Tuesday, January 24, 2023

How To: Hot Chocolate Bar

How to set up a hot cocoa bar


Cooler temperatures and winter days go hand-in-hand with hot chocolate, and there is no better way to enjoy this frigid time of year with your little ones than with a fun hot chocolate bar that is just for them! 

All kids love being in charge, so allowing them to select their own mix-ins or toppings for their hot chocolate is a real treat. A hot chocolate bar can be set up as a one-time event for a party, or left up all season long as a regular afternoon treat. Who wouldn’t love coming home from school to a yummy hot chocolate?


Setting the scene for a hot chocolate bar

Setting up a hot chocolate bar is super simple. Start with some festive decor — you can probably find things around your house or in your holiday decorations that you can use — it’s a great spot to include those decorations from holidays of the past that don’t make it onto your A-list of decorations anymore! 

Think out of the box and get creative for ways to display your hot chocolate bar. For example, we used a plaid scarf and craft paper as our tablecloth, Mason jar mugs left over from another party and a random assortment of crystal dishes to hold our hot chocolate toppings.

Grab your favorite mug

The great thing about hot chocolate is that you have so many options when making it! Depending on how much time you have to prep, you can make your own mix from scratch, use ready-to-mix packets, or even go the K-cup route. All that really matters is that you have the hot chocolate pre-mixed and ready to go, or that you have hot water or milk on-hand ready to mix up a batch. Cute mugs also help and anything from ceramic mugs to Mason jars to or paper cups will do!



It’s all about the toppings

After your cup is filled with hot chocolate, the fun part begins! Having an assortment of toppings makes it fun for kids (and adults!) to personalize their hot chocolate to their tastes by mixing and matching different toppings.

For this hot chocolate bar we used mini marshmallows, candy canes, mini chocolate chips, crushed graham crackers, chocolate sprinkles and rolled wafer cookies. Other fun toppings we love are canned whipped cream, cinnamon sticks, caramel candies, chocolate syrup, crushed cookies and chopped nuts.



WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TOPPING FOR HOT CHOCOLATE?

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Monday, January 23, 2023

Tips & Tricks to Keep Warm in During Weather Sports

Winter sports season is well underway. Spring sports season has officially kicked off for some, but Mother Nature hasn’t gotten the memo. Us moms cheering on the sidelines? We’re cold.

There’s nothing we love more than supporting our kids in the activities they love. Even if that means we will be cheering them on the sidelines in less than favorable conditions. This time of year, weather can pose a variety of threats, but as the old saying goes the show (or in this case the game) must go on. And so shall our warmth. Here’s some tried and true tricks and tips to keep warm the next time you’re cheering on the home team.


Tricks & Tips to Keep Warm During Cold Weather Sports

Get schooled in meteorology – Okay so maybe not be a full out meteorologist, but definitely make sure you understand the weather before you head to the fields. Aside from the obvious of checking the temperature, make sure you take a peek at the humidity. The more humidity in the atmosphere, the colder it will be. So 32 degrees with low humidity will feel a lot warmer than 32 degrees with higher humidity.

Dress in layers – Having the right cold weather gear for your little players is important. Same goes for you on the sidelines. Wearing the right layers can make all the difference in the world. Not just random layers – there’s an art to it. Our standard cheering section uniform is a light moisture-wicking base layer, regular clothes, fleece layer, all finished off with a good winter coat. By having the right layering system and keeping moisture away from your skin, you stay warmer.

Volunteer – We all have a ton going on right? Adding one more item into your schedule seems unthinkable. But notice who doesn’t seem cold (or at least as cold)? The players, the coaches, the team mom…It’s all because they are moving! One way to keep warm is to volunteer to help. Organizations are always looking for parent coaches or volunteers. So raise your hand, offer to help, and get moving. Because we can assure you, hot dog griller number one in the concession stand is never cold.

Stay hydrated – We worry about making sure our athletes are well hydrated, but remember you need to stay hydrated too. Even in the cold weather months. The more hydrated you are, the better your body is at regulating its temperature. So drink up soccer moms! (And we don’t mean that special “keep warm juice” you might have hidden in your purse.)

Wrap your seat, raise your feet! – The more insulation you can put between yourself and the ground or the bleachers the warmer you will be. We love these insulated stadium chairs for those cold bleachers. But if you don’t have one handy, wrap yourself in a warm wool blanket and then sit down. No seats available? Stand on a cooler or another raised surface to keep your feet off the cold ground.

HotHands, Warm…hands, feet, arms... – Bringing a portable heater isn’t possible (is it?!), so we resort to the next best thing – HotHands. These handy little heating packs are a life savor on those cold, blustery days. We’ve been known to grab a value pack and stick them over every available surface of our body. But placing them in your gloves and socks instantly warms your extremities, which warms your whole body too. So next time you’re at Costco, grab a box or three.

What are some of your tips and tricks to keep warm during cold weather sports? Share with us!


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Thursday, January 12, 2023

Best Books of 2022


Usually this post is our very favorite to write all year long! Often times the second we finish a book we know it is going to make our top three for the year and can't wait to sing its praises. Some years we have SO many favorites that it is almost impossible to narrow it down to just three. This year just felt different though. We kept checking in with each other trying to see if there was anything we both loved or anything we were missing, but a lot of the books we read this year just didn't have the same effect as some of the years pasts.  However, when we started looked back there were some great standouts so without further ado, we are finally sharing what we think were the best books of 2022!



OUR FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2022

CARRIE BETH


THIRD FAVORITE: 


I LOVE a good coming of age story and this one was told over 6 summers and one weekend. An emotional and great twist on the classic boy and girl next door story. They experience friendship, fall in love over 6 summers, and ultimately end their relationship in terrible heartbreak. They are reunited for a funeral years later and their connection is undeniable, but they must face what pushed them apart so many years ago.  

You can read my original review HERE

I LOVE books that make me feel and this one did just that! 

SECOND FAVORITE:


My second favorite book of the year was Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. This title hit so many best seller lists and won several awards so I'm sure you have all heard about it by now. Set in the 50's and 60's, forward thinking Chemist, Elizabeth Zott, finds herself teaching a cooking show to housewives and uses her platform to share a powerful message to all women. 

You can read my original review HERE

It was a true girl power book and although I don't have a career in a heavily male industry, I have SO many friends that do and this book felt like a champion for all women. It made me want to say, "You go girl!" so many times and it was just so thoughtfully written. Quirky and cute, it made me laugh out loud, and I loved the powerful message to all women.    

FAVORITE BOOK OF 2022:

 
Here we go...my favorite book of 2022 was Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez.  This was a random title I selected when scrolling for a new book one day and I am so happy I went with it.  Jen and I talk about this often, but there are MANY times that the award winning books are obviously amazing, but just not my jam. That certainly wasn't the case with my number two pick this year, but in most cases the books that receive all the hype just don't live up to the hype for me.  I love books that make me feel and if a book can make me both laugh and cry, well that one is a winner for me! This book isn't likely to win any awards except for my favorite book of the year, but it is just the type of book I love. I started it thinking it would just be another love story, but it really felt like so much more. 

You can read my original review HERE

I loved the big city doctor and small town lifestyle unexpected connection the two main characters had. It made them question everything they knew and ultimately forced them to decide if love was worth giving it all up for. When a book had me staying up WAY past my bedtime, listening to it in bed because I just don't want to stop, how could it not be named my favorite of the year?!?


JEN

Oh my this is tough! I read 85 books last year, and I still can't believe that. 85!! That car pool/audio book situation is really doing things to increase my intelligence. Or at least teaching me 97 ways to murder someone. It could go either way really.  

In addition to my top three, I really enjoyed all three that Carrie Beth mentioned too. Two of them almost made my list, but then I thought that would be boring for you to hear about. So...three different options and after reading my reviews from past post, I think I got it just right. 

THIRD FAVORITE:


I loved this little Italian treasure from Rebecca Serle. Her books are full of beautiful imagery, wonderful characters and a story that sticks with you for awhile. Here is my original review of One Italian Summer, and if you haven't read it yet - put it on your reading list asap. And maybe start scouting good deals on flights to Italy. 

SECOND FAVORITE:


So I normally wouldn't call my self a thriller lover. But...numbers don't lie, and I read a lot of thriller/suspense novels last year.  I actually think now it is one of my favorite genres to listen to on Audio because it holds my attention when I'm in the car for hours at a time. I tried to pick out my favorite for the year, and a few really stood out. The top one though...The Golden Couple. This was the one I read and then shared with all my girlfriends. Unanimously they all agreed - it was twisty goodness!

Read my original review of The Golden Couple.


FAVORITE BOOK OF 2022:


After I read all of my top reviews for 2022, choosing The Wedding Veil as my favorite was a no brainer.  Kristy is one of our all time favorite authors, so it is no surprise that her release for the year topped my list. I loved the relationship building in this story, and the tie in with the Vanderbilt legacy in such a unique way made for a story that stuck around with me all year long. 

If you haven't read this magical story yet, read my original review and add it to your cart now! 

And there you have it! Bring on 2023 reading! 


What was your favorite book of 2022? Share with us!!


BOOK CLUB 2022
January | February | March | April | May | BEST BOOKS OF SUMMER | June | July | AugustSeptember | October |   
| November |



Follow along with us on Goodreads!

HAPPY READING! 


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Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Nov./Dec. Book Club 2022

 

Hi book loving friends! We can't believe we missed sharing our reviews for November! We December'd too hard and the holidays really snuck up on us. So today, grab the larger glass of wine and get ready for a whole lot of book chatting. 

We're sharing two months worth of book reviews, and then tomorrow we'll share our favorites for 2022! 



WHAT WE READ...


CARRIE BETH
November and December were REALLY busy months for us and I had sort of gotten in a bad mood listening to books.  I had high hopes and wasn't really loving anything, so I decided to take a little break.  I did manage to finish a couple, but that was it for me! 


First up was Just Haven't Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens. This cute story asks: What if you picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport, decide it must be fate, and end up falling head over heels in love with the real owner?  That very thing happens to a lifestyle reporter who is on a work trip and her quest to be reunited with the suitcase owner takes her all over the small island. What she couldn't have imagined was how she would befriend her taxi driver and start to rethink the love she always thought she wanted. It was a heartwarming story that made me laugh and a good light read with some feeling to it! 


The other title I finished was Beautiful Graves by L. J. Shen. A tragic family event leads Everlynne Lawson to move away from her family and friends, isolate herself in a city where she has no ties, and to not allow herself any joy. She meets a man who helps rescue her from her depression and decides he is her lifeline, although he could never compare to the one fling she had years ago who she felt was her true soulmate. This story took a really long time to develop and the first half felt very slow to me. However, once I had that "oh, that is what is happening here" realization I became so invested and couldn't wait to see how it would turn out. There were times I was so frustrated with the characters, but it was a very happy ending. Without giving away too much I was glad that Everlynne found true happiness in the end after all the heartache and tragedy she had experienced in her life. 

JEN
The end of the year brought a variety of genres to my reading pile. I also abandoned quite a few books. By December I caught an awful case of the flu and ADD. Looking back though, November was a rockin' reading month! 


I kicked it off with this thriller - The Housemaid. Talk about a twisty edge of your seat read. Millie is fresh out of incarceration and finds herself a job as a live-in maid to the wealthy Winchester family. The Winchesters seem like the perfect family: loving couple, adorable kid, gorgeous home. It seems like the perfect job. Soon after she starts her new position, secrets begin to unfold and you begin to wonder what exactly did everyone sign up for. This one gave me all the creepy vibes from start to finish. The ending though - perfection! I'm so tempted to read the sequel!



Next I picked up 11/22/63 by Stephen King. This is my first King novel, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I've always shied away from his books because horror is not my thing. I'm still haunted by the sleepover where we watched Pet Sematary in elementary school. But 11/22/63 came highly recommended so I decided to step out of my reading comfort zone and give it a try. While it was a little daunting at 850 pages, it was an excellent story. A mix of historical fiction, sci-fi, thriller, and romance - even though it was lengthy it held my attention the whole time. It was a great story and one I highly recommend if you have been thinking about dipping into his books or want something unique to read in your TBR.



The Villa is a book that we were sent an early copy of. I was excited because I enjoyed The Wife Upstairs by the same author. This one though took me a little longer to get into. It goes back and forth between present day, and past events all tied together by one spectacular (and possibly cursed) Italian vacation mansion. 

The story follows a group of rock musicians/artists who summer in the home during the '70's. Each person goes on to become famous for something in wake of a tragedy that happens by the end of the summer. One of the group dies, and throughout the book you are given clues as to what really happened that summer that lead up to the death. 

Fast forward to present day, and two longtime best friends vacationing in the home for the summer while they each write their own novels. Secrets emerge, and the past and present collide in one crazy ending. 

It was a quick read, and I enjoyed the back half of the book much more than the front end. I'm not sure why, but I think the pace was a little quicker or it spent more time tying it all together. I can't put my finger on it, but I would definitely consider this a "slow burn" suspense novel. 



Deeply craving something lighter to read, I grabbed the latest novel in the Simple Wild Series. Running Wild follows Marie's story. Marie is Alaska's beloved vet, but she wonders if animals are the only love she will know in her life. After falling for someone unattainable, she vows to move on. Insert grumpy dog racer here, and Marie thinks she has found just the person to spend the rest of her life with. Until he lets her know his heart belongs elsewhere. Not wanting to venture down that path again, but somehow Marie still can't help herself. 

In the first few books this was a character I disliked, but this novel made me see her side and I grew to like her. It was a quick and easy read with some fun moments and a few spicy scenes. Just what I needed to read going into the holiday season. 

Now to choose my favorites books for 2022. This is going to be a tough one...



WHAT DID YOU READ AT THE END OF THE YEAR? ANYTHING WE MISSED THAT WE SHOULD PUT ON OUR READING LISTS FOR 2023? SHARE WITH US! 


BOOK CLUB 2022

January | February | March | April  | May | June | July | August | September | October |


BEST BOOKS OF SUMMER 2022

BEST BOOKS OF 2021



Follow along with us on Goodreads!

HAPPY READING! 




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Monday, January 9, 2023

Athletic Looks + Lulu Dupes!

Happy New Year friends! We hope everyone has had a great start to 2023! Today all the kids are back in school, so it finally feels like we know what day it is and what we are doing. We love a good break, but we also realize routine is what allows us to do all the things.  Otherwise we are just floundering in our pajama pants and driving our tiny humans to the various activities they've planned for themselves. 

But not today. Today they get the luxury of our pajamas and driving skills straight to all the various educational institutions the good state of Georgia has to offer. 

And then we change into the much more sophisticated version of pajamas to do all the things - athleisure. 

ATHLETIC LOOKS WE LOVE

Bless the fashion industry for making athleisure a lasting trend because we are forever here for it. Sweatpants Joggers, fanny pack belt bag, sneakers - it has become so easy to put together a stylish, yet comfortable outfit that can take us from drop off to desk to workout and everywhere in between. 

Here are a few looks we have been loving lately...








LULULEMON DUPES

We love Lululemon, but also love finding a good dupe for a fraction of the cost. Here are two lately that have passed our dupe test. 


This skirt is a dupe of an older style Lulu skirt. But we couldn't resist  all the fun colors they had in stock and for less than half the price of the inspo piece. It will be perfect for in the Spring and Summer too! 


MONTHLY MOVEMENT CALENDAR

For accountability purposes we thought to create this accountability calendar. We shared it on Instagram and thought to share it here too. We will try to post a new one each month, but pop over to stories occasionally to see what we do to move each day and feel free to save and share your movement too! 



And speaking of trackers, we spotted this Peloton tracker on Etsy


We love the idea of being able to save a copy on your phone or printing a poster to put in your workout area. Such a great idea if you are a Peloton lover!

Here's to a cozy and comfy 2023 friends! 



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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Must Read Holiday Books for 2022

 

The holiday season is jam packed with activities, shopping, school parties, work parties, exams, wrapping...

The list goes on and on. 

One thing that helps relax us during this annual season of chaos is getting cozy with a good book, and favorite soft blanket at night while soaking in the light of the twinkling tree(s). 

Who are we trying to kid? That is kind of what we do year round to relax. Just some months involve more pool floats. And fruitier cocktails. 


In terms of genre there are really only two options during the holiday season for us. It's either sleigh or slay. Light romance, or murder and mayhem. Nothing too depressing or weepy. And never ever any non-fiction. 

Our brains can't handle any more real life during the holidays. 

That's what January is for. 


Winter Break officially starts tomorrow and we can't wait to dig into some of the books that have arrived in our mail lately. Here's a peek at what we think will be some of the must read novels of the holiday season. 


MUST READ HOLIDAY BOOKS FOR 2022

A MERRY LITTLE MEET CUTE by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone
Don't let the cover of this one fool you. It's a spicy meets Hallmark read right from page one. If you're looking to stay warm during the holidays, grab this one to cozy up with!

THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME by Alexandra Benedict
A murdery twist on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Family holiday dysfunction reaches a new level when distant relatives are invited to the family manor to play the holiday game to end all holiday games - one for the deed of the infamous home. And all its secrets. 

SEASON OF LOVE by Helena Greer
One of the many books taking over #BookTok right now - a fun tree farm filled romcom with a LGBTQ twist. 

MURDER AFTER CHRISTMAS by Rupert Latimer
A little holiday murder throwback for all you classics lovers out there. This British favorite was first published in 1944, but is making a comeback for 2022. Who doesn't love a fun murder mystery? Especially when it surrounds the quirky uncle who was found dead in the snow on Boxing Day. Wearing a Santa Suit. 

THE LAST PARTY by Claire Mackintosh
What happens when a New Year's Party goes from a celebration to a murder investigation? The NYE party host turns up dead, and everyone in the neighborhood becomes a suspect in this can't put down thriller. 

RUNNING WILD by K.A. Tucker
The fourth novel in the popular Simple Wild Series (don't worry it can be read as a standalone!) focuses on Alaska's favorite rural veterinarian, Marie. Will it finally be her chance at happily ever after? 

WAIT FOR YOU by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Avery is ready for college and ready to escape that one Halloween night that will haunt her forever. Looking to start fresh doesn't always work out, and Avery finds that out the hard way when threatening letters appear on her doorstep. Angst. Romance. Mystery. Put this first in a series on your TBR's this holiday season. 
 

Want more reading suggestions from us? Find them here...

BOOK CLUB 2022

January | February | March | April  | May | June | July | August | September | October |


BEST BOOKS OF SUMMER 2022

BEST BOOKS OF 2021



Follow along with us on Goodreads!

HAPPY READING! 




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Monday, December 19, 2022

How to Make Santa Slime

 It is no secret that kids love slime. That ooey, gooey and, for lack of a better word, slimey pile of fun is the perfect way to keep those little (and sometimes big) hands occupied this holiday season. Create this Santa Slime together, surprise them at their class party, or have it on hand during those long holiday meals that might not otherwise keep little ones attention. This Santa approved activity will keep everyone on the Nice List!


Clear Slime Recipe

To make Santa Slime you can use white or clear slime, but we chose clear slime so our mix-ins would stand out a bit more.



Ingredients:
1/2 cup clear craft glue
1/2 teaspoon borax
1 1/2 cups hot water, divided


Directions:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup of glue with 1/2 cup of hot water and mix well.
2. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of borax into your remaining 1 cup of hot water and stir until borax has dissolved.
3. Pour borax water mixture into glue mixture and stir. Ingredients will start to form slime.
4. Continue mixing and kneading with you hands to mix as much of the borax water mixture as possible.
5. Pour out excess water and remove slime from bowl. Continue kneading slime in your hands several minutes.

Note: To get crystal clear slime you will need to let it sit a few days in an airtight container without playing with it.


Santa Slime Mix-Ins

Once you have your basic clear slime created you can add all sorts of fun items to make your Santa Slime. Our favorites are glitter and colored craft pom-poms, but we have also used buttonsbells and sequins, too!

The more you play with your slime the stretcher it will get and all of these mix-ins become a fun sensory experience.



Share Santa Slime

Our kids aren’t the only ones that are slime obsessed…their friends all love it, too! We thought it would be fun to make and package up some Santa Slime for their friends. Storing in an airtight container is key so we used little mason jars. Adding a quick ribbon turns this simple gift into the perfect present!



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