Christmas decorations around our home

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share some of the Christmas decorations we’ve put up around our home. If you’re anything like me, you love taking a peek at all the festive decorations around your neighborhood and in blogland. It always puts me in the holiday mood.

This year, I kept things pretty simple. In other words, I didn’t fret over every small detail, mostly because I’m so busy with the flip house. And I let the kids help – a lot! I have to admit, it felt pretty good to let myself off the hook and not try to get everything perfect. I should let myself off the hook more often. 😉

Living-room-Christmas-decorations

In the living room, we switched to an artificial tree with flocking.

Woodland-tree

Are you a faux-tree or real-tree family? We’ve tried both. I left it up to my husband this year, and he said to go ahead and put up the fake tree. Less mess, I guess. 😉

Christmas-mantel

I like to go with more of a natural, woodland feel in the living room. I fell in love with these faux-fur stockings last year and snatched them up at Target.

Wooden-reindeer

I fill my little woodland reindeer with white Poinsettias every year. The only challenge is remembering to water them. 😉

Nativity-set

This tiny nativity set is my most favorite decoration of all. I picked it up while on a mission trip to Guatemala. It is one of the few material objects in my home that I feel truly sentimental about. It is a constant reminder of the true reason for the season.

Christmas-village

We usually set up our Christmas village on the TV stand. It is so hard for our little guy to keep his hands off this. 🙂 This year, our daughter set it up. Didn’t she do a great job?

Christmas-at-America's-Landmark-Homes

I’m really enjoying this coffee table Christmas book, “Christmas at America’s Landmark Houses.” I got a complimentary copy to review. I would absolutely LOVE to get the chance to visit many of these homes in person at Christmastime. They are absolutely stunning! Also, check out the cute wool throw blanket I picked up at the thrift store the other day. Score!

The dining room is where I go full-on red and green.

Dining-room-Christmas-tree

I think the holidays are a great time to bring out sentimental family pieces, don’t you?

Christmas-dinner-tablescape

Our dining room table features china and glasses handed down from Matt’s Grandma Delger.

Bowl-of-nuts

I like to keep my dining room decorations very traditional. I even like to add whole nuts, which seem to be a hit with guests. I displayed them in a basket we got from Matt’s Aunt Cherie, who passed away earlier this year.

I’m also looking for a very special place to display a doilie from Matt’s Grandma Penning, who went to be with the Lord recently. It’s been a rough year for our family. These very special ladies knew the Lord, so we know we’ll be reunited again one day.

Above-cabinet-decorations

The space above my kitchen cabinets is a great place to display Christmas decorations.

Bathroom-decorations

And I always like to put a few Christmas touches in our downstairs bathroom, for guests to enjoy.

Have you finished decorating for the holidays yet? What is your favorite sentimental decoration?

Quick and easy shower gift: DIY plywood art

I recently hosted a baby shower for my middle sis, Megan. We are so excited to meet my new nephew any day now. Eek!

As part of the shower decor, I wanted to create a focal point for the cake table that could also double as a gift my sister could take home with her. This is what I came up with (these are baby’s initials):

Plywood-baby-shower-art

This project was super quick, easy and absolutely free, considering I already had on hand all the materials I needed! You could do this for a baby or a bridal shower, as the initials would work for a couple, too.

I started by cutting out a square from an old piece of plywood that was stored in our garden shed. Then I sanded all the sides really well.

Cutting-and-sanding-plywood

For years, the only power saw I would attempt to use was my beloved miter saw. I’ve since gotten pretty comfortable using this skill saw. I have no idea why I shied away from this tool before (aside from the ever-present thought of cutting off my fingers). It’s my new BFF. It cut this plywood like buttah.

Next I gave the plywood a coat of Rust-Oleum® Universal®* in Weathered Steel. After that dried, I applied bands of Chevron FrogTape®, spaced about one and a half inches apart. If you have only regular painter’s tape on hand, you can do stripes or create a chevron shape using a craft knife. (Tip: Cut the chevron shape in your painter’s tape first before applying it to the board or it will scratch the finish.)

Chevron-Painter's-TapeI brushed on the second layer of paint, which was a sample pot of turquoise chalk paint I got at a Haven conference a few years ago. Any spray, chalk or acrylic paint should work, though. I chose to paint the sides of the piece, too, to get rid of those noticeable, raw plywood edges.

Painting-chevron-stripes

I sealed the piece with a coat of Rust-Oleum Satin Clear Enamel. To add the letters, I cut them out on gold adhesive vinyl using my Silhouette electronic cutting machine. If you don’t have one of these nifty tools, you can use my tracing method and simply fill in your letters with gold paint or a permanent marker.

Plywood-baby-shower-art

DIY-baby-shower-sign

I apologize I didn’t get very good photos of the finished product. I was trying to host a shower at the same time and only had my phone on hand to take the pictures. #bloggerfail

What do you think of my no-spend shower decor and keepsake?

* Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience. 

Dirty secrets of DIY bloggers

Last week, I had the privilege of attending another Atlanta-based Haven Conference for DIY bloggers.

There’s so much I love about this conference: rubbing elbows with famous DIYers and thought leaders; connecting with my favorite brands; gathering information from other bloggers to help me grow my business; and making new friends in the process of it all.

Kelly-Edwards

Chatting it up with HGTV star Kelly Edwards

Jon-Acuff

Enjoying an inspiring keynote speech from Jon Acuff

LaZBoy

Taking a break with LaZBoy (Yes. They’re wearing upholstery-fabric suits.)

Darla-DeMorrow

Enjoying a balmy Altanta evening with fellow author (and Pa. gal) Darla DeMorrow

But there’s something way more special to me about Haven than all these amazing opportunities. And it wasn’t until this year’s conference that I actually realized what it was …

It’s the dirty-secret sharing.

Let me explain.

We DIY bloggers work very hard – as in blood, sweat and tears hard – to bring our readers the very best we have to offer.

We try to produce clear, concise and professional-looking tutorials like what you might expect to see on TV or in magazines. And we painstakingly stage our photographs the same way.

We do all this because we know you’re looking for attainable inspiration that you want to replicate in your own homes. Plus we know we’re in competition with a lot of other media for your attention. So we’ve got to bring our “A” game, all the time.

But the reality is that, even as hard as we try, the life of a DIYer is fraught with unpredictable insanity. And that’s why I love Haven so much … because I love other DIY bloggers so much! These folks embrace the crazy with me. 

They refresh me and reassure me that I’m not alone. They empathize with me when I’m in my backyard with gnats stuck to my sweaty face, crying as my vision of a spray-painted work of art turns into a dumpster-bound nightmare.

Not only do we DIY bloggers share similar stories of heartbreaking, tragic project fails, but we also find ourselves in synonymous, somewhat scary (yet later hilarious) situations while picking up Craigslist furniture or chasing down deals.

When these other bloggers share their crazy DIY moments with me, I feel connected to them. (Plus I enjoy the fact that they make me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants.)

So my big take away from Haven this year is that I want you to experience this connection, too. In short, I want you to read a post of mine and feel like you might pee your pants. 😉

Historically, in my rush to get a blog post out with its pretty pictures and meticulous how-to details, I’ve often left out the “good stuff.” I’ve been guilty of omitting the crazy moments that weren’t pretty – or may have even been interpreted as downright insane. Next time, I’m going to include those moments.

Why? Because I think it makes us feel good when we realize we’re not the only crazy people out there. 😉

This post is dedicated to my Haven roommate, Shanna, who’s got the juiciest Craiglist stories I’ve ever been told. 

Blogging-buddies

From left to right, Shanna, Christy, me, Ashlynn (Christy’s daughter), and Debbie