for next year.

also, can i just live in a west elm christmas? look at these unbelievable pictures. i want to buy/make/and yeah... just basically live in. seriously.
felty white snowflakes & natural tree/bark/woodsy stuff... massive inspiration for next year! note taken.


a diy target christmas.

i swear there must be somebody at target headquarters that reads all the handmade blogs. ok, probably lots of somebodies. in the design department. every year, loads of their ornaments have quite a handmade feel to them... which means, rather than blowing my [non-existent] budget in the 50% off rack on the day after christmas sales, cheap diy-ers like myself will instead file the ideas away in our mental i could make that files.

[i guess i should get a clue when one of the collections of ornaments was unabashedly called "contemporary craft" right?]

i mean, look how easy! sorry for the terrible photos, i was using my cellphone & hoping the store staff didn't call security on me. & because i like things extra lazy easy, click the words themselves for links to supplies & tutorials to make something similar!

salt dough + cookie cutter + white paint + glitter
[similar tutorial]:

paper mache star + wool roving
[similar tutorial]:

styrofoam ball + yarn:

toilet paper roll + silver paint + glitter spray
[this one was metal, but i think you could make something very similar with a little time & this tutorial for the basic idea! maybe a similar metal one could me made with a coke can & tin snips?]

felt circles + yarn/twine/a pipe cleaner
[similar tutorial]:

& lastly, the one i actually almost made this year as stocking mongrams or gift tie-ons, because they reminded me so much of the ornaments from anthropologie i liked so much 2 years ago!
these i think would be super simple... cut a letter out of cardboard [like a cereal box], hot glue a sweater scrap across the front & around the edges, & back it in felt:
maybe i need to make these now in order to actually have them finished by next year? i think so.


handmade christmas gifts!

i guess since it's the day after christmas it's safe to share the gifts i made this year without ruining any surprises! i swear every year i'm going to start christmas crafting in october... now with 2 kids, if i want to make handmade gifts as well, it might be more like august!

i like to mix handmade things with store bought accessories to put together a unique gift. for my dad's wife who loves tea & is very cold natured, i saw this tea infuser at the grocery store & knew it would be perfect! i added some organic mint tea & then made these sweet little rice handwarmers to go with them. they are basically a beanbag with rice inside [super easy to make! 2 squares of cotton with a scoop of rice inside.] i used a mix of cotton and a sweater scrap left over from a pillow i made to make them look a little more special.
i made little 'handmade by' tags for everything, & for the handwarmers i added a little note explaining that if you microwave them for 30 seconds, you have a cozy little warmer to slip in your pockets or put on an ache or pain.
the little girls in our family are some of the cutest in the world, i swear. i decided they all [including K] needed some matching hairbows! it was the perfect excuse to try out some felt giftwrap type bows & a little ribbon christmas tree.
with simple packaging on a paint swatch card, also stamped with the 'handmade by' stamp. [the smaller one on the left is for my baby niece due in may! whoo hoo!]
i love how the little ribbon loop trees turned out!

the ones i'm most excited about are these photo wall art frame thingys! i saw the idea thanks to the shanty to chic ladies, & knew it would be perfect for several people on my list! it's a really lovely personalized gift but inexpensive enough that you could make dozens of them.

i followed their tutorial pretty exactly, but here are some details: the wood was one 1x10 from home depot & i had it cut into 2 lengths, a 42" length to fit my sister in law's last name, & a shorter 18" i made into say "joy" in christmas colors! there's a short little square-ish piece left over that could make a cute single-letter monogram. home depot makes the first 2 cuts of your board for free, so for about $8 the one board made 3 gifts!
the picture frames are from the dollar tree, and the red frames are spray painted rustoleum's colonial red, a deep rich perfect christmas red. you can print any letters you'd like from this generous flickr site, and the beautiful "joy" photos are a free download from craftily ever after!
i added some picture hangers on the back, and ta-da! easy, gorgeous christmas gift. i'm so thrilled to give this one away!

i am still dreaming of someday making all the presents one christmas... but we'll see if that ever happens!


i did it.

i finished the stockings on time.
they were a near tragedy the first year i started them. then last year, big pregnant with my little boy, i stayed up almost all night to finish every body but the baby's.
this year, they're done. the whole family. and it feels so good. & i didn't even have to sit in a cold basement sewing them. i seriously had a little moment seeing them all in a row, thinking about how much our family has grown in 7 little years.
we are so blessed.

merry christmas!

[ps- this last little stocking was loosely inspired by alicia paulson's monogrammed stocking. i just loved that little classic toe & heel detail!]


no-budget christmas decor: popsicle sticks!

popsicle stick crafts bring to mind kindergarten camp crafts, don't they? but i think they get a bad rap. they're pretty ingenious & versatile little things. case in point: this adorable little winter sled ornament that my husband made in sunday school in... wait for it... 1986.
[i love that someone thought to write the year on it- he was 5, i would be 3.]

cute right? and has clearly endured the test of time despite being made out of literally nothing more than popsicle sticks & what looks like some hot glue.

there's actually a lot to like about popsicle sticks: their woodenness. their paint-ibility. their wood stain-ibility. the fact that they come in every size from tiny almost-appetizer-mini-stick to giant tongue depressors. and most of all? they are dirt cheap. and so they definitely are on my list this year of no-budget christmas crafts.

i'm going to church them up & start calling them crafts sticks so i can stop picturing the sticky, slobbery mess that is a popsicle stick after my 3 year old eating a popsicle.
so i picked up a pack of large ones [ for $2.50 at wal-mart], medium sized ones [150 for $1 at the dollar tree, & i had some mini ones on hand from a nativity project last year. ]
i saw so many of the cutest ideas on pinterest... little christmas trees, angels, snowmen, & mangers for the nativity. i settled on making some little angels as ornaments/gift toppers for the angel-loving ladies in my life. they turned out so cute i made an extra one for myself & one to hang on my neighbor's door with a snowflake cookie!
i used one of my daughter's toy tinkerbells to trace the wing shape onto cardboard [a fruit snacks box] & then used a glue stick to cover it with book pages & hymn music pages. then i painted the sticks to use for her dress, cut her arms & legs to size [half a mini stick] & hot glued it all together! i used a little 1" flat wooden circle for her head, & a little squirt of glitter glue for her halo.
the first one turned out a little big, so i ended up cutting the large sticks in half to make shorter, fatter angels! the stars are from a pack of glitter foam stickers that i found at walmart with the craft sticks, although if i make these again i'd use a wooden shape.
i love these because there's so many ways you could do them! they're like little paper dolls when you're putting them together. the little ballet-flat feet are totally my favorite part:

other no-budget christmas decor ideas:

paper star tree topper

framed letters

paper snowflakes

candy canes

jute & ruffle wreath


pinterest inspired christmas cookies!

i didn't make nearly as many cookies or as much of a variety this year, mostly because the four of us have been sick for at least 2 weeks, & well... i am also completely untrustworthy to be left in a house alone with a plate of cookies.

but it just didn't seem quite right not to make any at all, & when i saw a christmas variation on the classic hershey-kisses-stuck-in-a-peanut-butter-ball, i really wanted to try them!

i looked for the candy cane hershey kisses everywhere, finally found them at cvs of all places, & now they are a new favorite. these ended up being the perfect cookie for K to help with- she unwrapped the kisses, rolled the dough balls in the sprinkles, & then put the kisses in the cookies when they were fresh out of the oven. i didn't take a picture until there were only these last little stragglers left, so they're not the prettiest. but they tasted great!
inspired by these

the roll-out kind i did after the kiddos had gone to bed. here are my secret weapons when it comes to cookie making: betty crocker cookie pouches [cheap, super easy, & ridiculously delicious. handmade without all the measuring!] & my new cookie/cupcake decorating set that has these great icing squeezers:
they make it insanely easy to use icing tips to make fancy icing! easy, fun & mess free. seriously, has me written all over it.

then i also made little stars stacked into trees:
inspired by these

and some lovely white on white snowflakes
inspired by these.

hubs & i were both craving egg nog in a mad crazy way, so we picked some up on the way home from last-minute christmas shopping & i set up a little cookies'n'eggnog tray for us to munch on while we wrapped presents by the tree. new tradition, i think.


no budget christmas decor: star tree topper!

never underestimate the power of cardstock to make something cool out of basically nothing. or scrapbooking paper to add a pretty print on the cheap. or modge podge to add a little strength to your paper-made thing & a shiny finish to make it look, well, not so on the cheap!

my favorite tree topper from target broke last year, so i was on the lookout for something quick & easy to replace it with this year. this project did take a little time, but it was easy & completely free! i found a lovely free printable template thanks to pretty & cozy that i decided was definitely worth a try, & came together so nicely i decided to fancy it up with some book pages & modge podge. i LOVE how it turned out!

i printed the template on cardstock, cut it out & hot glued it together per the tutorial. then i added a dollar tree party hat as the cone that keeps it on the tree. here's how it looked all glued together:
& here's how it looked a hundred years later [not really, but man it did feel like it took awhile!] when i finally got it all decoupaged... i glue stick-ed some green construction paper onto the cone so it would blend into the tree. that was a quick fix since family was coming over to dinner that night, but i felt like it was a little lackluster on the tree.
and, you know, crooked. gotta fix that.

i'm crazy about how the book pages look, but i do admit it seems like a star tree topper should be a tad more sparkly... even my hubby asked if i could add some glitter to it. keep in mind, if my manly-man glitter-hating hubby says it needs more sparkle, it needs more sparkle.
so back to the ever-trusty dollar tree for some tinsel garland [9 feet for a buck. yay!] & i glued it around the edge of the star. i also added little leaf shapes cut from dark green felt so that the base blended more into the tree. totally, completely LOVE.
yet again, my amazing hubs was right. now i just have to figure out how to store it for next year without it getting completely squished. any ideas?


christmas tour 2011!

i really love christmas decorating. i also really love christmas crafting. so any chance i get to integrate the two into handmade christmas decorations, i get a little tingly inside. i get super sentimental warm & fuzzies when i pull out our collection of ornaments & decorations & it's almost like a puzzle, a personal challenge, to use the same things in new ways.

so, welcome to our home! imagine it's evening- you're coming over for coffee & there's a big plate of christmas cookies waiting for us heaped high with red & green icing...
we have lights on the front porch this year & they make me so happy. my kiddo sits & watches through the long windows on either side of our door for them to turn on. the big, sparkly clear snowflakes were a dollar tree find this year, & i'm tempted to go back & buy about 50 of them & go all anthropologie on my chandelier next year.
i like for there to be little reminders of the season in every room. little peeks of red & white are hiding in secret little places [& the edible ones are high up on a shelf like this one out of self-preservation from my very sneaky 3 year old.]
my decor isn't fancy, is often free & there aren't any magazines coming to photo it anytime soon. but it's friendly & warm, & being tucked in the back of our town homes gives it a cozy glow when the sun goes down. [that's my optimistic way of saying there's not a single ray of sunlight for photo-taking after about 3:30 pm.]

the stockings are hung by the erm, sofa with care... our tv is above the mantle & they just look so much more festive in here.
i made these stockings last year & it was an epic undertaking... this is the first time i'm seeing all 5 of them hanging together [there's one for the dog. no babies baking at present!] & it makes me so happy thinking how much our family has grown. if our house was on fire & all the living things were safe, i'd be clutching these stockings while escaping the flames.

seriously. hand-stitched.

we've had the same artificial pre-lit tree for the past 6 or so years now, almost as long as we've been married. i miss the smell of having a real one quite a bit, but this one just makes us laugh. it comes apart into 3 pieces & is basically a member of the family now. this year, between a new crawler, afore-mentioned pesky toddler, & one dog [the best behaved of the bunch when it comes to the tree] the presents are safely tucked upstairs rather than under the tree.
we moved our furniture around & ended up with a dining room with completely empty walls. so in addition to decorating we've been hanging mirrors & picture frames this week too.
a pool swim noodle & some jute ribbon were my wreath ingredients of choice this year. i finished it in one afternoon, immediately hung it on the big white mirror for some color, & i think it might be my favorite wreath i've ever made! [here's a tutorial i did explaining the pool noodle thing.]
i did a fun red & white 'tablescape' for a family dinner this week. the glass ball ornaments are always on clearance after christmas & the big glass vases are also dollar tree. i was super excited to find the red chargers for .98 cents each at wal-mart in the perfect shiny red. i figure when they get worn & scratched up looking, i'll hit them with a little krylon glitter spray & they'll be like new!
i lost my mantle to the big screen a few months ago, but my big candlesticks are still my go-to spot for decor each season. the unpaintable pumpkins in october gave way to my little forest of simple christmas trees:
they're made from dollar tree party cone hats [a pack of 8 for $1 which means if you have some ribbon or felt on hand you can make 8 little trees for just a buck! that gets me excited. the biggest one on the left is actually crocheted.
each one is covered in scraps of different stuff... ribbon strips cut with pinking shears, felt circles, and wrapped in yarn. easy peasy & completely cute! they're one of my favorite things to unpack and find a place for each year.

thank you so much for visiting my little space here. i hope you'll visit back often for fun things like a few tutorials & this year's the no-budget christmas decor series!

my family & i wish you the merriest of seasons as we celebrate our savior's birth & the abundant life we live in him. merry christmas!
[yes, even oh, deer gets in on the merriment. although, he did tell me he misses his red scarf from last year.]


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