Monday, December 30, 2013

Winter Decor: Simple & Second Hand

I started putting together this Christmas decorating post well before Christmas. Then I got all distracted in the last minute holiday preparations, family celebrations, and the aftermath that follows. I completely forgot about my blog! If there are blogging rules, I sure don't know or care about them. But I'm guessing that posting about my Christmas d├ęcor five days after Christmas is probably a huge blogger faux pas!  Well I'm not wasting what I almost finished so here I go...

As much as I love to decorate, I never go over the top for Christmas. I'm not really a Santa, snowmen, glitter, sparkles or shiny kind of girl. Heck, I don't even put up a proper Christmas tree. I like casual, with a vintage flair. Of course almost everything I use in winter decorating is second-hand because that's the fun of it.

This year, I tucked my same old collection of vintage Christmas postcards here and there around my living room and kitchen.



I exchanged the fall Scrabble words on my mantle (that I'm finally painting this week!) for these:

And on my kitchen window sill:

On my mantle are two white ceramic deer that I found at Salvation Army thrift a few years back.

They came with the red bows around their necks.

I love how peaceful they look and they remind me of the deer we frequently see in our back yard.

Everything else on the mantle are either fake winter greenery I've had forever or books.

Gotta love Peppa Pig!

I got this vintage, quilted, velvet Merry Christmas banner for a dime at a yard sale last summer. I paper clipped it over the vintage tea towels that serve as a temporary valance in the kitchen.

I dangled these yard-saled wooden skates on the bathroom mirror.

In my dining room, I taped up some of my kids Christmas coloring pages in my curbside window, draped it in C7 clear lights, and placed our nativity scene in front.

I hung my recently upcycled chalkboard frame in my front entry.

And speaking of chalkboards, I changed up the message on my kitchen chalkboard wall for Christmas too.

Thank you Pinterest for the fonts.

I figured colored chalk goes with colored lights. And what are the chances that those colored pre-lits randomly stopped working on Christmas Eve before my family came over? Maybe its a sign. Maybe I will actually have to break down and get a proper tree next year. Now to go take down this one...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Proper Christmas Tree

It's only been a few years now - only since the kids were old enough to notice - that I even put up our first Christmas tree. And never more than a small table-top type. This year, like last, I took my in-laws' little, fake, pre-lit, colored-lights tree out of the basement  (= free). I popped it up on an end table - because I never stuffed it back in the box last year - and I threw on my tree skirt ( = easy).  It took me 3 minutes ( = quick). No fighting with the hubby ( = peaceful). No needles to vacuum up ( = clean). I lit an evergreen candle ( = smells great). I got over the colored lights in a matter of minutes. I'm still getting over the colored lights.

It's just big enough to fit our daily Advent Jesse Tree ornaments, our growing collection of other home-made ornaments (including my new favorite button snowflakes), and a few select others. What more could we need??


You say Charlie Brown's Christmas tree never looked so good? :)

So, the other day we're sitting at the kitchen table for breakfast and my oldest daughter blurts out - "Mom. When are we going to get a proper Christmas tree?"

"What do you mean?" (As if I didn't know.)

"You know, a bigger one. So we can put all our presents under it. And fit all our ornaments on it. Like everyone else has!"

It was a perfect lead in to talk about why:

1. We don't need a Christmas tree in the first place. Especially if the presents under it and ornaments on it are a distraction from the reason we celebrate.

2. The Christmas tree is a great symbol of so many aspects of the Gospel (the good news about Jesus).

I recommend this great, short article on the Christmas Tree and the Gospel. Its easy to share with young kids too.

P.S. For the record, I could decorate a mean Christmas tree. If I wanted to.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vintage Button Snowflake Ornaments

Last weekend one of my dear friends had a few of my friends and our girls over for breakfast, ornament crafting, and making molded chocolates. I left my ornament craft preparation till the last minute so I searched online for an idea using what I already had or could pull together easily. I came across the idea for button snowflake ornaments here.

It looks like they used coffee stirrers but I had a mother load of popsicle sticks on hand. They used new white and iridescent buttons but I had a huge bag full of old white buttons. I've picked up jars, bags, and cards of vintage buttons here and there over the years at yard sales, antique shops, and thrift shops. I'm now left with a big bag of "boring" black, white, and tan buttons that don't fit into my craft button organizer and aren't big enough or unique enough to make my button bracelets out of.

I knew my kids could easily pull off this craft. I treasure my buttons and love any excuse to craft with them. The bonus is I would actually want to hang these on my tree. 

We adults glue-gunned the sticks together (for the purpose of quick drying time) and handed them over for the kids to Elmer or glitter glue on the buttons. Turns out my kids much preferred the straight up glitter glue my friend brought. Buttons, shmuttons.

My middle girl did make one out of all buttons:

I'm also proud my of my 2-year old's first home-made ornament:

Guess I didn't need to hoard out all the best buttons first thing after all. (Did I do that?) It turns out the kids weren't exactly pining over any buttons at all.

So here are some of of my button snowflake ornaments:

Do you share my button love yet? 

Buttons are beautiful.

Unlike our fake, table-top tree with built-in colored lights.

More on that to come.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Weary Frame Recycled

Several weeks ago I went to go drop off a bunch of stuff outside our local Salvation Army Thrift. I was all prepared to just drop off and not go in (which doesn't happen very often). And there, sitting out amongst other people's cast-offs, I spotted a gem. She had potential.

Normally, stuff sitting outside is OFF LIMITS to shoppers. Some of the stuff is eventually taken in to the local store for pricing and is put out for shoppers. But at the end of the day, a big truck from the Worcester store comes, loads up what is left outside and takes it all to the Worcester store for pricing. It could end up for sale in the Worcester store or sent to other stores low on inventory.

I didn't want this treasure to "get away" so I decided to try a bold move I'd tried (and succeeded at) once before. I picked it up, carried it inside, and asked someone in the back room to price it for me.  I'm sure its against policy. I don't recommend you try it. But I got a $4.99 sticker slapped on it. Maybe its because they know me. So I paid and went home with this gaudy, gold, framed mirror:

Don't mind the peak at my mantle. (One must be careful about where a mirror is staged for a photo.) ;)

My plan for this was to spray paint the frame white because I already had it on hand, maybe do a little dry-brush with a slightly darker neutral, and then paint the mirror with chalkboard paint. One thing I really liked about this piece is how turn-key it was. The backing, which included a sturdy hanger, easily unscrewed off.

(Please tell me I'm not the only one with Lindt truffle wrappers littered around the house this time of year.)
For the mirror, I sprayed on one coat of black enamel paint for good measure, just to make sure the chalkboard paint would stick to the glass. Then two coats of chalkboard paint brushed over that. For the frame, I sprayed white satin and then dry brushed with some random leftover beige I had. I didn't buy any new paint for this project.
I drew from a variety of online inspirations for a Christmas chalkboard message and design that would fit the size and shape of the frame. There's nothing originally creative about this project but it was cheap, quick, and easy. 
Now - keep it mind I haven't painted any of my home's off-white walls yet (and I am still only using existing nail holes), so the finished product sort of blends in to the wall, but here you have it:
I love this line from "O Holy Night." The world is so weary. Admit it, you're at least some degree of weary.  And ironically, we especially feel it during this time leading up to Christmas. But there is a source of joy available for weary people. Maybe you don't know. Maybe you just forgot. It's a personal relationship with Jesus, the Son of God - something he offers to all. That ability to rejoice is only found in faith and trust in Him and his Word. By experiencing his mercy and grace on a daily basis. In the hope of his promises kept and a future with Him. Jesus came to us to bring us peace. Emmanuel = God with us. That's why a weary world can rejoice. That's why I rejoice.
Feeling weary? Do you know of Jesus or do you know him? When we as sheep follow the Good Shepherd, he lays us down in green pastures. He leads us beside still waters. He restores our souls. We were weary, now we rejoice!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Girls Bedroom Partial Makeover

Who knows when I'll get around to repainting my girls' bedroom walls. Its only going to be a different neutral so I can live with what's there while I work on higher priorities. Plus, I still have lots of wallpaper glue to remove.

But in the meantime, I've been itching to roll out some makeover action in there. I've spent much of the last year collecting lots of vintage randomness at yard sales and thrift shops for their room. And I've since revamped lots of it to create a little gallery wall for each of my girls that will coordinate with their black carpet and these two fabrics that I fell in love with (and have yards of rolled up in their closet).

Their old iron headboards have been painted to match and in place for a little while but that's the only change I've made in the room since we moved. Well, besides starting to take down the wallpaper border and rearranging furniture.  I had scooped up bright pink bedspreads at Target for pretty cheap but still had them in storage. And I still have to sew up window treatments, pillow shams and bed skirts. ::SIGH::

A month of Sundays ago, hubby took the two older girls to church and I stayed home with my contagious toddler.  I suddenly decided it was the right moment to start putting something on the walls and beds in my older girls' room. Even just those changes would make a big enough impact to surprise the girls when they got home and give me hope that this vision will eventually become a reality.

There was no method to my madness. I just took my treasure stash out of their closet and started divvying things up into two groups. I rearranged potential layouts on their beds until each girl had a general layout that I liked for the walls above their beds. No measuring tapes were harmed in the making of these gallery walls. I just eyeballed everything as I nailed them up. Only after I posted a sneak peek photo on Facebook did I realize a couple things needed to be shuffled around a little bit. So of course my OCD took care of that right away.

After hanging my last frame, I just opened up the packages of bedding, threw them on, and placed their pillows on top.

Here are a few pics of the progress I made last month.

My oldest daughter's corner:
(Disclaimer: The cream colored stripe on the wall is wallpaper border backing I have yet to scrape off.)

Literally nothing but her bedding was bought new. Because that's how I roll. Here are links for my sources and projects for her corner:

My middle daughter's corner:

Here are links for my sources and projects on her wall that were not repeats already listed above:
The best part of this spur-of-the-moment partial makeover was finishing just as my girls were walking in the door. Their response was priceless.

Now, after taking a few weeks to evaluate my rush job, I'm starting to wonder if I should have grouped things more tightly together on the walls.  I also noticed that they each have a blank spot right above their bed. But I'm patient (so patient it took me a year to get this far) so I figured I'd come across some random thrift shop treasures this winter that would be a quirky fit.  But then an unexpected and perfect solution sort of dropped in my lap.  That's another post for another day.

And I cannot close out this post without a question...cuz I'm wondering... Is there a name for my style in my girls' bedroom? What do you call that? If you're thinking frumpy, cheesy, ugly and/or hodge-podge, go ahead and tell me.  I won't be offended. :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Fall Mantle

I'll complain about the T.V. above the mantle that limits my mantle-decorating inspirations. But I'm thankful to have a mantle.

And I'll complain about having to feed the pellet stove in our fireplace throughout the day. But I'm thankful for the efficient heat and ambiance it provides.

My mantle is in a LONG, LONG list of "to paint" projects. So for now, bear with the honey oak stain with me, okay? This is about what's on the mantle.

Stacks of vintage books at each end. All yard sale finds collected over years. Only ones that are pretty and have interesting titles. And never more than $1 each.

The little turquoise pots on top I found at a yard sale several years ago as part of this $5 stash below. Yes, $5 for all of them together! They're right up there near the top of my favorite scores of all times.

The little nest with the bird in it is all fake - a cheapo from a gift shop that no longer exists. But this little nest is real. The girls and I found it on a walk one day. I filled it with fake robin eggs. It's screams spring, not fall. Whatever.

The scrabble letters and trays are from one of the many games I've scooped up at yard sales for no more than $1 each.  This is what they read in October (because, I started this post a month ago).

Now this in November.

And did I say this post is only about what's on the mantle? I changed my mind. Here's the whole fireplace - honey oak stain, 90s brick and all. Its screaming for a makeover. In my humble opinion.

Since before we even moved in, I've been debating painting the mantle and brick all white, like these:

(Sorry no link/credit - the Pin was linked to the wrong site so I don't know the true source.)

Would you paint the brick or not? At this point, with a fire roaring in the pellet stove all winter long, I'm going to have to wait until spring to paint it. Not like I don't have a million other things to paint in the meantime.

But anyways - there you go, my fall mantle, just in time to take it all down for Christmas decorating.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Be Fun

Leaf collecting is an annual tradition around here. Not as a planned event, its just what my girls do. I wonder why? At any given moment there are boxes and baskets of nature collections in our yard or garage. Usually its their rocks, sticks and flower dead heads. Those usually get dumped into the woods when they least expect it. Other times its my birch logs and winterberries.

(If those get dumped into the woods when I least expect it, there will be blood.)

A couple years ago I did save and press some of their leaves. We did the good old iron-leaves-and-crayon-shavings-between-wax-paper craft and hung them in the windows like stained glass.  But this year I was inspired to do something like the examples in this book my sister gave us last year:

So several weeks ago when there were still actually leaves on the trees, and colorful ones at that, we traipsed around our property to collect different shapes, sizes and colors. But it happened very briefly and with much fear and trembling. After a few bee and wasp incidents this fall, my kids are literally afraid to play outside. It's been a battle all fall just to have them get fresh air.

They were much happier pressing their loot in huge reference books. A few days later, we set to designing and gluing.  Here are our masterpieces:

Their mice:

My turkey:

Oh my word this is so fun. I declare this craft an annual tradition. You should too. It's not too late for this year - we still have a big bag full of colorful of pressed leaves. Any takers?

And speaking of fun...

Something convicted me a couple weeks ago to have more fun each day with my kids. Not just doing fun activities but to be a fun person to spend time with. To be goofy and silly and laid back and laugh a lot.

I'm home with them all day every day and sometimes I get into a rut where all I do is bark out orders from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. Mom is manager. Mom is drill sergeant. (Please tell me you identify!)

But mom should be fun too. So I literally put "Be Fun" at the top of my day planner that following Monday. My oldest daughter must have liked it because she took it upon herself to write "Be Fun" on Tuesday too.

She also added "Games." So then I just declared Wednesday as Fun Day altogether. The plan was no seatwork and no curriculum. Just playing educational games, reading and getting our craft on. (When you homeschool, you can do that.) Okay, I confess, we may have thrown in a game of Sorry too. And the weather may have dictated that I paint my front door Tropical Orange that day too.

Anyone else need a reminder to Be Fun?
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