Love to Read? Here’s How to Host a Book Swap Party!

If you fly through books faster than you can buy them, you might want to save some money (and have some fun) by hosting a book swap party with your fellow bibliophiles. This type of party enables you to trade your old books for a friend’s pre-loved titles that are new to you. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when planning your own book swap.

  1. Determine the logistics. Consider how many people to invite depending on the size of your space, and then decide how many books each person should bring based on that number. If you’re at a loss, 10 books per person is a good start. You might also want to ask each guest to bring a covered dish or his or her beverage of choice.
  2. Send an e-vite. Make things easy on yourself by sending out a quick email invitation to the people you want to invite.
  3. Include the right details. Since the party is a unique idea, the invitation should include the general idea of how things will work and how many books the person should bring.
  4. Set up a display. Set all of the books in boxes or on a table so that guests can check them out before the swap begins.
  5. Start swapping! Once it’s time to swap, go around a circle letting each guest choose a book on every turn.

How to Host a Book Swap Party [One Good Thing]
How to Host a Book Swap [How Stuff Works]
How to Host a Swap Party [Real Simple]

Bring Fall Indoors With These Festive Wreath Tutorials

Who says that a wreath has to hang outside? There are a number of fun and creative ways to make DIY wreaths that bring the beauty of fall indoors, and many of them don’t cost a dime to make. Here are three great wreath tutorials for you to try this weekend at Halstead Tower.

DIY Apple Wreath []
While an actual apple wreath would likely be too heavy to hang, this one uses faux apples from the craft store to achieve the same effect. All it takes is some hot glue, a Styrofoam wreath mold and some burlap to hang it.

Glitter Wreath []
If you’re looking for a fun wreath project that the kids can do, too, this one is a great choice. They’ll enjoy cutting out the small leaves from heavy cardstock, and they’ll enjoy it even more once it’s time to sprinkle glitter all over.

Fall Wheat Sheave Wreath []
If you prefer something with a more natural look (and a quicker preparation), this tutorial is one of the simplest you’ll find. Simply gather some dried wheat and tie it together with a piece of oversized ribbon in a fall color, then attach the whole thing to your door (or anywhere else that can use a bit of decoration).

Veteran’s Day Freebies!

We appreciate our service members and it looks like many local restaurants, retailers and attractions do too! One of our favorites is the free wings and side of fries at Buffalo Wild Wings from 4-7 p.m. The list goes on and on…
To check it out yourself, go to:

Put These Three Family Activities on Your Autumn Agenda

With the colorful leaves on the ground and the refreshing chill in the air, people of all ages can’t help but want to play outside once fall finally comes back around. These fun activities will show you how to get outside and have fun with the whole family this autumn season.

Make Leaf Rubbings []
If your kids are still very young, they’ll love this simple art project that uses beautiful fall leaves. Start by taking your children outside to collect as many leaves as they can. Next, press the leaves underneath a piece of paper and rub with a crayon to create an artistic imprint of each unique shape.

Paint Fall Garden Pots []
Once it comes time to switch out your summer flowers with something heartier for the fall, encourage your kids to help by letting them decorate the pots. Lay out some newspaper, provide them with colorful paints, and encourage them to get creative with simple terra cotta pots.

Visit a Maze []
Most areas have an old-fashioned corn maze somewhere nearby, and your kids will love getting lost in its twists and turns. Simply do a quick Internet search to find the closest one to you (bonus points if the maze is located at a colorful apple orchard!).

What’s Your Interior Design Personality? Find Out Here!

Are you partial to chic, modern furnishings, or is your interior design style more of the cozy, vintage-inspired variety? Knowing exactly what types of furnishings you like best will make it much easier for you to decorate your home at Halstead Tower. Here are a few great online quizzes that will help you to zero in on your specific interior design personality.

What’s Your Decorating Style?
This quiz from Coastal Living asks a series of very abstract questions about your lifestyle, your drink preferences, and even your preferred clothing style to help you figure out your interior design style. It also makes recommendations for decorating ideas once your results are in.

Style Maker Visual Quiz
Take this visual quiz from Stylish Home is best for visual learners, as it shows you a series of photos in order to help you determine your home decor preferences. Instead of simply asking you what types of furnishings you like, it actually shows them to you to help get a more accurate response.

Decorating Style Quiz
Better Homes & Gardens offers this fun mix of visual and word-based questions regarding your decor preferences, your personality, and your unique needs. Once you complete the quiz, it offers a general idea of your home decor personality.

4 Flavorful Ways to Enjoy Pumpkin This Fall

Now that you’re an adult, you’ve finally come to the sad realization that you can’t eat pumpkin pie for every meal throughout the fall season. Lucky for pumpkin lovers everywhere, there are a number of different ways to prepare this fall favorite.

Thai Pumpkin Soup []
Pumpkin soup is a staple of Thai cuisine, beloved for its mild flavor and warm, filling taste that’s perfect on chilly afternoons. This recipe blends healthy pumpkin with unsweetened coconut milk, and you can customize the spices to make it as spicy or as mild as you like.

Classic Pumpkin Pie []
If you’re in charge of providing the dessert at an autumn gathering, you can’t go wrong with a classic pumpkin pie. This traditional recipe is a great one to keep in your arsenal.

Pumpkin Butter []
With only four ingredients and not much skill required, pumpkin butter is a simple recipe that goes a long way. This version includes turbinado sugar and brown sugar for an extra sweet taste that’s perfect on your morning toast.

Pumpkin Cannelloni with Sage Butter Sauce []
Take your love of pumpkin to a whole new level by turning it into a pasta entree. Large cannelloni noodles are stuffed with sweet pumpkin and topped with a simple, savory sage butter sauce that looks (and tastes) more complex than it actually is.

These 3 Pasta Dishes Don’t Require Any Cooking

Many people are switching to raw diets because of the numerous health benefits, but it can be difficult to abstain from eating your favorite dishes. Lucky for anyone beginning a raw eating plan, there are a number of different ways to make pasta-like meals in a raw way. Here are three nutritious pasta dishes that don’t require any cooking at all!

Raw Beet Marinara Sauce with Zucchini Noodles
Not only are the noodles in this dish raw, but the lovely, bright red beet sauce is as well. Zucchini noodles are very easy to make and provide a sort of al dente texture to the dish, while the earthy beet sauce with sun dried tomatoes is full of antioxidants to aid in your body’s natural detoxification functions.

Raw Tomato Sauce
If you prefer a more traditional Italian sauce, this raw version will satisfy your cravings without messing up your diet. All it takes is some fresh and sun dried tomatoes and a few simple spices to give it that wonderfully zesty flavor.

Spaghetti al Marinara
Don’t let the word spaghetti fool you; there are absolutely no grains and no cooking involved with this healthy dish. The noodles are made from squash or zucchini shredded into strips that look and feel just like real spaghetti. Topped with a classic raw marinara sauce, this dish is perfect for your weekly pasta night.

Nifty Tricks for Hanging Photos — Without Sacrificing Your Security Deposit

If you want to decorate your walls with photos or artwork without filling your rental with nail holes, there are a number of other ways to hang frames. Check out these creative alternatives to the usual photo-hanging methods.

  1. Adhesive strips. Venture out to any home goods store or supercenter and you’ll likely find adhesive photo-hanging strips made just for renters. These strips come in two pieces and have a sticker on one side that attaches to the back of the frame and to the wall, and they have sturdy Velcro on either side that enables you to securely hang your frame. Once you move, simply peel them off the wall with no damage done.
  2. Picture rail hangers. Many older homes come with picture rails on the walls, which make it even easier to hang frames. Simply buy decorative wall hooks from just about any home goods store.
  3. Poster putty. If you don’t mind going sans frame, poster putty is a great temporary way to hang photos or large posters on the wall without the pesky nail holes.
  4. Monkey hooks. These are a longtime favorite of renters because although they do make a hole in the wall, they’re much sturdier than the usual nail. This means that they’ll hold your frame with a lot less potential damage, and the holes they leave behind are a lot easier to cover up once you move.

Picture-hanging alternatives [She Knows]
Hanging a Gallery Wall Without Nails [Oh Happy Day]
Ideas for Hanging Artwork Without Leaving Holes in the Wall [Apartment Therapy]

Easy and Effective Ways to Maintain Order in a Busy Kitchen

From prepping the morning coffee to working to get dinner on the table on a hectic weekday, you put quite a strain on your kitchen day in and day out. Here are a few effective ways to maintain order in your kitchen, no matter how busy your weeks can get!

  • Maximize the space in your cabinets. If your cabinets only have a few shelves, add more. If your belongings are always a jumbled mess, add organizers. Many people don’t consider adding new shelving or dividers in their cabinets, but this is one of the easiest ways to make your kitchen work better for your specific needs.
  • Bring in a bar cart. If you need additional storage but don’t have the space (or the budget), a bar cart is a great solution. Use this for your coffee maker and mugs, baking tools, or even as a traditional bar cart with wine and cocktail essentials.
  • Keep the counters clean. Avoid storing things on the counters in order to create space for cooking and more room for navigating your kitchen.
  • Group like items together. Take a day to organize your utensils, pans, and even your food, grouping the items that you usually use together in one place.

Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets [The Container Store]
10 Kitchen Organization Hacks to Keep Clutter Contained [Café Mom]
10 Steps to an Orderly Kitchen [HGTV]

Expecting Last-Minute Guests? Here’s How to Speed-Clean Your Apartment!

You were thrilled to hear that your friends were coming to town for a visit… but then they told you they would be there in an hour. When your apartment isn't exactly ready for visitors, you can follow these last-minute cleaning tips to tidy it up in no time at all.

  1. Keep all of your cleaning supplies in one place. That way you can simply pull out the bin or bucket in situations just like this one.
  2. Banish clutter. When it comes to making a room look clean, your guests are more likely to notice your dirty laundry on the floor than a bit of dust in the counter. Make one quick sweep of the apartment and clean up clutter as you go.
  3. Clean the bathroom. Your guests will likely use the bathroom before, say, your office, so be sure that all counters are clean, the toilet is scrubbed, and fresh linens are hung. Don't forget to restock the hand soap and toilet paper!
  4. Don’t get hung up on little things. Now is not the time to rearrange your shelves. Instead, dust only the visible surfaces, fluff up the pillows, and look at the room as a whole instead of focusing on individual details.

9 Tips For Speed Cleaning [About Home]
13 Tips to Help You Speed-Clean Your Home [Better Homes & Gardens]
Speed Cleaning [Real Simple]

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