10 Inspiring Books To Read This Winter

Did you resolve to read more in 2016? While the weather is chilly and you’re cozy inside, now’s the time to get started on your reading list.

We’ve put together a list of ten inspiring books you should read this year.

Love Does,” by Bob Goff

A fun, unique and profound book of lessons drawn from the author’s life on how the right attitude can inspire you to discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.

An Uncomplicated Life,” by Paul Daugherty

This sweet story is one father’s exhilarating and funny love letter to his daughter with Down syndrome. We could all learn a thing or two from her vibrant and infectious approach to life.

The 7 Most Powerful Prayers That Will Change Your Life Forever,” by Adam Houge

Discover a meaningful, life-changing and heartfelt relationship with God through the seven greatest prayers you can pray.

All the Bright Places,” by Jennifer Niven

A charming love story between the most unlikely and endearing pair of teenagers. Theodore Finch is fascinated by death and Violet Markey lives for the future. When the two come together, the make important discoveries about themselves and how to stop counting their days and start living them.

Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand

A World War II story of survival, resilience and redemption. Whether or not you’ve seen the major motion picture, Unbroken is the must-read story of Louis Zamperini, an athlete turned airman. His story is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.

Spark Joy,” by Marie Kondo

From the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” comes “Spark Joy,” an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up. Kondo’s mantra says that if a possession doesn’t bring you joy, let it go.

Girl at War,” Sara Novic

A powerful novel about a girl’s coming of age and how every aspect of her life is profoundly shaped by war. Moving back and forth through time, “Girl at War” is an honest novel that beautifully illustrates how history transforms an individual.

Our Souls at Night,” Kent Haruf

An “eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story” of an elderly man and a woman who come together in their loneliness to wrestle with the events of their lives and find hope for their imminent future.

Extraordinary Means,” Robyn Schneider

A darkly funny novel about Lane, who lived a fairly predictable life until he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. “Extraordinary Means”is a “heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful story about the miracles of first love and second chances.”

Brave Enough,” by Cheryl Strayed

A collection of inspiring quotes drawn from the wide range of Strayed’s writings that capture her wisdom, courage and humor. “Brave Enough” is an irresistible read for the individual looking to be a little bit braver.

7 Healthy Recipes for Your Favorite Winter Comfort Foods

Cold weather draws us toward comfort foods like stews, casseroles and other hot dishes. But let’s face it—while “comfort” foods can be good for the soul, they aren’t necessarily good for your body.

Here are seven healthy and delicious alternatives to your favorite winter foods.

Chicken and Rice Casserole
337 calories per serving

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
1 (8-oz) bone-in chicken breast half, skinned
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 (14-oz) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 (8-oz) zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 (8-oz) yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup (2 oz) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt

Get the recipe here.

Shrimp and Grits
266 calories per serving

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half (or use low-fat)
3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3/4 cup quick-cooking grits
Chopped scallions (dark green tops only), for serving

Get the recipe here.

Turkey Meatloaf
207 calories per serving

Ingredients:
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup skim milk
1 medium onion, peeled
2 pounds ground turkey breast
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce

Get the recipe here.

Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie
515 calories per serving

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound bone-in lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1 cup frozen green peas
4 cups chopped peeled sweet potato
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

Get the recipe here.

Spinach Pie with Goat Cheese, Raisins and Pine Nuts
363 calories per serving

Ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 cups minced onion (about 1 large)
5 (9-oz) packages fresh spinach
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups (8 oz) crumbled goat cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Cooking spray

Get the recipe here.

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili
310 calories per serving

Ingredients:
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound 99 percent fat-free ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
4 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
2 (14-oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chia seeds
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Get the recipe here.

Green Chile Tamale Pie
378 calories per serving

Ingredients:
1 cup masa harina
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces ground sirloin
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces tomatillos (about 8 small), chopped
1 cup frozen baby lima beans
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup (1 oz) crumbled queso fresco
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 lime wedges

Get the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

8 Exercises For People With Arthritis

Arthritis affects millions of Americans, and when your joints are already stiff and aching from arthritis, exercise may seem overwhelming. Skipping exercise, however, can actually worsen joint pain and stiffness for those with arthritis. Not exercising weakens the muscles surrounding and support your joints.

Don’t assume you have to run a marathon to keep your joints healthy. It doesn’t require intense exercise to improve joint pain and stiffness. Some exercises, such as range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises and low-impact aerobic exercises, can be very beneficial.

If you are suffering from arthritis pain, here are some exercises you can try to alleviate your pain and reduce stiffness:

Weight lifting. Increase your muscle strength with weight training. Start with no more than 5-pound hand weights, and build endurance over time by adding weight and repetitions. Weight lifting can also be done in the water with foam dumbbells.

Bicycling. Upright or recumbent cycling is one form of aerobic exercise that won’t put added pressure on your joints.

Swimming. Water aerobics and swimming are some of the best forms of low-impact exercises for people with joint pain. Because water counteracts gravity, it puts the body in a weightless environment, allowing for more mobility and less pain when exercising.

Elliptical training. The elliptical machine is ideal for individuals with good balance and endurance. This machine provides a no-impact cardio workout. Increase the machine’s resistance to build strength and endurance.

Rowing. Not only does it provide a full-body workout, but the rowing machine also puts minimal impact on the joints. Rowing will help strengthen the muscles supporting the joints in your legs, back and arms.

Yoga. Improve posture, reduce joint inflammation and increase flexibility and mobility with yoga. A slow, fluid yoga workout will increase strength and balance. Just be careful to avoid power yoga or hot yoga, as these forms of exercise can put added pressure on your joints.

Stretching. An exercise you can do anywhere, stretching alleviates tightness and reduces muscle and joint soreness.

Walking. To build bone strength and cardio health, go on a moderate-intensity walk three to five times per week. Start with just 10 minutes and build your endurance over time.

Always talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Your physician or physical therapist may be able to recommend other exercises that are best for you.

Say Goodbye To The Winter Blues

Feeling a little blue this winter? You’re not alone. Winter weather can be cold and dreary, leaving you feeling lethargic, uninterested and even depressed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the clinical name for a psychological condition that is known to set in during the winter months. SAD is linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by the shorter days and lack of sunlight. Whether you have SAD or just a common case of the winter blues, here are some tips to help you manage during these cold, dark, and dreary winter days.

Start the day with a morning walk. Bundle up and head outdoors for a brisk walk in the park or around your neighborhood. Being out in nature just feels good, but any exposure to the sun you can get will increase your vitamin D levels, which has a positive effect on both your mental and physical health. Vitamin D can help diminish depression and boost your immune system. Exposure to sunlight also helps reinforce a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Don’t put yourself at risk. If temperatures are extremely cold, or if it is slick or icy outside, wait for another day to take your walk outdoors.

Take vitamin D supplements. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D in the winter, and low levels of vitamin D can lead to the winter blues. Talk to your doctor about a vitamin D supplement if your body isn’t producing enough of the vitamin to help keep your mood up.

Stick to a routine. It gets dark early these days, but it’s not always healthy to go to bed when the sun goes down. Make a list of chores to do around the home after it gets dark, or curl up with a good book. Keep yourself awake until your normal bedtime to keep your sleep cycle healthy this winter.

Exercise. Physical activity spurs the production of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. If you have access to a gym, use it, but if not, pop in a workout DVD at home or go for a brisk walk. Exercise will help you ward off winter weight gain, but it will also improve your mental state.

Let the light in. If it’s too cold to be outside, open up the blinds and let the sunshine in. Natural light is a powerful way to keep the winter blues at bay.

Listen to music. Turn up your favorite upbeat music and play it in your car or in your home. Music is good for the soul and a great stress reliever, too. Listening to the right music can give you an energy boost, make you feel good and encourage you to move.

Get out of the house. Staying indoors will make your struggle against the winter blues even more difficult. Schedule weekly activities that get you out and about. Go for coffee with a friend, sign up for a painting class, take the grandkids to a museum—there is no shortage of activities you can take part in around the DFW metroplex. Spend a day in the tropics with a visit to the Dallas World Aquarium and Rainforest. Head out to the Fort Worth Stockyards to see the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive (around 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM daily), or check out the rodeo at the Stockyards every weekend.

The winter blues aren’t fun for anyone, but with a little activity, you can beat seasonal depression and get through ‘til spring. If you think you may be experiencing more than a case of the winter blues, talk to your doctor.

 

 

 

How To Organize And Pack Christmas Decorations

The holidays are over, and it’s time to un-deck the halls and put away the garland and boughs of holly. Taking down holiday decorations isn’t nearly as fun as putting them up, but it doesn’t have to be a dreaded task.

Here are some tips to help simplify your post holiday organization and storage:

Reduce your collection: Before packing anything away, go through all of your holiday decorations and separate out any that you don’t love. There is no reason to store items you may not use in the future, so now’s the time to clear out any unwanted items.

Pack in plastic: Plastic storage bins are your best bet for storing holiday decorations. Use boxes that are color-coded (red and green for Christmas, black and orange for Halloween, etc.) or clear so you can see the contents inside. Plastic boxes will also keep your decorations safe and dry whether they are stored in an attic, basement, closet, garage or storage unit.

Pack with caution: Don’t overload boxes and make them so heavy that you can’t lift them. Wrap breakables well with packing paper and separate with pieces of cardboard. Pack candles or ornaments made of wax in separate boxes and store them where they won’t be exposed to extreme temperatures. Separate heirlooms and valuable pieces into smaller boxes that can be stored under your bed or in your bedroom closet for safekeeping. Throw in a few silica packs to reduce humidity in the plastic bins, and stack bins or boxes of similar sizes for easy, space-saving storage.

Label everything: Label every box, bag and storage container with a list of what’s inside. Use a label marker or a black permanent marker. Clearly labeling boxes will help you prepare for next year’s holiday decorating. Once you’ve labeled what’s inside, number each box or bin so you’ll know what to open first.

Keep lights untangled: Nobody enjoys untangling twisted strands of lights, so prevent the frustration by wrapping your lights on plastic spindles before storing. You can even make your own light storage using paper towel rolls or wire hangers.

Be smart with gift wrap: Store wrapping paper in containers specially designed for gift wrap, or stand rolls of paper up in a small trash can or hamper. A tiered pant hanger makes the perfect tool to store tissue paper, and an over-the-door shoe organizer can be used to store tape, scissors, gift tags, ribbon and bows.

Putting away Christmas decorations and saying goodbye to the holidays can be sad, but if you follow these tips, you’re sure to enjoy stress-free holiday decorating next year!

10 Tips to Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

Making a New Year’s resolution is simple. Sticking to it, not so much. An estimated 45 percent of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution for 2016, but only about 8 percent of people will actually achieve their resolution. What can you do to beat the odds?

Here are a 10 ways to make your New Year’s resolution stick:

1. Make just one resolution. One of the reasons many people fail is that they make too many resolutions. Give yourself just one goal to focus on for the year, and you’ll increase your chance for success.

2. Find accountability. Once you’ve set your resolution, broadcast it to a few close friends or family members who can hold you accountable and encourage you along the way.

3. Be specific. Being too vague is another common mistake people make when setting New Year’s resolutions. Instead of setting a resolution to “lose weight,” make your goal more specific, such as “lose 20 pounds by July.”

4. Make one small change at a time. Big goals can be overwhelming, but, remember, you don’t have to achieve your goal overnight. Make small changes to help you accomplish your larger goal.

5. Give yourself time. Not all habits are formed in 21 days. It may take some time for the changes you want to make to become a sustainable habit, so give yourself a grace period and room to stumble along the way.

6. Break it up. Give yourself “mini” goals to accomplish along the way to achieving your big goal. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds by May, that comes down to 4 pounds per month or 1 pound per week. Look at your big goal as several smaller, more achievable goals.

7. Visualize the end result. To stay motivated, focus on the end result and the reward for your efforts. Remind yourself why you set this goal in the first place. This can be especially helpful when you hit a plateau or lose your motivation during the year.

8. Measure your progress. Use a calendar or checklist to make note of your progress. If your resolution is to “write every day,” make a note in your calendar to keep track of your goals.

9. Celebrate. Take a little time each week or month to celebrate your achievements. Acknowledging your progressive success can help keep your motivation up when you hit a slump.

10. Start now. “I’ll start tomorrow,” is a common excuse people use when it comes to making lifestyle changes. Once you’ve decided on your resolution, why wait until January 1 to begin? Start working toward your goal now.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you have an off day (or week or month!). If you get off track, dust yourself off and pick up where you left off. There is no failure in trying; only in quitting.

Quick Tips For A Last-Minute Holiday Party

Just beginning to plan your holiday party? Skip the fancy dinner party and start by planning a casual, cocktail-style party with finger foods and simple decorations. Here are a few quick tips to help you plan a festive and fun last-minute holiday party.

1. Be sure your guests get the details in time and save a little cash. Spread the word with email invites or by creating an event on Facebook.

2. Simplify your trip to the grocery store by organizing your list into categories (produce, meat, baking items, etc).

3. Choose a theme to give direction and focus to your party planning. Pair food and decor with your theme and guests will never know you threw the party together last-minute.

4. Search for simple holiday recipes on Pinterest. Pin recipes you’re interested in and then go back and narrow your list down to a handful of simple recipes with few ingredients that require little time to prep and cook.

5. Ask guests to bring drinks and finger foods to accompany the theme. When you’re short on time, don’t give yourself the added stress of preparing all the food. Nobody likes to attend a party empty-handed, so request that guests bring food or drink to share.

6. To decorate, fill clear vases with colorful ornaments to create a festive look without spending a fortune or a great deal of time on decorations. Bring greenery into your home by creating a simple cedar wreath chandelier. All you need is two wreaths (one large and one small), satin ribbon and a hook.

7. Speed clean. You don’t have time to devote a whole day to making sure your home is spotless. De-clutter gathering areas (kitchen, dining room, living room, etc.) and hit the high-traffic areas with a hand-held vacuum cleaner. To avoid spending time scrubbing surfaces, spray cleaning solution on countertops, tubs and toilets and allow it to set for 10 minutes before returning to wipe surfaces down.

Planning a holiday party can be stressful, especially when you’re short on time. With these tips, you can keep your stress level in check while ensuring you and your guests have a great time.

 

 

Something for Everyone: A Holiday Gift Guide

The Christmas season is a time for giving, but what do you give the people in your life who are hardest to buy for?

Nobody wants to give a gift that won’t be enjoyed or appreciated, so let us help you find the perfect gift for everyone in your life! Whether you enjoy making gifts for others or prefer to click-and-shop online, here are 10 gift ideas for just about everyone in your life.

1. External battery charger. A convenient and useful gift for anyone you know who has a smartphone (which is probably most people you know)! The Jackery Bar External Battery Charger is just $19.99 on Amazon. 

2. The Girl on the Train. Know a reader? The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is one the year’s hottest novels. Get a hardcover copy of this bestseller for less than $15!

3. Kiehl’s Men’s Must-Haves set. For the men in your life, this collection contains a mix of classic Kiehls men’s skin products. Get it online from Saks Fifth Avenue for $39.99.

4. Birdseed cake. For the birdwatcher, these DIY birdseed cakes will keep the birds coming back for more. Get the tutorial on how to make birdseed cakes here.

5. Lavender bath bonbons. Know someone who needs to spend a little time relaxing? These lavender and coconut bath bonbons are the perfect gift to give someone who could use a little pampering. These lavender bath bonbons are also a DIY project. Get the tutorial here.

6. Chipotle gift card. Who doesn’t love Chipotle? Keep your friend or loved one well-fed with a Chipotle Gift Card. Go online to order a gift card and have it mailed to the recipient.

7. Magazine subscriptions. We all have that friend who still loves to get print magazines, so why not gift them with a 12-month subscription to their favorite magazine? Save up to 90% when you order magazine subscriptions from Amazon!

8. Fern-printed tea towels. Flour sack tea towels are very practical, but they can also be cute with a simple DIY touch. With this tutorial, you can turn an ordinary flour sack tea towel into a decorative towel that can be proudly hung in the kitchen. All you need are craft paints and plants from your garden.

9. Pop-up photo box. For the photo lover, this little photo pop up box is a sweet way to keep and enjoy life’s best memories. Get the DIY tutorial here.

10. Blessing bangle bracelet. For your favorite nurse, this blessing bangle bracelet is the perfect gift to let them know just how much they are appreciated. Just $26.99 on Amazon!

Let these ideas serve as inspiration as you finish up your Christmas shopping. There’s something out there for everyone—even those who are hard to shop for.

5 Delicious Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

If you’re planning to prepare a big Thanksgiving feast, it’s a given that you will have leftovers. What can you do with all that extra food?

If the thought of turkey sandwiches for a week is less than appetizing, why not plan ahead with a leftover menu of its own? Here are some creative ways to use up your holiday leftovers.

Fried Stuffing Bites with Cranberry Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:
Leftover stuffing
2 eggs
2 teaspoons milk
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup cranberry sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup walnuts
Oil, for frying

Directions:
Preheat oil to 350 degrees F.

Cut leftover stuffing into bite-sized cubes and set aside. Whisk eggs and milk together in a small bowl. Coat each stuffing bite with egg mixture, then dredge in the bread crumbs until fully coated and set aside. In a food processor, blend cranberry sauce, pepper and walnuts and set aside. Once oil reaches 350 degrees, fry each piece of stuffing until golden brown (about 4 minutes). Drain on a paper towel and serve with cranberry pesto.

Chunky Turkey Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large sweet potato, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound cooked turkey breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small head escarole, trimmed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces and washed well

Directions:
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat (covered). Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in tomato paste.

Add sweet potato, tomatoes and their juice, broth, 1 cup water and rosemary; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until potato is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Stir in turkey; add escarole in two batches, waiting for the first batch to wilt before adding the second. Cover and simmer just until turkey is heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Turkey Hash with Country Gravy

Ingredients:
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup frozen chopped onions
1/2 cup frozen chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons chopped pimientos
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups leftover stuffing
2 eggs
2 cups diced turkey meat

For serving:
Leftover gravy
Milk
6 poached eggs

Directions:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble sausage into skillet. Add onions, peppers, and pimientos. Cook until sausage is just cooked through (6 to 8 minutes), stirring often to break up sausage. Transfer to a large bowl. Clean pan and heat oil.

Add stuffing, eggs and turkey to bowl with sausage mixture and stir to combine. Add to heated pan and press down with spatula until bottom of skillet is covered with hash. Brown 5 to 7 minutes untouched. Use a spatula to flip over hash and continue to cook another 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, take leftover gravy and heat in a saucepan over medium heat. As gravy heats up, whisk in enough milk to thin to desired consistency.

Serve hash topped with poached egg and warmed turkey country gravy.

Turkey Quesadillas with Chutney and Brie

Ingredients:
4 flour tortillas, (10-inch)
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 pound sliced leftover turkey
1/2 cup leftover cranberry chutney or cranberry sauce
8 slices thick Brie cheese (8 ounces)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread 1 tablespoon of mustard on one side of each tortilla. Divide the turkey over one half of each mustard-coated side; dress with cranberry chutney (about 2 tablespoons per quesadilla). Layer each with 2 Brie slices, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold and press to seal edges. Brush on all sides with olive oil; transfer to two rimmed baking sheets.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until cheese has melted and tortillas are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve topped with more chutney, if desired.

Pumpkin and Ice Cream Sandwich

Ingredients:
Filling from a leftover pumpkin pie
Graham crackers
Softened vanilla ice cream

Directions:
Scoop out filling from a leftover pumpkin pie. Spread on a graham cracker. Top with softened vanilla ice cream and another graham cracker. Freeze until firm.

7 Easy, Beautiful Fall Crafts

There’s just something about fall that gets us in the crafting mood. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so now’s the time to get out those fall decorations and make the most of the beautiful autumn colors.

Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite fall craft ideas:

Shimmering votives: You’ll need small glass votive holders (if you need to buy some, try the dollar store), metallic gold spray paint, gold glitter spray and a spray bottle with water for this project. Lightly spray the inside of the holders with water and then spray the paint over the water. Once it’s dry, spray a light coat of glitter over the paint. Bonus: Depending on your Christmas décor color scheme, you can use these through the Christmas season, too!

Leaf garland: Display fall hues on your mantle with a colorful leaf garland. Simply cut leaf shapes out of fabric scraps in autumn colors, string the leaves from twine or even floss and hang from your mantle. Leaf garlands also look adorable strung in front of windows or across an archway or opening in your home. For a more detailed tutorial, click here.

Colored acorns: If you live near an acorn tree, this is a simple craft you can do to bring nature into your home and add some color, too! First, gather as many acorns with intact tops as you can find. Next, you’ll want to be sure the acorns are good and dry, so bake them in the oven for about two hours on low heat (about 170°). After they have had plenty of time to cool, paint them using colorful acrylic craft paints and a brush. Want to add a little shimmer? Use metallic paints or apply a final coat of a glitter spray. Here’s a simple tutorial on how to paint acorns.

Cozy pumpkins: Dress your pumpkins up a bit with strips of plaid fabric scraps and large wooden buttons. Wrap the fabric (about two to three inches in width) around the center of the pumpkin. Add large wooden buttons and secure with straight pins. So simple and just too cute!

Fall foliage mobile: For this craft you will need twine or ribbon, an 18-inch embroidery hoop, hot glue, eight pieces of 3-foot-long waxed strings, eight small pinecones and artificial fall leaves in varying fall colors. Wrap the hoop in twine or ribbon and tie the pieces of waxed string to the hoop. Secure a pinecone to the bottom of each string for weight, and then add the leaves by tying the string around the stems, varying the space between leaves. Click here to see an example.

Fabric pumpkins: For pumpkins you can use year after year, create soft and cozy no-sew fabric pumpkins. All you need is fabric, twigs and toilet paper to make colorful fabric pumpkins of varying shapes and sizes. This tutorial explains how to create these simple pumpkins.

Thankful tree. ‘Tis the season to be thankful. Take time to reflect on all of your blessings with a simple thankful tree. Find a branch that will fit in a vase and paint the top white. Add some weight to the vase with nuts or rocks and insert your branch. Cut leaves out of construction paper and punch a small hole in the top of each leaf. Write something you’re thankful for on each leaf and hang it on the tree using ribbon or twine.

These are just a few ideas of simple and stunning fall crafts. Any of these would also make a great activity to do with your grandchildren! Take some time to enjoy the harvest season before winter arrives with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.