Archive for Crafts and Decor

DIY Primitive Welcome Candles

It’s fall, and I don’t know about you but I’ve got the decorating bug. I want to tuck berries and leaves in every cupboard and basket I can find. Chunky knit throw blankets come out for chilly nights, and Yankee Candles are just plain a “staple” during this season.

I also love putting Welcome Lights into the windows. They look so cozy. So today we decided to take our plain welcome lights and give them a more primitive New England look. I thought I’d share how I did it. Here’s the finished product. You can buy them like this but they are pretty pricey if you want to do every window. So we make do and do it ourselves.




Last Christmas I bought battery operated window candlesticks at a Benny’s, a local hardware store.  I got the type that you set once and they turn on automatically at that same time every day, and then shut off six hours later. They are LED and they flicker slightly.   I knew that the basic shape was right and that I could make them look older pretty easily. Here’s the before:


To give them a primitive look, Hope and I spray painted the base black. I used flat Rustoleum spray paint from Walmart.


While they were drying, we heated beeswax chips in the microwave  at 50% power for about 3 minutes, checking and stirring every minute to see how melted it is. I used beeswax because I had it, but you could use any yellowish colored wax or old candles that you might have. Melt them down and add a 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to give the wax a “grubby” look.


Then, carefully dip your candles in the wax. Don’t burn your hands with the hot wax, because hot wax burns. Ahem. Ask me how I know. Make sure you are doing this over newspapers or parchment paper to protect your countertops. You want it to look bumpy and waxy. Spoon the wax over the candle filling in any holes or gaps,  to make sure the whole thing is covered. I drizzle wax on the sides to make it look drippy.


Then I rub extra spices on the wax to make it look older.


Then, with an xacto knife, cut through the wax so you can get the battery cover on and off when you need to.


You can make them look as primitive as you want by adding more wax or more spices, and deciding how nubbly you want them to look. Below, the right hand candle is the most primitive.

IMG_4412.JPGBy the way, I used my iPod to take the pictures while I was working because I didn’t want my nice camera to meet with a wax accident. Sorry about the quality. You understand, don’t you? :)

You can take these right out of the bases and tuck them into baskets, or use them as night lights. Super cute.


What do you think? Have you tried making these? Let me know if you do! Enjoy!



Easy, Fall Watercolor For Kids

Here’s an easy fall watercolor you can do with your younger kids. This was done by Holly when she was 11. This can be done with cheap Prang or Crayola watercolor boxes.
1. Gather a variety of leaves outside.
2. Bring them in and trace them onto watercolor paper, marking veins and stems.
3. Begin with yellow. Paint washes of yellow. Allow to dry.
4. Next, overlay orange and watery red. (The more water you use, the less intense the color. Let kids play with this concept to get a variety of tones.) Let dry.
5. Add greens. Make greens by mixing blues and yellows. Let dry.
6. Make the leaves “pop” by adding dark purples or browns to the background. This pushes the lighter colors to the front and adds visual interest. Allow to dry.
7. Frame.

*You can do this on a smaller scale, making stationary by using watercolor greeting cards, available at any craft shop.
** for older kids, add acorns, berries, twigs to the mix.

Chalk Paint Tutorials and The Importance of Making Your Bed

I’m sure you’ve heard of Annie Sloan Chalk paint. I’d been seeing it all around home design blogs and was itching to try it. (It’s not chalk board paint, just FYI.) So, before Rebekah and Emily came home for the summer, I decided to refinish an old bureau in their bedroom.  I used this plaster of paris tutorial. I used flat Benjamin Moore Sail Cloth. It was a creamy linen color that wasn’t too yellow or too tan. Lovely.



I added some touches from Wal-mart: a little natural basket, a robin’s egg blue spindle lamp and some fake flowers, sold by the stem. I am fussy about fake flowers, so I was pleasantly surprised to see Walmart selling a line that passed muster. The peonies and ranunculus were $2 each. I used them for a pop of color.

I’m really looking forward to diving into The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful this week. I think I’ll love it because I love fixing up yard sale finds to make things homey. When people come here, I tell them that there’s nothing “irreplaceable” in this house so put your feet up. That’s the beauty of decorating your home with inexpensive finds. :) Have you read it?

Do you have strong feeling about making your bed as soon as you get up? This navy seal does. He told graduates at a commencement speech at the University of Texas:

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed…If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

In my favorite home care book, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, Cheryl talks about her grandmothers’ different approaches to making their beds and their strong opinions about it. One insisted that a bed must be made right away; the other insisted it be aired out, sheets pulled completely back, then made.

I agree with Gretchin Rubin who asserts that making your bed is a quick way to make a big difference. It promotes a peaceful environment.

It’s also the largest object in your bedroom, so when it’s neat, the majority of the room looks neat. Plus, you can’t see pretty throw pillows when they are under the blankets or on the floor. 😉 I’ve taught my kids to get up, turn around and make their beds. Also, if you make your bed well, you get the pleasure of sleeping in a crisp, neat bed that night.

So, if you want to feel accomplished, go make your bed! :) Easy peasy.

Did your mom have strict bed making rules in your house?  Do you make your kids make their beds right away? Have you tried refinishing anything with chalk paint? IF NOT, yard sale season is coming! Keep your eye out for something inexpensive to paint! :)

DIY Spring Tulips for the Front Door

picmonkey_imageNever mind the fact that it’s blizzardous outside, today. I’m sharing a spring décor idea.

Everywhere you look on Pinterest and Etsy, you’ll see tulip wreaths.



I’ve eyed this one for some time and have seen variations galore on this same theme, so I  decided to try my hand at making something similar.

I tried analyzing the ratio of pink, fuchsia and white tulips in the pics so I could make mine similar. I’m so scientific like that, don’t you know.


Anyway, when I got to Michael’s last night I learned two things:

  • You want to buy “mini” tulip bunches, not regular sized tulips. I used Ashland brand which were 50% off, making each stem $2.
  • THEY sell the very tri-color tulip bunches I wanted, so all my math was wasted. 😉

I quickly decided that the wreath was out of the question financially, because I’d need 20 bunches of tulips! I decided to move to plan B which was to fill a container with tulips.



I used 10 bunches of tulips. They didn’t have enough of the tri-color tulip bunches, so I bought a bunch of white, pale pink and fuchsia. (I just matched the tri-color bunches.) I moved all the greenery up the stem before I clipped them apart with wire cutters. I grouped a fuschia, pale pink and white together so the color would be evenly distributed.

I used a piece of floral foam and shoved it into the container. (You can fill any flat backed container that you like.)

Then I started filling the tulips in making sure they were as tall and wide as I wanted the finished piece to be. I added a bow. Simple and Spring-y.

I used the rest of the tulips to fill a tea pot for my living room.


Do you have a hard time thinking of front door decorations like I do? Someone should open a business selling just front door decor and table centerpieces! There’s a market for that. 😉







A Valentine Tree {Made Possible Because of Another Tree}

Snippets of paper have always been a favorite means of decorating in the Beals household. They’re beautiful and inexpensive and can be manipulated to make pictures, snowflakes, cards and tags, garlands, and Valentines. And manipulated they are.


When the kids were little, they’d make bowls of hundreds of pieces of paper and call it paper soup. It kept them busy for hours.

Hope and I decide that this week, we’d make Valentines. We’ll hang them over the kitchen sink, tucked in the red velour ribbon, greenery, and lights still up from Christmas, because extending the use of lights and greenery is fine by us.


And we decide to make a Valentine Tree. We cut out names and hearts. Hope suggests we put Bible verses on the tree, then told me matter-of-factly:

“It’s because Jesus died for us that we can make this tree, you know, Mom?” Jesus died on a tree, perfect love and mercy demonstrated for us there. We love Him because He loved us. We only know love because of Him.



IMG_5852IMG_5849And while human love is often disappointing and evaporates, and people who cared leave or betray, and marriages crumble and fail, God’s love is never like that. It’s steadfast, from everlasting to everlasting. And there’s hope in that Tree. And so we make our simple tree, remembering True Love. And we listen to one of my favorite songs from the Galkin Evangelistic Team’s Album Christ Only, Always is The Precious Blood:

Before the cross I kneel and see
The measure of my sin
How You became a curse for me
Though You were innocent
The magnitude of Your great love
Was shown in full degree
When righteous blood, the crimson spill
Rained down from Calvary

Oh, the precious blood
That flowed from Mercy’s side
Washed away my sin
When Christ my Savior died
Oh, the precious blood
Of Christ the crucified
It speaks for me before Your throne
Where I stand justified

And who am I that I should know
This treasure of such worth
My Savior’s pure atoning blood
Shed for the wrath I’d earned
For sin has stained my every deed
My every word and thought
What wondrous love that makes me one
Your priceless blood has bought


Amazing thought, huh? I’m justified by the Lord Jesus’ blood and sacrifice? The innocent died for the guilty. And the result when I trust His sacrifice? Me, declared innocent, though definitely guilty. Let that sink in.



Handmade Christmas: Free Pattern, Sweet Bear Rice Heating Pad

I’m working on handmade Christmas gifts and wanted to share a pattern with you.

Remember those little rice owl heating pads that I made my kids and sisters last year? {lady sells the pattern here} Well, my kids loved and used them so often that I decided to do “round two” this year.

So, I sketched out this little bear rice heating pad and wanted to share the pattern with you. They are quick and easy to make and would make a great gift for a child or a nursing home resident.

bear collage1

I learned years ago when I was researching and making Waldorf Dolls for my girls, that equilateral triangles were most pleasing to the eye when placing the eyes and nose features. So that’s what I’ve done here. You could add a small mouth if you want, but I think they look really cute with simple features. Also, rice heating pads keep kids warm as they head off to bed. The backs of these bears are buttery smooth and soft and kids love them.

The pattern only suggests a seam allowance(dotted line), which you’ll need to add to the pattern yourself where it goes off the paper. My son, Matthew, made the pattern on the computer for me while I told him dimensions. :) I am not a pattern maker, so I’ll try to explain the best I can. Feel free to ask questions and I’ll try to help.

To make: Download this—>Bear Rice Heating Pad

Print three copies of the pattern: 1 to use as a guide to place the facial features, 1 to cut the head shape pattern, and another to cut out the eyes, nose and round face pattern.

You’ll need two coordinating fabrics. Make sure they are not synthetic as they may melt in the microwave when you heat the bear up. I used 100% cotton flannel for the front and 100% cotton velour for the backing. Cotton velour is amazingly soft, but you can also use cotton flannel for the back as well.

Cut 2 bear “heads” using coordinating fabric, remembering to extend the seam allowance where it goes off the page in the pattern,  facing right sides of fabric together as you cut. One will be the face and the other, the back of the head of the bear.

Cut 2 eyes out of felt, 1 nose and 1 mouth area. The mouth can be the same fabric as the back of the head, and the little nose, the same as the main face fabric. These pieces don’t need to be cut with a seam allowance. Cut as shown.

Place facial features on bear face by referring to the pattern and pinning into place. Then hand stitch using a whip stitch, or machine stitch using a zig zag stitch.

Pin the two head shapes right sides together and sew, leaving a 2 inch opening unsown so you can fill it with rice.

Turn right side out.

Fill with rice until 3/4 full.

Stitch 2 inch opening closed by hand sewing. Use small stitches so rice doesn’t escape. Enjoy.

Please enjoy this pattern and if you make any bears and blog about them, shoot me a link. I’d love to see what you’ve done.

*Free pattern for personal use and gift giving only.




Special Offer: Two Free Chapters of our Christmas Ebook

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Favorite Things and What I’m Up To Right Now

It’s been a while since I posted my favorite things from around the web and a family update, so let’s remedy that, shall we? :)

The cranberry harvest is almost over. We’ve enjoyed visiting grandpa’s bogs and watching the process.





Some crafty pursuits included painting this burlap runner with cranberry stripes for my fall table,


pretty-ing up the house with fall leaves and throw blankets for the impending cooold weather, IMG_4404

and simple reminders to Give Thanks in all things.



I’ve been working on this adorable chunky crocheted infinity ribbed cowl from Purl Bee. Its perfect for a forgetful, glued-to-the-pattern novice crocheter, like me. And, it’s ah-dorable!


I’m gathering ideas for our annual Dolls’ Christmas tea party, so I’ve been scouring Pinterest for cute winter themed ideas. My board is here, but look at these adorable snow globes from Pink Pistachio. Love, love , love this tutorial. They look super easy to make {bonus!} and they are just magical. They are most likely going to be our centerpiece of choice.


Photo @


I’m really enjoying several books right now. I’m re-reading Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. I love her faith, transparency and her obvious inner fight against her flesh.

I’ve currently read The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart on the recommendation of a friend and she was right. One of the most encouraging, challenging books for ministry women out there. I love it when books treat women as people who want to change and not as people who are ruled by emotions. I love depth and theology and this books delivers both. It’s also like chatting with a good friend, style-wise.

I’ve been re-reading Contentment: A Godly Woman’s Adornment (On-the-Go Devotionals). Lydia Brownback is meaty and theologically sound. She cuts right to the chase and through all the veneers and gets to the heart. I love that.

You must read this article by Tim Challies entitled The Art and Science of the Humblebrag. Honestly, this article was as insightful as some of the character observations by Mark Twain or Charles Dickens. He nailed this one, with humor, at that.

Moms of little ones, did you catch this post on How to Handle Public Temper Tantrums? It was full of wisdom. And this post on Patient vs. Permissive Parenting Part 1 and Part 2 was well worth the read.

This thought provoking post “Friend or Faux” about online friendships by Darcy resonated with me. Let’s just say it: Online life is often so fake and obnoxious.  It can be so shallow. I want friendships where I can discuss ideas and encourage someone, not just “tweet know” people. It’s like living for a quick nod or glance from someone for who knows what reason. It’s a flash in the pan.  You can’t know thousands of people well. You just can’t. I want to have deep, meaningful relationships with a few. I want to sit with you over coffee. Okay, maybe I just want coffee, but you all know what I mean, right? lol

If you want a feast for the creative soul, visit Karen Andreola’s blog. She is not just a soothing soul, but a wealth of information on the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling.

Here’s a quote from a recent post entitled Mother Culture in Snips and Snatches that resonated with me, describing herself, the ever creative “Lady of the House”—

She has more ideas than she ever gets to. She has learned to live this way. It’s fine, really. It’s fine to entertain relaxing notions about what you might do with any spare time to do it. A little daydreaming is how the domestic artist uses her tired-time wisely. And when an idea grows larger and stays with her awhile, revisiting her while she washes dishes, folds towels, sweeps the steps; she will somehow make a little time for it.

Favorite quote:

“You are where you are for such a time as this — not to make an impression — but to make a difference.” Ann Voskamp

Favorite times: When Peter calls the kids to join him for prayer and devotions each night. It makes my heart thankful, that we can teach these kids God’s word and ways and pass along all of His good promises to the next generation.


That’s it for me. What about you? What are you loving right now? Feel free to share in the comments, and have I thanked you for commenting? I feel as though I know many of you because of your comments and insights. Thanks for that!


Weekend Edition: Recipes, Books and Art I’m Loving Right Now.

I don’t normally write on Saturday, but here I am. Winter seems long right about now, and to compensate (I think) I tend to fill the house with flowers. Peter bought me these hydrangea after the last blizzard, and surprisingly, I haven’t killed them. Emily made this adorable centerpiece by arranging old milk jars we had in the cellar. Did you know that my great-grandfather was a dairy farmer in Plymouth and he was one of the last in the area to deliver milk to the community? So milk jars just seemed right for this quick centerpiece.

My tulips were a bit droopy, so putting them in old milk bottles helped them to survive a few more days.

Peter's grandmother taught me to water plants from the bottom and let them drink up the water as they want to. So far so good. It's been two weeks, and this hydrangea is still living.


For Valentine’s Day, I made Peter this dessert for maple creme brulee from the New York Times online website. It was gooood. It was also not on my diet. Ahem.

Hope and I made this delicious Grandmother’s Bread recipe. We split the dough in half and used one half to make the orange sticky buns variation for breakfast. Extremely good bread and would make great sandwich bread. (I tasted a bite, but behaved myself.)

Strawberry Summer Salad is one of my favorite recipes to make for company. I always top it with Grilled Caribbean Chicken. Served with rice, roasted veggies, and grilled bread, this makes a delicious, easy meal. I served this last night for dinner when we had a young couple from our church over. Here are the recipes:

Strawberry Summer Salad.

Strawberry Summer Salad

1 head red leaf lettuce

1 pt. strawberries, sliced

4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1. c. chopped pecans

Salad Dressing: Wisk together until well mixed: 1 cup veg. oil, 3/4 c sugar, 1/2 c. red wine vinegar, 2 cloves garlic minced, pepper to taste. Pour onto salad.

*I use less sugar, and it comes out fine. You can also use sugar substitute.


Grilled Caribbean Chicken

1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Dry Mix

2 T. brown sugar

2 T. oil

2 T. soy sauce

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. fresh thyme (or 1/2 t. dried thyme in a pinch)

2 lbs chicken pieces or boneless skinless breasts

Mix the dressing mix, sugar, oil, soy sauce, cinnamon and thyme in a small bow until well blended. Pour over chicken mixture and let marinate for one hour. Grill chicken until done, over hot coals, until cooked through.

Blog Posts that Inspired Me:

1. This post from Ruth at Gracelaced resonated with me. It is encouragement to embracing motherhood for what it is. This is the desire of my heart and something I keep in the forefront of my mind. Read it here. I also wrote A Letter to Young Mothers here.

2. When we are quick and careless to glibly counsel “You just need to give yourself grace!” when a mom is discouraged or desperate, we may be doing them a disservice. Each opportunity to counsel comes with a responsibility to also accurately assess and apply God’s truth to your friends situation as discussed in this great post.

3. This excellent post on praying like Jesus from Good Morning Girls. Here’s an excerpt:

“A person who values prayer will make it a prominent part of their lives because they understand that they can’t do “it” alone, whatever “it” is. They know they are not wise enough to make decisions on their own, and are not strong enough to handle the circumstances they are in without divine assistance. We will pray when we understand we are not spiritual enough to grow in godliness in our own effort. A woman of prayer is therefore humble.

On the other hand if prayer is not a major part of our lives we are basically saying that we don’t need God’s help. We believe we can figure it out on our own. It means that we are looking for answers, comfort, and strength somewhere else–in ourselves, in another, or in the world. A prayerless woman is prideful, and in a practical sense atheistic.”

Go read the rest of it here. You’ll be glad you did!

4. This week on the blog we talked about friendships that leave us disillusioned and noted that not all friendships are created equal, and that’s okay. We’ll continue this topic in more specifics next week.

5. Emily, my 17-year-old, wrote this article on complaining. I’ve thought of it several times this week as I began to open my mouth to sin mention several annoyances this week, like “I can never find the cord to my GPS.” Let that sink in for a moment. ahem. Thankful for a reminder from my precious girl, and God’s word.

Books I’m Reading/Considering:

I’m still working through Jesus + Nothing = Everything, and will probably re-read it again so I can take better notes the second time through. The best explanation of grace that I have read in a long time. (grace that leads to true godliness.) Peter is going to read this after me and I’ve already told my two oldest that this book is required reading for them.

My kids have been mainlining on The City of Ember series. For some reason, every once in a while, they pull that series down and read all four books in one week, like they can’t get enough. Holly tells me that these are her favorite books ever, and that the movie did not do the books justice.

I am making a list of titles to purchasing from Amazon and am looking for recommendations. I prefer non-fiction right now. Has anyone read these?

A Steadfast Heart: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Life’s Storms I might order it to read as I travel this month to visit Rebekah at school.

I’ve heard such great things about Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History, and since I love studying Christian women of the past, I hoped this would be an interesting read.

Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time is Elyse Fitzpatrick’s newest book. She is one of my all time favorite authors and so I know that I’ll enjoy this and benefit from her insight.


Right now I am finishing up an English cottage picture, researching for a new commissioned piece, and working on some fun ACEO pieces with Hopie. ACEO art is so popular right now, and in a nutshell it is original art in trading card size. (2.5×3.5″) Fun to make, affordable, adorable in a frame and people love them.

I also made this reminder for myself:

Oh, and look what I found blooming again in the midst of this harsh winter. :)

What are you reading these days? Any great recommendations for me?






Merry Christmas, Meager Budget is Now Available!

I am SO excited to tell you about our brand new ebook,

Merry Christmas, Meager Budget


Let’s face it, this economy is tough and everyone is feeling the pinch. My sister Beth and I wrote this book to give you tips, tutorials and plain old Yankee know-how to help you:

  • Limit your spending during the holiday season.
  • Plan your calendar so you don’t run yourself ragged.
  • Decorate your home on a dime.
  • Create thoughtful gifts on a limited budget.
  • Whip up some delicious recipes in the kitchen.
  • Create fun memories for your kids without breaking the bank.
So, if just the thought Christmas tires you or you feel it has become more a test of endurance than the joyous holiday it was meant to be, you might consider finding some inspiration in this book.
Chapters Include:
  1. Rejecting Commercialism and Embracing What’s Important
  2. Four Sisters and What We Love
  3. Making Memories Without Breaking The Bank
  4. Rethinking Christmas Goals
  5. Old-Fashioned, Farmhouse Inspired Crafts
  6. Holiday Fun for the Frugal Family
  7. Twenty-six Boredom Busters for Little Ones
  8. Cozy Up Your Home For Christmas
  9. Merry Gifts to Make {$10 or less}
  10. Gifts for Children
  11. Your Favorite Frugal Ideas
  12. Favorite Family Recipes
  13. Advent Verses For Children
  14. Free Printable Christmas Tags and Labels
This is in a pdf. format, so you can either read it on your computer, or on a mobile device or e-reader.
117 pages

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