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. 


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!

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. 

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. 

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...


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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.

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

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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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Everyday Organizing for Busy Moms {Just Say No}

It's hard for me to believe that we are almost half way through December already and that Christmas is almost here!!!  I've had so much fun with this series each month and I'm excited to share my final post in this Everyday Organizing for Busy Moms series. 

We all know that December is crazy and the magic of the season only happens when us moms are the ones running around like crazy to get things checked off our lists.  We are all super moms when it comes down to it and try to do it all.  It's taken me a long time to accept that I can't do it all. During this busy season more than ever it is important to just say no. You can't be everywhere and do everything for everyone. It just isn't possible and if you do try you will end up driving yourself crazy and become so stressed and flustered that you can't even enjoy the Christmas season.  It's very likely that your schedule and to-do list is still going to be jam packed, but if there is something you can say no to, DO IT!!!  Taking just one thing off of your plate will help. Saying no also helps you prioritize your time and focus on the things that are really important!  

I LOVED receiving this calendar from Happy Everything! this time last year as part of a collaboration.  Just like I shared in my first post of the series back in January, keeping a family calendar is a great way to stay organized and keep everyone on the same page. I loved that this one could easily be changed each month and the attachments make it fun and festive all year long!  As we gear up for the holidays and the New Year, if organization is part of your goals or resolutions, I would check out all of the dry erase collection and seasonal attachments from Happy Everything!. It would make a great to me from me type of gift to yourself! 

That's a wrap on this series. It's been a fun one for 2022 and I hope it's been helpful to some of you! 
You can see all the other posts in this series linked below. :-)


January {Keep a Family Calendar}

February {To-Do Lists} 

March {Time Pockets}

April {Declutter}

May {Laundry & Dishes}

June {Meal Planning & Grocery Lists}

July {Paper Planners}

August {Stay on top of it!}

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Monday, December 5, 2022

Tips for Porch Decor During Christmas

Christmas porch decorating is one of our favorite ways to prepare for the holidays. When it is time to start decking the halls most of us think about decorating the insides of our homes. Decorating a Christmas tree and hanging stockings are a must, but often times the outdoor spaces don’t get as much love as the indoors. Most often, the inside of our homes only get seen by a handful of people, but a lot of people see the outside…even if they are just your neighbors driving by. These simple tips will help you to add holiday cheer outdoors and make your porch welcoming to any visitors you might have this holiday season!

Treat outdoor spaces like an extension of your home.

When you start to think of your porches, front stoops and patios like another room in your home you will immediately start to treat them like that. Keeping them neat and tidy, sweeping away leaves and decorating them with accessories just like you would indoors will make your home feel welcoming and will make these spaces feel like part of your home.

Add a cozy factor with pillows and blankets.

The weather is chilly this time of year so there is no better way to make a space feel cozy and inviting than with lots of soft pillows and fluffy blankets to wrap up in.

One of our favorite ways to decorate for any holiday is to switch out throw pillows. It’s such a simple way to add some holiday color!

Don’t forget a Christmas tree.

Christmas trees aren’t just for indoors!  There is nothing more magical than twinkling lights on a tree so think about unexpected places you could add trees. We love smaller trees flanking each side of your front doors, a tabletop tree on your outdoor patio table or even a full sized tree like this one in the corner of your porch.

Mood lighting is a must.

Set the tone and light up your space!  Add lights to an outdoor tree or bushes, a spotlight shining on a front door wreath or candles in luminaries and lanterns (we love these red ones!) will instantly make your home feel warm and inviting.

Finish it off with little details.

Put on the finishing touches by adding little details. Put bows on a wreath or add accessories like a nutcracker or a small basket filled with pinecones and berries. Accessories truly make a difference in making your space feel finished. You add these type of things to a room indoors, so don’t forget to add them outside, too!

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Monday, November 28, 2022

Easy Microwave Fudge

With the holidays upon us, it seems like everywhere you turn there are sweets galore. Whether it’s goodies from a neighbor, a dessert spread at a party, or just your own holiday baking, most of us might as well put any ideas of a diet on-hold during this time of year. If you are up for indulging a little this season, then this easy microwave fudge is the perfect sweet treat to add to your holiday baking. It takes very little time to make and it’s nice because you can fully satisfy your sweet tooth after just a small taste. That’s a win-win in our dessert book!

Our kids love helping in the kitchen and baking with them can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a really big mess.  This easy microwave fudge recipe is the perfect thing for them to assist with since it doesn’t involve the stove or oven.

To make the process run smoothly with kids we often go ahead and measure out ingredients, making it easy for little hands to pour into mixing bowls and help with stirring. 

Easy microwave fudge

Servings: At least 12, depending on the size of baking dish you use
Prep time: 10 minutes to prep ingredients so your kids can help
Cook time: Less than five minutes, plus 20-minutes to cool before eating


  • 3-3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (we used pecans)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring


1. In a large microwaveable bowl, combine powdered sugar and cocoa.
2. Stir in melted butter and milk.
3. Microwave on high for 2-1/2 minutes.
4. Stir in chopped nuts and vanilla flavoring.
5. Pour into greased pan or casserole dish.
6. Let harden (approximately 20 minutes) and cut into squares to serve.

Share your sweets

This easy microwave fudge is so sweet and savory that you might want to keep it all for yourself, but it also makes the perfect treat to share. Spread some cheer around your neighborhood or workplace by packaging fudge squares in holiday tins or little mason jars and tie them with festive ribbon for a perfect gift.


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Friday, November 11, 2022

Casabella Holiday Open House {November 11-13}

Christmas is only 6 short weeks away and it is time for us to kick it into high gear.  

We haven't purchased one gift yet, but that is about to change. Today starts the first day of the Casabella Holiday Open House!!!  To all of our local followers, you must check it out!  They are offering 10% off your purchase (with only a few exclusions) today through Sunday and their store is stocked with amazing items.  

Want to start shopping for Christmas gifts?  Need a hostess gift for Thanksgiving?  Maybe you are hosting Thanksgiving and want to update your tablescape? 

No matter what you are in need of, they have it!  Every time we are in there we find so many gorgeous things for our home. We've both got our eye on a few items for holiday decorating and can't wait to pop in to take advantage of the sale going on through the weekend.   

Southern Baked Pies is going to be offering a pre-order pie pick up on in-store at Casabella on Monday, November 21. You can pre-order their sweet or savory pies now and pick up just before Thanksgiving!  Place your order HERE

Stay tuned to see what we end up coming home with! 

Also, just a little reminder that the 20% off Dining Table Sale is still going on through this weekend!  Don't miss it if you are in the market for a new dining table! 

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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Book Club: October 2022


Cozy season has arrived and we're prepped with all the things. And by that we mean with all the books. It's BOOK CLUB DAY!!

But in full transparency, we were both talking the other day about what we've been reading, and nothing has stood out to us lately as a "WOW!". Like a read that you text all your girlfriends about because you *need* someone to talk to about it. 

If you have a suggestion we would love to hear it. We want to close out the year with a five star, tell all your friends, can't wait for the movie/sequel read! 

With that said, there have been a lot of good ones, and we can chat about some of those today. 



First up for me this month was Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley. This story is set in a London trail and having just returned from our trip to London, I loved hearing the British accent of the narrator and hearing familiar references.  

No one talks on the train. All the commuters having a routine they follow and notice fellow passengers, but none of them talk and almost no one interacts. That is until an almost tragic accident forces commuters to break out of their regular silent train ride and the snowball effect of friendships that follows is enough to make anyone smile!  You never know what others are going through and these fellow passengers end up being an important part of each others lives. Its as a heartwarming story and one I really enjoyed! 

I had the highest of hopes for It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover.  If I write a books release date on my calendar you know it's one I can't wait to read or listen to.  I named It Ends With Us as my very favorite book a few years ago and was over the moon when I found out there was going to be a sequel. Unfortunately this one just didn't do it for me. It felt sort of boring and honestly kind of corny to me. Not at all what I'm used to with Colleen Hoover books!  I did like having a follow up to the characters and knowing how everything turned out, but I was really disappointed in this and it didn't at all live up to the hype I had built up for it. 

The last book I listened to this month was The Bodyguard by Katerhine Center.  It was cute, entertaining, and had a really sweet story! In a role reversal, the female in this book is a bodyguard and goes undercover to protect an A-list celebrity posing as his girlfriend. What happens in the time she spends with he and his family is nothing sort of an ideal rom-com movie plot. I feel in love with the characters and didn't want this one to end. 


Holy cow! This one was an intense one. 

Things We Do in the Dark follows the story of Paris Peralta. She is married to a celebrity comedian who unfortunately dies a gruesome death in a bathtub. Found next to him is Paris, unconscious, with a knife.  She knows she will be charged with his murder, but that isn't even the part that worries her the most. She fights to hide her past and protect her future all while the media is digging into anything and everything about her.

This was a chilling suspense novel right from the first line. Murder, secrets, hidden identities, celebrity level drama…this one had it all. 

The tough part comes from stomaching the abuse situations the main character had to endure. This book touches on emotional, physical and sexual abuse - as well as suicide and mental health. The author did a good job of keeping the descriptions less graphic, but it was still tough to read. 

Overall a great thriller with lots of twists and reveals.

The Final Gambit was next up for a little bit of a lighter mystery novel. This series is YA, but it's been such a fun read! I am so sad this series is finished! This book was just as good as the first two. The riddles, the games, and the love triangles served us all the things we’ve loved since the first book. This book answered a lot of the “why” and let relationships play out in a way that you felt satisfied that the series wrapped up just the way it was supposed to. If you haven’t done a deep dive into this author’s novels - start now!

Like Carrie Beth, I remember loving It Ends With Us years ago. I was so excited to read the sequel when it was announced that I apparently pre-ordered it. Twice. (oops!) 

It Starts With Us was a quick read for me, but I have mixed feelings about it. I love that Hoover felt that the story deserved a sequel with all of its popularity, but after reading the story I felt that I was missing that same angst from the love triangle that drew me in the first time. I did, however, love seeing a different side of the story. I enjoyed seeing how Lily and Atlas handled their relationships beyond their divorce.

The story was more of a sweet nod to the first novel, which I think was the intended goal. 

The Paper Palace has been sitting on my TBR for almost a year. I picked it up, not quite remembering what it was about. I've heard a lot of hype about it, so I figured why not go ahead and dig in. 

The story opens with Elle awakening after a night that will alter her life forever. Visiting the vacation property that has been a part of her family for generations with her family and close friends, old feelings emerge and secrets reveal themselves in unlikely ways.  Now Elle is faced with a choice - staying with the love of her life, or staying with her husband. 

The novel is darker than I expected based on the synopsis. It features themes of multi-generational abuse and how it affects choices/relationships. The main character of this story has secrets from her past and present and sometimes her actions or attitude made me dislike her even though I understood that she was often placed in a tough situation. Even as the book ended and she made a choice I felt was a good one, I still found her unlikeable. It was a good book overall, and one that will sit with you for a long time after.



Next up for me I have Just Haven't Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens downloaded and ready to go. Check back next month so see what I think of it! 


I feel I need a palette cleanser after this stack of books. Something a little lighter and less "abusive". I'm going to start November reading with The Roughest Draft. It's been sitting on my TBR since the Summer, and I'm looking forward to happy romance. 



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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Everyday Organizing for Busy Moms {Delegate and Accept Help}

November is here!  The first week always flies by because we are in a post-Halloween hangover and Halloween being on a Monday this year didn't help!  I'm so happy for November though because that means the holidays are just a few short weeks away!  I haven't decorated for Christmas just yet, but as soon as I have a few free hours that is what I plan to do. Until then, we are enjoying all things Thanksgiving and turkey.

A new month means a new post up in the Everyday Organizing for Busy Moms series.  This month I'm talking about delegating and accepting help.  This one isn't easy for me. I'm sort of a control freak who likes things done a certain way. I'm a I'll-just-do-it-myself kind of person because I know it will be done and be done right. However, I've learned that it is literally impossible for moms to to do it all so I've been forced to delegate some tasks and accept help for others. 

Delegating usually comes in the form of me telling my kids things they need to do.  Some call it nagging, I call it building character. In all seriousness though, I'm their mom, not their maid. I expect them to help with certain tasks around the house and time to time there are things I just need them to do.

Asking for and accepting help is a big one! This is almost always in the form of carpool for me because with three kids it is just logistically hard to get everyone where they need to be. Add in a husband that travels for work and it becomes nearly impossible. I had a realization one day though that anytime someone asked me to give their kid a ride I was always happy to help out because I know what it was like when you just don't have another option.  I am ALWAYS willing to say yes if someone asks me for help so I finally started doing the same.  Organizing carpools with teammates and friends has been a lifesaver and really was the only way to make it work if my kids didn't want to start having to missing things.  I always hated asking (and still do), but it really does make life easier on us moms and is the only way when you've got multiple kids going multiple directions. So my biggest piece of advice to you is don't be afraid to ask another mom for help.  Chances are she would love to help and will likely ask you for help in return. A win-win!

That's it for this month. I can't believe only one more month left in 2022!!! 
You can see all the posts in this series linked below. :-)


January {Keep a Family Calendar}

February {To-Do Lists} 

March {Time Pockets}

April {Declutter}

May {Laundry & Dishes}

June {Meal Planning & Grocery Lists}

July {Paper Planners}

August {Stay on top of it!}

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