The Charming Returns


PLUS I’m looking for BLOGGERS, BRANDS, & SMALL BUSINESSES that offer services to and for other bloggers, brands, and small businesses.  Do you offer eBooks? Adverising? Graphic or web design? Do you sell pre-made blog templates and/or customized designs?  What about logos and business cards?  Are you a professional at SEO, marketing, taxes, or other valuable knowledge that a blogger, brand, or small business could utilize?  Have I missed something that you think could easily apply?

Let me know!  I would love to talk with you as I have a FREE and EASY opportunity for you to consider.


Otherwise, stay tuned for the return of this blog and so many fun things on August 31st!

Updated Tray + Coffee Table Decor

Upgraded tray-1I was growing a little tired of my zebra tray from 2008.  Then after getting inspired from a recent walk-through of Anthropologie and West Elm, I decided to do a little upgrading.

Upgraded tray-2

Upgraded tray-3Upgrading the tray cost less than $5 to buy gift wrap and tape, unless you already have them!  I used tape because you can get tape nice and flat to seal the gift wrap down, whereas a glue would show up as a glue line (unless you used glue sticks, but that won’t work for all tray surfaces).  I also thought that tape would be nice and temporary in case I get bored in another 7 years!

I recommend doing more exact measurements with the gift wrap to make sure everything aligns correctly.  With a newborn, I did the quick eyeball method.  It turned out good enough so I left it.


Upgraded tray-4

For the rest of coffee table decor update, I used the upgraded tray and just added decor on top of it.  I spent less than $20 on the fake succulent and the gold-rimmed faceted terrarium ($29-39 from West Elm) at Hobby Lobby, then I used books that I already owned.

Upgraded tray-5

I’m very happy with how the whole thing turned out.  I matched the gift wrap of the tray with the gold rimmed terrarium/planter on purpose and liked the green succulent as a secondary splash of color with the black and white of the books and the tray.

This isn’t actually the decor for our coffee table, though.  We have an entertainment console that we used to put our television on.  Then, we mounted it and were left with an empty table in front of the wall.  It looked awkward so I’ve been trying to find a low-profile solution to fill the space.  I’m very happy to have found this modern solution!  Enjoy!

Upgraded tray-6


Irish Vegetable Soup


Irish Vegetable Soup

St. Patrick’s Day is coming.
It’s the one day a year when all of us Americans show our Irish pride, claim to be Irish, and drink ourselves stupid. We all also eat a boat load of corned beef & cabbage, because you know that’s all they eat over there really.


Or not.

Ireland has long been known for their bland and simple food, but the truth is their food these days is anything but bland. They have some of the best dairy, in the world (in my opinion) and being and island their seafood is pretty amazing as well.


I was lucky enough to visit back in 2012 and loved it. One of my fondest memories from the trip was this simple soup. It was one of the best soups I have ever had, and I spent the next few years trying to find/create/ develop the recipe for it. The thing was that this soup was available around the country, nearly ever stop we made as we traveled from Dublin to the west coast then down to the southern shores and back up offered this soup, so I know that it is an unnoticed Irish tradition.


The soup is leaves a little to look at, but the flavor is amazing. It is smooth, creamy, and incredibly comforting; the type of thing that warms you heart and soul.



1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 parsnips, peeled & cut into chunks

1 turnip, peeled & cut into chunks

1 carrot, peeled & cut into chunks

1 tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped fine

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 russet potato, peeled & cut into chunks

Pinch of curry

4 cups vegetable stock

½ cup cream

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the parsnips, turnip, and carrot with oil and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until they have become soft, and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large thick bottomed sauce pan melt the butter over medium high heat. Sauté the onions and celery until they have softened (3-4 minutes). Add the potato, curry and roasted veggies to the pan. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender (or a stand blender in batches) puree the contents until smooth, then return to the pan and stir in the cream over low heat. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

The Charming Nursery

The Charming Nursery-1

Welcome to our baby girl’s nursery.  She hasn’t been inside of it too much, but it’s her room nonetheless and we love it for her.

We had already painted the room (which was originally the guest room) in this silver so we kept it and rolled with it.  Unfortunately, white, silver, and pink are popular for little girls’ rooms, but oh well!

A lot of things were repurposed and purchased from Ikea.  Quite a few things were gifts, and I’m quite sentimental so I hope I don’t start hoarding…

Anyways, enjoy the little sneak peak into her room and I’ll share with you the details along the way.



This bureau was actually used in my room when I was a baby.  I thought it’d be appropriate to use in my daughters’ room.  My dad touched up the paint on it because it was quite old and it holds her clothes inside, the changing pad, and her diaper cake from our shower.  I can’t help it, my good friend did such a great job that I couldn’t bare to tear it apart.  So, it’s going to be decoration for as long as possible!

We got that shelf from Ikea, the basket from HomeGoods, the assorted stuffed animals were gifts (except the white seal on the left was actually a gift from my dad to me when I was a baby), and those two pink votives/cans are also from Ikea.  On the far left, there is a little porcelain art hanging that was a gift from my husband’s cousin in Italy.  He painted a rocking horse on it and her name, Kate.

The “Katherine” clothesline was actually a DIY project the husband and I worked on.  He 3D-printed her name with plastic and I spray-painted the letters pink.  I then superglued them on clothespins and used jewelry wire as the clothesline.



Her crib was a gift from my husband’s parents.  It’s called a Delta Tribeca 4-in-1 crib from Babies ‘R’ Us.  I originally wanted a mini-crib because I was worried about space, but my husband and his parents really liked this crib.  It ended up working out perfectly.  It’s a full size crib but takes up a lot less room because it doesn’t have all the fancy details.  It’s quite low-profile and ended up working with our color scheme!  My husband, his sister, and her husband put it together one Sunday.

The quilt on the crib was a gift from family in Africa and a blanket that my mother-in-law knitted.

On the crib, you can see a little white piece attached on top of one of the sides.  That was designed and 3D-printed my Mr. Charming to fit our video monitor, a Drop Cam, when she moves to the room for sleeping.

The rug in front of the crib is from HomeGoods.


This day bed, from Ikea, was our guest bed originally.  It pulls out into a nice king size bed.  I wanted a mini-crib so we could still be able to use the pull out king bed, but can’t do that now that we have a full crib.  I wanted to still keep it though so it could be like a couch or a twin bed in her room.  In fact, my husband has actually had to sleep on it a few nights.  Eventually it will be her bed when she is old enough.  Until then, I’m sure I will use it plenty when she moves out of our bedroom.  I can nurse her on it and I can nap or sit on it while she’s napping or playing.  Plus, the pull out drawers underneath are extra storage for diapers, bedding, and toys.

The two big pink pillows were a fancy buy but I really wanted them for her room.  They are from Target and were about $35 a piece, but I love them so.



In the above picture you can see a pink and white side table with silver handles.  This was an Ikea buy a few years ago for less than $100.  I painted it white with pink drawer fronts since it was originally like a sand colored faux wood.  They are just junk drawers for now storing things we don’t currently use, like her audio monitors and headbands.

Next to the crib there is another side table that I’ve had since I was in high school.  It just kept moving around because it is a great little piece of furniture.


To the left of the daybed, you can see a 16×20 black and white print from when I was pregnant.  My husband really wanted a “The Family Stone” picture of me and our daughter — you know the one where Diane Keaton’s character’s maternity picture that was gifted to everyone in the family by Sarah Jessica Parker’s character.  We actually took this picture the last Friday night we had before she arrived.  This picture is in an Ikea frame.

To the right of the daybed, we have a letter “K” from HomeGoods and four picture frames.  I typed up and printed the following sentimental quotes on each of them:

  1. “I have died every day waiting for you / darlin’ don’t be afraid I have loved you for a thousand years / I’ll love you for a thousand more” – Christina Perri
  2. “Real isn’t how you are made. It happens to you. It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. Once you are real you can’t be ugly… you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” – The Velveteen Rabbit
  3. “If there’s a tomorrow when we are not together… there’s something you must remember: you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think… even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” – Winnie the Pooh
  4. “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St Catherine of Siena

On the wall next to the crib (see the images below), we got those two picture frame or book shelves from Ikea and the 20×20 frame from Ikea.  On the shelves are 5×7 picture frames painted in pink with formal pictures from our baby shower of each side of the family.  The Velveteen Rabbit is my favorite children’s book so I ordered a copy for her and found a rabbit that looks quite like the Velveteen Rabbit from Ikea and put that on one shelf.  The 16×16 picture in the Ikea frame was taken by me in Scotland of some pink carnations that were at my husband’s grandparents’ house.  I love this picture and thought it was very fitting.



The hanging lanterns were from our baby shower and I just hung them as a cheap mobile.  I think they turned out pretty good if I say so myself!

Also, my mom and dad made a measuring yard stick for her.  I wanted to use the one I had when I was little, but him and my mom made this so we could use a fresh new one for her and any future children we have.

No-Sew St. Patrick’s Day Banner

No-Sew St. Patrick’s Day Banner
A DIY guest article by The Lolly Project.


 I’ve always loved  flag banners. They’re so easy to make, and can add so much personality to any room you decorate. With Valentine’s day checked off the calendar, St. Patrick’s day is the next big holiday to generate excitement within society. So,  wouldn’t the reasonable thing be to combine my love for banners with St. Pat’s day to make a super cute, no-sew, easy-to-make decoration? The answer is yes. So that’s what I did.



  • Canvas Fabric
  • Printed Letters
  • Scissors
  • Sponge Brush
  • Xacto Knife
  • Green Paint
  • Tape
  • Flag  Template
  • A Saying, Word, or Phrase (I chose “Lucky”)


 ​Take your template, which you can print and cut out, and trace with a pencil, the flags for your banner. I decided to use a ratio of one letter to one flag. Cut out the flags once all have been traced. To add the letters/words/phrases onto your flags, take the printed letters and xacto knife and cut out the letters to create an outline.
st pat's type banner-3
st pat's type banner-4
When the letter outlines are created, tape them down, and with the sponge brush, dab the paint on top of the outline onto the banner. (Note: you will want to test your paper to check for bleed resistance.) I also found that an up-and-down blotting motion works best to deliver the paint to the canvas flags.
st pat's type banner-10
st pat's type banner-12
Remove the outline, and let the painted letter dry completely before continuing on to the next steps.
st pat's type banner 2
st pat's type banner 2-4
st pat's type banner 2-6


  • Painted Flags
  • Green String/Ribbon
  • Hot Glue Gun
st pat's type banner 2-7
st pat's type banner 2-8
Take your ribbon, and hot glue the flags on, about one inch apart.
st pat's type banner 2-12
And that’s it! A super easy, cute, and festive St. Patrick’s Day flag banner to hang in any room!
st pat's type banner 2-10
st pat's type banner 2-11

 photo Molly.jpg

Winter Blues + Life Lately

Winter Blues in Madison-1

Scarf: gift from a local boutique • Jacket: Amazon
Pants: JCrew • Flats: Express (no longer available online)

How are all of you doing?  Well, I hope.  Ignore the nude socks in the above picture.  How else am I supposed to keep my feet warm when I wear flats in the winter?  Maybe it’s a fashion no-no, but I love these flats and my husband approved this outfit so I’m okay with it! (PS, I totally borrowed his work socks to wear these flats).

Winter Blues in Madison-2

It’s definitely been awhile, but not because I haven’t been thinking about you all!  Motherhood is going really well.  I started back at work a day a week just to get back in the swing of things.  I love my job and I certainly missed it.  Husband has been figuring out how to be the only babysitter and I feel for him because it’s not as easy for him (I mean, he can’t just pop her on his boob if she’s hungry… as he so eloquently puts it.  She has to wait for milk and then she gets even fussier.)  Poor guy, he’ll get the hang of it, right?

A few other personal things has been going on.  My dad hasn’t been doing too well health wise so we’re in the process of figuring out the next steps.  It looks like we have surgery on the horizon very soon (like within a week or two), and for now that’s all we know.  Positive thoughts would be very much appreciated.  As expected, this has thrown us all for a bit of a loop.

Baby girl is growing and so lovely.  We all are very smitten with her and we’re enjoying the routine we have now while it lasts!  Make sure to follow along on Instagram to get a little more of our family updates.


A Cozy Great Date Night In

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own.

Cozy Date Night In-1Date nights nowadays are located in the comfort of our home.  Fireplace running, homecooked meal, and something on TV.  Though, honestly, this is how most date nights are even without adding a baby to the picture.  After long work weeks, sometimes it’s nice just to be lazy cozy on the couch.

It’s why my husband and I work so well together: in spite of whatever obstacles we face, we always can come home together at the end of the day and plop on the couch with some good food, a bottle of wine, and a movie.  Sometimes we have a fun little debate or talk about our dreams and hopes for the future.


Cozy Date Night In-2

Bar Cart • Chromecast • Cozy Throw • Cheese Dome • “The Giver” movie • Woodbridge Pinot Noir

Everything on this list kind of revolves around a good drink, delicious food, and the Google Chromecast, a USB drive-like device that you can plug in to your television and it will allow you to make your phone/tablet/computer a remote control using the applications you have on those devices.  For $35 it’s an entertainment must-have and it is the key to any date night – or social gathering – we spend at home.  We will cast our favorite music playlist from Songza to the TV and speakers during dinner, then put on a movie from HBO Go, Netflix, or Google Play Store.

If we’re doing wine and cheese night (a favorite of ours and we use that exact cheese board above that we got from our own Wedding Registry!), we are probably on the couch watching something or listening to music while talking about what we want to do next in our life (big or small).  If it’s been a long week and we just want to cuddle up on the couch with a beer (his) or vodka soda (her), we probably turn to a new movie — a recent favorite of both of ours is “The Giver.”

What are your go-to items for your date night in?


For those of you who are getting married, consider adding some of these products to your registry to make sure you can have a date night every night!

There are many benefits to choosing Target for your wedding registry:

  • Easy and engaging registry experience with inspirational starter lists
  • 15% off completion offer – the week of your event, you’ll receive a coupon for saving 15% on remaining registry items in store and online.
  • Easy returns

Look for more inspiration for your wedding registry with the Target catalog and start your Target Wedding Registry today!

Creating a Gallery Wall

Disclosure: This post is financially sponsored by Adorama Pix.  All opinions are my own.Gallery Wall-1

For the longest time, this wall was called our “wedding wall.”  You can actually view our wedding wall here.  I really wanted to get rid of it.  I mean it’s been almost three years and I’m a little sick of looking at the same pictures over and over (I get bored easily).  Mr. Charming was not so ready to get rid of it, though, but I finally was able to convince him when our daughter was born.  I wanted a gallery wall to display our favorite pictures, both of people (our daughter!) and of meaningful places.  I put the above gallery wall together to do just that and I think we love it.

Gallery Wall-4


I wanted a gallery wall where I can interchange some pictures as the months go on.  Some of the pictures of the two of us, the baptism pictures, and one of Miss K’s pictures will be replaced with newer pictures as she ages, we visit somewhere new, and as other life events occur.  But, for now, these are the most important pictures to us so they are what I have started with and will probably be up for a good time.  The canvas, the center image, the acrylics, and Miss K’s first picture will most likely be permanent parts of the display, though.

A. Zimbabwean sunset on acrylic.  Many of you probably don’t know my husband was actually born and raised in Africa.  He immigrated here when he was about 14 and I know they still hold a big place in their heart for Zimbabwe, in fact family still resides there today and they had a family reunion in Zimbabwe last year.  So, when I saw this picture they was taken last year I knew it would be a great way to incorporate where he came from into the wall.  After all, they always talk about the incredible beauty of the African sunsets.

B. Extended family picture.  This was taken at Miss K’s baptism and includes our best of friends as well because they are family, too.

C. Canvas family illustration.  I purchased this last year of the two of us plus our animals.  I wanted to have a little portrait of our family before we had kids, you know the first two and a half years of our marriage.

D. One year anniversary portrait.  I wanted to take annual pictures regardless if we have kids are not just to see how we change through the years.  Our second annual pictures included the baby bump, but for our first annual pictures I kind of did a “cherish the dress” session because I was a little disappointed with how little pictures we got from our wedding day of just us two.  You can see more from that session, taken by Elizabeth Buergler Photography, here.

E. Hanauma Bay in Hawaii panorama on acrylic.  We honeymooned in Hawaii and I don’t have many pictures from our honeymoon hanging in our house.  I took this opportunity to get this panorama on an acrylic to mirror the acrylic sunset.  We snorkeled in this bay and I’ll never forget we found a giant sea turtle and started just swimming behind him/her for several minutes.  Such a glorious little creature.  Ever since then, I’ve kind of had a thing for sea turtles.

F. Miss K at 3 weeks.  I took this picture along with a few others of her in a pink tutu.  This is my husband’s favorite picture from the session and I promised my husband we would include it in the gallery wall.  You can see another picture from the session here.

G. Second annual family picture.  This was taken by Elizabeth Buergler Photography in November, in which we also did a few maternity pictures that you might have seen on Instagram.  I wanted my husband and I to be in the center because, well, I love my marriage to him.

H. Miss K’s first formal picture.  Taken at the hospital by the hospital photographer around 12 hours of age.  I believe this will be a permanent picture in the gallery.

I. Two more pictures from our second annual family portrait session.

J. Family group pictures from Miss K’s baptism.  We did smaller group sessions of our families: my husband’s immediate family, my immediate family, our “second” family, and our closest group of friends.

K. Wedding flowers.  I include a mention of these because the tall pink flowers and the gold candles were on our sweetheart table at our wedding.  I have help them unaltered since then as decoration.  The middle flowers are just there, possibly temporarily until I find a better replacement, to kind of fill in the gap.


The key to the gallery wall, like many gallery walls, is mixing and matching.  I wanted to mix and match frames and media on this wall.  Adorama Pix is so great because they offer so many different size options for paper, acrylic, canvas, and metal prints – this was something I felt was lacking from some competitors.  For my Hanauma Bay panorama, they printed it 8×17.7 inches because that was the size of my panorama!

Gallery Wall-3

Once I found the frames and received all the artwork, I used the Command Picture Strips in size large to put up most of the pictures because they are a little more stable and required a lot less hassle than nails: all I did was rip off the stand on the frames, put the strips on the frames, and then put the frames on the wall.  This requires two people so that one person can stand from afar and make sure it all lines up.

** A side note: some of the heights and widths didn’t match up on purpose because I wanted to mix and match both frames and media, however there is a small discrepancy between this template and my actual wall gallery: where the asterisk (*) is on the template I say 11×14, however I used an 8×10 on my wall because that is the largest size I was able to get for that newborn shot of my daughter so I ran with it anyways using a frame for an 8×10 instead of a frame for an 11×14 which would have matched up in symmetry better.  I do recommend using an 11×14 picture instead of an 8×10, though.

Homemade Bone Broth Made Easy


Bone broth is the thing right now, which is great because it’s great for you. The problem is that most store bought broths have very little of the nutritional value that homemade versions do. Getting good quality broth in a specialty store can get expensive, so if you want good quality broth at a low cost the easiest thing to do is make it at home.

It’s true that bone broth takes hours up on hours of simmering, but all of that can be done in the crock pot. The bonus of this method is that you will come home to a delicious smelling house. The recipe below is a simple and basic recipe for homemade bone broth, however you can change it up based on your own tastes.

Ginger root and lemon grass make a very interesting addition to the broth that is a great base for any Asian dish. Personally my favorite combination includes a few sprigs of thyme and a lemon cut in half. It makes a great base to toss with pasta.

Crock Pot Bone Broth

1 medium onion, quartered

2 carrots, chopped large

2 celery stalks, chopped large

6 garlic cloves, smashed
(papers included)

3.5 lb of bones
(from leftover chicken, or beef soup bones)

2 bay leaves

2 tsp salt

1 tablespoons of apple
cider vinegar


Place all ingredients in the crock pot and fill with water until covered. Turn the crock pot on low for 12-24 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and let cool. Scrap the opaque fat from the top. Heat as desired and serve.

What Baby Stroller System Should I Choose?

A Guest article on behalf of Tesco.

These days, there are numerous different models of baby strollers/pushchairs/prams available, which can make choosing the right one quite tricky. First time parents can find this a particularly daunting task. There are several factors that you need to keep in mind during the selection process. Here is a guide to get you started.

via The Charming’s Instagram


There are three main types to choose from, namely three in one pram systems, two in one pram systems and strollers/pushchairs. The first option features a stroller, a carrycot and a car seat, with modern combinations involving a removable pushchair seat. Two in one systems are suitable for very young children and feature a compact design, while strollers/pushchairs are smaller and lighter, making them more easily maneuverable.


When choosing the model of stroller or pram, it is important to think about where you will be mainly using it. If the area features smooth, paved surfaces, then two in one systems are ideal. However, if you are in a rural area with no paved areas or areas of broken paving, opting for a three in one system might be the best option; especially if you have a very young child. This will allow you to remove the carrycot from the system and carry your child as and when you need to. The age of your child is also an important consideration, as you will want to make sure that they are the right size for the model you choose and will be able to sit or lay comfortably at all times.


It can be tempting to opt for a top of the range model that offers plenty of room to store everything you need for your baby as well as your shopping and anything else you need. However, larger models can be bulky and difficult to maneuver, which is an important consideration if you plan on using public transportation or shopping in crowded places. Many small models still come complete with special clips that you can attach bags to, while they may also have the advantages of being light and able to fit in tight spaces.


This cost of various models varies widely and the best model is not necessarily the most expensive. Make a budget first so that you know exactly how much money you have to spend and prioritise the things that the model should have to help making choosing simpler. Also take the time to shop around and compare prices between models and in different retail outlets, so that you get the best deal possible. Take advantage of sales and special discounts to help you get more for your money.