Warm Wishes- Easy Crockpot Chili & 12 Cozy Spaces to Inspire

Hi Guys!  I’m popping in this weekend to share a delicious recipe and some cozy design inspiration!  Temperatures outside plummeted this week and it got me yearning for my favorite chili (as well as my couch, throw, and design magazines)!  My husband was introduced to this recipe by a college roommate–it was a family recipe.

5 years ago my husband signed us up to bring a pot of chili to our church’s Chili Cookoff.  I told my husband that since he signed us up he would need to be the one to make it!!:-)  He was actually excited about it because he had an idea to add a bit of barbeque sauce to the already awesome chili recipe.

The Chili Cookoff was held on a Friday night so I decided I would go ahead and make it since my husband would only have time to swing by from work and pick us up.  I added the bit of barbeque sauce trusting my husband wouldn’t lead me astray.

Well,  I  we won the Chili Cookoff that night!!:-)  Out of 30 pots of chili 6 judges concluded that ours was the best!

Award Winning Crockpot Chili

What was our award??  A set of plastic measuring cups.  Woohoo!;-)  Although the original recipe is to cook it in a regular pot I make it in a crockpot because it’s easier for me.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!


Easy Award Winning Chili ;-)

1 lb ground beef

2 cans of kidney beans (undrained)

2 cans of stewed tomatoes (undrained)

1/2 cup diced onion (uncooked)

2 TBSP of chili powder

1/4 cup of sugar

1 1/2 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup barbeque sauce (optional)


Cook meat and drain fat.  Pour cooked meat into crockpot.  Pour all other ingredients into crockpot and stir well.  Cook on low for 6- 8  hours or high for 3-4 hours.

**If you want to do it in a normal pot heat to boiling and then reduce to medium-low with the lid on, stirring twice the first 10 minutes and then every 10 minutes thereafter.  Cook for approx. a total of 50 minutes.

***You can adjust the level of spiciness by putting in less or more chili  powder.


And after you get filled up with chili wouldn’t you love spending sometime in these cozy spaces?  Wish I could just hop into the photos and read a book or take a little mid-day snooze!


Yes, please!




 I know this is a kid’s room but I want to jump to the top buuk and draw those privacy drapes closed behind me!:-)



Just needs a fire in the fireplace and it would be perfect!


 My idea of a cozy bath retreat


via Houzz






What’s the coziest space in your home???  Where do you go to relax?  Mine is the family room particularly the long couch across from the fireplace.  It is a dangerously comfortable couch and I love it!


It could possibly be cozier if it had some more layers in the room as photoshopped below but for now it is still my happy place.
Layers demonstration Family Room2


Stay warm and have a great day!

DIY Christmas Countdowns

As we are nearing the middle of November I am beginning to turn my mind towards preparing for Christmas.  One of the things I been working on is getting our family photo card ready.  I’m thinking some cute Christmas plaid may look good as a backdrop to the photo.  Any other thoughts??

Ison Kathryn 8016619529


Additionally, we are only a couple of weeks away before our Christmas Countdown begins!  We are Christian and so Christmas has deep religious meaning, however, there are traditions that we have adopted that we also associate with Christmas. One of the Christmas traditions we started with our kids about 5 years ago is the Christmas Countdown.

Christmas Traditions


On the 1st day of December we get out our Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar and the youngest child (who knows what Christmas is) puts up the Day 1 marker.  Each morning the kids take turns putting up the next marker.  They know that Christmas is on the 25th and because there are 25 spots on the calendar they are able to visually see how as the calendar fills up Christmas gets closer!  It is a fun and exciting daily event!


I’ve been seeing some really cute DIY Countdowns around the blogosphere.  Here are a few!



via Poppytalk



via The Painted Hive


via Martha Stewart



via Today’s Creative Blog


If time and/or money is tight then an old school paper chain will do the trick!  Around the Holidays keeping it simple is sometimes the best way to go!


via bebeblog


When my oldest was 3 years old I began looking around for a Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar.  I found and mostly followed a tutorial on using a cookie sheet (found HERE).  Below is how my version turned out.


DIY Christmas Countdown



The supplies I used for this DIY are below.  It might look complex but it was fairly easy.  I painted the top and bottom of the cookie sheet with red acrylic paint.  Then I cut a heavy piece of paper (cardstock) to fit the cookie sheet.  Then using a ruler I made 5 equally sized rows across and  5 down.

DIY Cookie Sheet Christmas Countdown



Next, I had bought a Christmas Chipboard kit for $6 (with a 40% coupon) and some number stickers.  I placed sticker numbers on each chipboard.  Sorry about the blurry photo below but wanted to show you how I outlined the numbers in black so they would show up more.

DIY Cookie Sheet Countdown

I also glued down the chipboard letters to spell the words “Christmas Countdown”.  The cookie sheet is magnetic so by placing a magnet on the backside of each chipboard the chipboard pieces are able to stay in place.  The numbers that are not being used can be stored on the backside of the cookie sheet!

Cookie Sheet Christmas Countdown

This DIY Advent Calendar is going on year 5 and continues to be a fun tradition for our family.  Do you have a way you like to count down to Christmas (or if not Christmas, your celebrated Holiday)??  Have you started making any preparations for Christmas or do you like to wait until after Thanksgiving??  Til next time!


Decorative Ladders in Design

Using wooden ladders in design has become quite a trend.  Not so much the A-framed type that most of us think of but more so the 1-sided lean up against a wall and start climbing kind.  However, in these cases there’s no climbing going on!  These ladders are being used for decorative purposes as well as functionally for hanging items.

Here are some great examples:

 A Magazine Rack


A Book Shelf


A Towel Holder by the Sink


via West Elm


 or by the Bathtub


A Blanket Rack in a Bedroom


via the little umbrella


Or in a Family Room


via Pottery Barn


A Photo Displayer


via Crafts by Amanda


To hang lights and lanterns from the ceiling


And Christmas Decorations

 via Pottery Barn


 A Wreath Displayer

Mustard Seed Interiors via Houzz


And one of my favorites– by the door to hang Scarves and other Winter Items


When I was decorating the kids/guest bathroom there was a point towards the end where I knew something was missing.  Aesthetically I knew I needed something on the wall across from the shower curtain to provide interest and balance out the shower curtain.  We also needed a place to hang a hand towel.


Thankfully the light bulb went on and I knew just what to do!  I threw together a behind the toilet decorative ladder for $0!  I went into the garage where I keep my scrap wood and found two long pieces of remnant wood from the boys’ retired bunkbed.  Then I found some other random pieces of wood for the ladder slats.


How to Make a Decorative Ladder


Because the ladder needed to fit around the toilet I decided it would be easiest to build it right there in the bathroom.  I set the long wood pieces up against the wall and around the toilet as shown above.

I stood up on the toilet seat and drilled pilot holes with a counter sink drill bit into both ends of the horizontal top slat(this allows the head of the screw to go into the wood instead of sticking out).  Then I drilled  1 1/2 inch screws into the holes and repeated this step for the remaining two slats.


DIY Ladder


Because the pieces of wood were all different colors I knew it would need to be painted.  At first I thought of painting it white but because the board and batten behind it was white I decided it wouldn’t create the interest I was looking for.  I remembered I had gold metallic spray paint left over from this project and thought a fun modern touch was just what the room was calling for!:-)


DIY Gold Ladder Towel Holder 2


The gold version would be so festive for the Holidays!  I can picture snowflakes and candy canes hanging from the slats and a little Christmas greenery.:-)


Do you see a decorative ladder in your future?  They really are easy and inexpensive to make!  And you could always stain yours to get the wood look.  Let me know if you have any ???’s!:-)

DIY Plantation Shutters

 I’ve admired plantation shutters from afar for years! They are classy, streamlined, and effortlessly beautiful.

via Houzz







My southern grandmother use to tell my grandfather (regarding other women) that he could look but not touch. From the moment I laid eyes on plantation shutters I was in love but when I learned of their hefty price tag it sadly became a ‘look but not touch’ scenario for me!

You better believe I searched for budget friendly options though!:-)  For the size of my kids’ bathroom window (22 3/4 in. x 58 1/2 in.) even the ‘budget’ plantation shutters I researched  cost an upwards of $260 to $300 for the shutter!

Some websites sell do-it-yourself kits where you receive the materials ready to be constructed and then you put them together.  I thought that these kits may be reasonably priced but after filling out a couple of online quote forms I discovered that they were almost as expensive as the already made ‘budget’ options.

So off and on over the past couple years I’ve researched how to build them myself.  I haven’t come across any other blogs or diy-ers who have attempted this feat so I had to dig a lot deeper.  Today I will share with you all I have learned and show you how I built my own plantation shutters.

How to Make Plantation Shutters Tutorial


One of the most helpful resources that I located during my research is the website www.shuttercutter.com.  HERE they have a free tool to help you know how to measure your window(s) correctly and what your cut list should be.

They also provide Shutter 101 basics such as the diagram below as well as definitions and explanations for each shutter term (Note:  It is helpful to be familiar with the terms below before reading on).


Plantation Shutter

Lastly, they sell all the materials needed to make your own plantation shutters at the most fair prices out there!  (Note:  I am not being paid or compensated in any way for this opinion just sharing a resource that helped me in building my plantation shutter).

Below is the supply list for my particular shutter.

Plantations Shutter Supplies and Prices


It is important to note that I wanted my particular shutter to have a divider rail.  Because the shutter was for the bathroom I wanted a top section and a bottom section.  The bottom section I would keep closed for privacy and the top I would always keep open for natural light.  To simplify this DIY don’t use a divider rail just have the slats all controlled by one tilt rod.


DIY Plantation Shutters


Also I only used one shutter panel to cover the whole window.  If you are using two or more panels to cover your window you may want to buy a rabbeted stile from shuttercutter.com that allows the panels to connect seamlessly (preventing light from bleeding in).  I did not need to so I just bought wood for the stiles from Home Depot since it would be a little bit less expensive.



1.  The first thing I did was paint the basswood louvers I ordered.  They have the option to come primed but I decided to cut costs and do it myself.  This would also be a good time to paint your stiles, rails, and tilt rod.

Painting Louvers


2.  Next I measured and marked where the holes would go on the stiles (the vertical rails).  Measure up from the bottom rail 1 1/2 inches and then 3 inches between every hole.  2 1/2 inch louvers are spaced 2 inches apart , 3 1/2 inch louvers 3 inches apart and, 4 1/2 inch louvers 4 inches apart.

How to Make a DIY Plantation Shutter


3.  Once I marked both insides of the stiles I put them up to each other to make sure they lined up exactly!  I’m not a perfectionist but with plantation shutters you have to be precise for them to look right so try to be a precise as humanly possible.  After making sure the marks on the two stiles line up, make holes where the marks are using a 5/32 drill bit.

How to Build Plantation Shutters Yourself - Copy


4.  Then go back and make the holes for the bottom rails and top rails and divider rails (if you have any).  In the diagram on shuttercutter.com they use 2 inch wooden dowels to connect the rails to the stiles.  In retrospect I wish I had as well.  Instead I knew I would have extra tension pins and thought I would just use those to connect the rails to the stiles.  I will explain later what happened but for now use two wood dowels instead of tension pins as shown below.

Measuring for Plantation shutters

Connecting Stile and Rails - Copy

5.  Now that the rails are connected to one of the stiles place the nylon and tension pins into that stile.  Tension pins should be used in 25-30% of the holes.  So if you have 16 louvers 4-6 of them should contain a tension pins and the rest nylon pins.

Building Plantation Shutters - Copy

6.  Now measure and mark a dot on the center of both ends of each louver.  Drill a hole on the dot with a 9/16 drill bit.

How to Connect louvers to Plantation shutters - Copy


7.  Slip the louvers onto the nylon and tension pins so that they are connected.

How to install louvers to plantation shutters - Copy


8.  Next is the trickiest part and it may be helpful to have another set of hands.  Place tension and nylon pins into the other stile.  Make sure that the tension pins are in the same number hole as on the other stile.  Now move the stile with pins sticking out close to the side of the louvers without a stile.  Match the stile up to the correct place.  Now starting from the top one by one manually shift the pins from the stile to the louver so that each louver is connected to both stiles.  In order to do this neither stile will be flush with the louvers (as shown below)

How to Make Plantation Shutters


9.  Make sure all of the pins are at least a little bit in both sides of the louver holes.  Then on the count of 3 (and with an extra set of hands) push the stiles towards each other so that the pins go all the way into the louvers and the louvers and stiles become flush against each other as shown below.

How to DIY Plantation Shutters - Copy


10.  Now we will be getting the louvers ready for the tilt rod.  To do this measure and mark the center bottom of each louver.  Drill a hole with a 1/16 drill bit and screw in an eyelet screw.

Building Plantation Shutters with moveable Louvers - Copy


11.  Next cut the tilt rod to size and hold it up to the shutters where it would lay when the shutters are closed.  Then turn the rod on its side and place a dot on the back of the rod exactly where it meets the eyelet screw on the louver.  Note:  Before using eyelet screws I tried employing staples in the louvers but they kept falling out, hence, the photo below shows staples on the louvers.  Just pretend they are eyelet screws.

Building Plantation Shutters that have a Tilt Rod - Copy


12.  Next with your 1/16 drill bit drill a hole in the rod where the it is marked and screw in the remaining eyelet screws.  Then with needle nose pliers or the tip of wire cutters pull the eyelet screws open as shown below.

How to Attach a Tilt Rod - Copy


13.  Next starting from the top one by one connect the tilt rod eyelet screw to the corresponding louver eyelet screw.  Then close the eyelets on the rod with the needle nose pliers as best you can.

How to Install a Tilt Rod to Make Plantation Shutters - Copy


14.  Okay so this is where we need to come back to the 2 inch wooden dowels conversation.  If you remember from the diagram at the beginning shuttercutter.com recommended using 2 inch wooden dowels to connect the rails and the stiles together.

I wish I would have made the holes for the wooden dowels and then filled them with wood glue and pushed the rail and stile together and let it sit for 24 hours before adding the louvers.  Then after the louvers were added do the same thing for the other stile in joining the rails.

Instead I used tension pin to connect the rails and stiles.  I didn’t feel this connection was sturdy enough so using a countersink drill bit I drilled a hole into the outside of the stile where the stile meets the rail and screwed a 3 1/2 inch screw into it.  The counter sink drill bit allows the screw head to go all the way into the wood so that it is flush with the wood and doesn’t stick out at all.

The problem I had with this method is that when I drilled the screw in the rail and stile kept separating at the last minute. I asked my hubby to push the pieces of wood together while I drilled but it still wouldn’t stay tightly fit together.

How to Secure Stile and Rails

I used white caulking to fill in the small gaps between the rails and stiles and it looked great.  However, the problem came when fitting the shutter to the window sill.  I had thankfully left a 1/4 gap for the hinges but since the rails and stiles would not screw in all the way together the shutter was about 1/4 wider than planned.  Hence, the plantation shutter fits so snugly into the window sill that there is no room for the hinge hardware.

So, my plantation shutters will have to be manually removed if I ever need to get access to the window (which realistically won’t be happening unless there is a fire and we need to jump out that particular window because heaven knows I won’t be cleaning that window ever anytime soon and if I need to open the window I will be sticking my fingers through the shades like a crazy lady trying to shimmy the darn thing up so I don’t have to take the whole shutter off)!:-)

Do yourself a favor and use wood dowels and glue to connect the rails and stiles.  Shuttercutter.com has some great hinge options as well as home depot who sells this 2 1/2 inch narrow utility hinge in a 2-pack for $4.37.  This is what I had bought and now will be returning.

Installing plantation shutters

For more mounting info click HERE

I’ve been so happy with how the plantation shutters turned out and it has allowed the room to receive an abundance of natural light.  I won’t lie it was a lot of work especially with doing all the preliminary research!  But as with 95% of my DIYs I can look back and say it was worth it.  And heck if you’ve made it this far in the post it shows you have what it takes to get through anything!;-)  You can do it!

Kids Bathroom Blue and GreenDid you miss my kids/ guest bathroom makeover? Click, HERE.

As always let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them!  Have a great weekend!


How to Make Plantation Shutters Tutorial

Kids and Guest Bathroom Reveal

Hey Guys!  The kids/guest bathroom is done and just in time as our house guests arrive tonight! As with all of the makeovers I do this one is no exception it includes lots of budget friendly ideas and DIYs that I  can’t wait to share!

Let’s refresh our memory of what the bathroom looked like BEFORE.  Very builder basic!

Kids Bath

And here is the AFTER!

Kids Bathroom Reno

Kids Bathroom Makeover-After

So let’s talk about the room and what each element cost!  After studying the inspiration photos I had for the room  I knew I wanted to paint the vanity green.  You can view all 9 of my inspiration photos, Here.

I ended up trying and loving Behr’s Alkyd Semi-gloss Enamel for painting the vanity.  I’m happy to report that unlike many special enamels this one only cost $32 for the gallon!  You can learn all about how to paint bathroom cabinetry like a professional, Here.

Kids and Guest Bathroom Maveover on a Budget

The DIY board and batten wood trim treatment on the walls cost around $50 and creates a lovely backdrop that allows the colors in the room to really pop.  The upper section of the wall is painted Benjamin Moore Buxton Blue.  I got the free pint of paint from a coupon in one my home magazines.

Kids and Guest Bathroom Makeover


The gold ladder towel holder is a DIY that I made from leftover wood from previous projects and gold spray paint and cost me next to nothing!  Tutorial found HERE.

Kids Bathroom


This fun wall art was absolutely free!  I got the free triangle printable from The DIY Mommy, Here.   It comes in a larger size but I just cropped mine to fit a normal 8 x 11.5 piece of typing paper and printed out right from my printer.

The frame was one I had gotten from Walmart a few years ago  for $5 and that I was no longer using.  The frame was black so I painted it white with the paint I already had for the walls.

Free Printable Wall Decor


I have two new hand towels rolled up in a basket on the vanity countertop.  They are from Target and are $9.99 each.

Kids Bathroom Makeover


In the reflection of the mirror you can see the kids’ hooded towels hung up in a row.

Green Painted Cabinets


Just before having my first baby a friend taught me how to make these hooded towels and I have made one for each of my children.  They all have their own color and even my 8 year old still loves wrapping up in it after his shower.  They are made from a Walmart towel and hand towel so they were under $10 to make per hood towel!

DIY Hooded Towels


The shower curtain is a DIY I created from a tablecloth that I had purchased  at Homegoods for $12.99.  I love the length of it and particularly how it hits the floor.

DIY Shower Curtain from Tablecloth


The flooring is a peel and stick vinyl that I installed right over the previous vinyl floors.  All the info on it is below and for me came to $60.  I really like how it looks and feels.  For a great discussion on the pros and cons of vinyl flooring read, Here.

Oyster Travertine Vinyl Tiles

Let’s just pretend I spelled travertine right!;-)


Okay, guys, here’s the final kicker!  Remember how I mentioned I was trying out a DIY window treatment that I had been wanting to do for years??  Well, I tried it and it worked!  I made plantations shutters!  I have drooled over plantation shutters for a long time but they are WAY too expensive for me to purchase.

So after lots and lots of research I figured out how to make them and without buying any fancy tools!  I tell ALL about it HERE!  The cost to make the shutter was $60 which believe it or not is just a fraction of what it would have cost to buy it.


Kids Bathroom Blue and Green


I am definitely loving the “new” kids bathroom and hope our guests feel comfortable in the room as well!  So what was the total cost of the bathroom makeover??  With paint, supplies, floors and everything the cost rang into be about $245.  Considering that just the plantation shutters alone would have  been at least that much I’m content with the total cost of the makeover.

Bathroom Makeover

I hope you enjoyed this makeover!  Til next time!:-)