4 Simple Steps to a Mega Bathroom Refresh

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MegaSummerRefresh #CollectiveBias

My guest bathroom gets some heavy use. We love hosting family and friends for movie nights, community group, and just to hang out; so the bathroom gets it’s fair share of traffic. Since it’s a small area, it’s easy to give it a quick facelift. I don’t have to renovate my entire bathroom to make it feel refreshed and new. Inspired by one of the Quilted Northern® character, Little Miss Puffy Tail, I decided to update my bathroom with a farmhouse feel this summer. Just a few simple changes can help to create a mega bathroom refresh.

Shower curtain

Swapping out the shower curtain is a small change that completely changes the look and feel of my bathroom. Since I’m totally obsessed with farmhouse decor, I went with a neutral curtain to replace my older more bold curtain.

Hand towel storage

Continuing with my farmhouse refresh, I added a galvanized container that I picked up at my local Target’s dollar section. I’m using this for hand towel storage. I also tucked a small bottle of lotion in side for guests to use.

Florals/foliage

Adding some foliage or florals to the back of the toilet pulls the room together. For me, I think it makes the toilet look a little less obvious.

Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong® Mega Rolls

Here’s what my bathroom looked like before.

With all the people who use my guest bathroom, I need a good supply of toilet paper. My favorite will forever be the Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong Mega Rolls. These bad boys have four regular rolls in one! It lasts forever and I rarely have to swap out an empty roll. It seriously goes on and on and on…and on. The plump rolls also look great displayed in my refreshed farmhouse bathroom. I saved 10% off my Quilted Northern Mega Toilet Paper by using the Cartwheel offer, valid 6/20-7/8.

Save and buy 3 packs of Quilted Northern Mega Toilet Paper to get a $5 Target Gift Card (valid 6/18-6/24).

If you love my Little Miss Puffy Tail inspired mega bathroom refresh, you can vote for her (or your favorite) Quilted Northern character-inspired bathroom: Daddy Gator, Little Miss Puffy Tail and Sir Froggy for a chance to win a $1,000 Grand Prize or a $250 Target Gift Card! The sweepstakes runs from 6/19-8/1 and you can enter via the widget below.

#MegaSummerRefresh #Sweepstakes (6/19 to 7/31)

Be sure to visit the Designed Mega social hub for more mega bathroom refreshes inspired by the Quilted Northern characters.

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Military Family Care Package, Share a Coke

By Holly Sosa

This shop/post has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #CokeDGSupportMilitary #CollectiveBias

Military roots runs deep in my family. From my uncles and both grandpas to my cousins and siblings. But none have impacted me more than my little sister’s service to her country. Cortney started her life after high school in the Navy as a corpsman, which took her to North Carolina for a number of years. When she completed her term, she moved back to our hometown and became a police officer while completing her time as a reserve. She met her husband in the reserves and after they became pregnant, she left her career as a police officer to become a full time mother and Marine Corps wife. My sister is my best friend and I’ve been blessed to have her close (she’s been in San Diego – only a few hours drive – for some years now), but recently her husband was transferred to North Carolina, which is a much longer drive than three hours from my SoCal home.

Being away from my sister is hard and being apart from my niece and nephew is even harder. I’m thankful for technology; we keep in touch through an app where we can video chat daily to one another, but one of my favorite ways to connect with my sister and her family is through little care packages. Inspired by the Dollar General, USO, and Coca Cola’s partnership to, “Share an ice cold Coke with military heroes!”, I put together a little box for my personal heroes.

I started with a plain brown box I found at my local Dollar General.

And added some blue construction paper to the flaps.

And then some red before I embellished it with some patriotic stickers and wrote a sweet and simple little note.

I filled it with goodies I know are some of my sister’s favorites and special toys that I know my niece and nephew will love.

When I was done, I pulled out one of the Dollar General exclusive LIMITED EDITION Share a Coke® cans I’d picked up along with the care package goodies. Only when I was pulling it out, I realized that there was more than one can that described my incredible little sister. I just had to hop into our app and send her a little video of me thanking her for her service and telling her how super cool I think she is that she has two cans and not just one that was made just for her.

Please join me along with Dollar General, the USO, and Coca-Cola by helping to reach a goal of sending 25K messages of love, support, and gratitude to our nation’s service members and their families. The message you send will go directly to service members around the world. You can also help by buying the exclusive 5-can limited edition series highlighting: Veteran, Service Member, Military Spouse, Military Mom, and Military Dad.

Write and send your message through the Destination Coke website and to learn about more ways you can help support the USO.

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Summer Travel Essentials for Big Families

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #SummerIsForSavings #CollectiveBias #WFM1

My family and I are mere days away from our major summer vacation plans to visit my side of the family in Northern Michigan. We are taking all five of our kiddos across the country from the SoCal High Desert to Northern Michigan. We’ll be taking two planes and a van ride to get us to our rural destination and have adventures planned over the course of two weeks. Traveling with our large family will be quite the challenge, but we’ve travelled together before and I’m drawing off of our previous experiences to get us through this trip of a lifetime. This is my comprehensive list of summer travel essentials for big families like mine.

LG Grace Phone and Walmart Family Mobile Plan, powered by T-Mobile

I use the Unlimited * Talk, Text, & Data which includes up to *15GB of 4G LTE then 2Gn the $49.88 PLUS Plan from Walmart Family Mobile. My younger kiddos share their LG Grace phone to call their other parents (we’re a blended family), send them a text, and take pictures. It’s a simple way to stay connected while they travel since they don’t need a phone all of the time. I can easily walk into Walmart knowing I’m getting the best priced no-contract wireless plan, pick the phone, pick the plan, and go. No renewals or contracts to worry about and no late fees or activation fees to factor in. Since they use Nationwide coverage on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network, I also don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll have service when they do call and interact with their other parents on the line. As an added bonus, while we’re on the $49.88 PLUS Plan, we receive a free VUDU movie rental credit (valued at $7.00) each time we renew the service.

A printed itinerary

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I believe a printed itinerary is essential when traveling with a large family. I print off all our confirmations, hotel reservations, and travel details and store them in my trusty paper planner to ensure we have all the information we need. This is also helpful in the event of an emergency or a spontaneous change of plans.

A backpack

With kiddos, even older ones, a backpack is one item I never regret bringing on our summer travels. Someone always needs me to hold something, cuts and scrapes are inevitable, and it gives me a safe place to store sunscreen, bug spray, and extra water. As a serial souvenir shopper, it’s also handy for my inevitable magnet purchase as we explore new towns and areas.

These three essentials have been my true blue sidekicks during previous adventures with my big family. While there’s bound to be a bit of chaos, at least it’s controlled chaos thanks to these helpful tools. I’d love to hear some of your travel essentials and advice you have to offer my large family before we embark on our summer journey.

To learn more about Walmart Family Mobile and their best priced no-contract wireless plans, be sure to visit their social hub where you’ll see how bloggers like me have used the service.

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Cherry Pickin’ Chocolate Ice Cream Sammies

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SoHoppinGood#BlueBunny #BombPop #CollectiveBias

My family has a pretty major summer trip coming up to visit our family in Michigan. While most families travel to tourist destinations and theme parks for their summer trips, Michigan is my family’s own personal playground. We look forward to our annual trip to the Great Lakes State and I love using it as an opportunity to educate my kiddos on my home state. For instance, Michigan cherries are one of the states most prized specialty crops. I’m a total cherry snob and believe Michigan cherries to be superior (see what I did there?) to all other cherries. While we’ve been counting down the days to our trip, I’ve been getting my kiddos excited by reading books about Michigan and enjoying cherry-based treats like these Cherry Pickin’ Chocolate Ice Cream Sammies made with the most amazing ice cream flavor from Blue Bunny® called Cherry Pickin’ Chocolate®.

To start, I grab some refrigerated sugar cookie dough and bake it according to the instructions.

Once the cookies have baked and had time to cool, I pull out Cherry Pickin’ Chocolate Blue Bunny Ice Cream and place a big scoop on the bottom of one of the sugar cookies. Blue Bunny ice cream is made with fun, fresh ingredients and I love their fun spins on classic flavors like my beloved cherries. Plus it’s available at Walmart where I do my family’s weekly grocery shopping, making it easy to deliver tasty summer memories!

I grab another cookie and place it right on top of the scoop and gently press it down to create a delicious little ice cream sammie.

These can be enjoyed immediately or placed in an air tight container and stored in the freezer to enjoy later.

My kiddos (and husband!) were so excited to enjoy these tasty Cherry Pickin’ Chocolate Ice Cream Sammies. They enjoyed every last bite while they chatted about our visits to Michigan in the past and what their favorite parts about the state are. Our cherry themed treat was so delicious and created the perfect summer memory even before our trip has begun!

For us, ice cream and summer go hand it hand; so it makes sense that many of our summer memories are connected to the frozen treat. In fact, The Original Bomb Pop® was my favorite summer treat as a little girl and I buy them every year for my own kiddos to enjoy on the front steps of our home. Blue Bunny’s summer game is strong with our family, ha!

For more Blue Bunny inspired ideas, recipes, and memory makings be sure to visit the social hub where you’ll find all of that and more from bloggers like me.

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3 Reasons Legoland California Should Be On Your Summer Bucket List

By Holly Sosa

This post is sponsored by Legoland California. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas are my own. Thank you to Legoland California for partnering with me and thank you readers for supporting the brands that support this blog and my family.

My family’s summer bucket list isn’t complete until we’ve had our annual trip to Legoland California. We’ve gone every single year for four years now and we leave with the most memorable experiences every single time. Lines are minimal, staff is friendly, and there are things for everyone to participate in. Delicious food, affordable prices, and tons to explore are just a few of the reasons Legoland California should be on your summer bucket list, but in case that’s not enough, here are three more reasons to entice to you one of my family’s favorite summer places.

Everyone can participate

One of my most favorite parts about our Legoland visits is that there is quite literally something for everyone in the family. During my family’s first visit, my youngest was just two and she even was able to participate on a couple rides, explore the park, and tons more. I’m such a sap because I totally cried when I realized just how inclusive of everyone the park is. There were faster paced rides for my older boys, but I was appreciative of there being things available for all of us to do as a family.

Granny’s apple fries

Granny’s apple fries are so delicious, I’d pay park admission just to enjoy this signature snack. The apples are cut into classic french fry shapes and coated in a cinnamon sugar outside. They’re served with a dollop of cream and they’re amazingly delicious!

Three parks to explore

Legoland, the Sea Life Aquarium, and the Legoland Water Park are all in one central location and could easily stretch into a two or three day visit. Each park has a variety of features, rides, and activities for kiddos and adults alike (don’t lie, you sort of like playing with Legos too).

We will be heading to Legoland later this summer and I can’t wait to share our experience with you all again (2014, 2016). All of our kiddos are a bit older this year and will be able to remember our summer traditions that the park has fostered with us over the years.

Be sure to visit the Legoland California page on Facebook for all the latest updates. To buy park tickets, visit the Legoland California website.

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3 Simple Race Tracks to Create Using Tape

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #UltimatePitStop #CollectiveBias

My oldest boy and youngest daughter are three years apart, which doesn’t seem like a large age gap, but for kids it’s all about that older/younger mentality. Finding ways for my video game loving son to connect with and mentor his stuffed animal loving little sister is sometimes a struggle, but lately they’re both buzzing about the new Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3 movie coming out this summer. My boy grew up with McQueen and his friends, racing around the house in his push along McQueen toy at just two years old. I love that Lightning and his friends have not only been a presence in my son’s life, but now he can connect with his little sister through the new movie and toys that bridge their age gap.

When they received the new Disney•Pixar Cars 3 LEGO Juniors Thunder Hollow Crazy 8 Race Building Kit from Amazon, both of them were practically bursting to put it together…together. The set features an easy to build Miss Fritter road sign with moveable barriers (Collin had fun with this down farther in the post). Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez, Miss Fritter, and Broadside are all included as well and are packaged in their own bags for simple assembly. Collin, my oldest boy, took charge and delegated tasks to his little sister. He mentored her through the step by step instructions as they worked together on the LEGO Juniors set until they had completed each character. The new movie has a focus on the theme of mentorship, which made this all the more fun to witness.

A drag race track

As they worked together on their project, I watched on happily, and pulled out some tape to start creating a few racetracks for them to play on with their completed sets. The first track was a simple straight line so they could take turns pushing their characters as fast as they could. I timed each race and McQueen (Evelyn) was always victorious.

A square track

The square track spanned across our dining room table and gave them a large area to play in together. I loved watching them get creative with race order and ideas.

A demolition derby track

We used the square track as boundaries for our demolition derby track inspired by the new Cars 3 movie. Collin and Miss Fritter had a blast bursting through the billboard.

Watching my kiddos play and get creative together is one of my favorite parts of being a mom. When they find common ground and interests that they can connect on gives them a bond that will carry them through their lives.

The Ultimate Pit Stop for all things Cars 3, including the set played with in this post, is Amazon. Visit the site for all things McQueen and Miss Fritter to foster creativity and mentorship in your kiddos.

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Milk and Honey Bath Melts

By Holly Sosa

This post contains affiliate links.

This summer, my family has some serious plans to get wet. Between traveling to Northern Michigan to splash in the Great Lakes and visiting water parks, our skin will be getting pretty beat up. I’ve had success with gently moisturizing and rehydrating skin in the past with DIY Honey Lavender Bath Melts and thought I’d reimagine them for our summer baths to help our skin heal from all the upcoming wear and tear. These DIY Milk and Honey Bath Melts are soothing, gentle, and moisturize even the driest of skin (trust me, I live in the dry desert, ha!). They’ll be great to have on hand after long days in the summer sun or swimming in the pool and since they’re so gentle, even my kiddos use them.

To start, I melt together some shea butter, almond oil, and honey in a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. The honey works as a natural humectant, which is fancy speak for helping to lock in moisture, promotes healing, and supports the skin’s rejuvenating abilities.

Once it has melted together and smooth, I stir in some powdered milk (the result will be a fairly crumbly texture). Milk contains lactic acid that helps to exfoliate, soften, and tone the skin.

Then I measure out about two tablespoon of the mixture with my hands and roll it into a ball. And then I transfer the ball to a sheet of parchment paper to cool and repeat until all the mixture is used.

To finish them off once they’ve cooled, I roll them in some additional powdered milk.

These can be stored in a container next to the bathtub and used all summer long. They’re full of beneficial ingredients and encourage relaxation. I’m planning on packing a few in my suitcase for our upcoming vacation to help keep the kiddos skin less irritated from all of our adventures.

Yum
Milk and Honey Bath Melts

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup shea butter
  • 2/3 cup almond oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups powdered milk + 1 cup for rolling

Instructions

  1. Fill a large saucepan with water and place glass bowl over the top.
  2. Over high heat, add shea butter, almond oil, and honey to bowl and stir until completely melted.
  3. Remove from heat and add powdered milk.
  4. Allow to cool enough to handle with hands and measure out roughly two tablespoons at a time.
  5. Roll into balls and place on parchment paper to cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, roll in powdered milk to finish.
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Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken

By Holly Sosa

During the summer months, I love using my slow cooker. Aside from keeping the hot oven off and keeping my home cool, I love easy meal solutions during the long summer days that help to simplify our daily schedules. This Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken tastes amazing, uses little effort, and with just a few additions creates an entire meal for the whole family.

I start by adding some chicken breasts to my slow cooker.

Next I add a packet of Italian dressing mix.

And then I top it off with some chicken broth before setting it to cook on high for several hours (my chicken was frozen, so it needed some extra time).

Once the chicken is cooked through, I pull it out of the slow cooker, dice it up, and place it back in on the warm setting.

While the chicken rests, I take some finely diced onion and sauté it in a large skillet with some garlic.

Then I add in some cream cheese, a little chicken broth, a can of cream of chicken soup, and a little salt and pepper.

I combine all the ingredients together until smooth and then add it to the slow cooker with the chicken.

Then I boil some pasta and once it’s cooked through, I drain it and add it to the slow cooker with the chicken and cream sauce.

I give it all a good stir and add some fresh parsley to the mix before serving.

I serve it immediately while it’s nice and hot. It’s such a perfect comfort food that’s easy to whip up in the summer months especially since it utilizes a slow cooker. I usually serve this with broccoli since it works well to sop up any leftover cream sauce on my plate, ha!

Yum
Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 packet Italian dressing mix
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 brick cream cheese
  • 1 box penne pasta
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • parsley, optional garnish

Instructions

  1. In slow cooker add chicken, 1/4 cup chicken broth, and Italian mix.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours if thawed and high for 6 hours if frozen.
  3. Once chicken is cooked through, remove from slow cooker and dice into pieces.
  4. Place chicken back in slow cooker and set aside.
  5. In a large skillet sauté onion and garlic until fragrant (about one minute) and add cream of chicken soup, broth, and cream cheese.
  6. Simmer, whisking frequently until all ingredients are combined and smooth cream sauce forms.
  7. Transfer cream sauce to slow cooker with chicken and combine.
  8. Prepare pasta per directions on box and combine with cream and chicken mixture.
  9. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
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Things I Love About Dad Gift Bag

By Holly Sosa

Father’s Day is next week, friends, and I’m all about getting personal when it comes to such a meaningful holiday. My husband works hard at his blue collar job providing for our little big family. More than that, he’s a dedicated father. In our blended family, it gets hard to spend time with everyone, but he does what he can. In fact, next week he will be driving three hours to watch his oldest graduate from 8th grade into high school. He loves his children fiercely, so I wanted to make sure they took some time to think about what they love about their father. The kiddos each created an adorable Things I Love About Dad Gift Bag using a few simple supplies.

I started by giving each child a piece of construction paper and a marker, instructing them to title the paper, “Five Things I Love About Daddy,” or in Collin’s case, Cub Cub (my husband is his stepfather).

I encouraged them to think hard about some of their favorite things about him, how he makes them feel, and what they love most about him. I helped them translate their five favorites onto the paper.

When they were done, I trimmed down each paper to fit over a plain brown gift bag.

Later on, I took the kiddos down to our local dollar store and let them each choose a gift for our bag. I loved seeing how thoughtful each child was as they browsed the aisles and chose their special present.

I wrapped up their gifts with tissue paper and used gift tags to distinguish which gift was from each child before placing them all inside our special bag.

This was such a special craft that made the kids feel involved in their Father’s Day gifts. I love that it encouraged them to think about the little things their daddy does for them and translate them onto paper to express their gratitude and love, something I think is important that they carry into adulthood for their future spouses, children, and adult siblings.

For more crafty ideas and projects be sure to follow Our Holly Days on Facebook where I share my favorites from fellow bloggers.

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How This Desert Dweller Gets Her Summer Glow

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CreateYourSunshine #WetSkinIsBestSkin #CollectiveBias

Here in the desert, dry skin is practically a given. As someone who already struggles with dry skin, the even dryer climate is a constant battle. I’ve shared about my favorite product to defeat my dry desert dweller skin, Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer, pretty frequently. It’s always in my shower and has become a regular part of my skin care routine. My legs and arms have never felt smoother or more moisturized than when I started using Jergens on my skin immediately after showering. It’s made my skin baby soft and never leaves me feeling greasy, which has always been an issue I’ve had with other moisturizers I’ve tried.

As a huge fan of the Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer, you can imagine how thrilled this pasty legged gal was when I found out about the new JERGENS® Natural Glow® Wet Skin® Moisturizer that gives me gradual, natural looking color without the harsh desert sun. This new moisturizer helps me to gradually add color and makes me feel like the desert goddess I am, ha! Despite living in an area with plenty of sunshine, I try to stay out of the rays and protect my skin from the damage the sun can cause, which results in some seriously pasty gams. When it’s time for shorts weather, I’m always a little self-conscious and have even used leg makeup in the past.

Jergens® Natural Glow® products allow me to create my own little rays of sunshine right in my shower since it’s specially developed for use on my wet skin. It glides on instantly, locking in moisture, and gradually building natural-looking color each day. It’s available in two shades: fair to medium (which is what this pasty gal uses) or medium to tan that build color over the course of an average of three to five days.

Since the DHA (ingredient that creates color) formula interacts with the proteins in my skin, I don’t have to worry about stains on my towel or shower (since both clearly don’t have proteins, ha!). To use it, I simply apply it to my wet skin immediately after I turn the water off in my shower. I concentrate on the larger areas of my skin and use smaller amounts on my elbow, knee, and ankle areas to give a streak-free and more natural looking color. Then I towel dry off as normal and finish my usual routine.

This summer, I’m looking forward to confidently showing off my natural glow in my dresses and shorts rather than covering up. I’ve even been able to prep my skin with a healthy summer glow (sans tanning bed or sun bathing) before our family vacation!

Try new JERGENS® Natural Glow® Wet Skin® Moisturizer by stopping in at your local Walmart or ordering online. You can also learn more about getting a natural looking summer glow by visiting Jergens on Facebook.

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