Category Archives: Food & Drink

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar

*This post was sponsored by Tuesday Morning

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

Entertaining is something I love in theory, but I honestly don’t do it all that often. I have lots of ideas, and I love perusing other blogs and Pinterest for party ideas, but I personally tend to get really stressed out by the idea of hosting a large gathering.

This past year, though, John and I have worked hard to push ourselves beyond that anxiety, and we’ve successfully had our families up to the house for a few small gatherings (like this one). By keeping our guest list to family, it takes some of the pressure off—after all, we know our parents and sisters won’t judge us for having a home filled with half-finished projects!

The holidays, in particular, always provide lots of motivation to put my hostessing cap on, and this year I’ve decided that the perfect no-fuss, low-stress family gathering is one centered on a simple DIY Christmas hot chocolate bar. I’ve teamed up with the folks at Tuesday Morning to build the perfect holiday buffet, and I’m sharing all of the details (including a must-grab shopping list) below.

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

The first thing you’ll need (of course!) is a buffet. The china hutch in our dining room actually transforms into a buffet by clearing and lifting off the top shelf portion, so that’s exactly what we did, but any buffet or console table will do.

If you don’t have a buffet, though, it’s totally fine to clear off your main dining room table to use as a place to set your food and serving dishes. We did this for my dad’s birthday party since we had extended family joining us for that gathering, and it worked out really well. We all ate comfortably in easy chairs in the living room.

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

Must-Grab Accessories:

  • Runner or placemats
  • Linen or paper napkins
  • Faux evergreen wreath
  • Large serving bowl
  • Small serving bowl
  • Stack of dessert plates
  • Tiny bowls for toppings
  • Festive tray
  • Mugs
  • Spoons
  • Holiday decorations (ceramic reindeer, bottle brush trees, etc.)

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

I took my sister along with me to our local Tuesday Morning (find your own store here) to gather supplies for our little holiday party, and it was an absolute blast. We filled our cart to overflowing with all sorts of things—from pillows (our living room reveal is coming on Friday, so stay tuned!) and plates, to Christmas-themed accents and serving dishes, too. We were able to make our budget go really far, and I love that this set of pieces can be used year after year.

I’m really trying to be extra intentional this year with the pieces I buy for our house. I want to buy things that I know we’ll love year after year, so I wandered the store with that in mind. Every time I picked up an item, I asked myself, “What are a couple of ways I can put this to use?” If I could only come up with one cool way to style the piece, I put it back on the shelf.

I used to go out and buy all sorts of really specific items for a particular party or decorating idea, but I’ve come to realize that my tastes change far too often to shop that way. Instead, I try to buy neutral pieces that work for parties and everyday occasions, for winter and fall, too. You know how a lot of people are into capsule wardrobes? Well, I’m into capsule decor! It’s the same idea of purchasing a few key pieces that work for all sorts of occasions and seasons.

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

Must-Grab Food:

  • Pre-popped seasoned popcorn
  • Christmas sugar cookies
  • Hot chocolate packets
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • BONUS: Whipped cream at-the-ready in the fridge

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #adHow To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

Once I had everything home, I first laid my runner down (an earth-tone beauty that will work any day of the year!), and then placed each of my serving dishes down on top of that. I rearranged until they felt right, and then I filled in the blank spots with Christmas-themed pieces—things like a pair of metallic gold Christmas trees and a few vintage accents that I already had in our holiday stash. As for art, a faux evergreen wreath (you’ll find similar ones at Tuesday Morning!) was all I needed to get the festive point across.

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

In the end, this Christmas buffet took maybe 30 minutes to set up, and since I bought mostly pre-made food from the grocery store, it was even less time-intensive. I hope the styling accents and food shopping lists I put together help get you excited to throw your own hot chocolate party this Christmas.

You can click here to learn more about Tuesday Morning, and to find a store location near you to explore. Keep an eye out on Friday for the reveal of our decked-out holiday living room with even more from our shopping day, as well as lots of decorating advice, too.

How To Style A Christmas Hot Chocolate Bar | dreamgreendiy.com + @tuesdaymorning #ad

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DIY Jingle Bell Christmas Cupcake Toppers

*This post was sponsored by Oriental Trading

DIY Jingle Bell Christmas Cupcake Toppers | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

First, a question: have you started Christmas decorating yet? You may have spotted a few sneak peeks over on my Instagram feed, but we’re well into our own holiday decorating this year. We’ve got two trees up and decked out—from their tippy top stars, to their trunks down below—and our mantel is already laden down with festive stockings just waiting to be filled. Suffice it to say, the official Christmas decorating season is in full swing around these parts, and I feel confident in saying that it’s the same all across the world at this point now, too.

In order to help inspire your holiday decorating (not to mention, Christmas party hostessing) I’ve got a brand new project up on Oriental Trading’s Fun365 website. Click to see the full tutorial for my DIY Jingle Bell Christmas Cupcake Toppers, and go ahead and tell me in the comments below just how far you’ve gotten in your own holiday decorating this 2017 season. No matter what your Christmas plans are, here’s hoping it’s an extra merry and bright one!

DIY Jingle Bell Christmas Cupcake Toppers | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

DIY Jingle Bell Christmas Cupcake Toppers | dreamgreendiy.com + @orientaltrading

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Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

You may have already seen this little project on Instagram, but I know not all of you are on that platform, so I wanted to share the quick details here on the blog just in case you missed out. With Thanksgiving leftovers in most of our futures, I also couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to share this simple food-to-go tutorial.

The DIY project was actually inspired by a campaign hosted by Esurance and was meant to be motivated by a car-related need. My ultimate idea was to create a super quick cooler project that would help make picking up perishable foods from specialty grocery stores just a little easier—and more aesthetically pleasing, too, of course.

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

John and I love going to places like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Fresh Market for our weekly meals, but our closest versions of those stores are about 35 minutes away in Charlottesville, Virginia.

We have to schedule our trips ahead of time so we can be sure to have a full shopping list that will take us several weeks into the future (thank goodness for freezable meal ideas). We also need to make sure we pack a cooler since we’ll be spending quite a bit of time on the road and don’t want our hard-won food to spoil on the trip home.

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

As with most things, I’m not satisfied with just any type of cooler, especially since this one would theoretically be living permanently in my car to reduce the headache of having to remember to pack it every time we go out. So, when I spotted this mint-colored cooler on clearance at Target, I scooped it right up. The color couldn’t have been more perfect for me, and the price (less that $12) was spot-on, too.

Shortly after purchasing the cooler, I got that fated email from Esurance asking me to find a way to spice up an everyday car accessory. It wasn’t until I saw an episode of Cheers, of all places, that the lightbulb went off in my head: DIY retro flowers made from office stickers!

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

I ordered this set of multi-colored circle stickers from Amazon, and then (after practicing with a few on scrap paper to get my design down pat) I stuck them right onto the white part of my cooler in a flower-like formation. The whole thing took less than five minutes, if even that, and the final result looks exactly like what I had pictured in my head.

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

Thanks to Esurance for motivating me to think of such a fun and practical project for our family, and thank you also to Cheers the TV show for providing the most random and wonderful inspiration for the retro flower design. I just love when unexpected ideas pop up like that—don’t you?

Now, grab that old cooler of yours and get to sticking because you’re more than likely going to be packing in the leftovers before hitting the road back home this Thanksgiving holiday. A fun face-lift like today’s DIY project is all your cooler needs to feel refreshed and modern—no expense or overtime required.

Car Cooler With DIY Retro Flower Stickers

*Today’s blog post was not sponsored or compensated, but is an organic bonus from a paid social media campaign with Esurance. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Dream Green DIY!
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My November Favorites

My November Favorites

It’s time for a brand new list of monthly favorites, and this time it’s all about fall—not to mention all the things that go along with looming year-end to-dos. We’re talking 2018 planners, stress-relieving products to help keep holiday anxiety at bay, plus a few home décor items I’m loving that I can’t wait to put to good use while stuck inside this cold weather season. Scroll on for a full list of all the things I’m loving for November, and don’t miss my brand new YouTube video where I discuss each and every item up close and personal.

My November Favorites

My November Favorites

My November Favorites

1. Vionic Ashby Driving Moc: Hands down the best shoes I’ve ever owned. Comfortable right out of the box!

2. Sims 4: I’ve reverted back to my college obsession with this computer game. It’s addicting, and the perfect distraction from stress.

3. Atomic Ranch Magazine: For all my fellow mid-century enthusiasts.

4. AT-A-GLANCE 2018 Planners: The new year is just a month and a half away, after all!

5. Margaret Kimball Studio Wallpapers: These removable wallpaper tiles are perfect for renters or home decor commitment-phobes (like me!).

6. Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew Coffee: Click here for the recipe I mention in the video.

7. Method + Creative Growth Limited Edition Hand Soap: The prettiest hand soap dispensers I’ve seen this year, and you’ll love the story behind the designs.

8. Scentered candles and therapy balms: These two products are single-handedly getting me through end-of-the-year anxiety.

9. Bastide Fleur d’Oranger Hand Cream: This hand cream smells almost good enough to eat, and it cures dry winter skin, too.

10. Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation: I finally got my full size version of this foundation, and love the texture and finish. It’s my new go-to.

11. Buxom Cosmetics Full-On Lipstick in ‘Brooklyn’: This lipstick is my favorite formula yet—it goes on smooth and lasts for hours.

12. Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in ‘Fiore (Hot Pink)’: The perfect unexpected shade of pink for fall.

13. Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color in ‘Medium Warm’: The single-step formula puts this brow color in my ‘Favorites’ this month.

14. BROWFOOD Aqua Brow Powder + Pencil Duo: On the other hand, I find myself reaching for this two-step product for a more dramatic look.

15. LASHFOOD Chamomile Makeup Eraser Pen: I didn’t think I’d have much use for this one, but it’s actually a really handy beauty tool. Worth adding to your bag for those “oops!” makeup moments.

16. LASHFOOD Conditioning Chamomile Eye Makeup Remover: I don’t go a day without it!

17. Revlon 360 Dryer: The 360-degree air flow makes that dreaded hairdryer step less of a headache. Be sure to watch the video to see my embarrassing demonstration…

18. Natalie Borton Necklace (similar): This piece of jewelry is practically the only accessory I need to feel pulled together.

19. Le Cou, The Wakefield in Royal Blue Gingham: Have you guys ever tried a dickey? It makes fall layering a cinch.

My November Favorites

My November Favorites

My November Favorites

So, what are you loving this fall? Any new makeup products I should try, or new shoes that top your list? See my October Favorites here, and stay tuned next month for my December Favorites blog post and video, which will be geared toward all things Christmas gifting. I’d love for you to leave your own wishlist items in the comments box below in case you’d like me to include or review something in particular. Happy shopping!

My November Favorites

*I earn a small percentage from purchases made by the affiliate links above. Affiliate links are not sponsored. You can rest assured that I would NEVER recommend a product that I don’t use and love myself!
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An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

Like a lot of folks, Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite holidays. In fact, in might just be my favorite. My first instinct is to name Christmas as the front-runner, but once Christmas day actually arrives, the joy of the season is effectively over. I tend to get really, really sad on December 25 because I know that I have an entire year to wait until I can enjoy Christmas music and holiday movies again.

My point is that Thanksgiving day is when I feel like I truly come alive. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by my family, whom I couldn’t possibly love more, and I relish having the excuse to spoil them with tasty treats and Christmas gifts, too. But what if you can’t get home to your own family…What if you’re restricted by distance or budget to travel for the holidays? I wanted to challenge myself this year to prove that a 2-person (or even solo!) Thanksgiving can be just as memorable. It doesn’t have to be fussy or over-done—a simple scrumptious picnic around the living room coffee table is really all you need to make this holiday feel special.

To bring my vision for this mini Thanksgiving event to life, I enlisted the help of our pro photographer pals, Bethany and Aaron Mallory, and you can see the full story and my interview to inspire an at-home Thanksgiving picnic for two over on Camille Styles. Scroll on for a few of my favorite shots from the feature, plus I’m sharing a few extra ideas and tips that I didn’t have time to mention in my Camille Styles interview.

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

First, we’ve gotta talk food. I’m well aware that a cheese plate doesn’t particularly scream “Thanksgiving,” but I’m of the mind that you should follow your own gut (literally!) when it comes to a holiday menu. Not a big fan of turkey? Serve soup instead! And I think a wooden board brimming with fresh fruit, crackers, fresh-baked bread, and cheese is the perfect thing for John and I to enjoy throughout our holiday. It’s easy to snack on all day long, and makes for tasty leftovers on Black Friday, too. All this to say, don’t feel pressured to serve a Norman Rockwell-style Thanksgiving dinner if you feel yourself lured by other in-season fall flavors.

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

The thing I loved most about our holiday picnic is that we chose not to have it at the dinner table. It’s so much fun to switch things up by moving our plates to a different area of the house. Our meal around the coffee table felt fresh and definitely worlds and away from our everyday routine. Even just moving your meal to the living room sofa with a couple of breakfast trays, festive music crooning in the background, is enough to make your holiday dinner feel a little bit more thrilling then it would around the same old dinner table in the same old dining room chairs.

As they say, it’s all about location, location, location, and this holiday entertaining tip doesn’t cost a dime. We actually did this (eating around a coffee table) at a Friendsgiving several years ago, and I’ll seriously never forget that night because it was something so new and different to try.

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

One thing to keep in mind when planning your 2-3 person holiday dinner is that you don’t need nearly as much food as you would for a big traditional family Thanksgiving. It’s more affordable to shop for that smaller, more intimate meal, and you also don’t have to take into account as many diet restrictions. That said, my sister (who’s vegetarian) will actually be joining us here in Waynesboro for the weekend after Thanksgiving, so we’ll be enjoying a similar meal that you see here—sweet potato vegetable soup, a board loaded with produce and fresh cheeses, and a dish of fresh fruit crumble for dessert. You can snag the recipes for the soup and crumble over on Camille Styles here.

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.comAn At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

Again, my whole intention with sharing this story is to prove that a tiny Thanksgiving meal for two can be just as memorable as a giant one. If you can’t get home for the holiday next week, don’t lose heart. At the risk of sounding cheesy, Thanksgiving is all about refocusing our minds away from all the negativity in the world and appreciating what we have in the here and now. It only takes one other person to experience love and a good laugh or two, so I hope you are able to do just that next Thursday.

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

Big thanks to our friends the Mallorys for helping us document this special story, and I hope you’ll take an extra minute or two to pop over to Camille Styles for the full story and my interview. It’s packed with tips on how to pull this type of event off in your own home.

Oh, and one last thing: have you entered our giveaway yet? Wise Apple Vintage founder, Nikki McIntosh, and I are teaming up to give away a box full of DIY and vintage goodies. Click through to Instagram here to enter, and see the DIY tutorial with more details here. The contest ends tonight at midnight—Good luck!

An At-Home Thanksgiving Picnic For Two | dreamgreendiy.com

*Photos by Bethany and Aaron Mallory
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Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet

*This post was sponsored by Duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

We are finally (finally!) feeling the effects of fall here in Virginia now after a string of 80-degree weeks. I can’t tell you how happy these crisp, cool days make me feel, and I’m so excited to officially indulge in our favorite autumn activities—things like pumpkin pie, sweaters, boots, stews, and trips to the apple orchard. Another favorite fall pastime? Bonfires! Really, I love sitting around a good campfire any day of the year, but it’s especially exciting during the fall months.

You’ve probably picked up on the fact that John and I are big fans of Duraflame, what with the countless times I’ve partnered with them here on the blog, but that’s just because it’s a brand we truly love and use over and over again—whether I’m shooting pictures for a campaign, or we’re enjoying some quality down time together with friends and family.

Case in point, the evening campfire I’m sharing with you today! I had a pile of Stax Stackable Crackling Fire Logs sitting in our basement and knew I’d be driving out of town for a long weekend at my parents’ house, so I texted my dad to see if he wanted to throw together a little mini fire pit in their back yard. Within the span of a few quick messages, we had plans in place and I had my car packed with a box of logs. Scroll on to see how simple it really was to pull a mini fall-time campfire together!

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

First, we chose our location for the DIY fire pit—a spot far from shrubs and trees and without any major overhanging low branches. Then, my dad dug a shallow hole in the soil, just a few inches deep. To finish, he placed small rocks around the hole to create a barrier, which would ultimately contain the fire and keep us from tripping over the pit once the flames had died down or gone out.

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Speaking of flames, getting the actual campfire itself going was as simple as stacking the logs in an “X” formation and igniting the marked wrappers with a lighter. It took just a few minutes for the wrappers to do their job and then the entire stack was rolling with a nice, warm fire.

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Now, of course, you know I can’t leave well-enough alone, and always like to have at least some little activity planned for any fire pit gathering (see a few of my other favorite campfire activities here!). For this particular evening I created a Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet that I had at-the-ready as a little scavenger hunt while dad and I sat on our bench near the fire. My sister arrived from out of town just around dusk, so she also got in on the fun as night settled in.

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

To make the most of the sheet at your own fire pit party, just download and print the Fall Stargazing Worksheet, then see who can spot the constellations fastest as everyone reclines around the campfire. NOTE: You may want to consider making multiple printouts if you plan on having a large gathering of folks!

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

The point is, I couldn’t possibly recommend Duraflame logs more. They’re small, making storage a cinch, they give off hearty flames that last for hours without having to touch or rearrange them, and they are made from 100 percent renewable resources, producing half the emissions of a wood fire.

Are you just as big a fan of campfires as we are? Have you kicked off the chilly fall season with a fire pit party yet? Do tell in the comments below.

Printable Fall Stargazing Worksheet | dreamgreendiy.com + @Duraflame #ad #duraflame

P.S. For more inspiration, check out our breakdown of 5 precautions to take at your next fire pit party and my recipe for Rice Krispie Treat S’mores here.
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Our Meal Planning Process & Favorite Recipes

Meal Planning & Favorite Recipes

If you’re a member of my DIY newsletter tribe (sign up here if you haven’t yet!) then you’re already armed with my printable meal planning worksheet. But now it’s time to dive into our actual meal planning process, including our favorite recipes and meal inspiration resources.

It’s not exactly a task that John and I relish doing every single week, but laying out our week of meals is essential for making sure we don’t rush out to a pricey dinner for lack of good food in our pantry. Keep scrolling to find out how we pull the task off every Sunday with as little mental pain as possible, and I hope you’ll weigh in with your own tips and favorite recipe links in the comments at the end!

Meal Planning & Favorite Recipes

How We Meal Plan

This may seem like a super straight forward process, so forgive me if I sound like I’m stating the obvious, but I wanted to give you the low down just in case this simplified method is something you hadn’t thought of or tried before.

Essentially, we sit down together once a week to talk about what we have on the calendar for the week ahead. Things like late evening work meetings, meet-ups with respective friends, or even food-related projects that I might have on the docket for the blog play a major part in how we plan our meals.

For example, if I’m headed out of town to visit with family for the weekend while John stays behind to watch our fur babies and take advantage of quiet time here at the house, we might only plan 2-3 meals as opposed to 4 since he will just be fending for himself (he usually eats leftover freezer portions of our homemade meals in these cases). Or, if I have a shoot planned for the blog that involves, say, sweet potato soup and a cheese board, we know we don’t have to be intentional about adding an extra meal to our list because we can just eat the blog “props.”

Once we know our weekly to-do’s, we compile a list of recipes (we only need 3-4 recipes per week since leftovers stretch the meal over a couple of days) and make our grocery list from there. Making this master list of recipe names with ingredients means that we have a little sheet of paper that we can hold on to all week long for reference if we forget our list of specific meals for the week.

Meal Planning & Favorite Recipes

Meal Planning & Favorite Recipes

Favorite Recipe Resources

We pull meal ideas from, frankly, a lot of really random places, but a few favorites include Facebook (I’m a sucker for those fast-paced Tasty videos!), our collection of Ina Garten cookbooks, a slow cooker cookbook that we have used and loved for years, and also magazines like Real Simple and Allrecipes.

From time to time, I also use Pinterest and a few go-to food blogs for inspiration. I’m a particular fan of Pinch of Yum. When I find a recipe I like—whether it’s during our weekly sit-down meal planning sessions, or while browsing the web during work hours—I email the link to myself and John. I put the name of the meal in the subject line along with the word “Recipe” so that I can easily search all of the meals that I’ve sent to the two of us simply by searching “recipe” in my Gmail inbox. I also keep them in a separate folder in my inbox for even easier perusing.

Meal Planning & Favorite Recipes

Meal Planning & Favorite Recipes

As promised, a few of our all-time favorite recipes (the ones I can link to, anyway) include this General Tso’s Cauliflower, a recipe for Creamy Sweet Potato Soup that took John and me just 15 minutes of hands-on time to make, these Easy Chicken Curry Bowls via designlovefest, and a recipe for Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos that we can’t get enough of.

Let us know your own meal planning methods and favorite recipe links below!

Meal Planning & Favorite Recipes

P.S. In case you missed last week’s newsletter and want to get the free meal planning printable I mentioned in the beginning of this post, you can download it right here. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter to stay in the loop for next time!
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DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe

*This post has been sponsored by the J.M. Smucker Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

Tell me: do you remember the very first time you had a cup of coffee? I remember I was on a school trip (or was it something to do with girl scouts?), and our adult chaperones had stopped at a gas station to fill up our bus. We were allowed to run inside the convenience store for a quick bathroom break, and a couple of my girlfriends also bought cups of coffee with their allowances.

I decided to give in to peer pressure, and ordered a machine-made cappuccino of my own. Sitting back in the bus sipping on my drink, I don’t mind admitting that it was the first time in my tiny life that I felt like a real adult. It was pretty life-changing—so much so, I can still remember the way the gas station was laid out. It’s that fresh in my mind!

Twenty years later, my coffee tastes have changed quite a bit. It’s an appreciation that has grown with time as I’ve experimented with different flavors, styles, roasts, and methods, and it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be able to properly start my day without it.

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

Now that we’ve just kicked off a brand new season, I figured it was the perfect excuse to test my coffee-making skills yet again. This time I wanted to learn how to make the perfect cup of cold brew coffee, something full-bodied and cool to enjoy throughout these last few weeks of transitional warm-to-cold fall days.

If you’ve never tried your hand at cold brewing, you might not even really know what it actually is—I know I didn’t know before going through the motions myself, so here’s the deal.

Cold brewing is actually the process of steeping coffee grounds in cold water for 8-12 hours. I think, before this little at-home experiment of mine, I always assumed that cold brew was just another way of describing iced coffee, which is made by pouring hot coffee over ice. The latter, of course, is still tasty, but come to find out that cold brewing is super easy to make at home, and affords you one incredible cup of coffee. We’re talking ultra-smooth, rich, deep flavor—my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

In case you’re looking to mix things up when it comes to your own morning cup of Jo, I teamed up with Dunkin’ Donuts to show how you can make a cup of cold brew in less than 10 minutes of hands-on time. You know I love a good quick craft any old day, but especially one that results in something so delicious—and nostalgic, too.

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

First, you need a box of the new Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew Coffee Packs. You can pick these up at your local Target store in the coffee aisle (scroll to the end for a Cartwheel coupon!).

What I love so much about this method is that it’s almost too easy to warrant a “tutorial.” Just drop 2 Coffee Filter packs into a pitcher, fill the pitcher with 4 cups of cold water, and steep in your fridge overnight (or for 8-12 hours). Pull the pitcher from the fridge, remove the filters, and add 3 more cups of cold water. And, lastly, and easiest of all, enjoy.

It has become something of a routine each evening for me to prep a pitcher of cold brew for John and I to enjoy together the following morning. I think it’s the type of thing we’ll be keeping up well into the new year.

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

Another thing I love about this brewing method is that it’s easy to customize to your particular tastes and the current season. To commemorate fall, for example, I put together a simple spicy pumpkin flavor mix to give the coffee an extra dose of fall-themed personality.

Just combine 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 cup french vanilla creamer, and 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, then pour into the finished pitcher of cold brew coffee. Enjoy it over ice (with an extra dash of spice!) in individual glasses.

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

A cup of our DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte is one of the main things I look forward to each morning, and, often, in the afternoon, too. You can score 30% off a box of Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew Packs with this Cartwheel coupon now through November 4. Did I mention that there’s also a pumpkin version of the Dunkin’ Donuts packs?! I can’t wait to try our spicy lattes using the pumpkin packs for extra fall-time flavor.

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

What are your favorite seasonal coffee drinks to enjoy this time of year? Have you given cold brew a try yet? And don’t forget to tell us about your first experience with coffee, too!

DIY Spicy Icy Pumpkin Latte Recipe | dreamgreendiy.com + Dunkin’ Donuts @ahalogy #ad

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6 Summer Wines To Try For Under $10

6 Summer Wines To Try For Under $10

We’re hosting a big group of family here at our house tomorrow in honor of my dad’s birthday, and I’m feeling excited but also a little overwhelmed. I’ve never hosted this many people in our home before (really, it’s our first official party ever), so it will be a big learning experience. Luckily, everyone is family so they won’t judge us too harshly, but fingers crossed that all goes well and that we have enough eats and drinks for everyone!

Speaking of buffet goodies, one of the main things I am especially hoping to nail at our mini family reunion is the wine selection. John and I are big wine drinkers, and I know my family is as well, so we’ve been collecting bottles for weeks now. My mom is planning to bring a few of dad’s favorites as well, so I’m sure we’ll be set, but these below are a handful of the wines we’re personally loving this season. The best part? These wines are $10 or less per bottle.

6 Summer Wines To Try For Under $10

6 Summer Wines To Try For $10 Or Less:

  1. Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio ($9.99): One part Pinot Grigio and one part Chardonnay, this citrusy wine is a great one to serve at dinner. It’s ideal for complementing fresh fish or light pasta dishes, so plan your menu accordingly.
  2. Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon (on sale for $9.99): I can never, ever resist a good Cabernet Sauvignon, and this version from Dark Horse is one we almost always keep stocked. Even though it’s totally budget-friendly, it feels like such a treat to enjoy a glass (or two) in the evenings.
  3. Chateau St. Jean California Pinot Noir ($8.99): The spice and vanilla finishes make it tough to settle for just one glass. Although we love it during the summer, it’s even more of a mainstay at our house throughout fall and winter.
  4. Bogle Chardonnay ($9.99): Bogle is a family favorite. It’s my parents’ go-to and their love for it has made me come around to the fruity, buttery notes of Chardonnay in general.
  5. Carayon La Rosé ($4.99): Note that we stock up on this simple Rosé from our local Trader Joe’s since it’s a little hard to find online. Can you believe that price?!
  6. Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99): We grab this almost weekly from the grocery store. The light, lemony flavor is easy on the taste buds, and it’s often on sale for just $7.99.

6 Summer Wines To Try For Under $10

Did I miss any of your favorite wines? Do share in the comments below because, even after years of enjoying wine, I still feel like I know next to nothing about the fine art of wine tasting. I’m just a novice, but I sure am an enthusiastic one. Share your top picks (whether budget-friendly or worthy of a splurge) below. Cheers!

6 Summer Wines To Try For Under $10

6 Summer Wines To Try For Under $10

P.S. Looking for more wine chat? Revisit this past post all about how to host your own wine and cheese party at home (including a video!).
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A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

Muffins…Is there anything cozier or more satisfying then biting into a still-warm muffin straight from the oven? Okay, yes, there probably are a few cozier things that come to mind, but muffins certainly rank pretty high on my personal list of ultra-nostalgic comfort foods.

To inspire your own need for this fluffy, tasty treat, I’m sharing yet another recipe from our friends Bethany and Aaron Mallory of The Farmhaus On Main fame. This local speciality coffee shop and café serves up seasonal baked goods each week, and it turns out that fresh dried lavender has provided the inspiration for their summertime fare as of late.

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

You may remember their recipe for Honey Lavender Lemonade that I posted about a couple of weeks ago. Well, now it’s time to teach you how to bake up a batch of The Farmhaus’s Lemon Lavender Muffins. Scroll on for all of the DIY kitchen details.

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

Lemon Lavender Muffins:

*Yield 12 muffins

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried lavender

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar for 7 minutes in a stand mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients and yogurt alternately, and mix until just incorporated. Add lemon juice, vanilla, and zest. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and gently fold in dried lavender. Pour the batter into a muffin tin lined with baking cups and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

Easy Lemon Icing:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Lemon juice, to consistency
  • 12 fresh lavender sprigs

Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, and whisk together. Drizzle the cooled Lemon Lavender Muffins with icing. Top with fresh lavender sprig​s, and serve.

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

I can personally attest to how delicious these muffins are, especially when still warm from the oven. The lemon adds the perfect hint of tartness, while the lavender gives the treat a savory finish that goes way beyond run-of-the-mill muffins. At least in my opinion! If you give this recipe a try sometime this season, don’t forget to tag @dreamgreendiy and @thefarmhausonmain on social media so we can sink into a state of envy over your plate of fresh muffins.

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

A Recipe For Lemon Lavender Muffins | dreamgreendiy.com

*Recipe by The Farmhaus On Main, photography by Carrie Waller
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