Wordless Wednesday- Christmas

December is always a pretty slim blogging month for me. Other bloggers are sharing all of these awesome Christmas craft tutorials and I am usually just stuck at the idea stage of any Christmas craft projects. I get all of these fabulous ideas, perhaps even purchase the supplies, and then we just get busy. That is life. I have been trying to simplify Christmas as much as possible. I don't want it to be a stressful time of year. I want it to be a joyful time of year.

Everything went pretty smoothly and we had one of the nicest Christmases that I can remember.

But Christmas break is kicking my butt. It is hard to enjoy the time with your children when they steal coffee, fight, act out, trash the house, etc. I took all electronics on Day 2. We have no TV. It is too cold to play outside. They are definitely getting bored. Yet, I feel like if I take them anywhere fun it will be a reward for their awful behavior.

Yesterday I ate a half of a bag of m&m's.

So, I am trying to blog, but the words are stuck. So, although I just typed out a bunch of stuff, I am now giving you a "wordless Wednesday" post, inspired by the good old days when people read blogs daily. It is a conglomeration of fun pics snapped around the house and assorted crafts. Enjoy.



DIY Handwriting Copy Sign Tutorial

A new trend I have noticed is displaying portions of handwritten notes enlarged as a sign. I think it is a lovely way to remember special words. I was recently asked to create a sign with a portion of Clarence's note from It's a Wonderful Life so I thought I would snap a few pictures of the process to share a tutorial on the blog.

DIY Handwriting Copy Sign Tutorial

I happened to have the perfect size board already on hand. It is a rough cut board sanded slightly, so it has the rough edges and saw blade marks still visible. It really gives the piece some rustic character. I just lightly brushed some cream paint onto the board to get a weathered effect. You can also sand the edges to remove paint and make it more rustic.

Next, I resized the portion of the original note I was using and printed it out. (I just use Microsoft Word because I can use the page size to estimate dimensions.) I used carbon paper to transfer the image to the painted wood.

It's a Wonderful Life Quote
Use carbon paper to transfer handwriting to wood
How to transfer handwriting to signs

I used a fine tip black paint marker to paint the words onto the wood. It is more natural to make handwriting with a paint marker vs. a paintbrush. I also let the roughness of the wood texture the lettering by not filling in chips and grain.

How to easily make a sign from handwriting

Finally, I applied an antiquing wax to further age and seal the piece.

It's a Wonderful Life sign- Clarence's note

I think this technique would be really sweet for old love notes from your spouse, cards from special occasions, or even treasured family recipes!

You may also like...

DIY Rustic Twine Balls

I really didn't think these were going to work! On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the girls and I had a "craft day" on their day off of school. We occasionally have themed days like this with special projects. (They have requested a baking day next time!) We had a craft day over Christmas break and made mason jar snow scenes, baked pine cones, and painted ornaments. This time, we worked on winter decor for our home.

I had seen twine balls on Pinterest, looked at several different tutorials, and then did my own thing anyway. I am kind of stubborn like that. I wasn't sure that it would work and after I shared it on facebook, several friends told me that theirs failed, so I was not very optimistic.

However, they turned out great!

DIY twine balls made with jute, balloons, and glue!
Easy to make twine ornament balls
how to make twine ornament balls- so simple and perfect rustic Christmas decor!

I just blew up some balloons to a small size and wrapped twine around them. We painted watered down glue all over the twine and let them dry for a day. So that they would get air flow all the way around, I covered a box with wax paper and pushed pins partway into the cardboard to set them on.  The next day, we used the pins to pop the balloons (holding onto the balloon end) and just pulled the deflated balloon out. Some tutorials called for cooking spray on the balloons, but I didn't like the thought of greasy twine decorations.

DIY Twine Balls
how to make twine balls

These were really simple and inexpensive to make. They definitely fit with the rustic, natural winter look I was going for. I can't wait to show you the rest of the decorations!

rustic twine balls for winter decor

You can see more of our winter decorations here…

Rustic Winter Pine Cone Centerpiece

After all of the Christmas decorations are put away the house can seem a little cold and empty. I wanted to create some neutral, rustic, winter decor to fill the gap a bit. I have a few Valentine's Day decorations, but if I put pink all over the place I would start a pretty big fight in this house since we have strong opinions on both sides about that color. Instead, I went with more natural elements (free stuff I gathered outside) for sort of a rustic, winter look.

pine cone box centerpiece

The first thing I made was this pine cone centerpiece. My husband had built me a box that will hold mason jars for a centerpiece. I had yet to fill it with anything and I was inspired by a centerpiece on Pinterest that has a bad link. I stained my box with a weathered gray stain and topped it with dark walnut antiquing wax.

winter pine cone centerpiece

I found two pillar candles in a cupboard. They aren't even the same color, but I don't care.

natural winter centerpiece

Next, my daughter and I went for a walk and collected pine cones. They were wet from being outside, so we baked them in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour or two on a foil lined cookie sheet. This makes them open up and draws out the sap and bugs. I spray painted them with a little ivory just to dust them and give them a frosty coating.

how to bake pine cones
How to open pine cones

Finally, we arranged everything in the box with some white berry picks. Those were on clearance after Christmas and the only thing I had to actually buy for this project.  I really think arranging everything in the box was the hardest part. I also dabbed a bit more white paint on the edges of the pine cones for more contrast.  Some of the pine cones went missing before I took these pictures, too. ;)

DIY frosted pine cones
rustic winter centerpiece box

I like my little box and it will be fun to change it out with the seasons. It isn't perfect, but the girls got to help and we made do with what we could find.

I have a few more rustic, winter decorating projects that I will blog about later this week!

Easy Mason Jar Snow Scenes

The girls and I had a "craft day" over winter break. Christmas flew by in a blur and we still had a lot of craft projects that were still just big ideas and a pile of supplies. Honestly, some of the supplies were several years old because this seems to happen every year. One of the things that I wanted to make was a "waterless" snow globe decoration. The little plastic deer and bottle brush trees kept disappearing on me over the past year or so. Some of the deer didn't make it because their legs were chewed on. :( I picked up a few more things when Christmas shopping in early November, so before we had any more casualties, I wanted to make this one a priority.

Mason Jar Snow Globes

We used some "mason-type" jars. The "real" mason jars I use for canning, but there were some smooth sided jars mixed in my supply I didn't mind forfeiting.

Mason Jar Snow Scenes

The first one was the easiest. It is a little ceramic fox family and bottle brush tree from the Christmas village section at Walmart. I just stuck them in the jar and my 5yo added epsom salts. I did use a vintage lid and tie some baker's twine around the neck of the jar just to add a little more detail.

Easy winter scene in a mason jar.

The deer scene was probably the hardest. The supplies came from Michaels last year, so they were not in good shape. I made a snow mound out of clay and stabbed the trunkless trees and plastic deer into it. Getting those deer to stay in place was a pain and I needed pliers to push them down in firmly. Then, we also poured in some epsom salts, but I should have let the clay dry first.

Simple DIY waterless snow globe.

The snowman was made out of clay with wire arms, a play-doh orange nose that fell off, a jute scarf, sharpie dotted buttons, and a hat borrowed from our Monopoly game. There is a lollipop stick (unused) to hold all of the layers together, including a rounded base underneath the snowman. Unfortunately, I did not let the clay dry first and the moisture as it dried caused the epsom salts to crystallize up the sides of the jar. I had to take the whole thing apart and redo it. So, if you are making these, have a little patience and wait a few days for the clay to dry.

CLay Snowman Mason Jar Snow Globe

These were really simple to make and the kids like them! It is a nice decoration that I can leave out all winter long.

Easy Mason Jar Snow Scenes

An Imperfectly Merry Christmas

It has been awhile. I know. I have been super busy, so I have a lot to update here on the blog. If you are looking for something crafty, there is not so much of that in this post. However, I feel the need to do more writing about real life.

In November, I was asked to be a part of a MOPS panel on Holiday traditions and encouraging thankfulness and kindness in our children. I did mention some of the things that our family does, but I also confessed many of the ways I have messed up over the years struggling to keep up with traditions that weren't working and striving for Pinterest-worthy Christmas perfection. I have come to realize that I need to simplify many areas of my life.

A few weeks later, a last-minute, long term subbing position came up at the elementary school. I thought it sounded like fun and a good challenge for me! I love staying home with my youngest, but this was only for a few weeks leading up until Christmas and it helped our family financially.

There were so many things that I never saw coming...

First, I remembered how much I miss teaching!

Second, I am now a coffee drinker.

Third, there were some extra challenges for our family. I knew it would be hard and that we would all have to pitch in to make it work. Oh, but we faced trials that left me scratching my head and wondering why I ever thought I should take this position. Seriously. It was the worst possible timing. I was broken and humbled, stressed out and reduced to tears. But, I had to put it aside and put on a smile for my class because that is what they needed.

On my last day, I mentioned my pefectionistic tendencies and someone was surprised that I still had any of that left with having six children. It dawned on me that with so many of the things I had been going through, I had no other choice but to let go of some of my perfectionism over the past few weeks. I can see that more and more of it has been chipping away over time, with a larger chunk knocked off more recently.

christmas mess

christmas mess

For our school's Christmas Around the World, we presented the country of Italy. One of the things that we taught the students was about the legend of La Befana. Here is the gist of it... La Befana was an old woman who was very dedicated to cleaning her house. The three wise men stopped to ask directions to Bethlehem and invited her to come with them to see the Christ Child. She was too busy sweeping her house, so she declined. However, that night when she saw the great light in the sky she realized her mistake. She grabbed a bag with some toys that had belonged to her own child and ran to catch up with the wise men. She ran so fast that she began to fly on her broomstick. She never could find the Christ Child, so instead she leaves gifts in the stockings of the children of Italy each year.

This really made me think. I may not be consumed with having a perfectly clean house (a great housekeeper I am not!), but I do get wrapped up in my tasks and my quest for perfection in other areas instead of seeking Christ.

Last year, I ruined Christmas Eve for my family with a meltdown/tantrum that involved my failure to sew new stockings, a poor movie choice by others, an attempted new tradition of Christmas pajamas that were opened without me, complete flipping out, tears, and apologies. It was MY FAULT, MY PERFECTIONISM, MY SELFISHNESS. I promised myself that this year would be better.

But, to do that, I had to let go and simplify.

Instead of stockings, which I still haven't made, I stuffed everything in gift bags. I even let the kids help wrap each others' gifts (although they were threatened to maintain secrecy). It was a way for the girls and I to get some one-on-one time together on Christmas Eve Eve and they loved being in on the Christmas secrets. We had a Merry Christmas!

gift bag stockings

gift bag stockings

How to wrap earmuffs!

How to wrap earmuffs!

I hardly did any decorating. I let the kids put things wherever they wanted. Less hassle for me. More fun for them. My pumpkins and mums were still on the porch up until Christmas Day, when the boys took the pumpkins away... to use them for target practice. My poinsettia lost all of its leaves, but the girls liked seeing the new growth on it and won't let me throw it out. Even without fabulous decorations, we STILL had a Merry Christmas!

leaves fell off of the ponsettia

leaves fell off of the ponsettia

I hand delivered a lot of our Christmas cards and the rest were last-minute or late. I am sure the recipients did not love them any less and I bet they still had a Merry Christmas!

I started decorating our tree with colored lights and changed my mind halfway through. Then, the white lights stopped working on half of the strand. I planned to fix it later, but while I was upstairs, the girls decorated it. The ribbon was perfectly spaced, but the few ornaments they put on did not match. I never had time to fix it, so we were left with a very original tree that made people smile. It was still a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

half colored lights and half white lights on the tree

half colored lights and half white lights on the tree

So, things might be a hot mess around here, but letting go of my own ridiculous ideas and perfectionism feels so freeing. I am so grateful for even those awful trials that helped me to simplify this year!

Merry Christmas!