Sharing one way to customize your stockings this Christmas on A Beautiful Mess today. Head over to see how simple and inexpensive this little project was!
Sharing one way to customize your stockings this Christmas on A Beautiful Mess today. Head over to see how simple and inexpensive this little project was!
Last year I ordered Christmas cards from a fabulous company and got almost all of them sent out in early December. This year I wasn't sure if I was going to get a photo of the kids done in time to get them ordered so I went ahead and came up with an idea for making something a little special to go along with printed photos from our home printer.
I shared how to make a little more complicated straw himmeli mobile earlier this year but wanted to make a simple ornament to include in most of our Christmas cards. We had a lot of support from family and friends this year as we welcomed the excitement and challenge of baby number three on it's way during Brett's four month deployment so I wanted to send out a little thank you in our Christmas cards that they could add to their Christmas trees.
1. For one ornament you'll need: Three paper or plastic straws, bakers twine or embroidery thread, and scissors. I found my paper straws in the Target dollar spot but most hobby and craft stores carry them. You can find extra special ones on Etsy. 2. Cut three lengths measuring about 2.25" long out of the first two straws and two out of the last straw. Use the leftovers to create four even lengths that measure just under 1". You'll also need four strands of twine or thread measuring about 2' each. 3. Fold the four strands in half and tie a knot in the center. Then spread them out in four directions two threads at a time. String one of the 2" pieces of straw over each of the pairs of thread as shown. Separate the strands at the top of the straws. 4. String one of the shorter pieces of straw over the right strand of thread in each pair. 5.Take the left strand of thread and thread it through the shorter straws to the left of them so that each short straw has a strand entering and exiting on each end. 6. Pull tight to form a 3-D shape. 7. You now have four new pairs of twine/thread. Slip your last four straws over your four pairs of twine/thread. 8. Pull together at the top and adjust your straws. Tie a knot to secure things. 9. Trim the twine/thread about 1-2" from the knot for a little flair. This will be the bottom of your ornament. Attach more twine/thread at the other end to hang.
These ornaments will fold almost flat so they can easily be slipped into an envelope along with a note or photo and given as a little gift or added to a present to dress things up.
Need more himmelis in your life? Here's another way to crank out some last minute ornaments from sparkly pipe cleaners.
I was craving something different for our Christmas decor this year - a break from all of the vintage Shiny Brites in hot pink and teal that we've used the last six years - but didn't want to go out and buy a whole new set of ornaments and decor because, duh, baby on the way. Himmelis have been on my radar all year as seen here, here, and here. I love their shape and that they're new to me but rather traditional if you're Finnish. There's a long history of people making himmeli ornaments for Christmas or mobiles throughout the year from straws and brass but I wanted something sparkly and inexpensive that I could pump out in about an hour. Gold pipe cleaners! Yes!
1. Each ornament takes three pipe cleaners. You will also want yarn or twine to hang them. First, fold two pipe cleaners over each other to form an X. Don't just lay them on top of each other, they need to fold back so that they are two right angles that hook in the middle. 2. About 2" up from the center, fold each end up to the ceiling. 3. Take your third pipe cleaner and fold it around one of the bends about 1/4" as shown and then wrap it all the way around the next bend. Make it as tight as you can without bending everything out of shape. 4. Continue to bend that third pipe cleaner around each bend until you come back to the beginning. Fold over and trim extra if there's any. You'll want to make sure you're leaving an equal amount of space between each of the bends. 5. Take the shorter two pieces at the top of your open himmeli and fold over each other. 6. Then take the next two and fold over. Trim edges. Gently reshape any bends in the lines if you need to. Attach some yarn or twine to the top and hang.
I really love the way they look against the white tree. I've got no plans to get rid of any Shiny Brites but it's fun to have so many different colors in my collection that I can change things out every year or two. This year I added a finger-knit garland (only one half of it has been hung because I'm still working on the other half!), wrapped the tree in a thrifted afghan instead of fussing with yet another handmade tree skirt, pulled all of the gold bulbs from my stash, and made the tree topper out of leftover pipe cleaners. It was more of the same twisting and folding of pipe cleaners. I'll be sure to share more of our holiday decor in a future post.
Ruby got in on the pipe cleaner action while I was working and made herself a handful of candy cane pipe cleaner ornaments for the shorter white tree we have. We also made some twisty hearts and she climbed on top of that deer and hung them all near the top. It's quite charming.
The great thing about this kind of project is how versatile it is. You could string together a dozen or more himmelis to make a garland for your doorway, add them to a wreath, or make mini himmelis and attach them to presents. Feel free to link back to this tutorial to share your own!
We had a quiet, slow-paced Thanksgiving this year with just our immediate family and it was pretty great. There was no pressure to get the food on the table by a certain time, no one to see our floor full of dirty laundry as they came in through the back door or the dusty mantle as they settled into the couch after too much turkey. We spent the morning prepping the turkey and cleaning for our own sakes with enough time to spare for me to finish quilting together a bassinet blanket I'd started late the night before and then sat down for a late lunch with plenty of time left in the day to still want leftovers for dinner.
We continued our tradition of watching ELF but I didn't have the energy to bust out the first of the Christmas decorations. All I could muster was some pumpkin pie and ice cream on the couch with my baby belly as a shelf and candles flickering as we laughed through all of our favorite scenes. It was my favorite part.
This year I DIDN'T ruin the pumpkin pie but I DID forget to drain the canned yams before making my grandmother's candied yam dish. I asked Brett to check them in the oven to see if they were done and he asked me if they were supposed to twerk. Otherwise this was my third time cooking a full spread after eleven plus years of marriage and I'm pretty proud that I only forgot to drain those yams!
I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely if you celebrated with us in the US. There is always so much to be thankful for and I'm finding myself especially aware of all the ways life is good right now.
Last week Sebastian's school got together for a lantern walk after dark to celebrate Martinmas. The students at Sebastian's school learn lots of stories of noble people throughout the year including stories of saints such as Martin-the man who saw a shivering beggar at the city gate and drew his sword to cut his cloak in half in order to share it. Carrying the lanterns on a walk in the evening represents how we can shine our own light in the darkness.
Their teacher had the kids color large sheets of paper and then we helped the kids coat the back side in cooking oil to make the sheets translucent. Once they'd soaked in the oil a few of the moms volunteered to fold them into lanterns following this tutorial. We met at a local park after dark with most of the rest of his class and visited while his teacher and some parents helped set lit tea lights inside each of the lanterns. Then we walked quietly around the park listening to the students sing their Martinmas song before having pumpkin muffins and visiting while the kids played in the dark on the playground.
It was a beautifully clear night just under the mountains and a great time getting to know some of the moms and dads we don't usually visit with at pick up. Switching to this new school was a big decision for our family but it has been such a great one for all of us.
Also, I now have exceptional lantern making skills.
A month ago I asked Ruby what kind of party she wanted this year expecting another version of Hello, Kitty or something pink involving princesses. Instead she asked if we could have a family party in the woods with a giraffe pinata (that she later decided should be a unicorn), black balloons, rainbow flowers, and chocolate cake. I told her we could easily do most of those.
We went with a black and white color scheme, added some zoo animals to a red velvet cake (which is basically chocolate, right?), and had a family party in the woods. We ran out of time getting balloons and flowers on our way because our daylight was almost gone on our side of the mountains but she didn't even notice. We quickly found a spot in Manitou with nearby parking and Brett took the kids on a little hike while I set things up.
I wanted to use a lot of things we already had on hand to keep the cost of this party to a minimum and realized keeping things simple in the food/drink department was key for a traveling family party. I picked up mint plates at Party City, had mint straws from a summer sale at Michael's, and used leftover mint fabric from a quilt project to make the garlands. I had leftover gold stars from Ruby's party last year so I just purchased another set of larger ones from Party City and incorporated gold seal stickers from Office Depot to make a fun circle garland.
Most of these decorations I'll be able to use again for the holidays or future parties. The striped fabric for the tablecloth was purchased from Wal-Mart of all places and draped over the large cardboard box I used to haul stuff in from the car. The wooden table was a DIY I did earlier this year that I use as a bedside table, the poles in buckets was a project I worked on this summer that got shelved because of a rough first trimester, and the picnic blanket was a last minute DIY that I may be sharing here soon. Resourcefulness, y'all!
Ruby was pretty excited about her party but not so excited about standing still for more than two pictures. I'm such a mean mom.
We had hot ham and cheese sandwiches, hot chocolate with giant marshmallows, apple juice, and red velvet cake. It was just enough to keep us warm and fill our bellies and with only 4.5 people in attendance, we didn't really need a ton of sides. Our party site was right next to a natural spring so there was a lovely little creek running under our space and a trail that went past us that brought lots of birthday wishes from walkers and hikers. Sebastian recognized a friend from class that was going to camp up on the mountain with his dad and sister and Ruby made friends with two giant, friendly dogs that were unleashed and almost ate our cake! I grabbed the sandwiches and the owner quickly called the curious dogs off before they got too bold.
We were only there for about 45 minutes before we had to pack up due to darkness but it was such a special way to celebrate Ruby's 4th birthday and a fun memory I hope she'll carry with her. We love you Little Red!
P.S. Ruby's first, second, and third birthday (that went largely undocumented somehow!). Each year I've tried to incorporate the vintage yellow sheet that we used as a backdrop for her newborn photos. You can spot them in the first two parties and it was the tablecloth for our third Hello, Kitty party at the park. This year we used it again as the tablecloth for her actual birthday morning breakfast celebration that included pancakes, pretty flowers, and all of the presents sent in from family across the country. This kid is loved!
Halloween was pretty chilly this year! We shed our coats to take a costume pic and then my faux fur coat went back on and Ruby got back into hers. We went trick-or-treating in Old Colorado City with Tara and Channing and her family before grabbing something to eat and meeting up with our neighbor friends to roam the hood. I was Barefoot and Pregnant for Boo at the Zoo but wanted to change it up for Halloween. I ended up using my backup bridesmaid dress from Emma's wedding that was a size too big back in May and added a cheap veil and roses from a craft store to be a shotgun wedding bride. Easy costumes are my favorite kind this year.
We ran into a lot of families from Sebastian's old school but the highlight of the night for that boy may have been running into his sweetheart and her family from last year. We rounded a corner near a tiny neighborhood market and there they were. I'll never forget how it took him a second to recognize her in her costume and then his jaw dropped, he lowered his glasses and said, "I'm so happy to see you!" He gave her some of his candy because they were just starting out and we got a picture together. One of those sweet memories.
Ruby's favorite part of the night was when a friendly kitten almost followed us home. I'm so glad it got distracted before it found out where we lived. It was another Halloween without Brett home to join us but we made the most of it anyway. I hope yours was full of fun memories as well!
We joined the Nichols family again this year for Boo at the Zoo here in Colorado Springs last weekend because walking up a large hill in the cold is just more fun with friends. Both of our husbands are away with the Army at the moment so it was another way to make a special memory with the kids. Everyone recognized my little Harry Potter and we even had a little Hermione taking a similar route. Batgirl got shy at the comic book stand and wouldn't get anywhere near the adult Batman. She couldn't even be bribed with candy. After finding an easy to wear, vintage maxi with a horse shoe print and then a peasant looking blouse in the same Halloween section at the thrift store, I decided to go as a barefoot and pregnant prairie girl whose husband is off at war.
My friend, Mindy, made her girls' costumes and came up with the fun idea of being a lion tamer along with her baby lion in tow. Her oldest went as a California raisin and received plenty of comments in passing-mostly from adults. Suzy Bishop was recognized by another adult and got her picture taken. They were so busy facebooking it as we left they didn't hear her say goodbye.
The kids enjoyed running around the zoo as it got dark and bumping into their favorite characters and we ended the night with as many kids as we started with so it was a successful trip. Also, there was a Thriller flash mob. I know those aren't quite as trendy as they used to be but a flash mob in real life is always going to be exciting.
We still have Halloween ahead of us despite feeling like we've already done it. I'm thinking I may try to find an old wedding dress in the same Halloween section of our local thrift store, alter the corset area, and go as one half of a shotgun wedding. We'll see how much energy this growing baby offers up before Thursday evening.
P.S. Look how much smaller they looked last year!
I love having a mantle and fireplace in our living room even if it's just for looks because it's so fun to decorate through the holidays. To create a fall mantle I pulled some things I already had around the house, DIY'ed a little bat art, and added a variety of mini pumpkins.
1. Stick to a strong color palette-In this case, everything is black, white, or gold with orange as the standout color. If you want things to look cohesive choose three to four colors that repeat. It'll look good close up and from across the room. Too many colors start to compete with each other.
2. Layer, layer, layer-I have a large mirror to help frame the space and then stacked art work over that and then had pumpkins and books in front of that. Everything is slightly overlapped but not completely covering up the thing behind it. Another element in layering is staggering sizes of things. Larger to smaller, wider to narrower as you layer. It keeps your eye moving.
3. Texture is Important- I've mixed the hardness of glass, metal, and metallics with the softness of paper, flowers, and pumpkins.
These are all guideliness I keep in mind when I'm creating vignettes in my home. If you're feeling stuck just switch something out and look at it from the other side of the room. Leave it for a day or two and come back with fresh eyes and you might see what needs to be tweaked. If all else fails, you can never go wrong with flowers!
To keep this year's mantle feeling fresh even though I used a lot of elements I've had on hand for years I created some Halloween art. I found a chipboard bat silhouette at Hobby Lobby and painted it with black acrylic paint. Then I thrifted a frame and fitted it with a thick piece of white cardstock (also from Hobby Lobby) and mounted the bat with double-stick tape. It's graphic and was really easy to make.
Have you already started decorating for fall?
Labor Day weekend was great over here. I woke up early on my 32nd birthday to a beautiful, crisp morning. I was sitting on the front porch with my coffee and enjoying the quiet when I saw it - the first of the hot air balloons rising above the tree line. I yelled across the house to Sebastian to get his shoes on and then woke Ruby up and threw on a dress. As we were walking through our backyard to the car we were startled by the sound of propane being released into the balloons above. They got so close we were able to talk to them!
We made it to Memorial Park where the annual Balloon Classic was already underway hoping we could catch the second wave of balloons ascending. I just kept thinking we were so lucky to be a mere three blocks away from such a beautiful event.
We ran into some school friends and got a good look at some of the prettiest balloons on the field. Then the kids got a tip that a local weather anchorwoman was signing weather workbooks, and even though they've never actually seen her on tv, were thrilled that a local celebrity wanted to talk to them!
We went on to get coffee and breakfast before heading home to open presents over the phone with Brett and enjoy calls from my family. One of my sweet friends dropped off a beautiful, embroidered Mexican dress and another sweet friend doorbell ditched locally made ice cream and pumpkin bread. That afternoon I dropped the kids off for a play date with my friend, Jessa's, kids and met my friend, Tara, at the movie theater downtown to watch The Butler (wearing my newly hemmed Mexican dress, of course). She then treated me to my favorite things at Shuga's before I brought the kids home and shared my ice cream. The best part was that I was able to enjoy such a full, exciting day!
Sunday I was able to CLEAN MY HOUSE! Well, half of it. It was big. The energy was there for the first time in weeks and the laundry got folded, the messes were put away, and even though there were still dishes in the sink, my counters were mostly cleared off and clean! I can't tell you how good it felt. One of our sweet friends that was in town from Oklahoma took my kids to a bounce house so I could have some time to do whatever I wanted so I found myself at Barnes & Noble with my first pumpkin spice latte! It was stormy and cool out and my house was clean-ish and I got to end the night with one child falling asleep in my lap while I caught up with Ashleigh. Sigh...
Labor Day brought us more hot air balloons as they closed their weekend celebrations. We watched them from our front porch before realizing they were landing in the park across the street. I made the kids get their shoes on and we raced down the alley to watch a hand full of balloons land in our park. Most of the neighborhood showed up with dogs and kids in tow to see one of the balloons barely clear some power lines and another land in the street.
We ended the long weekend splashing around in Fountain Creek and later nursing sunburns. I got started on my first baby project - a log cabin quilt in mostly Denyse Schmidt prints - and ended the night so thankful for how lovely and full our weekend was. As I mentioned on Instagram, what could've easily been a sad birthday followed by a long weekend on the couch was actually one of the best weekends we've had since Brett's been gone. I've got a lot of friends and family to thank for that.
I hope your long weekend was restful and fun.
P.S. Feel free to keep up with our everyday over on Instagram while I work my way back over to this blog! You can find me at @smileandwave.