The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line.

Today we’re heading back into the kitchen, and believe it or not, this time we aren’t baking. Instead, I’ll be teaching you how to make Kung Pao Chicken.

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of sailing with Carnival Cruise Line on Carnival Vista, their newest ship. One of the many wonderful aspects of cruising is the amazing number of dining options on board for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. On a weeklong cruise, you could eat something different at every meal.

Michael Wurm Jr - Carnival Cruise Line | Inspired by Charm

Carnival Cruise Line - Vista | Inspired by Charm

For dinner, you have the choice of enjoying the buffet, heading to the dining room (which most folks seem to do), or eating at one of the ship’s specialty restaurants. As delicious as the food is in the formal dining room, for me, the specialty restaurants are where it’s at. On the Carnival Vista, you’ll find Cucina del Capitano (Italian), Fahrenheit 555 (Steakhouse), and JiJi Asian Kitchen (Asian). There is an additional fee for dinner at each of these ($15-$35 per person), but it’s so worth it. On our recent cruise, my mom and I ate at each of the restaurants. We actually hit JiJi Asian Kitchen a second time for the Kung Pao Chicken. It was crazy delicious.

Now, two months after our cruise, I’m again craving that incredible Kung Pao Chicken. So what’s a boy to do? I decided to recreate the recipe at home. Although it doesn’t quite live up to the version at JiJi Asian Kitchen, it’s pretty close, and it definitely satisfied my craving.

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

To make this Kung Pao Chicken recipe, I did research online and found a variety or recipes that had similar flavor profiles. With a bit of testing and combining of recipes, I’ve come up with a dish I’m proud to share with you.

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

Typically, Kung Pao Chicken is fairly spicy thanks to the dried chili peppers included in most recipes. Since I prefer a little less heat in my food, I opted to leave the dried chilis out. Instead, I put in crushed red pepper flakes. To get the level of spiciness you like, you can just add more pepper flakes.

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

No matter what your heat preference is, I think you’re going to love this recipe. And while I can’t take you all on a Carnival Cruise (I wish.), I can at least share a taste of the cuisine!

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves 4

Here's what you will need:

1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (Use more for added heat.)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 medium green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
5 green onions, chopped
Cooked white rice for serving

Marinade:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vingar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

In a medium-sized bowl, prepare the marinade by whisking together soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

In another bowl, prepare the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch. Set aside.

In a wok (or large skillet) over medium heat, add the peanut oil. Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes. Add the red and green bell peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the peppers are slightly softened. Stir in the minced garlic and ginger. Cook for an additional minute. Add the chicken with a slotted spoon (no need to include extra marinade). Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes or until it's thoroughly cooked.

Add the sauce to the chicken and mix it to coat the chicken. Stir in the peanuts and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and toss in half of the chopped green onions. Transfer to a serving plate; sprinkle the top with the remaining green onions. Serve with white rice.

Print

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

Talk about a dish that’s loaded with flavors. – This is it!

While baking and making appetizers have been my forte, I can certainly see myself getting more into actual cooking. Just as long as everything tastes as good as this.

The Best Homemade Kung Pao Chicken recipe | Inspired by Charm

If you give this recipe a try, be sure to swing back and let me know what you think.

For more information about Carnival Cruise Line and their many dining options, head on over to their website. Also, be sure to visit Away We Go for more cruising-related content and advice from me and other bloggers.

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

This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line. Today we’re heading back into the kitchen, and believe it or not, this time we aren’t baking. Instead, I’ll be teaching you how to make Kung Pao Chicken. Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of sailing with Carnival Cruise Line on Carnival Vista, their newest ship. […]




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The State of My Design | Inspired by Charm

To follow up on my most recent “What’s the Tea” post, today I wanted to write a bit more about where my head has been lately in relation to design and home decor. I’m not sure how useful this post will be in terms of helping you design your own space. I’m writing this (draining my brain) in an effort to gain some clarity, feedback, and ultimately, confidence.

My love affair with home decorating and design began years ago. Sometime in my tweens, I sketched exactly what my future home would look like: white farmhouse style with green shutters and a big wraparound porch. I used to be a paperboy, and thoughts of this future house would occupy my mind as I delivered newspapers. Without fail, I noticed the details of existing houses in the neighborhood and new homes being built.

Later in my tweens, I took it upon myself to repaint my bedroom. This was when sponge painting was the thing (Remember that?) I went for dark green over white. It was hideous, but I was obsessed with it, and back then no one could convince me that it wasn’t beautiful. A few years later, the sponge painting had to go. My room got a fresh coat of a light green color. (Apparently, I was super into green) I ordered my own curtains online, made curtain rods from old staircase spindles, and turned a window I picked up on the side of the road into a mirror. Also, one summer I designed and planted the landscaping around my mom’s new deck. Needless to say, my love for designing and creating goes way back.

The State of My Design | Inspired by Charm

So where does this leave me today? Well, to be honest, (and you might already know this because sometimes I get way too personal), I’ve always struggled with self-confidence in most aspects of my life. Although this blog is my full-time career and I am pleased with much of my work, there are times I feel like I’m not very good at it, and that one of these days the jig will be up. (And yes, the numbers tell me that my fears are not well founded, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking it.)

I also realize that home design is highly subjective. No matter what I do or how I decorate, some people will love it, and others will hate it. That’s why one of my commandments for home decorating is: If you love it and it brings you joy, then go for it. At the end of the day, it truly doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

The State of My Design | Inspired by Charm

However, after saying all that, I think my current struggle with decorating is that I feel my design choices do matter. Because this is my business, I recognize that people liking what I do is essential for me to survive (i.e., buy food, pay bills).

Social media also contributes to my concern. (I am aware that my own neuroses/self-confidence issues are really the culprit with this.) These days, there’s definitely a desire and need to “be perfect,” get it right EVERY time, and please everyone who comes in contact with my work via social media.

And the pressure is amplified in the blogging community. By and large, IBC is a one-man operation. There are bloggers who have teams (assistants, photographers, stylists, people who handle social media, managers, writers, etc.). Competing on that level is essentially impossible. (Though I certainly try my best.) These days, some blogs are design firms or corporations, and I’m just little ole me hanging on as the pressure to keep up rises. (High fives to all of the bloggers out there who are doing things on their own. You have my utmost respect.)

Does all of this make any sense? I probably could go on for days, but I suspect you get the picture. I also should say that I’m crazy in love with my job. I’m not asking for sympathy, praise, or admiration. I’m just attempting to explain.

The State of My Design | Inspired by Charm

Beyond all of that, my other design hurdle is the fact that I like so many styles. I read and follow a variety of blogs and designers, and there’s so much great work out there. Pinpointing one style to follow just isn’t going to happen for me. Farmhouse, mid-century modern, preppy, rustic, colorful, white walls, graphic rugs, neutral rugs … I want it all. And there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it does make designing a bit overwhelming for me.

In my home, I’ve attempted to blend styles. I think my dining room is the best example. I have a farmhouse table, modern and traditional chairs, a green primitive cabinet, and modern artwork. It’s surely a mismatch, but somehow it works. Right?

The State of My Design | Inspired by Charm

Again, as I’ve mentioned way too much lately, the past couple years have been challenging personally, so I think that has amplified my feeling of “not good enough,” which in turn, has impacted my design creativity and willingness to share. That’s why IBC has been brimming with recipes. It’s harder to criticize a beautiful and delicious cupcake. Right?

So now what? Where do I go from here? My current home needs a refresh, I’m about to move into a new space, and I want to do what I love so much.

Clearly, not designing and complaining about not designing isn’t getting me anywhere so I’m going to try acting “as if.” This concept was presented to me a few weeks ago when I spoke to my therapist about my brother’s confidence and ability to not worry about what other people think. She told me to try acting “as if.” Pretend you are confident. Pretend you don’t care what other people think.

It might seem or feel silly at first, but I really love this notion. Want to be happy? Start by acting as if you’re happy. Want to get motivated? Start by acting as if you’re motivated.

Act as if you are the person you want to be.

This may sound a bit far-fetched or wacky to some, but it’s very appealing to me. The idea is that after acting this way for so long, it starts to become your reality. Pretty soon you’re not acting as if anymore. You’re just happier, more confident. You’re a person who likes to go to the gym. You’re a person who doesn’t need a cupcake to feel happier.

Get it? It’s worth a shot, right?

There are so many aspects in my life where I could apply this principle. And since I’m moving to a new city soon, there are so many reasons that now is the time to do it.

The State of My Design | Inspired by Charm

So, I hope all of my rambling makes a little sense, provides some clarity, and maybe even inspires some of you. As always, I will report back on my progress. In case I forget, be sure to remind me.

Also, I had intentions of sharing some of my current favorite designers and sources of home decor inspiration in this post, but this got much longer than I expected so I’m going to cut if off here and save that information for another day.

Until next time, friends…

To follow up on my most recent “What’s the Tea” post, today I wanted to write a bit more about where my head has been lately in relation to design and home decor. I’m not sure how useful this post will be in terms of helping you design your own space. I’m writing this (draining […]




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Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

Last year I had so much fun creating and sharing a new recipe card printable with you each season that I’ve decided to do it again this year. Today I’m excited to bring to you the first recipe card of 2017. Check out the new (and totally free) Spring Recipe Card Printable!

Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

What do you think?

As you can see, I opted for a new design and layout for 2017. Like last year, each season’s recipe card will have a similar layout and style, but the designs, graphics, and colors will be different. For spring, I went with a floral pattern. (Groundbreaking, I know.)

Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

The cards are double sided so there’s plenty of room for the ingredients and directions for making your springtime favorites. As you can see, the watercolor floral design on the front is repeated on the back, however, there’s a subtle variation in the foliage.

Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

While these cards are wonderful to print off and use in your own kitchen, I hope you’ll also give a stack to a friend. I promise they will add a special touch to fresh flowers, baked goods, or any simple gift.

Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

You can also print and use the cards when entertaining. As I’ve mentioned here on IBC, when I entertain I like to have recipes on hand for guests to take (or snap a pic of with their phones) in case they want to recreate a dish at home. This makes sharing recipes super convenient. (And it eliminates scrambling two weeks later when I realize I forgot to email a friend the recipe I promised to send.)

Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

I hope you enjoy this new design. You can download the recipe card printable here.

When you click there, you’ll also find links to last year’s cards in case you missed any of them or need to print more.

Also, those Carrot Cake Truffles can be found here.

Free Spring Recipe Card Printable Download | Inspired by Charm

And before I go: Props to Mike of Dash Creative who helped me execute my vision and created the handy download file for all of you. Thanks, Mike!

Last year I had so much fun creating and sharing a new recipe card printable with you each season that I’ve decided to do it again this year. Today I’m excited to bring to you the first recipe card of 2017. Check out the new (and totally free) Spring Recipe Card Printable! What do you […]




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Moving to Pittsburgh | Inspired by Charm

Kind of. Let me explain.

Yes, this spring I will be moving to Pittsburgh. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that the past couple years haven’t been the best for me personally. I’ve been trying to think of ways to improve myself, my life, and my overall happiness. Earlier this year I mentioned the idea of moving to all of you and received lots of heartfelt, insightful comments in response. Some of you said, “get out of town,” while others urged me to stay put. Given the pros and cons of each choice, I decided to meet somewhere in the middle.

After much consideration, I decided to rent an apartment in Pittsburgh, which is just under three hours by car from my current house. I knew that I needed to make a change, and although Pittsburgh hadn’t been on my radar, the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

Moving to Pittsburgh | Inspired by Charm

You may have some questions, so I’ll tell you what I can.

What about your house?
I am not selling my current home. My plan is to spend about 75% of my time in Pittsburgh and the other 25% in Saint Marys. Even though renting an another place is an added expense, it makes the most sense at this time. It will give me the opportunity to spread my wings and try something new without making a drastic move. After a year, if it’s not working, I won’t renew my lease, and my year it Pittsburgh will just be another chapter in my life story. If it’s working, I can decide the best way to proceed from there.

With that being said, based on my life plans, the sale of my current house is inevitable within the next couple years. So, throughout the coming year, I’m going to diligently work to clear the clutter, finish projects, and get the house “ready for sale.”. That way, when the time does come, the place will be ready.

I have set up a security system in my house in Saint Marys, and during the time I’m away, I will also have a bunch of folks who will check on it weekly. However, if anyone else is in a similar situation or has a summer home/vacation home, I do have a couple questions. What do you do about your mail when you are away for an extended time? Also, I’m going to greatly miss planting flowers. Does anyone have an automatic watering system they recommend? Thanks in advance!

What about your grandparents’ house?
I have had and still have the intention of buying my grandparents’ house some day. That option still remains, but it’s not a decision I need to make now. When the time comes, I will assess my current situation and make a decision then.

Where will your cats live?
I haven’t traveled with my cats since I moved them from Philadelphia in 2008. So, I’m honestly not sure how it will go. Though, I’m certain they will adjust. (Any tips for a three-hour car drive with cats would be most welcome.) However, since I will be spending most of my time in Pittsburgh, they will make the move with me. I do plan to come home every couple of weeks for a day or two, but I won’t bring the cats unless I’m in Saint Marys for an extended time (e.g., the holidays).

Are you as sure about your decision as you seem?
There are moments when I’m thrilled and moments when I want to throw up. ( I think that’s normal.) I’m so excited about the blank pages that are before me. I can’t wait to try new things, meet new people, decorate a new space, walk to a coffee shop, take an art class, find my tribe, etc.

However, a part of me is petrified that I won’t make new friends and that I’m destined to repeat old habits. What if I make this move and nothing changes? What if it’s the same old story, just in a new zip code? To be honest, it’s totally possible. Because I’ve been somewhat isolated for the past year, it’s going to be a push for me to put myself out there. And while I’m committed to finding happiness and building a better personal life, I also know myself all too well.

In an effort to avoid the same old story, before the move, I’m committing myself to establishing some goals and pushing myself out of my comfort zone to ensure that I don’t look back at this opportunity with regret.

Moving to Pittsburgh | Inspired by Charm

Can you tell us more about your place?
You bet I can!

In March, I visited Pittsburgh and looked at several properties. I ended up with one I’m crazy about. It’s a two-bedroom apartment in a new complex. (I’ll actually be the first person to live in this apartment.) While I didn’t “need” a two-bedroom, it’s something that I really wanted in order to have a separate space for work. Since I work from home, It was important to me to be able to close the door at the end of my work day.

Moving to Pittsburgh | Inspired by Charm

Because I love natural light, the thing that sold me on this particular unit are the huge (almost floor-to-ceiling) windows in the open concept living room/kitchen. There’s also a small balcony off the kitchen. And a rolling island will be provided with the unit.

Moving to Pittsburgh | Inspired by Charm

The second bedroom (which will be my office) has a similar large window, which will be great for photography. The room that will function as my bedroom has a sizable window, though not quite as grand.

Moving to Pittsburgh | Inspired by Charm

Moving to Pittsburgh | Inspired by Charm

As you can see, this space has a more modern/industrial feel to it which is quite different from my current home. While I won’t go with an overly modern or industrial aesthetic in terms of decor, I am looking forward to experimenting with new and different ideas. Also, I am allowed to paint and change out light fixtures, so that has me excited as well.

Will you be moving all of your stuff?
No. I don’t plan on moving much. I’m looking to start fresh in this space. I will obviously decorate, but I’m hoping to keep the “stuff” to a minimum. (We’ll see how that goes because I love my “stuff.”) I think there’s joy in the “less is more” attitude so I want to give that a try. Plus, I want to avoid the hassle of moving a lot of stuff if at all possible.

I am very fortunate that my job allows me to share this journey with you. I’m not in a rush to have everything in place and furnished within a weekend. I’m looking forward to taking my time and sharing things with you along the way.

I do realize that having two places will be a challenge because I am going to need duplicates of everything (iron, coffee pot, dishes, etc.) I may end up bringing down extra things that I have here, thrifting some items, etc. I’ve also been saving up gift cards, reward dollars, etc. to help with some of the expense.

Will the move have an effect on IBC?
Yes and no. As I’ve been hinting, you can expect more home decor and decorating ideas will be on their way as I move into this new space. Since I will be living in a new city and be experiencing new things, I assume my content will evolve as it has with other changes in my life. My hope is that it’s for the best. I am totally committed to this little space on the internet and my career as a Lifestyle Blogger so it’s my hope that I will be here for years to come.

Moving to Pittsburgh | Inspired by Charm

I think that about covers everything for now. Obviously, I will be talking about this quite a bit in the future (hopefully not to the point of annoyance). If I missed something here, I’ll probably cover it at a later point. You’re also welcome to leave comments below. I can follow up with another post to answer more questions if needed.

I should be mostly settled (with the cats) in my new place toward the end of May. My lease starts sooner, but I have a work trip to NYC in May (details on that soon) and some other things happening, so it’s going to be a busy month. Before the official move in, I will need a mattress, a few supplies, and cozy spots for the kitties.

Again, I want to thank you for your comments, emails, messages, and support. I know I haven’t responded to them all, and I feel terrible about that. However, they mean so much to me, and each and every one helped me to come to this exciting decision.

I can’t wait to take you all on this new adventure. Look out Pittsburgh, here comes IBC!

Pittsburgh Image Source (Image 1 / Image 2)

Kind of. Let me explain. Yes, this spring I will be moving to Pittsburgh. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that the past couple years haven’t been the best for me personally. I’ve been trying to think of ways to improve myself, my life, and my overall happiness. Earlier this year […]




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What's the Tea with IBC | Inspired by Charm

You’ve probably noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here this week. During the first four weeks of March, I created more than 21 posts which averages to about 5 posts per week. For one person, that’s a lot of content. I was so busy creating and writing that I forgot to look up and totally ran into a brick wall this week. I didn’t want you to think I dropped off the face of the earth, so I thought I’d pop back in with a little update post jut to chat about life and share a few housekeeping things. Sound good?

What's the Tea with IBC | Inspired by Charm

First, speaking of post writing, I had this idea to start a series here on IBC called ‘Behind the Blog’. Basically it would be a look at how blogging works, what I do on a daily basis, how blogging has changed over the years, etc. It’s not so much a tutorial on how to become a blogger (or be a better blogger), but more about how things work, why bloggers do what they do, how you can support your favorite bloggers, etc. Is this something you’d have an interest in reading?

Second, next week I’m launching a new/updated newsletter. In my continued effort to improve and try new things, the IBC newsletter will now be a weekly publication that comes out on Tuesdays. The newsletter will serve as a recap for all the content from the past week and include a personal note from me as well as a few other tidbits exclusive to the weekly email list. If you’re not subscribed to the IBC Mailing List, I hope you’ll do so by clicking here. For those of you who want daily updates, you always have the option getting blog posts delivered by email on a daily basis via FeedBurner. Click here to do that. (Then click on ‘Get Inspired by Charm’ delivered by email in the ‘Subscribe Now!’ box at the top of the page.) I’m really excited about this newsletter update. I think it will be a fun and new way to connect without clogging up your inboxes. Be sure to subscribe.

Third, even though I did hit a bit of a blogging wall this week, I already climbed over it, so content will resume next week. As I’ve mentioned here, I am looking forward to sharing more design, DIY, and home decor content in the very near future. To be honest with you, I’ve been struggling with design and home decor lately. While it always has been (and always will) be a passion for me, I feel that my love for so many different design styles coupled with the pressure to “be perfect” has my design sense in a completely confused funk. Overall, I guess I’m just not feeling confident about what I’m creating. (I may also write about all of this, so stay tuned for more.) However, I have two big projects coming up that involve redecorating my guest bedrooms. Plus, something even bigger on the horizon, which leads me to my next point…

And finally, I have a very exciting (but equally nerve-racking) life update (It’s a follow-up to my Sun-Dried Tomatoes post.) I think it will charge me and IBC up in the best possible way. *fingers crossed* I’m so happy to finally be able to share what’s happening in the coming months. This update is coming on Monday, so stop back then for the big announcement. (UPDATE: You can find this announcement HERE.)

What's the Tea with IBC | Inspired by Charm

With all that said, consider yourself caught up. I’m also linking up a few of my favorite things from around the web this week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The new song “Happy People” from Little Big Town
Julie Blanner’s adorable and delicious “Carrot” Cheeseball
MamaKatTV puts IBC’s Leprechaun’s Kiss Martini to the test
The cutest DIY Bunny Napkins
Amanda’s (I Am Baker) Rainbow Sugar Cookies
James Cordon as Belle literally had me LOLing
Rebel Wilson slaying Poor Unfortunate Souls as Ursula

Have a fabulous weekend!
Michael

You’ve probably noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here this week. During the first four weeks of March, I created more than 21 posts which averages to about 5 posts per week. For one person, that’s a lot of content. I was so busy creating and writing that I forgot to look […]




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Spotify Playlist for Spring - Tuesday Tunes 23 - Spring Awakening | Inspired by Charm

You’ve all been anxiously awaiting some new music for spring, right? Well, you’re in luck! Today I’m back with an all new Tuesday Tunes!

If you can believe it, we are now on our 23rd playlist (with a few other personal lists sprinkled in here and there). And, it’s officially been a year since I shared my first playlist “In Like a Lion.” I hope you’re enjoying listening to some of my favorite music. I know that my mom is, so at least I have one fan out there. Just kidding, I’ve noticed that many of you are following along, and I am thrilled and humbled.

Spotify Playlist for Spring - Tuesday Tunes 23 - Spring Awakening | Inspired by Charm

This new playlist, aptly titled Spring Awakening, is comprised of light, happy tunes with a bit of a beat. The songs are perfect for that first spring afternoon on your porch, an early morning walk through the neighborhood, or background music as you start spring cleaning. Some of my favorite selections on this list are from The Lumineers. Earlier this month I went to Pittsburgh with my family to see them in concert. It was an amazing show, so including them in this playlist was a must.


 

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

Spotify Playlist for Spring - Tuesday Tunes 23 - Spring Awakening | Inspired by Charm

Be sure to subscribe to my profile for access to all of my tunes along with sneak listens of upcoming playlists. If you have a song I should hear, please share it in the comments below.

 

Wishing you a terrific Tuesday!

 

TUESDAY TUNES LIBRARY

You’ve all been anxiously awaiting some new music for spring, right? Well, you’re in luck! Today I’m back with an all new Tuesday Tunes! If you can believe it, we are now on our 23rd playlist (with a few other personal lists sprinkled in here and there). And, it’s officially been a year since I […]




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Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line.

Being a self-proclaimed candle-acholic, it’s hard to believe I’ve never attempted making my own candles. However, this past weekend I finally dipped my toe into the candle-making pool, and now I may never get out. I loved it, so today, I thought I’d teach you how to create your own DIY Beeswax Candles!

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

For this post, I’m teaming up again with the wonderful folks of Carnival Cruise Line. During my last cruise, I had an opportunity to hang out at their Cloud 9 Spa. For me, it’s essential to enjoy some pampering when on vacation, and the spa offers that and more. It’s truly a treat for your senses.

Cloud 9 Spa Carnival Cruise Line

I have a strong sense of smell, so taking in the calming and soothing scents in the Cloud 9 Spa is my first cue to relax. In an effort to recreate that same feeling of relaxation at home, I decided to get crafty and make some candles of my own using beeswax and essential oils.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

You may remember that in my “How to Decorate with Travel Souvenirs” post, I showed you a couple beautiful carved wood bowls. Those were another source of inspiration for this project as I wanted to put them to use, and I thought candles would be perfect.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

And because one style of candle just wouldn’t be enough for this project, I also picked up this shallow ceramic bowl to create one of those large-scale candles I’ve been seeing everywhere.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

Are you ready to get this candle making underway?

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

Here’s what you will need:
1/2 pound beeswax pellets
1/4 cup coconut oil
Wax dye
Essential oils (lavender and sandalwood)
Candlewick(s)
Wick sticker(s)
Vessel(s) for the candles
Large glass jar
Bamboo skewers
Tape

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

First, you’ll want to prepare your vessels for the wax. I found these great wick stickers that make it easy to attach a wick to the bottom of your vessel. In the center, l placed a wick sticker and then added the candlewick.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

To keep the wick upright when pouring in the wax, secure it with a bamboo stick and tape.

Next, you’re ready to melt the wax. Begin by filling a large heatproof glass mason jar with the beeswax pellets. Then, fill a large saucepan with enough water so that the water level is slightly above the height of the beeswax. Place the jar into the water and heat the water until it reaches a gentle boil.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

Allow the heat from the water to melt the beeswax. You can use an old wooden spoon to stir it every few minutes.

(Working with wax can be messy, so I recommend using older kitchen supplies that you don’t mind getting a little wax on.)

Once the beeswax has melted, turn off the heat. Then add coconut oil, and if desired, wax dye. A small amount of dye goes a long way so add a little at a time until you achieve the color you’re after. Finally, add 10-12 drops of essential oil. I used lavender for one candle and sandalwood for another. (Add more drops for a stronger scent.) Stir to combine the oil and wax.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

Carefully pour the wax mixture into your prepared candle container. Let the candle set for at least a day before burning.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

Prior to burning, trim your wicks to about 1/4-inch. Also, to avoid tunneling when burning your candles, it’s recommended that you let the candle burn for an hour or two the first time you light it. Essentially, you want to make sure the entire top melts on the first burn. Also, please remember to never leave a lit candle unattended.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

And that’s it, friends. Your candles are ready to give you a relaxing, spa-like experience at home.

Learn how to make your own candles with this DIY Beeswax Candle making tutorial | Inspired by Charm

With a variety of wax colors, essential oils, and vessels, you can make candles that are perfectly suited to your home and style. That way, when you’re not relaxing at Carnival’s Cloud 9 Spa as you float through the Caribbean on Carnival’s newest ship, you can at least pretend you are.

For an even bigger at-home treat, pair your scented candle with some of my DIY bath bombs. You’re welcome.

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

This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line. Being a self-proclaimed candle-acholic, it’s hard to believe I’ve never attempted making my own candles. However, this past weekend I finally dipped my toe into the candle-making pool, and now I may never get out. I loved it, so today, I thought I’d teach you how to […]




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Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

Happy Friday, friends! I know many of you are excited about the weekend. I haven’t experienced the “Yay, It’s Friday” feeling since I was a kid. As an adult. I’ve never had a Monday – Friday / 9 – 5 job. When I worked in hospitality, it was “Weekends = Busy = You’re working.” It was the same when I ran my B&B, except that I was my own boss. Now that I’m a blogger, weekends are the time I can get more done because the emails stop and the rest of the world seems to quiet down.

Eventually, I would like to get myself on a schedule where the weekend actually means time off. Sounds nice, right?

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

Anywho, a couple weekends ago I hit up one of my favorite places, HomeGoods, to gather accessories to style two spring mantels for the HomeGoods Design Happy blog. While you’ve been getting peeks of them on Instagram (it’s so hard for me not to share), they are finally posted in all of their glory, so I thought I’d give you a look at them here. (You can check out the full post here.)

If you’ve ever shopped at HomeGoods, you know that as wonderful as the store can be, it can also be a bit frustrating. HomeGoods is one of the places I go to when I want to be inspired, find something unique, hunt for creative ideas, etc. It’s not necessarily the place to go when you’re looking for something super specific. Since their inventory is always changing and not all stores have the same things, for the best possible experience, I recommend going with an open mind rather than a checklist of specific items. It’s all about the hunt!

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

When I was shopping for my spring mantel, I didn’t follow my own advice and went looking for a particular style and color scheme. Needless to say, I was feeling defeated after circling the store a few times and not having any luck.

So, I took a deep breath to open my mind, and just like that, things fell into place. Even though my designs typically don’t fit the farmhouse category, when I saw these large galvanized lanterns, I thought they would be perfect for my mantel.

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

I also picked up a pair of these white utensil holders. I had been eyeing them for a few weeks. I love their shape and style and thought they’d be ideal for holding a plant or flowers. Thankfully, I was right.

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

A purple hyacinth plant from Trader Joe’s worked beautifully with the galvanized metal. (The tray with the copper rim was a Michaels’ find.)

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

The mantel came together beautifully. Simple and seasonal with just a pop of color.

For my second mantel idea, I went with a more modern farmhouse look. When I spotted these two mirror-backed houses, I thought they’d be great sitting on the mantel. (They are designed to hang on a wall.)

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

Since I went a bit hyacinth crazy at Trader Joe’s, I decided to tuck a few into the houses to add movement and break up the hard lines of the houses.

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

I was struggling with what else to use on the mantel, and then I remembered the cute rabbit print hanging in my bathroom. So I grabbed that and onto the mantle it went. It was perfect with a modern candelabra that I’d picked up at Target a few years ago.

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

I also added in this great modern teak stool  (from Grandin Road) at the base of the fireplace to bring it all together.

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

Again, it not fussy, and it’s spring-centric. But this time, there’s a pop of quirkiness. It works!

Modern Farmhouse Mantel Decor Ideas for Spring Decorating | Inspired by Charm

What do you think? Which mantel look is your favorite for spring? Be sure to hit the Design Happy blog for more details on both of these designs.

And whether you’re celebrating the arrival of the weekend or, like me, just continuing your work week, I hope today is a happy one for you.

Happy Friday, friends! I know many of you are excited about the weekend. I haven’t experienced the “Yay, It’s Friday” feeling since I was a kid. As an adult. I’ve never had a Monday – Friday / 9 – 5 job. When I worked in hospitality, it was “Weekends = Busy = You’re working.” It […]




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DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm
This post is sponsored by DIGIORNO pizza. As always, all opinions are my own.

Last fall I taught you how to create a fantastic and festive DIY football party. Given that spring and March are all about the craze of basketball championships, I’m back with a few DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas!

DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

I’m so excited to be partnering with DIGIORNO pizza again to share these colorful and creative ideas for any basketball parties you may be hosting this year. I love serving DIGIORNO pizza when entertaining not only because it’s delicious, but also because it saves time in the kitchen. DIGIORNO pizza lets you get the most out of every moment with your family and friends. After about 20 minutes in your oven, your pizza is piping hot and crispy and ready to serve. What’s not to love?

DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

In addition to having delicious pizza at my celebration, I decided to get a bit crafty with a few fun decorations.

“What are we making today?” you ask. To serve your pizza, we’re crafting some painted plates inspired by the black and white stripes of a referee’s shirt. Then, because dessert is essential to cap off any get-together, we’re going to make cupcake stands.

DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas - basketball party decor | Inspired by Charm

And finally, a festive garland (with a free printable from yours truly) is a must to display during the tournament.

DIY Printable Basketball Banner - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas - basketball party decor | Inspired by Charm

Let’s get right into these fun projects! You know I have a thing for painted plates here on IBC, so this idea was one I was excited to create.

DIY Painted Plates - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

The bold black and white stripes add a fun graphic element to the table and are definitely a good call when hosting a basketball-loving crowd.

DIY Painted Plates - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Plus, doesn’t the design make the pizza pop? For this party, I’m serving DIGIORNO Original RISING CRUST pizza. I chose the Original RISING CRUST Spinach, Mushroom & Garlic and the Original RISING CRUST Spicy Chicken Supreme.

DIY Painted Plates - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

What I especially like about this pizza is the crust. It has a fresh-baked taste that can only come straight from your oven, it’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Yum!

DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Okay, that’s enough talk for now. Let’s craft!

Black and White Striped Painted Plates

For this project, you will need:
White dinner plates (ideally, with a thick rim)
Black multi-purpose paint
Paintbrush
Painter’s tape
Craft knife

DIY Painted Party Dinner Plates - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Begin by taping off your design. I made two designs. One has stripes across the entire plate. The other has stripes just on the edge of the plate.

Sidenote: Check local discount retailers for inexpensive white plates to recreate this project on a budget. For a lower-fills party, you could also add paint to the edge of a paper or plastic plate for disposable fun.

DIY Painted Party Dinner Plates - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Paint the desired area of the plate using a multi-purpose non-toxic paint that you can cure in the oven. (This should be stated on the back of your paint.)

DIY Painted Party Dinner Plates - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Add another coat of paint for full coverage.

Once the paint has dried, use a craft knife around the edges of the taped areas to prevent the tape from peeling up the paint when removed. Remove all tape.

DIY Painted Party Dinner Plates - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

As needed, touch up any areas of paint with a small paint brush or use the craft knife to scrape off any drips.

Allow the paint to dry for one hour. Then, cure the plates in an oven, making sure to follow the directions on the back of your paint container. (My particular paint instructed me to place the plates in a cool oven, heat the oven to 350 degrees F, and then bake them for 30 minutes. Allow plates to cool in the oven.)

DIY Painted Party Dinner Plates - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

It’s amazing how a little paint can take something from plain to pretty! The bold black and white patter really make the DIGIORNO pizza pop!

Speaking of pretty, can we talk about these adorable basketball cupcake stands? They were probably my favorite things to make.

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

A few wood plaques and some basketball foam balls came together to create this fun presentation. They are simple to make. Let me show you how.

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Basketball Cupcake Stands

For this project, you will need:
Round wood plaques
Dowel rod
Mini foam basketballs
Drill and drill bit
Black paint
Paintbrush
Wood glue

 

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Begin by using your drill to make holes in the center of the wood plaques. (To ensure a snug fit, the size of the drill bit should match the size of your dowel rod.) Drill 1/4-inch into each wood plaque. Do not go through to the other side.

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Paint both sides of the plaques and allow the paint to thoroughly dry.

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Use the drill to make a hole through the center of your foam basketballs.

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Cut the dowel rod to size. It should be the diameter of your foam basketball, plus 1/2 inch.

Insert the cut dowel rod through the basketball. Add a dab of wood glue to each drilled hole in the painted wood plaques. Insert one end of the dowel into the base and the other end into the top. Allow the glue to dry completely.

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

How clever are these?! They are perfect for presenting a cupcake, but you could use them for general decor around your table should you decide not to serve cupcakes.

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

And finally, let’s finish off this celebration with a garland!

Printable Basketball Garland - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

This garland might look familiar. I designed it to look similar to the football garland I created last fall. I like the idea of having coordinating garlands. That way, if you’re throwing a party with a general “sports” theme, you can easily combine the two if you wish.

Printable Basketball Garland - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Let me show you how to put the garland together. Again, it’s super simple.

Basketball Garland

For this project, you will need:
Basketball and referee pendant printable (It’s free! Download it here.)
Scissors
Twine
Mini clothespins

Printable Basketball Garland - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Begin by downloading the free printables. Print out the basketballs and referee pendants and use scissors to cut them out.

Printable Basketball Garland - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Then, using the mini clothespins, attach the cutouts to your twine. Once you hang your garland around your space or drape it across your table, you’re done!

Slam dunk! It’s that fast.

DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Sidenote: You might have noticed that I used smaller basketball cutouts to garnish my cupcakes. To make those, I used the basketball printable, but when I printed it, I reduced the size by 50%. Then I cut out the small basketballs and glued each onto a toothpick. How easy is that?

DIY Cupcake Stand - DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

Simple touches like this truly help to tie things together at a party and having DIGIORNO pizza as the centerpiece will certainly help you rise to the occasion. Speaking of party, it’s time for our hoops celebration. Enjoy!

DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas | Inspired by Charm

I hope you like this these DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas.

For more delicious pizza varieties, head to DIGIORNO.com! Visit DIGIORNO Pizza on Pinterest for more entertaining inspiration.  Follow DIGIORNO Pizza on InstagramFacebook and Twitter too!

This post is sponsored by DIGIORNO pizza. As always, all opinions are my own. Last fall I taught you how to create a fantastic and festive DIY football party. Given that spring and March are all about the craze of basketball championships, I’m back with a few DIY Basketball Entertaining Ideas! I’m so excited to be partnering […]




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Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

Happy Spring, friends! (I’m going to keep typing that until you get sick of reading it. Sorry, not sorry. I hope you’re as excited as I am about the start of this new season.) Today is a super fun day on IBC because I’ve teamed up with five blogging friends for a #SpringDessertHop! Each of us is sharing a festive dessert recipe that’s perfect for spring and Easter. After you’re finished reading about my dessert, be sure to check out all of the dessert recipes linked up at the bottom of this post. You won’t want to miss these beautiful and delicious ideas.

For my spring dessert idea, I couldn’t settle on one treat. So, I decided to combine six sweets into one to create these colorful and fun Easter Dessert Kabobs!

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

I’ve put together all of your Easter favorites in one incredible dessert. There are Peeps bunnies and chicks, carrot cake truffles, Rice Krispies Treats, peanut butter eggs, and homemade coconut cupcakes! And, because I couldn’t resist, I assembled all of this sweetness in the order of the rainbow. What more could you ask for in a dessert, right?

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

As you can see, this collection of desserts mixes a few store-bought favorites with homemade goodies. You may have already seen my posts for the Carrot Cake Truffles and The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes. I wanted to get those recipes on IBC so you were ready to go. Once you whip them up, the rest of the treats come together pretty quickly.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

Of course, you can assemble these Easter Dessert Kabobs with any items you’d like. I love the addition of a few homemade desserts, but if time is tight, just purchase your favorite Easter confections at the grocery store.

I also wanted to create a rainbow of colors in these kabobs so that meant giving a few of the treats a colorful update.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

To create the Easter Egg Hunt Rice Krispies Treats, I purchased pre-made Rice Krispies Treat Squares and cut them in half. I then dipped the tops into melted green candy melts. Before the candy set, I added three jelly beans and sprinkled some green wafer shred sprinkles on top. (I bought the green wafer shred sprinkles at Walmart, but I also saw them at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts.)

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Egg Hunt Rice Krispies - easter dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

For the blue in my rainbow, I melted blue candy melts and poured them into a piping bag. I then drizzled the melted candy on mini peanut butter eggs in a crosshatch pattern. For a little sparkle, I sprinkled them with blue sugar crystals.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Peanut butter eggs are a favorite of mine, so I thought this was a fun way to dress them up.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

The Peeps marshmallow bunnies and chicks (which are available in a variety of colors) were ready to go out of the box. My only recommendation: Cut them apart with a sharp knife. Pulling them apart can cause them to rip or become misshapen.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

With all of my individual desserts prepared, I simply added them, one by one onto a wood skewer. (You can find the wood skewers I used HERE.) Everything goes onto the skewers pretty easily. Just take your time with the chocolate covered treats to prevent cracking.

 

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

And that’s it. Your Easter Dessert Kabobs are ready to enjoy and impress your guests.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

These do take some time to prepare and assemble, but I think the end result speaks for itself. To save time, you could prepare a few of the items (peanut butter eggs, cupcakes, and carrot cake truffles) a day or two in advance.

 Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

I’ve included a recipe below to guide you through a few of the steps and to provide you with a grocery list if needed. You’ll have to do a bit of math depending on how many kabobs you make, but I hope the recipe assists you in the process.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Easter Dessert Kabobs

Makes as many as you would like

Here's what you will need:

Egg Hunt Rice Krispies Treats:
Rice Krispies Treats
Green candy melts
Green wafer shred sprinkles
Jelly beans

Blue Crosshatched Peanut Butter Eggs:
Mini peanut butter eggs
Blue candy melts
Blue sugar crystals

Peeps pink marshmallow bunnies
Peeps yellow marshmallow chicks
Carrot cake truffles (recipe here)
Mini coconut cupcakes (recipe here)
Wood skewers

To make the Egg Hunt Rice Krispies Treats:
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the green candy melts by microwaving them at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted. If using store-bought Rice Krispies Treats, cut them in half. Dip the top half of the treat into the melted candy melts. Shake off any access. Top with three jelly beans then immediately sprinkle with green wafer shred sprinkles.

To make the Blue Crosshatched Peanut Butter Eggs:
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the blue candy melts by microwaving them at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted. Add the melted blue candy melts to a piping bag. Cut a small tip off the bag and drizzle the melted candy on the mini peanut butter eggs in a crosshatch pattern. Immediately sprinkle with blue sugar crystals.

Carrot Cake Truffles: Find the full recipe here.
The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes: Find the full recipe here.

With all of your individual desserts ready or prepared, position them in color order onto a wood skewer.

Print

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

I hope you enjoy eating and making these fun dessert kabobs as much I did. I was thrilled with how they turned out.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

Now you can enjoy all of the flavors of Easter that you love in one dessert.

Also, if you’re looking for an Easter cocktail, then you’re going to love my Cottontail Martini.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

It’s a delicious and festive take on a classic coconut martini complete with marshmallow tail! You can get the recipe HERE.

For even more spring and Easter dessert inspiration, be sure to visit all of the links below to see what five of my fellow blogger have created as part of our #SpringDessertHop. You are going to love the beautiful and delicious ideas created by these talented ladies.

Bunny Butt Cake – Julie Blanner
The Very Best Carrot Cake – Freutcake
Carrot Scone with Cream Cheese Glaze – The Effortless Chic
Pastel S’mores Pizza – Paper & Stitch

Happy Spring, friends! (I’m going to keep typing that until you get sick of reading it. Sorry, not sorry. I hope you’re as excited as I am about the start of this new season.) Today is a super fun day on IBC because I’ve teamed up with five blogging friends for a #SpringDessertHop! Each of […]




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The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

Of all the cupcakes in the world, coconut ones are easily my favorite. No question about it. And as you might guess, whenever the craving for one strikes, I turn to my go-to recipe. In this case, it’s The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes.

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

During the past few weeks, I have been whipping up a lot of things with coconut. I made Macaroon Nests, a Cottontail (Coconut) Martini, and now these cupcakes. It’s coconut heaven at my house. I’m not complaining.

The recipe for these cupcakes comes from Ina Garten. I’ve made a few tweaks to her recipe (no offense, Ina), but all of the credit goes to her. She featured these on her show way back in the day, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since.

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

The recipe below is just for the cupcakes themselves. You’re going to need some cream cheese frosting (obviously) to go with them. Homemade is best, so be sure to grab My Favorite Cream Cheese frosting recipe here.

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

Let’s get baking!

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes

Makes about two dozen cupcakes

Here's what you will need:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

1 recipe of My Favorite Cheese Frosting (recipe here)

Begin by preheating your oven to 325 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

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

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high for about 5 minutes or until it's light and fluffy. Then, with the mixer on low, add one egg at a time. Scrape down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix well.

In three alternating additions, mix in the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined; then fold in half (7 ounces) of the coconut.

Fill each cupcake liner to the top with batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the tops are just starting to brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes; then remove them to a baking rack to cool completely.

In the meantime, prepare your cream cheese frosting. (Recipe can be found here.)

When the cupcakes have cooled, frost them with a spatula or piping bag. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Print

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

If you like coconut, it truly doesn’t get much better than this.

The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes dessert recipe | Inspired by Charm

While these cupcakes are delicious in the spring and summer, I could think of an excuse to make them anytime of the year. I’m sure you could, too. Enjoy!

These Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes were prepared as part of my Easter Dessert Kabobs. Instead of making traditional size cupcakes, I made mini ones to use on my kabobs.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

These creative and colorful kabobs are a fun way to serve dessert for spring or Easter. You can learn how I made them by clicking HERE.

Of all the cupcakes in the world, coconut ones are easily my favorite. No question about it. And as you might guess, whenever the craving for one strikes, I turn to my go-to recipe. In this case, it’s The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes. During the past few weeks, I have been whipping up a lot of […]




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Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

Okay, before we talk about another closet here on IBC, I need to warn you: This post does not contain a lot of pretty pictures. But, as they say, it gets worse before it gets better. So we will start with the bad and the ugly and work our way to the good! OK?

As you probably know, I have big barn doors near my front entry. However, you might not know that there is a disaster behind those doors.

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

What? Yes. But before I tackle it, let me share the backstory of this closet.

The space that is now covered by the doors was once a standard closet with a single door. When the previous owners were making renovations to turn the house into a bed and breakfast, they widened the opening so that this little nook could function as a reception area. Given that it’s near the front door, it worked well.

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

When I bought the B&B, I also did some work, and this area became part of a gift shop. If you’re a long-time IBC reader, you might recognize the chevron wall peeking through the shelf. Back in 2012, I shared a post on how to paint a chevron wall. (You’re welcome to take a peek at that post here, but please don’t judge me too harshly since it was five years ago, and at the time, that space was a gift shop, not my home.)

An aside: Much to my surprise, that little post was featured in a few places, including The Huffington Post. And that exposure proved to be a big break for me. I guess you could say that IBC is here today because of that chevron wall and that little post.

Once I closed the shop and the B&B, I needed a way to cover the nook to make the house look and feel like a home. My solution was to install the barn doors (details on those here). I also threw in some shelving units, and it’s been kind of a cluttered mess since then.

This year, In an effort to boost my spirits and improve my outlook on life, I’m working to clear the clutter and get more organized. For me, “mess = stress,”, so this disaster has to go.

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

Following my recent mini shoe closet makeover, I thought a prefab shelving system would work perfectly in this space as well. A couple weeks ago when I was researching closet storage online, I noticed that The Container Store was having a sale on their Elfa system. This was the brand I used in my closet upstairs.

I was sold.

I took measurements, worked with one of their Elfa experts online, and designed something to fit this space. The whole system ended up costing just over $600.

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

Once I received notification that the system had shipped, I prepped and painted the space. I removed everything from the closet, including the existing shelves, which I donated. I decided to paint the closet Frosty White from Sherwin Williams because it’s a lighter variation of my entryway and living room paint color. Goodbye chevron! Gone, but never forgotten.

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

With the painting finished, I installed the closet system. While the install was simple and straightforward, it did take a few hours. Some of that time was spent removing the packaging and stickers that identified everything.

However, it was well worth it. My closet is complete! Isn’t she lovely?

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

I couldn’t be happier with my first steps toward an organized, clean, and pretty closet. Even though the style of the shelves won’t win any design awards, organization and function were a top priority here, and that’s exactly what I got.

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

The next step is going to be the hard part. I have to put things back into the closet in an organized and functional way. While I already have quite a few plastic storage containers and totes, I’m hoping to pick up a few baskets and organizational tools to add just a touch of style to this space.

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

Ultimately, the closet will hold craft supplies and work-related items, such as my camera and gear, printer, ribbons, paper, photo shoot props, and current project supplies. My plan is to start organizing things this week. I’ll be sure to let you see the results when everything is in place.

Beginnings of a Craft Closet | Inspired by Charm

For those of you who are new to Inspired by Charm, I hope it was fun to learn a bit more about the blog. For those who’ve been with IBC for a while now, I hope you enjoyed the walk down memory lane. Thanks to all of you for giving me an opportunity to come clean about my closet disaster!

Okay, before we talk about another closet here on IBC, I need to warn you: This post does not contain a lot of pretty pictures. But, as they say, it gets worse before it gets better. So we will start with the bad and the ugly and work our way to the good! OK? As […]




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Carrot Cake Truffles - easy spring or easter dessert recipe idea - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Happy First Day of Spring! (It’s so exciting to say that.) Yesterday I had another busy day in the kitchen, baking and creating and doing everything I could to ignore the snow outside. Tomorrow on IBC, I’m joining a few of my blogger friends to share a round-up of homemade Easter- and spring-inspired desserts. My dessert required me to make a few things in advance, so I have two additional recipes to share with you. (It will all make more sense tomorrow.) Let’s kick things off with these Carrot Cake Truffles!

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Sidenote: I realize I’ve been a bit dessert crazy lately. For those of you who are looking for design and DIY, please bear with me. There are lots on the horizon, including exciting new projects. (That’s a hint!) Also, later this week I’ll be sharing two spring mantel decor ideas. Sound good? (To be honest, all of this dessert making isn’t helping with my diet, so I do need to switch gears.)

Okay, back to Carrot Cake Truffles. In essence, these are cake pops, but without the stick. That’s why I’m calling them truffles.

Carrot Cake Truffles - easy spring or easter dessert recipe idea - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

If you’ve never made cake pops, they are easy. All you need is cake, frosting, and candy melts/chocolate.

For this recipe, I baked a carrot cake from a box mix and made a batch of my cream cheese frosting. (You can find that recipe here.) Because I needed the frosting for a few other recipes, I made a full batch. However, you can make only a half or quarter recipe since you will only need about a cup of frosting for the truffles.

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

The cake gets crumbled and the frosting gets mixed in. Add just enough frosting so that you can roll the mixture into a ball. If you use too much, it will be overly sticky.

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

After that, the balls get dipped into melted candy and chocolate. (I did a mix of white candy melts and white chocolate for these.) I found this dipping tool at the craft store, but a fork will work equally well.

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

To decorate the truffles, I melted orange candy melts. (I actually used a combination of orange and yellow to get this color.) I added the candy melts to a piping bag, cut a small slit in the tip and drizzled it randomly over the top. Before the candy set, I topped each truffle with one of these cute candy sugar carrots. (I found mine at Walmart, but I’ve also seen them at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts.)

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Tip: If you struggle filling piping bags, put the bag into a tall glass (tip down), then fill. It’s so much easier. Promise.

Carrot Cake Truffles - easy spring or easter dessert recipe idea - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Carrot Cake Truffles - easy spring or easter dessert recipe idea - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

And that’s it! Adorable Carrot Cake Truffles in no time! They make an exceptionally cute, delicious, and fun treat for Easter or spring. They also look adorable in this bunny egg holder I picked up at HomeGoods. Don’t you think?

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Carrot Cake Truffles

Makes about 40 truffles

Here's what you will need:
1 prepared carrot cake (13x9" pan, no frosting)
1 cup cream cheese frosting (recipe here)
1 bag (12 ounces) pure white candy melts
1 bar (4 ounces) white chocolate baking bar, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable shorting (Crisco)
1 cup orange candy melts (I used a combination of orange and yellow.)
Carrot sugar candies, optional

In a large bowl, crumble the carrot cake with your hands. Using a spatula, stir in about 3/4 cup of the cream cheese frosting. Add more as needed. The mixture should stay together when rolled into a ball, but not be overly sticky.

Roll the cake mixture into 1-inch balls. Set the cake balls on a plate and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, add the white candy melts, white chocolate, and vegetable shortening. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each until melted.

Dip the cooled cake balls into the melted white chocolate mixture and coat completely. Set on wax paper and allow chocolate to set completely.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the orange candy melts by microwaving them at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted.

Add the melted orange candy melts to a piping bag or plastic baggie. (Use caution if using a plastic bag. If your melted candy is too warm, it can cause the bag to break.) Cut a small tip off one corner of the bag and drizzle the melted candy onto the coated cake balls. Top with a carrot sugar candy, if desired.

Once the candy coating is completely set, pack and store the truffles in an air-tight container.

Print

Carrot Cake Truffles - easy spring or easter dessert recipe idea - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Obviously, you can make these truffles in any cake flavor you’d like. However, I thought carrot cake was most appropriate for the season.

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

Carrot Cake Truffles for spring and Easter dessert - carrot cake pops | Inspired by Charm

These Carrot Cake Truffles were prepared as part of my Easter Dessert Kabobs. I was inspired to create a rainbow-effect for these kabobs. Carrot cake made the perfect addition for the orange.

Easter Dessert Kabobs - Spring / Easter rainbow dessert recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

These creative and colorful kabobs are a fun way to serve dessert for spring or Easter. You can learn how I made them by clicking HERE.

Happy First Day of Spring! (It’s so exciting to say that.) Yesterday I had another busy day in the kitchen, baking and creating and doing everything I could to ignore the snow outside. Tomorrow on IBC, I’m joining a few of my blogger friends to share a round-up of homemade Easter- and spring-inspired desserts. My […]




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Over the past several weeks, I’ve been adding touches of spring to my home. I’ve updated my living room and created an Easter tablescape. Today, I want to share my spring bar cart, plus a new martini recipe.

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

If you’re spring-ifying your own home, then you’re in luck because over a dozen home decor bloggers have gotten together to post a bouquet full of spring decor. It’s like a mini-spring tour with lots of ideas for your home. If you’re currently on the tour and visiting from Lizbeth at Home and Fabulous, welcome! I’m so glad you’re here. Lizbeth and I both write for the HomeGoods Design Happy blog, so I’m honored to be following her and her beautiful designs on this tour.

I decided to update my bar cart for spring for a few reasons. First, it has been majorly neglected since the holidays. In fact, it still had touches of black and gold (my dining room holiday decor theme) and even a few leftover pine tree drink stirrers. Secondly, last week I was craving a martini and decided to whip one up with supplies I had on hand. To my surprise, it was rather delicious, so I also wanted to share that with you.

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Finally, I purchased some new spring and Easter accessories for my Easter tablescape a few weeks ago, and I wanted to show you another way you might use them. In an attempt to lessen the clutter in my home, I’m always looking for ways to repurpose things. If you struggle with “too much stuff,” hopefully, this will help you think about different ways you can use items you already have.

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

To get started, I cleared off my bar cart. (In case you’re wondering, this is the Oak Park Bar Cart from Grandin Road. I’ve been bonkers about it since I bought it.)

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

When styling a bar cart, I like to begin by adding something that gives a little height. A cake stand, group of books, or stack of plates work well. On a recent visit to HomeGoods, I found these trays with big copper handles. When I saw them, my thought was to create a truly wow-worthy cheese plate (which I still hope to do), but I also love how they function on my cart.

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Another thing I like to do when dressing a bar cart is to use trays and boards to corral items. I used one on each level of my cart: a marble cutting board on the top, my copper handled tray in the middle, and a wood box on the bottom. This keeps things from looking cluttered, and it helps me organize like items.

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Next, I added the bottles of alcohol. I recommend using the top of your cart for go-to liquors. Put less-frequently used liquors and seasonal favorites on the lower shelves. (Also, if you’re like me, pull in a few things that match your color scheme.)

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

At this point, tuck in glassware and functional items, such as a cocktail shaker, spoons, and jiggers for measuring of cocktails. To shake things up a bit, I decided to use my egg cups (also from HomeGoods) as jiggers for this spring bar cart. In addition to being cute and well-suited to the season, they give a consistent measurement for cocktail making. The bunny straws are from the Dollar Spot at Target.

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

You can also incorporate any garnishes you may need to create your cocktail. I needed thyme, strawberries, and lemon wedges. While these are certainly practical items, I made them look beautiful as well. I appreciate when things can serve double duty.

Ideas and tips for styling your bar cart for spring - Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

With all of the necessities in place, you can fill in with your seasonal and decorative items. Since it’s spring, I thought flowers were a must. I used small white vases in different styles for a cohesive and unique look. Inspired by my copper additions, I stuck with blooms in shades of pink and orange.

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

My copper bunnies (another HomeGoods find) worked wonderfully to bring in seasonal style and a little bling. I even added a small jar of Starburst strawberry jelly beans. They are my kryptonite this time of year, so having them available for quick snacking is a bonus for me. (Don’t tell Jenny.)

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

And with that, my bar cart was ready to “spring” into action! (Pun intended.)

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Oh, I should also mention my plate wall. Lately, I’ve been switching out one or two plates to suit the season. For spring, I fell in love with the quirkiness of these calligrapher monogram canapé plates from Anthroplogie. While they offer so many cute letter designs, the “G” for gem and “Y” for yodel stood out to me. And they worked with my color scheme.

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

To hang my plates, I used these flatiron disc hangers. They aren’t foolproof. (Occasionally, I have come home to find a plate shattered on the floor.) However, I find they do work well most of the time, and I love that you can’t tell how the plates are hung.

And finally, about that cocktail. To kick off spring, I decided to whip up a Strawberry Thyme Martini.

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Strawberries aren’t yet in season in my area, but I love how the fruitness of the berry and the subtle pepper and lemon flavor of thyme work so well together. It’s a perfect pairing for this fresh new season. I think you’re going to love it. You can find that martini recipe here.

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

Spring Bar Cart | Inspired by Charm

I hope you enjoyed this look at my spring bar cart and picked up a few tips for styling your own. If you are continuing on the tour (or just looking for more spring decor inspiration), Oscar of Oscar Bravo Home is up next with his Spring Bedroom Makeover! His style is on point, so I’m sure you’ll be delighted with his design.

For more spring home decor ideas be sure to visit every stop on the tour:

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been adding touches of spring to my home. I’ve updated my living room and created an Easter tablescape. Today, I want to share my spring bar cart, plus a new martini recipe. If you’re spring-ifying your own home, then you’re in luck because over a dozen home decor bloggers […]




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Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

It’s a fun day here on IBC. I’m getting a head start on the first day of spring (which is this coming Monday) by celebrating with a cocktail and spring-inspired bar cart.

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Despite the foot of snow outside, things in my home are feeling fresh and welcoming thanks to colorful touches of the new season. I recently added a splash of color and function to my bar cart (You can check that out here.) To toast the new season, I thought a new cocktail was also in order.

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Last week I was deep into a Netflix binge of the new-to-me comedy Schitt’s Creek. (Which, by the way, I adore. It took me a few episodes, but halfway through the first season, I was hooked. It’s definitely a bit odd, but there are moments of kindness and heart that totally won me over. I definitely recommend it.) Anyway, I was watching a scene in which David and Stevie were drinking a martini, and immediately, I had a craving for one. (Does that ever happen to anyone else?)

So I made one. Using what I had on hand, I threw together this Strawberry Thyme Martini and totally loved it. The combination of fresh berry with a hint of thyme gave me my martini fix and had me yearning for a warm spring day.

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

To make this cocktail, all you need is strawberry vodka, regular vodka, St. Germaine (elderflower liqueur), a wedge of lemon, a whole strawberry, and fresh thyme. (I’m using both strawberry vodka and regular vodka because I found that just the strawberry vodka made the martini too sweet for my taste.)

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

As with most martinis, everything gets added to a cocktail shaker full of ice to combine and chill. I decided to use my festive eggs cups as bar decor and jiggers for making my martini. How cute is that, right? They worked perfectly! I also think they could function beautifully as shot glasses.

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

I think you’ll find this to be a light and refreshing sipper. Perfect for spring! Let’s shake one up.

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Thyme Martini

Makes one cocktail

Here's what you will need:
2 ounces strawberry vodka (I used Three Olives Strawberry Vodka.)
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce St. Germain
Lemon wedge
Sprig fresh thyme, plus one to garnish

Begin by muddling the strawberry in the bottom of a cocktail shaker, then fill with ice. Add the strawberry vodka, regular vodka, St. Germain, one sprig of fresh thyme, juice from a lemon wedge, and the wedge to the cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously.

Strain into a martini glass. Add the remaining sprig of fresh thyme for garnish.

Print

Aren’t martinis simple to make? I think that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. This one is pretty, too. Shake one up and let me know what you think.

Strawberry Thyme Martini - spring cocktail martini recipe ideas | Inspired by Charm

I hope you like this recipe. If you missed my tips for creating a spring bar cart, you can find them here.

Here’s to a blissful spring! Cheers!

It’s a fun day here on IBC. I’m getting a head start on the first day of spring (which is this coming Monday) by celebrating with a cocktail and spring-inspired bar cart. Despite the foot of snow outside, things in my home are feeling fresh and welcoming thanks to colorful touches of the new season. […]




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Why I'm on Jenny Craig | Inspired by Charm
Thank you Jenny Craig for sponsoring this post. Tried other ideas? It’s time for Jenny Craig.

Yep. I’m on Jenny Craig, and I’m pretty excited about it. Let me explain.

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about my general state of being (which hasn’t been great), how I’ve been considering a change in location, and ways I’m going about improving my happiness. One of the things that was really bothering me was the fact that I had gained a few pounds over the past year.

Since January began I had been doing my best to lose weight, and no matter what I did, the scale wouldn’t budge. As luck would have it (It’s “The Secret” at work.), the folks from Jenny Craig reached out to me (not in response to my post) and asked if I’d like to try their program.

Why I'm on Jenny Craig | Inspired by Charm

While their email certainly piqued my interest, I honestly didn’t know much about Jenny Craig or how the program worked. So, I visited their website and did my own research via Google. When it comes to dieting, I tend to do best on programs that have some sort of regimen. What I loved about the idea behind Jenny Craig is that I barely needed to make any decisions. This is a huge plus for me. Being self-employed, I make about a million decisions each day. (That’s an exaggeration, but it feels like it some days.) So when it comes to deciding what to eat, I usually choose what’s easiest. As you’d expect, easy isn’t always best.

The thought of having a menu made for me every day is what really won me over – no points, no tracking. Plus, it was finally a reason to take off these extra pounds that have been causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. 2017 is my year to find the happiness that I’ve been seeking. This opportunity was a great step toward that. I was in!

Before I talk about the program (I’m sure many of you are curious.), I should tell you that I’ve been on it for exactly three weeks, and I’ve lost 8 pounds.* As you can imagine, I’m super excited about my progress and so thankful that Jenny Craig is working. (*Members following the Jenny Craig program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs. per week. I received promotional consideration.)

Why I'm on Jenny Craig | Inspired by Charm

Now, a bit about the program. I’m using the Jenny Craig Anywhere program since I don’t live near a center. This means that my food is shipped to me (every two weeks), and I chat with a consultant every week. My consultant, Kim, has been wonderful. The phone calls only last about 15 minutes, but after talking with her I always feel more motivated and inspired. We discuss the meals, healthy eating tips, any challenges I’m having with it, and my goals for the week ahead. It’s like a 15-minute food therapy session.

Why I'm on Jenny Craig | Inspired by Charm

About the food: The majority of what’s in the meals is shipped to me. I’m responsible for adding things like fresh greens, vegetables, fresh fruit, and dairy (usually Greek yogurt).

Why I'm on Jenny Craig | Inspired by Charm

After being on the program for three weeks, I’ve been greatly impressed with the quality and flavor of the foods. There are more than 100 menu items created by 40 professional chefs. Of course, I don’t love everything, but as a quasi-foodie, I’ve been surprisingly and genuinely pleased. Most of the items are frozen and require a few minutes in the microwave to warm them up. The program is flexible to accommodate allergies and personal preferences. I’m not a huge fan of fish, so those items were swapped out for something different.

Why I'm on Jenny Craig | Inspired by Charm

I’m on the 1500 calorie program. Each week I’m given a menu plan, listing what to eat (of course, substitutions are allowed if there is something I don’t want). There’s also a list of Fresh & Free Additions, which consist primarily of fruits, vegetables, and seasonings. You can consume these in moderate amounts if you’re feeling hungry throughout the day. However, I must say, I haven’t been hungry once since starting the program. To keep your metabolism moving and grooving, the menu is broken up into six “meals.” For me, it’s been more than enough food.

Why I'm on Jenny Craig | Inspired by Charm

In addition to eating the prescribed meals, I’ve also been much more active. Exercise isn’t required to lose weight on the Jenny Craig program, but for me, it was important to get moving. Over the course of the past three weeks, I’ve jogged, walked, or used the elliptical machine for a total of over 65 miles! Another goal of mine is to start incorporating some weightlifting in the next week or two.

Why I'm on Jenny Craig | Inspired by Charm

I’m excited about the program and feel fortunate that Jenny Craig came into my life. (Their delicious cinnamon rolls help too.) It’s been a huge help to me. This week, I’ve also been doing more research into “that move” that I talked about. More on that soon. While I still have my days, 2017 is looking more promising!

Thanks for joining me on this self-improvement journey. I’ll pop back in with another update soon.

 

This post was sponsored by Jenny Craig and the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Thank you Jenny Craig for sponsoring this post. Tried other ideas? It’s time for Jenny Craig. Yep. I’m on Jenny Craig, and I’m pretty excited about it. Let me explain. Several weeks ago I wrote a post about my general state of being (which hasn’t been great), how I’ve been considering a change in location, and ways I’m […]




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Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm
This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line.

One of the things I like to do when traveling is pick up a few goodies from the places I visit. However, since I’ve started to travel more for work and leisure, I’ve become more conscious of the things I bring home. As a follow-up to a previous post about decorating with travel souvenirs, today I’d like to offer a few suggestions about what to purchase and how to use those treasures in your home.

This past January my mom and I sailed on the Carnival Vista to the Southern Caribbean. When cruising, you not only get to experience a fun and beautiful ship, but you also have a chance to stop at beautiful locations to experience and see even more. These stops are typically referred to as Ports of Call. (Check out my post here for advice on Ports of Call.) At these ports, you get to take in the landscape, learn about the country, go on excursions, and shop.

As you might expect, shopping is a popular activity. Of course, there are the usual typical tourist shops, full of souvenirs and knickknacks. While I will occasionally buy a t-shirt from one of those places, I usually look elsewhere for items that are unique, handmade, or indigenous to the area. Let me explain.

1. Pottery
You can often find hand-crafted pottery – bowls, vases, platters, etc. What I love about getting things like this is that they are useful when you return home. A small bowl can be a place for loose change or your keys. A platter might be used to serve a dish inspired by your trip. A vase can hold seasonal flowers.

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

On this recent cruise to the Southern Caribbean, I was so excited to find this tulipiere (tulip holder) at one of the shops in Curaçao. I knew it would get plenty of use at my house, and it already has. I love its sleek lines and modern style.

2. Wood
I also recommend purchasing carved items. Again, that handmade aspect is the draw for me. I picked up these wood bowls on a previous cruise with a very specific purpose in mind. (In the coming weeks, I’ll be teaching you a little craft with them.)

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

I also loved this unique sculpture made of painted driftwood and little stones. I picked it up in St. Thomas when cruising last year.

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

And remember, if you’re wondering if something is locally made or from the area, don’t be afraid to ask the seller.

3. Art and Postcards
One of my favorite things to buy is art. Walking through my house, I can probably rattle off most of the places I’ve been just by looking at the art that’s on display. You might remember seeing these art prints in a post earlier this year. They’re from St. Thomas as well. And the “My Heart is at the Beach” sign came from last year’s trip to Hawaii.

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

When I was in Curaçaco on my latest cruise, I also found this tealight holder. A local artist created it out of cement. Can you believe that? I love the odd shape, unique painted design, and colors. I thought it’d be a fun conversation piece on a side table.

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

The other great thing about art is that most of the time it’s flat and lightweight, so fitting it into your suitcase or carry-on luggage isn’t a problem.

4. Photographs
While this may seem like an obvious travel souvenir, I think it’s often forgotten once we get home and unpack. The stream of photos get uploaded onto our computers or quickly buried on our cell phones. However, travel photos can make great home decor, and I have proof!

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

My living room features a wall I’ve named my “Wanderlust Gallery Wall.” I purchased nine inexpensive frames and filled them with photos from my travels. And even though I do have experience with some “nicer” cameras, a few of these photos were taken with my cell phone. If I can do it, so can you.

Tip, tricks, and Ideas for Decorating with Travel Souvenirs | Inspired by Charm

You might also remember that I shared easy ways to craft your own artwork using travel photos. You can check out those tutorials here. So if you have no room left in your luggage or are tight on cash toward the end of your trip, be sure to take interesting photos and have fun with them when you return home.

I hope you found these ideas helpful. I’m sure I’ll have more to share, but we’ll save those for Part 3.

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

This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line. One of the things I like to do when traveling is pick up a few goodies from the places I visit. However, since I’ve started to travel more for work and leisure, I’ve become more conscious of the things I bring home. As a follow-up to a […]




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Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

On my dad’s side of the family when I was growing up, there were four standard desserts: pumpkin roll, strawberry gelatin salad, ice cream salad, and Texas sheet cake. Of course, we enjoyed other desserts, depending on the season, but those four were our go-to’s because everyone seemed to love them.

I thought it was time to give one of these classic desserts a try, but with a new twist. Instead of making the traditional Texas sheet cake (which was chocolate), I decided to give Peanut Butter Sheet Cake a go.

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

Although I do love chocolate, when it comes to dessert, it’s not necessarily my first choice. (Though, let’s be honest, I’d never turn it down.) So, trying this variation was right up my alley. What I love about this sheet cake is that no mixer is required. You only need a big bowl, sauce pan, and cookie sheet. That means less time cleaning up the mess and more time for eating the cake!


Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

Both the cake batter and the frosting start with ingredients that come to a boil on the stove. I don’t have in-depth knowledge of the science of baking, but based on experience, I assume the boiling results in a rich, super moist cake. If you’ve never had a sheet cake, you really need to make a traditional one, too. It’s good stuff.

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - Classic Texas Sheet Cake get's a flavor update with this peanut butter variation. | Inspired by Charm

Once your cake is baked and still slightly warm, that’s when you pour on the frosting. I actually like my frosting just a tad thicker, so it stands up on the cake, but you can make it however you prefer.

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - Classic Texas Sheet Cake get's a flavor update with this peanut butter variation. | Inspired by Charm

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

I had some peanut butter eggs left over from my Easter tablescape, so I decided to put them to good use on this cake. Each piece got topped with an egg. Perfection!

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

Now that, my friends, is a mighty fine cake. if I do say so myself.

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - Classic Texas Sheet Cake get's a flavor update with this peanut butter variation. | Inspired by Charm

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

serves 24

Here's what you will need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup water
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons milk
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar
Peanut butter eggs to garnish, optional

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10x15x1-inch cookie sheet (jelly roll pan) with baking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine the butter, water, and peanut butter. Bring to a boil. When it begins to boil, immediately remove it from the heat and pour it over the flour mixture. Start to combine, then add the milk, vanilla, and eggs. Mix with a spatula or spoon until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until just slightly warm.

For the frosting, add the butter, peanut butter, milk, and a pinch of salt to a sauce pan. When this mixture begins to boil, remove it from heat. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix to combine. (If needed, add more milk, one teaspoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency.) Pour the warm frosting over the cooled cake and spread evenly with a spatula. Allow the frosting to cool before serving. Garnish with peanut butter eggs, if desired.

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Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

In my opinion, simple, classic desserts like this never go out of style. Garnished with a mini peanut butter eggs, this rich cake is such a delicious treat. Plus, it reminds me of my family. A double win!

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - easy and delicious peanut butter cake recipe for any celebration | Inspired by Charm

What were some of your family’s favorite desserts when you were growing up?

On my dad’s side of the family when I was growing up, there were four standard desserts: pumpkin roll, strawberry gelatin salad, ice cream salad, and Texas sheet cake. Of course, we enjoyed other desserts, depending on the season, but those four were our go-to’s because everyone seemed to love them. I thought it was […]




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Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

Apparently, spring brings out the baker in me. I’m not sure what’s happening, but during the past couple of weeks I’ve been baking up a storm. Other than resisting the urge to eat everything I bake, It’s been absolutely fun and completely cathartic.

A few years ago I tried my hand at a naked cake (that is, a cake without frosting on the sides), and since then, I’ve been wanting to make another. So that’s what I did! Voila, my Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake.

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake for spring and summer entertaining. Delicious homemade strawberry cake. | Inspired by Charm

To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with naked cakes. While I like the idea of a no-fuss, rustic, homey-looking cake, there’s also the perfectionist part of me that struggles with “messiness.” (It’s been known to make my eye twitch.)

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake for spring and summer entertaining. Delicious homemade strawberry cake. | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

However, the freedom-loving side of me won out this time around, and I’m so pleased with this pretty but “messy” deliciousness.

As you might expect with a Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake, there’s a lot bright, fresh flavor packed into the layers of this beauty.

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake for spring and summer entertaining. Delicious homemade strawberry cake. | Inspired by Charm

For the cake, I went homemade. This allowed me to include pureed strawberries, lime zest, and lime juice. Cake flour and a bit of buttermilk keep the cake light and airy.

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake for spring and summer entertaining. Delicious homemade strawberry cake. | Inspired by Charm

Once the cake came out of the oven, I wanted to lock in the moisture and add even more flavor, so I drizzled all three layers with homemade lime simple syrup.

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

To bring the whole cake together, there’s a strawberry cream cheese frosting made with more of that strawberry puree, lime zest, and lime juice. If you’re looking for a cake with flavor, this is it! My favorite part is that if you look closely enough. you can see the specks of lime and strawberry in both the cake and the icing. I just love that.

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

Now, if you’re not into the look of a naked cake, I understand. There should be plenty of frosting in the recipe below for you to just go ahead and frost the whole thing. Have it your way, my friends.

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

To complete the cake, top it off with whole strawberries and slices of lime. In my opinion, that is one beautiful cake. Whether spring or summer, I think you’re going to love baking, sharing, and eating this cake as much as I did.

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake - spring and summer dessert cake recipe with strawberries and lime. | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake

Serves 12 - 15

Here's what you will need:
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lime zest
Whole strawberries and sliced limes to garnish

Lime Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons strawberry puree
1/4 cup strawberries, diced

Begin by preheating your over to 350 degrees F. Then, grease three 8-inch cake pans with baking spray. Line with parchment paper and set aside.

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

Add the chopped strawberries to a blender or food processor and puree for 10-15 seconds. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the strawberry puree with the buttermilk. (Keep the remaining puree for the frosting.)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This will take 3 to 5 minutes. Then, add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lime zest.

Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture and strawberry/buttermilk mixture alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Do this until the flour is just incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

While the cakes bake, prepare your lime simple syrup. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium heat. Stir constantly for 5-7 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Stir in lime zest and lime juice. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

After you remove the cakes from the oven, let them cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then evenly top each cake with 4 tablespoons of lime simple syrup. Let the cakes cool completely.

As your cakes cool, prepare the strawberry cream cheese frosting. Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter 3 to 5 minutes until fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time. Beat until smooth. Then beat in the lime zest, lime juice, strawberry puree, and diced strawberries until combined. Put the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip.

Once the cakes have cooled, place a layer on a cake plate and evenly top with frosting. Then, add another layer and top with frosting. Add the final layer of cake to the top. Using an offset spatula, work around the cake to create an even layer of frosting and cake. Allow some of the cake to show through the frosting to achieve the naked cake look. Add more frosting and repeat as necessary.

Top the cake with six large dollops of frosting. Chill for 3-4 hours until the frosting is set. Before serving, garnish with whole strawberries and sliced limes.

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Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake for spring and summer entertaining. Delicious homemade strawberry cake. | Inspired by Charm

Ta da! Beautiful, right?

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake for spring and summer entertaining. Delicious homemade strawberry cake. | Inspired by Charm

Strawberry Limeade Naked Cake for spring and summer entertaining. Delicious homemade strawberry cake. | Inspired by Charm

Now, I know this seems like a lot of steps, but I promise they are easy, and the whole thing comes together pretty quickly. I hope you give this recipe a try.

What are your thoughts on naked cakes? Love them or hate them?

Apparently, spring brings out the baker in me. I’m not sure what’s happening, but during the past couple of weeks I’ve been baking up a storm. Other than resisting the urge to eat everything I bake, It’s been absolutely fun and completely cathartic. A few years ago I tried my hand at a naked cake […]




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Join the conversation.






Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

Earlier this week, I shared a post filled with Easter entertaining ideas, including sweet treats, Easter baskets, and a themed tablescape. Since there were so many things happening in that post, I wanted to circle back and talk a bit more about the table.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

About a month ago I took a trip to HomeGoods and Target. (As you know by now, these stores are about 1.5 hours from me, so it was indeed a trip.) I was on the hunt for all things spring and Easter. Even though I was a bit early, I lucked out. In fact, I was so excited by my finds that I shared them on Instagram Stories. (By the way, a lot of you seemed to enjoy that, so I’ll try to do it more often.)

As you may have noticed, my tablescapes always have an eclectic flair. I think this happens for a couple reasons. First, my personal style encompasses all sorts of things. Secondly, when it comes to setting tables, I’m all about using whatever is available. Thankfully, I have the opportunity to work with HomeGoods, which makes looking for new and unique things almost a requirement. However, I totally get that not everyone can do that, so shopping my home is fun, too. Eclectic is good!

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

Okay, back to the Easter table. The color story for this was inspired by these polka dot eggs cups and these gold and pink floral plates. They were the first thing I found (at HomeGoods) so I ran with them.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

Shortly after I got them, I learned I was also going to have a large supply of chocolate to work with, How perfect for sprinkling around an Easter table. Thankfully, the colors worked, too.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

With all that in mind, I started gathering things that fit the pastels scheme, and I decided the pale pink would play the main role. I think this creamer and sugar bowl set was one of my next finds along with the cake stands. The blue allowed me to bring in a few other blue elements which really popped. Given all the pink, I think the blue also helped to keep things looking like spring rather than Valentine’s Day.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

I almost jumped for joy when I came across these “Happy Easter” dishtowels. As I mentioned in my previous post, I like using dishtowels for napkins. (It’s something I learned from Ina Garten.) I just seem to find better patterns, styles, and colors. The towels also wash up great and often don’t require ironing.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

Another thing I found at HomeGoods was the runner. I love its texture. Plus, it’s a neutral so it can work with anything. The polka dot oversized egg, pink cake plate, and mini copper-topped canister were from HomeGoods as well.

And for those wondering, I got my black wishbone dining chairs here.

 

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

You’ve seen my metallic bunnies – most recently in my Cottontail Martini post. I cannot get enough of them. They make me happy. A few of them tucked here and there added to the Easter theme.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

I also grabbed a few goodies at Target. The white pitcher, striped plates, and chick salt and pepper shakers are from their new collection of dishes and serving pieces that I adore.

http://inspiredbycharm.com/2017/03/cottontail-martini.html

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

The gold and white bunny straws also came from Target (I found them in the Dollar Spot at the front of the store.) I briefly thought about DIYing some, but for only $3, into my cart these ready-made ones went. It was probably cheaper that way, and I’m sure it saved an hour or more of my time. Win!

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

The tray is something I put on the table after Christmas. However, it ended up working great. Not only did it tie in the wood of the table, but it made the center area of the table more functional. (I believe I picked that up at Target too.)

At mealtime, the tray can be lifted off to make room for food. At the end of lunch or dinner, it can be returned loaded with desserts. It’s little touches like this that make entertaining feel special.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

You’ll also notice that I often use these little faceted vases. I got them from DwellStudio a few years ago and absolutely love them. Because they are small, they don’t require a lot of flowers. Even better, when you fill them, the small opening almost arranges the flowers for you. You really can’t go wrong. I use them in other areas of my home for the same reason.

The flatware, glasses, and dinner plates were things I already had. I typically use a white dinner plate and don’t fuss too much with glassware. Something clear and classic will always work.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

To finish things off, I added a bunch of flowers that I picked up at the grocery store and arranged myself. It doesn’t get easier than that.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

I think that’s about it. I’m not sure how much all of this helps, but hopefully, you’re feeling inspired to style you own table for spring or Easter.

Easter and spring decorating ideas - An Eclectic and Colorful Easter Table | Inspired by Charm

And just a reminder: If you’re ever struggling with knowing where to begin, deciding on your color scheme is likely to help. Also picking a fun theme (bunnies, for example) can make things seem a bit easier and less intimidating.

Whatever you do, have fun with it. Happy entertaining, my friends!

Earlier this week, I shared a post filled with Easter entertaining ideas, including sweet treats, Easter baskets, and a themed tablescape. Since there were so many things happening in that post, I wanted to circle back and talk a bit more about the table. About a month ago I took a trip to HomeGoods and […]




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Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm
This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line.

Back in January, I set sail again with Carnival Cruise Line. My mom and I boarded Carnival’s new ship, Carnival Vista, for an eight-day vacation through the Southern Caribbean. As you might guess, we made lots of fabulous memories – just what we needed to help us trudge through these last few weeks of winter.

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm

While there are many reasons to love cruising, one of mine is the chance to visit the different ports of call. Typically, a multi-day cruise is made up of days at sea (The ship is just sailing over the vast ocean.) and port days (The ship stops for an extended time at a beautiful, tropical location.) With stops lasting anywhere from 6 to 10 hours, people have the opportunity to get off the boat and spend time relaxing on the beach, hitting up the local shops, or jetting off an adventurous excursion. It’s the passenger’s choice.

I’ve been on quite a few cruises at this point, so today I thought I’d share a few tips for getting the most out of your port of call experience. Whether you’re planning to book a cruise or already have one scheduled, I hope you’ll find these suggestions helpful.

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Tips for Cruising and getting the most out of the Ports of Call

1. Plan Ahead
The internet offers a wealth of information on every port of call. Do some research to figure out what the options are when you dock. Is there a beautiful beach nearby? A cool excursion you want to take? A must-see attraction? Planning ahead is the best way to get the most out of your visit.

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm

 Eagle Beach, Aruba

On my most recent cruise, I knew I wanted to go to Eagle Beach in Aruba. I had heard and read marvelous things about it, so it was a must for me. Before sailing I research its location, figuring out how to get there (cab, public transportation, bicycle) and noting a few things nearby. Be sure to find out how much time you have at the port and plan accordingly. It’s very important to know your ship’s timetable to ensure you’re back on board before the ship leaves the dock.

2. Book an Excursion
If you’re not thrilled about planning your port of call experience yourself or are just not sure what to do at each destination, then you’re in luck. For every destination, Carnival has a selection of the best excursions so you can relax and focus on having fun.

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm

 La Romana, Dominican Republic

There are excursions for everyone. You can swim with the dolphins, explore ancient ruins, hop on a catamaran to go snorkeling, tour the local city, or just relax at a beach.

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm

Once you book your cruise, check out the excursions available for each of your destinations to see what strikes your fancy. On our recent cruise, Mom and I felt adventurous and decided to zip line in La Romana in the Dominican Republic. I was so proud of my mom who managed 12 different zip lines through the jungle that varied in length and speed. I think she’s now a zip lining pro!

3. Try Something New
What I love about the hundreds of excursions that Carnival offers is that there is bound to be a lot of things I’ve never done before. For my Mom and me, zip lining was a new experience. Yours could be deep sea fishing, driving an ATV through the jungle, or even learning how to make salsa while salsa dancing. (Yes, that is an actual excursion, and it’s one that I greatly enjoyed.)

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm

 Grank Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands

If it’s within your physical abilities, try something new and different. You never know what might become your next favorite thing. You’re on vacation after all, so why not!?

4. Experience the Beach
Thanks to cruising I’ve seen some incredibly beautiful beaches. In fact, when we stopped in Aruba and Grand Turk on this most recent cruise, I saw the bluest and clearest waters I’ve ever seen.

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm

 Eagle Beach, Aruba

If your perfect vacation is simply lounging on the beach, then that’s what you should do at each destination. Again, do your research and find the best and closest beach or book a beach excursion with Carnival. Be sure to note things such as public restrooms and places to grab a snack or rent beach chairs. Knowing this in advance will give you more time to enjoy those crystal clear blue waters.

5. Shop
As you might imagine, when a cruise ship with a couple thousand guests pulls into a port almost daily, there’s going to be some shopping. I don’t spend too much time shopping, but I do like to bring back a few souvenirs. (You can check out my post for decorating with travel souvenirs here.)

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm

 Wilemstad, Curaçao

When possible, I like to find local shops that sell items that are handmade or indigenous to the area. Naturally, there are many tourist shops, and while those have their appeal, I prefer unique items.

Also, if shopping is high on your list, you should know that Carnival will have sessions to guide you through recommended shops prior to each port of call. Plus, they offer shopping guides, tips for finding the best deals, and even a few coupons. You can shop until you drop!

Tips for Cruising and visiting the Ports of Call | Inspired by Charm

 Miami, Florida

Bonus Tip: With all of this being said, it’s YOUR vacation, so do what works best for you. I will admit that there were days when I decided to stay on board and skip a port of call. (Usually, it was because I had already been there.) If your vacation goal is to relax, don’t feel guilty about parking yourself on a lounge chair with a cocktail and your favorite book. The choice is yours, and you have oodles of options for making the cruise the vacation you want and need. That’s one of the many things I love about cruising.

I hope you found these tips useful if you’re planning to set sail anytime soon. As always, safe travels and happy cruising!

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

This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line. Back in January, I set sail again with Carnival Cruise Line. My mom and I boarded Carnival’s new ship, Carnival Vista, for an eight-day vacation through the Southern Caribbean. As you might guess, we made lots of fabulous memories – just what we needed to help us […]




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Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Yesterday I was so excited to share my Easter tablescape with you. That post also included a few entertaining ideas and sweet treats. As promised, today I’m back with all the details, plus the recipe, for making those fun, colorful, and surprising cupcakes.

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

When I first saw the Vanilla Cupcake M&Ms, I immediately began to brainstorm how I might use them on my table or in a recipe. As I got to thinking, Amanda of I am Baker came to mind. Not only is she the “Queen of Cake”, but she is also the “President of Surprise-Inside Cakes.” She even wrote the book on it. (It’s called Surprise-Inside Cakes!)

So that’s when my plan came together. I’d bake classic yellow cupcakes, hollow out the centers, fill them with the M&Ms, and top things off with sprinkles. Done!

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

If you want to join in the fun, first you’ll need to bake cupcakes. I’m sharing a recipe below, but feel free to use a box mix or your favorite recipe.

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Once your cupcakes are cooled, use a knife to cut a circle in the top of each cupcake. Carefully, pop that piece out and set it safely aside because you’ll need it later. To create a little space inside each cupcake, use a spoon to remove some of the cake. (It’s OK to sample what you remove. You deserve it.)

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Now tuck in 5 or 6 M&Ms in each cupcake and replace the reserved piece of cake in the top.

Finally, pipe on the frosting (I used a classic buttercream that was tinted light pink) and decorate it with sprinkles. The surprise is now set!

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Sidenote: Mixing a variety of sprinkles to create one mega sprinkle is now a trend. I gave it a try and must say I’m kind of digging it!

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

In my opinion, cupcakes are an excellent dessert for almost any occasion. People seem to like them, and they are easy to whip up, especially if you use a box mix. (Please don’t use a store-bought frosting, however. Homemade is a trillion times better.)

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Filling cupcakes with M&Ms just makes the whole experience that much better. What do you think?

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Surprise-Inside Spring Cupcakes

Makes about 24 cupcakes

Here's what you will need:
3 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 bag Vanilla Cupcake M&Ms

Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons milk
Pink food coloring
Sprinkles for decoration

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans (24 cupcakes total) with paper liners and set them set aside.

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

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until light and fluffy (5-6 minutes).

Add the eggs to your sugar mixture, one at a time, and blend well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the eggs incorporated, add the dry ingredients. Alternate with your milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Divide the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, filling each cupcake liner about three-quarters full.

Bake for 16-20 minutes or until the cupcake springs back when pressed in the center. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

While your cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it becomes pale and fluffy.

Adjust the mixer to low speed and add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until it is incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the vanilla extract, salt, 2 tablespoons of milk, and food coloring. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired constancy.

Add the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large open-star tip.

To add the M&Ms to the cupcakes: Use a small paring knife to cut a circle in the top of each cupcake. Gently remove the section of cut cupcake and reserve.

Using a teaspoon, create a small cavity in the cupcake. Fill with 5 or 6 M&Ms. Then replace the reserved cake circle to seal in the M&Ms. Pipe each cupcake with buttercream frosting and top with sprinkles.

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So fun, right?

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

As fabulous as cupcakes are on their own, these few extra steps will allow you to create something special and unique for your guests to enjoy.

Surprise-Inspired Spring Cupcakes - cupcake dessert recipe for Spring and Easter | Inspired by Charm

(Just in case you’re looking for the recipe for the Peanut Butter Cookies for Spring, you can find it here.)

Happy Easter and Happy Baking!

Yesterday I was so excited to share my Easter tablescape with you. That post also included a few entertaining ideas and sweet treats. As promised, today I’m back with all the details, plus the recipe, for making those fun, colorful, and surprising cupcakes. When I first saw the Vanilla Cupcake M&Ms, I immediately began to […]




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Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips
This post is sponsored by M&Ms and Dove. As always all opinions are my own.

With Spring on its way, Easter is also quickly approaching. I don’t know about you, but holidays always tend to sneak up on me. That’s why I’m getting a head start this year, and I’m sharing it with you. This past weekend I styled a colorful Easter tablescape and whipped up “bunny baskets” in the spirit of the season. Let me show you what I created!

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

To help me on this decorating adventure, I’ve team up with Mars Chocolate. They’re the people who make M&Ms, Dove Chocolate, and many of your favorite treats, such as Twix, Snickers, and Milky Way. This year Mars has created two candies available only at Target. I’ll tell you more about them shortly.

Let’s start with the table!

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

As with any table setting, I like to start with a color story. For Easter, I opted for pastels with a stronger focus on pinks and metallics. (Me? Metallics? Shocking, I know.) Not having much in the way of Easter decor, I also picked up lots of bunnies and other accessories that fit my theme.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

I knew that I wanted to use chocolate as part of my display. This large Dove Chocolate bunny was just begging to be the focal point of each of my place settings. And with my bunnies theme running throughout the table, they were the perfect addition.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

 

I paired each of them with an adorable egg cup filled with some chocolate. (There is no such thing as too much chocolate.)

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Speaking of place settings, among the things I picked up, were these white and metallic tea towels that functioned as napkins. If you’re ever struggling to find the perfect napkin, check out the tea towels. I prefer the larger size of the tea towels, and they always seem to be available in fun patterns and textures.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

To add more color to the table, I filled these adorable copper-topped jars with Dove Milk Chocolate Eggs. They are great for a delicious silky smooth pre-meal treat or fun favors for guests to take home.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

I brought the entire table together with a few vases of flowers. I found all of these blooms at a grocery store and assembled the arrangements myself. The two low-profile arrangements are designed to remain on the table during the meal. The larger arrangement will be removed right before dinner is served.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

In the center of the table, I used a tray to add texture and corral decorative items. What I love about a tray is that when it’s time to eat, it (and everything that’s on it) can be quickly and easily removed, making room for food and encouraging conversation.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Once dinner is finished, you can return the tray to the table, but this time have it filled with desserts. It’s magic!

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Of course, you knew a tablescape wouldn’t be complete without food (dessert, to be specific), right? A few weeks ago I showed you how to make these Soft Peanut Butter Cookies. (You can get the recipe here.) To dress them up for spring, I mixed pastel M&Ms into the batter. I also added a few more M&Ms on the top of the cookies after they came out of the oven so that the colors could really shine.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

The combination of peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorites, especially this time of year, so these cookies are a winner.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

I was also inspired to create another dessert thanks to these Vanilla Cupcake M&Ms. (These are one of the new Mars candies for sale only at Target.) While they are delicious on their own, I thought it would be fun to incorporate them into actual cupcakes, so that’s what I did.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

I’m calling these Surprise-Inside Spring Cupcakes! You can get the recipe here.

Once they were baked (and cooled), I created a hole in the center of each and filled it with Vanilla Cupcake M&Ms. Topped with a mound of frosting and sprinkles, your guests will not know what’s inside until they go in for a bite.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Vanilla Cupcake M&Ms come spilling out for a delicious and unique Easter surprise! You can read more about them and get the recipe here.

I’ve made plenty of cupcakes and cookies so that each guest could have one if they’d like, and take a few home to share with family and friends.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Now, as if all that goodness wasn’t enough, I had some more chocolate that wanted to join the party, so I put together these quick Easter baskets.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Here are my tips for creating a beautiful Easter basket:

1. Select a Unique Basket – Start with a special basket or container. Think of the basket as something that the recipient can reuse and not just throw into a closet. The cuter the basket, the more likely it is to be used. I chose these baskets because of their modern touches, including a thread wrapped handle and pom poms. (Who needs a bow on a basket that is this cute?) I also went for a non-traditional option and used a decorative box as a basket. Remember, any container that you can pack with chocolate and treats will work for an Easter basket.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

2. Fill in the Bottom – To create a basket that looks full, use tissue paper or packing material to first fill up the bottom of the basket. Then top the fill with grass and add goodies. Having all of your treats resting high up in the basket creates the illusion of a bountiful basket. Plus, it just looks prettier. Once your treats are tucked in place, add a bit more grass here and there to complete the look.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

3. Decide on a Color Scheme – If you’re looking to create something a bit more chic, have a color scheme in mind. I created two baskets, one with a cool theme of blues and greens and one with warmer colors – pinks and oranges. Having a color scheme will leave your basket looking beautiful and intentional. My colors schemes were inspired by the fun colors of the M&Ms containers.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

4. Remember the Recipient – When giving any gift, you want to keep the recipient in mind. My intent with these two baskets was to create something for grown-ups. (Adults like receiving baskets full of chocolate, too.) That’s why I tucked in things such as a dishtowel and appetizer plates. While everyone loves chocolates for Easter, it’s nice to have a functional and lasting gift as well.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

4. Load it with Chocolate – Because it’s Easter, you’ll want to have lots of chocolate spilling out of your baskets. When shopping for treats, get a variety of shapes and sizes. This will make your basket more visually interesting. I also like to get smaller items to fill in the gaps. These Dove Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs worked perfectly for this. (This is the other new Mars product that’s available only at Target for a limited time, and boy is it delicious!)

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

5. Skip the Cellophane – If possible, don’t wrap your basket in cellophane. While I’ve used it in the past, I find it to be a bit excessive, wasteful, and distracting from all of the beauty that’s inside. If you will be transporting the baskets and are afraid the contents will move around or fall out, then cellophane is a smart solution. Otherwise, save yourself a few bucks and leave it at the store.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

And that’s it, my friends. The table is set, the flowers are arranged, the dessert is served, and the baskets are ready. I think we’re prepared for Easter! I hope you enjoyed my Easter celebration and are feeling a bit more inspired to host your own.

Easter Entertaining Ideas | Spring Tablescape and Easter Basket Tips

Remember to stock up on delicious Mars Chocolates by visiting Target. Use the Cartwheel app to save  on select Mars chocolate purchases. (That way you can buy more! It will be our little secret.)

http://inspiredbycharm.com/2017/02/soft-peanut-butter-cookies-for-spring.html

Happy Easter!

This post is sponsored by M&Ms and Dove. As always all opinions are my own. With Spring on its way, Easter is also quickly approaching. I don’t know about you, but holidays always tend to sneak up on me. That’s why I’m getting a head start this year, and I’m sharing it with you. This past […]




THIS POST HAS 26 COMMENTS
Join the conversation.






Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Okay, full disclosure. For the past couple weeks, I have been oddly obsessed with Easter. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m so looking forward to spring or that I recently purchased some really cute bunny home accessories. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. Who knows.

Whatever the reason, I have put this latest obsession to good use and whipped up a variety of beautiful spring ideas to share with you. Today, let’s continue the fun with this Cottontail Martini.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

If you haven’t already guessed, this martini was inspired by Peter Cottontail, the rabbit that went hoppin’ down the bunny trail. (The word “cocktail” made me think of the song.) This cocktail has a delightful coconut flavor and an adorable marshmallow tail.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

I opted to use coconut in this martini because of its white color and the fact that it reminds me of springtime.

The cocktail base is two liquors: whipped vodka and coconut rum. Yes, whipped vodka is a flavored vodka, and it’s actually pretty tasty. (I use the Pinnacle brand.) Along with the liquors, you’ll need half and half, cream of coconut. (I recommend this brand.), and pineapple juice. I know you might be tempted to skip the pineapple juice, but don’t. The tropical fruitiness that it brings to this martini is a must.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

For garnish, start by rimming the glass with coconut. To help the coconut stick, give it a quick chop before using it. I also prefer to use honey as the “glue.” That seems to work best.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

For the pièce de résistance, cut a small slit in a marshmallow and hang it on the edge of the glass.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Voila! Adorable and delicious.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Coconut is one of my favorite Easter flavors, so this Cottontail Martini is a clear winner in my book. That, plus the marshmallow “tail,” will make this the perfect martini for all of your spring celebrations.

Let’s shake one up.

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Cottontail Martini

Makes 1 martini

Here's what you will need:
1.5 ounces whipped vodka (or vanilla vodka)
1.5 ounces coconut rum
2 ounces half and half
1/2 ounce cream of coconut
Splash of pineapple juice
Honey, chopped sweetened coconut, and marshmallow to garnish

Begin with two shallow dishes. To one, add a teaspoon of honey. To the other, add the sweetened coconut. (I recommend giving the coconut a rough chop before using.) Rim the edge of the martini glass first in the honey and then in the coconut. Set aside.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the whipped vodka, coconut rum, half and half, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice. Shake vigorously; then strain into your prepared martini glass.

Using a knife, make a small slit in a marshmallow. Slip the marshmallow on the side of the martini glass.

Sip and enjoy!

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I certainly hope you find this martini to be delicious, fun, and festive.


Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Bottoms up!

Cottontail Martini - a coconut martini cocktail recipe for spring and Easter.

Okay, full disclosure. For the past couple weeks, I have been oddly obsessed with Easter. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m so looking forward to spring or that I recently purchased some really cute bunny home accessories. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I have put this latest […]




THIS POST HAS 16 COMMENTS
Join the conversation.






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