Simple Advent Wreath

5 Dec IMG_1145

As a kid, every Christmas, my parents lit the candles on the Advent wreath each Sunday in December. I always thought it was so special and it left a lasting impression on me as an important part of our many Christmas rituals. Last year, I waited until the last minute to try and find a pre-made Advent wreath. As it turns out, they are almost impossible to find. This year, I thought ahead just a bit, and made one myself and the only thing I needed to purchase were the candles.

1. THE MATERIALS: I collected the following materials: four mismatched brass candlesticks (found at a second had store long ago), a glass pillar candle holder, a brass tray that I got at the Bainbridge Rotary Auction this summer, greens from the yard, a white pillar candle, crafting supplies for the tags, and purchased four white taper candles.

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2. THE ASSEMBLY: So easy! The four brass candlesticks surround the glass pillar candle holder. Pop the candles in and arrange the greens artfully around the candle holders. I chose to make tags, naming the themes, using leftover card stock from the Advent Calendar project, but you could just as easily skip the tags. I went with the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, but there are lots of interpretations to personalize the way you want to celebrate Advent.

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3. THE RITUAL: We are choosing to light the candle of the week each night, and read a corresponding Bible passage, but this can also be done just once a week on a Sunday. I found this website to be very helpful in leading me in the right direction.

Taking part in this tradition is helping me to focus on the real reason for the season, reminding me to be grateful, count my blessings and that Christmas is truly a miraculous time of year! I hope this makes a similar, strong impression on my son, as it did on me so many years ago.

DIY Advent Calendar

4 Dec IMG_1134

I wanted to make counting down the days until Christmas special for my four-year-old son this year. I also wanted him to be involved in the crafting process somehow. There were lots of great ideas on Pinterest, and this is how we made our version of an advent calendar. This was assembled primarily with supplies I already had on hand.

1. THE CONCEPT: I knew I wanted to make numbered tags, and preferably hang them from a tree branch or cuttings from the yard, collected in a pot. I also wanted to do a mix of candies and activities on the back of each tag.

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2. THE CRAFTING: I used small white shipping tags, number stamps and a teal-colored chalk ink stamp pad for the numbers. Thomas did all the stamping, and it turned out to be a great counting activity for him. I cut slightly larger cards out of red, white and light turquoise card stock, rounded the corners, punched holes at the top and threaded twine to make the hang tags. On the back of each one, I taped either a Christmas chocolate or a fun Christmas activity like, “Write a letter to Santa”.

3. THE ASSEMBLY: I tried using cut laurel and small fir branches in a cache pot, but it looked awkward. Then a big wind storm came, and delivered the perfect sized Alder branch on my front lawn.  It has a sort of Dr. Seuss appeal, and I stuffed it into the cache pot with newspaper to steady it, and a bunch of Douglas fir cuttings. I hung the tags in a random order, so the tree won’t look naked as we pull off the tags.

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We love the way it turned out.  My goal was to make something we could use again every year, and while we will ditch the branches, at least we can recycle the tags. Next year, I’ll add a string of tiny white lights to the branch, to make it even more festive!

December: Let’s Get Crafty!

30 Nov

This Christmas season, I am more motivated than seasons past, to be crafty. I blame both Pinterest and my insane pregnancy nesting instincts, but this year, I really want my house to look and feel home-made for the holidays. Today I started working on an advent calendar with my son, and I will post about that in the very near future. For now, I  just want to share some of the DIY ideas from Pinterest, that have inspired me to embrace my creativity, and get my son involved too.

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All images from Pinterest.com.

The Freedom of Purging

14 Nov Side one of basement: office, laundry, storage.

Clutter begets clutter. That truth couldn’t be more evident than in my basement right now. I’ve worked hard in the past to keep the clutter contained- in storage containers and doing the occasional sorting and donating. But alas, my system has broken down. Now bins are too full to add things to, shelves are bulging and disorganized and new things that need to be stored, are convalescing in piles on the once clear floor space, awaiting a permanent home. In short, my basement is currently a disaster.

As we have been working on re-purposing the office upstairs into our bedroom, more and more homeless items are brought downstairs, with no designated destination. Our basement has plenty of room to accommodate all of our stuff, it just needs a major re-org and a good purge. I’ve been know to utter the words “We could get rid of 60% of our stuff and not even miss it.”

The time has come at last to make good on that notion. With the holidays fast approaching and a baby on the way, we are only going to be amassing more possessions. I’m so ready to clear the decks and say good bye to the things we rarely use, and simply make room. It would be amazing to see an empty bin or a clear spot on a shelf somewhere down there.

The basement serves many purposes other than storage for us. The one “finished” room is my husband’s office and our guest quarters, our laundry is down there, and I use the garage portion as my studio/ workshop and a place for Thomas to do messy art projects. This space is also where we store our lawn mower and yard tools.

It’s already pretty much divided into zones, but I find that sketching out a floor plan, then assessing and attacking things by their zone is the easiest way to get the job done. We’ll be tackling this monumental project over the next couple of weekends. As embarrassing as it is to share these photos, here is a taste of the “before” in my basement. Sad face.

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So, now you can imagine, that even a person who regards herself as organized has organization issues! I can’t even tell you how much I am looking forward to a tidy “after” situation in my basement. A good purge of belongings always feels good. Progress report to come!

Nursery Floor Plan

15 Oct

This small room has its big challenges. It measures about 10ft x 11ft , and each of its four walls is interrupted with a window, a door (sometimes two), or a closet. We somehow made it fit a queen bed and dresser, while it’s been our room, but the good feng shui factor was missing. I think I can achieve better flow with the smaller pieces required for the baby. Here are photos as the room is now, with our stuff, and a floor plan for the nursery.

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The easiest way to make this awkward room work is to keep the door to the Jack and Jill bath closed. It’s not ideal, but the chair and ottoman I have for the nursery will sit in front of that door. The crib is a “mini-crib”, so it’s not as large as a full size crib. The dresser I am working on redesigning is long and lean in profile, so it’s perfect for the wall with the two doors.

Well, that’s the “before”,and although I’m anxious for the “after”, it’s going to be a while before I’m there. In the meantime, I’ll post about the continual progress and DIY projects along the way.

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