In the recent blog survey, some of you wrote that you’re wanting to see more creative, crafty, and DIY things. To be honest, before you mentioned this, I had been wanting to get back into creating things myself. Thank you for the extra encouragement and push. I hope this series will provide lots of inspiration for you and help to revive my creative spirit.

As you know from previous posts, like my DIY Dot Table Runner and Gold Plant Stands, I’m part of the Lowes Creative Ideas Blogger Network. This month, our challenge was to create a tabletop garden! My initial thought was to do something with succulents, but when I was shopping at my local store, I stumbled upon some fantastic cacti. Since succulents are everywhere these days, and I already have enough, I figured I’d give cacti a try.

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Needless, to say, I’m so glad that I did! Check out how adorable my little Tabletop Cactus Garden turned out. I’m loving it. To be honest, I had been steering clear of any sort of terrarium because the ones I tried in the past always died within weeks of planting. Feeling a little more confident, I’m giving it another go. I think the key is not to overwater. I’ll keep you updated.

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Let me show you how I put this together.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

a shallow container
soil (for cactus, palm, and citrus)
gloves
rocks
assorted cacti

Let’s get creating!

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Line the bottom of a shallow dish with rocks. You can use any type of dish you have. I liked this particular dish because it’s clear, round, and fairly shallow.

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Then start putting in your cacti. Because the pots are taller than my dish I cleared as much soil as possible off the of roots of each cactus before putting them into my dish. This way, the bottom of my cacti would be flush with the top of the dish.

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

After that, fill in with dirt.

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Finish off the garden with a few more rocks. I like to put them in groups of two or three.

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

That’s it! Your garden is complete. It literally takes all of ten minutes to do this project and the results are spectacular. Other than the dish, I got allof my supplies at Lowes.

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

To be honest, I haven’t really been a cacti fan in the past, but I’m totally in love with them these days. Their textures and shapes add so much variety, interest, and life to a space. Plus, they bring a wonderful contemporary feel to a room. I think a terrarium filled with cacti would also make a great gift.

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Tabletop Cactus Garden | Inspired by Charm

Have you had any success with tabletop gardens or terrariums? Think you’ll give one a try?

For even more ideas, visit Lowes Creative Ideas. You can also sign up to receive their free Creative Ideas Magazine, which is loaded with inspiration! There’s also a magazine app so you can have inspiration on the go! And, don’t forget to follow Lowe’s on Pinterest or on Instagram!

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I am a member of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network (along with some other fantastic bloggers). I did receive a Lowe’s gift card to purchase supplies to complete my project. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own.

I Create: 1. Tabletop Cactus Garden  2. DIY Gold Magnetic Letters

I can’t remember if it was here, in social media land, or maybe both places, where I mentioned I have decided to start a new series on IBC. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, it’s called “I Create.” It’s sort of inspired by my “i create” Pinterest board. At any […]




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Join the conversation.