a casual "just because" party

This post was sponsored by Aladdin. All thoughts on hospitality and hosting friends are my own. 

We moved into our house in December, and one of my New Year’s resolutions was to show hospitality. After a year of not having any company, we wanted to open the doors to our home and invite friends and kids over for dinner, inviting them to put their feet up and relax. Help themselves in the kitchen and let their kids run wild if they want to.

When Aladdin approached me about sending me some new mason jar products to use to throw a party, I was so excited. So I recently invited 20 of some of my closest friends over for a “Just Because” party and casual girls night. Most of them knew each other in some way, but I wanted to create an opportunity for everyone to get together, meet some new people, and to help warm the new house.


I sent out an email invitation and just asked them to come on a Sunday night. When all but two people said they could attend, I was so excited! I’m an introvert, but I love community and conversation.

I decided that I was going to make it pretty, but incredibly low key. I knew that I didn’t really need to decorate because it was a  casual party for friends. And I knew that we’d mostly be standing around chatting and eating, so I didn’t need to serve a feast.


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The day before the party, I made a grocery list and errand list and got it done! I fixed a 7-layer salad, but everything else was picked up at the store. I got my favorite chicken salad and croissants from a local restaurant, miniature pies and tarts from a local grocery store, pasta salad from a local deli, and fresh fruit. I fixed up some delicious, fresh fruit water in the 2-gallon Aladdin beverage server, and had water in the Aladdin pitcher.


My favorite quick party tip is to pick up fresh flowers from the grocery store, put them in a simple vase and put a bow around the vase to bring in more color. I have a huge stash of different ribbons, so this was the perfect way to use it.


I used simple plastic plates, but loved having the drinks in the Aladdin mason jars.

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This party was so quick to pull together and stress-free. I picked up almost everything, set it out on the porch, and opened the doors for fun fellowship. And the conversation and friendships were the theme of the night. Connections were made, the home was filled with laughter and sweet friends and I was able to sit back and enjoy the moment without fussing over being a hostess.

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The evening was simple and incredibly fun. The food was delicious, the flowers were beautiful, the Aladdin mason jars were a fun pop of color and a festive, casual way to serve drinks, and, most importantly, I was able to focus on the conversation and having a great time with friends.

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And we had way too much fun to stop to take a full group picture of everyone, which is always a bummer. But I did get a photo with three of my dear friends who stayed just a little bit longer for girl talk and crazy laughter!

Love So Amazing

It has been my goal as we’ve been in the new house to create a sanctuary in our master bedroom. I want a room where everything always has its place and where I can go to completely relax and escape the noise of the day.


When Jessi from Naptime Diaries contacted me about creating a canvas based on my verse for the year, I was absolutely tickled. Jessi had already created a print with my verse for the year (Romans 8:38-39- see her print here), so I asked if she could create a print of some song lyrics that I’ve had on my heart for about a year now.


In the quest for white space to allow space for my heart to breathe and allow room for the Lord to work in my life, I truly heard these lyrics from When I Survey the Wondrous Cross for the first time. You know. Like really heard them.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

that were an present far too small;

love so amazing, so divine,

demands my soul, my life, my all

In 2014, I want to be consumed by the Father’s love. I want to give Him my all and be in constant communication with Him about how He can use me, use my family, use my talents that He’s given me. It’s not about less, but it’s about doing more for the kingdom.

The gorgeous canvas from Naptime Diaries with these lyrics hangs right next to my side of the bed. It’s so peaceful and so serene and so beautiful.


The canvas can be purchased here, and you can also receive 15% off the Naptime Diaries Shop for one week with code Blue Eyed Bride. You must take advantage of this awesome offer. It’s such a great time to grab one of her gorgeous canvases.


When we started the home building process in early 2013, I began documenting the process on Instagram. I didn’t blog about it much because it was really just a handful of photos every now and then. (I promise that when the house comes together and I have everything how I want it, I will do a real tour.)

I decided to create a hash tag and I dated the pictures so I could sort the photos with the hash tag and look back to compare the progress photos.

Over the past 12 months, it has been so fun to watch our home go from a lot in the Forest Acres area to a home where we can grow our family.

We have settled in very nicely. We have unpacked every single box. We still have a little bit of organizing to do, and we haven’t put the finishing touches on everything yet. But it’s coming along. We are so comfortable and so happy to be home. Even the dogs are sleeping more soundly than ever!

Here’s a fun look back at #carrollhome2013!

We first looked at the lot in January of 2013. We designed our plans with the architect and it took a little over a month to finalize everything there. Then we waited on the city to get the building permit and line up everything to get the project started. At the beginning of April they started clearing the lot.

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April 21, 2013- starting the foundation/crawl space

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April 29, 2013- more crawl space

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May 3, 2013- sub flooring is going down

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May 4, 2013- the framing process began

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May 21, 2013- More framing and moving into the upstairs

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May 23, 2013- front view of more framing

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May 25, 2013- First time to see the dormer in the room over the garage

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May 29, 2013- we have exterior walls! You can’t see straight through the house anymore

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June 4, 2013- Looks like it’s coming along

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June 17, 2013- We have shingles on the roof!

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July 18, 2013- We have windows and the brick work is getting started

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July 31, 2013- More exterior progress. (In the midst of tons of rain. It rained and rained and rained this summer)

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August 26, 2013- We have sheet rock and they started to mud the walls! We visited the house every single night over the summer. We were incredibly excited!

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September 12, 2013- The trim work got started and we started to see molding, built-ins, window trim. All very exciting!

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September 12, 2013- We got to see the beginnings of the outside porch and fireplace

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September 18, 2013- Hello, exterior columns!

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October 11, 2013- The first peek at the dining room and the main paint color (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt at 50%)

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October 13, 2013- All the hardy plank is up and the cedar shakes. Just waiting to get painted

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 October 15, 2013- The doors were painted and hung. The door color is Sherwin Williams Unusual Gray


October 30, 2013- The first peek at the bathroom counter tops


October 30, 2013- And the laundry room counter tops


October 30, 2013- And the kitchen counter tops


October 30, 2013- And another view of the kitchen in progress


November 5, 2013- The lighting installation began


 November 9, 2013- More kitchen progress and lighting


November 11, 2013- Exterior is painted (Agreeable Gray) and concrete is poured. Garage door is installed

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December 2, 2013- The day before closing


December 2, 2013- Dining room chandelier


December 4, 2013- The day we set up cable and internet and the alarm system


 December 4, 2013- The master bathroom


December 4, 2013- The front porch ceiling (Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue)


where the boys live

We got news yesterday that our house plans are finished. The builder, developer, and space planner are all in the same family, so we were really excited about them drawing up our house plans to fit the lot we selected.

Hopefully we will see the plans at some point today, and then we’ll get together to either finalize them, tweak them or regroup.

In our discussions, and throughout all of our house-hunting, one thing became more and more clear. We were willing to sacrifice square footage to have a house with great space for the whole family.

And when we sat down to give our “wish list,” we had a few small things that we wanted, like a playroom, a certain number of bedrooms, and a walk-in pantry. But we actually had more items that we didn’t want.

I think my exact words were, “I don’t want any ‘untouchable rooms.’ My boys live in the house. They will live in every single room of the house.”

So what this meant to us is that we didn’t want a formal living room or a master sitting room. Or really any kind of space that wasn’t kid-friendly. (Except for the master bedroom, which is kid-free. Except early in the morning for watching cartoons and playing in the bathroom floor while we get ready.) It’s not that I wouldn’t put those more formal rooms in my dream house, but this house is our real world house. And we have children who love to be in the same room with their mommy and daddy.

We make messes and we have fun making messes. We pick up our toys before naps and before bed, but not all throughout the day. We can see ourselves painting on the porch and playing with shaving cream in the bathroom mirror. And not wasting time feeling stressed about a stain.

This house of ours, when it is finished, is going to be a place where we are always living. This house is for growing boys- and maybe, hopefully, another baby someday. I expect it to look like little boys live there. And that’s what we’ve hoped for.

Because when they’re grown up, I want them to remember me as the mom who could let the messes go, and wasn’t always on them to keep our house looking magazine-perfect. I want them to remember that I was willing to initiate a big mess just to make a memory. And I want them to remember that they felt at home and comfortable in the home where they grew up.

Here’s to a smooth process and a messy, fun, wild, loud life in our next home.


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