It’s the Christmas season and we love nothing more than to celebrate the festivities with a perfect cup of hot cocoa! Nothing says holiday cheer like a readily available cup of delicious cocoa, am I right? l’m always looking for fun ways to celebrate the season with my family, and this year we’ve decided to add a hot cocoa bar to our seasonal fun, but not just any hot cocoa bar, a naughty and nice one!
There are many ways you can serve cocoa at your own bar. I love keeping a thermos of ready-made cocoa on weekends and during Christmas festivities. If that doesn’t work you can keep hot water in a thermos or air-pot along with cocoa mix on the side.
The real treat is with the naughty and nice additions! With just a few yummy treats you can turn your ordinary cocoa extra chocolatey, or add caramel, butterscotch, peppermint, or have a spiked naughty treat. There is something for everyone at this naughty and nice cocoa bar, and let’s not forget the perfect cup of cocoa might need a few treats like cookies for dipping too.
I used a variety of mason jars I had on hand to hold all our cocoa treats and just spoon them into cups as needed. Then at the end of the night I put the lids back on the treats and they’re ready for a new day.
Below I’ll share with you my favorite cocoa mixers to create your own naughty and nice cocoa bar, but really the sky’s the limit when adding delicious treats.
A thermos, air-pot or slow cooker to keep the cocoa nice and hot
Cups or mugs
Place cards or labels
Small jars or containers of your choice
Spoons for stirring in naughty and nice treats
Paper shreds and ribbon to decorate with (optional)
Bailey’s Irish Cream
Maker’s Mark Whiskey
Smirnoff Peppermint Vodka
Smirnoff Caramel Vodka
Smirnoff Whipped Cream Vodka
Creating your own hot cocoa bar is just so fun! Who can resist all the yummy flavors and treats? It’s the perfect way to boost your hot cocoa game for parties, gatherings, or just yourself. Our family has officially voted for a naughty and nice cocoa bar every year.
It’s the perfect way to celebrate the season, and remember you can be all naughty, all nice, or a little bit of both!
Since moving near Rocky Mountain National Park we’ve developed a huge love for hiking, and our favorite time of year is winter. Once upon a time I used to find winter hiking very intimidating, it does take more planning, but winter hiking is a true gem. The crowds thin out, the cold crisp air is invigorating, and the views are just incredible, it’s like hiking in a snow globe!
There are lots of amazing trails for all fitness levels throughout Rocky Mountain National Park but today I’m going to share with you my five favorite easy winter trails on the east side of the park. I’m also listing some of our favorite AFFORDABLE winter essentials for hiking.
Micro-spikes – These are our favorite, so lightweight and easy to put on. They are essential for traction in ice and packed snow!
Sunglasses – Ski googles are a lifesaver on extremely windy days!
Sunscreen – Winter sun is intense!
Water in an insulated container – Regular water bottles can freeze during winter hiking.
Winter weather in Rocky Mountain National Park can be quite unpredictable. You may not need all of the items above, but it’s a good idea to have them handy just in case.
Distance 0.9 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 10 feet
Directions: Enter Rocky Mountain National Park on highway 36, turn left on Bear Lake Road, go about 6 miles and turn left at the sign for Sprague Lake.
Sprague Lake is the perfect easy winter warm up hike for all ages, there is very little elevation gain so it’s wheelchair and stroller friendly too. Here you’ll see dreamy views of the continental divide, cross bridges, read historical information about the lake, and see children playing on the frozen snow covered lake. You’ll probably see trout in the babbling stream too.
Distance 0.8 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 45 feet
Directions: From highway 36 enter Rocky Mountain National Park, turn left on Bear Lake Road, go all the way to the end which is a little over 9 miles.
Parking at Bear Lake is the summer is a nightmare, you may wait a little bit in the winter for parking depending on the time of day, but overall it’s much easier. This popular lake trail always has a crowd but don’t let that keep you away. The views all around the lake are stunning!
Walking around Bear Lake is like a true winter wonderland, you’ll see stunning mountain views, gorgeous snow covered pine trees, icicles, and a snowy view of Hallet Peak. This trail is perfect for all ages.
Distance 2.2 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 450 feet
Directions: The trailhead is at Bear Lake. From highway 36 enter Rocky Mountain National Park, turn left on Bear Lake Road, go all the way to the end which is a little over 9 miles.
Starting at Bear Lake, the hike up to Dream Lake is incredibly stunning in every direction. Staying on the trail can be tricky at times, especially after fresh snow because people go off the trail a lot. Pay attention to signs, and it’s a good idea to bring GPS if you’re unfamiliar with this trail. You’ll start gaining some altitude with this trail but it’s an easy trail as long as the weather cooperates. Dream Lake can have very bitter cold winds in the winter so dress very warmly, also be prepared for deep snow in spots.
The close views of Hallet Peak are absolutely incredible and make any extreme weather worth it.
Distance: 4.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 640 feet
Directions: From highway 34 enter Rocky Mountain National Park, turn right at the Old Fall River Road sign and park in the West Alluvial Fan Trailhead parking lot, and continue hiking west along the road past the winter gate.
In the summer Old Fall River Road is a one way road that takes you up to the Alpine Visitor Center. In the winter the road closes to all vehicles and it becomes a great hiking trail. The trail starts out flat, walking through groves of sleeping aspen trees and beautiful snowy mountain views in the distance. As you near the waterfall you’ll get the heart pumping with a few switchbacks but it’s nothing that in-shape older people or enthusiastic kids can’t handle. You’ll see a sign for Chasm Falls to the left and follow steps down to the waterfall.
Partially frozen, the waterfall is beautiful! You can hear and see the water dropping 25 feet under a veil of ice into the icy pools below. There is railing everywhere so it’s safe and a beautiful photo taking spot! We usually see only a few other hikers on this trail, which is a nice bonus.
Distance 4.4 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 630 feet
Directions: From highway 36 enter Rocky Mountain National Park, turn left on Bear Lake Road. Go about 7 miles to the Bierstadt Lake sign and parking lot on the right.
Bierstadt Lake is a favorite trail of ours any time of year, but the winter season has a completely different feel from the summer. Bierstadt Lake has low crowds in the winter making it a quiet peaceful trail. You’ll begin this trail walking through pine trees, then transition into switchbacks with sweeping views of Long’s Peak and the Continental Divide. The trail is narrow and often ice packed so traction devices are extremely helpful.
Once you reach the top you’ll be greeted by a quiet forest of pine trees surrounding the lake. You can turn around and go back at this point or continue the loop around the lake following the orange tags on the trees to stay on trail. There are clearings along the trees to allow access to the lake. On a clear day you’ll be able to see sweeping views of the mountains behind the lake. I love walking around the lake being surrounded by snowy pine trees. Snow can be quite deep in some areas around the lake, it’s a great spot for snowshoeing too. We see older kids do this trail all the time, it depends on their comfort level.
If you’re visiting Rocky Mountain National Park during the wintertime I hope I’ve convinced you to go on a winter hike. It’s truly a magical time of year. Bring sure to bring an insulated pot of hot cocoa to enjoy after your hike!
It’s December and you know what that means… it’s time for the Christmas 2020 home tour! Obviously this has been a hard year for everyone, not a single person has been exempt from the stress of 2020, which is why it’s so important to cherish and celebrate what we do have. We all find comfort in different ways, I find mine in creating a well dressed home, and this year my home has been more comforting than I could ever imagine.
Every year I find so much joy in decorating our home for Christmas. I very much enjoy surprising my family by adding new decorations and switching things around, so our Christmas home is a little bit different every year. I think it adds a bit of spontaneous fun.
During this month we we snuggle by the fire watching Christmas movies, baking cookies and treats while listening to Christmas music. We will laugh, we will cry for our loved ones no longer with us, we will open presents, and we will give thanks to our Savior who is born. It all happens here inside our home and I love sharing it with you.
Last Christmas this room was an huge, unfinished mess. It gives me so much joy that the media room is finished and gets to join our 2020 Christmas tour. You can read about our media room before and after HERE. Our next winter project is to remodel the loft space, so look forward to that joining the 2021 tour.
Brian and I joke that we have the hardest living room to photograph ever, but it’s honestly true! It’s a bright room full of backlit windows and sun glares, we usually wake up at 6 am just to get a few photos before the light gets crazy. Those big windows and gorgeous views come with a price. This year we upgraded to a 10 foot tree and we really love it.
Every Christmas home needs festive garland and this ornament garland was incredibly simple and fun to make. You can find the tutorial HERE.
I recently created this Christmas present centerpiece made out of wrapped up boxed food. It’s the perfect low waste decoration, and after Christmas unwrap the food and keep it, or even better donate it. You can view the tutorial HERE.
December is here and I couldn’t be happier! The Christmas home tour should be up by the end of the week, but today I want to share with you one of my favorite ways to decorate using little wrapped boxes! This Christmas present centerpiece is the perfect way to decorate a table top, coffee table, or any other surface that needs some holiday cheer.
I’m no stranger when it comes to wrapping up little boxes, I find that it makes really cute affordable holiday decor, but this year I decided to take it a step further and turn it into a centerpiece. Not only is this centerpiece festive, it’s also extremely practical and budget friendly. Why, you say? Because we’re wrapping up food boxes! We all eat food so why not first turn it into a Christmas centerpiece?
Lots and lots of food boxes!
3-4 rolls of coordinating wrapping paper
Tape & ribbon
Various bows & curly ribbon
What are the best food boxes to wrap?
Walmart and Dollar Tree are great places to find affordable box food in a variety of sizes. I usually go around finding boxes I like, stacking them together to see if the sizes work. Some of my favorite food boxes to wrap are Pop Tarts, large food boxes such as hamburger helper or scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese boxes, large and small candy boxes, Jiffy cornbread, little boxes of raisins, and jello and pudding boxes.
I want to make this centerpiece, but what if I want to eat the food first?
No worries! I generally prefer to keep the food in the boxes because it’s easier and I like my boxes to have some weight. However many times I’ve gently opened the boxes removed the food and taped or hot glued the boxes back shut. You can always take a photo of the cooking instructions with your phone for later. If you do remove the food before wrapping you can toss the boxes after Christmas if you like.
Start by wrapping all the food boxes in various wrapping paper. Crank up some music, sip some tea, or have a glass of wine… this is the most time consuming part.
I used regular tape for the gift wrapping but if you want to a cleaner look for the ends you can use double sided tape, and I’ve even used hot glue before to secure the edges.
Create a base using the largest size boxes, then continue stacking the boxes in a random pattern. Once I finished this step I realized I could use a few more boxes so I went off to the pantry for more cornbread and pudding boxes to wrap.
Once you’re finished with the layout it’s time to start adding bows. Old bows work great for this so be sure to save them for next year.
Naturally no matter how well you arrange the boxes you’ll end up with a few gaps, so I like to fill them in with curly ribbon.
Once the Christmas season is over simply unwrap the food and stock it back in your pantry for a later day. Better yet put a smile on someones face and donate the unopened unwrapped food boxes to a food bank for a family in need!
If you took the food out before you wrapped them you can toss them or keep the boxes for next year. I hope you enjoy creating your own Christmas present centerpiece, if you do be sure to tag me on Instagram or leave me a photo in my Pinterest pin.
Every January I hit the Christmas sales and I always end up with several boxes of clear craft ornaments. Over the years my collection of crafting ornaments has grown and grown, yet I never did anything with them. Recently when I was cleaning out our attic space and I came across all my boxed ornaments I thought ok this is the year… I have got to do something with these.
I’ve been playing around with lots of ways to decorate these ornaments, I came up with several ideas, but I must say these frosted glitter ornaments are so far my favorite! Plus they’re so easy to make. I know I throw around the word easy a lot, that’s because I’m not a fan of complicated crafts! Cheap glue, basic salt, and a little glitter is all you need to make these gorgeous ornaments. They’re so pretty I’d say they’re gift worthy!
Plain table salt
White or clear glue
Glitter (I used iridescent and fine silver glitter)
Clear glass or plastic ball ornaments
Grab the bottom of the ornament and starting at the top of the ornament paint on an even layer of glue on half of the ornament.
Flip the ornament and gently holding on to the hook paint glue on the bottom half of the ornament.
Immediately sprinkle on the salt until you reach your desired frosted look.
Then quickly sprinkle on the glitter and let dry. I carefully put hooks on to let the ornaments dry while they’re hanging on our Christmas tree. I did however place a few on the table and they dried without any smudges. The salt stays on amazing well once dried, glitter’s always a pain but it’s just so pretty.
I did make a batch of these frosted ornaments without glitter, just the salt frost. I had them hanging on the tree to dry when I looked over and saw my 19 year old daughter licking them. That’s my Haley Bears… good thing the glue is non-toxic. Overall I much prefer these ornaments with glitter added. Not only do they sparkle more in the light like actual frost, it keeps my daughter from licking them!