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HOLIDAYS | Simple Woods + Whites Christmas Decor

Sunday, December 31

Merry Christmas + Happy New Year friends!!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season and are excited about the approaching new year!

Christmas this year was very different for us.
We are in our new home, two hours away from family and my two older girls...
so I had to let go of some old Christmas traditions and try to start some new ones.

With that said, the biggest change I made this year as far as Christmas goes is I kept things REALLY simple when it came to decor: woods, whites and a little bit of greenery.

I didn't even open my boxes of ornaments. 
Nope. I purchased new ones: raw woods hearts, snowflakes and stars I randomly came across the month before Christmas.

I hung them on the new faux, pre-lit tree we bought this year - forgoing our annual tradition of picking one out together at Santa's Christmas Tree Forest back home. 

Everything just felt so new and different. I believe I subconsciously could not bring myself to open the flood of memories contained in all of the boxes of Christmas decor and ornaments.

I bought a new tree skirt (never even had one - previously used blankets or fabric scraps) and new stockings. I knew out of all of my kids Ema would disapprove of me not sticking with the stockings she grew up with...and it was literally one of the first questions she asked when she walked in the house. 

I wanted the house to feel like Christmas but I didn't want it cluttered. And I also wanted it to be easy to put up and easy to take down. And again...I think I subconsciously avoided unsolicited emotions by dodging anything that could conjure up a memory...big or small.

We also started a new tradition...the 25 days of Christ.
I wanted the season to be as chaos-free and as Christ-centered as possible. 
The new daily ritual of reading a passage of scripture and having Ella hang the corresponding ornament from December 1st all the way up to Christmas Day really added a spiritual + sacred element to our Christmas I had regretfully been looking past for far too long.

Even the cookies I made for our annual Christmas Cookie Baking Day matched my whole Christmas color scheme and vibe this year. I love them so much I may only use white royal icing from here on out. I LOVE the tone-on-tone.

The cookie baking was held at my mom's house this year instead of mine...even though when we bought the new house I immediately envisioned the new huge island covered in Christmas cookies. It's just too much to ask the rest of the family to travel so was easier for Ella and I to go. 

Yep. We traveled the two hours and turned it into a 2 day visit. It was nice.
Although truth be told, Ella didn't even participate because she was spending time with her bestie Elise...whom she misses terribly. And I was sad Clara only got to pop in for an hour after she got off of work. Ema was there though...and she even inspired me with a few of her designs.

I just had to include this giant sugar cookie tree cut-out my aunt Susan created by hand. She thought it looked wonky but I fell in love with it's rustic, authentic vibe and asked her if I could decorate it. I love how it turned out. And see...I even added a few splashes of green in the mix of cookies - but I still love the tone-on-tone. *wink*

This year was the first year I realized after all of these years of having my own home and decorating for Christmas I have NEVER had mistletoe as part of our Christmas decor!!
I'd honestly never even thought about it.

I came home with some unexpectedly this year while Ella and I were out shopping together one afternoon. She spotted a package of it and asked if we could buy it. I may have done an eye roll and almost said no and then all of a sudden a rush of memories about how my grandparents always had it hanging at their front door during the holidays came flooding my mind...and heart. And of course we had to bring some home. I find it peculiar after all of these years I hadn't even given it a thought and now I can't imagine not having it in our home.

The Willow Tree créche I've had for years blended perfectly with my simple Christmas decor. 
I intentionally found a place where it could be the centerpiece/focal point of our home - a daily reminder to me of what to keep my focus on. 

Do you like that fancy word "créche" I used? I recently learned it while reading a new Tasha Tudor book I purchased and it sounds so much more...well...fancy. *wink* "Créche" is just a word that also means nativity but apparently speaks more directly to the baby Jesus. You're welcome for that random information. *wink*

You know I love our Hot Cocoa Bars every year. This year's Snickerdoodle theme is one of my favorites. I love having it up during the holidays and beyond...warming our tummies and our hearts. 

I think that's a wrap friends!!
I hope you enjoyed a peek at what our Christmas looked like this year.
As different as it was due to our move six months ago and as hard as it was to let go of traditions I'd come to know and love through the years...I can truly say it was one of my favorite Christmases yet because it was one of the most simple.

I will be back soon with my recap of 2017 and the action word I've chosen to focus on for 2018!!
Also...I just had to share that tonight...New Year's Eve night...we are starting a new tradition!!

I've decided to have a candlelight dinner...using the battery operated flickering candlesticks we've had displayed in our windows this Christmas season. I think it's a brilliant way to transition from Christmas to New Year's. 

Love you guys so much. Thanks for being here.
Thanks for sharing. Thanks for supporting. 
Here's to a beautiful year ahead for us all!


Stuart, our elf, was back again this year. I think Ella has a crush on him. *wink*
She said she'd like to marry him. lol
And she cried the day he left...she always cries when he leaves.
It rips my heart out - for a plethora of reasons.

Clara and Ema drove up the day before Christmas Eve and stayed the night with us.
We had a nice dinner together and then exchanged gifts that night - including having all three of my girls open their annual Christmas pajamas together - typically done on Christmas Eve night.

The two older girls got to open their stockings as well...which left Ella a little bewildered as to how their stockings were already filled and hers wasn't...*hand slap to the forehead*

We all attended church on Christmas Eve morning and then enjoyed a nice lunch together at Carrabba's before Clara and Ema made the drive back home.

Although the visit was short, I'm so thankful to have been able to see them before Christmas.
Of course all of this change of Christmas traditions tugged at my heartstrings and I found myself in tears a couple of times. 

We even missed having our annual Christmas brunch with my mom and stepdad too. They decided to head to Ohio to make a surprise visit to his dad. That means I still have their gifts to give them.

Again...I will just need to get creative and come up with new traditions for our new life and more Christmases to come. I look forward to that.

RECIPE + GIFT IDEA | White Chocolate + Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Thursday, December 21

Delicious + festive cookies with white chocolate + red cranberries!?
Can you think of a cookie more perfect for baking + gifting during the Christmas season?

I love these cookies.
They're quite delicious...the recipe is no-fuss AND they're pretty. Win!!

Here's the recipe if you decide you love these too + want to try them....

If you need gifting ideas...well here you go:
1. bake the cookies and package them up.
2. bake the cookies, package them up AND give them the recipe on a cute recipe card.
Oh wait! You don't have a cute recipe card?
Well Merry Christmas!!
I've taken care of that for you. see those cute labels on the cookie tins? (white background + black background)?
Yep! I've got those for you to print too - if you want them + need them. (all links below)


I hope you try them.
I hope you love them.
And I hope you'll let me know if you do.

Love you guys!
4 more sleeps until Christmas!!! Are you ready?


I still have wrapping to do.
And you should see the state of our home right now. Eeks!
BUT...this is the most calm I've been through the holidays in a very long time.
And I'm liking it. A LOT!!!

GIFT IDEA | Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Gift Package

Tuesday, December 19

Good morning friends!!
Looking for a last minute cutesy, thoughtful gift?
Well...I figured out how to package up my Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa you guys!!
I packaged it up in a glass jar, added a bag of marshmallows and a tiny bottle of cinnamon sugar.

The lucky person on the receiving end of this gift will just need to add hot water + whipped cream!
And...there are enough servings to enjoy 4 mugs making it perfect for gifting it to a person or a small family. Yes!!

Plus, I created some super cute labels to make the package delightful + charming! 
Tip: I rounded my corners on my label using a corner rounding craft punch - like this one.'s the recipe + the how-to on packaging it up.

Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Mix - makes one gift package

1 cup of White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix - use my homemade recipe or this one from Ghirardelli
2 heaping TBSP brown sugar
1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together by hand or using a food processor.
Fill a 10oz. jar with your Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Mix.
Fill a tiny jar with cinnamon sugar - use my perfect cinnamon sugar recipe
Bag up some marshmallows.
Print out your FREE Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Mix Labels.
Secure to jars using double-stick tape.
Package in a cute basket or slip inside a clear cello bag and tie with a ribbon + cinnamon sticks.
(I put my marshmallows in a separate cello, tied them shut and then placed them on top of glass jar - see below. These hard bottomed cello bags are perfect for gifts like this).

I hope you LOVE and USE the idea!!
It's fun to put together - and it's sooooo cute.'s soooo delicious.


FREE Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Mix packaging labels
10oz. glass jars - Hobby Lobby
mini jars with corks - Hobby Lobby
Cello bags with circle bottoms
White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix - homemade recipe
White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix - store bought

Only 5 days until Christmas! Eeks!
I wasn't freaking out about it until today.
I've got presents to wrap and things to wrap up and yet I can't wrap my head around the fact Christmas is almost here. *wink*

PRINT | Let Heaven + Nature Sing Art Print

Monday, December 11

Well happy Monday, friends!!
I'm popping in to share this "Let Heaven + Nature Sing" sign I created to update my "Give Thanks" sign I had in this frame.

Since my Christmas decor this year has consisted of a mix of raw woods, whites and a little greenery, this sign just felt SO right. It's "simple + sweet" too which as you know, is my ongoing vibe and theme this Christmas season and this past year.

If you love it, I've created two sizes for you to download, print + frame.
Gift it. Frame it. Use it at your table settings...whatever your heart desires!!

Love you guys!!


We have officially run out of our first batch of White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
Mixing some more up today AND...I've got a couple of easy gift ideas I'll be sharing with you soon!!

RECIPE | Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa

Thursday, December 7

Oh my sweet, sweet friends.
This super simple Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Recipe is what Snickerdoodle dreams are made of.
I am so happy with how it turned out and I just know you are absolutely going to LOVE this!
I even created a cutie foldable recipe card for you to print and keep - because it's an absolute dream!

(folds into a 4x6 - .jpg and .pdf file formats available)

You will need the recipe for my White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix to make a Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa. OR...even though I haven't personally tried it, you can try the Ghirardelli White Chocolate Powdered Hot Cocoa Mix in place of my homemade version.  (if you try this, let me know how it turns out).

If you decide to try the homemade version, there's a cutie recipe card for that one too! *wink*

Once you wipe the smile (and whipped cream) off of your face from trying this, PLEASE let me know how much you love it!!

PS - If you missed the "Simple + Sweet" Hot Cocoa Bar I set up this year - go HERE!!


Man!! That recipe card is just TOO cute.
But seriously - Ella LOVES this Hot Cocoa and J said I could totally package this up and sell it! *wink*

RECIPE | White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix

Wednesday, December 6

And today....drumroll please....

White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix! YEP!!
But why? Why not just stick with the regular ole delicious Hot Cocoa Mix? 

Because you cannot make my super delicious "Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa" without it. That's why!
Which then means you can't create your own "Simple + Sweet Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Bar". duh!
AND...some people prefer white chocolate. can add peppermint and other flavors that won't compete with the good ole regular hot chocolate...chocolate. *wink*'s SO creamy and SO just need to try it. Trust me on this one.

(folds into a 4x6 - jpg and .pdf file formats available)

Now...I know you are wanting to try that absolutely delicious Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa I mentioned! Because I'm telling are SO going to love it and thank me for forever...
for creating and sharing it with you!  Pinky promise.

So - baby steps.
Yesterday was the Simple + Sweet Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Bar - CLICK HERE!
Today is the White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix - which you will need to make the Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa.
Well tomorrow is the debut of the delicious Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa recipe!!
and a super cute printable recipe card too!

UPDATED 12/13: Here's the link to take you to the Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa recipe now posted!!

Love you guys! See you back here tomorrow!!

It took me a few trials and recipe testing to find the perfect White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix.
The first couple Ella said were okay but she was missing the "chocolate" she was used to.
THIS recipe? This one is a winner.

STYLING | Simple + Sweet Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Bar

Tuesday, December 5

Simple. Simple. Simple.
That's been the word + theme I've been chasing over the course of this past year.
With that said, when I was planning our hot cocoa bar for this winter and Christmas season I knew I would totally use the things + ideas I had started dreaming about last year and never had time to execute.

This included creating a delicious Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa recipe that would take center stage and would be this year's "signature" flavor for our family. (remember the S'mores hot cocoa we did for our "Cabin in the Woods" themed hot cocoa bar?)

I had actually made a couple of weak attempts at the snickerdoodle hot cocoa last year using the Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix I've shared with you all previously. BUT...something just wasn't right. It didn't WOW me. And so...with an anticipated move for our family and so much up in the air it left the holidays spinning out of control last year. I just let the Snickerdoodle dream go.

This year however...we are settled into our new home and I was not about to let the dream go.  Honestly, it had never let go of me.

First things first, I had to perfect a "White Chocolate" hot cocoa mix in order to create the Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa. You see,  I figured out trying to use traditional hot cocoa just wasn't creating the creamy, snickerdoodly flavor I was looking for. After several fails I finally nailed it.
And I mean NAILED it you guys. It's soooo good. 

Anyway, that's how this "Boho-ish" Hot Cocoa Bar took on a life of it's own. Once I figured out the hot cocoa mix and was able to perfect the ingredients needed to add to the mix to create the snickerdoodle flavor - well...that made the whole hot cocoa bar set up even more simple and I was able to finally envision how to pull everything together.

Pssst....the snickerdoodle hot cocoa doesn't even need marshmallows! Nope. No marshmallows on this hot cocoa bar. *gasp* But I am telling you - you won't miss them with this hot cocoa. Trust me. I'm all about tradition and I love marshmallows in my hot cocoa just as much as the next person but I promise you don't need them. The only topping you'll want or need is cinnamon + sugar on top of your whipped cream. That's it. (perfect cinnamon sugar recipe HERE).

Without all of the usual suspects i.e., the peppermints, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and other fun toppings...all of a sudden my hot cocoa bar felt perfectly aligned with my "simple" mindset. 

Even the sign I decided on was simple. I used the same background and arrow graphic from the "Cabin in the Woods" hot cocoa bar set up and just simplified the wording. 

White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix, Brown Sugar, ground cinnamon, a shaker filled with cinnamon sugar and some cinnamon sticks for cuteness are all you need for this "Sweet + Simple Snickerdoodle" Hot Cocoa Bar.

I really love how it turned out.
I love the copper accents mixed with the wood + macrame details.

I love all of the Hot Cocoa Bars I've done through the years....for different reasons.
This one?
This one might be my favorite! *wink*

The White Hot Chocolate recipe will hit the blog tomorrow, followed by the Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa recipe. And they both have cute printable recipe cards waiting for you all to print.

I hope you love how it turned out and more than that, I REALLY hope you are inspired to set up your own hot cocoa bar this year.

Love you friends!!

Here are all of the details if you are interested...

Cinnamon Sugar
Whipped Cream
Cinnamon Sticks


Copper Mugs - handles get hot so they are perfect for warming cold hands BUT don't get burned.
Ivory Lace Hot Cocoa Mugs - from Anthro

STAY WARM HOT COCOA SIGN  - this one is 20x24 and I had it printed at Walgreens onto posterboard for about $15 - with a coupon. So AWESOME!! I will be making this available in my Etsy shoppe this week.

TABLE - from TJ Maxx - I love the drawers on the front for holding extra napkins, spoons, etc.

CINNAMON SUGAR SHAKER  - I bought a set of THESE copper topped shakers and filled one with THIS CINNAMON SUGAR RECIPE.




COPPER TEA POT - World Market


I really struggled with the set up at first.
I kept trying to complicate things by adding christmas trees and wreaths and stuff to "holiday-ize" it.
But no. Sticking with a simple pitcher of the Eucalyptus on the bottom totally finished it off perfectly.
"Simple!" people. I just. need. simple.

And I'm probably going to gain 10 lbs over the winter sipping on the delicious Snickerdoodle hot 
cocoa. I want one every night. Ha!!

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