Homemade Hot Cocoa to Sip or Give

One of my favorite things to do each Christmas is unpack all my Santa mugs. I try to add a few new mugs each year. I like to place them on a two-tiered stand in the kitchen with all my hot cocoa supplies.  I tucked in a few sprigs of evergreen and filled one of the mugs with peppermint candy canes.

This year I will be mixing up a homemade hot cocoa mix courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.

Here is a printable recipe card to download for your recipe box.

I found some cute things at Trader Joe’s to elevate the cocoa experience.  The hot cocoa sticks are basically a bar of dark chocolate that you drop into a mug filled with hot milk. The adorable, and great tasting, Gingerbread men mug hangers make the perfect dunkers into your sip. Top off with the lightest shade of pink peppermint mini marshmallows and you will be in love with the best hot cocoa in town! I even found a bag of Brach’s crushed peppermints to garnish on the top. And, if you are a whipped cream fan, don’t miss the Peppermint variety at Target. Who needs Starbucks?!

And, for when you want to fill a thermos full of cocoa to ride around and look at Christmas lights, I found these cute retro Christmas plaid thermoses on Amazon. I could just see one for each person’s place setting filled with wassail, hot buttered rum, or your cocoa recipe!  How about gifting someone with a thermos, a jar of cocoa mix, and the recipe card. What a fun hostess gift.

Nothing says the holidays like hot cocoa!

How to Receive a Letter from Santa and Do Good Will

It’s time to get those letters to Santa in the post. What a fun way you can engage the littles in your life by helping them write a letter to their favorite couple – Santa and Mrs. Claus.  I even have a free printable letter you can download and use to pen your greeting.

First, thank you to our northern friends in Canada – the Canadian Post and their Giving Back to the Community Program. Sacks of letters are arriving at the North Pole and the Canadian postal elves are busy helping Santa with his mail. If you want to hear back from Santa you must get your letter in the mail by December 10  – a week from tomorrow. Here’s how…

  1. I’ve made you a free printable here for your cheerful correspondence.
  2. Put your letter into an envelope, affix a stamp, and be sure to include a self-addressed  envelope so Santa can write you back. Santa’s elves pay the return postage so it’s free.
  3. Mail your letter to: Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0h0, Canada

Here’s the super cool part – Santa answers letters from all ages, in more than thirty languages, including braille, and sends a response to every country. Here is a tips for parents page with helpful suggestions on how to help your little pen their pal Santa along with free printables.

Can you imagine your child’s delight when a letter from Santa arrives airmail!

Feeling charitable this season? Each year hundreds of thousands of letters sent from children and families to Santa arrive at United States Post Offices around the country. Most letters ask for toys and games. Some ask for basic necessities. Some ask for help for themselves and their loved ones.

The USPS Operation Santa makes it possible for individuals and organizations to adopt these letters and send responses and thoughtful gifts in Santa’s place.

The Postal Service — then the Post Office Department — began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. In 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters — a program that eventually became known as Operation Santa.

In the 1940s, the mail volume for Santa increased so much that the Postal Service invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate by providing written responses and small gifts.

Through the years, the program grew and took on a life of its own. Today, customers can go online to browse through the letters and if one touches them, they can adopt it and help the child have a magical holiday.

The mission of USPS Operation Santa is to provide a channel where people can give back and help children and families — enabling them to have a magical holiday when they otherwise might not — one letter to Santa at a time.

In many Postal Service facilities around the country, postal employees respond to the letters with a handwritten response signed by Santa, while other offices might purchase gifts for the children.

How to send letters to Santa:

  1. Santa’s mailing address should be placed in the middle of the envelope. Letters can be addressed simply to SANTA CLAUS, but we prefer his official Postal Service address:SANTA CLAUS
    123 ELF ROAD
    NORTH POLE 88888
  2. Write your full name and address in the upper left corner.
  3. Then, apply a first-class stamp in the upper right.

For letter writers: Letters requesting clothes and shoes should include sizes and colors. Letters requesting toys, games, and books should be specific.

These letters will populate the USPSOperationSanta.com website, which opens for letter adoption on Friday, Dec. 4.

For adopters: Customers are encouraged to go online and adopt a letter to help a child or family have a happy holiday when they otherwise might not.

There will be no in-person letter adoptions this year due to COVID-19.

Letters received before Dec. 15 will be uploaded and made available for adoption, though the sooner your letter is received, the more likely it is to be answered. More details for writing letters to the USPS Operation Santa program can be found on the USPSOperationSanta.com website.

I hope you can spend time with your littles this season to share these experiences with them. It’s a full curriculum – history, writing, reading, learning how to write a letter and address an envelope, learning how the post office works, and learning the spirit of philanthropy by giving back to the community they serve.

Happy Holidays!

It’s a Colorful Life Christmas Tour – The Family Room

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  I am thrilled to be included in this year’s It’s A Colorful Life Home Tour 2020 Holiday Edition.  My friend Jennifer of Dimples and Tangles invited me to participate in the tour she hosts with Jeweled InteriorsI have followed Jennifer for many years and I love her flair for design.

Several times a year Jennifer and Jewel gather color-loving bloggers, like me, to share their holiday homes. Stay tuned at the end, I will introduce you to two of my co-hostesses for today so you can take a virtual tour of their lovely homes to see all their beauty and creativity!

This week I am sharing my family room holiday decorations. My love of color comes from my mother. She adored white flocked Christmas trees, and I remember many a Christmas that I helped her decorate the tree with turquoise ornaments. I went with a monochromatic theme this year and stayed with all turquoise so it would pop against my new mantel garland. I do like a skinny tree for the ease of putting it up and taking it down. Plus, it fits anywhere I want to display the tree. I sourced the ornaments many years ago from Pier One, but this year I added the larger 4-inch turquoise balls from Target. I love how they give the tree a retro feel.

Let’s see, what else catches your eye. How about the mantel?  I added the multicolored ornament ball garland from Amazon.  I used two strands of faux boxwood garland I already had (similar here), and laid them so a little hang off each end of the mantel. I added white lights and placed the ornament garland on top. I wanted the mantel to look filled with ornaments, so three garlands were plenty. I took two clear, tall vases I already had and added faux boxwood balls on top. I love how it turned out.

Remember the post I shared last month with the milk glass bowl filled with pink velvet pumpkins? Well, Miss Milk Glass is back again only this time she is filled with hot pink, sparkly ornaments. I placed her on the same white tray with the most delicious Christmas candle from Sweet Water Decor I discovered on Amazon.  It’s a beautiful white jar with a simple, hand-written label. The scent is a blend of Christmas tree, apple cider, and cinnamon.

I added a few new things to my decor – Christmas pillows!  I love the whimsical feel of the watercolor print pillows from Etsy.  She also carries lovely art, prints, and wrapping paper.

The second set of pillows is from friend Judy’s shop Keeping Up with the Joneses. Her gorgeous boutique is filled with exquisite clothing, accessories, and home decor.  Be sure to follow her on Instagram to snap up beauties. That’s how I found my favorite holiday pillows. One says Merry and the other fa la la la with big stripes of all my favorite colors.  Don’t you love how they go with my neutral animal print sofa!

It’s about time to wrap things up on this tour of my family room holiday decor – with wrapping paper from Ruby Stripe on Etsy. OMG – this paper is extremely high quality and stunning. I had such fun wrapping packages and adding white satin ribbon with touches of greenery and hypericum berries. The turquoise cane pattern reminds me of wallpaper mother hung in the entryway of my childhood home. And I love the soft, vintage pattern of the pink and green pinecones. They coordinate perfectly together.

We’ve come to the end of this week’s tour. I will be back next week for more surprises, so be sure to sign up to receive my weekly email. Want more inspiration? Visit two more of my blogger friends who have their open houses today – Pender and Peony and Mimosa Lane. Please visit our Instagram accounts, too.

Here’s the tour schedule for the week ahead –


Dimples and Tangles || Jeweled Interiors || Haneen’s Haven || Monica Wants It || SKG Designs and Style || Pender and Peony


Home With a Twist || Mimosa Lane || Kate Decorates || DIY Decor Mom || Mum Little Loves || BD Interior Design


Blue Agate Abode || Serene & Co. || Zig and Company || Jeweled Interiors


Southern Hospitality || Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss || Our Fifth House || Carla Bethany || Dimples and Tangles- Tour Wrap Up


Instagram It’s A Colorful Life Party!

Post your Christmas decor in your feed this week with #ItsAColorfulLifeTour for a chance to be featured in IG Stories by IACL Tour bloggers!

Happy Holidays!

(*This post contains affiliate links, including LiketoKnow.it and Amazon, where  I earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you).

Setting the Table for Thanksgiving Three Ways

I love to set the table for Thanksgiving. I thought it would be fun for you to decide which of the three I styled you most think I should use for my dinner table this year.  Most all of the pieces came from my party pantry and are either vintage or not new to me. The only purchase I made to put these place settings together were the flowers from WholeFoods – other than Trader Joe’s one of my favorite places for unexpected varieties and colors of flowers.

First – Very Vintage

This is Mother’s wedding china. Mother and Daddy’s wedding anniversary is in November so I think this is a special way to honor my parents during the holiday.  I paired it with Cherry Brandy roses in a fluted vintage vase. The linen placemat and napkin are vintage, but new to me. My friend Mary Lane from TCU messaged me one day and said she had a collection of linens – placemats, napkins, and table runners purchased in British-owned Hong Kong in the 70s while she and her husband lived in Japan. The embroidery is exquisite. I am so thankful Mary gift me with such treasures. The crystal glassware is also from my mother’s wedding registry. The pattern is so delicate.  The silver pieces were from my mother’s friend Marion whom she knew since my mother was a young girl. I am not sure where the hobnail pitcher came from but I love it and I thought it would be perfect for a personal iced tea serving or creamer for the china cups and saucers. I picked up a set of place card bud vases at Magnolia Home in Waco. Here is something similar. I found a place card with mother’s name on it – a sentimental touch.

Place setting two – Mood in Blue

I love blue, so I had to find some way to do a classic and sophisticated setting. I used my white everyday dinner plate and topped with a piece of bavarian handpainted china that belonged to Mr. Bee’s mother. I added blue glassware I purchased several years ago during a visit to Sister’s house in New Mexico.

I purchased two small topiaries from Amazon here and placed them in a blue and white cachepot topped with reindeer moss. I placed a velvet pumpkin in the center for contrast against the blue border of the accent plate. It adds personality. I added a vintage linen white napkin folded in a triangle and topped with the same silver from the Very Vintage photo. I think it would be fun to collect vintage salt and pepper shakers so each guest can have their own set, like the cream and gold birds in the photo.

For a place card consider using childhood photos of your guests. I bet you can’t guess who is in this frame? I like how the gold roses on the frame highlight the golden edges of the plates.

Finally, we have Textures of Fall.

This place setting features my collection of Johnson Brother’s Friendly Village. Mother already had a set and she inherited her mother-in-law’s collection, so I have a pantry full of these cherished dishes. When I was little I used to stare at the images on the plate and imagine riding on a wagon through the snow.

Don’t be afraid to mix your plates. You can see I have a green glass plate on the bottom, then a square salad plate, topped with a small fruit dish. I tucked the golden linen napkin under the dish holding the oranges. Of course, I had to add whole cloves to the oranges – remember when we used to do this when we were little? It made the table smell just like fall. And I love the pop of orange. The eucalyptus sprig came from the flowers. I filled a vintage green drinking glass with flowers – which you could do for each guest. I used my Pioneer Woman flatware. It all sits atop water hyacinth placemats. This place setting brings in color, texture, and scent.

What is your favorite of the three? I hope this inspires you to bring color, nature, and vintage touches to your Thanksgiving table this year for #HolidayswithaTwist.

The Merry Cook – Fun gifts for the kitchen

Let’s get cooking helping you find beautiful gifts for the chef. I’ve rounded up things I would love for Santa to leave me under the tree.

An Apron – Last January my besties and I traveled to Arkansas to Euna Mae’s Kitchen Store.  Be sure to check out her website. She stocks her store with the loveliest bowls, kitchenware, care packages, and linens. We bought pretty much one of everything while we were in town. I love this year’s Christmas apron. Every southern gal needs an apron.  Her red cotton holiday apron would be lovely with a monogram.

For the tea and coffee drinker.  I love the sound tea kettles make when they sing!  Sometimes you just want a really good cup of tea that a Keurig just can’t make. This white tea kettle from World Market will go with anyone’s color scheme.  If she loves teas and Hallmark Christmas movies, she will flip over their branded Christmas Tea.  And I adore these good vibes mugs. I have the “Living my Best Life” mug and it’s perfect. Can you imagine her putting these all out on a tray and serving cocoa or tea?

Okay, this is my favorite. Gift her with a custom tea towel with a vintage recipe. Maybe it’s her Grandmama’s Pecan Tassies or your Mother’s Chocolate Cake – whatever her favorite is, this will be a lifetime treasure. You can do a printed version in her original handwriting or they will screen print it. I am addicted to cast iron. I fact, be sure to join me this Friday for a virtual castiron cooking class I will be teaching for Jabo’s Ace Hardware. Read about it here. This gorgeous white Dutch oven from Target is not only beautiful it’s affordably priced. And if you have a Target red card you earn an additional 5% off!Wooden cutting boards. They are so popular right now in decorating magazines. Propped up on your backsplash they add such a French-cooking flair to your kitchen. This set of three is handmade by Chase Vintage on Etsy so you would be supporting small business. And, they can be divided into three separate gifts.


Last, this cheeseboard set cannot be beaten.  You could elevate it with a few boxes of crackers, a block of sharp cheddar cheese, a few green apples, and a gorgeous bottle of wine. That would make a fantastic gift.

Be sure to visit my LiketoKnow.it site for all these links and tons more #HolidayswithaTwist gift ideas.

Mother’s Sweet Potato Delight

I post this recipe every year and many of you have told me it is now part of your Thanksgiving tradition.  My mother would be thrilled!  Sweet Potato Delight is a dish Mother and Sister Bee have served for many years at our Thanksgiving table.  I love it and the meal wouldn’t be the same without it. In fact, Miss Bee always has it at the top of her “wish list” too.  It’s almost like dessert with the buttery, crumbly topping.

Sweet Potato Delight

1 large can of sweet potatoes (I usually double the recipe)

Heat potatoes and juice and mash thoroughly.  If you want to bake sweet potatoes ones you can, but this tastes just as good.

Mix together:

One stick of melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of evaporated milk

2 beaten eggs

Combine all of the ingredients and pour into a buttered 9×13 dish.

Top with the following mixture:

1 cup of brown sugar

1/3 cup of flour

1/3 stick of melted butter

1/2 cup of chopped pecans

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until set.

Apparently, I don’t mind my food touching.

Porch Pretty – a Welcoming 4th of July

The single-best way to welcome your guests to your door, and celebrate the seasons, is hanging a chalkboard in your front porch entryway. A simple childhood learning tool, the schoolhouse chalkboard is a great go-to if you are busy, don’t have the extra money to dress up your front porch every time a holiday comes around, or have the space needed to store all the seasonal decor.

I purchased my chalkboard from Magnolia, but you can find a similar one here on Amazon.  Then, visit Pinterest and search “chalkboard art.” I’ve made it easy for you – just head over to my two links on Pinterest for ideas -Chalkboard inspiration here and July 4th inspiration here.

Inspired by 4dotsdesign on Etsy

The flags are from my favorite hardware store Jabo’s Ace. They are on sticks so you can easily stick the flags into flower beds or flower pots. Store them away to use for Memorial and Labor Day, or just anytime you want to show your American spirit.

I also like putting a doormat right before people step onto the porch. I love the Hooray You’re Here mat that I picked up from Hobby Lobby (it’s on sale for $9.99!). Want to add a great-smelling feature to your front porch – plant thyme!  See the bright tufts of green spilling out onto the sidewalk? How easy to step out onto your porch and pick some fresh herbs to mix into salads or grilled chicken.

The chalkboard usually resides right above a bench. I added the rope detail for a rustic touch. Benches are the perfect spot for deliveries or sitting while you take off your shoes. The lantern is battery operated, and on a timer, so it comes on at dusk. I have had the potted fern since last summer. Since we had a mild winter, it stayed green all year long.  The home pillow is from Pottery Barn, and even though I have had it for several seasons, it is still available here. Be sure to bring your pillows in during storms and keep them in the shade, so the sun doesn’t fade the fabric. The basket on the front door is from Ballard Designs.  I keep it up year-round and fill with seasonal flowers – my favorites are sunflowers!

I hope you have a beautiful July 4th despite the hardships we are facing right now. Celebrate being together and the freedoms that come with that.

“One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one nation forevermore.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Just a Minute Centerpiece

I have an easy Valentine’s Day centerpiece to share.  You could do this for any occasion, like a birthday party, ice cream social, baby shower or July 4th by changing up the colors of the flowers.

What you’ll need:

Carnations — I love Carnations and I think they get a bad rap.  They are fragrant, inexpensive and can go a long time without water which is perfect for this centerpiece project.  I bought three bunches at $3.99 each from Central Market.

Red Hots — I bought several scoops from the bulk bin at Central Market, or you could buy a large bag in the candy aisle.

Ice Cream Sugar Cones — I used nine cones which was one box.

Glass Cylinders or Vases – You can find these anywhere.  I just used ones I had in my vase stash.

I cut the carnation stems short enough to fit in the ice cream cone so the bottom petals of the carnation set just around the rim of the cone.  I put all one color in each cone.  As it worked out, I had enough to make three cones for each of the colors.  A rule of thumb, tablescapes always looks better in odd numbers — in this case three vases, three cones per vase.

I filled the bottom of each cylinder with red hots.  You don’t need to measure, just pour enough in each vase so it looks even.  Then, nestle the cones down into the vase.  That’s it!

The carnations went without water for 24 hours, and I put them into water the next day.  They are still fresh a week a later.

I styled the vases on top of cake pedestals I found last year in the dollar section of Target along with sweets we had.  My milk glass collection is always a perfect backdrop for the yummy treats from McKinley’s Bakery. The cute little chalkboard menus are from the Container Store.

These centerpieces would be so cute lined up on an ice cream sundae bar for July 4th, a baby “gender” reveal party or birthday!  If you put love into it, everything turns out amazing!

14 Valentines – Ideas for Giving

Valentine’s Day is my second favorite holiday behind Thanksgiving. I love conversation hearts, cherry sours, chocolates, and anything pink and red. I’ve rounded up fourteen ideas to celebrate this sweet little holiday. I’ve pinned all of these ideas and more on my Pinterest page “Be Still My Heart.”

College student – Amazon has a RedBox Movie Night Kit ready to go. Free Prime shipping includes one movie code, candy, and popcorn.  How fun for them to receive this in their mailbox at school. Add a note “Even though you’re far away, you’re still my Valentine every day!” Love, Mom.

Personalized Gifts:  I found a ton of things on Personalization Mall and it was hard to narrow it down, but I did find two unique gift ideas:

Personalized collar stays. This is perfect for the man that has everything. If your guy wears dress shirts and is always needing collar stays – these are perfect. A set of six stays personalized with whatever you want!

And, if you want to give a really special keepsake, how about a silver, personalized fortune cookie! Go to your favorite Chinese restaurant (mine is Cannon Chinese) and have the waiter put this on a tray.  Maybe the message is a clue to the next destination on your date!

Sweetheart Breakfast in Bed.  This idea from Wilton is really clever. It’s something special without spending a lot of money and the kids can help. If you need a fantastic pancake recipe, I will share mine for Vanilla Cinnamon Pancakes with you here.

For the classroom or co-workers I am suggesting two ideas – one is Valentine’s Day Chex Mix. This recipe is from a blogger I follow Inspired by Charm.  He shares several ways to package this treat that serves 12.

Several years ago I started ordering these personalized classroom Valentine’s Day cards for my co-workers from Minted. So many cute designs. These are the ones I am gifting this year with big, juicy green apples! They are printed on heavy cardstock and come with the most precious tiny white envelopes.

A Letterboard – They sell these everywhere in all shapes and sizes. Back when they were first coming to the scene I ordered one from LetterFolk. Now they sell fun tile mats with interchangeable vintage-inspired hexagon tiles to create endless patterns, designs, and words.

Here’s a gift for yourself. Winter is the perfect time to spruce up your skincare routine and add a pop of color to your face – so why not find the perfect red lippy for your Valentine’s Day date?  Loreal Paris has a great guide to finding the perfect red lip here.

World Market Mug $7.99

Set up a gift for your visitors who stop by your home with a Valentine’s Day Beverage Bar. I found these adorable red and white polka dot mug at World Market.  On a recent trip to Euna Mae’s in Arkansas, she set pods of Apple Cider like these from Amazon and a mason jar of cinnamon hot candy next to her Keurig.

I think it would be brilliant to place a tray next to your Keurig with a bowl full of Cider Keurig pods, a mason jar with cinnamon hots, a package of Valentine’s napkins and mugs and a dish of these cookies from Trader Joe’s.  Too tempting to keep a plate of cookies out, then put them into an apothecary jar as I did on my desk at work. This tray idea is also perfect to take to a sick friend or have out in the reception area at your business or Sunday school class. Talk about welcoming!

If you and your sweetie have sworn off gifts and candy and 2020 is your year to be healthy, then make the gift of a smoothie your gesture. Trader Joe’s has a yummy recipe for a sweetheart smoothie I’ve pinned to my Pinterest board here.

A cinnamon candle. My friend Jacqui gifted me with a cinnamon candle for Christmas, but I am saving it for Valentine’s Day. It’s a beautiful red and smells just like red hots! I plan to put this in the kitchen on a white tray with my blue and white ginger jars. Blue and red look gorgeous together.


There are always flowers.  I have received these luscious blooms before from my dear friend Laurie, just because. Farmgirl Flowers are stunning and will make any Valentine blush. Designer quality, burlap-wrapped, super fast delivery and ethically grown you can’t go wrong with the investment in these blooms.

I love this idea from Uncommon Goods – a birth month flower kit. The kit includes an upcycled glass wine bottle planter, soil, seeds, cork-lid coaster and a card that tells the meaning behind their birth month flower. Transplant in their garden after it is grown and they’ll have an annual reminder of your love.

And last, for the dog-lover in your life, she will love this t-shirt from Target. Now, if I could just find one for cats…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Make Your House Smell Like Christmas with this Homemade Stovetop Potpourri

Here is a last minute gift idea I made for friends that would be a perfect way to engage your children and teens when they are home for Christmas — homemade stovetop potpourri!

When I was little, Sister and I would make crafts together as my gift to family members.  One year we made spice ropes, another year we filled hairspray caps with plaster and stuck a fork inside to make a recipe holder.  Our creative skills were on fire!  I have fun memories working with her on these crafts instilling in me the spirit of giving.

For this project, I got the idea here on Pinterest from The Crafting Chicks.  All the ingredients and a free printable are available on the link.  But, I’ll give you the CliffsNotes version.

Gather all your ingredients and Ball jars.  I always purchase my Ball jars at Jabo’s Ace Hardware because they have the best selection and I can use the $5 off coupons they send me in the mail for being a reward customer (and if you use Rakutun they reward 2.5% back to you).  I purchased the cinnamon sticks at Fiesta International Market and sourced the cloves and cinnamon in bulk from Whole Foods.  The cranberries and oranges came from my local grocery store.

Then I got to work bagging up the spices into small snack size ziploc bags.  I placed the oranges and cranberries inside first and tucked the spice bags to the side.  Your little children could help with counting each orange and cranberries that go into the jars.  Note: I didn’t slice the oranges, per the recipe, because I wasn’t sure when people would make their potpourri.

Once the jars are filled, I wrote messages on black scrapbook paper and cut the paper into oversized circles to place over the top of the jar seal, and then finished with the Ball jar rim.  I tied the printable around the mouth of the jar with baker’s twine.  Your older kids could write the message in gold paint pen.

Now, pile the jars into a basket and take your little ones with you for deliveries.    Your friends and family will delight in seeing their faces bring a gift to fill their home with the smells of Christmas that was made with love!