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When homeowners Judy and Don sat down with their architect, Gary Tran of Tran Architecture, to redesign their Houston abode, they made one huge (and surprising) decision: to flip the layout. They put the kitchen and living room on the second floor and all the bedrooms on the first floor. This way, the public spaces would have a view over the treetops. They also kept the bedrooms on the smaller side to force the family to hang out together in the common rooms. (Sneaky!)

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Leftover popcorn? I know, I know, but it happens. So if you somehow find yourself staring down half a bowl of popcorn at the end of movie night (or even a few handfuls), don’t be so quick to toss it. That snack still has plenty of life left in it, and it’s totally worth saving. Here are a few smart ways to give it a second chance to curve your salty, crunchy cravings.

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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Chex Mix is sometimes referred to as party mix, which honestly might be the most obvious name for any food ever, given it pretty much feels like a party whenever you dig into some.

So why even upgrade something that’s so genuinely tasty already? Well, because of just how much more fun classic party mix can be. There is so much room for extra zing and pizzazz — be it in the form of spicy or sweet stir-ins. And the best part is that you don’t even need to make Chex Mix from scratch: All of these fun new combos and flavors can start with a bag of purchased Chex Mix. So get the party started with one of these 10 awesome tiny recipes.

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The power of suggestion is so very strong. Whenever I watch a movie with food in it, whether it’s truly appetizing or just evocative, chances are I will be craving it in a major way. So before you watch any of the following films, consider stocking up on these heavily featured foods. Hint: This list goes far beyond the usual pizza.

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Does the toughest part of making a cake come at the end, just when you think you’re done? That cake is out of the oven, cooled, and frosted — but how to finish it off in a pretty way? For those of us with all thumbs and no pastry school degree, this is the last hill to climb. If you don’t care to decorate with artificially colored icing or candy, then it’s all the more challenging.

Southern bakers have a little trick that I’d love to teach you — a lovely, all-natural garnish for the classic hummingbird cake, but one that can also pretty up so many other things from cupcakes to cocktails. Here’s how to make dried pineapple flowers — the sweetest way to decorate a cake.

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Once we all seemed to get over Formica, granite took over as the ever-present top pick for kitchen counters. For years now, it’s been making its way into renovations, new builds, and even apartment makeovers. But now, the telltale speckled look just might now be … dare we say it? Dated. According to The National Kitchen & Bath Association, there’s a new Big Cheese in the house: quartz.

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My mom was the Queen of Birthday Parties.

I’m not sure it was ever her intention to secure that title but, as an innately creative and exceptionally loving person, her natural inclination is to honor each of life’s occasions with the flair and fanfare it deserves — sometimes even more than it deserves.

In our family, a good report card never came without a celebratory dinner; it was never too early for a milkshake to commemorate one of life’s many milestones (as long as you’d recently been to the dentist’s office); and birthdays, well, they were days to go all out. There was not a detail left unnoticed, not an iota of love held back.

I hope that I will one day be the kind of mother who celebrates with her children in a way that’s as deep and committed. My mom has left some pretty big party shoes to fill. Here are three of my very favorite birthday parties.

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If you’re into brewing coffee at home — especially with the pourover method — you know that a good electric kettle is a great investment. It lets you boil water quickly and efficiently, and if the kettle is one particular type it will also let you get a better, more controlled brew. That one extra-fancy type is a gooseneck kettle, which lets you control the flow of water as you wet the grounds in a French press or pourover basket.

A little geeky? Yes. Necessary? No. But when a kettle is only $37, why not?

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