Holiday Home Tour | 2016

Welcome to my home

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If you’ve been following along with the Christmas Home Tour from Untidy Grace Creative Co., a special welcome! I’m the last spot on the tour. I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip.


If you’ve missed any stops, check in with Moriah, Megan, and Rachel!


My childhood was full of long winter drives through suburban neighborhoods in search of the best Christmas display. Even now, there is something magical about Christmas decorations at night, glowing lights illuminating an otherwise inky darkness. It seemed only fitting to share a nighttime tour of my home with you….

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The piano has always held a special place in my home, and it’s the perfect perch for the sweet creche (the french word for nativity) that’s been around since I was a kid.

This year is a bit of a bittersweet one. After twenty years of decorating my childhood home, this was the last year it would really be “home” for me. By next year I’ll be a new wife and decorating our home as we establish our own traditions.

I’ve taken singular pleasure in crafting the look of our home over time.  A few years ago, we remodeled the kitchen and added color to all of the walls of the main living areas. A soft teal green replaced the blank, off-white canvas. The change forced us to think of new ways to decorate and traditional red and green were out in the bluish space. On the mantle, I’ve grouped white, metallic, and teal accents, anchored on each end by tall, willowy branches of purple-teal eucalyptus. Rectangles of thin cardboard wrapped as gifts in silver paper and dressed with wire-edged ribbon bows give presence to the look.

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We’ve never had a live tree. My pine-allergic mother invested in a beautiful artificial tree almost 20 years ago. Once decorated, most people have to get up close to call the bluff. The living room hosts the formal tree. Hand-painted ceramics, glass beauties, and a (nearly) complete collection of White House ornaments adorn the 9 1/2 foot giant.

The formal tree is only the first of many in the house. A thin, wiry specimen graces the corner of the dining room. In silver baubles and white snowflakes, with it’s pretty blue skirt, it seems to grow naturally from the corner of the blue, window filled room. Snowy pine cones dangle from yellow ribbons in the windows.

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The home of many trees continues in the front hall with a vintage ceramic set that plays host to the sweetest family. MacGyver and Flip Flops had a wonderful time placing all the tiny plastic bulbs which was my first contribution years ago.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour. Maybe you’ve even seen something that inspires you. I also hope you come back to visit often. The season may come and go, but the door is always open, the coffee is always brewing, and friends are always welcome.

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Wildly Identifiable | Easy ID Lanyard DIY

I have to wear an ID badge at work. I must have it on at all times while I’m in the building or at a school function. It allows me to be identified as a “staff” member (sort of…I don’t get paid to be there) instead of a threat to National Security. In a constant effort to be adorable in everything I do, I wanted a cute lanyard on which to display my lovely ID.

Hello, Target dollar section.

I found a cute sparkly lanyard ($1!!!), but after wearing it for less than a week, it was already starting to fall apart. I guess you get what you pay for. So I did what I should have done the first time. I asked Pinterest.

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Which is how I found this completely adorable fabric lanyard tutorial from Two Peas In a Pod. Even with my terrible novice sewing skills, I easily whipped out this baby in about 10 minutes. If you have a sewing machine and can sew a straight line, you can make this lanyard. Ridiculous. Since I used fabric scraps I already had lying around and repurposed the hardware from the now defunct Target lanyard, the project cost me a grand total of $0, which is my favorite amount to spend on things.

20150829_111653Mine is a wee bit wider than the original, because I started with 2.5″ scraps instead of 2″, but other than that, I followed the instructions pretty closely. You could use this same method, and wider fabric scraps to make key chains or luggage tags. The possibilities are endless!

Happy Crafting!

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Let it begin | 4 Ways To Dominate the Back-to-School Shuffle

I spent today hunched over my computer as I dredged through a backlog of email so impressive I could star in my own episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive – Virtual Edition.

Classy.

I’m doing my best to get caught up before school starts and all hell breaks loose. If you’ve followed along, you probably know that I’ll be student teaching this fall. I’m also taking on the new and terrifying exciting role of adjunct professor and will be teaching my first college class starting in September. Added to my responsibilities at church, family and friends that I’d like to see occasionally, and a weekend class on study skills for elementary school aged children, I have a lot on my plate.

Whether your fall consists of 937 jobs or running kids to soccer, ballet, and piano lessons, it is traditionally a time of change and chaos. Here are 4 ways to fight back.

1. Get Organized

You know I love my planner, but the paper thing isn’t for everyone. Organization, however, is no joke. Preparation isn’t just about knowing what is going to happen. Preparation means controlling what you can so that the uncontrollables in your life don’t derail you. If you’d rather go the techie route, you can use Google Calendars or apps like Any.do to track your tasks, appointments, and responsibilities.

For my self-employed or freelance readers, try an app like Timesheet – Time Tracker to track your hours and make billing a breeze. I used this app to track my students when I was a tutor and it was incredibly easy to use. Best of all, it’s free!

2. Take the Stress out of Dinner

Picture this – it’s been a long day. You were 3 minutes late picking up princess from math team because the little mister’s ballroom dance classes ran over (that’s right ballroom dance, you got a problem with that?) and now she won’t stop giving you lip about how you abandoned her and how damaged she’ll be forever. While you practice  deep breathing and try not to reach out and show her just how damaged she could be, it suddenly occurs to you that you still have to figure out what to feed the ankle-biters. Grrrr…

The Resourceful Gals have an ingenious system for making dinner time a snap by doing a whole month’s worth of planning at once. It takes a bit of work to set up, but it could save you some serious time (and money!) in the long run.

3. Don’t be a Morning Person

People who try to wake me up in the morning do so at their own risk. No joke, it’s not pretty. I’m barely able to function, let alone achieve any level productivity before my first (and second) cup of coffee. Add in the stress of breakfast, backpacks, and bus stops and I’m super glad the only person I have to get out the door in the morning is me.

To preempt some of the morning chaos, try a bedtime checklist. Lay out your clothes, fill the coffee pot, make sure your keys are hung up, and get your bag ready for the next day. Give the kiddos a fun bedtime ritual that includes making sure they have that elusive red folder and that lunches are packed. 

This adorable checklist from The Gunny Sack can be put in a picture frame so that little ones can check off items with a dry erase marker before heading off to the land of nod. Everyone sleeps a little easier and mornings aren’t as traumatic.

Picking out your clothes the night before also prevents that morning panic when you realize that your favorite blouse is in the dirty clothes or that you never sewed the button back on to your trousers. *Gasp*

4. Break down your To Do’s.

The real danger of a busy life (besides collapsing from exhaustion) is forgetting things in the fray. Enter, beautiful, glorious lists. Besides the standard grocery or to-do variety, lists are a great way to plan out long-term projects.

Start by determining your goal, project, or task and listing the steps required to meet it. Assign a due date, then work backward to figure out when the steps each need to be completed. That way, when life picks up, you don’t have to worry about large deadlines creeping up on you.

I have 20 artifacts to complete for my internship, on top of lesson plans, graded papers, and band practices. The completed packet isn’t due until January, but it’s much too large of a project to put off until the winter months. Instead, I have deadlines every two weeks, or so, to keep me on track so that I roll into the new year (relatively) stress free.

If the kiddos have huge projects coming up (science fair, anyone?) breakdown their tasks into manageable chunks. If they spend an hour every week working on the monstrous project, you won’t have to stay up the night before it’s due gluing letters on a cardboard backdrop (yeah, I’ve been there too.)

Happy Back to School!

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New Series | 5 things in July

I fully intended to do this yesterday, but life, you know? It’s July, and here’s what I want to share with you this month:

Remember this | Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts and don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours

Memorize this | Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

Watch This | Fixer Upper on HGTV. Chip and Joanna Gaines are just too cute, and their skills and style are out of this world. It really makes me want to buy a little cottage and rip out the walls. Adorable.

Listen to this | American Authors. Upbeat without being annoying.

Do this | Challenge – This month, write down the “little wins” in your life. When you’re having a bad day, look at the list and remember all that you’ve accomplished.

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day 19 | Guest Blogger: Untidy Grace

hello peeps! 🙂

you may or may not know me / follow my blog, untidy grace!
this is me:

I am a BIG fan of black nail polish, writing about things, slow mornings full of sweet tea and creativity, AND sweet simone’s blog (as are you, I see!), so when she asked me to write a spring-themed guest post for her wonderful 27-day-blogathon, I was off-the-walls, squeal-really-loud excited!

I thought for quite a while about what I ought to write.
and after seeing the countless “I can’t wait for summer ahhhh” facebook posts and flood of beachy pins on my pinterest feed, realized that spring is a truly under-appreciated season.
we spend all winter longing for some fresh spring air, and as soon as it comes, we’re totally over it and practically sobbing for sand and sun tans.

spring is like summer’s ultra-organized, annoyingly perfect big sister- famous for cleaning and losing an hour of precious sleep (blurg), while summer is all about having fun and staying up late!

poor spring always gets skipped in our brains 😦

if you’re one of the aforementioned spring-skippers… this post is for YOU!
(it’s okay, you’re not in trouble)

before we’re out with may, here are some wonderful and fun ways to enjoy SPRING 🙂
spring bucket list, if you will.
naturally, I am including 27 things, in honor of this 27-day blogathon!

1. host a spring-themed dinner party!

2. visit a farmers’ market
maybe purchase some ingredients for that dinner party of yours? 😉

3. go mini-golfing
grab some friends and hit the course! 🙂 make it even more fun – winner buys everyone ice cream!

4. wash your car
get all that winter salt off and make your vehicle shiny and bright! plus, enjoy that fresh air.

5. go to a baseball game
america’s game, right? I’m not much for sports, but once a year, in the springtime, it’s so much fun to get caught up in nostalgia and head out to the ballpark.

6. try something you’ve been wanting to
whether it’s a craft, sport, or anything at all, grow and better yourself… and have fun doing it!

7. DIY some plant pots
I made some nerdy ones for my super-cute succulents, and you can read all about it here!

8. try yoga
it’s great for your health… and more challenging than you’d think! 😉

9. go hiking
look up a local trail, and make a day of it! even pack a lunch aaaand….

10. have a picnic
it’s cliche for a reason!

11. buy a new color of nail polish
and paint your nails fresh and pretty for spring!!

12. see a cheap outdoor concert
get dressed up like a total hippie and just go for it (heehee!)

13. turn clouds into shapes
give yourself a break– relax and unwind with this classic childhood pastime.

14. take a photography class
spring is full of perfect subjects for your camera! learn a new art form, and take advantage of everything green popping up all over the place!

15. catch lightning bugs
and put them in a jar. because, duh.

16. make strawberry shortcake
all the yummy noms.

17. send someone a care package
I mapped the anatomy of the perfect one here.

18. sweet potato fries
that is all.

19. create a happy music playlist.
for those april showers, you know.

20. decorate a neighbor’s driveway with sidewalk chalk
because you’re a nice person who does nice things. also you’re five 😉

21. make s’mores
I’ve put a lot of food on this list….

22. try a new hairstyle or makeup trick
you never know… you just might discover a new favorite or go-to look!

23. participate in a super fun 5k
the color run (where you get covered in large amounts of colorful dust), the glow run (in which you run at night through colorfully lit areas and sport glow sticks as part of your ensemble), and the glitter tour (the color run. but with glitter) are all basically the most fun thing ever and even non-runners (me! me!) love ’em!

24. pick strawberries
and eat half of them on the way home 🙂

25. road trip with friends
even if it’s just a saturday trip to a fun spot a few hours away!

26. wear a dress just for fun
because now your legs won’t freeze, and you can feel girly and happy.

27. keep tuning in to keep up with lovely simone and yours truly as we make our way (let’s hope gracefully) through the end of springtime!! 🙂

day 5: Cooking for 1 (or 2)

When I was in college, I used to invite my friends over for Spaghetti Night. For a bunch of college kids, home cooked meals are the Holy Grail. I’d make a huge pot of my famous sauce and a couple pounds of noodles and we’d all eat and laugh and have a grand time. The largest group I ever had was 19 people and it was awesome.

While I love to cook for a huge crowd, these days it’s more likely that I’m just making food for one or two people. Sure, I could still make a huge pot of spaghetti and eat leftovers for days (and I often do) but even that gets old.

Enter: Eggs Monterey. This (absurdly) easy dish is a ready in a snap, basically fool-proof, and easily serves 1, or double it to serve 2. I make this pretty regularly. The slightly spicy salsa paired with decadent egg makes a surprising, but delicious combo.

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Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a shallow 1 cup baking dish with non-stick spray (I use Pyrex and Pam). Fill with 1/2 c Salsa and bake for 15 minutes until hot. With a spoon, make 2 wells in the hot salsa and gently crack an egg into each well. Bake for 5 minutes, top with shredded cheese, and bake an additional 5 minutes.

The whites are cooked through, but the yolks are still a bit runny and deliciously rich. Serve with crusty bread or just on their own. Yum!

A word of caution: This recipe easily doubles, just use a larger container. However, if you attempt more than two servings (4 eggs) at a time, use separate vessels, as the heat distribution gets a bit wonky.

Bon Appetit!

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Chevrons are like stripes — with attitude!

Tell me what is better than finding something for a dollar.

I know, I know, finding it for free would be better, but give me a break, okay?

Inspired by my new re-dedication to my blog and my need to come up with new, amazing projects and things, I spent some time with Emily this weekend.  She wanted to make a zip-top bag quilt for displaying student work in her classroom and called on me to offer technical assistance and, as it turned out, mad math skills.  The result was an afternoon of hi-jinks and fun.  This project is pretty simple, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it easy.  Also, this is definitely one of those things that is easier with two people.

All you need is duct tape, packing tape, and gallon-sized zip-top bags. I actually recommend using an off brand (we used ones from Target) to avoid the white writing traditionally found on the more mainstream brands.  The tape we found was ADORABLE chevron duct tape from the dollar section at Target.  It came in 10 ft rolls and we ended up using about 60 feet.

*Incidentally, they also had a cute damask print tape that I may or may not have purchased 9 rolls of (because that’s all they had!)  just in case I ever decided that I needed it for anything.  Maybe)*

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Which brings me to a really important point.  DO THE MATH.  No joke, we had to make a mid-afternoon Target run and pray that there would still be tape left because someone (*cough* Emily) didn’t do the math to figure out how much tape we’d need.  We wanted to make a 5 bag x 5 bag grid.  If you assume that each bag is about 1 square foot then you’d need 6, 5′ strips for the verticals and the same for the horizontals (one strip between each row of bags (4) and one for each of the outside edges (2 more)) So that’s 60 feet total.  Still with me?  It’s easiest to draw it out.

Once enough materials were procured, we started with the top edge.  Lay out a strip of tape about 5′ long, sticky side up,  and starting about 2″ in from one end, lay the bags down from the top, overlapping them about halfway up the tape.  Make sure to keep the tape taught and the bags straight.  We left about and eighth to a quarter of an inch between bags.

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Lay a second strip of tape down and secure the bottoms of the bags in the same fashion, overlapping the edge about half way across the tape.  Then add another row of bags.  Continue this until you’ve reached the desired length.  The tape on the in-between rows is pretty well covered, but to deal with the extra stickiness of the top and bottom rows, line those rows with packing tape.  Yes, go right over the openings of the bags on the top row.  When all is said and done, you can slice those open with ease.

Once all the rows have been assembled, lay the quilt face up (sticky side down) and tape the cross rows.   Again, taught-ness is key here!

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Finish off the sides with packing tape on the backs and voila!

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So Cute!!!!!  It sounds fairly complicated, but I swear, once you try it, you’ll see that it really isn’t challenging!

Happy Monday!!!

Pssht…I could do that….

GOOD MORNING!!!!!!!!!!

Too early for that?  Sorry.  Let me try again

*good morning*

Better?  Good.

I hope you had a lovely weekend.  As you may have read on Friday, Emily and I were supposed to have a crafting weekend but since she bailed on me  couldn’t make it, I crafted alone.  I finished two projects and got materials for two more, and all in all, I think it went quite well.  The project I want to share with you today is a tee-shirt scarf/necklace thingy.  It has some interesting origins, kind of a right place, right time, deal.  Obviously, I just finished my Tee Shirt Quilt, and I had leftover tee-shirt pieces from the project. Then, I was trolling around Pinterest one day and I saw this:

Blue Ocean Fabric Necklace

Pretty, no?  It’s lovely, but the link goes to an Etsy store, and not a tutorial (Click the photo to see the original posting).  I didn’t really want to buy one, when I was sure I could make one just as easy, so I did.  There you go. Now, the original necklace is just made of soft jersey, not tee shirts, so it’s a little different.

I started with the bottom parts of 4 different tee shirts.  Because my shirts are different brands/sizes/colors/materials, they have different stretch capacities, and didn’t all turn out the same length. I like it a lot, but  if it bugs you, make sure you use identical shirts.  Also, I only had the bottom third or so of the shirt to use, but if you’re starting from scratch, you can use the entire torso from under arm to hem.  Just don’t actually use the hem, it won’t work.  I collected my shirts, creating a nice color palette.

Then, using sharp fabric scissors, I cut the shirts into 1″ ribbons but left them whole, so that I had loops.  Don’t cut up the sides of the shirt, no bueno.

PS: Now is as good a time as any to talk about scissors.  Having a good sharp pair of scissors that you use for fabric is essential.  You should never NEVER cut paper with your fabric scissors, because the fibers in the paper will dull your blades.  If you find that your scissors aren’t cutting as well as they used to be, don’t get new ones, just get them sharpened.  Fabric stores have periodic scissor and knife sharpening events and it’s inexpensive.  My local Joann’s is having one this week, but check with your local craft or sewing supply store to find out when they have these kinds of events.  Or, if you live in/close to a large city, you may have a full-time sharpening shop.  Do some research.  Trust me, it’s easier and cheaper to get your scissors sharpened than to buy new ones.

I made the ribbons into yarn by tugging on them.  When you pull, they’ll curl up on themselves as if by magic.  It’s actually pretty cool….

I gathered them all together and braided them a little.  Because the pieces are loops, and not straight, if you braid it on one side, it braids on the other. Embrace it!  I secured the braids with masking tape until I was ready for them and then hot glued a spare piece of shirt to hold the braids.  Yes hot glue, I already had it out for another project and I didn’t feel like sewing it!  Don’t judge me.  If you’re a purist, you could certainly do a few stitches to secure.  I might even do that at some point in the future.

Et Voila! Scarf, or necklace, or whatever.  All in all, it probably took me about half an hour, and mostly that because I had to figure out the placement of the braids.  I’m psyched for the arrival of cool fall days when I can add this to my accessories wardrobe!

Happy Monday!

Weekend Warriors…Threembride

I don’t know where you are, but where I am, we’re on Day 4 of what I’m calling The Great Heat Siege of 2012.  We Mid-Atlantic-ers have gotten spoiled so far this summer with very few days jumping out of the lower 80’s and a plethora of cool nights.  Windows stayed open, summer weddings had p.e.r.f.e.c.t. weather and all was right with the world.

But now, the siege.  My favorite weather guy tells me that by the weekend, this will pass, so I’m holding out hope.  In the mean time, a hot day stuck indoors seems like a perfect time to talk about one of my favorite things: Weddings!!!

(Note: other times to talk about wedding include, but are not limited to: cold days, beautiful days, days that end in “y”, morning, evening, midafternoon, holidays, weekends, vacations, while at work, on the phone, online, through video chatting, by smoke signal, when children are present, when children are not present, church, school, etc…)

My sweet friend Madelynne Moulton of Threembride (www.threembride.wordpress.com) just got married in April, to her long time sweetheart Corey.  Madelynne and I went to college together and she is an Architect in Atlanta, GA.  Besides be really freaking attractive and one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever known, the Moultons also had an AMAZING wedding, which she chronicles in her blog, as well as giving advice on wedding planning and breaking down red carpet fashions.  Much of Corey & Madelynne’s wedding was a total DIY-fest, including their invitations, which they designed themselves.  In case you’re wondering about the “three m” part, it comes from Madelynne’s new name: Madelynne Miller Moulton.  Clever, no?

Madelynne’s Bouquet = GORGEOUS! (Photo by Stephen DeVries Photography)

Here’s what Madelynne says about herself:

Hi, I’m Madelynne, threembride and intern architect in Atlanta. I originally created this blog to chronicle my own wedding to my sweet husband Corey. We got married in April 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama. But it turns out fashion and wedding design are my new hobbies, so I’ll also be sharing my favorite red carpet looks, wedding inspiration boards, planning advice, and more. You can follow me on Pinterest (here) or email me at threembride[at]gmail[dot]com.

So pop on over to threembride and be inspired (and a little intimidated, this girl is really on the ball).

Have a lovely weekend!

Weekend Warriors…Aunt Peaches

Every once in awhile, I come across a blog that actually makes me laugh out loud. Enter, Aunt Peaches (www.auntpeaches.com), a creative free spirit living in Chicago who embraces all things colorful and reusable.  She is quite well known in the blogging world, and her work is often featured on crafting blogs and her blog features her thoughts on everything from daily observations to her regular feature on paper flowers.  She is a lover of coffee filters and bright colors and her particular brand of humor brightens my day.

Here is what Peaches says about herself:

“I’m Peaches: aunt, artist, wannabe photographer, expert city dweller, World Class Diet Coke Connoisseur. My hands are always moving. My toenails are tangerine. I’m excellent at procrastinating. I guarantee you, at the time you are reading this, there are dirty dishes in my sink. I didn’t get my driver’s license until a was twenty-nine. Did I mention it was my third attempt?

I’m sort of like that chubby friend everyone knows; you like me because I know how to order cocktails and make you look skinny by comparison, and, I like you because your family/office/personal/Mother-In-Law/Baby-Daddy drama makes my life feel normal.  Damn, we are so good together.

My days are spent in an office getting paid to have people tell me do lots of things, most of which translate to “make it pretty.” My nights are spent working as a freelance graphic designer, attempting to validate the time and money I wasted on a pretentious art school.”

Love it!  As a posseser of a slightly pretentious, practically useless art degree myself, I can relate.

Have a lovely weekend!

PS:  Does someone inspire you?  Would you love to see a feature on them in the Weekend Warriors column?  Hit me up and let me know, and I’ll check them out.  If I pick your idea, I’ll feature you right along side!