Posts tagged #decor

DIY Fresh Greenery Arrangement

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I love decorating with fresh greens for Christmas. Adorning the house with fragrant sprigs of rosemary, eucalyptus, and evergreen branches *almost* even makes up for the fact that I will never buy another live Christmas tree!
Here is a simple formula for how to create an arrangement of greens, and my one sneaky trick to make it last all season.

 

1. GATHER A SELECTION OF FRESH STEMS OF GREENERY AND BERRIES

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Most grocery stores sell bunches of seasonal branches at this time of year. You can also ask your local florist for some greens, or forage in the yard. Pine branches, eucalyptus (look for regular, silver dollar and seeded varieties- all are lovely!) and herbs like rosemary and even oregano will round out a bouquet of pine branches. Grab a sprig of red berries for a colorful accent if you wish.

2. GATHER YOUR CONTAINER & SUPPLIES

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For my arrangement, I used an old candle jar. Let’s be honest...I loved how it smelled but I would have bought it for the jar no matter what the scent was! Sometimes these jars are so pretty it’s just a shame to toss them when the candle is gone. Those are the times I love to convert them into vases. You can put the jar in the freezer for a while to make scraping the candle remnants out a little easier.

I also find it handy—though not absolutely necessary—to place a flower frog in the bottom of the vase. This is a heavy piece that you can buy at craft supply stores. Any stems that have a hard time staying upright or staying where you want them can be poked onto the prongs of the frog and they will stay in place.

Go ahead and fill the vase no more than half full with water and place your frog at the bottom.

3. START WITH THE HEAVIEST GREENS

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Place the hardy greens, such as pine tree branches in the arrangement first to create a well rounded base. Try to make your arrangement balanced, but not overly symmetrical. As you go along, mentally leave space for a floral bloom toward the front of the vase.

4. LAYER IN THE MORE DELICATE GREENS

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Once your shape is established by the heavier foliage, add in rosemary, then eucalyptus and so on, dotting the most delicate greens throughout your arrangement.

5. AND NOW, THE SNEAKY TRICK

These greens, especially in water, will truly last all month. Unlike with fresh flowers at other times of the year, it’s wonderful to be able to create this mess only once and be done! However, nothing adds a wow factor like a beautiful bloom. So, my trick is to add ONE (very high quality) faux flower to the vase. I know, I know, faux flowers are a faux pas! But I really believe that if you buy a super convincing one, and surround it with everything else that is fresh, no one will know. So go ahead and bite the bullet and place your single beautiful rose or gardenia or whatever large bloom you choose right there front and center. (And of course, if you can’t bring yourself to do it, then you can just use a fresh rose and swap that one element weekly when you freshen the water).

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6. LASTLY, ADD BERRIES FOR COLOR

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This is optional, but I like to tuck a sprig of berries behind the flower for a pop of color. And you’re done!

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This is especially pretty in a powder room to add a luxurious feel for your guests. Freshen the water every week or two, and this will be something you can enjoy all season!

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Merry Christmas!

Posted on December 7, 2017 and filed under Building Your Home.

Fool-Proof Formula for a Fabulous Christmas Tree

This week many Americans will begin their Christmas decorating, and usually the star of the show is a gorgeous, glittering Christmas tree. I greatly look forward to this ritual every year, but a recent conversation with my aunt revealed a different sentiment: dread. 

Really? How could someone dread decorating a tree? The lights! The bling! The pretty! Well, she shared that she’s never happy with the way her tree turns out. It always feels like it’s falling short of the “wow factor” that the tree is supposed to have.

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

Now, I’m not sure that changing this outcome is high on her priority list. And it may not be high on yours either, which is completely fine. But for those who share my aunt’s frustration, and who would love nothing more than to wow ‘em this year, I’m going to share the fool-proof formula for a jaw-dropping Christmas tree.

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

There are three ingredients in this formula: A good foundation, an (over)abundance of lights & ornaments, and repetition. I’ll explain these three elements, and then give you some tips for how to put them together like a pro.

FOUNDATION

Starting with the proper foundation is key to almost anything in life. This rule holds true for your faith, your family, your home, your spaghetti sauce, your towel folds, and yes, your Christmas tree.

First and foremost, you need the proper scale. The tree should be tall enough to make a statement in your room. 7½ feet of total height is ideal for an 8’ ceiling. (Keep any tree topper you plan to use in mind.) Add 6-12” of tree height for each additional foot of ceiling height.

Secondly, pay attention to the fullness of the tree. While your tree doesn’t have to be a large diameter (“pencil” or “slim” trees are lovely space-savers), make sure the branches are full. Artificial trees shouldn’t show off too much metal trunk, and real trees should be uniform without large gaps among the branches.

Last but not least, when shopping for an artificial tree, look for branches and needles that are as realistic as possible.

ABUNDANCE

When it comes to Christmas trees, more is more.

You will want to start with the right amount of light. If you don’t have a pre-lit tree, aim to put between 750 and 1000 bulbs on it. Make sure the lights wrap each branch and go almost all the way to the tips, and then work their way back toward the inside of the tree. The goal is to weave the light throughout the tree, rather than just wrap the outside with concentric strands.

[A word of caution: From experience, I can tell you that there IS a limit on lights. 1500 is way too many. At that wattage you’ll move out of the soft-glow-of-the-Christmas-tree-at-night-by-a-cozy-fire zone, and straight into the how-did-a-24-hour-convenience-store-land-in-my-living-room zone. Bet you’re glad I took that one for the team.]

When it comes to ornaments, I really doubt there’s a limit! Start with at least 100 of your “base” (which we’ll discuss below) and then add layers of different shapes and sizes. Remember, the more the better.

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

REPETITION

Humans are attracted to repetitive elements in design. For a knock-out tree, repeat these three elements: Colors, themes, and shapes.

  • Color: Pick one overall, or two or three complimentary colors, then stick with them throughout the tree. It’s ok to have a random color here and there, but only in tiny amounts and not if it clashes with the color(s) you’ve chosen to repeat.  
  • Theme. You don’t have to be over the top with a theme or be too gimmicky. But several ornaments with the same one or two themes is lovely. For my tree, I collect angels (a yearly gift from my mom), and snowflakes (a yearly gift to myself!)
  • Style. You should have one style of ornament that acts as the “base” for your tree. The best base is a standard ball ornament. They are relatively inexpensive, come in all colors and sizes, and add a ton of impact to the tree when used en masse.
How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

DECORATING TIPS

So now that you have your ingredients, (a good tree, an excessive pile of lights and ornaments, and lots of repetitive elements), you are ready to put it all together. You will do this in layers.

  • We’ve already discussed how you will hang the lights, weaving them throughout your tree. The lights are your first layer.
  • Next, you’re ready to begin adding ornaments, paying attention to balance as you work. Start with the largest size of your base ornaments, and space them evenly throughout the tree.
How to Decorate a Christmas Tree
  • Continue adding ornaments in layers. Your second layer will be the same base ornament style, only in a smaller size. After that you will proceed to add layers of large and then small theme ornaments. These are all the layers you will place as you go:

  • First: Lights
  • Second: Large Base Ornaments

  • Third: Small Base Ornaments

  • Fourth: Large Theme Ornaments

  • Fifth: Small Theme Ornaments

  • Last: Accent/One-of-a-kind Ornaments

This diagram shows the layering process:

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

Once you have your large & small base, and large & small theme ornaments, your tree will feel full and cohesive. Now is the time to slip in those smaller, one-of-a-kind, sentimental, or handmade ornaments spaced throughout. Because your layers (with repetitive colors, themes, and shapes) are so abundant and predominant, the mismatched nature of your one-of-a-kind ornaments will look charming, rather than haphazard. My tree has Yoda, Spider-Man, the Disney Princesses, and a plethora of handmade preschool ornaments, but the overall effect is still grown up and glamorous.

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree
How to Decorate a Christmas Tree: The easy, fool-proof formula for a fabulous tree

And you’re set! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week and happy decorating!

 

Posted on November 23, 2016 and filed under Building Your Home.

Custom-Looking Artwork for a Penny in a Pinch

This project began because we are putting our home on the market in about a month. I’ve been working hard at de-cluttering and de-personalizing. There is one open wall in my dining room that has been fantastic for party decorations and homeschool posters, but clearly neither of those will be appropriate for trying to sell the home.

I needed a simple, inexpensive project to fill the space. To be honest, my favorite artwork is almost always photography. God is an amazing artist, and pictures of those I love make me happiest. Seriously, look at these faces! (And since it took 3 photo sessions to capture all three of them smiling, I’d better get these photos framed!) However, family photos are supposed to be the first to go when you list your home, so I needed to find another source of art.

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 I am really pleased with the results of this project, and I would be happy to have this artwork in my home, not just while it’s for sale. That’s why I wanted to share it—that and the fact that I’ve always been discouraged by framing an item that wasn’t a standard size.

My mom loves calendars, so I asked her if I could have my favorite old calendar of hers. Thankfully, she gladly obliged. I was happily on my way to the inexpensive standard of the project. Free artwork is always a plus! Next I went shopping for some basic frames. I wanted to make sure they would work with family photos in our future home. The tricky part is that the artwork on the calendar was an abnormal size, and I was not paying for custom framing.

 Trip #1--I forgot the calendar when I went to a certain gigantic trap-of-a-store 30 minutes from my house. It has the best deals, but it is a hassle to get into and leave. Having packed up and lugged along all three of my boys, there was no way I was leaving empty-handed. I tried my best to remember the size and bought six frames. (I completely forgot about them not letting you take shopping carts out of the store until I had the six heavy frames and my little boys to get to my car--which of course was parked 50 rows back. No exaggeration.) When I arrived home I realized they were the wrong size.

Trip #2--I returned the frames, and went back up to the frame section. This time I had the calendar with me! Turns out that none of this retailer’s picture frames would fit my photos correctly. I went from frame to frame, dejected. I honestly had 80 items on my house to-do list, so I was not throwing in the towel. Picking what I believed to be the closest fit, I headed out of the store, wondering how I was going to reconcile the fact that the prints would be cut-off by the matting.

 When I got home, I began cutting the prints down as much as possible. To my dismay, they simply were not going to fit inside the matting. I then came up with the idea of gluing the calendar prints onto large sheets of scrapbook paper, and then taping them to the front of the matting. I knew it wouldn’t look as custom or crisp as I’d prefer, but I was okay with forgoing perfection to preserve some cash. I went to a craft store and bought six sheets of 12 X 12 paper in the same coordinating color.

 I trimmed the pictures to be as similar as possible (this artist didn’t make the pictures on each sheet identical in size, so that was a bit trying). I used a paper cutter I had on hand from my old scrap-booking days.

Once that was completed, I cut the scrapbook paper. I measured each sheet so there was exactly ¼ inch border, basically I added ½ inch to the length and to the width. I wanted the paper to be very thin, so it tied the photos together, and didn’t cover up too much of the existing white matte. (Also, since scrapbook paper isn’t as heavy and expensive-looking as custom matting, I didn’t want to highlight it too much.) I glued the prints onto the scrapbook paper.

Next, I disassembled the frames and began taping the print onto the matting. I began by putting the print in the corner.

Then I measured the difference between the print and the matting in length and height.

I then centered the art by dividing those numbers in half. (For example, if there are 4 inches between the top of the mat and the top of the print, 4 / 2 = 2 inches. So there will be two inches on top and two inches on bottom when the print is centered.

Once I was certain it was straight (this took some trial and error), I taped the back of the print onto the matboard with tape loops in each corner. I also taped the prints on the back side to the matting to ensure they didn't slide if the tape loops gave way.

Finally, I sealed up the frames, and we hung them on the wall. It doesn’t look as perfect as custom framing, but I really prefer the price tag!

Materials Used:

Paper cutter

Scissors (in case your paper cutter doesn’t cut the art as cleanly as you’d like)

Glue stick

Pencil

Ruler

Calendar or other form of artwork

Frames the closest size you can get to the actual artwork size

Scrapbook paper

Scotch Tape

Time Required:

About one hour (excluding shopping time!)

My Cost:

Scrapbook paper ($0.59 x 6 = $3.54)

Frames ($9.99 x 6 = $59.94)

Artwork (Free! Thanks, Mom!)

Total= $63.48

Not bad for an impactful wall of art! It’s more than I like to spend, but I plan on using these frames for various photography for years to come, so it is a good investment. If you already have frames, or you need a smaller arrangement, the price would be much lower.

 I hope I’ve helped you to be able to frame some awkward sizes of art!

 

Posted on March 9, 2016 and filed under Building Your Home.

Big City Bakery Birthday Bash

little elliot, big city theme birthday party

Want a guaranteed, simple, adorable way to decorate for a party? Start with a cute item and find a way to combine or group it. And what’s cuter than a cupcake liner?! I had seen a picture or two of cupcake liner garlands, but until I set about creating them, I had no idea how simple they could be. Seriously, they are mindlessly basic!

You can make these while watching a little TV or supervising the kiddos. 

I just threw a First Birthday Bash loosely based on the sweet new children’s book, Little Elliott, Big Cityby Mike Curato, for my youngest son. This picture book features a tiny, unnoticed elephant in New York City in the 1940s...and he’s in search of cupcakes! Such a cute story, I had to capitalize on it!  I made TONS of these cupcake liner garlands to zigzag between the archways, and drape from the banisters in the foyer of our home. A dramatic, festive entrance was created for the guests. Regardless of how you hang the garlands, I really couldn’t encourage you more to give this a try!

DIY cupcake liner garlands

A month before the party, every time I would run an errand, I would search the store for cute cupcake liners. After about five stores I had a great, colorful variety to work with. I also purchased a pack of coffee filters from the dollar store. Lots of online stores sell cupcake liners, but I really don’t like paying shipping if I don’t have to, and I couldn’t find one retailer with enough choices, so I did my searching in person. 

Materials Needed:

Cupcake Liners
Coffee Filters
A needle
String 
Elmer’s Glue
Scissors

how to make a cupcake liner garland

There are so many variations of garlands to make! I started out making thick strands. For this method, you can count on using 11 liners per foot of string. Begin by deciding how long you want your garland to be. Cut the string to that length, adding a foot or two so you have extra string to hang the liners. Thread the needle. You can arrange the liners in a completely random order, or you can use a pattern. I alternated solid liners with patterned, and I did try to vary the color. Stab the needle through the center of the bottom of a liner. Select the next liner. You will thread this one through in the opposite direction (still threading the center of the bottom). Using this back-to-back method, the liners will stay separate, and they will slide up and down the string easily. On some of the garlands I inserted coffee filters, resulting in fuller-looking decor. Every so often slide the liners to the end (leave the last 6-12 inches empty for the hanging space). Continue until your garland is full. 

cheap party decorations DIY

Another option is to create a flat, banner-style garland. This method involves flattening and folding your liners in half. Consider alternating between coffee filters and cupcake liners. You can even glue cupcake liners on top of the filters. 

coffee filter garlands DIY

Another option is to create a flat, banner-style garland. This method involves flattening and folding your liners in half. Consider alternating between coffee filters and cupcake liners. You can even glue cupcake liners on top of the filters. 

cupcake liner garland

Here are a few other fun elements from the party:

*Cherry blossoms and a simple, effective sign adorned the food table.

DIY party decorations

*Most of my work went into this table. My husband said I should include a tutorial for the  painted cardboard buildings, but they were created through trial and error...not a scientific process, so I’ll spare you the details! I also made four types of cupcakes to make it feel like a real bakery. The smash cake was decorated with simple fondant buildings.

DIY party decor

*I also placed a chalkboard easel with the bakery menu beside the front door. In addition I used acrylic paint to create a bakery sign on the glass of our front door. I wanted the guests to be aware of the theme before they even entered. 

*And the top question for every first birthday party: How did the guest of honor like their cake?? Well, he started out timid, but as the guests started focusing on their own desserts, Everett had the ultimate cake smash!

giant cupcake smash cake

Check out another "book-inspired" birthday bash here.

 

Posted on April 22, 2015 and filed under Building Your Home.

Simple & Beautiful Easter Eggs

Remember the way we used to color eggs when we were kids? Wire dippers, a tab of dye in a cup of water, and maybe some crayons or stickers if you had a really “crafty” mom. These days Easter eggs have gone a little wild. 

 

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of beauty to behold in the tradition, and the endless creative things people come up with truly amaze me.

I just don’t want you to feel like you are a failure if your Easter table doesn’t have marbleized decoupage flower eggs that you drilled with a power tool and emptied out with your own mouth before placing on the table. 

If you’re pressed for time, or if DIY just isn’t in your vocabulary, rest assured you can still have a beautiful pile of Easter eggs on your table.

Beautiful Simple Easter Eggs

For my table last year, I went back to basics. To create this tablescape, I used a classic Paas egg coloring kit ($1.50 at Target), and tossed everything but the dipper and the dye tabs. I dipped my eggs just once, a few eggs in each color, and let them cool on paper towels. To display, I grouped like colors together in small whiteware dishes. The end!  

Simple Easter Eggs
Easy Easter Tablescape

However you decide to enjoy this tradition, may you have a joyful and relaxing Easter! He is risen!

 
Posted on April 1, 2015 and filed under Building Your Home.

DIY Decorative Storage Bins

Once you move past the toddler stage, kids toys become smaller. And yet they seem more unmanageable than ever. Now instead of randomly blinking and singing at you from across the room and taking up acres of floor space, they attack in more stealthy ways. 

My personal favorite is when you accidentally step on one in the middle of the night and fully expect the resulting injury to lead to foot amputation.

This DIY won’t necessarily solve your problem, but it is pretty darn cute, and will at least make you feel like you’re doing something to save your sanity (and your limbs).

 

Supplies

“FLYT” magazine file storage bins from IKEA. (Under $2 for a pack of 5)

12 x 12 scrapbook paper, one piece of paper per storage bin.

Mod Podge (Matte finish)

Pencil & Scissors

Chalkboard labels (available at craft stores like Hobby Lobby)

Chalk or chalk pen

Decorative Toy Storage

Instructions:

1.     Assemble the bin according to the package directions.

2.     Lay the bin on the white side of your scrapbook paper, spine side down.

3.     Trace the outline of the bin, including the hole, with a pencil & cut it out.

4.     Cover the spine of the bin with Mod Podge and smooth the scrapbook paper onto it, then cover with another layer of Mod Podge.

5.     Once dry, add a chalkboard label and use chalk to label the contents.

6.     Corral your toys!

DIY toy bins

We sometimes use gallon Ziploc bags to grab the toys and then easily plop them in to the bins. This makes for a quick portable way to take them out and play too, rather than just being dumped. Theoretically, your child could put one bag back before taking out the next to play. (Let me know how that’s going at your house)!

This craft is very inexpensive and has a lot of different applications beyond toys. A teen could use these to organize paperwork or art, and I have several of them in my office. It’s amazing all the different ways you’ll find to use them. Enjoy!

Posted on February 11, 2015 and filed under Building Your Home.

Psalm 127 Free Printable

At the very beginning of my first Entrusted with a Child’s Heart class, I was given some Scripture Memory cards and a CD of the verses set to music. Most of them have stuck with me over the years, but none more so than Psalm 127:1

It was a foundational verse for the class and for me, as I thought about the kind of home I hoped to make for my family.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. 
Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” 


I’m not a great housekeeper. My home leans more toward hurricane zone than haven most days. I’m not a morning person. Our school-morning routine looks more like the airport scene in Home Alone than a perfectly styled coffee commercial. I’m not awesome at organization. My day planner usually finds itself buried by February and replaced by scribbled to-do lists on napkins. I don’t love to cook. Last week I ruined spaghetti. How is that even possible?!
 

Psalm 127:1 Free Art Print

In this world of Pinterest and blogs and Instagram, it’s easy to feel like I’m failing at life. Of course I want my home to be a peaceful, well-appointed haven, where I can welcome visitors at a moment’s notice with some fresh baked muffins and a shirt that doesn’t have my child’s bodily fluid on it somewhere. Of course I want to have an organized pantry and keep an immaculate desk and always know where my keys are. Of course I’d love to have a roasted chicken with orange sauce perfectly plated upon my husband’s arrival home each night. (Is roasted chicken with orange sauce a thing?)

I have to remind myself that, as my good friend Adrienne used to say, “I’m not taking clean toilets to the kingdom.” No, it’s not wrong at all to pursue a well-run, well-organized haven of a home, (we should!) but if we’re doing those things apart from the Lord, the effort is in vain. If that is the end-all and be-all of our homemaking, we missed the point.

How are we letting the LORD build our house? 

I thought it would be fun to make you a free printable as a reminder of this wonderful verse. Just right click on the image below, save it to your computer or device, and print it as an 8 x 10. You can do this at home on your photo printer, take it somewhere like FedEx Office, or order it through an online service like Shutterfly. It’s yours for personal use or to gift someone as a reminder to let the Lord build your house.

Enjoy! 
 

Free calligraphy print
Posted on February 4, 2015 and filed under Building Your Faith.