Archive for Crafts and Decor

Ideas for Every Day Art

Do you feel unqualified to teach your child the arts?

You’re not alone.

Whenever the topic of art comes up in homeschool circles, those who classify themselves as “non-artsy” shrug their shoulders in defeat, assuming they could never teach their kids art. They say things like, “I can barely draw a stick figure.” or “I couldn’t carry a tune if it had a handle attached to it”.

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There’s good news for you in the non-arsty camp. Art is so broad that you are probably already creating art but without thinking much about it.

  • Maybe you aren’t a maestro, but have you ever gathered flowers from around your yard to arrange a centerpiece for your table simply for others to enjoy? Floral design is an art.
  • Do you send handwritten notes with flowing script, sealed with pretty stickers, intended to make the recipient smile? Writing and penmanship are both arts.
  • Do you enjoy kneading bread dough and find it therapeutic and beautiful as you shape loaves for dinner? Baking is a delicious art.

The truth is that a creating art starts with art appreciation. It’s a lifestyle and and an atmosphere which stops to take notice and savor beautiful things. Raising an aspiring artist is easier than you might think but there’s one rule: You have to step out of your comfort zone and try it.

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I wish people viewed art, music, and poetry (and every pursuit of crafting beautiful things) as integral to the whole person, instead of extra-curricular. Art should be considered the webbing on which all other academic disciplines attach themselves. History relates to art because it’s the story of people and people make art. Math, because design is orderly and universal truths are needed to create rhythm and sequence, etc…

Christians often view art as superfluous, like something you can enjoy when your real work is done. Taking time to create art is seen as a “hobby.” I think Protestants have gotten this wrong for so long that it has affected the quality of work produced by Christians when years ago, some of the most influential artist were Christians.  I for one have seen my fill of cheesy “Christian” movies that lacked excellence and were, frankly, poorly made art.

“What is the place of art in the Christian life? Is art- especially the fine arts- simply a way to bring worldliness in through the back door? What about sculpture or drama, music or painting? Do these have any place in the Christian life? Shouldn’t a Christian focus his gaze steadily on “religious things” alone and forget about art and culture?

As evangelical Christians, we have tended to relegate art to the very fringe of life. The rest of human life we feel is more important.

Despite our constant talk about the lordship of Christ, we have narrowed its scope to a very small area of reality. We have misunderstood the concept of the lordship of Christ over the whole man and the whole of the universe and have not taken to us the riches that the Bible gives us for ourselves, for our lives, and for our culture.

The lordship of Christ over the whole of life means that there are no platonic areas in Christianity, no dichotomy or hierarchy between the body and the soul. God made the body as well as the soul, and redemption is for the whole man.” ~Francis Schaeffer

I’m going to share ways we encouraged art in our home. But I’m really excited to share YOUR thoughts below about how you incorporated art inexpensively and consistently into the home. Thank you so much for contributing!!

Ideas for Every Day Art

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Music::

There are so many ways to enjoy music.

  • Pandora, Spotify, and classical radio are free and allow you access to the greatest composers of all time.
  • When children are young, allow them to make their own music. Bells, rhythm sticks, piano, glockenspiel, pots and pans are all ways to let them enter into music making as they listen to the composer.
  • Sing with your children! Teach them folk songs and hymns. Can there be anything sweeter than “Infant Praises” in the ears of God?
  • If you have access to instruments, let your children play them.
  • Attend free concerts in your community.

Ambleside Online has a composer study rotation, which is a painless way to immerse your kids into their work. We would choose one composer a month and mainline on listening to their work during dinner and free time.

Artwork::

  • Start cheap. Crayons, watercolors, washable markers, chalk, pens, pencils, modeling clay, scissors, and good sized paper are all you need to begin with your children.
  • Spend more as you progress. Eventually buy better art supplies as your budget allows. For the serious art student I recommend Windsor Newton Watercolors, Arches watercolor paper, Prismacolor colored pencils, Tombow Dual Brush Markers.
  • As you work, talk about the process. You might point out that the red paint appears purple when you smear it over the blue. Or that the paint gets runny the more water you add. Or find out what happens when you mix blue and orange. Or as you are out and about, ask “How do you think we could paint clouds like those right there?” “What colors would you mix to get that spring green color?”
  • There are YouTube videos galore on painting, drawing, pastels, etc. When our kids were young, we enjoyed the Draw Right Now series, especially books 2 and 5. For older students, look into  Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

Don’t criticize your child’s artwork. Pretty please, just don’t. I once watched as a mother hovered over her 4-year-old as she painted, telling her that she was making “that tree wrong” and it should be “that color” and the child was shutting down, unsure of herself.  Not very “inspiring” conditions for a young artist.

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Consider anything your child shares with you as a gift. Ask questions if you like. But in the moment, criticism is not helpful.

Ambleside Online has a Art Schedule that is similar to the composer schedule. You study one artist per month or term. If you have a color printer, you can print them off and stick them on your fridge. If not, set each artists work as a screen saver so your child gets familiar with the feel/style simply by exposure. Let your child try to “copy” the masterpieces.

Boston has the MFA. Your city might have an art museum as well. Many libraries display the work of local artists, as well.

 

Poetry::

My mother loved poetry and would sometimes read it to us at night. We memorized poetry in school, and learned to love the flow of words and the way the language sounded.

If your poetry skills are shaky, or your reading aloud skills are sub-par, consider listening to poetry online. Less is more. One poem enjoyed for a few days is a delightful way to help them appreciate it.

There are so many beautiful poetry books for children:

A Child’s Garden Of Verses. (This edition is OOP but you can get it used for about $5 and the illustrations are lovely.)

Some poetry is easier than others. If you don’t know where to start, try the work of Christina Rossetti or A.A. Milne.

Many songs are just poetry put to music. Hymns can be sung, then spoken articulately.  Folk songs can be spoken and clapped so they notice meter and rhythm.

Handwriting::

I guess penmanship isn’t taught in school anymore, but in the Beals home, penmanship was practiced. Handwriting has a personality. When you see someone’s handwriting, it says something about them. They were in a hurry when they wrote this. They were relaxed and happy as they penned this. They were all business here.

Sending mail via the USPS may be outdated, but there’s something special about getting a handwritten note in the mail in an impersonal world. There are so many occasions to write. Sending a  get well or a “thinking of you” is a gift to the recipient. I love getting a card from my grandmother with her proper, gorgeous script. Sometimes she affixes stickers to the envelope. Usually there is a recipe tucked in or most recently, a recipe for canning blueberry jam.

When my kids were younger, we used handwriting time to copy verses for older people who were shut in at a nursing home. We’d deliver the verse and hang it on their bulletin board to add some color and cheer to their room.

Rebekah especially loves calligraphy and you can see some of her work here.

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Photography::

The world of digital photography makes practicing this skill inexpensive and non-threatening. Don’t like it? Delete!

Kids can learn the ins and outs of DSLR via YouTube or library book and practice away fairly inexpensively.

Handiwork::

There are so many useful crafts that it’s hard to know where to begin. Basket making, jewelry making, woodworking, needlework, beginning sewing with felt, needle felting, flower arranging, card making, ceramics, pottery, etc. are all areas where creativity can flourish.

Reader Advice::

I asked my readers to share how they’ve encouraged art in their homes. Here are a few responses.

I think that it has to be something that is a part of your everyday life, and not something you perceive as an extra. That can be as simple as: taking your children even when their infants to free outdoor concert, having the radio on at home playing music all different kinds, playing CDs, or MP3s, or DVDs! Anything with music in it. That might mean that the first concert you can only stay 10 minutes or so, that will get better over time. The same is true with drawing or painting, it’s not something you introduce as extra, there are crayons and paper is laying around everywhere and whenever they are bored or need downtime that’s what you do. I think if you don’t perceive the arts of something extra and the children won’t either, it will absolutely be a part of their lives. Give me children can also play percussion instruments and that’s fun to do the kind of family drum circle even when they’re just infants! Pots and pans work doesn’t have to be anything fancy.” Beth MacLeod Largent
“I give my kids beginning piano lessons. Even if you’re not a virtuoso, it’s easy to do the beginner stuff. I highly recommended Alfred’s “Music for Little Mozarts” series. You can move through the lessons faster than a weekly lesson with an outside teacher and save 1+ year’s worth of tutiton. They have a music appreciation aspect to the series as well where you can purchase a cd and book. My kids love it. They dance and learn beginning singing. We also do the art lessons included in our homeschool curriculum. (My Father’s World). I always tell my kids that learning art and music makes their brain stronger and think better.” Charity Harley
 “We have had a dedicated “art room” as long as I can remember, and the kids are free to create during their downtime. We talk about an artist once in a while, and display his/her works on the walls. I play piano and sing for them while they play or do art projects, and they sing along. I introduce them to classic and traditional songs, literature, art, poetry on a regular basis. The library has been a great resource for finding books, music, etc. Youtube videos have served us well. The Virtual Art Instructor has also been an amazing tool for learning visual arts. My kids also are in classical ballet and tap classes. Our education is heavy in the arts because my kids are extremely creative, and their creativity spills over into all other subjects. Their education is much more interesting and though provoking because of the arts.” Andrea Hanson

We started our young kids with just crayons and playdoh to give them a chance to create. And that morphed into preschool art like tearing paper to create collages and using beans or pasta to make things. I also rely on a few resources for project ideas – Before Five in a Row is a preschool curriculum that incorporates art and also Five in a Row for the older ages. Lots of good intros into artistic elements but in a welcoming way. Also a blog I like that gives good step-by-step instruction is Art Projects for Kids (http://artprojectsforkids.org/) – a lot of fun and simple projects using supplies at home. We also do nature studies and use field guides and nature books for ideas on drawing and using watercolors. For music and art appreciation, we check out books from the library about artists and composers (some good picture books are available) and listen to music online (allowing us to study some instruments). None of these have been expensive but have given them a good intro if it’s something they want to continue exploring Oh and we bought an inexpensive keyboard so our kids could take basic piano lessons and they’ve enjoyed it so far, even if it’s not something they are passionate about.” Kim Pina

 “Hubs and I are both musicians, and our oldest (7) is in piano lessons. One inexpensive thing we’ve done to introduce all of them is simply to follow our local orchestra(s) on facebook. There are LOADS of free opportunities sponsored by local businesses and such. My favorite is that we got to be in the audience for a live interview with Itzhak Perlman and to watch him play a solo in a piece with 70 young violinists from the area. Tickets for his performance with the city orchestra the night before were upwards of $140 each. Watching him play with local students was free! Just one or two songs, but still… I’m less “up” on visual arts. We’ve done some crafts, pointed out design in architecture, woodworking in old buildings, etc., but not much else. I’m filling that gap next year, though, with homeschool group art appreciation classes at our local art museum. It’ll be $450 total for all my kids for 10 classes, which I consider to be a good investment. It’s a well-known museum and classes will be grouped by age and taught by actual art educators. I’m pretty excited about it.” Tiffany Dujinski
“Homeschooling has been a great blessing. It has enabled us many opportunities. Here are a few “out of the box” things that I have used to incorporate art into our family…playing the piano for them just after they climbed into bed. They all have taken piano lessons and two of them like to write and play their own pieces.
I also incorporated color and creativity into lunch and dinner preparation. Fruit trays and vegetable trays lend themselves to lots of color and texture.
I also talked about loving others through our presentation of the food. It says that we took the time to prepare for them and it’s healthy!
Playing classical music in the background has given them a love for classical. It is their go to music. I have taught homeschool classes…we made cloth hand puppets (incorporating sewing) and then we developed a puppet skit (incorporating creative writing). I taught a drama class by pulling out some of the parables and then assigning different parts to act out. I have also spent time doing my own art and inviting them to join me and I have shared my art supplies. This is huge! Basically, I have shared what I love with them and they have in turn encouraged me in what I love to do.” Karen Todd
“We always had music playing in our home. Consequently, our older son is an amazing singer and can play any instrument. We used to take trips to Museums, many are free on certain days, and the boys would bring along their sketchbooks and pencils. They would choose a piece and try to copy it. My younger son loves to sketch and draw. We also used to sculpt and paint at home. We made pictures for people and crafts for holidays. My kids appreciated hand made visuals of any kind and still make, draw, and write their own cards. They learned to appreciate the arts because their own creations and talents were so valued.” Amy Engelberger
For our family it started vey locally, art exhibits in our town. To meet & speak with the artists while viewing their work made it more real than textbook study, though that was to come as well. Artists are very generous people willing to encourage even the youngest budding artist.  Sharon Gensmer
 “I think it’s a lot like raising readers – fill your home with books, read to them, and spend time reading yourself. If you fill your home with music or art, do music or art with them, and enjoy it yourself, they’ll likely develop an appreciation for it, too. Music is part of the fabric of our family’s life, so our children’s appreciation has grown naturally. The other arts require more effort on our part, b/c my husband and I have not developed a strong interest in them ourselves. For music, we take them to every free classical concert we can, and we regularly enjoy music from our classical library and WCRB. Our enjoyment of classical radio has actually morphed into a fun game we often play at dinner – when an unfamiliar piece comes on, we first attempt to identify the period it comes from; then we venture guesses on composers from that era based on what we hear (a baroque piece featuring horns, for instance, will typically yield at least one Handel guess). With that simple game, our children are effortlessly learning the periods of classical music, the major composers of each period, the unique “sound” of the composers, and the key pieces an educated person should be familiar with, based on how frequently they are played on the radio (Beethoven Eroica, anyone?). This has been a real treat for us, b/c now we have kids putting on classical music while they eat breakfast! Jenny Noel
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Construction update, spring decorating, and some favorite domestic quotes

We are almost finished with our house renovations, and since this has been going on since last November, if I never see a shop-vac again in my entire life, I’d be okay with that. I absolutely love how beautiful my kitchen is. I still can’t believe that God used ice dam damage to bless us in such an amazing way.

God’s goodness to us in this renovation has been evident. Almost embarrassing. He knows that my heart is to use our home to serve others, and He gave me WAY more than I ever hoped or imagined. I hesitate to write how excited I am because I don’t want anyone to think that I equate God’s smile with our American idea of a beautiful home. Still, after years of using our 1950’s kitchen for God’s glory (which, by the way, I grew to love and decorated the best I could) I’m excited to wash dishes in my brand new farmers sink.  Is that bad? Shallow?

During this whole affair, I’m firmer than ever in my conviction that a clean, orderly home is good for the mind, body, and soul. After living in boxes and seeing dust and debris for months, and feeling the mental confusion and frustration that disarray brings, I am more inspired than ever to keep our home well.

During these dusty months, friends have invited us in for dinner and ministered to us, another blessing of this project. My in-laws and parents were also a huge blessing, allowing the kids to study in peace at their home away from banging hammers, and allowing us to stay at their home during the worst phases.

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Although we’re still not completely done with the project (our floors are being done this week) I’m excited to do a little decorating in the places I can.

I saw some spring table decor in the Pottery Barn catalog that I loved but couldn’t afford spend the money on–this bunny cloche  {um, $169–crazy town}and spring flowers and nest –so I went to Michael’s Crafts this week and made my own version for a fraction of the price. (My DIY tutorial for the nest is here.) I like how it came out and love how it looks on my kitchen table.

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IMG_5144I found the cloche at Michael’s for $12 after my 40% coupon. It was in the area that had a bunch of fairy and gnome miniature house accessories. I covered a round piece of floral foam into the bottom and covered it with Spanish moss, attaching it with hot glue. I added the vintage glittery chick (in the seasonal Easter section) and a few sprigs of fake flowers. The tiny eggs were on a floral pick, so I pulled them off and stuck them in the ground. The mini nests were $1.99, and I just added moss with a glue gun and a few tiny eggs and leaves. (I have a tutorial for the larger nests here.) The grass covered bunnies were from Walmart. Anyway, after all the construction, I was so happy to decorate a little bit. I’m in the process of searching for fabric for kitchen curtains, my next project. :)

Are you guys excited for spring? Decorating? Send me your photos or tell me in the comments what you are up to. I love talking crafting. :)

Finally, since I’ve had homemaking on my mind lately, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite quotes that I hope will inspire you as you work in your home:

A household has to be tended if it is to flourish and grow. Housework is never ‘done’ in the same sense that gardening is never done or that God’s providential involvement in the world is never done. Housework and gardening and God’s providence itself are exercises not in futility but in faithfulness – faithfulness to the work itself, to the people whose needs that work serves, and to the God whose own faithfulness invites our faithful response.” Margaret Kim, Keeping House

I first learned that housework has meaning by observing my grandmothers. The reason they made a fuss when they saw their granddaughter doing things in a “foreign” way is that they knew–in their bones if not in words–that the way you experience life in your home is determined by how you do your housekeeping…

Understandably, each of my grandmothers wanted me to make a home in which she could feel at home…

This sense of being at home is important to everyone’s well-being. If you do not get enough of it, your happiness, resilience, energy, humor, and courage will decrease…Home is the one place in the world where you are safe from feeling put down or out, unentitled,  or unwanted.

Home Comforts, Cheryl Mendelson

 

God’s economy is fantastic…As we serve someone, a human being, we can be serving the Lord…How do I regard my having tun upstairs with tea, or having served breakfast in bed, or having continued for years to do this kind of thing for a diversity of people,  as well as for my husband and children? How do I look at it? Do I feel like a martyr? Let me tell you exactly how I see it.

First, I say silently to the Lord, “Thank you that there is a practical way to serve YOU tea[or breakfast in bed, or whatever it is that I am doing for someone.] There would be no other way of bringing You food, or doing some special thing for You.  Thank you for making it so clear that as we do things that are truly in the realm of giving of ourselves in service to others, we are really doing to for You.

Edith Schaeffer, Common Sense Christian Living

 

“Putting away things that get daily or weekly use is a way to exercise a kind of providential foresight…Having clothes ready to wear in the drawer or in the closet is part of creating an expectation that in this home we care for one another. Our needs are not a perpetual emergency but are anticipated and provided for ahead of time.” Margaret Kim, Keeping House

I hope you have a great week.

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DIY Doctored-Up Dollar Tree Church Ornament

Wanted to share an easy craft I’ve been working on for Christmas.

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I love New England churches, so when I saw that Dollar Tree had these ornaments, I snatched up a bunch to doctor-up.

I simply added twine, plaid ribbon from Michael’s Craft Store, and mica glitter with a glue gun to add “snow” to the roof line and perimeter of the church. You could also add a silver bell in place of the pine cone that comes with it.

They’ll be really cute attached to brown paper packages.

Enjoy.

DIY Old Pewter Mint Julep Cups

It’s the weekend and this week I’ve been crafting up a storm for our daughter’s upcoming wedding festivities.

I wanted to decorate one event using the very popular “mint julep cups” look. If you don’t know what I mean, go on pinterest and search “mint julep glass centerpiece.”

The cups are usually silver plated, and they were a little more expensive per piece than I wanted to spend, so I got to crafting, girls, because I needed to copy the look.

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I had trouble finding tutorials online. Everything was either for faux mercury glass (which is lovely and I’ve made before for candle holders) or didn’t look “authentic” to me. Also, I needed something that could hold water for flowers when the project was done, so the mercury glass thing was out because it’s painted on the inside and when water hits, it would all flake off.

So I texted a few crafty friends, including Lindsay and Jolene of New England Nesters, and jumped in. I tried three different approaches, and they yielded three different looks: silver, old zinc, and old pewter.

Here’s what I did:

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I found these cute glasses at the Dollar Tree. They say “Old Fashioned” on them. Right up my alley. I liked that they had ridging detail and a logo on them because many mint julep glasses have monogramming or something fancy on the front. You can use any glass you like.

I removed the price tag and washed and dried them well.

 

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I lightly sprayed the outside with Rust-oleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish. I wanted to give it the thinnest coat I could and tried to avoid paint drips.

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(You may notice little white dots on this pic. My 2 year old foster son squirted me and the cup with his water blaster. LOL. It did no harm and he thought it was hysterical…so he kept doing it.)

(If you want your project to look new and shiny like this picture, this is actually very close to the finish of a new silver mint julep cut. After this step you could give it a second coat and be good to go. These look lovely with votive candles near the base because they reflect the light.)

After this first coat dries, I gently applied a thin coat of “Dark Pewter” acrylic paint with a dry brush and in a circular motion around the perimeter of the cup. (Not up and down height-wise/vertically. Does that make sense?)

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I really liked how this looked after this step. It reminded me of the old zinc lids of a canning jar.

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After this, I ever so lightly sprayed a second coat of the silver spray paint…almost misted it…trying to manipulate the spray so that it didn’t get full coverage. I wanted to leave some of the pewter color peeking through.

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I was so excited with how this turned out. When placed side by side to my old pewter, this finish was extremely close. It even has the dark blemishes of old pewter.

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I filled this with flowers (fake from Walmart for the picture) and I think these will be so pretty in every window.

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IMG_3026I hope you enjoy this tutorial. If you make some, send me a pic or if you are a blogger, shoot me a link. Have a great weekend, everyone.

**These glasses are for decorative purposes only. You should not drink out of anything sprayed with spray paint, Mkay? 😉

Video: DIY twiggy front door cross {from my beautiful sister! Woot!}

So many of you loved and asked for a tutorial for my sister’s front door cross, that I asked Amy to make a video for us and she agreed! Woot. I love her and her lovely front door decor. Enjoy!

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DIY Spring Bird’s Nest Tutorial

Even though we still have two feet of snow on the ground, I’m working on decorating my house for spring. Today my goal was to finish decorating my mantle.

I made this bird’s nest for the mantle and thought I’d share how I made it. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but if you are not crafty, maybe this will help you to try your own. I just LOVE bird’s nests in general, so this is one of the sweetest crafts in my opinion.

DIY bird's nest

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You need two grapevine wreaths, one bigger and one smaller. The smaller one should fit inside the larger one. I found these at the Dollar Tree.

Using the larger grapevine wreath as the top of the nest and the smaller one as the bottom, wire the two wreaths together. Then form a bottom of the nest by weaving the wire like a basket. It’s okay if it’s a mess. It will all be covered. You want the basic shape of a nest or a bowl. Wire it to death if you have to to get the rounded shape.

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Next, I used a glue gun to add moss to the outside. I found the moss ribbon at Jo-Ann’s Fabric for $3.99. I pulled the moss so that it looked loose and sparse and not “ribbonny.” I wanted it to look natural.

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After I line the outside with green moss, I added some to the inside of the nest. I then stuffed the bottom with a good sized handful of Spanish Moss, also from the Dollar Tree.
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After the basic nest is done, you can pretty it up by hot gluing small flowers, berries, or leaves around the perimeter.

Finished DIY Grapevine Birds Nest

Finished DIY Grapevine Birds Nest

I filled mine with five little eggs (for my 5 kids). The eggs were also at Jo-Ann’s. Other years, I’ve used the nest as a candy dish, placing a shallow dish inside and filling it with Cadbury Mini Eggs, which look adorable. I’ve also filled them with yellow Peeps for Easter.
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Here’s the finished mantle. I used things I had around the house: an old Ball Jar filled with moss, one of my favorite antiques, a signed Wallace Nutting print entitled “The Coming Out of Rose”, some galvanized buckets filled with greens and a few natural elements from some potpourri I had around the house. I hope this inspires you to try your own nest. Send me pics if you make one!
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Frugal DIY Chalkboard Hack

Wanted to share this quick idea with you. I came up with it while trying to think of a frugal way to decorate for a church event this weekend.

Behold, the foamboard “chalkboard.”

Foam board "chalkboard"

Foam board “chalkboard”

My Walmart sells black foam board near the poster board. It was less than $3.

I brought it home, rubbed it over with chalk, then wiped it with a tissue. That gave it a chalkboard look, instead of it being solid black. I sketched words and the nativity (I used a clip art image as a guide) then, when I was happy with my design, I traced it with white chalk marker, also available at Walmart.

What do you think? Pretty convincing for a fake, huh? I don’t think it will hold up to erasing the chalk pen, but I will let you know if it does.

It’s large, so it would also be great as a focal piece on your Christmas mantle.
Let me know if you make one, or share your link in the comments! Have fun!
Magic Cabin

Virtual Christmas Open House

Magic Cabin
I love decorating, and never more than at Christmas time. It’s a love my mother taught me. And like I told you in Merry Christmas, Meager Budget , my decorations are not elaborate or expensive, but they don’t have to be. Simple things make the home feel warm and cozy.

I mostly decorate with natural greenery, lights, and ribbon.  I snip pieces of different greens and wire them in bundles and stuff them in corners here and there. It does the trick and makes the house smell beautiful.

I thought it would be fun to do a virtual open house, so come on inside.

Wreath Welcome

I found this ribbon at Homegoods and fell in love with it!

I found this ribbon at Homegoods and fell in love with it!

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Come on inside.

The kitchen. This is my favorite room to decorate. We spend so much time here. We homeschool at the kitchen table, so we are here a lot of the day.

The kitchen. This is my favorite room to decorate. We spend so much time here. We homeschool at the kitchen table, so we are here a lot of the day.

I absolutely love this antique jelly cabinet. It holds my extra dishes and behind the magic curtain I store home school resources.

I absolutely love this antique jelly cabinet. It holds my extra dishes and behind the magic curtain I store home school resources.

I stick cedar and holly everywhere. My grandmother gave me this brown transfer-ware gravy boat and dish set.

I stick cedar and holly everywhere. My grandmother gave me this brown transfer-ware gravy boat and dish set.

I found this antique recipe box at an antique shop 20 years ago. It's full of handwritten recipes. Someday I will go through them.

I found this antique recipe box at an antique shop 20 years ago. It’s full of handwritten recipes. Someday I will go through them.

I refinished this Hoosier Cabinet when I was 25. It was a wedding gift from my mother in law.

I refinished this Hoosier Cabinet when I was 25. It was a wedding gift from my mother in law.

Kitchen tree with antique style mini cookie cutters. My hoosier holds all of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

Kitchen tree decorated with mini cookie cutters and mercury glass. My Hoosier holds all of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

 

This beeswax lamb was made by my sister Bethy with an antique chocolate mold.

This beeswax lamb candle was made by my sister Bethy with an antique chocolate mold.

Motto sampler in old Adirondack style frame.

Motto sampler in old Adirondack style frame.

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. I altered it by adding mini lights inside the jars rather than tea light candles. I was afraid it would go up in flames the other way.

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. It’s an antique milk carrier, ball jars, and greens. It called for tealights inside the jar, but I substituted mini-lights…I was afraid it would go up in flames the other way.

Vintage Eatmore Cranberry box. They use to sell berries in these.

Vintage Eatmore Cranberry box. They used to sell berries in these.

Family room mantle and tree.

Family room mantle and tree.

My friend, Jen, gave me this sparkly "Merry Christmas" years ago. I filled pots from Ikea with mini trees, added greens and lights. Easy.

My friend, Jen, gave me this sparkly “Merry Christmas” years ago. I filled pots from Ikea with mini trees, added greens and lights. Easy.

Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments. This is from a dear friend. Cross stitched on linen.

Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments. This is from a dear friend. Cross stitched on linen.

The kids learned a simple whip stitch on felt ornaments.

The kids learned a simple blanket stitch on felt ornaments.

This mitten is needle felted onto a felt heart.

This mitten is needle felted onto a felt heart.

Calligraphy from a dear friend.

Calligraphy from a dear friend.

Another mantle

Another mantle

Greens inside the fireplace that doesn't work.

Greens inside the fireplace that doesn’t work.

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Entry way

Entry way

Hope set up this tea table.

Hope set up this tea table.

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Plum Pudding candle.

Plum Pudding candle.

Seasonal table.

Seasonal table.

That’s about it! I enjoyed sharing these pictures with you. Feel free to link up to your Christmas virtual tours or blog posts about what you’re up to!

Happy decorating!

Sarah

 

 

Easy, Crocheted Cowl Pattern

I’ve been crocheting up a storm this week, and after making several infinity cowls and playing with patterns,  I’ve determined that this one is my favorite! Thank you, Liz!

 

IMG_5356.JPGYou need to know that my crocheting expertise is next to nil. I literally have to look on YouTube for a tutorial video every time I change stitches. So, if you have some crocheting skills, you are good to go. I made this cowl in 2.5 hours.

It’s my favorite because it has a beautiful drape to it. 

I used 2 skeins of Lion Brand Yarns, Hometown USA, Super Bulky Chicago Charcoal for this piece. I used a size P hook.

Learn from my mistakes, folks. Crocheting gauge is a real thing. Although the pattern specifies to chain 78 for your initial chain, MEASURE your chain to make sure it is the finished size of 54″! Mkay? THESE are the important things. 😉

I did this one with an N hook and it was a little tighter, and I didn’t like the drape as much. I plan to remake this one using the P hook.

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THIS one, I’m loving as well, but it’s a completely different look. I made this one in Tampa Spice (it uses twice the yarn!) , and it was crocheted using two strands of the bulky yarn. I also had to use a Q hook, which was a little awkward at first but I eventually got the hang of it. I think the younger set would love this chunky look. :)

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These work up so quickly for gifts, and I purchased all my materials at WalMart.

And did I mention that crocheting is therapeutic? Yes, yes it is. :)

What are your Christmas crafting ideas? Feel free to link to them in the comments or tell me about them on our FB page. We’re all ears for Christmas crafting ideas!

What My Mother’s Decorating Taught Me About God

Our house was always the coziest house I knew. My mother loved to decorate and it was evident when you walked in the door.

At Christmas time, the rustic stone fireplace that my dad built was piled high with luscious greenery, berries, lights, candles, seasonal books, and figurines. We’d stare at its beauty.

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I noticed as a child that not all homes were this way.

We would drive up the road in our station wagon and my mother would comment about the lady in that house that has all white rugs and doesn’t allow any children in for fear they’ll spoil her rug. My sisters and I would lock eyes on the house as we drove by, and I imagined that the windows were its eyes and that they had a sad look in them, and I felt sad for the house that didn’t welcome children.

Everyone loved coming to our house, but oftentimes, I wouldn’t like visiting other places. Sometimes they’d feel cold and sterile, painfully clean, sparse, or like nobody cared what the place looked like.

I learned later that many Christians feel that decorating is superfluous. In some circles it’s looked upon as unholy to spend money on nick-nacks and pretty things. Indulgent, even. My mom pointed out this misguided view to us several times in our childhood, and I remember her feeling badly for women who held this view, as though they and their families were missing out on so much.

I wonder, do our homes reflect our views of God?

Is our view of God sterile and basic? All business and no happiness? Cold?

Is your view of God one that denies you of all basic happiness?

Is our view of God beautiful, generous, abundant, creative, good, welcoming, hospitable?

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When God gave instruction to have the temple built in 2 Chronicles 2, one thing you note is that the temple was purposefully beautiful and abundant, full of engravings and tapestries.

For those of you who’ve been given the desire to create and design and beautify your homes, I want to reaffirm what you already know: God is not the author of blah and ho-hum. Whatever God creates is gorgeous and abundant and orderly.

Creating an orderly, wonderfully stimulating atmosphere in your home is a good thing. It’s a reflection of the nature of God.

My mother’s decorating taught me that God was the author of order and loveliness. That attention to detail made all the difference in making someone else feel loved. My mom’s efforts in her home were a ministry to others. My mom’s kitchen table was always full, with teens, new families from church, hurting women and those in need. It was not about impressing the Joneses, but lavishing good on the underdog. I watched as women were encouraged, treated, advised, counseled and befriended. It was and is a healing place to visit.

Since when did we get the idea that following God means that our lives would be free from beauty? That following God meant the worst things: dullness, and want and the bare minimum just to get by as though God was somehow a stingy Father.

Within your means, I believe your creative efforts in your home can reflect your view of God. God made us in His image and when we reflect his love for beauty, and goodness, and generosity, we reflect His attributes.

I’m not talking about spending beyond your means.

I’m not talking about expensive things. I’m not saying that you can be covetous at heart over things, or that you must be ruled by the latest Pinterest craze.

Not at all. Creating beauty is oftentimes more a mindset than anything and is inexpensive to attain: Cleanliness, order, music, blazing fall branches brought inside for a centerpiece for the dinner table, candles lit, paintings created and hung, yard sale finds or

furniture taken from the trash and lovingly, beautifully restored into something attractive and useful. (Oh, the symbolism there!)

It’s not frivolous, or sinful, or shallow.  If God gives you those desires, dear friend, embrace it as a good gift and use it for His glory. You can decorate for His glory. You can reflect Him in your home. Those who live there will be thankful. Those who visit will be refreshed.

They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Ps 145:7