Holiday Hospitality

 I don’t know about you, but hosting & accommodating people are some of my favorite things to do. I like to make people feel important. When I have guests stay over I don’t ever want them to feel as an inconvenience. So this year I decided to go the extra mile. πŸ˜„

If you have guests staying with you, they will probably need to shower at some point. Well, at least let’s hope so! When that time comes you don’t want to make your guests feel like they are inconveniencing you when they ask what shampoo, conditioner they can use, or if you have extra floss or toiletries. Well if you want to be extra hospitable this holiday season I have a few tips & tricks and the best part it can be free! Well, it was free for me because I had everything on hand. If you are an avid “crafter” then it will probably be free for you too! Yay!

So you know when you go to the dentist and they give you a free toothbrush and floss? Yeah, you’ll need to go dig that out of your junk drawer because you’re going to need them. Also, dig out any free toiletries or samples (shampoo, conditioner, face wash) that you have acquired over this past year. I use to be a Birch Box member, so I have a ton of samples on hand that I have not used yet.

After I gathered all my samples, I dug out some average size mason jars, took the lids off and applied the wire handle. I was planning on doing something else with them, which is why I had them on hand, but thought this was a better idea. If you don’t already have these you can buy a set of three at Target for $3.99. They are with all the canning supplies and jars. You could also get creative and use twine or ribbon.

I pulled these blank tags and gift toppers from our Christmas supply bin. Then I used paper rope to tie them onto the jars. I opted to write “Help yourself” on the blank tags with a Sharpie marker, but you can skip this step if you don’t have the tags. You could also write “for our guest”, “be our guest”or any other thing that tickles your fancy.

Tip: I scored the toppers last year after Christmas for $1.50 at Target. I always buy my Christmas supplies after the holiday. Everything is at least 50% off if not more afterwards. Crazy good deal!

After I tied the tag and topper on, I put my samples: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, and floss in each jar and hung on a hook in our guest bathroom. I added the wreaths for the holiday season. You can get them at Hobby Lobby for $2 each. I got them for 50% off last year. Another savings win!

Tip: Try to use gender neutral samples if you are having men and women staying with you.

I already had the hooks in the guest bathroom, which is why I opted for the wire handle, but if you do not have hooks, simply keep the lid, apply the twine, tag, and gift topper and set them on the sink. It is the thought that counts! Not only does it say hospitable, it also makes your guests feel important. 😊

On a separate shelf I had other accommodating items that guests normally forget about grabbing. Soap, q-tips, cotton balls, bath bombs, and sponges. However, the sponges are for display only so I’ll make sure to set out a wash cloth with the hand towel, and bath towel.

Tip: Set two towels out for each guest, just in case they like to use one for their hair and one for their body. If you have a robe, set that out too.

Doesn’t this look so inviting? I hope my guests feel the same way. We shall see!

Well, I really hope you enjoyed my post and you leave here inspired by my tips and tricks to make your home guest ready for the upcoming holidays. Until next time friends. Xoxo

Friday Night Lights with Hot ChocolateΒ 

To say I’m a proud mom right now is an understatement! The football team my son plays on won the league super bowl! Carter has made leaps and bounds to get here and I couldn’t be happier for him. It literally feels like my heart is going to burst.

I say all this because Carter has struggled with ADHD and being socially awkward for several years now. He is an A & B student so I refuse to medicate him. We tried medication for two years and he was constantly getting sick. So much that the school nurse wouldn’t call me anymore. She would just stick a note in his backpack telling me she let him lay down for an hour then send him back to class. This was happening at least 2 times a week. If anything I felt the medication was counterproductive. So after trying different types with no avail my husband and I decided to take him off of the medication. Again, he was excelling academically, Just not socially. What’s crazy is Carter is a compassionate and loving child, but for some reason he doesn’t usually interact well with kids his age. Last school year I had to meet with his teacher on several occasions due to bullying situations. It got so bad that Carter told me one day with tears rolling down his face that he didn’t want to go to school anymore. It broke my heart. It still hurts thinking about some of the events that took place.

Last year he told my husband and I that he wanted to play football, and we were elated! We were hoping that playing on a team would help him make friends and learn to play well with others, which would ultimately help his self confidence. Well, last year didn’t go so well. His team didn’t play well together and Carter’s ADHD interfered with him listening, paying attention, and ultimately not playing well with his team. Their team came in last place. Carter felt defeated and told me he really tried. I know that he really did try to make an effort at the end, but by then he had lost the respect of his fellow teammates. I remember one time him asking me why nobody liked him. It is incredibly frustrating as a parent to know your child is loving, compassionate, and cares about everything and kids still picked on him. Honestly, he is an easy target because of those traits.

When football season came around this year, he said he didn’t want to play. I begged him to give it another chance and reluctantly on the signup deadline date he said he would play.

I was worried that this year would be a repeat of last year, but I am happy to say I was wrong! Carter excelled this year! He made friends, and I could see his confidence boost. He made a lot of good tackles and helped his team win the championship and now the league’s super bowl!!!!!!!! πŸ‘ˆπŸΌ is that enough exclamation marks?!? Probably not. πŸ˜‚

         Again, I cannot say how proud I am of him. Look at how handsome he is! He looks so grown up and confident this year compared to last year.

After his team won I took him to Panera (his favorite place to eat) and told him I would make his favorite hot chocolate for dessert. It’s so good (and kid approved) so I want to share this yummy goodness with you.

So I use dark chocolate Swiss Miss. shocker right?!? But it’s so good and with the toppings it is even better. I mean I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, just trying to make the wheel shinier. If you will. 😊

This yields 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of dark Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate
  • 3 cups of 2% milk 

Toppings:

  • Whipped cream
  • Dark chocolate chunks (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 3 candy canes
  • Cinnamon (1/2 tsp for each cup)

Step 1: Follow the instructions provided on the packet or… In a saucepan on medium heat, pour in 3 cups of 2% milk. Allow the milk to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Step 2: Add 1 packet of Swiss Miss Dark Hot Chocolate into each cup.

Step 3: Pour the milk into the cups. Distribute evenly.

Step 4: Add 2 chunks to the hot chocolate and stir until melted.

Step 5: Smash up one of the candy canes and set aside.

Step 6: Add the whipped cream to the top, then sprinkle some of the smashed up candy cane, remaining dark chocolate chunks, and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to top it off. Use a whole candy cane as the stirrer.

Super simple and oh so yummy!Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my life as well as my twist on hot chocolate. I don’t usually share intimate details of my personal life, but if this helps any parents that are currently going through something similar I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Stay strong!

Now if he would just clean his room. πŸ€”

Crockpot Rosemary Flavored Roast with Vegetables

Don’t you just love crockpot meals in the cooler months? No way! Me too! I actually like them year round…mainly because it’s fast and It cooks itself with little to no maintenance. Hey! I love to bake…cooking is hit and miss. πŸ˜‚

This recipe is seriously something I just threw together with what we had on hand, but it will not disappoint. Now let’s get to it!


Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 6 hours

This recipe makes 8-10 servings. A great leftover meal too! 

Meat:

  • 1.5 lb roasT

Produce:

  • 5 carrots (peeled) 
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1/5 sweet onion
  • 5 Idaho potatoes (peeled)

Herbs & Spices:

  • Fresh rosemary
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 16 ounces of vegetable broth

Step 1: Over medium heat add olive oil to a sautΓ©e pan. I didn’t measure. You just need to drizzle it in the pan.

Step 2: Add salt and pepper to the raw roast on both sides and then put the roast in the sauce pan. Turn after two minutes on each side. You just want to brown the outside.

Step 3: Once the roast is done, set to the side so you can prep the vegetables.

Step 4: Prep the vegetables.

  • Peel the carrots, cut down the middle long ways, then cut 2 inch pieces.
  • Peel & cube the potatoes.
  • Peel and slice the onion into strips. 
  • Cut the celery stalks long ways down the middle, then chop into 2 inch pieces.

Step 5: Put all the vegetables on the bottom of the crockpot then set the roast on top of the vegetables.

Step 6: Add the vegetable broth and then top the roast with the fresh rosemary. Put the lid on and cook on low for about 6 hours.


After 6 hours scoop that yummy goodness out of the crockpot & eat away! I served it with French bread & butter. My family loved it!

This recipe is so easy, low maintenance, and oh so yummy! Since this is a judgement free zone, I’ll go ahead and let you know I had two helpings. πŸ˜‰

Well friends, I hope you enjoyed my post. Until next time. Xoxo

DIY Shiplap Wall

So I have been swooning over shiplap since I was introduced to it on Instagram. I am a DIYer so I figured I would attempt it. It actually isn’t terribly difficult, but it had its moments. Probably because patience isn’t my strong suit. The great part of this tutorial is I will be pointing out my pain points in the hopes it will spare you some heart ache. However, I am so happy I did it! If you swoon over shiplap too, then read on.
First things first! Let’s go over some lessons learned in the hopes your project goes smoother than mine. 😁 

Lesson learned 1: Make sure you purchase decent grade wood. I mean it is going on your wall. I actually bought good wood & didn’t have any issues, but I watched & read several tutorials and this is the one thing people kept pointing out so I want to point it out to you. I purchased birch wood. It was $24.95 a sheet, but it has a very smooth finish & it was easy to work with. Using a cheap grade could result in warped boards. The wood was the biggest expense, but you will be happy you invested in a quality wood when you aren’t doing touch-ups a few weeks later.

Lesson learned 2: Paint your wall the same color you are painting the shiplap before you secure the shiplap to the wall. I did not do this, which resulted in me buying a tiny paint brush to get in all the cracks. It didn’t help that the wall was a dark gray to begin with. My husband even told me to paint it first, but in Carrie fashion I thought my way was right. Well it wasn’t. πŸ˜‘

Lesson learned 3: Buy a nail gun. Or rent one. Or borrow one. Unless you don’t need to use your arms for the next few days, buy a nail gun. I hammered in roughly 30 nails a board. Somewhere in the range of 800 nails. My arms are starting to hurt even thinking about it. I couldn’t pick my 22 lb 1 year old up without moaning for the days following. If you want to do it the old fashion way, then you do you, but you have been warned. πŸ˜‚

You still want to do this? Sure you do! It actually wasn’t hard. It was just a lot of stop & go. I would have gotten this done in a lot less time if I didn’t have kids, a husband, or a job. πŸ˜‚ But I do and I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. Except buying a nail gun before I started this project. 😁

Materials:

  • 4×8′ sheets of wood (I used 5 birch wood sheets total but this is all dependent on the width of the planks you want & the size of your wall)
  • Pencil
  • 1 lb. box of 1 1/4″ finishing nails 
  • Liquid nails (I used 5 total)
  • Paint (I used Gallery White from Behr)
  • Wood filler 
  • 120 grit sand paper block
  • 120 grit flat piece of sand paper
  • Outlet extender box (if you have outlets on your wall)

Tools:

  • Table saw
  • Jig saw
  • Circular saw
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer or nail gun
  • Caulking gun
  • Paint brush or roller. 
  • Spatula for wood filler
  • Razor blade

The cuts will all be dependent on the size of your wall. My wall was about 14 feet wide & 9 feet tall. I decided to go with boards 6 1/8 inch wide based on how large my wall is.

Step 1: measure your wall to figure out the amount of wood you will need. Once you have all your measurements purchase the wood & gather all your materials & tools.

Step 2: Paint your wall the same color you plan to paint your shiplap. This is optional, but if you have a dark colored wall & plan to paint the shiplap white I would recommend painting the wall. I used Gallery White from Behr. 

Step 3: Using the tape measure & pencil mark where you want to make the cuts. My amazing FIL did most of the cuts as well as measured everything out. I assisted a little bit, but it was mainly him. We used a circular saw. If you have outlets you will need to use a jigsaw to cut the outline of the outlet(s). You can have Lowe’s cut the boards, but precision is key.

Step 4: If you have outlets you should install the outlet extender box before applying the shiplap. I did not do that, but again…lesson learned. We had two outlets. My FIL came to the rescue again and installed them for me while I was away on a business trip, but I found this very detailed tutorial on how to install them.

Step 5: Using your caulking gun apply liquid nails to the first board. I started at the top and worked my way down. I made sure to press the edge up against the corner and hold it for about a minute. Note: I wanted each row to look like 1 long board, but there are actually two. If you don’t want that look, you will need to alternate the long & short boards on each side.


Step 6: Using a hammer or nail gun. Hammer finishing nails in each of the 4 corners of the board. You should hammer a nail in about every 4 inches along the top and bottom of each board.

Step 7: Repeat steps 5 & 6 until all the boards are up.

Step 8: Apply wood filler to all the nail holes and any other places desired. I wanted each row to look like 1 long board so I applied wood filler where the two boards connected.

Step 9: Using the 120 grit sand block, sand down all the wood filler to a smooth finish.

Step 10: Using the flat piece of 120 grit sandpaper sand in between the planks for any hard to get to debris from the wood filler.

Step 11: Using a damp towel, wipe the boards to remove any dust or debris from sanding.

Step 12: Have a drink or 3 if you just did all that by hand & you don’t have to drive anywhere. πŸ˜‚

Step 13: Paint your wall! I didn’t use a primer. I applied two coats total waiting 24 hours in between coats. Let the wall dry for 48 hours. I would recommend dabbing your brush on water to thin out your paint when painting in between the boards. If your paint is thick it can cause the paint to build up in the cracks.

Step 14: Using the 120 grit flat sandpaper smooth out any areas between the boards where paint has built up. Since I did this myself, I had several areas where this happened.

Step 15: Wipe the wall down with soap and water.

Step 16: Decorate away! Because I had just put so much time into this wall I didn’t dare use nails to hang anything. I used the M3 strips. You can purchase these almost anywhere. I got mine from Lowe’s.

Congratulations you have created a beautiful shiplap wall. The total cost for the wood, outlet extender boxes , finishing nails, & liquid nails was about $170. I had everything else on hand. It isn’t the most inexpensive DIY project, but it was a whole lot less than contracting it out.

I hope you found my tutorial helpful! If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Have a great day. Until next time. Xoxo