Developing a Mantra | Inspired by Charm

Before I get into today’s post, I want to extend a huge thank you to all of you. Last week I got more personal than usual here on IBC with my Sun-Dried Tomatoes post. The number of comments, messages, and emails I received in response to that post was beyond anything I ever expected. Before hitting “publish,” I had every intention of responding to all of the messages I received, but I was totally overwhelmed as they poured in. So while it’s impossible for me to reply to each of you (I hope you understand.), I do want you to know how much I appreciated your ideas, insights, and words of wisdom. Even if you offered no advice, just knowing that you cared enough to read my thoughts meant so much to me. My deepest thanks to all of you!

For those who may be wondering, I think I might have a plan (thanks in large part to all of your input)! What I’m thinking of doing seems like the perfect solution to all of my issues. It will give me the larger city life I crave, while still allowing me to keep my home in St. Marys. Plus, the ability to purchase my grandparents’ home will still be an option and things should work with my kitties, too. And, as a added bonus, it will open up new ideas to share here on IBC.

I’m still mulling things over and trying to figure out some of the logistics, but I will certainly pop back in and share more when the time is right.

Again, thank you all so much. Having a place like this to share is awesome in itself, but having a community that responds with so much love and support is beyond incredible.

Developing a Mantra | Inspired by Charm

As I mentioned in that post, I’ve consulted a professional in an attempt to get my head where it needs to be. While I’ve talked to my doctor in the past and have used medication to help, I never felt “good” about that. To me, it always felt like a temporary fix rather than a real solution.

So, I did a little research and found a therapist nearby who teaches Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Based on what I’ve read about it, this approach seemed like something that might work for me. I’ve only had a couple of appointments, so if you want more information on this type of therapy, feel free to do an online search. Also, I don’t pretend to be an expert on this (clearly I’m not); I’m just sharing my journey. Everyone has his/her own path to happiness, so there is no judgment if yours is different from mine.

Anyway, on my last appointment, I was given the homework of reciting a “thought to practice,” also known as a mantra. (For those who might not know, a mantra is a thought that one repeats silently during meditation.)

There is a deeper explanation, but in essence, the brain starts to believe what it is told over and over again. My issue is that for years, I’ve basically been telling my brain that I’m not good enough. (The “not good enough” encompasses a bunch of things.) And because of my job and social media, this message has gotten more intense in recent years.

After a deeper discussion, I was given the following thought to repeat to myself: “I am a fallible human being, and I make mistakes just like everyone else. Therefore, I’m worthy of love and respect just like everyone else.”

This thought is to be repeated 30 times a day for 30 days. The idea is that the more you say and think it, the more your brain starts to believe it.

This mantra can be repeated at any point throughout the day, but it has more of an impact when you incorporate as many senses as possible. For example, you could repeat it while on a walk, say it to yourself every time you look in a mirror, or opt to say it instead of snacking on that donut that only momentarily makes you feel better.

I’m sure this sounds like a bunch of bunk to some folks. However, it makes sense to me, and it’s totally worth a shot. At this point, I’ve got nothing to lose. Unlike in the past, I’m giving this all my effort in hopes of improving myself and adding a bit more happiness to my life.

The interesting thing about all of this is that it’s really not a new concept. Being a self-help book junkie, I’ve read about the benefits of this practice time and time again. In fact, Alison of The Alison Show, sort of touched on it in her recent podcast (Episode 8.) She has been using a similar concept (while also including gratitude) in her exercise and weight-loss journey. It’s totally working for her. (I haven’t listened to all of her episodes, but I do recommend that one if you have time for a quick listen.)

After using my assigned mantra for a few days, I decided to tweak it a bit. What I was given didn’t really roll off the tongue for me. So, I’ve changed it to: “I am a fallible human being worthy of love and respect. And I love myself.” It’s a bit shorter and easier for me to say while still communicating the same message to my brain. Because of this, I now find myself saying this mantra even more.

Not everyone struggles with the feeling of not being enough, so each person’s mantra will be different. If you want to give this a go, take some time to reflect on what’s a struggle for you and then create a mantra to suit. Googling “motivation mantras” might provide a jumping-off point.

Whether this will work for me is still to be determined, but I intend to give it a try. I’ll pop back in around 30 days and let you know what shakes out and maybe offer some more insight. Here’s hoping!

Do you use a mantra in your daily life? Or have you done so in the past? What effects have you seen?

 

*I’ll probably be sharing more personal posts here on IBC on Saturday and Sunday. (Yes, Behind the Charm is going away. It didn’t really “work,” so nothing’s lost.) If you’re just here for yummy recipes, creative DIYs, interior inspiration, and tips for entertaining, then just join me Monday through Friday. However, if you’d like a more personal look at my life, then join me on the weekend as well. Thanks!

Before I get into today’s post, I want to extend a huge thank you to all of you. Last week I got more personal than usual here on IBC with my Sun-Dried Tomatoes post. The number of comments, messages, and emails I received in response to that post was beyond anything I ever expected. Before […]




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Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring | Inspired by Charm
This post is sponsored by Glad Products Company. As always all opinions are my own.

I realize that mid-February is a bit early to be talking about Spring, but right now I’m thinking “The sooner it comes, the better!” This weekend I plan to start working on a few projects to help you decorate for and celebrate Easter and springtime. Naturally, there will be food (specifically, dessert) involved, so I’m kicking things off today with these Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring.

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

As you know from past recipes, the pairing of peanut butter and chocolate is a favorite of mine. The flavor combination instantly reminds me of Easter. (I think it’s those ubiquitous chocolate peanut butter eggs.) Today, I’m putting the two together in a classic peanut butter cookie recipe which features candy coated chocolate and is sure to please. (The resulting cookies also look adorable for dressing up any spring celebration.)

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

I decided to get these cookies baked before assembling the rest of my spring celebration since I tend to be a messy baker. While my photos might make everything look “perfect,” after an hour in the kitchen, I have a bit of a mess all over the place. I’m always looking for ways to limit the mess, so I find that discarding trash and cleaning-as-I-go help a lot. Thankfully, the smart folks at Glad developed their new Glad ForceFlex Kitchen Pro trash bags with OdorShield™ and LeakGuard™ technology. They are their biggest and strongest kitchen bag yet, featuring double bag protection. Plus, the bags are made with Febreze freshness so they help to control odor, too. A win, win, win for those of us who love to bake and cook!

Glad Kitchen Pro Trash Bags | Inspired by Charm

Glad Kitchen Pro Trash Bags | Inspired by Charm

While a messy kitchen doesn’t bother me too much when I’m in the midst of things (It’s all part of the process.), I do get kind of anxious when dealing with things that can create germs or odor, such as raw meats or eggs. The worst part is when your bag gets a hole in it or rips when you lift it out of the trash can and everything comes spilling out. Not fun. So, when it comes to trash bags, I don’t mess around. Seriously. If it has stretchable strength, leak protection, and odor control. Count me in. That’s why I’m a fan of these Glad Kitchen Pro trash bags. This new bag is 53% more bag, for 53% more fun! Using them is a small step that makes such a huge difference. Bring on the party!

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Okay, with waste disposal taken care of, let’s bake!

Begin by creaming together your butter and sugars. Then, add the peanut butter and eggs, one at a time. You can bring out your stand mixer for this, but I find that a hand mixer works nicely.

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Now mix in your dry ingredients. I do this with a spatula so that I don’t overmix the dough. Just before the dough is mixed, toss in the candy coated chocolates. I think the pastel colors of the candy are so lovely with the creamy dough color.

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

You’ll want to save about 1/2 cup of your candy. I like to add a few pieces to the top of each of the cookies right after they come out of the oven. This is a great little cheat / tip to ensure that your cookies look picture-perfect when it’s time to celebrate!

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

And that’s it! Your cookies are ready, and that peanut butter chocolatey goodness has a one-way ticket to your tummy. Yum!

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Here's what you will need:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (12 ounce) bag candy coated chocolate candies

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter. Once well combined, add one egg at a time, mixing well. Then, mix in the vanilla.

Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture with a spatula. When almost combined, mix in the candy coated chocolates, reserving 1/2 cup to garnish.

Roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place each ball on an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten the balls with your fingers. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies just start to brown. (The longer you bake them, the less soft they will be.)

Remove from the oven and top each cookie with a few pieces of the extra chocolate candy. Then transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Once cool, pack and store them in an airtight container.

Print

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and are looking forward to Spring as much as I am.

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

Also, if like me, you make a bit of a mess in the kitchen, you can find more information about the new Glad ForceFlex Kitchen Pro trash bags by visiting Glad.com. To purchase, visit Target.com here (They are currently on sale!)

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring and Easter - peanut butter and chocolate cookie dessert recipe

More springtime treats are on the horizon here on IBC. Stay tuned!

This post is sponsored by Glad Products Company. As always all opinions are my own. I realize that mid-February is a bit early to be talking about Spring, but right now I’m thinking “The sooner it comes, the better!” This weekend I plan to start working on a few projects to help you decorate for and […]




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DIY Custom Shoe Storage | Inspired by Charm
This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement.

Today I’m sharing my new DIY Custom Shoe Storage. However, before we get to that, a little background information is required.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

I love my house. However, given that it’s 100 years old and was once a Bed and Breakfast, it comes with “unique” features. One of those is a super awkward space between my bedroom and my closet.

When this house was built, these rooms were not connected. This space used to be a closet that could be accessed only from what is now my bedroom. When the house was converted to a B&B, the closet space for these rooms was turned into a bathroom and this space was opened up to create a “suite” of sorts to allow for families or multiple individuals to stay in one room. Hope that makes sense.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

Now that my house is back to being a single-family home, that place is a super awkward space with too many doors, weird carpet (because there is no hardwood floor underneath it), and unfinished molding.

What makes this space even stranger is that behind this wall are pipes and electrical wires that my dad and I ran up from the basement to supply the attic with additional electricity and water. (If you’re an original IBC reader, you might remember that project from years ago.) Consequently, this wall isn’t sealed in because I always wanted to have access to the wiring and pipes should I ever decide to continue remodeling the attic. Because of this, this area has just been a mess, eyesore, and completely wasted space.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

As I’ve mentioned a few times (most recently here), I don’t intend to make this my forever home. With that in mind, I came to a few realizations. First, redoing the attic probably won’t happen, so it’s time to seal up that wall. If the next owner wants to reopen it, it won’t be a problem. Secondly, I always thought about removing the doors and molding and just opening up this space into a mini-hallway of sorts. However, that’s a big project and not really something I want to invest time or money in. Given all of that, I decided to make this space work as is while also tackling another problem: shoe storage.

It’s not that I have lots of shoes lying around, but I find that when things have a place, organizing my home is much easier. Having a dedicated space to store my shoes would make putting them away a simple task.

To tackle this project, I teamed up with my friends at Lowe’s Home Improvement. I knew they would have a system to help. After taking some measurements, I ventured to my local Lowe’s.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

When I saw the Rubbermaid FastTrack system in store, I knew it was the perfect solution. (I should also mention I originally thought about doing a DIY built-in shelving system, but with the existing moldings, some weird angles, and not wanting to make accessing that wall a complete nightmare, a built-in didn’t make sense.) Also, if you’ll recall, I used a similar system in my clothes closet, so I thought this would tie in nicely.

Based on the measurements I’d taken, I gathered all of the pieces I’d need. The Rubbermaid FastTrack system offers a variety of shelves, brackets, drawers, and accessories to make the system work for whatever space you’re organizing – even an awkward closet like mine. The shelves come in 8-feet sections. Since I knew I needed 2-feet sections, I asked an associate for help. He kindly cut the sections to the length I needed.

While at Lowe’s, I also picked up a couple pieces of molding and painting supplies.

Once I got home, I tackled a bit of prep work before installing the closet system.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

The first thing I did was to add crown molding. I had some pieces left from my bedroom/closet makeover that worked perfectly. (The crown molding also happens to be from Lowe’s. You can find that here.) The molding gave the space a finished look by covering up spots where the access wall didn’t line up well. I also added two pieces of cove molding to seal the sides of the wall. Again, while I have no need to access the pipes and wires behind it, this method will make it easier for someone who does.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

Once the molding was in place, everything got a quick coat of paint. I used the same colors I used in my bedroom. (Also, I should mention that heart hanging down on a cord is for a pull-chain light. It’s just an exposed lightbulb. That’s getting replaced later this week.)

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

When the paint was dry, I was ready to install the system. This took only 15 minutes. The system is held in place with this rail across the top. I attached that to the wall with anchor screws. With that up, two parallel bars are added for attaching the shelves.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

With the bars in place, I added brackets. While I used the same shelves, I used two different sets of brackets. One set was designed to create a flat shelf, the other set created an angled shelf for shoes.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

With the brackets spaced out accordingly, I added in the shelves and my DIY Custom Shoe Storage system was complete and ready for my shoes.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

I picked up two large baskets from Lowe’s as well to store things like flip flops and out-of-season shoes. The baskets fit perfectly at the top and bottom of the system.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

Then, I just filled the shelves with my shoes and a few other accessories, and my project was complete.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

Wasted, ugly, awkward space no more! It’s now functional, pretty, and organized. Finally!

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

I think I’m going to add one more angled shelf, but I didn’t purchase enough brackets. I have a few more shoes I need to squeeze in, so this will give me enough storage with room to grow.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

However, in the meantime, I’m totally loving this little area with room for my cologne and decorative touches. This goes to show that organization and storage can be pretty, too.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

And that’s what I love about a system like this. It’s versatile, and it grows with you as your needs change (or your shoe collection expands.)

DIY Custom Shoe Storage - how to organize your shoes in an unused space.

DIY Custom Shoe Storage | Inspired by Charm

This weird space has stared at me for years. so I’m thrilled to cross it off my list. I had always assumed this would be a nightmare project, but it was much easier than I anticipated. Who knew organizing could be so easy and rewarding!?

What do you think of my weird space turned DIY Custom Shoe Storage?

 

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement. As always all opinions are my own.

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement. Today I’m sharing my new DIY Custom Shoe Storage. However, before we get to that, a little background information is required. I love my house. However, given that it’s 100 years old and was once a Bed and Breakfast, it comes with “unique” features. One of those […]




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Homemade Skillet Brownies - dessert recipe for Valentine's Day!

Apparently, I like to bake things for Valentine’s Day, as evidenced by my recent post with 10 sweet recipes to celebrate Valentine’s Day and my No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes. As I’ve mentioned, Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday (Being single for 9 years will do that to you.), however, I’m always excited for an excuse to bake something with butter, sugar, and flour. Throw in a classic combo of peanut butter and chocolate, and I become Cupid’s little helper.

Homemade Skillet Brownies - dessert recipe for Valentine's Day!

For my latest HomeGoods Design Happy Blog post, I created these Mini Skillet Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting. I love shopping the kitchen and food section at HomeGoods, so when I found these adorable mini skillets, I knew I could find plenty of ways to use them. (Remember the Blueberry Grunt I made? I served them up in the same pans!)

Homemade Skillet Brownies - dessert recipe for Valentine's Day!

Homemade Skillet Brownies - dessert recipe for Valentine's Day!

What I love most about this recipe is that there’s truly nothing fancy about it. It’s just brownies, but by amping up the presentation and topping them with creamy peanut butter frosting and colorful sprinkles, you get a unique and festive dessert. As you know, one of my specialties is giving classic recipes an update for new life, added flavor, and a little pizzazz.

Homemade Skillet Brownies - dessert recipe for Valentine's Day!
Homemade Skillet Brownies - dessert recipe for Valentine's Day!

While I made these brownies from scratch (You can get the recipe here.), if you’re pressed for time or just prefer to do so, you could certainly use your favorite box mix. When it comes to frosting, however, I always recommend homemade. Frosting is super simple to make, and it blows any store-bought variety out of the water. Trust me on this.

Homemade Skillet Brownies - dessert recipe for Valentine's Day!

You can find the recipe for these Mini Skillet Brownies with Peanut Butter frosting here.

No matter how you celebrate (even if you don’t celebrate), I hope you have a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

Apparently, I like to bake things for Valentine’s Day, as evidenced by my recent post with 10 sweet recipes to celebrate Valentine’s Day and my No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes. As I’ve mentioned, Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday (Being single for 9 years will do that to you.), however, I’m always excited for an excuse […]




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Sun-dried Tomatoes | Inspired by Charm

Yesterday I noticed that my local Walmart no longer carries sun-dried tomatoes. Instead they now have a 5 x 5′ section dedicated to one brand of boxed macaroni and cheese. I tell you this for two reasons. First, I love sun-dried tomatoes, especially the ones packed in oil. (Extra healthful, right?) Secondly, the absence of sun-dried tomatoes at my local Walmart* seems to be a sign from the Universe. Let me explain.

*For anyone who doesn’t know, Walmart is my only option for food shopping unless I want to drive 45 minutes to the closest stand-alone grocery store.

Last week, I started writing this same post. At the time, I titled it “The Secret.” Not that I was revealing a secret, but in reference to the book The Secret, as in if you put it something out there, it comes (back) to you.

If you’ve followed IBC for some time (I’ve been doing this for 8 years now!), you know that every year around this time I write a post about bettering my life. Yet, year after year, I find myself in the same predicament. Over the past year, I’ve decided not to get super personal here on IBC because I felt no one needed to hear all that “stuff,” and besides, it wasn’t professional. (I even created Behind the Charm to share more personal things, but that hasn’t worked.)

I don’t want this post to be sad, so I’m going to keep the explanation to a few short sentences. In a nutshell, 2016 was an awful year for me personally. Through the IBC/work lens it was a wonderfully successful year with lots of amazing opportunities, trips, magazine features, etc. However “behind the charm,” I’ve been pretty miserable. In short, I’m lonely, often unmotivated, and carrying a couple extra pounds. I’ve also somehow managed to lose most of my friends. I could go on, but you get it.

I do love my job and am so grateful for the success I’ve had while getting to create day in and day out. I often find it hard to complain when, if you look at my life on the outside, it seems to be magical.

So, you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with sun-dried tomatoes and why I’m writing about it here. I need your help and opinions. My question is this: With “nothing” left for me here in St. Mary’s, is it time for me to move?

Sun-dried Tomatoes | Inspired by Charm

Before you can answer, a few things to consider.

First, I love my home, but I’m not attached to it. It’s not in an ideal location, plus I’d like a bigger yard, etc.

Secondly, as I’ve mentioned before, my plan has been to buy my grandparents’ house when the time comes. My grandfather passed about two years ago and my grandma still lives there. Naturally, I want her to live forever, but as a result, that puts me in limbo.

Also, Is buying a house in an area that seemingly has little to offer me (e.g., no relationships, no friends, no sun-dried tomatoes) the best decision?

Another plan I’ve had is to purchase my grandparents’ home when the time comes, but also rent or buy a little condo near the beach so I can have the best of both worlds.

And if I do decide to leave St. Marys, how do I even begin to choose where to live? Given my job, the world is my oyster. However, what if I move, and I’m more lost and lonely than I am now?

As you can see, I’m confused. I also need to consider my two cats. I can’t just abandon them for half of the year if having two residences would be the best option. I also have no intention of getting rid of them. They are part of my life until they pass to Kitty Heaven.

Also, St. Marys is home. Being close to my family is a gift that I treasure. However, lately I feel like I have just a supporting role in their lives rather than a life of my own.

And speaking of a life of my own, I haven’t dated in years. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit of an introvert, but a guy trying to meet a guy in small town America is kind of tricky. Many young people want out of this place the day after they graduate. This has been a big issue for me because year after year, I want nothing more than to spend my life with someone.

So, in a nutshell, that’s my situation. (Also, I should mention I am chatting with someone about all of this “stuff” in trying to work things out. I’m not making any major life decisions tomorrow, I’m just getting the ball rolling.)

I decided to write this post in an attempt to open the doors. Maybe you have some thoughts or helpful suggestions? Maybe you’ve been through a similar situation? Maybe you know the “perfect” place where I should put down roots? Maybe you have an adorable condo for sale on the beach? Maybe you have a pool house I can rent for part of the year? Maybe you have a cute cousin I should meet? Or maybe you just have a can of sun-dried tomatoes I can buy?

I realize I have a lot of work to do on my own. Ultimately this is my life, and I’m the one driving the bus. I get it. However, in this particular instance, I wouldn’t mind a few backseat drivers.

As always, thank you very much in advance. Even if you have no advice to offer, I appreciate your kind thoughts and continued support of IBC.

Yesterday I noticed that my local Walmart no longer carries sun-dried tomatoes. Instead they now have a 5 x 5′ section dedicated to one brand of boxed macaroni and cheese. I tell you this for two reasons. First, I love sun-dried tomatoes, especially the ones packed in oil. (Extra healthful, right?) Secondly, the absence of […]




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Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, it is with great excitement that I’m heading back to the Caribbean this year on Carnival Cruise Lines. Over the past four years, I’ve had the opportunity to sail the seas a half dozen times, and I enjoy the experience more each time.

Inspired by my upcoming fun adventure on the sea, I thought I’d share another cocktail recipe from one of my favorite places on the ship, the Alchemy Bar.

Alchemy Bar Carnival Cruise Fun Ship 2.0

In case you’re not aware, the Alchemy Bar is a unique place on the Carnival 2.0 cruise ships. The bar is a vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy” with elixirs to “cure what ails you.” The menu (with alcoholic and nonalcoholic options) is extra special in that it only includes handcrafted cocktails (no beer or soda), using fresh fruit and herbs. The Alchemy Bar serves my favorite martini, the Spicy Chipotle Pineapple Martini, which I showed you how to make a couple years ago.

Inspired by the Alchemy Bar, (and Valentine’s Day which is just around the corner), I thought I’d try a new-to-me cocktail from their menu, the Curative Peach Cosmopolitan.

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Since the day I turned 21, I’ve been a fan of a classic comso, and I often order it as a pre-dinner cocktail. Not only do I like the flavor, but there’s something about sipping a pink martini that makes a guy or gal feel important. Last year, I shared the Carnival Cosmo (Carnival’s unique twist on a classic cosmopolitan recipe), so I thought this time we’d try the peach variety.

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Now, I’ve never had this drink on the ship, so I created my own recipe based on a few of their ingredients. It might not be an exact duplicate, but I’ll be sure to sample one on my cruise and report back to you.

The base of the cocktail is typical of a classic cosmopolitan, but with a few key substitutions.

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Instead of traditional vodka, I used peach vodka. I also substituted peach schnapps for the orange liqueur.

Typically, a cosmopolitan would be finished off with a lime. However, for this recipe, I opted for a blood orange. Not only does the color of the juice match the cocktail perfectly, but I felt the blood orange lent itself to the pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar.

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Add all of those ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Then shake it up vigorously and pour out a delicious and fruity libation.

Cheers!

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Peach Cosmopolitan

makes one martini

Here's what you will need:
3 ounces of peach vodka
1 ounce peach schnapps
1 ounce cranberry juice
Wedge of blood orange, juiced
Slice of peach and slice of blood orange to garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the peach vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, and juice from a blood orange wedge. Shake vigorously.

Then strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of peach and blood orange.

Print

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

This martini tastes as good as it looks. I love peaches, so the extra sweet fruitiness in this cocktail is perfect.

And while subtle, I also think the addition of blood orange in here is sublime. It makes this martini taste as special as it looks.

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

Peach Cosmopolitan martini cocktail recipe

So whether you’re celebrating a vacation, Valentine’s Day, or another day of life, this Peach Cosmopolitan is a winner! Cheers!

 

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, it is with great excitement that I’m heading back to the Caribbean this year on Carnival Cruise Lines. Over the past four years, I’ve had the opportunity to sail the seas a half dozen times, and I enjoy the experience more each time. Inspired by my upcoming fun […]




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Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

One of the biggest sporting events of the year is coming up this Sunday, and I’m here to help you celebrate with a roundup of recipes for appetizers worthy of a touchdown. As you probably know, appetizers are among my favorite things to make and to eat, so creating this list for you was lots of fun.

All of the recipes below are ones I’ve made many times and have shared here on IBC. If you’re hosting or attending a party for the big game and need a recipe or two that’s guaranteed to be a success, IBC is the place to find it. Let’s take a look at these Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes.

Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Shrimp
I made this Parmesan Garlic Roasted Shrimp for my mom’s 60th birthday party a couple years ago, and everyone went crazy over it. I’ve also made it for other gatherings since then, and it’s always a hit.

Out-of-this-World Corn Dip - Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Out-of-this-World Corn Dip
Of all the recipes on IBC, this Out-of-this-World Corn Dip is one I make multiple times a year. It makes a generous portion and is a total crowd pleaser. I’m confident you’ll love it, too.

Cranberry Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts - Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Cranberry Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
I make this recipe every year for our family’s Christmas Eve celebration at my mom’s house, but these Cranberry Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts are great any time of the year. In case you don’t like cranberries, don’t worry. You can leave them out.

Skillet Rueben Dip - Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Skillet Reuben Dip
A good dip is a must for watching the Super Bowl. And since Reuben sandwiches are a favorite of mine, it’s not surprising that I love and highly recommend this Skillet Reuben Dip. It tastes so much like the actual sandwich!

Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Pizza Bread
I think many families have a pizza bread recipe they love. This is mine. With tiny bits of toppings in every bite, you can change the ingredients to suit your personal preference. Top it off with your favorite pizza sauce for dipping, and you’ve got a winner.

Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Jalapeños - Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Jalapeños
This recipe for Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños only requires four ingredients and is another crowd favorite.- If you’re like me, it’s hard to resist anything wrapped in bacon.

Pulled Pork Sliders - Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Pulled Pork Sliders
Who doesn’t like miniature-sized food? That’s why these pulled pork sliders are the bomb. I especially like the homemade red cabbage coleslaw as a topping. It’s the perfect complement to the pork.

Buffalo and Blue Cheese Lit'l Smokies - Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Buffalo and Blue Cheese Li’l Smokies
What’s a Super Bowl party without Li’l Smokies? I gave these crescent roll wrapped Li’l Smokies a flavor upgrade with a blue cheese stuffing and buffalo-style dripping sauce.

DIY Football Party Ideas - Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

Bonus Ideas:
Now that you have some delicious appetizers to consider, you might be thinking about your party decor. Check out these four DIY football-themed entertaining ideas: graphic napkins, helmet drink stirrers, painted servers, and a FREE printable football garland. Any one of these will add a personal touch to your Super Bowl celebration.

Eight Game-Winning Appetizer Recipes  | Inspired by Charm

I hope you find this appetizer roundup helpful, whether you’re celebrating the big game or hosting another sort of celebration. These recipes work wonderfully all year round. Enjoy!

One of the biggest sporting events of the year is coming up this Sunday, and I’m here to help you celebrate with a roundup of recipes for appetizers worthy of a touchdown. As you probably know, appetizers are among my favorite things to make and to eat, so creating this list for you was lots […]




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Love Songs - Valentine's Day Music Playlist via Tuesday Tunes: Inspired by Charm

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought that a new Tuesday Tunes was in order. As a single person, Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday. However, I am a fan of music, and I do enjoy a good love song, so this latest playlist is full of Songs About Love.

Love Songs - Valentine's Day Music Playlist via Tuesday Tunes: Inspired by Charm

With thousands of love songs available, making this list wasn’t too difficult. Of course, I may have missed a song or two. Also, since love comes in many forms, this playlist covers everything from new love to lost love to wanting to be in love to everlasting love. And because my musical tastes are varied, this list includes favorites from multiple genres.

 


 

You can listen to this playlist using the player above or directly on Spotify by clicking here.

Be sure to follow my Spotify profile (here) for access to all of my playlists and for sneak listens to upcoming IBC Tuesday Tunes!

Oh, and if you need some deliciously sweet ideas to make and share with the ones you love, be sure to check out my list of 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine’s Day or my newest recipe for No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes.

No matter how you celebrate (or don’t), I wish each of you a love-filled Valentine’s Day.

 

TUESDAY TUNES LIBRARY

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought that a new Tuesday Tunes was in order. As a single person, Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday. However, I am a fan of music, and I do enjoy a good love song, so this latest playlist is full of Songs About Love. With thousands of love songs […]




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No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

Today I’m back in the IBC kitchen to show you how to make a beautiful and delicious dessert that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day or any occasion.

This recipe for individual No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes is inspired by one of my favorite baking bloggers and her new baking cookbook!

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

Late last year, Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog released her first cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book and was kind enough to send me a copy to enjoy. As you probably know, baking is my favorite thing to do in the kitchen, so I was super excited to get my hands on this book.

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

A couple years ago I had the chance to meet Sarah (and her hubby) at a blogger event in Los Angeles. She is beyond sweet, and I greatly enjoyed our conversations. I wish we would have had the opportunity to chat more.

I guess my wish came true (in a way) because now I have a little piece of Sarah in my kitchen at all times thanks to her beautiful cookbook!

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

Although I was tempted to make so many things from her book, I kept my eyes open for something that I could give a twist to for Valentine’s Day. When I spotted her (Almost) No-Bake Cheesecake with Jam Swirl, I knew I had found a winner.

While Sarah created her no-bake cheesecake in a more traditional style, I decided to give mine a personal and chocolatey twist.

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy Valentine's dessert recipe

Instead of making just one large cheesecake, I opted to make six single servings. I’ve had these double-walled bowls from Zwilling that I’ve been dying to use and thought they would make the perfect presentation. (Don’t worry if you don’t have bowls like this. Any bowl will do, or even a large mouth mason jar will work.)

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

I also opted to use chocolate graham crackers for my crust. Paired with raspberry jam, I thought this would be a dynamite flavor combination for Valentine’s Day. (And boy was I right.)

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

Since my cheesecakes were going to be a bit smaller, I adjusted Sarah’s recipe to accommodate the size change as well as my chocolate additions.

Also, Sarah baked her crust. (That’s why it’s called an “almost” no-bake cheesecake.) However, since I was using these glass bowls, mine truly needed to be no-bake. While the crust doesn’t completely hold together (which really doesn’t matter since these are served in a bowl) I did use a little more butter in my crust to make it a bit firmer.

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes

In addition, because I tend to be a messy baker, I found it easiest to pipe the cheesecake mixture into the glass bowls. This helped me keep the sides of my bowls nice and clean.

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes

You can use any jam as a garnish for this cheesecake, but I went with raspberry. I love the combination of raspberries and chocolate so it was an obvious choice for me.

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy Valentine's dessert recipe

Garnished with a dollop of whipped cream, a fresh raspberry, and a chocolate heart, I think this might just be one of best Valentine’s Day desserts ever. Plus, we didn’t have to turn on the oven!

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy Valentine's dessert recipe

Let me tell you, these guys are crazy delicious and so simple to put together. Restraining myself from sitting down with a spoon and eating all six was the hardest part of this recipe. Seriously.

If you want to recreate these for your special someone this Valentine’s Day, here’s the recipe.

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

 

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

makes 6 single serving cheesecakes

Here's what you will need:
Crust:
1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/8 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake:
2 blocks (16 ounces total) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup raspberry jam
Fresh raspberries, whipping cream, and heart chocolates to garnish

In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs* with the sugar and melted butter until combined. Divide the mixture into six small dishes (about 4 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep). Press into an even layer with your fingers or a spatula. Place in the refrigerator while preparing the cheesecake.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on high until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt. Beat again until smooth and combined. Transfer the cream cheese mixture into a large bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk (in a new or cleaned bowl) beat the heavy whipping cream on low for about 45 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating for another 45 seconds. Increase the speed to high and but until stiff peaks form.

With a spatula, stir about one-third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and fold it in until completely combined. Add the remaining whipped cream and fold until fully combined.

Using a spatula or piping bag, divide the cream cheese mixture evenly over the six prepared crusts. Smooth the top with a spatula.

Finally, in a microwave safe bowl, add the jam and 1 tablespoon of water. Heat for about 30 seconds to make the jam liquid. (Heat for an additional 15 seconds, if needed). Stir to combine. Allow the jam to cool slightly, then drop small amounts of jam on top of each cheesecake. Use a skewer or toothpick to drag the jam through the top of the cheesecake to make swirls.

Refrigerate the cheesecake about 1 hour until firm or up to 1 day. (Cover with plastic wrap if refrigerating for longer than 1 hour.)

*Use a blender or food processor to crumble whole chocolate graham crackers to create fine crumbs for best results.

Print

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy Valentine's dessert recipe

I hope you enjoyed this tasty, fun, and elegant dessert. Give it a try this Valentine’s Day for a treat to share with the ones you love.

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes - easy dessert recipe

For more irresistible everyday baking favorites and delicious, reinvented classic recipes be sure to pick up Sarah Keiffer’s The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. You may also want to visit her blog, The Vanilla Bean Blog, for more deliciousness.

A big shout out to Sarah for sharing her book with me!

Today I’m back in the IBC kitchen to show you how to make a beautiful and delicious dessert that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day or any occasion. This recipe for individual No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes is inspired by one of my favorite baking bloggers and her new baking cookbook! Late last year, Sarah Kieffer of The […]




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Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm
This post is sponsored by Liquid-Plumr. As always all opinions are my own.

It’s January 26, and I just took down my last Christmas decoration yesterday. Boy does it feel good! With a busy January, a late holiday photoshoot, a trip to the Big Apple, and a cold/flu, Christmas stuck around for longer than I would have liked. Even though it took a while, I’m excited to finally be holiday-free.

I had hoped to show you around my upstairs during the holidays, but I ended up not decorating much up there, so it never happened. However, I finally “finished” my bathroom project from two years ago and hung some things on the walls in my bedroom. I also spruced up a few things here and there so, I thought I’d show you around up there.

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

I should mention that, for some reason, all of my rooms upstairs have never felt complete. And while some of the changes that I’ve made have helped, I still don’t feel like things are “done.” Or at least done enough to make me not feel anxious every time I look at those spaces. So, one of my goals for this year is to finally finish the rooms so I feel good when I look at them. We can save that talk for another post; I just figured it was worth mentioning.

Anywho, over in my bathroom I finally hung the light and mirror, installed shelves, and added artwork. This bathroom is right off my bedroom, and it’s the one I use, so it’s nice to have it fully functional again.

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

(For reference, the mirror is from West Elm [but no longer available], the shelves are from Target, the light is from Restoration Hardware, and the bunny print is from HomeGoods.)

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

If you’ll recall, back in 2015 I gave this bathroom a mini-makeover with paint, a new sink, and fixtures. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit embarrassed about the bathrooms in my house. Their style is either 90s or 50s. It’s not in the good vintage way, but rather the “we-really-need-to-be-gutted” way. (2017 might be the year of major bathroom makeovers!)

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

However, this little refresh goes to show what paint and a few new accessories can do. Although a major makeover wasn’t in the budget at the time, it still keeps my progress and design flowing.

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Thinking about keeping things flowing, my friends over at Liquid-Plumr sent me some of their Full Clog Destroyer to help keep my pipes flowing freely.

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

When refreshing a space such as a bathroom, it’s important to also take care of the stuff you cannot see that are essential for a smooth-running bathroom. With regular monthly use, Liquid-Plumr can get your drains moving faster. I know it’s not something you normally think of, but it’s great for fixing clogs and taking care of general maintenance. Prevent the problem, right?

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

While I still have a few tweaks to make in this space, it’s certainly looking a whole lot cuter. What do you think?

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Over in my guest bedroom, I tucked in a few more accessories and added this round mirror that’s been sitting in its box for a year. (See, you think I have everything together, but I really don’t.) I also hung this hand-crafted art piece I picked up a few years ago at an art festival. This space would still benefit from a few more pieces of art, a cozy chair, and some accessories to really finish it off, but it’s getting there.

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

In my hallway, I moved around some pillows and added a travel souvenir from Hawaii to my DIY picture ledges. I really do love this space. For a brief moment every day I get to pretend I’m at the beach. It doesn’t get better than that.

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Over in my closet, I finally hung the full-length mirror that has been resting on the floor for a good two years. And, as you know, I’ve also been busy attempting to clear out my closet of clothes and accessories. While I need to make another round, sending a few bags to Goodwill has made a huge difference.

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Over in my other guest room, not a whole lot has changed. This room has always perplexed me, so I may just need to start fresh this spring. While I do like the coral/pink, I never felt it was “me” so something has to change. Maybe it’s time for a full makeover! What do you think?

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

Upstairs. Refreshed. | Inspired by Charm

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my upstairs and are excited for more interior inspiration and home refreshes in 2017. There are lots more coming!

This post is sponsored by Liquid-Plumr. As always all opinions are my own. It’s January 26, and I just took down my last Christmas decoration yesterday. Boy does it feel good! With a busy January, a late holiday photoshoot, a trip to the Big Apple, and a cold/flu, Christmas stuck around for longer than I would […]




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10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

Due to a busy January and early February, I’m not planning to go all out for Valentine’s Day this year. However, I do think it’s a wonderful holiday for creating unique and homemade treats to celebrate the ones you love.

In the past, I’ve shared several Valentine’s Day-inspired recipes here on IBC. Today, I thought it would be fun to bring all of those recipes together to give you a one-stop-spot for your Valentine’s Day planning.

So, whether you’re celebrating with that special someone, hanging out with friends, or watching your favorite romantic comedy at home on your couch (that’s what I’ll be doing), give one of these delicious ideas a try for a sweet handmade Valentine’s Day.

Sweater Cookies
If you’re looking to impress, get creative with frosting by whipping up some of these Valentine-themed Sweater Cookies.

Valentine's Day Sweater Cookies - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Red Velvet Waffle Cookies
Speaking of creative cookies, try “baking” cookies in your waffle iron with this recipe for Red Velvet Waffle Cookies.

Red Velvet Waffle Cookies - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispies Treats
If you’re tight on time, a few Valentine sprinkles go a long way in making these Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispies Treats a must-have for the holiday.

Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispies Treats - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Chocolate Chips
If you’ve never had potato chips drizzled with chocolate, you’re missing out. These Chocolate Chips are so easy and crazy delicious.

Chocolate Drizzle Potato Chips - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Skillet Cookie Cake
In my Year of Skillet Series, I had fun creating this large cookie cake complete with Valentine M&Ms for a new spin on a classic treat.

Valentine Skillet Cookie Cake - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Red Velvet Popcorn
Make your own flavored popcorn to enjoy and share with this Red Velvet Popcorn recipe. It’s made with real red velvet cake crumbles!

Red Velvet Popcorn - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Heart Sugar Cookies wth Cotton Candy Frosting
These classic sugar cookies get a flavor upgrade thanks to a delicious cotton candy-flavored frosting. A heart cookie cutter and festive sprinkles complete the look.

Heart Sugar Cookies with Cotton Candy Frosting - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Spiked Chocolate Dipped Cherries
It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without something dipped in chocolate, right? I have to recommend these alcohol soaked cherries dipped AND drizzled with chocolate for the ultimate treat.

Spiked Chocolate Covered Cherries - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Raspberry Cheesecake Martini
Speaking of libations, how about a martini? This Raspberry Cheesecake Martini complete with a graham cracker rim is one of my favorites. (If you need a nonalcoholic treat, try this Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie!)

Raspberry Cheesecake Martini - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

Sweetie Martini
If you’re looking to go all out with your Valentine’s Day drink, then look no further than this Sweetie Martini. It’s an original recipe I created a few years ago that has become one of my most popular cocktails on Pinterest!

Sweetie Martini: Valentine's Day Cocktail - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

 

BONUS: Valentine’s Treat Bags
Once you have your treats all prepared, you’re probably going to want a beautiful way to present them. Try whipping up a few of these Valentine’s Treat Bags for that extra special touch.

DIY Valentine's Treat Bags - 10 Recipes to Celebrate Valentine's Day

I certainly hope you are feeling inspired to create something sweet and delicious for Valentine’s Day. No matter how you celebrate, I’m wishing you a happy, sweet, and love-filled day!

Due to a busy January and early February, I’m not planning to go all out for Valentine’s Day this year. However, I do think it’s a wonderful holiday for creating unique and homemade treats to celebrate the ones you love. In the past, I’ve shared several Valentine’s Day-inspired recipes here on IBC. Today, I thought […]




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DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

I guess this is the week of reimagining previous projects here on IBC. Earlier this week I tackled my brushstroke painted plates again, but with a new look. Today I’m back with an everyday-inspired update for my beaded garland.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

You may remember that this past Christmas I crafted an oversized wood bead garland using various wooden balls and blocks. Given that I chose a more traditional color scheme of red and green, I thought I’d rework the garland for winter.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

I also wanted to create another string of beads to match so I bought some additional wood beads. Since these were smaller in size, they came pre-drilled which made this project even easier. I purchased this set and this set from Amazon.

 

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

First I unstrung the beads from the garland I’d made previously. Next, I repainted the red and burgundy beads so they are now a light or dark turquoise color. Again, I used Fusion Mineral Paint. As you know, I’ve done a few projects with Fusion Mineral Paint. I love how easy it is to pair colors. They always create the most beautiful combinations.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

I was surprised to see how quickly the new paint covered the old. It only took about two coats. Once the beads were dry, I simply restrung them on the leather cording, and the project was complete.

For the smaller beaded garland, I created a more consistent pattern using three different sized beads with even color placement.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

Since the predrilled holes on these beads were a bit smaller, I strung them on twine I had on hand. It was truly that easy.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

As you can see, these garlands (a.k.a. wood styling beads) can be used in the traditional sense as a garland to adorn your mantle. I especially love the larger garland just spilling out of a bowl on a table or hung on a wall hook to create interesting and 3-D wall art.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

DIY Wood Styling Beads create colorful Scandinavian style with this colorful project.

Custom projects that work for multiple purposes are a winner in my home styling toolkit, so I definitely recommend giving this project a try. You can get the full tutorial for the larger garland here. Have fun creating your own unique look with different paints and bead shapes and sizes.

Happy Decorating!

I guess this is the week of reimagining previous projects here on IBC. Earlier this week I tackled my brushstroke painted plates again, but with a new look. Today I’m back with an everyday-inspired update for my beaded garland. You may remember that this past Christmas I crafted an oversized wood bead garland using various […]




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Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

Last year I created a fun set of Brushstroke Painted Plates. (If you missed them, you can see them here.) They were, and still are, one of my favorite projects.

A few weeks ago I was working on a tablescape and thought brushstroke plates would make a unique addition to the table. However, the color scheme of the ones I had just didn’t work. So, I decided to create another set to match my design.

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

Even though I’ve already shared this how-to with you, I thought you might enjoy seeing a variation of the project.

I followed the same basic technique as I did previously. If you need the full tutorial, click here for all the details. However, this time around, I changed the colors, plate design, and pattern.

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

I started with plates I found at HomeGoods. I wanted something a bit more traditional in style this time to contrast with the fun and colorful lines of the paint.

This go-round, I opted for four colors in shades of blue, green, and gray. One of the great things about this paint is that it’s non-toxic. Once applied to the plates and “baked” in the oven, the plates are food and dishwasher safe. (However, I should note, that just to be safe, I still wash mine by hand.)

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

Rather than covering the plates with brushstrokes of paint, I decided to keep the design on only one part of the plate.

Again I worked with one color at a time, allowing each color to dry before adding the next. This keeps the paints from mixing together and looking muddy.

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

To finish each plate, I added a splatter of paint (one in each color) to create a casual and artistic touch.

Once baked in the oven, the plates were complete!

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

It truly is that simple. Plus, it’s a fun way to tap your artistic side as you create something beautiful and functional for your home and table.

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

As I said previously, the design and color scheme are up to you. Feel free to skip the splatter or use only one color. You could even go in a completely different direction and use painter’s tape to paint hard lines. Or stamp on a pattern. No matter how you do it, the end result will certainly be one-of-a-kind and a special addition to your table.

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 | Inspired by Charm

I hope you enjoyed Brushstroke Painted Plates: Part 2 and are even more tempted to give this project a try.

Again, for full directions on how to create these, visit this post here.

Last year I created a fun set of Brushstroke Painted Plates. (If you missed them, you can see them here.) They were, and still are, one of my favorite projects. A few weeks ago I was working on a tablescape and thought brushstroke plates would make a unique addition to the table. However, the color […]




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Glad to Give: Clearing the Clutter
This post is sponsored by Glad Products Company. As always all opinions are my own.

Now that the dust has settled from the holidays and the decorations have been packed away, I’m beyond ready to declutter every room in my house. During my time as a blogger, I’ve amassed an amazing amount of “stuff.” And while I can justify some of it for work, there comes a time when a major cleaning and clearing needs to happen. That time is now.

Typically, I tend to toss things because I find doing so much easier than coordinating a sale. However, over the past couple years, I’ve found that donating is much better. Though I can no longer use this stuff, I know there is someone out there who can. This past fall, I cleared a lot of furniture out my garage and attic. Instead of selling or trashing it, I moved all of it to my front yard and posted an ad on Facebook inviting anyone who needed something to come and take it, no charge. I kid you not, all of the furniture was gone within 30 minutes. Later in the afternoon, one woman came back to thank me and explain how much she needed some of these items. My goal was to help people in need, and hearing from this lady just added to the experience.

While this system works great for larger pieces, it’s not ideal for smaller items, such as clothing, books, and trinkets. That’s why I decided to team up with Glad and their “Glad to Give” program. Glad believes that communities are built around human connections and giving back, when possible, to those around you. The company also feels that sharing stories of giving inspires others. After what happened last fall, and reading about others’ experiences, I tend to agree.

Glad sent me some of their yellow bags to help in my donation efforts. They realize the role their products play in giving around the country and are excited to lend a hand in a bigger way with their Glad to Give program. You don’t need lots of money to make a difference. Just give what you can. Everything helps.

Glad to Give: Clearing the Clutter

With my bags in hand, I started in my bedroom and sorted through all of my clothes, shoes, belts, etc. Anything that no longer fit or was no longer being worn (but was still in excellent condition), got put in a bag. Within thirty minutes, I had filled two bags.

Glad to Give: Clearing the Clutter

Glad to Give: Clearing the Clutter

Glad to Give: Clearing the Clutter

Once my closet was decluttered, I walked around other areas of my house, including my living room and quickly filled another bag with pillows, books, a wreath, and other odds and ends.

Glad to Give: Clearing the Clutter

With several bags full, I popped them into the back of my car and dropped them off at our local Goodwill. In less than an hour, I not only cleared the clutter, but I was able to give back to my community and those who need these things much more than I do.

Glad to Give: Clearing the Clutter

With dozens more bags to fill, my goal for the year is to continue to go through my home for items that I no longer need and then pass them on to someone who does.

Glad to Give: Clearing the Clutter

For more information about giving, head on over to GladtoGive.com. Not only can you read some Glad to Give stories, but you can schedule a free pick-up through Donation Town to a local charity of your choice. It really doesn’t get much easier than that. Thanks to Glad for pitching in and making incredible things like this possible.

And remember, one act of giving inspires another. I hope that you’ll consider donating a few of your unwanted goods. What are you glad to give?

 

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad Products Company . The opinions and text are all mine.

This post is sponsored by Glad Products Company. As always all opinions are my own. Now that the dust has settled from the holidays and the decorations have been packed away, I’m beyond ready to declutter every room in my house. During my time as a blogger, I’ve amassed an amazing amount of “stuff.” And while […]




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Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

This week has flown by in the blink of an eye. As I explained in a previous post, January is typically a quiet month around here, but that’s not going to be the case this year. I think the waters have finally settled for a bit, however, and I can get back to the business of blogging.

Despite my intent to shed holiday pounds in January, I always seem to get the urge to cook and bake. I suspect the colder weather brings on the need to turn on the oven and stay cozy with comfort food.

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Earlier this week when I was preparing my home for the photoshoot with Better Homes & Gardens, I decided I wanted something on hand to represent my love of food and baking. For me, those things are an important aspect of home. They’re also part of who I am and what I do.

So, I tapped into my “quirky” side and whipped up these fun and delicious Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies.

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

I found this sweater cookie cutter on Amazon and thought it’d be perfect for Christmas and also the colder months here in PA (January through March).

 

It’s challenging to avoid the post-holiday blues as the tinsel and lights come down, so why not continue the fun with winter baking that’s still colorful and tasty but not holiday themed?

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Thankfully, the folks from BHG loved the cookies and snapped a shot for the magazine. I assumed I’d have to wait until the release of the issue later this year, but I was given permission to share these cookies now which thrilled me to no end. (I have a hard time keeping secrets.)

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Despite their complicated look, the cookies are simple to make. (They do require a little time and creativity.)

Start with the basic sugar cookie recipe that I’ve shared below. This is the recipe my mom has been using for years, so it comes highly recommended. You’re obviously going to need a sweater cookie cutter. I used this one.

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

With the cookies baked, I chose a variety of colors for the frosting to represent the winter season. Blues, teals, and greens were obvious choices. I also opted for red, pink, and white. I’m thinking these cookies would be an amazing and unique Valentine’s Day surprise!

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

I filled several piping bags with frosting and got to work.

Using a small star and round tip, I created a variety of patterns for my Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies. As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless. Feel free to copy some of these designs or have fun with your own creations.

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

They are pretty adorable, right?

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

So, if you’re looking for a unique winter treat, something quirky for Valentine’s Day, or just an excuse to bake, give these Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies a try!

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies

makes about 4 dozen cookies

Here's what you will need:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Frosting
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
7 cups (2 pounds) confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk (as needed)
Gel food coloring
Piping bags and tips (small star tip and round tip)

Begin by preparing the cookie dough. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the vegetable shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Once combined, add half of the dry ingredients. Begin to mix and pour in the buttermilk. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least four hours or overnight.

After your dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

On a well-floured surface, roll out about a quarter of the dough to a 1/8 - 1/4-inch thickness, depending on your preference. Cut out the dough using a sweater-shaped cookie cutter. Transfer each cut out to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the first sign of browning appears on the surface of the cookies. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a cutting board or your counter top to cool completely.

While the cookies cool, prepare your frosting*. With a mixer, cream together the vegetable shorting and butter. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add milk as needed for a smoother consistency. Divide the frosting into smaller bowls and add gel food coloring to achieve the desired colors.

Place the frosting in a piping bag with the desired tip. A small star tip is great for the sweater texture, and a round tip is recommended for details and dots.

Once your cookies have cooled, use the prepared piping bags to create designs on your sweater cookies.

Allow the frosting to set before packing and storing the cookies in an airtight container.

*I like to use a variety of colors when creating these cookies, so I double this recipe. Typically that will leave me with extra frosting, but I'd rather have extra in order to have fun with my designs without fear of running out.

Print

 

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Pretty and simple, right?

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies | Inspired by Charm

While the piping does take some time (and your hand may cramp up a bit), the results are totally worth it.

Happy Baking!

This week has flown by in the blink of an eye. As I explained in a previous post, January is typically a quiet month around here, but that’s not going to be the case this year. I think the waters have finally settled for a bit, however, and I can get back to the business […]




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What's the Tea | Inspired by Charm

Well, friends, let me officially wish you Happy New Year! If you’ve been following IBC for a while now, you know It’s always a bit of a challenge for me to return to blogging after the holidays. I try to give myself a short break this time of year, but that often makes it harder to get back into the swing of things.

However, after sharing a few 2016 recaps and a new playlist, I think I’m about ready to put my work cap back on, pull out my camera, and create exciting new content for IBC. Woot. Woot!

Most years January is a fairly quiet month for me, but this year is just the opposite. This week some folks from Better Homes & Gardens are coming to my house (Yes, I’m freaking out.) They’re going to shoot my home for the 2017 issue of their Christmas Ideas magazine. So, even though I was on a little “break,” I really wasn’t.

What's the Tea | Inspired by Charm

What's the Tea | Inspired by CharmI’ve actually been busy redecorating my home for Christmas. While some things are similar to my 2016 Christmas decor, I did change up all three trees, switch around color schemes, wrap dozens of fake presents, bake delicious things, etc. I also completed a couple back-burner projects that were long overdue – my guest bedroom and bathroom. And because I’m weird, I touched up some paint, cleaned every room (with the help of my mom. Thanks, Mom!), and threw away / donated a bunch of “stuff.”

Although it’s been a stressful couple of weeks, it actually couldn’t have come at a better time. The upcoming photoshoot has forced me to do some essential cleaning, decluttering, and finishing of projects. So, “YAY!”

What's the Tea | Inspired by Charm

After BHG’s visit, I’m headed to NYC for a few days with my friends at HomeGoods. As a blogger for their Design Happy blog, I’ve been invited to a blogger day to learn about home trends, blogging tips, and lots of other fun stuff. And I get to hang out with some fellow blogger friends, so that’s always a treat.

What's the Tea | Inspired by Charm

Then, shortly after I return from NYC, I’m going on another Carnival Cruise! I’ve been working with Carnival Cruise lines for a few years now, and they have invited me to continue the collaboration in 2017. My mom is going along with me again on this cruise (She accompanied me on my first one.) We’ll be sailing on the Carnival Vista (their newest ship) through the Caribbean. Given that it’s the dead of winter here in PA, we couldn’t be more excited!

What's the Tea | Inspired by Charm

As you can see it’s going to be a busy month. I’m also planning to keep things moving here on IBC amidst all of this, so there will be new recipes, decorating ideas, and other good things.

Speaking of what’s coming on IBC, I’m thinking about doing Breakfast Week again for a few days this month. Who doesn’t love some delicious breakfast inspiration? As you may have noticed, last year I totally neglected my “A Year of…” series, but I’m hoping to bring it back this year. You might remember that in previous years we had A Year of Yeast, A Year of Pie, and A Year of the Skillet. I think I’ve finally settled on a theme for 2017. Here are a few hints: It’s one of my favorite foods, but I’ve never made it from scratch. Plus, there are almost endless recipe ideas. Stay tuned!

What's the Tea | Inspired by Charm

I think that’s about it for news from around here. As I continue to put together a posting schedule and new ideas to share, please let me know in the comments below if there’s anything you’d like to see here on IBC. I love hearing your ideas. Many time they spark creative things for me to share.

Have a fabulous week!

Well, friends, let me officially wish you Happy New Year! If you’ve been following IBC for a while now, you know It’s always a bit of a challenge for me to return to blogging after the holidays. I try to give myself a short break this time of year, but that often makes it harder […]




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Tuesday Tunes / 20 - Hello, 2017 | Inspired by Charm

For the past month or so, I have listened nonstop to Christmas music. I’m not kidding. I normally get tired of playlists pretty quickly, but after creating four holiday Tuesday Tunes playlists, I had plenty of variety to carry me through til the new year.

Now it’s time to pack those playlists away and listen to a few fresh new tunes and old favorites. That’s why I put together this playlist called, “Hello, 2017.”

I don’t know about you, but as usual, I’m not quite ready for this new year. The past couple weeks have been challenging for me for personal reasons (new ones and those I’ve bottled up for a while). As some of you know, this time of year is usually pretty challenging for me, but this year seems even more so. I guess it’s just hard to move forward when your feet are stuck in the mud. But at least it’s mud, and not concrete, right!?

Tuesday Tunes / 20 - Hello, 2017 | Inspired by Charm

Anywho, this playlist is just a happy, reflective, mellow mix. Whether you’re packing up Christmas decor or flipping through a mag as you sip a glass of wine, I hope you’ll find these tunes to be the perfect audio backdrop.

 


 

You can listen to this new playlist using the player above or go directly to Spotify by clicking here. You are also welcome to follow my Spotify profile to access all of my favorite tunes and upcoming playlists.

No matter where you’re at as we start another year, I hope love fills your heart and peace comforts your soul. Happy 2017, my friends!

 

TUESDAY TUNES LIBRARY

For the past month or so, I have listened nonstop to Christmas music. I’m not kidding. I normally get tired of playlists pretty quickly, but after creating four holiday Tuesday Tunes playlists, I had plenty of variety to carry me through til the new year. Now it’s time to pack those playlists away and listen […]




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Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

This week I’ve been recapping favorite posts of 2016 here on Inspired by Charm. We’ve looked back at tasty recipes, beautiful interiors, and creative DIYs. Today I’m wrapping up this IBC look back with some of the best 2016 moments in Entertaining.

However, I should mention that there’s more to Inspired by Charm than recipes, interiors, DIY projects, and entertaining. As a big fan of music, I created over 18 playlists as part of my Tuesday Tunes series. I also gave you a closer look at my own life in What’s the Tea with IBC. I even shared some of my travel adventures, such as my trip to the Kentucky Derby and visit to Napa Valley. Finally, don’t forget about the four seasonal recipe cards I created that you can download for FREE and print to use or share.

As we begin 2017 tomorrow, I’m so excited to welcome another year and a fresh start. I hope you are, too. I also hope that you’ll continue to stop by Inspired by Charm, be it daily, weekly, or whenever you get the chance. The best way to follow along (and to make sure you don’t miss a thing) is to sign up for the IBC Mailing List. I typically send 2 or 3 emails per week with links to new content on the blog. You can also find me on social media using the icons at the top of this page.

Now, with all of that out of the way, let’s move on to a few of my favorite entertaining moments from this past year.

We kicked off the season of entertaining on the blog with a big Cinco de Mayo party. I shared ideas for decorating for the occasion and included two cocktail recipes (Vanilla Pineapple Margarita, Jalapeño Paloma) along with a recipe for Tequila Lime Chicken Kabobs and Mini Margarita Cheesecakes. Plus, I created a DIY Piñata Box as a special favor for guests. It was quite the celebration!

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

Before heading off to the Kentucky Derby, I whipped up DIY Horse Drink stirrers. They are so simple to make and still one of my favorite projects.

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

In the summer, I let my creativity run wild with my Come As You Are-ty. To go along with the caticorn theme, I baked cupcakes and presented them in colorful cat-topped mason jars. I also provided a free printable to remind you to believe in yourself (as any caticorn would do.)

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

We also partied outside and dined al fresco with a stylish tablescape and Sangria Verde!

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

As summer turned to fall, football season kicked off on IBC with a pizza themed tailgate that included custom pizza servers, football helmet drink stirrers, gridiron graphic napkins, and free printable garland.

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

I also hosted a Halloween party. With bat-embellished glassware, creepy crawlers, and more custom drink stirrers, it was spooky chic at its finest. The haunted gathering concluded with a chocolate skull cake that was to die for. Literally.

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

For Thanksgiving, I got crafty and created fall leaf table decor out of cork. These multi-functional pieces can be used as a table runner, trivet, place mat, or simply a touch of fall color.

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

To wrap up the year and welcome the holidays, I invited you into my kitchen for a festive (and pink) yule log treat.

Best of 2016: Entertaining | Inspired by Charm

And that’s it, my friends. We crafted, we ate, we decorated, and we entertained. With over 160 posts to inspire (and hundreds more from previous years), I hope that IBC sprinkled your life with happiness and inspiration in 2016.

While blogging has become a full-time career for me and creating and sharing sponsored content is how I’m able to make this all possible, this little corner of the internet would be nothing without all of you. The reason IBC exists is because of your positive response to my passion for creating, sharing, and (hopefully) inspiring. And while I can’t promise you’ll love everything (nor should you), I do hope to see you back here in 2017 and beyond!

As always, if you have constructive ideas to make IBC better, please reach out to me at inspiredbycharm@yahoo.com. I’m not the best (or quickest) about responding, but know that your feedback is valuable and important. While this blog is mine, it’s for you.

Lots of love and here’s to the happiest of new years!

This week I’ve been recapping favorite posts of 2016 here on Inspired by Charm. We’ve looked back at tasty recipes, beautiful interiors, and creative DIYs. Today I’m wrapping up this IBC look back with some of the best 2016 moments in Entertaining. However, I should mention that there’s more to Inspired by Charm than recipes, […]




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Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

This week I’m recapping the best IBC posts of 2016. Over the past couple days I’ve shared my (and your) favorite recipes as well as some beautiful interior inspiration from the past year. Today I’m back with the best DIY projects of 2016.

Here on IBC, the term DIY covers home-related projects as well as crafty endeavors. Although I didn’t tackle any major home projects in 2016, I did post lots of beautiful, creative, and functional ideas to enhance the look of your space. Let’s dive in.

I kicked off the year with one of my favorite projects: these Brushstroke Painted Plates. What I love about them is that you can choose colors to go with your home decor or any special celebration.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

Later I got quirky with my Beach Bum Terrarium. These miniature train figures make this tabletop garden something especial.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

This was also the year of the serving tray as I created two DIY varieties. Trays add both function and style to a space, so I couldn’t resist. For the first tray, I quickly embellished it with a fun, coffee-themed stencil.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

The second tray was born from just a piece of wood and paint. Its bold color and unique design make it extra special.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

I also helped you get organized with these DIY Felt Cable Organizers. I still use mine any time I travel. Not only do cables stay neat and tidy, but finding the right one is no longer frustrating.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

If you’re a traveler like me, you might also like this no-sew passport cover. You’ll never guess what it’s made from.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

I already have visions of spring flowers in my head, and it’s still the dead of winter. This Vertical Herb Garden (made from an office organizer) was an IBC favorite.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

Looking to relax more in 2017? Try whipping up a collection of these homemade bath bombs. I couldn’t believe how many visits this post got over the holidays. They obviously make a great gift, too!

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

As autumn approached, I was excited to share creative seasonal projects. This tag banner from my Fall Home Tour is super simple to make and can be used for any season or celebration.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

And I had fun stamping on fabric. I made these adorable snack and tote bags, plus custom stamped napkins for fall. Lots of IBC readers made their own versions.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

Speaking of fall, these Halloween Paint Can Decor ideas were an instant hit! I think “I’m here for the boos” was the most popular! It’s clever and functional.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

For the holidays I wrapped up my DIY projects with this wood bead garland. What I love about it is that by simply changing the color of a few beads, you can make this unique decorative piece work all year long.

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

I also had fun using a new product, Shapecrete, to make these modern ornaments out of concrete!

Best of 2016: DIY | Inspired by Charm

That’s a wrap on 2016 DIY! I hope you enjoyed all of these crafty ideas I shared here on IBC throughout this year. Did you try any of these projects yourself? Which was your favorite? Also, what are some projects you’d like to see me tackle in the coming year?

This week I’m recapping the best IBC posts of 2016. Over the past couple days I’ve shared my (and your) favorite recipes as well as some beautiful interior inspiration from the past year. Today I’m back with the best DIY projects of 2016. Here on IBC, the term DIY covers home-related projects as well as […]




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Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

During the week between Christmas and the new year, I like to take things easy. In fact, there have been times when I’ve taken several weeks off at year’s end. Managing this blog and business on my own can be exhausting. After the craziness of the holidays, I sometimes want to throw a blanket over my computer and not look at it until all the ornaments are packed up and put away.

However this year, I thought I’d carry on by looking back at some of my (and your) favorite IBC posts from 2016. Yesterday we focused on the best recipes of 2016, so today we’re moving on to interiors. These are definitely standout moments from this past year, and I’m excited to revisit them with you.

To start off 2016, I showed you how I fixed up my fireplaces with the help of paint. They were looking a bit dated. To avoid a major remodel, I simply used paint to clean things up.

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

Instead of doing a major Spring Home Tour, I just shared my home space by space. Even though I only got to my living room and office, you still got a look at my home for the new season.

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

I also finally made progress in my guest bedroom with new bedding, lamps, and artwork.

guest-bedroom-design-712x1024

One question I’m often asked is how to decorate a blank wall. That’s why I started a mini series called “Ideas for Decorating Your Walls.” In these three posts (here, here, and here), I shared more than 15 ideas for tackling wall decor.

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

In the early spring, I was so honored and excited to visit the 2016 HGTV Dream Home in Florida. Talk about major interior inspiration!

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

Following that visit, I returned home to the summer season and put together this rustic charm tablescape for my friends at HomeGoods.

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

Shortly thereafter, I gave you a look at my entire home along with lots of seasonal decor ideas in my Summer Home Tour. (With the holidays over and snow currently failing outside, I’m kind of missing summer.)

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

Everyone’s design style is different. One of my design tips is to always include something unique or odd in your space. These are some ways to keep it quirky.

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

As summer turned into fall, I got my outdoor deck ready for the season with these fall deck-orating ideas.

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

The home tour fun continued with two Fall Home Tours! The first fall tour had an entertaining focus and the second was a more traditional look around.

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

With lots of recipes and DIY projects in between, I blinked, and it was the holiday season. Naturally, that meant another Holiday Home Tour (which has become one of my favorites) along with a visit to my kitchen to see it decked out for Christmas

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Interiors | Inspired by Charm

And with that, 2016 is a wrap.

I’m excited to tackle more interior upgrades in 2017. I already have several ideas brewing. What interior projects would you like to see on IBC in the new year?

During the week between Christmas and the new year, I like to take things easy. In fact, there have been times when I’ve taken several weeks off at year’s end. Managing this blog and business on my own can be exhausting. After the craziness of the holidays, I sometimes want to throw a blanket over […]




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Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Merry Everything! I hope you had (and are still having) a joyous holiday season. I feel very blessed to have been able to spend a lot of time with my family over the past week.

With the end of another year upon us, I think it’s a good time to reflect. Over the past couple weeks I’ve noticed many folks on social media looking forward to a fresh start in 2017. It seems that 2016 wasn’t a great year for many. Given my own trials and tribulations, I tend to agree. 2016 was a tough year in some respects. However, in an attempt to focus on the positives, I thought I’d use the next several days to reflect on the delights of the past year. Here on Inspired by Charm, I created over 165 posts filled with delicious recipes, beautiful interior inspiration, creative DIY projects, effortless entertaining ideas, and more. Sometimes you don’t realize how much ground you’ve covered until take a moment to look in the rearview mirror.

Whether you are new to Inspired by Charm, have missed some of this year’s posts, or just want to take a trip down memory lane, this series will focus on the Best of 2016. This look back is based on your comments, social media shares, and my own personal favorites, so I hope you enjoy it. Let’s start things off with IBC’s Best Recipes of 2016.

I kicked off the year with Breakfast Week. One of my favorites in this series was Mixed Berry Stuffed French Toast. Paired with my recipe for Brown Sugar Bacon (plus my tips for cooking it without the mess of splattered grease), it’s a hands down winner. For a quick breakfast, try my Overnight Oats!

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Anything that you can mix with sprinkles is another winner in my book. That’s why this Funfetti Coffee Cake will probably always be a favorite of mine. It’s not only fun, but also totally delicious.

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Filled with thoughts of spring, I taught you how to make this Trio of Herbed Butter. It’s great mixed with mashed potatoes or pasta. It’s equally delicious served with homemade bread.

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

For St. Patrick’s Day, I had a blast creating this Leprechaun’s Kiss Martini complete with a rainbow sugar rim. Serve it with Lucky Charms Cupcakes for a magically delicious combination.

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Two pasta salad recipes stole the show on Pinterest. My easy and inexpensive Ramen Noodle Salad is a fan favorite, and this BLT Macaroni Salad is a tasty twist on a classic.

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

For seasonal cocktails, I experimented by infusing liquor with fruit to create these Fruit Infused Cocktails. I also taught you how to make Apple Pie Moonshine at home.

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

And just before the summer ended, I created this colorful and flavor-packed Avocado Panzanlla Salad that still makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Fall Cookie Week returned for its fifth year! With six new cookie recipes, you’re bound to find a couple you’ll love.

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

For more fall treats, these Pumpkin Cheerio Treat Bars were an easy no-bake dessert.

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Also, this Caramel Apple Cream Cheese dessert went crazy on Pinterest. It was one of the most pinned IBC recipes for 2016!

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

The cocktail excitement continued during the holiday season with three popular recipes: Salted Caramel White Russians, Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail, and my holiday extra special holiday creation, the Ornamentini! These were my three go-to holiday drinks. It sounds like they were favorites for many of you, too!

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Finally, the year wouldn’t be complete without a holiday dessert. My Gingerbread Village cakes and Pink Velvet Yule Log were not only a treat for the tummy, but for the eyes, too. I love when a dessert gets the response, “That’s almost too pretty to eat.”

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

Best of 2016: Recipe | Inspired by Charm

And that concludes our little walk down IBC recipe memory lane. Were any of these your favorite IBC recipe from 2016? Did you have a “best IBC recipe nominee” that I overlooked? Let us know in the comments below.

Happy 2017!

Merry Everything! I hope you had (and are still having) a joyous holiday season. I feel very blessed to have been able to spend a lot of time with my family over the past week. With the end of another year upon us, I think it’s a good time to reflect. Over the past couple […]




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Five Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter | Inspired by Charm
This post is sponsored by Honeywell. As always all opinions are my own.

With several months of winter still ahead of us, knowing how to stay warm is a must. Living in the Northeast, I’ve been through my fair share of chilly winters. In fact, we’ve already seen temperatures below zero this year. Because winter is unavoidable, I thought I’d share five tips to keep your home cozy throughout this chilly season.

For this post I’m teaming up with my friends at Honeywell who sent me their new Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat to test out and keep my home temperatures just right this winter. (Apparently, they are tired of me complaining about the snow.)

Five Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter | Inspired by Charm

The Lyric T5 is so much more than a thermostat. It’s the ability to have a comfortable, connected home no matter the season, schedule, or location. So cool, right?

Now, let me walk you through those tips for staying warm this winter.

1. Add Seasonal Blankets
During this time of year I can’t get enough blankets. Even if you’re not using all of them, there’s something comforting about having them nearby. In the winter, I recommend faux fur, cable knit, tweed, or quilted for the ultimate in coziness. Drape one over the back of your sofa, add another to a chair, or tuck a few more in a basket in the corner.

Five Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter | Inspired by Charm

Speaking of textiles, adding area rugs (small or large) to places like the bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom will likewise keep your feet a bit toastier on cold days.

2. Set the Temperature
Having a thermostat that works with and for you, especially during the winter months, is key. Thanks to my friends at Honeywell, I recently updated to their Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat. I’m loving it. Not only can I create a schedule to regulate my heating (and cooling) needs, but I can adjust the temperature with the touch of my finger using the Lyric APP.

Five Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter | Inspired by Charm

I can even use a voice-controlled device like the Echo, to change the temperate without lifting a finger. Turning up the heat without having to leave the comfort of your couch might be the best thing ever. Now I just need a device that will refill my wine glass.

If you’re looking to upgrade your thermostat, you can read more about the Lyric T5 and all its great features here.

3. Light a Fire / Candle
There’s something about the glow of a flame that makes things seem warmer and, depending on the size of that flame, it might actually be warmer, too. If you have one, light your fireplace for the ultimate glow and warmth. If you don’t have the luxury of a fireplace, candles can give the illusion of one.

Five Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter | Inspired by Charm

Although I have a fireplace, mine’s not functioning. To compensate, I drilled holes in logs and filled them with tea lights. While I don’t get much heat (obviously), I do get the comfort of a flickering flame.

4. Keep the Twinkle Lights
Right now, thanks to the holiday season, our homes are decked out with lots of things to make us feel comfy-cozy. However, come January, when all the sparkle comes down, things are likely to feel a little less inviting. While it’s nice to be rid of some of the “clutter,” it’s hard not to miss the warmth and magic of twinkle lights. If you feel the same, you have my permission to leave a strand or two up.

Five Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter | Inspired by Charm

I don’t take the larger bulbs hanging across my mantel down until March. The glow they give my living room during January and February is just enough to keep the space feeling cozy without making it look like I forgot to put away some of my holiday decor.

5. From the Inside Out
I could not put together a list about being cozy at home without including food. Now, I know that January is the time to shed those holiday pounds, but you can still do that while warming up from the inside out. Things like my White Chicken Chili or One Pan Chicken Apple Sausage Pasta are great options.

Five Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter | Inspired by Charm

You could even celebrate on the weekend with an Apple Cinnamon Hot Toddy. Comfort foods can keep you feeling cozy in your home during the winter months. While you may not love the winter (I don’t blame you.), I hope these simple ideas will help you to enjoy it a bit more and stay warm while doing so.

Five Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter | Inspired by Charm

Now grab a blanket, turn up the heat, and enjoy a bowl of chili. That’s what I’m going to do.

This post is sponsored by Honeywell. As always all opinions are my own. With several months of winter still ahead of us, knowing how to stay warm is a must. Living in the Northeast, I’ve been through my fair share of chilly winters. In fact, we’ve already seen temperatures below zero this year. Because winter is […]




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Tuesday Tunes / 19 - Contemporary Christmas | Inspired by Charm

Well friends, Christmas is almost upon us. After a busy 12 Days of Christmas series, much gift wrapping, lots of cookie baking, and many holiday gatherings with family and friends, things are likely to be quiet around IBC for the next couple weeks (as they usually are this time of year.) However, I can’t completely step away, so I’ll be popping in now and then. As promised I have another collection of Christmas tunes to share with you. Today’s playlist: Contemporary Christmas.

Tuesday Tunes / 19 - Contemporary Christmas | Inspired by Charm

You know how I much I love new things or a twist on a classic, so putting together a playlist with a mix of modern Christmas music and fresh takes on old favorites was a must. I found myself going to this playlist when I needed a little pep in my step but still wanted a bit of holiday jingle. It includes many contemporary favorites: Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree,” Britney’s “My Only Wish,” and Ariana Grande’s “Last Christmas.”

And yes, there are a few reflective and slower tunes, such as “Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix and “River” by Sarah McLachlan.

I think it’s a fun playlist. If you’re tired of your own holiday mix, give this a listen for some variety.

 

You can use the playlist above to spread a little holiday cheer or play the tunes directly on Spotify by clicking here. (Hey, that rhymed!)

 

For more of my holiday (and everyday) playlists, check out the Tuesday Tunes Library below or subscribe to my Spotify profile here.

Enjoy this new playlist!

 

TUESDAY TUNES LIBRARY

Well friends, Christmas is almost upon us. After a busy 12 Days of Christmas series, much gift wrapping, lots of cookie baking, and many holiday gatherings with family and friends, things are likely to be quiet around IBC for the next couple weeks (as they usually are this time of year.) However, I can’t completely […]




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Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Well friends, we did it! Another 12 Days of Christmas is complete! But not without a little yuletide treat from me to you.

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

For this final day of the series, I wanted to go back to something I said at the very beginning. Beyond the opportunity of creating lots of festive content to share, I love this series because it gives me a way to say, “Thank you!” It’s because of you that I have this blog and a chance to do work that brings me so much joy.

Even though I can’t gift all 1 million of you (Yes, 1 million! IBC just hit a record for ONE MILLION page views in a 30-day period!) with a VISA gift card or fancy bar cart, I wanted to find a way to give something special to each and every one of you.

One of the new things I did this year was share seasonal recipe cards. Today, I’m debuting the fourth and final card for 2016.

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Isn’t she a beauty? (I think it might be my favorite!)

As a little present to ALL OF YOU, you can access the free printable HERE. And there’s a bonus: links to the other three recipe card printables from 2016 as well.

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Whether you decide to print out some to jot down new recipes over the holidays or make multiple copies of the entire collection to give to someone, I hope you enjoy the cards. Download them HERE.

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

I know it’s not much, but it’s small touch of IBC from me to you.

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

(I also wanted to give a shout out to Mike over at Dash Creative. Using my vision and creative direction, he’s the one who brought these cards to life! Thanks for your top quality work, Mike.)

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

And because I’m a “go-big-or-go-home-kinda guy,” while we were at it, I put in an order for some matching gift tags.

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

I fell in love with the festive filigree on the recipe cards and wanted another way to use it this holiday season. And even though I already shared some printable gift tags, I figured a few more couldn’t hurt. ‘Tis the season for giving, right? (You can download the gift tags HERE.)

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Given the variety of colors in the design, I think they’ll look great on almost any gift. You can download them HERE.

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

 Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

I hope that you like and can use all of these printable goodies. Merry Christmas!

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Now, to finish off this 12 Days of Christmas series, we have one final giveaway. Let’s get to it.

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

Since the Amazon giveaway got so much response (It had the most entries by far.), I thought we’d do another one of those. But in a bigger way.

So, in today’s giveaway, one lucky IBC reader will win a $500 gift card to Amazon! (How’s that for going out with a bang!)

Winter Recipe Card and Gift Tag Printable | Inspired by Charm

To enter to win, use the entry form below. (Those viewing this on a blog reader may need to visit the actual post by clicking here.)

 


 

This giveaway is open to readers worldwide. You must be 18 or older to win. Void where prohibited. This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm ET on Friday, December 23. The winner will be randomly selected, contacted by email, and announced at the top of this post.

Good luck on this final opportunity to win!

As always, if you missed anything in the 12 Days of Christmas 2016 series, you can find the posts linked up below.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays and all the best in 2017!

 

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2016

Well friends, we did it! Another 12 Days of Christmas is complete! But not without a little yuletide treat from me to you. For this final day of the series, I wanted to go back to something I said at the very beginning. Beyond the opportunity of creating lots of festive content to share, I […]




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