DIY PROJECTS

DIY Farmhouse Server Furniture Flip

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I'm probably a coffee snob. Okay, I'm definitely a coffee snob. I have some amazing friends here in town who brew their own blends of coffee {complete with roasting imported beans and all}, and now that I've had those, it's not the same to have just any old cup of coffee. That said, I love my Keurig, you guys. I got the Keurig Hot for Christmas {in white, of course} and some Starbucks pods to go with it, and it's been amazing! Yes, I still kept my coffee pot. I've got bags of Nate's Sumatra blend and, most recently, a bag of Dry Stack Nicaragua {thanks to my friend Liz for sharing that with me!} in the pantry that I absolutely love! And since I don't have one of those refillable pods yet, I'm keeping the coffee pot on hand for my favorite blends and for those days when sleep seems elusive, which are more often than I thought with a toddler.

No one tells you that when you get past the baby phase and enter into the toddler and then little girl phase, sleep gets less frequent. I thought it was the opposite! Lawsy. Ash has been in bed with us almost every night by 5:00 a.m. and waking up every few hours with nightmares leading up to that {any advice for how to help with that would be greatly appreciated. I feel helpless except to reassure her that I'm there and she's safe}, so I'm not sure I really remember what a full night's sleep is. At least this time around, I'm not nursing, so I can have as many cups of coffee as I need want the next day! When number two comes along... well, I don't know what I'm going to do. Anyway, back to the coffee, I've always had a dream of having a coffee bar. We don't have a terribly large house {::read:: it's small}, but something about having a dedicated space for coffee just appeals to me. Not to mention, it means I don't necessarily have to have yet another appliance sitting on my countertop which is also not all that large. So when I got the Keurig for Christmas this past year, I decided it was time to make the coffee bar happen! I'm pretty sure this piece of furniture is called a server... but it could be a sideboard or even a buffet. At any rate, I'm calling it a server because I'm using it as our makeshift coffee bar in the dining room. I'm honestly not sure which gets more use -- the coffee bar or the dining room table, but it's going to be close either way! I head to this sidebar first thing every morning to brew the perfect cup of coffee {served in a Rae Dunn mug that states clearly my mood for the day, of course}, so it's a pretty integral piece of furniture. When I first got this cabinet, it was solid black with glass front doors and a beadboard backing. I love the doors and the beadboard, and at the time, black was totally my furniture color of choice. Since then, though, I have done a complete 180 style-wise and now want everything white with maybe a few black accents. The doors on this cabinet and that beadboard, though... I couldn't get rid of it. So I decided to flip it! Why not? This was such an easy flip, too, because all it required was a paint job and some chunky legs and voila! Farmhouse at its finest! I found the legs at Home Depot for a little over $2.00 each. Add in two cans of Rustoleum primer and two cans of Rustoleum satin enamel spray paint, and you're looking at a complete transformation for less than $20! Before I painted anything, I took the doors off the server and removed the shelf. Then I flipped it upside down and drilled holes for the leg bolts to thread into using a 1/4" drill bit. I had to be a little careful to avoid the grooves for the doors to slide in, but that wasn't too difficult to get around. Once the legs were connected, I used my vaseline trick to mark spots where I wanted distressing to occur. There is a benefit to the server already being black. I didn't have to spray those spots first! Next, I sprayed the whole piece with primer, waited 30 minutes then sprayed another coat. Once that had fully dried, about two hours, I sprayed the server with two coats of enamel in bright white then sealed it with a clear coat. While that was drying, I did the same to the doors, taping off the glass, and the shelf. I didn't distress the shelf because not that much of it is actually seen when it's inside with the doors closed. That was it! Of course, I could barely wait until it dried to take it inside and set up my coffee bar! I made the coffee bar sign using our transfer paper method and the same distressing method as the server. The boxwood wreath came from At Home a few years ago, and I used the chalkboard sign I made for my cider bar this past year as a backdrop.

I found the wooden toolbox turned coffee pod holder at Michaels a few years ago on clearance. It's served many purposes over the years, but this one is probably my favorite! Now I just need to find some cute baskets/bins to go in the cabinet to hold all of our not-so-attractive stuff, and the area will be set!

Do y'all do the whole coffee bar thing in your homes? My sister-in-law has this cute coffee station set up using an antique metal table she found, and she hangs her mugs from a pot rack. I love seeing pieces used in unexpected ways! What's your favorite farmhouse {or otherwise} piece in your home and why? I have a feeling this server will be with us a long time now that it's been transformed, and is quickly becoming one of my favorites!

As a quick side note, we IG'd a couple weeks ago about some herb planters we made {which will be up on the blog soon!}, and I had some leftover mint that made needed a home. You might remember these DIY pallet planters we posted last year, which are also available in our Etsy shop. I don't think I ever envisioned them quite this way, but I put that mint in the planter and am using it as a centerpiece for the dining room and L.O.V.E. it! As soon as it's warm enough, I'm probably going to make another one for the farmhouse table on the patio and fill it with succulents. Bring on the spring!

You also may notice that my dining room table looks a little different since my last dining room post. It got a makeover while I was going all white paint happy on the server/sideboard, and it turns out, it's one of those things where it looks like it should have been all white all along! We don't have tons of natural light in our house thanks to smaller and really spaced out windows, so all the white is really working for me in there. I've recently painted our den and am slowly making my way around the house to help brighten things up as well. We're going with Almond Wisp by Behr which sounds tan but is actually pretty greige thanks to its purple base {it sounds awful, but y'all, it's dreamy!} and is light enough that my 2-year-old thinks it's white. I'll be sure to post updates as I make progress.

In the meantime, I'm working on framing some canvas art I got last weekend, and will show you the tutorial on that tomorrow. So, hey, let's go enjoy some coffee! That's where I'm headed. Thanks for following along!

 

Fun & Easy Valentine Crafts for Kids

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We all want to be that Pinterest mom and make fun holiday crafts with our kids. But who has the time and energy? Well, I'm going to show you how easy it can be and why is looks so awesome in photos, even if said craft lasts for only 5 minutes. I tend to overdo it with...most things. Lol! Even when I tell myself to go the simple route, I still end up trying to take on too much and get stressed and overwhelmed (imagine if I didn't aim for simple!). We planned a Valentine crafting playdate with our kids and I set out to find a few fun crafts and activities. I think we did 2 out of 5 crafts I came prepared for and one activity. Lol! It's hard to let that preschool teacher mentality go - always have more activities planned than you need!  These are a few fun things we found.

Valentine Crafts & Activities

Sensory Rice Bin

This was probably the most involved activity as far as preparation, but don't let it intimidate you! It was also the most "worth it". Even though it was a bit messy, the kids absolutely LOVED it and spent a good amount of time playing in it...at least 20 minutes, which is hours in toddler time. They would've played longer, but the rice was having trouble staying inside the box...by which I mean, the kids were throwing it everywhere. So be prepared for that possibility! I grabbed a 5 lb bag of white rice, mixed up about a half a cup of white vinegar and 20 drops of food coloring and mixed it all together in this plastic bin. More vinegar and food coloring would get you closer to red, but I was out, so we settled for this light pink color. The red measuring cups and glitter heart table scatter were from the dollar store. The heart shaped cookie cutters and measuring spoons I already owned. Anything heart shaped or pink can go in the bin! Anything they can scoop with or pour out of is a great toy to add. I also threw in some essential oils to cover up the vinegar smell. It turned out pretty well! This can be a really relaxing activity - best for one or two children at a time.

Heart Shaped Sun Catchers

This is my absolute favorite craft to make with little ones. You just take some clear contact paper, cut it into a heart shape, peel back the paper and stick! We used tissue paper squares and sequins to decorate. Sandwich with another heart shape of contact paper and hang in your window! All of these items were found at the dollar store so this craft cost a whopping total of $3 and there were plenty of supplies left over. I found dollar store GOLD with these tissue paper squares that were precut in a package! Amazing! You can certainly buy tissue paper and cut it yourself (it isn't really that difficult) but I am all about eliminating a step in the pursuit of simplifying my life.

Love Bug Paper Crown

Our lovely friend Erin came across this craft and we all fell in love with it. I'll just be honest, by the time we got to this craft the kids were over it. It was getting close to naptime and they were happily playing. We took this opportunity to sit down at the table and make them for the kids ourselves! With some white construction paper, stickers, markers and pipe cleaners, it's another simple, easy craft. Especially for preschool age or older children, it's a quick little craft that's really fun to make AND wear. So that's about all we got to do. It was plenty and we all had a blast! I'm not gonna lie, I didn't sit down much during our playdate. With two little ones, and facilitating crafts, I stayed pretty busy. But after the experience and the photos we were able to capture, I'm so glad we did it! Here are a few tips I'll leave you with if you decide to do something similar with your kiddos.

Tips for Being That Pinterest Crafting Mom

  1. Keep it SIMPLE. Seriously, do. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant. At the same time, just a little extra thought and effort can produce something super cute. So take it a step beyond paper and crayons and make a love bug crown! Or make a potato stamp and let them go to town with some {washable} paint.
  2. Make it age appropriate. If you mess this one up, you'll know right away. If you're both frustrated and no one is having fun, it's probably not an age appropriate craft. Always go younger than you think they are ready for and you'll probably be right on track.
  3. Be realistic. Don't plan 5 different crafts for toddlers (like me!). It may only take a few minutes to complete each one, but one or two are plenty for any one given day.
  4. Let them be kids. Let's just be serious. They aren't going to do it "right". That's ok! It's much more about the experience and the time spent together than the finished product. Keep that in mind and you'll be able to do number 5.
  5. Relax and have fun. This is really important. If you can't do this then it really just isn't worth it. Go do something else you enjoy with your kids! Not everyone has to be a crafting mom. Some moms are cool sporty moms or cooking moms or storytelling moms. The point is that you are doing something you both enjoy together.
  6. Instagram it! We all know this is part of being "that pinterest mom". Go ahead! Show it off! You worked hard for that 5 minutes of crafting. You deserve some recognition and come on, who doesn't want to see those cute kids model their love bug crowns, am I right?? Let people wonder how you can be such a cool crafting mom. And then direct them to this post so they can do it too. 😉

Happy Valentine's Day!

   
How to Declutter Your Life

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My husband watched this documentary the other day about minimalism, something I've honestly never even been remotely interested in. Why? Because I love to create things, so the idea of having very little seems foreign since making stuff is kind of what I do. Plus, I love pretty things. It's a struggle. The issue with loving to have a cute house/cute clothes/{insert your favorite cute thing here} is it can become more than just enjoyment. It can become an obsession. I'm not talking, "I'm a little obsessed with Rae Dunn mugs and love to collect them." I'm talking, "I just spent every last penny from my paycheck that didn't go to bills so that I could fill my house with cute stuff." It leads to this unhealthy place of defining yourself by what you have or what you look like or what your house looks like or how you measure up to so and so's Instagram feed, etc. There's way too much in life that we'll miss out on if we constantly play the comparison game, so let's take the New Year as an opportunity to move past all that and make a commitment to enjoying life! How do we do that? By decluttering it! While I certainly would not call myself a minimalist, the underlying concept is something we can all use: fill your life with what brings you joy. The less things you have, the more you'll enjoy those things. For me, this centers on a few changes that are initially kind of annoying but pay off big in the long run.

How To Declutter Your Life

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism

Trash It or Donate It

When's the last time you actually wore that shirt in your closet that you didn't think would shrink but did but it's the perfect color so you don't want to get rid of it? How about the tupperware that are missing lids -- when's the last time you used that? Or the socks that the dryer must have eaten because you literally haven't seen the match since you wore them eight months ago? I don't love getting rid of things, y'all. I am the, "I'll find a use for it," person, but it creates chaos and a mess and, believe it or not, will add to your stress level. Get two trash bags and label one "donate". Tackle a new area of your home each day, throwing away items that don't have matches or are unusable and donating the ones that you haven't used in the last 6 months or that you have multiples of. Trust me. I know what you're thinking. "But I absolutely need two of these shirts." You don't. You have a washer and dryer. Use it. I'm telling you, you get rid of one and start having to wash that shirt in order to wear it again later in the week and your laundry pile is going to be smaller than it's ever been!

Get Organized

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism We've already written a post on how to get organized here, but let's review the main principle. Everything has a home. When I first started organizing our home, we had nail clippers everywhere.  Why we needed 10 pairs of nail clippers, I don't know, but there were some in each bathroom, some in the linen closet and some in the drawer of our nightstand. It's a small item, but we really only needed one good pair and one place to put them. The same deal goes for clothes, toiletries, cleaning supplies, backpacks, dishes, etc. Give it a home and return it to its home when it's not being used. If you're a labeler, label away! I am, and I have cute little white tags tied with twine on each bin in our closets that lets everyone know what goes in that bin. The next time you need it, you'll know exactly where it is without having to ask, "Hey, have you seen {insert random item here} lately?" Don't forget to clean out your inbox, file folders and junk drawers. They totally count!

Spring Clean Then Stick To A Schedule

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism One of my least favorite things ever is to spend six hours on a Saturday cleaning the house. By the time I'm done, I'm ready for a nap and the day is halfway over. #adulting It's a huge bummer, especially on the weekend! Thankfully, this one's easy to solve! Pick a day and spring clean. We're talking baseboards, carpet, upholstery... everything. Don't want to do it yourself? Chances are there's a housekeeping service near you that's run by one or two local people who will give you a fair price to come in and take care of all of it for you. It's a one-time deal, so regardless of whether you do it yourself or have someone else come in, be sure you don't skip this step. Once you've spring cleaned, break down the typical weekly tasks you would need to handle to keep your home clean into seven separate days {or use our cleaning checklist here}. Take 30 minutes each day to tackle the tasks for the day, and you'll get to enjoy those Saturdays and every other day of the week with a clean house and no feeling of wasted weekends!

 Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism

Meal Plans

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism If you've been around SLB for any length of time, you've heard me say that I am not a great meal planner. That's mostly because life gets in the way of my good intentions and I won't be home one or two nights or I'll feel lazy one day and we'll end up ordering in or snacking. I have found, however, that planning out my meals on paper a week ahead of time and ordering my groceries online have saved me significant amounts of time and money {you can read about saving at the grocery here}. Also, my crockpot... it saves me so much time! If the "lazy" bug tends to hit you in the afternoons, the crockpot is for you, my friend. Toss in whatever you're eating in the morning, and it's done by dinner time! Amanda told you last week that we've opted to go Paleo as one of our resolutions, and gave you access to our meal plan here. Take 20 minutes once a week to go through and plan your meals/order groceries or create a grocery list. Ordering online saves me at least an hour of shopping and ends up saving me money because I don't impulse buy. This means our pantry isn't full of unused items which means less clutter which means a more relaxed you!

Carry A Planner or Use A Digital Calendar

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism I do splurge once a year and buy a new planner to get my life organized. It brings me so much joy to have everything in one place that I can reference and carry with me wherever I go, and it's fun to go pick out a new pattern/color scheme for the year. {Some of my favorites have been from Target and Marshalls!} If you're not a paper calendar type person, utilize your digital calendar. Playdates, coffee meetings, blog hours, family functions... all of these things go on my calendar so I know exactly how much extra time I'll have each week. It's so easy to get bogged down with little things that add up to zero time for yourself, and decluttering your schedule is just as important as decluttering your home. Having a game plan that you can constantly refer back to will help you say no more often when you really need to, and give you the peace of mind to say yes as well!

Make a Budget

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism Yes. Decluttering your life includes a budget, and I'll be totally honest, y'all. This is not my strong suit. I wish I were that frugal person who did not feel compelled to shop for the best deal, buy supplies for my latest project or craft and make umpteen trips to Lowes for paint or sandpaper or whatever it is I thought I had but don't to get the job done. The thing is, we're all different. So the best way to find a middle ground and regain control {::read: destress financially::} is to make a budget. Add up all your income and all your monthly expenses so that you know exactly how much is left over at the end of the month. Use it to pay off debt, save it or spend it -- regardless of how you use it, you'll have a lot more peace knowing exactly how much is in the bank, how much you owe and how much is left over at the end of the month. If you struggle with spending, try going on a spending freeze. I know, it sounds awful, but it will give you a whole new perspective, friends! And since we're working on decluttering here, we're focusing on less stuff, not more. So save up for that new light fixture you've had your eye on or set money aside for your mug collection, but buy intentionally, not impulsively. Does spring fever hit any of you around this time of year? If you're ready to declutter your life, feel more at peace in general and spend less time doing those chores and tasks that aren't fun, then let's go! We're doing all of the things mentioned above, and we'd love for you to join us. Have some tips you would add to this list? We'd love to hear about them in the comments below! xoxo jess-signature
Deck the Halls Holiday Home Tour

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Hello! Thank you so much for joining us on our "Deck the Halls Holiday Home Tour"! If this is your first stop in the tour, let us tell you a little bit about it. There are six other lovely blogs involved outside of this one. These ladies each posses their own personal style and eye for what makes their home beautiful and unique. We invite you to follow the link at the end of this post to the next stop along our tour. There is plenty of festive holiday decor to see and some really gorgeous photos. Keep going and you won't be disappointed! Amanda's Home I love when the time comes to decorate our home for Christmas. If it were socially acceptable to decorate on November 1st, I would do it. I force myself to wait until the day after Thanksgiving (I still listen to Christmas music throughout the month of November!). The first thing you will see when you step in my front door is my mantle shelf. It unfortunately, does not hang above a fire place. One day, perhaps it will, but today it sits above the couch. The shelf itself was a $20 find at a thrift store in Atlanta, GA. I've toyed with the idea of painting it white, but there's something about the wood that just won't let me. img_7940 The little Christmas trees were a Marshals find for $9.99 a piece. They were the first thing I bought with this year's Christmas decor budget. My favorite thing about them are the tiny pinecones scattered throughout their branches. Pinecones give such a rustic, natural feel. The chalkboard...is kind of a long story. But suffice it to say, it was once a table top. It also functioned as the one year milestone chalkboard for my son's first birthday. Now it is the focal point of the mantel. It was originally purchased from Goodwill. Also from Goodwill are the PEACE stocking hangers, which were a total of $3 for the set. I've thought about spray painting them a different color, but for now, I like the silver. img_7937 The wreath I made myself, from some greenery I found outside our apartment. I'll be posting a tutorial next week, so be on the lookout for that. Next is the best part of Christmas decor in my opinion: the tree!! A fir is my favorite kind of tree to get. They tend to be a tad more expensive than a traditional pine tree, but the look is just so elegant. If the tree decorations look a bit sparse at the bottom, keep in mind that we have a three year old and a fifteen month old who like to rearrange the ornaments frequently. That's just real life. Ha! img_7874 I originally bought the PEACE stocking holders with the intent to hang our stockings from them (crazy idea, I know!). However, I can't currently hang them there for fear that one of my children will yank them down onto their head. So that caused me to get a little more creative with our stockings. We found this wooden ladder for $8 at a thrift store in Nicholasville, KY. img_7880 The stockings I made and you can find the tutorial here. The wooden letters labeling our stockings are gift tags from Target, $1 a piece. The printables are from Nest of Posies and in dollar store frames. This next area of my home is one of my favorites, decor wise. It's such a strange little area. Just a tiny dining room off of the living room, leading into the kitchen. But the blank canvas of the wall has become a space that has evolved over time into something I love. The chalkboard was originally a mirror with airplanes around it in primary colors that looked like it belonged in a little boy's room. It was purchased at the same thrift store in Georgia for around $12. img_7876 The wooden boxes were built by Jessica for our launch party this past May. You can see how she made them here. You can also check out our launch party, to see how that went if you missed it! The boxes were originally on our back patio and filled with soil and annual flowers. I promptly killed the flowers as I do most plants. Something about watering them on a regular basis escapes me (thank goodness the hubs has been taking the lead with watering our tree!). I cleaned out the boxes and replaced the flowers and dirt with trimmings from our tree and pinecones the kids and I collected outside. img_7877 My absolute favorite part about this room is now my dining room table. It's a true antique at 100 years old and it was a 2-3 day project that took me MONTHS to complete. Why did it take me months you ask? Because I have a bajillion projects on my to-do list and two toddlers who take up any spare time. However, I did finish the job on thanksgiving and was able to put this beautiful little table in my dining area. img_7875 That wraps it up for the Zopp homestead. Enjoy Jess' beautiful home! She has been such a home decor inspiration! Amanda Signature   Jessica's Home Hey, y'all! I, like Amanda, would decorate on November 1st every year if time allowed. I usually don't find a spare weekend until halfway through November, though, and I keep changing things up a bit over the course of the next few weeks until I get it just right. My aunt has this philosophy that each year you use last year's decor, making sure to add just a few new things {and recycling old ones} to keep up with the trends. I love that idea, so each year brings a little something new! The first stop on our tour is our entryway. It's a continual work in progress and will soon be painted white {with hopes one day to shiplap}, but in the meantime is decorated as is. I absolutely love the blue of our front door. I generally use very soft, almost neutral blues in my spring and summer decor, but Christmas doesn't lend itself to blues in my humble, farmhouse-style opinion, so the porch kind of stands on its own. I do love the way this flocked wreath looks against that blue for Christmas, though! I built the bench in our entry, and the "welcome home" sign is an old piece of art that I painted with chalkboard paint and hand-lettered. {If you need help doing your own, check out our hand-lettering tutorial here.} I ordered the Merry Christmas pillow cover from Amazon for $4.00 and picked up the table runner that's draped on the bench in the Target Dollar Spot. I am a huge fan of greenery, and you'll see these little Home Goods trees all over the house this season! The silver reindeer is from Walmart, and the wood slice, well... it's from a tree! holiday-home-tour-2 The living room has always been where we put our tree {we do a live one every year... anyone else for Team Live versus Team Artificial?}, but we converted that space to an office last year. Fitting a tree in proved a bit interesting this year, but we made it work! The old window I put together {tutorial here} then hung some Hobby Lobby picks on as well as a Hobby Lobby magnolia wreath. The wood Merry Christmas sign is available here, and the reindeer pillow tutorial is here. I just love the way the white and green and red are brought out so much more this time of year! This is arguably my favorite room in our house. holiday-home-tour-10 holiday-home-tour-4 Taking my aunt's advice, I add new things to our tree each year. The bow topper I made from a spool of Walmart ribbon, and I found the berry picks at Lowes. My three favorite things on the tree this year are the galvanized ornaments which I found at Hobby Lobby {50% off, people!}, my grandmother's antique white glass ornaments and these gold antlers which I found at Lowes. holiday-home-tour-1 I'm also a little partial to these chalkboard wood slice ornaments which I made using a tree limb, some chalk paint and a white paint marker, all tied with twine. We're making these at our upcoming workshop which you can sign up for here! holiday-home-tour-3 On the other side of our office/living room is one of my favorite thrift store finds ever! I picked up this green storage bench in Nicholasville with the intention of painting it, but love the green so much with our decor that I've never touched it except to clean off the cobwebs. I loaded it up with some grain sack pillows, a faux fur blanket, wood crate, lantern and sign and called it Christmassy! Hanging above it is a wood reindeer sign I found at Marshalls and a wire basket from Tuesday Morning. Oh, and there's that greenery again! This garland is from Lowes, and I've used it in our archways and on the soffet in our kitchen. holiday-home-tour-16 I picked up two boxwood wreaths {live, of course} at Trader Joe's this past week after hearing about these 22" ones for only $10! They look amazing even after they've dried, and I'm pretty sure these aren't going to come down when the rest of the Christmas decor does. holiday-home-tour-5 In the hallway, I recently repainted our large mirror, which used to hang in the office. In all its chippy goodness, it now hangs above an apothecary cabinet filled with Rae Dunn mugs. The three wood tree signs Amanda and I made. The books are thrift store books wrapped in white paper and tied with twine, and there's another little miniature tree from Home Goods! holiday-home-tour-9 holiday-home-tour-6 The last room on the tour today is our den. This stone fireplace is one of the features that sold us on this house, and I love decorating it each year. I found these miniature trees at Kroger and flocked them with sprayable "snow" from Walmart, then lined the mantle with garland and pinecones and added our stockings and stocking holders. The color-blocked letters were a bit of a splurge at Home Goods for almost $10 each, but so worth it! Our reindeer bust stays up year round, but definitely fits the theme! holiday-home-tour-13 holiday-home-tour-14 I built an entertainment center for our TV because I was craving open shelving in this room {mostly to show off the board and batten... I admit it}, and it was another new and fun thing to decorate this year. I added a set of three Hobby Lobby white and gold trees, two flocked trees set in wicker baskets and, my favorite item on the shelves, this red and white print from the She Reads Truth advent study last year. The two gold and white square canvases were a Gabriel Brothers find for $6 each. It's hard to see, but one says Merry Christmas and the other says Peace on Earth in gold print. **Sidebar: If you have not checked out their site or their app, She Reads Truth is a beautiful site that provides inspirational stories and devotionals for women {they have a parallel site, He Reads Truth for men} written by women, and these ladies have so many truth nuggets to share! I'd encourage you to check them out!** holiday-home-tour-12 Finally, there's this ladder! If you haven't seen my dining room storage ladder tutorial, head over here. This is the other half of that old ladder I found in our basement. I simply painted it white, and added a TJ Maxx blanket! holiday-home-tour-15 I'll be sharing our dining room and hot cocoa bar next week, and can't wait to show you all the DIYs and frugal finds to help you set up your own, so stay tuned! In the meantime, head over to Hartley Social, the next stop in our Deck the Halls Home Tour! Katie is a fellow Kentucky girl and friend of ours who posts some of the most gorgeous photos!!! She is a thriving entrepreneur, and we just think she's one of the sweetest, most supportive friends we know and, y'all, she knows her stuff! So stop by her site and show her some love! Merry Christmas! jess-signature
DIY Christmas Gifts
I am always on the hunt for cute, yet simple & easy holiday gift DIYs. There's something so personal about creating something for someone else. It takes more time, thought & effort than going to the store to buy something. It's also usually a little easier on the budget. Here are a few of my favorite ideas this holiday season.

Chalkboard Picture Frame

fancy-chalkboards-4 Christy at Confessions of a Serial DIYer found these amazing frames at an Estate sale for super cheap. You could do your own thrift store shopping for frames or even redo one you already own. The great thing about them is that a fresh coat of paint covers a multitude of sins. She used hardboard & spray chalkboard paint. Adding a a few pieces of chalk, tied in some twine, is a lovely finishing touch to the gift.

Hand Painted Coffee Mugs

sharpie-and-glitter-mug I love these. First of all because I always love a new mug for my daily coffee. And second of all, the possibilities are only limited by your creative mind (or the minds of others). Kellie at Nest of Posies blog gives you the complete & very simple tutorial for her sharpie & glitter mug pictured above. Glitter isn't your thing? No problem! Find your favorite phrase or design and get to it. You can use the sharpie method, or even grab a paint pen for more color. Not confident in your handwriting? Check out this hand-lettering post our friend Liz did a few months back.

Cinnamon Stick Candle

cinnamon I don't know about you, but I love candles. They are so warm & inviting and instantly give a cozy feel to any space. Candles make a great gift, but they can also get pretty pricey. These only require a simple vanilla candle, easily found for cheap at the dollar store or Walmart. Head on over to SheKnows.com for the full tutorial. It's so easy!

Holiday Throw Pillow

diy-reindeer-pillow Did you see this tutorial on the blog yesterday? So cute! And so easy to do. Check out Jess' post for her awesome DIY project that's as easy on the budget as it is on the eyes. Who wouldn't love to receive one of these adorable throw pillows this Christmas? And it's easy to customize with your own design.

Wood Sign

img_6975 Every one loves a wood sign. They are so simple to make! Just grab a slab of wood, stain it, use our awesome transfer paper method, & paint. You can literally use any phrase you want. Just find the font, print it out and you're good to go! No hand lettering required! You can find our wood sign tutorial here. The sign pictured here is part of our craft night, hosted by Daily Offerings Coffee Roastery on December 20th. If you haven't signed up to join us yet, please do! Salt & Life Blog will be supplying everything you need to make a wood sign, miniature boxwood style wreath, and wood slice chalk ornaments. Make sure you register here to reserve your supplies! There are so many more ideas out there, but that's all for now. I hope you're able to check at least a few names off your Christmas list. Be sure to share with us your photos of any completed projects. We would love to see how they turn out! Merry Christmas, Friends! Amanda Signature  
DIY Burlap Christmas Stockings
I know it seems like I sew things. I mean, I do sew things. But I would never call myself a seamstress. What I do, you can do too, I promise. Can you sew in a straight line? Wait. No, me neither. Ha! See? That's not even required. Let's just sew in a basically straight direction and we'll get there. We had several mismatched stockings for Christmas and really none for the two additional members of our growing family. We had two sets for us as a couple and used one set for the kids last year. Lame! It worked and all, but it's time to class up our img_7005Christmas decor game. When we visited Nate's Coffee roastery this past summer, he mentioned the burlap sacks the coffee beans come in. He offered some to us and I knew I wanted some, but had no idea what I would make! Well then I came across some adorable burlap stockings on Pinterest. Here's how I made them:

DIY Burlap Christmas Stockings

Materials Needed: Burlap, Marker, Sewing Machine, Scissors, Straight pins, fabric for lining (optional)

Step 1: Trace your stocking.

img_7007 This is pretty simple. Just lay out your burlap, folded in half, and take a stocking you already have to use as a stencil. Trace around the stocking using a marker. img_7006

Step 2: Cut out your stockings!

img_7004 Ok, since you folded your burlap in half, you can cut both sides of the stocking out at once. Timesaver! I cut about a half inch outside of the drawn line from tracing. I also traced fairly generously around the edges of my stocking. You want to ensure there will be plenty of room for sewing, without losing too much room in your stocking. You can always trim off the extra fabric once you've sewn it up. You should end up with two identical pieces.

Step 3: Pin

img_7001 This part is slightly tedious, but not too bad. Just lay your two stocking pieces together, marker side out (so that the marker ends up on the inside after sewing and turning right side out) and line them up as best you can. Place your straight pins along the perimeter of the stocking to ensure the pieces don't slide around.

Optional Step: Adding a lining

If your burlap is fairly loose, you may want a lining to keep any stocking stuffers from poking holes through. I used an old white bed sheet, folded over and traced same as the burlap. Then I laid the white lining pieces on the outside of the burlap when pinning. So I had four layers to sew through. I worried it might be too thick for the sewing machine, but it handled it just fine. I also put a plaid cuff on the top of the boys' stockings. I just pinned it to the top of the white lining and sewed that part together first. It takes a little thinking through, but it's also very simple. img_7002 I had some lace lying around and added that to top of the girls' stockings. I pinned the lace to the top of both the lining and burlap (all three were pinned together along the top edge of each stocking piece). Then I sewed along the top of the stocking pieces before sewing the two stocking pieces together.

Step 4: Sew

Sewing time!! Thred that sewing machine (the trickiest part for me!!) and the bobbin thread (even worse!!) and now it's easy peasy. The hardest part for me was the foot of the stocking. In order to make sure it's rounded the way you want, you may want to draw a rounded line for yourself with your marker. No one will see it in the end since it will be inside your stocking. Then when you get to the foot, just move slowly, rounding the fabric and following the guide you've drawn for yourself. To Hang: Slip in a piece of ribbon or jute at the top corner of the stocking. Just fold it in half and stick the end through the two pieces of stocking (creating a loop). Then when you sew it up, the ribbon will be sewn into place, ready to hang the stocking. Once it's all sewn together turn it right side out and make sure there are no holes. You may have to iron it flat to get it to hang correctly. img_6999 All done! That wasn't so bad was it? Time to hang them with care in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon will be there. Merry Christmas, Salt & Lifers! Go be the spice of life this holiday season. Amanda Signature  
DIY Monogram Laurel Wreath
Greenery is the perfect "every season" decoration. Pine and cedar during the winter, fresh flowers and vines in the spring and summertime, magnolia wreaths... okay. Those are great every single day, let's be honest! Laurel wreaths are everywhere these days, including our fall printables from a few weeks ago! A good friend of mine saw this tutorial on Pinterest, and asked for my help to make one to mount above her headboard. We modified the tutorial a bit and found the perfect greenery for every season at Hobby Lobby (where else!?!). Of course, I had to share it with you because it's one of those projects that turned out even better than we were hoping! The best part? It's easy and inexpensive. Win-win! pinterest-image-laurel-wreath

What You'll Need:

Wire wreath form (we used this 24" one) Greenery garland (we used this) Wire cutters Hot glue Floral tape Decorative wall letter The first thing we did was disassemble the wire wreath form. The best method we found was to wedge a flathead screwdriver into the connections to pull them apart. You'll only need the outermost ring of the wreath form. Using the wire cutters, cut the circular wire in half. Once you do that, you'll be left with two half-circle lengths of wire like this. laurel-wreath-5 Next, lay out one of the half circle wire lengths on a flat surface (save the other for your next project!). Take your garland and cut it in half using the wire cutters. Lay out each piece of garland over the wire and trim any excess. I wanted the garland to come well above the ends of the wire, and the garland I purchased was the perfect height once I cut it in half to use on each side. I also wanted the ends to cross at the bottom, which helped use any extra length. Once you've got the garland and wire laid out the way you want it to look, start hot gluing! More is better with this because you definitely don't want the garland to start popping off the wire. laurel-wreath-4 The final step once all the glue has dried is to go back and reinforce the glue by using floral tape. This stuff is awesome. It sticks to itself and matches the branches (we used brown tape). Wrap small pieces around your wire and garland in strategically spaced areas (like the bottom center where the branches cross) to ensure the branches won't slip off the wire even if the glue doesn't hold. laurel-wreath-3 Then admire! Your laurel wreath is done. All that's left is to hang the wreath and mount the letter of your choosing! We used 3M strips and hooks to hang the wreath form and the gold letter because they're so light. The whitewashed letter is wood, though, and much heavier so it will require nails. laurel-wreath-2 Here is how my friend's turned out! As soon as we got it up on the wall, I did a happy dance because it was just so perfect! Since we did this project, I've decked our halls for the upcoming Christmas season, and love how the laurel wreath fits in with our holiday decor! laurel-wreath-m This was such an easy and beautiful project. I hope you'll give it a try, and let us know what you think! jess-signature  
How to Host Friendsgiving
This year will be my first year making a turkey. I'm a little nervous about it even though the instructions are clearly written on the back of the turkey packaging. I figure it could go one of three ways: I burn the turkey a la The Santa Clause; the turkey is so dry its inedible a la National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; or it could turn out perfectly. I'm rolling with option number three, and I'm pretty sure our friends are as well considering they'll have to eat said turkey tonight. That's right! I'm making the turkey this year because we're hosting Friendsgiving! Apparently, it's a thing. If you host, you make the turkey. I didn't know that, but there you have it. Thankfully, I planned a Friendsgiving last year (a successful one, I might add, yay!) and one last week with a friend of mine, so this wasn't a total stretch. Really, I love decorating and cooking for the holidays, so you won't hear me complaining about hosting. If you're finding yourself hosting a Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving this year and still don't feel like you have all the details down, I've got you covered! Here are all of my tips on how to host for the holidays! And I'll be sure to let you know how my turkey turns out. Wish me luck!

Pick a date, a menu and a few friends.

cinnamon-stick-514243_1920 Invitations are one of my favorite things about a party! You can design your own or browse Etsy for some incredibly beautiful ones to download and print yourself. This year, we went really informal and sent out invites via text because we were a little rushed. Thankfully, it made planning the menu a heck of a lot easier because we were able to decide on potluck items in the same string. I love a good potluck, especially around the holidays because it's a great way to get new recipes from friends! Here's a printable to make sharing recipes even easier! downloadable-recipe-card I always try to make sure the turkey (or ham) and stuffing are covered by the host, and also that I have one or two appetizers and a dessert on hand. That way most of the basics are prepped, and all of your friends get to pick their favorite side to bring! This year, I made my favorite stuffing recipe, this beer bread and garlic garlic dip, sausage balls, pumpkin pie and pecan pie in addition to the turkey. I told you I like to cook for the holidays! stuffing-balls-recipe sausage-balls-recipe

Decide on decor.

Admittedly, aside from planning the menu, this is my favorite part! I showed you how to create a fall tablescape a few weeks ago, and Amanda hit the decor portion of Thanksgiving yesterday with tons of inspirational ideas! I pulled from those ideas, and this is what I came up with. host-friendsgiving-1 My go-to tablecloth is either a burlap sack or brown kraft paper. This year, I went with the kraft paper, and wrote out seasonal words like "friends" and "give thanks". I hand-lettered each of these using the tips Liz provided in her post on handlettering which you can find here. If you've read the premiere issue of the Magnolia Journal, you know there are tons of ways to use greenery in your decor. I took a cue right off the cover and hung cedar boughs from our dining room chandelier. I also placed some on the table, along with those white pumpkins I used in my fall tablescape. These adorable burlap-wrapped pine trees are from Home Goods and made a perfect addition to the centerpiece. Continuing the greenery theme (thank you, Joanna Gaines) I took clippings of fresh rosemary and tied silverware and napkins up with twine. Underneath each, is a chalkboard printable that says simply "give thanks" which you can find here. Hobby Lobby had all fall decor 80% off, so I snagged the dinner and dessert plates there. I also incorporated our fall printables into the decor. You can enter your email here to download our printables! The hot apple cider bar was the perfect addition to our Friendsgiving decor, too! You can read all about the details of that here. friendsgiving-1

Prep Everything the Day Before.

I mean everything! We had the turkey thawed and seasoned and even in its roasting pan. Any dips, appetizers, sides or desserts that you can make ahead of time, get those taken care of. It will save you such a headache the day of (trust me!). There is always something unexpected that happens or an ingredient I realize I don't have. Anything that needs to bake, you can prepare the day before and pop in the oven the day of your shindig. A little trick I learned when I was first starting is to cover everything in aluminum foil and write on the foil what temperature it needs to be baked at and how much time it will take. It makes me feel super organized which leads to less stress (that's good for everyone!). turkey

The Extras.

One of my favorite ways to go the extra mile during the holidays is by providing takeout boxes for our guests. It also saves me from having to buy all new tupperware because I will inevitably forget who has what. That's just how I roll. I told you Hobby Lobby had 80% off all of their fall items, and these to go boxes were no exception. Line them with parchment paper or wax paper, and your guests will have to go boxes for all of those leftovers! to-go-boxes Another great way to make your guests feel special is party favors. These don't have to be extravagant, just a little something to say "thanks for coming". I picked up these white kraft paper bags, filled them with Reese cups and candy canes, taped them closed and tied them with twine and rosemary sprigs. It took less than a minute to make each one, and they didn't go begging! party-favors

Relax and Have A Good Time.

This is always the hardest part for me because event planning and enjoying myself don't usually go together, but it's the most important part! Why go to all the trouble of throwing a beautiful party if you're not going to love on the people you're throwing the party for? Once the food is ready, the prayer is said and everyone takes their seat, enjoy spending time with those you love. Laugh a little. Relax, and think about the mess after the last person has gone. If you love games, have some cards or board games on hand. We put kraft paper on the kids table along with some crayons to keep the little ones entertained, and designated a play area for them with books and a movie. If you all love making things, set up some craft stations. If you just love to chat and drink cider, set up a cider bar. The possibilities are endless, and you'll be free to enjoy all of these things without having to be in "host mode" all night. laughter Speaking of kids, this little cutie was helping set the table, and I just couldn't resist snapping his photo. How cute is he and that little sweater!?! simon

Cleanup.

Okay, this part is the worst, but it can be really quick and easy if you've prepped right. I use a throwaway roaster pan for the turkey (mostly because I don't actually have a roasting pan, but also because I can just toss it at the end of the night). All of our dishes were disposable. The printables were gifts along with the party favors, so guests will take those with them when they leave. Set all of your tupperware aside during your prep the day before so you can easily store any leftovers that weren't taken with guests and get those dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher. The kraft paper table covers are recyclable (yay!) and help keep your table from getting too messy. All that's left is to pick up any trash lying around and wipe down the counters and tables. That's it! Easy cleanup. header Need some ideas on what to do with all of those leftovers? Check out these recipes from Jessie at Life as a Strawberry. Happy hosting, friends! **Update: We roasted our turkey in Reynolds Oven Roasting Bag, and it turned out perfectly!!! Follow the instructions on the package, and you will be amazed at how simple it is!!!** xoxo jess-signature    
Hot Apple Cider Bar
Yesterday, my mom and I were talking about Thanksgiving and who's bringing what for the big family meal, and it hit me. Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! Does anyone else feel like this year has just flown by? Once I recovered from that realization, happiness took over because, as y'all know, this season is my absolute favorite! Celebrating Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving, ringing in Christmastime, my birthday falls in there... It's just a wonderful few months! One thing is for sure... Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without hot apple cider. My father-in-law always has mulled cider on the stove, and my grandfather has a percolator full of it when we visit them! Last year for Christmas, I set up a hot cocoa bar in the house, and it was a big hit. So I got to thinking... why not have a hot cider bar? I couldn't find a whole lot on Pinterest for inspiration for an indoor bar, but I knew there were some basics I needed to make it happen and wanted it to be rustic to celebrate fall. Everything I used to make this cider bar I already had at home, so you can totally make this yours with pieces you already own! Of course, what cider bar would be complete without a printable? You can download the one I made at the end of this post! hot-cider-text-small Our dining room is where everyone in our family gathers for meals. Sometimes we spill over to the back porch, but knowing that Friendsgiving was going to be at my house this year, I put it in the dining room on the shelves I built a year or so ago. You can find the tutorial for the shelves here. It's the perfect little eating space for kids that doubles as a workspace for me when I'm having coffee. Plus it gets tons of natural light! hot-apple-cider-bar-7 The wood gather sign is available here for $35.00 {you can get 15% off by subscribing to Salt & Life Blog} or you can check out our tutorial here. I stumbled on the gold and white polkadot mugs at Home Goods a few weeks ago, and set them on top of a tree slice. hot-apple-cider-bar-3 My hubby cut some tree slices for me last year with a chainsaw, and I painted the bark white to fit our decor. All of the pumpkins and acorn squash pictured are from Kroger ($1 each!). I picked up the galvanized drink dispenser at Walmart at the end of the summer season. We have lots of get togethers and birthdays during the August and September months, and it came in handy! I filled it with hot cider, and it works perfectly for a cider dispenser as well! Amanda has a great cider recipe here! hot-apple-cider-bar-2 The only thing I actually had to purchase for the cider bar were the Pirouette French Vanilla sticks. I have a ridiculous number of mason jars sitting around the house for when I planned on canning veggies from our garden and never did. Thankfully, they make great displays! I also set out cinnamon in a glass bowl that my Great Aunt gave me years ago. hot-apple-cider-bar-4 I told you there was a free printable coming! Because I love rustic wood frames, I built the one pictured, painted a chalkboard background and added the white chalk marker text. You can absolutely do that, and I hope to have a tutorial up in the next couple of months showing you how. In the meantime, I've created an 11x17 resizable print that you can download here. cider-bar-printable hot-apple-cider-bar-5 The last step was adding some harvest colors. I have a habit of buying fresh flowers every two weeks at the grocery, and the orange sunflowers were my latest purchase. The white distressed pitcher came from Big Lots years ago, and I simply wrapped twine around the narrowest part of it to make it feel a little more rustic. The apples and acorn squash are sitting in a white Wilton pie dish I purchased at Home Goods years ago for next to nothing, and the candle also came from Home Goods. I hope you're inspired by this cider bar! The best part about it is it can be easily made into a Hot Cocoa Bar for Christmas. We'll be showing you how in December!!! Happy Monday! xoxo jess-signature