DIY Thanksgiving Wreath

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HappyThanksGathering #CollectiveBias

THANKSGIVINGPREP

I love Thanksgiving. The food, the traditions, the nostalgia – all of it. It’s the perfect kick-off to the busy holiday season and something that I look forward to every year.

Since getting married four years ago, I have been telling my husband that I can’t wait to host Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, between not having a big enough space and our traveling to see other family, I haven’t had my chance yet.

This year, I will be much too pregnant to travel off-island and we have a home large enough to host family and friends so it looks like I’m finally getting my chance!

To say that I am excited is an understatement but I’m trying hard not to go overboard with the planning and preparation.

My main goal when doing any kind of hosting is comfort. No matter how great your kitchen and decorating skills are, your guests will eventually forget what you served them to eat, but they will always remember how you made them feel. That’s why creating an authentically warm, relaxing, and comfortable environment is key.

I feel most at peace in my own home when things are tidied up. I know that my guests will feed off of my energy, so I will be spending some time sprucing up the main living areas of our home before the big day to make sure that I am able to relax.  The last time I was at Walmart, I picked up a few of my clean-house essentials: Scrubbing Bubbles® Toilet Cleaning Gel, Scrubbing Bubbles® Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner and Windex® Original Glass Wipes. (Bonus: there is an awesome rebate going on right now which saves you $5 on your holiday photos)

PRODUCTS

Clorox-in-store

Cleaning up the house, especially when you have a meal to plan/cook is a big job but with the right cleaning products and some holiday tunes turned up nice and loud it’s a big, fun job.

brother-cleaning

^My brother kindly demonstrating how easy and fun cleaning the bathroom with the Windex® Original Glass Wipes is. Isn’t he the best?

After the house is clean, and before I get to cooking, I’ll make sure that our house is decorated festively for the occasion with some traditional items and a special Thanksgiving wreath.

FULL

We all know to expect the “what are you thankful for” activity at the Thanksgiving dinner table but none of us likes to be put on the spot, right? I know I don’t. I think this is especially true when sitting around the table with strangers or a new group of people. (think your first Thanksgiving with your significant other’s family or maybe a group of your parent’s colleagues) but also applies to those dining with family and loved ones that they see all of the time.

Even though I have SO much to be thankful for, and love spending time reflecting on them, my naturally introverted self sometimes cringes at situations like these. To combat that awkwardness, and to make sure that all of my guests feel comfortable this Thanksgiving, I created this wreath that we will incorporate during dinner time.

close-up-wreath

The wreath is already hanging above our piano. Underneath, I have a box with pre-cut “thanks” circles and some pieces of leather cord. The idea is that from now until Thanksgiving, anyone who comes into my house can write down what they are thankful for and tie it onto the wreath. Guests who are here only for the day will have their opportunity to write down what they are thankful for while they are mingling and waiting for our meal.

THANKSGIVING-WREATH

During dinner, I will remove all of the circles from the wreath, divide them equally amongst our guests and we will take turns reading off what we are all thankful for. Of course, anybody can share more if they are so inclined but I believe that by having this anonymous way of sharing what we are thankful for will ensure that all of my guests feel comfortable, welcomed and pressure-free.

Sounds great, right? If you want to make a Thanksgiving wreath of your own, please feel free to download this free printable which gives you twelve “thanks” circles per page. Once you have the circles printed and cut out, punch a single hole into the top of the circle, cut some string and lay those items out with some pens.

I have so much to be thankful for this year – our wreath is going to be pretty full by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. I’m looking forward to it! That and, of course, the food. You can find more #HappyThanksgathering inspiration here. 

 

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Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

 

These days I can’t step into the kitchen without a certain toddler following me saying “pleeeeaaassseeee”. 

lyla-banana

She has discovered where all of those delicious “mum mums” that mom and dad bring to her come from and she wants in on as much of that action as she can get.

A girl after my own heart…errr stomach.

Hearing her little voice say “please” is basically the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard and it’s really hard to turn her down so I figured it was time for me to make something healthy for her to snack on. 

sweet-potato-banana-muffins

Enter these sweet potato and banana mini muffins. They are quick & easy to make, have only four main ingredients, and are toddler-approved. 

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lyla-with-muffins

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You trying saying “no” to that face. 

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Homemade Ranch Dressing + Pizza = Homegating Heaven

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameDayPizza #CollectiveBias

homemade-ranch-dressing-recipe

Pizza and ranch. In our house, it’s as classic of a combo as peanut butter & jelly. Chip and Dale. Salt and pepper. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. 

You get the picture. 

We’ve always planned for pizza night to happen in our house at least once per week but, now that football season is in full swing, I have a feeling that it’s going to happen a lot more often. 

red-baron-frozen-pizza

There isn’t a national football team representing our great state of Hawaii so we don’t have the opportunity to attend any games in person however this leaves plenty of Sundays open for us to cheer on our favorite teams with some good old-fashioned homegating.

What is homegating, you ask? You know…all the goodness of tailgating before a game…just done at home. No worries about weather conditions, lack of bathrooms, or nap space for your kids. PLUS you have access to your kitchen. Which means instead of grilling up the same game day food every week, you can serve yummy alternatives like Red Baron pizzas. With homemade ranch dressing of course (because there is no better pair, remember?)

Homemade ranch dressing is SO delicious and a lot easier to make than you probably think. You start off with a base mixture of dry ingredients (pepper, garlic salt, dried onion and dill weed), add them to a combo of fresh ingredients (buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, mayonnaise and fresh parsley), give it a stir and you’re done!

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homemade-ranch-dressing-dry-ingredients

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homemade-ranch-dressing-parsley

homemade-ranch-dressing-recipe

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. (HA – see what I did there?!)

Anyways, back to homegating. Your homemade ranch dressing is sitting in the fridge, patiently waiting for it’s chance to wow your family and friends so it’s time to prepare the pizza. You could stick to the homemade route OR you could stay on the quick and easy train and pop a few Red Baron pizzas in the oven. Which one are you going to choose? I vote quick and easy, especially when the big game is about to start. 

I know you are thinking why on earth, if I’m trying to “wow” my guests, would I serve frozen pizzas? I would be too…if I hadn’t tried Red Baron pizzas. Seriously guys, these pizzas are delicious. The people over at Red Baron have perfected their crust game in a way that I simply haven’t been able to yet — it’s crispy, consistent and oh-so satisfying. One bite of any of their pizzas and I’m sure your family and friends will be asking for more. 

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You can pick up a few Red Baron pizzas the next time you find yourself at Walmart (which I highly suggest doing before the next big game). They are located in the frozen goods aisle of the grocery section. While you are there, make sure to pick up an Edwards Pie to share with the fans of the winning team. Because victory is sweet. So is pie. (Get it? Man, I’m on a roll today) The Edwards Pies are also located in the frozen section and will keep your homegating prep nice and easy – all you have to do is thaw and serve!

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When you are shopping, keep an eye out for the Red Baron products that have the on-package promo materials for the Tailgate at Your Place Sweepstakes. Our friends at Red Baron are giving away over $100,000 in prizes – including checks, shopping sprees and 6 months of free pizza PLUS there are a bunch of instant win prizes that are up for grabs. 

Which Red Baron pizza are you going to pick up for the next big game?

Homemade Ranch Dressing
Creamy, fresh, delicious homemade ranch dressing
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DRY INGREDIENTS
  1. 1/4 cup black pepper
  2. 1/2 cup garlic salt
  3. 3/4 cup dried onion
  4. 2 TB dill weed
  5. WET/FRESH INGREDIENTS
  6. 1 cup mayonnaise
  7. 1 cup buttermilk
  8. 3/4 cup sour cream
  9. 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  10. juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Combine dry ingredients in glass jar, replace lid and shake to combine.
  2. Add mayonnaise, buttermilk and sour cream to medium sized bowl. Stir until smooth.
  3. Add 1 TB of dry mixture to wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
  4. Add juice of 1 lemon to wet ingredients, followed by chopped parsley. Stir until combined.
  5. Place dressing into storage container and store in refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Together, these dry ingredients will make a lot of extra ranch dressing mix. Store it in an air-tight container for future batches of ranch dressing, sprinkle it on chicken before cooking or gift some to a friend!
BRINGING UP BYRDS http://www.natashabyrd.com/


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Back to Ewa

The Byrds are on the move (again)

Last year, we did some major downsizing and left our little blue house in Ewa Beach for a charming little studio (in my Auntie and Uncle’s backyard) in Kahala. The move came at the perfect time for our family and we could not be more thankful that we have had to opportunity to be here for as long as we have. 

aloha, little blue house

^old house

Our current space is cozy and totally gets the job done, but as we get ready to bring another little Byrd home we need to move on to a bigger nest (I know, I’m sorry. I can’t help myself)

We have spent so much time looking at places and weighing our options. Should we buy or should we rent? Should we stay in town or go back to the west side? What about Kailua?! I have made about a zillion pros/cons lists and probably made Alex crazy with my indecisiveness (sorry, babe) all to decide that we are going to go back to the neighborhood in Ewa that we fell in love with when we first moved here.

sunrise ewa beach sunset ewa beach

^ can’t be mad at views like that!

I hate moving. All the packing and junk-sorting and unpacking is the worst but, I am excited to get into our new space and try to make it a home before little boy Byrd makes his appearance!

P.S. we are going to have an extra bedroom so book your tickets now!

 

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Santa Fe Flatbread

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FreshOnTheGo #CollectiveBias

santa-fe-flatbread

Friday nights were made for pizza – amiright?

On the Friday before we left for vacation, I was super busy packing up our things and it was way too hot to even think about baking but, being a sucker for tradition, I didn’t want to skip on pizza night so I decided to keep it light, quick and easy and put together some Santa Fe flatbreads. Not exactly pizza but definitely delicious and got the job done. 

Building the flatbreads was super easy because I used a Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Salad from Costco. There are a bunch of different varieties available but on this trip the Santa Fe Style Salad caught my eye.

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The Santa Fe Style Salad comes with romaine lettuce, white meat chicken, fire roasted corn, a four cheese blend, tortilla chips and a salsa-ranch dressing. 

Speaking of the dressing…SO good. This pregnant mama has been dreaming about it since we had this dinner and I can’t wait to get back to Costco so I can buy more. And that fire roasted corn – mmmmm so yummy. Corn is one of my favorite things to put on the grill and the fact that the hard part was already done for me was perfect. 

flatbread

All of the ingredients were already prepared and portioned for me so all I had to do was spread the dressing onto my flatbread, add the toppings and serve. Dinner was on the table in minutes and pizza night was saved.  

I found the Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Salads in the refrigerated section of Costco that is near the meats and cheese. 

costco-bistro-bowl

To keep our meal light, I paired the flatbreads with a refreshing homemade blackberry iced tea. Stay tuned for that recipe soon. Which Ready Pac Bistro Bowl will you pick up next time you are at Costco?

flatbread

 Follow along with Ready Pac for meal inspiration that is delicious, quick and healthy :  Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

 

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diy patriotic yarn wall hanging

Memorial Day is this weekend which means summer is here! patriotic-wall-hanging

I know, not officially but don’t kill my vibe, k?

Anyways, with Memorial Day being right around the corner my mind has been all: “three cheers for the red, white and blue” and “mmmm BBQ” and “SUMMER!!!” but my surroundings – ehhh, not so much. I decided that our little bungalow needed to step it’s game up and show a little patriotism by way of a craft that was easy enough to complete during naptime.

I settled on making a patriotic yarn wall hanging because I’ve been having major yarn wall art envy lately (yes, it’s a thing) since pictures like this and this keep popping up in my Pinterest feed. 

All you need to make your own patriotic yarn wall hanging is a dowel, yarn (red, white and blue assuming you love America as much as I do), a pair of scissors and some kind of string or rope to hang your masterpiece.

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I was really loose in my design. I kept the outside bunches single colors (ex: a bunch of red yarn, a bunch of blue yarn, etc) but in the middle I mixed it up (blue and white yarn bunched together, red and blue yarn bunched together, etc). In areas where I though a braid would be fun, I made sure to put a little extra yarn. I didn’t keep count of how many yarn strings were going in each bunch and I wasn’t exact on the lengths since it was supposed to be a naptime craft and aintnobodygottimeforthat

Once all the yarn had been tied onto the dowel, I added a long piece of rope scrap and hung it up on the wall. I liked the way it looked, but decided that it needed a little somethin’ somethin’ so I added a few felt star stickers for good measure. Next time, I’ll probably use a few different types of yarn for texture. 

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I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was definitely an easy project but took a lot longer than expected – who knew tying a bunch of yarn on a stick was so time consuming?! 

I hope you all have a fun, safe Memorial Day weekend. I am so grateful for all of the men and women who have selflessly given their lives to protect our freedoms. God bless them and their families and God Bless America.

 

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pot roast pizza

Seeing how much of the country is freezing this week, I’m willing to bet that the general crockpot population (yep, that’s a thing) is feeling the love. If you find yourself with any leftover pot roast, then I have just the recipe for you.

Heck, it was so good even if you don’t have leftover pot roast you should probably just make one now so you can make this pizza.

pot roast pizza

In our household, a good crockpot meal will last for days. But (much to my husband’s dismay) I get tired of eating the same thing for days at a time. I’m really trying to get better at this. So re-purposing our meals is key.

pot roast pizza

Last Friday morning I was preparing dough for our weekly pizza night and I remembered that we had leftover pot roast. 

It was sitting in the outside fridge and I could basically hear it crying out to me:

“Don’t forget me!”

“Ditch the pizza, use me up!”

“Alex will be so disappointed if you let me go bad”

Talk about a guilt trip. 

I couldn’t ignore the pot roast, but didn’t want to break tradition. So I put the pot roast on the pizza. Problem solved. 

Pot roast + gouda + parmesan + onion + arugula = pot roast pizza.

No one was mad. 

Pot Roast Pizza
A unique, delicious pizza using leftover crockpot pot roast
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. pizza dough (homemade or prepared)
  2. favorite pizza sauce
  3. freshly grated gouda cheese
  4. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  5. leftover pot roast
  6. 2 TB red wine
  7. 1 onion
  8. 2 TB butter
  9. 1 tsp brown sugar
  10. arugula
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 425F
  2. shred leftover pot roast and add to skillet over low heat
  3. add red wine to skillet and allow to simmer
  4. chop onion into small pieces
  5. add butter to small pan over low heat
  6. once butter is melted, add onion and dust with brown sugar
  7. stir onion mixture until onions have caramelized and are fragrant. remove from heat.
  8. line a cutting board with paper towels
  9. remove pot roast from heat and transfer meat to paper towels to drain excess moisture
  10. roll out dough on floured surface into desired shape
  11. layer pizza with sauce, pot roast, onion and cheese as desired
  12. bake in preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes
  13. once cooled, add arugula to top of pizza
  14. slice, serve and enjoy
Notes
  1. Baking times may vary due to oven and/or dough thickness. Check on pizza intermittently to avoid burning.
BRINGING UP BYRDS http://www.natashabyrd.com/

 

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