Valentine's Decor Inspiration

The first month of 2016 is coming to an end and that means that it is time to start celebrating the month of love!  Valentine's Day is always a bright spot in the middle of winter and a great excuse to bring some bright fun colors into your home.

My kids love to see little signs of holiday decor around the house no matter what the upcoming holiday is!  One of the first places they expect to see new decor is the mantel.  I love to change my mantel for the season.

Pictured above is my Valentine's Day mantel from several years ago.  You can read more about it here.  I like to add the colors of the holiday without bringing in too many hearts and cupids.

Valentines Day Mantel Ideas
A Place For Us

I love this mantel because it is so simple and fun.  The mustache is an adorable touch and I love how the black hearts are an unexpected play on the traditional.

DIY Valentine's day mantel with love art
This next mantel really captures both winter and Valentine's Day perfectly.  I love the white wintry branches and pine cones mixed with the touches of red.

Whimsical Treasures Decor
This one is just so cute!  I love the paper wreath and the adorable "be mine" banner.  I also love how several of these mantels utilize empty frames to draw your focus and tie everything together.

Love Mantle 5
The Diary of Dave's Wife
This last mantel is so cute, it would be perfect for a house like mine filled with kids.  In fact, I think that the kids could easily help create these adorable garlands with paper, cute little puff balls and some ribbon.  It would be a perfect Valentine craft!

Let's all bring a  little color into our winter and start celebrating the ones we love a little early this year!

Recipe Review

I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen during the month of January.  Partly because we just enjoy eating a lot of nice hot meals in the winter and partly because we have decided to go the entire month without eating out.  It has been a fun challenge and easier than expected.  I have missed my Starbucks but I'm getting used to not having it.

During the last few weeks I have tried out a lot of new recipes and I am excited to share my favorites with you here today.  

Let's start with my very favorite.  One night I was really craving Chinese food.  You know the kind that comes in greasy little paper boxes of deliciousness.  Well, we don't have any Chinese restaurants within 40 minutes of our house and we are not eating out this month was time to try my hand and making my own.  I chose three recipes and they were all delicious.  My favorite was this Kung Pao Chicken.

Full of Spicy Wok fired Chicken Breast, Zucchini, Red Bell Peppers and crunchy Peanuts in a Sesame Ginger-Garlic Sauce, this recipe is Authentically Panda Express! The recipe is straight from the source! BACK TO TOP art CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM Panda Express customer favorite Kung Pao Chicken. CLICK FOR LARGE Kung Pao Chicken is tasty, too No luck getting that Orange Chicken recipe, but Panda was willing to part with another of its top dishes. Kung Pao Chicken 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed and drained 1 teaspoon cooking wine 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/3 cup water 2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use 12 whole dry chili peppers (smaller than 3 inches; if longer, cut in half) 1/4 cup diced green onion, white part only, in 1/2-inch pieces 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground garlic 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 ounces dry roasted peanuts » Marinade: 1/4 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 egg 1/4 cup cornstarch 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Combine wine, soy sauce and water; set aside. Heat wok on high heat 10 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat well. Remove chicken from marinade and add to wok. Stir-fry quickly, 60 seconds. Remove chicken; drain well. Add chili peppers. Stir-fry until they darken. If wok becomes too dry, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add green onions, ginger, garlic and crushed red chili pepper. Stir-fry 5 seconds. Return chicken to wok; stir soy sauce/wine mixture and add; stir until sauce boils, then add cornstarch mix to thicken. Add sesame oil and peanuts. Stir and fold until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Serves 3.

The only change I made was leaving out the dried peppers.  I didn't want it to be too spicy for my kids.  The finished product was bright, flavorful and the perfect substitute for Chinese take out.

Along with the Kung Pao chicken I also prepared this delicious beef and broccoli and Chow Mein

Beef and Broccoli

Panda Express Chow Mein Copycat - Tastes just like Panda Express except it takes just minutes to whip up and tastes a million times better!

Let's move from dinner to breakfast!  My kids always look forward to a big hot breakfast on Saturday morning.  I usually make them eggs and then add in some sort of muffin, scone or biscuit.  Of course their very favorite is the Saturday mornings that I make cinnamon rolls.  Unfortunately, that tends to take way longer than I want to spend in the kitchen on a Saturday morning.  This recipe for 1 hour cinnamon rolls really solved that problem and the results were fantastic.  Everything you want in a cinnamon roll.

1 Hour Cinnamon Rolls

The final recipe I want to share today is the perfect kid food.  If your kids love chicken nuggets this is a good alternative to fast food.

The BEST Homemade Chicken Strips Ever - Butter With A Side of Bread

This is the best chicken strip recipe I have ever tried and my kids thought it tasted just like their favorite Chick-Filet!

Those are just a few of my favorites, if you head over to my Facebook page I will be sharing a bonus recipe for a delicious dessert, you won't want to miss it!

Declutter and Destress - Simple Winter Coffee Table Decor

After the Christmas decorations are packed away the house can feel pretty empty. Although it can be a little sad, it is also the perfect time to reorganize and redecorate your favorite and most used spaces. In my house one of our most used spaces is our family room. We love to spend time together on our comfy sofas reading books, playing games and enjoying our fireplace. All of our activity in the family room centers around our coffee table. It is used as a dining table on our pizza nights, an art table, a game table and many other things. But of course it also needs to look pretty! In a house with four children, pretty and functional must meet somewhere in the middle. For coffee table decor, I like to use stacks of favorite books and magazines and contain any decor in a tray to make it easy to move.

A few days ago I was introduced to Chairish, an online marketplace for vintage furniture.   They invited me to style a coffee table chosen from their collection however I wanted.  All of these lovely items can be found on their website.  I had so much fun shopping their site and finding all of these beautiful pieces to decorate my virtual coffee table.  You can find links to each item below:

Retro 1960's–'70s Harper's Bazaar Magazines - Pair ($50)

Ansel Adams: Photographer - Set of 3 Books ($56)

As you can see, there are all kinds of items available at all different price points.  I fell in love with that rustic coffee table and the price is amazing!  If you are snowed in today and need a shopping fix take a few minutes to browse this gorgeous site.

In the image above you can see how I have used similar items to decorate my own coffee table.  I love gathering decor items into a tray because it can be easily moved.  I also love to have a few stacks of books and magazines around for easy access.  You can never have enough reading material.

Don't forget to check out Chairish!  You will love it!

Christmas Tour 2015

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope that you are all enjoying this festive time of year as much as we are.  Every year I look forward to dragging out the Christmas boxes and decorating my home for the season in new ways.  This year I stuck with classic colors and lots of sparkly lights.  I love the classic traditions of Christmas and find it hard to stray away from the reds, greens and golds.

Let me take you on a little tour of the house on Hickory at Christmas time!

Welcome!  We have hung a few lights around our front porch and they look beautiful at night.  Hopefully some time this week I'll be able to snap a shot of them all lit up.

The hall table is decorated simply with a nice think garland and of course my favorite silver star!

This is my view as I work in the kitchen, it is my favorite in the entire house.  I love my little kitchen tree and you get just a peak of our big tree in the family room.

Let me take you into the dining room.  This is one of my favorite spaces to decorate for Christmas.  This year I used a lot of gold and sparkly crystal to give the room an elegant festive look.

For my centerpiece I displayed these adorable gold trees I found at the dollar store.  They were only a dollar each but they still look elegant mixed with a few greens and pine cones on my table.

I used my buffet as the perfect spot to display my live wreath.  It looks beautiful and makes the entire room smell wonderful.

This bookshelf in my dining room really anchors the room and is so fun to decorate for each season.  

That was a lot of pictures!  But I still have one more room to show you.  Let's go into the family room.

The family room is where we spend most of our time.  The kids love to pull their favorite Christmas stories out of this basket and curl up on the couch for a good read in front of the Christmas tree.

My mantel is simple and classic this year.  I always love to incorporate my nutcrackers somewhere and this year they made their way up onto the mantel.

The wicker star lights were a new purchase this year.  I love them so much I think I'll find a place for them even when Christmas is over.

The coffee table is also stacked with piles of Christmas stories.  We can never had too many books around here, and I love to have them at arms reach.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour!  After all of this I think it's time to grab one of those story books and have some snuggle time with my babies in front of that tree.  Thanks for stopping by!

Holiday House walk 2015 link party… Be on next year’s tour!!!  


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