Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent Calendar

I have a confession. I LOVE advent calendars. Love, love, love them. I think it is a great way to mark down the days until Christmas with great anticipation. It makes something exciting every day of the month, not just on Christmas day. It makes us more mindful of what the season is really about.

Here is the advent calendar I made 3 years ago:

I still love it, and will likely keep it forever. My kids were so tiny!

I have seen a lot of really cool ideas floating around in blogland. I am pretty sure I have contemplated making just about every one of them. I told you I LOVE advent calendars. So this year, I made this for us:

What? I feel like you are unimpressed. Not festive enough? Ok, how about this?

I am looking to find some great magnetic letters so I could put Merry Christmas on the top. The whole thing can be taken down after Christmas and returned to a regular magnetic board. Festive and functional.

I will admit, I like that it is magnetic and can be re purposed, but the boxes not lined up kind of driving me crazy!

I started by painting my frame red. This Christmas we really don't have much red out though, so I changed my mind. I love the Heritage White for keeping up year round anyways.

If I could go back and start over, I would have painted the box numbers in black...oh well. The boxes came from Michaels craft store. They are a fairly heavy duty paper mache box. Mine were not on sale. I will definitely be on the lookout for the next big sale on these guys.

I stamped each box with a number for the day of the month using rubber stamps. Something was off. The red from the ink pad wasn't coming out red enough, and it just didn't have enough oomph. So, I decided to add some sparkle.

I traced each number with Elmer's Glue and then added some red glitter.

I think the little extra touch made all the difference in the world. I also made Christmas day a bigger package and tied a raw silk ribbon around it to show extra importance for the day.

I would love to see what your Advent Calendar looks like. Send me a link and I will come and take a peek! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dollar Store Christmas

I am going to be honest...I am proud of how great this looks, but part of me doesn't want to post it. It is so pretty and classic...I'm not sure I want all my neighbors to know they can get the look too for just $1 an ornament! Just look what my daughter and I did tonight:

You can't see how great it is until you see it in real life, but the close up pictures are pretty good too. Come take a closer look.

My kids really wanted lights outside for the past two years. Our house is quite small and I have a tall ladder. But when I went to put them up along the roof line last year...I realized our house is a lot taller than I thought. So this year I decided to compromise. I would light up the fence. And guess made their day! They didn't need a house all outlined in lights. As far as they know...they have Christmas lights. Kids are great like that!

I bought two strands of lights from Target. The are pretty big round lights, sold in the garden area. They aren't Christmas lights technically, and I think they are much nicer than the Christmas lights they were selling. We even had a woman stop in her car as she was driving to ask where we had bought such great lights. She said we had great style. Oh yeah, we only shop at the very best Target in town. I didn't know how to spell it differently, but in my mind I just said Target in an oh so fancy, posh way.

And even more expensive than my Target lights are the Dollar Store snowflakes. They are more than a foot across. They are huge! That is what I liked...big impact for very little money. My original thought was to paint them and possibly glitter them...but they are actually quite beautiful just the way they are. We hung them with fishing line, so it looks like they are floating.

They sparkle in the lights as if they were really made of ice. It is beautiful. Beautiful for the eyes and the pocketbook!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday...Kids Obsessions Turned Christmas Ornaments

Hi...I have missed you all! I got to spend some time with my Dad over the last few days and decided to play "Blog Hooky." I am back, and just in time for Wonderful Wednesday.

Do your kids have an obsession? You know what I mean...when they are so fascinated by something they hardly care about anything else. When my daughter was 2 she was obsessed with Jo Jo's Circus. She LOVED Jo Jo's Circus (a cartoon that was on the Disney Channel). We've been through several obsessions around here: Charlie & Lola, Cars, Angry Birds. At the moment, I feel my kids are more well rounded...ok, just not singularly obsessed with one thing.

They do both have a great love for ocean animals. I can't say I blame them, I get it. We practically live at Sea World. There probably isn't another place that we would rather spend the afternoon than Sea World. There is always something new and fascinating, which is hard to believe since we are there so often. Sea World never stops being able to surprise us with something new. One of our all time favorite surprises was the day a walrus was loose and wandering around on his own! On his own!! This is what we encountered on one of our last visits:

Obviously not an ocean animal...but can you deny how cool that is to a little boy?

My daughter used her own money that day to win a HUGE dolphin stuffed animal. I am not a fan of carnival games. The prizes are always cheap and I would rather spend my money on a "real" souvenir. However, her heart was set...and it was her own money. Isn't that the point of having your own money? You can do what YOU want. I will admit, it turned out to be the COOLEST prize.

I have no idea how long we stayed at the dolphins that day. The dolphins apparently have their own obsession...the stuffed dolphin. They couldn't get enough of it! It was amazing. It was definitely well worth the money. It was a dolphin encounter like we have never experienced before. It was beautiful.

Our ocean animal love does not only exist at Sea World. This summer we had the awesome experience of viewing Dahls Porpoise' in the wild while in Alaska. It was breathtaking! A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit the Long Beach Aquarium, and this is how my daughter spent her morning:

Yes...her hands are in a tank of sharks. IN A TANK OF SHARKS! She loved it! She also had her hands in a tank of Moon Jellies...jellyfish...gently touching only the tops. Jellyfish! I must admit, I was right there with her. It was so cool...and pretty funny, since my little man would not be caught dead with his hands in either of the tanks!

You can see, there is a bit of an ocean animal fascination around here. So, on our last Sea World visit I purchased these:

I thought they were just what we needed for Christmas decorations. Yep, you read that correctly...Christmas decorations.

Does this help you visualize it a little better? The kids share a shark bedroom, so I figured a shark Christmas tree was just what we needed for some holiday fun. However, ocean ornaments were starting at $10 each. I was not going to pay those prices. And to be honest, I was not in love with the ornaments anyways. So when I spotted these little suitcases at the gift shop I knew I had found my ornaments! $9.99 to fill a suitcase with whatever ocean animals you could fit inside. I was able to fit 30 ocean animals in that little suitcase. So each animal was about 33 cents! Pretty good deal for Christmas ornaments.

Since the plastic on these is slightly soft, I was able to pierce them with a paper piercing tool. If your toy of choice is hard, simply drill your hole with a tiny drill bit. Then I screwed in a screw eye (sold at Michaels) into each animal. We will attach each ornament onto the tree with a simple ornament hook.

Just look at all of them ready to swim around our tree!

So what is your child obsessed with? Just imagine the tree you could make for their room with their latest obsession! It was so fun to watch my kids eyes light up when they saw the ornaments for their very own tree. Spread some joy with your little ones this season. Get creative and cater to their obsession just a bit. It will be a magical Christmas that they won't forget!

I am linking up here:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Spray Paint Fixes Everything

If you have read many of my posts, you know that I have a big crush on spray paint. Ok, that is not exactly true. Not spray paint in general, my crush is very specific. I am monogamous. It is RustOleum that sets my little heart fluttering.

I will admit, I have tried other brands. I have been at the store and seen a color I thought I would try from another brand. Or you know how it is. You are out, and don't want to drag the kids to ANOTHER store, so you make do with what they sell where you are. I won't bother doing that again...I have certainly learned my lesson!

RustOleum is it for me. You can not compete with their coverage or the consistency of their product. It simply far outshines anything I have used. Go and try out a couple if you want, but if I were you, I would learn from my mistakes and just stick with RustOleum.

A couple weeks ago I found this cute little piece:

I liked it, but it had a bit of rust on it that just took away from its cuteness. You can't tell from the photo, but it just needed help. I immediately thought I could switch it up, paint it white and have a whole new updated look on my hands.

I can tell, the moment I begin to spray my primer, if it will be love. Something that was worn out and outdated, can instantly look beautiful with a coat of primer. Primer! I'm not even talking about the paint here, I am talking about primer. It is like the old look is erased and the piece is just waiting for what it CAN be instead of what once was. No matter how many pieces I have done, I am still amazed at the new life primer can bring.

That was not the case with this little guy.

When the primer went on, I hated it instantly. Hated. It went from stylish and cheap. It lost its charm. Not to mention you could still see the stylish price marked right on the side of the poor reindeer's head! Nothing says fancy like the hand written mark of weren't good were sent to the land of misfits...otherwise known as the Thrift Store. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE to find treasures at the Thrift Store. I just don't want it to look like that is where they came from!

So, what's a girl to do with a newly primed piece that has clearly gone wrong? Reverse the process. I took out a can of RustOleum Oil Rubbed Bronze and gave it a good spray.

Just look at it now! You would think I had marched into the mall, plopped down my credit card and walked out with a hefty bill and this festive little piece.

Spray Paint does fix everything! Even those items that don't really need to be fixed...just refreshed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wooden Sleigh Ornaments

Last week I found this little beauty at a Thrift Store:

Yep, the tag does say 25 cents! Yes, I am aware that it is ugly. No, I wouldn't hang it on my tree...but don't you remember my best friend? Have you really forgotten my love for all things in Heirloom White?

I brought this little beauty home and gave it a quick coat of RustOleum Double Coverage Primer. Once dried I gave it a coat of RustOleum Heirloom White Satin. Next I gave it a little touch of royalty with a crown stamp. A took a fine tip Sharpie and wrote the year and where we would be spending this Christmas season. I finished it off with a piece of twine.

Look how cute it turned out:

25 cents for the sled and the rest of the supplies I already had. You can't beat that!

I loved the sled so much, that I couldn't resist when I found these a few days later at Michaels:

The list price was $1.99, but I bought them for 50% off!

I removed the twine and took them outside for paint, just like I had done to the original sled. I used a foam stamp to mark a C on the center slat.

My original thought was to use small stamps to make my details, but my ink pad was just not cooperating. So I added details with a fine tipped Sharpie instead.

I had to make these quickly for my Art Show last weekend. If I had the time, I would have sanded them and possibly added a bit of stain to make them look aged. However, they were a huge hit and I completely sold out! I am hoping to get my hands on some more, so I could have the kids make was a really easy project. $1 is a great price too...only beaten by the random 25 cent find.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday...What Is REALLY Important

I know things are hectic this time of year. I thought with football and cheerleading ending, that we would have tons of time to spare. What was I thinking? It is the Christmas season, and despite us living in sunny California...all the "things" we need to do are snowballing. So I thought I would share an email I received today. It is a great reminder of what is REALLY important. So for today there are no projects, no photos...just important words to ponder.

"1 Corinthians 13- A Christmas Version

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator. If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook. If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing. If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure."

I am going to print this out and keep it visible as a reminder to LOVE this season. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coastal Christmas: Fireplace Design

Yesterday I showed you my Coastal Christmas front door decorations. Today I decorated the fireplace with the same idea, but a bit more color. This is how my fireplace started:

Not very festive to say the least. I started sprucing things up by adding some fresh garland from Home Depot ($5 for 15 feet).

I screwed an eye hook into the corner of each end of my bricks. I made a loop from the wire that holds the garland together and slipped it onto my eye hook. I did this on each corner to hang my greenery...simple.

See all the extra greenery on the right side? I clipped it off and will use it for another project.

I added burlap ribbon just like I did on the front door.

These "shatterproof" bulbs are what started our Coastal Christmas theme. They are a pretty good match to the curtains in my dinning room, so everything is flowing very cohesively. The bulbs came from this fancy little shop called WalMart. Ok, not so fancy, but I loved the color and they were only $4.97 for a box of 8. Nice color, nice price...I couldn't resist.

I didn't want to see little ornament hangers. I wanted it to look more natural, so I tied the balls on with twine.

When I pulled the twine tight, it brought the ornaments up close for a nice, snug fit. I love the roughness of the burlap and twine with the sparkle of the ornaments.

It's looking pretty good...

Then I remembered some glass buoys that I had tucked away from our summer decorations. They were already wrapped with twine, so they fit in nicely. I tied them on where I had a glitter ball, again mixing a more rough element with a fancy one.

My plan was to tie on pencil starfish like I had done outside, but I didn't have anymore on hand. I will be buying some from a friend, but I couldn't reach her. I was on a decorating roll and wanted to get this done! I pulled out some knotty starfish to see what it would look like...I LOVE IT! Loooooove it! So I simply tied the starfish onto the garland with twine.

I love the chunkiness of these starfish. It makes a greater statement than the pencil ones. I might need to use both on my Christmas tree.

To finish it off, I made a few more sand dollar "ornaments" like I did for the front door design and tied them on.

My daughter was impressed when she got home from school. That's when I know I did a good job...when I get the stamp of approval from my little artist.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Coastal Christmas: Front Door Design

We live at the beach. I try to take down a lot of our "beachy" decor when September arrives. It helps us remember that seasons are changing, even though often times our seasons do not really change much. Our beach things, well...most of them, have been packed away for a few months now. That was, until an innocent trip to the store with my kids to the Christmas aisle.

As we were walking, I was imagining how I could decorate with each of the different "themes" they sold. PLEASE tell me other people do this too! I go through and mentally decorate an entire house with each new concept. While this was going through my head, my daughter pipes in with, "What color are we going to decorate for Christmas THIS year Mommy?"

My initial thought was, "What in the world?" WHO thinks like that? You don't change your entire decor from year to year. And then I realized where she got the idea... I am the pot, calling the kettle black. Of course she learned this from me!

And then my initial freak out turned to great admiration. I have a feeling that my little girl is going to grow up to be FAR more creative than I am, and I can't wait to see what she will create! Don't get me wrong, I adore these years when she is little, but the future is going to be pretty fun too!

So there we were, in the middle of color coordinated aisles, with my 8 year old dreaming about what color we would use. It was then that I became a kid in a candy store right along with her. I jumped on the band wagon, purchased several packages of pale blue bulbs and we decided that we would have a full blown Coastal Christmas this year!

We started our decorations outside, right around our front door. Have you seen any of this fresh garland?

Home Depot sells 15 feet of it for $5! It just might be one of the best bargains of the season! I started by draping it around my doorway.

Next, I took a roll of burlap ribbon from Michaels. It is really quite amazing stuff. It even has wires in it to beautifully hold its shape. I purchased it with the intention of using it for Thanksgiving, but never did. I will have to go and pick up some more for all the Christmas ideas I now have!

I started by creating my bow. I cut a large piece of the burlap ribbon and looped it around to form a large circle. I laid it flat on the ground and tied the center together with a piece of twine. This connected the ends together and created kind of a figure eight shape.

I cut a small piece of ribbon and wrapped it around the center of my figure eight. I tied this piece on the back with another piece of twine.

When you flip the bow over, you have a lovely bow that will hold its shape very nicely.

In order to have the look that I actually tied this bow from a giant piece of burlap ribbon, I took the ribbon left on the roll and cut it into two equal lengths. I tied them together with twine and attached them to the top corner of my greenery.

Wherever I wanted the ribbon to tuck in, I tied a piece of twine around the ribbon and tied it onto the garland.

I tied my bow onto the corner of my garland with another piece of twine.

You would never know that was pieced together instead of carefully tied!

Now, to make the look coastal, I took out several of my pencil starfish and tied twine around the center.

I already had these on hand, and I can simply cut the twine off at the end of the season and put them back with our beach decorations. It is so functional!

Functional and cute! I made sure to tie the twine on the back of the starfish and use the extra to tie it onto my garland.

The next step REALLY personalized the look for us. My kids and I have spent HOURS walking the beach collecting sand dollars. It is so relaxing, and yet exhilarating at the same time. Who wouldn't love an afternoon treasure hunt? I took several of our sand dollars to use as additional ornaments.

I turned the sand dollars upside down and placed a large glob of hot glue on the back side. While it was still hot, I placed a strip of twine into the hot glue. I squeezed another glob of hot glue onto the top of the piece of twine, so the twine was in the middle of the glue blob. When they dried, I simply used the twine to tie my new sand dollar ornaments onto the garland.

I love how it looks!

It is simple and sweet, natural and outdoorsy. But our type of outdoors...coastal outdoors.

It is the perfect decoration for our Coastal Christmas.

Charming Coastal Cottage Christmas