Category Archives: Family

*This post is sponsored by The Home Depot.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

I’m about to say something that I never thought I’d ever say (even though the title of this post probably gave it all away): we decided to re-carpet our already-carpeted front living and dining rooms. Why, you might ask? Well, actually the reasons are quite simple! But first a little back story.

When we first toured this 1960s home as potential buyers, we couldn’t help but notice the dated carpet laid in both the front upstairs living spaces, as well as in the lower level family room. You already heard how we took care of updating the flooring downstairs in partnership with The Home Depot, but now we’re shifting our focus upstairs. To make it all happen, we partnered yet again with the fine folks over at The Home Depot, but this time, we were tasked with testing out a brand new product: PetProof carpet.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

John and I had already been toying with the idea of maintaining a carpeted upstairs long before the brand reached out to us, so their email inviting us to team up to test out modern carpeting felt almost meant to be. I think carpet has a little bit of a bad reputation, but we’ve come to love it.

With four pets in our family, John and I are constantly on the floor with our fur babies in the living room, wrestling, playing fetch, and just generally roughhousing. We had become used to the softness this type of flooring provided as opposed to hardwoods, so we eventually decided to re-carpet the room when the time came to update. It turns out that time was now, and we’ve loved having the serendipitous opportunity to bring our vision for a family-friendly floor upgrade to life.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

With our plans in place, John and I visited our local Home Depot to look at and test out a variety of PetProof samples from the LifeProof line of carpeting. Although we had dozens and dozens of colors, textures, and pile heights to choose from, we ultimately decided to run with something very similar to our existing outdated carpet.

The original carpet (as you can see in the “Before” iPhone shot above) was so old that it felt almost crunchy in places, and was badly bleached from years in the sun, but we still loved the light, bright color-way of the carpet itself. So we carefully compared the old carpet with new PetProof options until we found a color that felt like a seamless upgrade. One design risk we did take, though, was choosing a new style of carpet—one with texture!

In the end, we both agreed on the Sawyer style in “Bare” because it felt just as soft, light, bright, and airy as our old carpet, but it sported a really cool, multi-layered diamond pattern that we thought would give the room a new millennial lease on life.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

A week or so later, and our old carpet was gone under the direction of our two Home Depot installers, and in its place they laid down fresh memory foam padding, followed by our chosen patterned PetProof carpet. I can’t even tell you how nervous I was to walk out from the back office to see the finished product, but the good news is that I loved it.

The pattern is super subtle because of the light color we chose, but it still makes the open concept living and dining rooms feel more pulled together and modern. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at Tonks’ snuggle with the new carpet pictured below.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Speaking of our pets, I’m forgetting the most important part—the details that make this stuff actually “pet proof” as the name suggests! Essentially, this carpet is designed to be an answer to tough pet stain removal and prevention. Since, as pet owners, we’ve come to expect the unexpected, we’re constantly reaching for carpet cleaning products to clean up after a hyper tail that’s spilled a glass of wine on the floor, or a curious paw that has decided the dirt in potted plants was just too tempting to ignore.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

This new carpet helps alleviate stress because it makes pet dander and fur clean-up three times easier, plus it is zero percent moisture absorbent, which makes stain odors a thing of the past. The NanolocTM spill and soil shield makes for quick and easy cleanup, too, something I’ve had the “pleasure” of seeing in action over the course of the past couple of weeks post-install.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

This type of stain resistant carpet is also great for our dining room since it’s all part of the same open concept space as our living room. John and I aren’t messy easters, but in the off chance a glass spills or a handful of crumbs finds its way down to the ground, we’re able to clean it all up within minutes.

Before, we would have had to drag the upright steam cleaner from the basement to get everything looking clean again. Not anymore though. It usually just takes a quick paper towel blot to make the carpet look like new again.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Happily, the heavy duty cleaning abilities of this carpet don’t detract from the super soft feel. It’s just as lovable and livable by all members of our family—both human and pet—and we’ve loved getting down on the floor for lots of quality time with our fur babies the last couple of weeks.

Do you have existing carpet in your home? Have you considered upgrading to modern versions of carpeting? The new stuff that’s on the market nowadays is nothing like the dated stuff you might be used to from decades ago, so don’t write it off as you work to plan future flooring upgrades of your own.

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

Why We Chose To Re-carpet Our Carpeted Living Room | Dream Green DIY + @homedepot #ad

I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with me to participate in this PetProof Program (the “Program”). As a part of the Program, I am receiving compensation in the form of products and services, for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
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*This post is sponsored by Merial, a world-leading animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health and well-being of dogs, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.

The Pros Of Adopting An Older Pet | dreamgreendiy.com + NexGard® (afoxolaner) #itsadog #ad

These words and photos are part of a series that can be seen in full on the It’s a Dog! website. Hop over to ItsADog.com for details on how to enter for your chance to score up to $500 toward your pet registry and a coupon for a six-month supply of NexGard® (afoxolaner) with a prescription from a veterinarian!

First, a confession. Although it’s true that I have had lots of pets in my lifetime (we counted once, and the tally is somewhere in the high 20s), I really am a die-hard cat person. We’ve adopted upwards of a dozen dogs into our family over the past 30 years, but I just can’t help siding more often with the dozen or so felines that we’ve brought home.

That is, of course, until Rocky. This rescued hound dog came into my life at the exact same time that my husband, John, did. He had adopted Rocky from the local SPCA before we started dating, and I remember thinking, “Oh, man…This guy comes with a dog? Can I handle that?” The good news is that I could, and the tradeoff has been more than worth it.

The Pros Of Adopting An Older Pet | dreamgreendiy.com + NexGard® (afoxolaner) #itsadog #ad

Six years later, Rocky is an irreplaceable part of our family. Truthfully (although perhaps slightly grudgingly admitted), this 8-year-old pup is the perfect dog for me. He rarely barks, he sleeps almost all day long, and is an even better cuddler in bed than any one of our three cats.

John actually adopted Rocky from the shelter when he was already several years old, so when the
NexGard® (afoxolaner) team got in touch to ask if I’d like to share a few reasons why people ought to adopt older pets, I couldn’t possibly think of a more authentic topic to write about.

The Pros Of Adopting An Older Pet | dreamgreendiy.com + NexGard® (afoxolaner) #itsadog #ad

4 Reasons to Adopt An Older Pet

  1. ENERGY: Senior age dogs are typically more low-key than energetic youngsters. If you’re anything like me and get a little anxious around jumpy dogs, an older, more gentle-natured dog might be a better fit for you.
  2. TRAINING: Imagine if you were to adopt a teenager versus a baby (the human variety, that is!). Your teen would already be able to make his own snacks, brush his own teeth, do his own homework, and run to catch the bus on his own, whereas you’d have to do all of that and more for a baby. The concept is the same when adopting an older dog versus a puppy. While it’s not always the case, chances are good that you can check things like house-training and, often times, common obedience off the list before even bringing your new dog home!
  3. LOYALTY: Have you ever noticed how puppies tend to avoid looking you in the eye, or how easily distracted they are when something wanders into their line of sight? Well, with older dogs, they really just want to focus on you. Prepare to have a brand new shadow to love on, because your newly-adopted older dog will likely latch onto you like glue. Loyalty is their specialty.
  4. SAVING A LIFE IN NEED: Although it’s not fun to think about, older dogs need attention more than any other dog at your local shelter. Puppies are generally snapped up by families within days of making their way to the SPCA, whereas senior dogs could spend months (even years!) waiting for their forever homes. While you certainly sacrifice a handful of extra years of companionship when adopting a pet who’s already well into her lifetime, no one will be more appreciative of the chance you’re taking than that dog.

The Pros Of Adopting An Older Pet | dreamgreendiy.com + NexGard® (afoxolaner) #itsadog #ad

Embarking (pun intended!) on new pet ownership is a big step. There is so much to consider and there are so many questions to ask, but the uncertainty is well worth the moment you lay eyes on the dog you’re meant to love for his or her entire life.

In order to make your “It’s a Dog!” announcement to family and friends even more thrilling, I’m excited to share that the NexGard team is launching an online pet registry.

If you’re already familiar with traditional bridal and baby shower registries, then this concept is a simple one. Now through October, visit ItsADog.com to curate and share a personalized registry for your pet, filled with many of the things he or she will need when you bring them home—things like food and water bowls, a crate, soft blankets, and toys. Then, you can share your registry with loved ones who can help make your new arrival feel at home from day one. The other good news is that you can also enter their sweepstakes for a chance to win up to $500 in prizes! Prizes will be awarded each month.

The Pros Of Adopting An Older Pet | dreamgreendiy.com + NexGard® (afoxolaner) #itsadog #ad

Deciding which dog to bring home from the shelter is a huge decision. Figuring out which new pet necessities to bring home from the store shouldn’t be! The NexGard team wants to lend a helping hand in welcoming your new dog—whether he or she is a puppy or a senior—into their new home. So, let them make this big life transition a little easier on both of you by visiting www.ItsADog.com to get educated and excited now.

The Pros Of Adopting An Older Pet | dreamgreendiy.com + NexGard® (afoxolaner) #itsadog #ad

*Merial worked with bloggers like me for its It’s a Dog! program. This blog has been written by me on behalf of Merial, the maker of NexGard. Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim. I received compensation for my time. ®NexGard is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2017 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. [IAD_Social1] (4/17)

*This post was sponsored by Oriental Trading

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

I am so excited to finally reveal the entire Pantone-inspired luncheon tablescape I created for Oriental Trading Company! I snuck in a few peeks a couple of weeks ago when I shared my hack for doubling deli pasta salad, but now the entire collection of posts is officially live, and I can send you on your merry way to check them all out, one by one.

This was actually the first entertaining feature that I was able to pitch and execute since deciding to rethink how I conceptualized things for the blog back at the beginning of 2017. In years before, as you know, I typically went really bold and colorful with my parties, but this season I’m trying to be more intentional about a classic, neutrals-based look. This new aesthetic suits my current lifestyle, which is centered on investing only in things I know I’ll love long-term rather than for a single season.

Click over to Oriental Trading to see my feature all about How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon, and continue scrolling for a few behind-the-scenes tid bits, plus extra links to individual DIY tutorials.

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

The tutorial I came up with for DIY Leafy Burlap Place Settings truly takes just 30 minutes (if that), and feels so sophisticated despite the inexpensive materials I was able to use.

My favorite DIY project to come out of this collection though is the set of DIY Grassy Placecard Holders. When I create placecards for the blog, I love to get creative with the names I use and display. This go around, I decided to pay homage to my team mates over at Glitter Guide. It was fun to think, even just for an imaginative moment, that our team could all be in one place since we’re all scattered across the United States—from Annapolis and New York, to California, Nashville, and right here in Waynesboro, Virginia.

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

I’m also pretty partial to the DIY Leafy Beaded Faux Leather Napkin Rings I created for this green-inspired luncheon. I am so drawn to organic, wrapped textures right now, so these beaded napkin rings felt just right. I love that they can be customized to any style and color palette you want, too!

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

Hop over to the Oriental Trading blog to see so many more photos, plus the breakdown behind everything you see displayed here in my teaser post today: the full tablescape story and tutorials for DIY Leafy Beaded Faux Leather Napkin RingsDIY Grassy Placecard Holders, and DIY Leafy Burlap Place Settings. Here’s hoping you’ll soon feel inspired to throw a Pantone-inspired party of your own this spring or summer!

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

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* This post was sponsored by Duraflame

5 Precautions To Take At Your Festive Fire Pit Party | dreamgreendiy.com + @duraflame

Today is an extra special day in my little world, because this morning I turned 31 years old! As soon as April comes around, I tend to get questions from friends and family asking how I’d like to spend my birthday. The answer is almost always the same: something ultra low key with just a handful of the people I love most. This usually involves things like a classic movie night, a wine and cheese dinner date in with everyone, or—as was the case this year—a simple gathering around our DIY fire pit in the back yard.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of an (unofficial) pyro. I could sit around a fire for hours and hours, flaming sticks in-hand, and there’s almost no better smell on earth to me than bonfire smoke. So, in order to properly appreciate my birthday bonfire this year, I teamed up once again with the team over at Duraflame. We tested their Campfire Roasting Logs around the pit in honor of the occasion and, just like always, had the time of our lives.

5 Precautions To Take At Your Festive Fire Pit Party | dreamgreendiy.com + @duraflame

5 Precautions To Take At Your Festive Fire Pit Party | dreamgreendiy.com + @duraflame

If you ask me, there’s practically no better way to ring in a new year of life than gathered around a toasty fire, s’mores fixings in-hand, and good company all around. But, that said, in order to really appreciate this kind of party, it’s important to do a little bit of pre-planning before plopping down in those camping chairs.

As John and I worked to set up our outdoor celebration over the weekend, we made sure to keep a running list of all the little precautions we took before friends and family arrived. Most of these bullet points below you’ll already know, but sometimes it’s good to hear things all over again, plus you might just learn something you didn’t know before! Read on for the five main takeaways we came up with before lighting things up at my party.

5 Precautions To Take At Your Festive Fire Pit Party | dreamgreendiy.com + @duraflame

5 Precautions To Take Around A Fire Pit

  1. Check the forecast: Of course, rain is never ideal for your backyard fire pit party, but windy conditions also offer enough reason to postpone. Heavy breezes have the power to blow fire-causing embers off into surrounding areas, so do your best to schedule your outdoor gathering on a clear, quiet evening.
  2. Consider your combustibles: Beware of using pressure-treated wood in your fire pit. This type of material often contains harmful toxins that you and your pals definitely don’t want to be breathing in. Better yet, save a tree and skip traditional wood altogether. Use Campfire Roasting Logs, which are made from 100 percent renewable resources (like real wood charcoal!) and are a USDA certified biobased product.
  3. Light things up: If you plan to be relaxing around the fire pit after dark, make sure to have either a flash light or lantern around for easy nighttime maneuverability. Having a light source on hand could save you and your friends from after-dark falls and will make that hunt for extra roasting sticks much easier, too.
  4. Clear is key: Make sure your fire pit and flames are at least 10 feet away from any other combustable materials. It may be second nature to look up to make sure there aren’t any low-hanging branches, but it’s important to look down and around, too. Before lighting your fire, scoop away loose branches and leaves so that you’re left with a clear area around the pit, and don’t forget to keep your fire’s flames relatively low as well. There’s no need to have an extra tall fire since roasting treats really only requires embers.
  5. Water works: It, of course, goes without saying, but always (always!) have a bucket of water and/or hose within reach just in case the fire gets out of hand or someone gets a little closer to the flames than they should. You probably won’t have to use your water source for emergencies, but as they say—it’s better to be safe than sorry.

5 Precautions To Take At Your Festive Fire Pit Party | dreamgreendiy.com + @duraflame

As a generally anxious type of person, I need to think way ahead in order to really enjoy myself at any type of gathering or party, and this weekend’s birthday fire pit soirée was no different. Happily, because John and I had planned through all of the “what ifs,” I was truly able to relax knowing that we were covered for almost any kind of uncertainty. The only thing I had to worry about catching on fire was the marshmallow on the end of my stick—and that’s something I don’t mind mulling over any day of the week.

5 Precautions To Take At Your Festive Fire Pit Party | dreamgreendiy.com + @duraflame

5 Precautions To Take At Your Festive Fire Pit Party | dreamgreendiy.com + @duraflame

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How To Organize Paper Clutter & Memorabilia

Earlier this year, I received a reader comment over on Facebook that immediately sparked a lot of thought. Simply put, she said, “I have such trouble with paper clutter…so much trouble. I am 15 years behind in corralling my memorabilia.” It got me thinking, how do I actually keep paper clutter at bay?!

I think these types of everyday routines get so engrained in our minds and lives, that we often don’t even think about things as we do them. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that John and I actually have a pretty set system for keeping our paper collection under control.

Whether you’re working to purge and organize in honor of spring cleaning season, or you’re in desperate need of a new daily routine, I’m offering the two main systems we use (plus a handful of bonus tips, too) that have helped us hold on to our sanity where paper is concerned.

How To Organize Paper Clutter & Memorabilia

Toss It In A Tray

The main place we toss paper clutter is in a tray that we keep tucked inside an extra deep kitchen drawer. Anything from store receipts (the kind that I might need to use for returns later on) and electronics shipping labels, to medical paperwork and utility bills all ends up in this tray. The drawer is right near the front door, which makes it an easy spot to reach for when I clean out my purse or when we sort through mail.

Whenever the tray gets a little full, I take 15 minutes to sit at the kitchen table and weed through the paperwork. Anything that we don’t need anymore can be tossed, and whatever needs to stay either goes back in the tray for easy handling or in a filing cabinet in my office for long-term storage.

As for paper clutter that you immediately recognize isn’t useful? Put it directly into the recycle bin. We keep a reusable grocery bag hanging in our pantry that we fill with things like ripped-open envelopes, catalogs, expired coupons, and the like. Once the bag gets full, we take it down off the hook and tote it out to the car along with our other plastic and glass recycling, and head to the local recycle center here in town for disposal. There’s just no sense in cluttering either your important papers tray or your trash can with these useless pieces of paper—stick them right in the recycle pile.

How To Organize Paper Clutter & Memorabilia

Tuck It Behind Glass

Now, if you noticed, the reader who inspired this post mentioned two very separate types of paper: clutter and memorabilia. Since we don’t treat these two things the same, I wanted to make sure that I touched on both. Our clutter paper storage I explained above, but when it comes to precious memorabilia (think: special cards, notes, and clippings), I like to put them behind glass in a frame.

Since paper memorabilia tends to be pretty priceless, I hate the idea of filing it away in a drawer or tray where it will never get enjoyed. So I purchased an armful of inexpensive white wall frames from Michael’s, and then filled the frames with our most prized paperwork and memories. You can fill a single frame with 5-6 pieces of paper because it’s all flat, making it the perfect place to store your favorite items, even when not on display in the front of the frame.

You could try this trick with favorite birthday cards from your grandmother who might not be with you any longer, a stack of family photos, or children’s artwork, but I personally love to keep and display a rotating collection of my magazine features. It’s such a fun way to celebrate these milestones and means that I’m not cluttering up my desk drawers with clippings that never actually see the light of day.

How To Organize Paper Clutter & Memorabilia

Schedule A Paper Purge Day

The last thing I wanted to address was getting an already-out-of-control situation in good order. We do our best to keep up with the two aforementioned systems each and every week, but what if, like the reader, you’re 15 years behind in getting your papers organized? Well, the short (but long) answer is that it’s going to take some time.

Set aside one day in your calendar to sit down with those stacks of paper and just go through them one by one. Try not to spend more than a few seconds on each piece of paper so that you can avoid overthinking things. The point of this exercise is to get rid of paper you no longer need, so be cutthroat!

Try creating piles: one for toss (destined for the recycle bin), one for keep (to go in a set filing system), and one for sensitive materials that need to be shredded. If you haven’t even looked at a piece of paper in several years, it’s almost definitely going to be tossed or shredded, whereas things like important bills, receipts, and medical papers might need to be kept in a more permanent (but organized) filing cabinet or drawer in your home.

How To Organize Paper Clutter & Memorabilia

One last thing I wanted to suggest pertains to manuals. I can’t tell you how many manuals we personally have stored carefully away in our home, only to be forgotten about and never used, even years later. The fact of the matter is that, these days, electronics and appliance manuals can almost always be found online, so holding on to these typically bulky booklets is just actively wasting space.

When you run across manuals in your day of paper purging, they should automatically go in the recycle pile. Even if all you do is get rid of manuals one day, your paper collection is likely to noticeably decrease—along with your stress level.

What do you think? Could these tricks help corral your paperwork and favorite flat memories? I’m dying to hear your own paper storage solutions, so do tell in the comments below.

How To Organize Paper Clutter & Memorabilia

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Embracing Imperfection In This "Picture-Perfect" Age | dreamgreendiy.com + @SHOPBRIKA

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that things like this blog, magazines, and even Instagram feeds have fooled us all into thinking that our homes and everyday routines have to be perfectly styled and pristine. Enough is enough already! It’s time to let go of the notion that life has to look constantly picture-perfect.

Now, of course, I’m 100 percent fully aware that my saying that is a little hypocritical since the concept of “pretty” is my philosophy with just about everything (okay, really, everything) I share here on the blog, but that’s only because I’m sure you guys don’t want to actually look at laundry piled on the floor or crumpled potato chip bags lying on the coffee table. Believe me. It’s all there behind the scenes.

Embracing Imperfection In This "Picture-Perfect" Age | dreamgreendiy.com + @SHOPBRIKA

I recently ordered this Calm book from The School of Life and BRIKA and have been doing my best to really be intentional about the sense of peace I welcome into my life on a day to day basis. I don’t want to fixate on the placement of pillows on our living room couch until they’re just so, and I wish that I didn’t always feel so dejected over how dark our window-less hallway looks.

Although my type A personality will probably always push me towards perfection no matter how many “self help” type books I read, I want to try harder to see the beauty in common moments. I want to be able to see those crooked pillows and smile as I remember lounging there with a good book earlier in the day. I want to be able to walk down our hallway and cherish every footstep because our house (from the windowless sections to the bright spots) is truly our dream home.

Embracing Imperfection In This "Picture-Perfect" Age | dreamgreendiy.com + @SHOPBRIKA

Anyway, I just wanted to challenge all of you to think about letting go of pressure to make your homes and lives as picture-perfect as mainstream media has led you to believe they need to be. Life is anything but perfect. The beauty is really in those goofy, crooked, candid, messy moments when you completely forget about the way something looks and revel in just how it feels.

I hope you take today, this season, or even the entire year to refocus your energy on embracing imperfection and appreciating a pretty image rather than taking it as your own personal challenge to follow suit. After all, life sure is beautiful—unmade bed, dirty dishes, bare feet, and all.

Embracing Imperfection In This "Picture-Perfect" Age | dreamgreendiy.com + @SHOPBRIKA

RESOURCES: Calm book, Large House Serving Tray, Tipsy Writer, The Takeda Towel
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First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

I don’t know about you, but I find that it’s just so easy to let big, happy milestones slide right on by without much acknowledgement. We wait and wait and wait for big things to happen and spend so much time saying how desperate we are for things to happen (think: a trip, an anniversary, even that second cup of coffee!), but when the moment comes and goes, it’s on to the next thing.

I’m guilty of doing this constantly, both at work and in my personal life at home. For example, I was so excited for my thirtieth birthday last year, but the day came, we celebrated quietly, and then I started thinking about our beach vacation, which was just a couple of weeks after my birthday. The cycle goes on and on, and I rarely properly celebrate the moments that deserve celebrating.

First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

Spring is another one of those things that I think we all wait for with bated breath, but once it arrives, we immediately start thinking about summer. It’s almost like we live more for the anticipation than for the moment or season itself.

Before you know it, you’re no longer able to talk on social media about how desperate you are to start seeing flowers pop up out of the ground because, if you look up from your phone long enough, you’ll see that the flowers are already there. I’m speaking generally here, but really right to myself, too.

Spring is one of my favorite seasons (second only to autumn) and I’m always so excited for it to arrive. I can’t wait. But I recently took a long weekend away to visit my sister in Williamsburg and had the sudden revelation that spring was here and I was missing it.

First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

Since that trip, I’ve challenged myself to try extra hard to appreciate all of the sweetness that this season brings. I finally had my favorite sundresses dry cleaned, we invited friends over for a bonfire, went downtown to enjoy fresh gelato, and have literally taken the time to smell those brand new flowers.

In case you’re looking for a reason to stop and enjoy spring to the fullest, consider this your wake up call. Click “Play” on the short video below to see in-motion ideas for reveling in spring, and feel free to leave your own springtime bucket list items in the comments below. Just remember, you only have 75 days until summer arrives, so don’t let a single day go to waste.

First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

First Signs Of Spring | Dream Green DIY

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Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

If you were to ask what I would be doing for work if I hadn’t found my way to blogging, the immediate answer would be marine biology. I have always (always!) been animal-obsessed, and there’s just something so magical and illusive about life in the ocean.

So, earlier this month when John and my sister and I headed to the Outer Banks for a quick beach getaway, one of the activities high on my list was the aquarium. I actually didn’t realize that there was such a place near the Outer Banks, but as we rolled into town, my eyes couldn’t miss the signs advertising The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island.

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

The next day, while John, Kat, and I were cruising around exploring the coastal North Carolina landscape, I eventually blurted out that I really wanted to visit the aquarium. I’m not typically a very spontaneous person, but our quick adventure down south that weekend just seemed like it was begging for a random request like this one.

I could tell that neither Kat nor John was much into the idea of visiting the aquarium that day, but I think my utter excitement eventually won them over because we took the turn and headed over the bridge to follow signs for the aquarium anyway.

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

The space isn’t massive, but it was more than enough for me and my curiosity. We wandered the low-lit hallways amongst throngs of children to peer into all sorts of tanks filled with otters, jelly fish, sea turtles, crustaceans, and so much more.

We saw baby alligators sprawled lazily across rocks and gathered to see one large gator do its slick underwater dance behind glass in the open air atrium. We even had the chance to reach down and touch stingrays as they swooped by under water, and listened in as staff explained the aquarium’s sea turtle conservation and rescue program.

We also, of course, saw countless schools of fish, which John couldn’t help but tell us all about. Turns out that he was just as crazy for marine biology as a kid himself, despite the fact that he was trying to keep his excitement in check.

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

The highlight for me, though, was the shark exhibit. I’ve long been fascinated by these sea creatures in particular, and if I had followed that scientific career path way back when, there’s no question that sharks would have been my focus. I was mesmerized as I watched the sand tiger, nurse, and sandbar sharks glide by in their 285,000-gallon exhibit. It was frankly the most relaxed I had been in a long, long time.

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Click “Play” on that video above to step inside the The North Carolina Aquarium along with us, and see a few of the highlights for yourself. If nothing else, I hope this slightly random oceanic aside challenges you to give in to your own childhood memories and fascinations. Whether that’s heading to the zoo, the local putt-putt gold course, or even visiting a children’s museum you once loved, there’s just something oh-so-freeing about giving in to the “kid in you” every once in a while. Have a great (and imaginative!) weekend, everybody.

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

Visiting The North Carolina Aquarium On Roanoke Island

See and hear more about our Outer Banks adventure here!
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How To Double Deli Pasta Salad For A Party

Boy, do I have a tasty tid bit to share with you today! Namely, a recent life hack that I managed to accidentally stumble upon while styling a luncheon tablescape story (which will debut in full early next month). In the process of planning the meal for my mini at-home photo shoot, I decided that a hearty pasta salad was just the thing to serve as my menu centerpiece. The only problem was that I had never made pasta salad and was short on time.

So, instead of waking up at 6:00 A.M. to put together a giant bowl of pasta salad that was really just for photos rather than our bellies, I decided to hit the local grocery store deli. I figured buying pre-made pasta salad would be pricey, and I wasn’t wrong. I ended up ordering a pound and a half of deli pasta salad, but it was immediately clear that the $6 carton of food still wasn’t going to fill the bowl I needed it to.

How To Double Deli Pasta Salad For A Party

In a rush to get home and not wanting to spend another $6 to supplement the first batch of pasta salad, I decided to grab a box of bow ties from the pasta aisle that I could then cook to match the deli-made version. I did just that 15 minutes later, and voila! I had doubled my $6 pasta salad with just $2-worth of extra noodles!

After the shoot, I taste-tested the mixture, and it was actually delicious. Come to find out that the deli pasta salad was sort of drowning in dressing, so folding the plain extra pasta in was the perfect way to balance everything out.

How To Double Deli Pasta Salad For A Party

The moral of the story? If you’re ever hosting a real life luncheon or party, don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune on 2-3 pounds of deli pasta salad to feed your guests. Try this short cut and you’ll save money with no one being the wiser for it.

Have you ever had to think fast to solve a problem pre-party? I’d love to hear any other entertaining life hacks you’ve managed to come up with or put to good use, so please share away in the comments below!

How To Style A Green Pantone-Inspired Luncheon | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

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*This post is sponsored by PersonalizationMall.com

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

If you were to ask what my favorite dinner is, you’d likely hear a quick reply: “Wine and cheese!” There’s just something so classic, so simple about the combination of flavors, plus I’m a sucker for finger foods. Suffice it to say, my idea of the perfect casual gathering of friends and family almost always revolves around a tray full of wine-filled glasses and a board layered with sliced cheeses and accompaniments, that could be some crackers, jam or even some toast made with a good toaster, you could find one by reading some 4 slice toaster reviews by Hotrate.

Have you given an at-home wine and cheese party a try? Even if you invite just a couple of other people over, the occasion almost always results in some pretty fantastic conversation and memories. Today, I’m teaming up with Personalization Mall to share a few tips for putting together your own wine and cheese party (complete with custom trayscutting boards and monogramed glasses), so scroll on for my entertaining advice, plus see it all unfold in real time with a video at the end of the post!

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

For our party, we decided to anchor the event with a Personalized Cutting Board (that we had etched with a “W” for Waller) laden down with bite size pieces of cheese, fruit, and meats. To make our at-home wine tasting feel a little more formal and fun, I also personalized an Acrylic Serving Tray with my name, and ordered six Stemless Wine Glasses, each customized with a “W.”

Since these types of exclusively-designed monograms and details are always free at PersonalizationMall.com, I didn’t have to worry about overspending for this party. Really, this type of gathering can be downright cheap when you start thinking about it! Middle shelf wine bottles are often well within budget and pack great flavor (I never can tell the difference, although I probably shouldn’t admit that), and a couple of high quality middle range cheeses go a long way, too. Think: $5 or less for each of your wine and cheese choices.

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

As for cheese board “accessories,” we love to serve things like sliced french bread, crackers, fruit like grapes and green apples (these especially complement cheddar cheeses), plus a few meats like ham and salami for a savory finish. As for sips, make sure to serve at least 2-3 different types of wine and include both white and red varieties, that way you won’t leave anyone’s taste or preference out. Don’t forget to have a carafe of water available on the side though, just in case!

Trying the different combinations of sips and bites is what makes this meal so fun and even a little interactive. Consider making handouts that list the food and drink varieties, then have people share their favorite pairings and notes. Offering this type of list with all of the cheese and wine names also allows everyone the opportunity to recreate their personal favorite flavors and combinations back at home.

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

Ultimately, don’t feel the need to splurge on your wine and cheese party. The main focus of this type of gathering is conversation and experiencing a range of flavors, so consider focusing your investment on customized serving pieces that will last through hundreds of parties in your home rather than just one night.

Sure, the brand behind said serving pieces sponsored this post, but I’m being completely honest when I say that my confidence in how this party unfolded was because of the foundation pieces I ordered beforehand. As you’ve probably gathered, I’m no expert when it comes to wine, and my palate for cheese is hardly refined, but I know what I love to eat and drink, and our monogrammed trays and glasses helped make me feel like my guests enjoyed themselves, too.

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

One final tip? We actually served everything—from the gourmet cheeses and fruit, to the three different wines—right on our coffee table, and had our guests sit on floor pillows around the table. It doesn’t get much cozier or casual than that, but the event still felt ultra fancy. It’s all about balance and enjoying the company of your loved ones over delicious handpicked flavors.

Click “Play” on the video above to see how I brought this casual fête to life in our home, and let me know what types of finger foods and wine or cocktails you love to serve in your own spaces by leaving a comment below!

The Perfect At-Home Cheese Board & Wine Tasting | dreamgreendiy.com + @pmallgifts #ad #pmallgifts #personalizationmall

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