Paper Fan Garland

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Hey, Friend!  I recently shared with you a little about my friend, Leah, and the most precious baby shower that we hosted for her.

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It was a children’s book themed shower, and each of the guests brought a book with a sweet little note written inside.  The menu was created around children’s books, and I made a bacon and spinach quiche for Green Eggs and Ham. The food was delicious, and the decorations were really precious.

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One of the decorations I made was a garland for the mantle. I wanted to incorporate children’s books in the decorations so I chose to make a garland out of paper fans. The fans were made using pages from children’s books.

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I purchased all of the books from a local thrift store which was a huge money saver. I also stumbled upon this classic, and seriously considered changing the theme of the shower. Bieber Fever, y’all.

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Making the garland was so super easy, and I’d love to show you how I made it!

To start, you will need: book pages, scissors/box cutter, hot glue gun and glue sticks, ribbon, buttons, needle, and thread.

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To begin, cut out book pages.  For this fan, I wanted to make a large fan, and  used four book pages. I wanted the garland to be colorful and eclectic so I chose pages that had similar colors.

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Make accordion folds in each of the pages.  Each fold is a little over one inch and made about 5 folds. This will vary depending on the size of your pages and the size of your folds. You can fold pages together to make things go a little faster, but this can be difficult if the pages are thick.

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Fold each of the accordions in half.

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Then, glue these center fold of each fan together.

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This will create four separate parts of the fan.

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Glue two quarters of the fan together creating two halves.

Continue making as many fans as you would like for your garland using the steps listed above. I chose to make fans of different sizes by using different size pages and creating some with only two fan pieces rather than four like this one. Once you have the number of fans you’d like, you can begin assembling the garland.

Cut your ribbon to the length of garland you would like, making sure to leave excess to hang on the mantle or wherever you choose to hang your garland. Space out your fans along the ribbon to make sure it’s as full as you want it to look. When it’s arranged the way you like, begin attaching the fans to the ribbon.

Place the ribbon between the fan halves.

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Glue the ribbon to one side of the half, and then the other.

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Don’t worry if the fan doesn’t look full yet. It will be fuller when you finish!

Now, repeat this step with the other half of the fan. Gluing one part of the top half to the bottom half, and moving on to the next side.

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See how much fuller the fan looks now that you’ve finished?

To really complete the look, add a button! To save time, I glued the end of the thread to the back of the button, then looped the thread through the holes using the needle. I made 4-6 loops on this button to make sure the thread could be seen.

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Then, I glued the button to the center of the fan.

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Once your fans are attached to the ribbon, your garland is ready to hang!

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This really was so easy, and such a fun way to incorporate more children’s books. I hope you enjoy it at your next party!

What Fun!

This last week has been a whirlwind!  Such a fun whirlwind!

It all started when I took a trip to Birmingham for work.  While I was there, I got to reconnect with family, and of course we did that over Mexican food!

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It’s not uncommon for me to work in Birmingham, and I take each of those opportunities to see family!  Mim’s legacy of hospitality has definitely been passed on to them.  They always welcome me, and make me feel so at home.

Once I got back into Huntsville, all of my attentions turned to Dan’s birthday.  Dan is one of the most selfless and thoughtful guys I know.  He is an excellent leader of our family, and I love taking his birthday to celebrate him.

Each year, we go to dinner with friends.  To Outback, specifically.  Dan likes what he likes.

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Then, it’s back to our house for dessert and games.  Always cheesecake and always Catch Phrase. I told you. Dan really likes what he likes.

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The last few years, I’ve tried a raspberry cheesecake.  It’s one of Dan’s favorites.  I’ve tried plain cheesecake with raspberry sauce, raspberry swirled cheesecake, and finally found my favorite!!  It’s a Martha Stewart recipe, and it is so creamy and good.

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This year I also added an Oreo cheesecake to the mix for good measure.

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We had a wonderful time celebrating, and I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store for Dan this year!

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After Dan’s birthday, I got to spend time with another special fella.  Sweet David and his precious mama, Katie, were in town to visit his grandparents.  I got to go to dinner and dessert with Katie and spend lots of time talking. At the end of the night, I got some sweet snuggles with this guy.

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A week filled with family and birthdays would have been great, but then…

It Snowed!

As the predictions for snow started rolling in, I was pretty skeptical.  Growing up in Alabama, we eagerly waited for snow and prepared for snow.  Lots of milk and bread was purchased.  But, we rarely got snow.

This year, we were told to expect 3-6 inches, and  it was every bit of that!  It filled our patio furniture and covered our yard.

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Dan thought it would be fun for Tuck to go on a walk. I passionately protested!  It was too cold.  His paws would freeze!  He couldn’t tell us when he was cold, and what if we couldn’t make it back before he froze??

We decided against the walk, but took Tuck outside to play in the yard.  He had a fantastic time! He loved catching snow balls, sticking his face in the snow, and rolling around.  Turns out he probably could have managed that walk.

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The next day Dan invited some friends over. He found our snow shovel tucked away in the garage and started working before they came over.

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I went inside to put out some butter so we could make cookies. And that perfectly sums up our priorities!

They had a great time building forts and having snowball fights.  I had a great time setting out coffee and hot cocoa.

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As I stood in our kitchen watching the snow fall down, I had to think about Mim. I’m not sure why, but she always recorded the weather in her cookbooks. I love seeing her writing, even when it is about snow.

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Dishtowels to Napkins

Is it cold at your house?  It has been freezing here.  Literally, freezing.  I’ll be honest- I’m sick of it.  It has been rainy and gloomy, and trying to keep up with my running has been brutal.

We hosted dinner last night for our brothers and sisters.  We had a great time talking and playing games.  When we were planning the menu I knew I wanted something warm and spicy. Because I am that tired of cold weather. Tacos and quesadillas were an obvious choice for dinner.  And, molten lava cake was equally obvious for dessert.

For the table setting, I knew I wanted something rustic and warm and not too fussy.  I stumbled upon these dishtowels at TJ Maxx a few days ago.  They’re rustic and warm, but they’re dish towels.  How was I going to incorporate that into our table setting?

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Surely, I thought, I could make these into napkins.  I did a little research and found this tutorial on turning cloth dishtowels into napkins.  The author is totally right.  This is so easy, and if you already sew you could probably figure this out on your own. But, if you’re like me and rarely sew and don’t have the time to figure this out on your own, I’ve included some directions you can use for now.

To start, you’ll need a dishtowel, needles, an iron, ruler, coordinating thread, and a sewing machine.  If you don’t have a sewing machine, you could easily use adhesive hem tape. There’s no judgment in that.

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Lay the dishtowel flat and find the center.  There’s usually a good crease in the center from being folded.

If your crease is not in the center, fold the towel in half to find the true center.  Then, rake your thumb nail over the length of the fold.  This technique, called finger pressing, keeps you from using the iron when you don’t have to use it.  It practically irons the napkin and makes a very strong crease in the middle.

I’ve marked the crease for you with a needle.

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Cut the towel into two halves along the center crease.

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Y’all, I seriously loved this pattern and that fringe.  It’s like a Turkish bath towel, but for dishes!

Now, that you’ve got two halves, you can start creating the hem.  I used the ruler and measured the existing hem of the napkin.  I didn’t want a tiny hem on two sides and a huge hem on the other.  My hem was half an inch.

I folded over the raw edge a quarter of an inch and pinned it down.

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Then, I folded it another quarter of an inch to make a half inch hem. I removed the pins from the first fold and used them to hold the second fold.

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You certainly don’t have to pin the edge.  Once you get the hang of this, pinning will probably feel like overkill.  But it helps me show you what I did and  it helped me have a nice, clean hem.  If you prefer, you can only pin the second fold.

Once your hem is folded, iron the hem down. Then, sew the hem in a straight line using thread of a coordinating color.

And, voila!  You’ll have a stack of beautiful napkins!

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It took me a little over an hour to make six napkins.  Full disclosure, that time does not include time spent unraveling the massive knot I made in the bobbin of thread. Just being honest.

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I really love these napkins, and there’s lots of ways you can use them in your table setting.

On top of your plate.

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As part of a buffet.

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Or even as a placemat!

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I took a pretty straightforward approach with our table setting last night.

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I wanted everything to feel warm.  Did I tell you that I’m sick of the cold weather? Sick of it. Instead of flowers, I used candles for a little added warmth.

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The whole table was so inviting and warm!

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We had a great dinner and enjoyed our time together!  A good time was had by all!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend!

Later, I’ll share the recipe we used for the molten lava cake!  You’re definitely going to want to  come back for that.

Tinsel and Tacos

I am so excited about hosting my parents for Christmas, and our Christmas Eve Eve dinner is one of my favorite traditions! There will be lots more to share about Christmas Eve Eve dinner soon!

Our Christmas season has been pretty busy, as I’m sure yours has been too. Tonight we stayed in to work on a few final decorations. Our family’s decorations have to be a combination of whimsical and rustic elements.This year, I focused on color using candy reds and bright greens.

I started with this simple berry wreath from Target.

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Added some candle sticks from Target and Home Goods

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Then filled in the space with greenery and these huge poinsettias I found at Hobby Lobby. I added some green floral picks I also found at Hobby Lobby to add a little length and more green.

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Together, the whole mantle looks like this

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Our stockings are now hung by the chimney with care. And floral wire. And electrical tape. And nails.  But mainly with care.

When things get busy around our house, we get tacos. This little tradition started when Dan and I were planning our wedding. We quickly realized there were lots of things to do and errands to run. When things got too crazy we would take a taco break at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. This tradition has continued, and any time things get a little overwhelming we get a taco.

In the busyness of Christmas it’s no surprise that we’re taking taco breaks this season. I love to go out, but sometimes you just need to recreate that taco break at home.

Taco night is one of my favorite nights at home!  It is super easy, fast, and bonus- it doesn’t get too many dishes dirty.

This recipe can easily be modified to fit your taste.  The “secret” ingredient is the can of Rotel.  It’s a game changer.

To make the taco meat, brown 1.5 lbs ground beef with:

1/2 chopped onion

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbs. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. chili powder

When the meat is cooked through, drain and return to the skillet.

Add to the skillet:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tbsp. cumin

1/2 tbsp. garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 can mild Rotel

Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Don’t be surprised if you hear more about tacos! We’ll be having our small group over on Monday to say Feliz Navidad, and I’m already dreaming about a Cinco de Mayo fiesta!

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!  If things are getting too busy, you should probably take a taco break.

I am so looking forward to sharing more about our family’s holiday traditions! I hope you’ll stop by Mim and Olive later this week to hear more!

Ornament Wreath

IMAG0453I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with finding my family’s Christmas style. As a relatively newly married couple we are still meshing our ideas of what Christmas should look like.

Take for instance how my husband likes to decorate the exterior of our home. Growing up he and his family really looked up to the Griswolds. They covered every inch of their home in lights and Christmas figurines- twinkle lights, big lights, small lights, icicle lights, Santas, igloos, penguins, candy canes! They are equal opportunity lights kind of people except when it comes to white lights. White lights are boring.

I first met my husband’s family at Christmas.  He told me constantly about his and his family’s love for Christmas lights.  It wasn’t until I was standing in the dark in his front yard while he turned on each strand of lights that I truly understood the magnitude of their love for lights.  Later that trip, he warned me that if I needed to use the microwave for anything, I’d need to make sure the lights were turned off first.  This little tip was learned after many times of tripping the breaker and feeling around in the dark to turn the lights back on. Their breaker simply can’t handle the outrageous number of Christmas lights and the microwave

My family, on the other hand, took a more restrained approach.  Don’t get me wrong, we cover our Christmas tree in colored lights and tinsel, but we rarely decorated the outside of our home.  When we did, it was a few strands of white lights. Growing up, I loved the homes that had just a touch of white lights with lots of greenery. Naively, I just knew that my husband would have the same taste in Christmas lights and our home would forever be tastefully decorated.

Our first year of marriage, like many others’, was a year of learning and combining our family’s traditions.  When it came to Christmas lights, I knew that my reality would be different than my previous dreams. My husband carried his family’s tradition of lights into our family’s decorating.  He says that kids like to look at lots and lots of colored lights.  So as not to disappoint, he covers our house in covered lights.  While I didn’t love it at first, I can’t deny that it is pretty precious to see how excited he is each year when we add more lights.

Each year, he works tirelessly to decorate our home.  And each year, I say “Wait, wait, don’t turn them on until I’m standing outside!” So then I stand out side in the dark while he turns on each strand of lights.  And when they’re all turned on, I say “Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful!  The best house on the street!” I really am starting to love this little tradition.

That folks, is what makes our marriage work! We combine the traditions that we can, but there are some traditions that just can’t be changed.

Knowing that my home will forever be covered in colored lights at Christmas, I know that simple greenery just won’t cut it.  In an effort to support these holiday decorations, I was inspired to make an ornament wreath. It’s colorful, sparkly, and won’t be lost when the lights are turned on.  If you know me, you know I tend to go all in so one ornament wreath turned into three ornament wreaths to make a snowman that covers almost our entire door.

This year, with great anticipation, we brought the ornament wreath snowman down from our attic. As Dan was bringing it down the stairs, I heard the thud, thud, thud, of loose ornaments rolling down the stairs. This is not the sound you want to hear.

This is what was left of our wreath:

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Poor Frosty.  We suspect that when our air conditioner was repaired the repairman stepped on the wreath loosening the ornaments. I will not be upset about it though because that angel of a repairman fixed our air conditioning unit in the summer in Alabama. He is a saint in my book.

This project is really easy, but does require some time. I’ll show you how to make it using what’s left of Frosty.

You will need:

3 wire frame wreaths (I used 8″, 12″, and 16″ wire frames)

Ornaments (150-250 of varying sizes)

Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks

Floral Wire/Zip Ties

A note about ornaments: The ornaments are the most expensive part of this wreath, primarily because you need so many of them.  To cut down on costs, I purchased most of my medium and small ornaments from a dollar store. The large ornaments were a steal from Home Goods. They had a giant tub of ornaments-75 total- for less than 30 dollars.  These really made the wreath because of their unique colors and shapes.  If you keep a look out for Christmas décor sales, you can usually find lots of great ornaments!

To begin, hot glue medium/large sized ornaments to the outer rim of the metal frame. You can easily attach the ornament by hot gluing both of the outer wires of the frame, and nestling the ornament on the glued frame. Do this with the prong going through the frames and towards the ground. IMAG0444

When these are secure, glue medium/large sized ornaments to the inner rim using the same process. Try to connect as many points as possible to keep the ornaments secure.  For example, if your inner ornament can be glued to two spots on the wire frame and the ornament beside it, you’ve hit ornament wreath gold! The more points you can glue, the more secure your wreath!

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Once the two rows of ornaments are secure, begin filling in the gaps on the top.  You can use small, medium, or large ornaments.  Really go crazy filling in those gaps!

Ornament Wreath

At this point, you’re gluing the top ornament to the lower ornaments.  I like to lay out the ornaments to see where they will best fit and fill in the most gaps, and then glue the ornaments in place. I didn’t have any method for deciding which ornament went where other than filling in the gaps and separating some of the similar colors.  For example, if there was a red ornament on the bottom, I didn’t put a red ornament on top.

You  can use this process for each of the three wreaths.  When the wreaths are completed and the ornaments are secure, you can start attaching the wreaths to make the snowman shape!

Carefully turn the wreath over with the ornaments facing down. Using floral wire, secure one wreath to the other like so:

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I cut several inches of floral wire then made several loops through the exterior wires of the wreath frames.  I wrapped the tail of the wire around the loops to secure it.

I so wish I could give you more specific instructions, but this is really a trial and error process. You want the loops to hold the wreaths close enough that you don’t see a lot of wire, but you don’t want the loops so tight that it tilts the wreaths and makes them uncentered. Just play around with the lengths until it looks right to you.

When the wreaths are attached, hang the wreath on you door! Colored lights optional.

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Rustic Ornaments

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These ornaments are super simple to make.  Like almost embarrassingly simple.  Like typing these directions is probably more complicated. Simple.

Sometimes the simple things are the best things though.  These ornaments looked great on our Christmas tree!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the ornaments:

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That’s raffia ribbon, Styrofoam balls, fabric, needles, and scissors.

I purchased two different sizes of ornaments.  The sizes I used were 80 mm and 100 mm ornaments.  I purchased them in packs of six.  So, two packs of 80 mm and two packs of 100 mm ornaments for a total of 24 ornaments.

For this amount of ornaments (24) I purchased two yards of fabric.

For an 80 mm ornament, cut a square of fabric that is 7 inches wide and 7.5 inches long.  Does that make this a rectangle of fabric?

Also cut two strips of fabric that are each 10.25 inches in length.  And, cut one piece of raffia that is 7 inches long.

For an 100 mm ornament, cut a square/rectangle of fabric that is 9 inches in length and 9.5 inches in width.

Also cut two strips of fabric that are each 13 inches in length, and raffia that is 7 inches long.

To make the ornament, begin by poking one needle through the ends of the raffia, making a loop.  This is the last piece you’ll use, but it helps to have it ready from the beginning.

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Place the fabric square right side down. Lay the fabric strips over each other so that they make a cross shape.  It helps things move a little faster when you have the square and the strips side by side.

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Place the Styrofoam ball in the center-ish of the fabric.  If it’s not perfectly center, that’s okay. Then, fold one corner of the fabric to the center of the ball.

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Continue folding the corners to the center of the Styrofoam ball in an alternating pattern.  So, if you start with top left corner, your next fold should be from the bottom right. When all four corners are folded, it should look like this.

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Now, you need your fabric strips.  Place the cloth covered ball in the center of the fabric strips.

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Fold one strip of fabric to the center of the Styrofoam ball.  Continue this until all strips have wrapped around the ball.  You may have to tuck some of the fabric corners under the strip.  That’s okay!  Remember these are rustic decorations, not perfect decorations.

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Once the four sides of the strips have been wrapped around the Styrofoam ball, secure the fabric with the raffia and needle.

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Now, go hang them on your tree!

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See what I mean? These are ridiculously simple, but they made a great impact on our tree!  I hope you enjoy them!

You may remember that the original plan for today’s post was to show you how to make an ornament wreath (in addition to the ornaments).  But, I called an audible.  I made a change.  After several crazy busy weeks and little time at home, Dan and I decided we needed to spend some time together and finally buy our Christmas tree.

You know by now that I love a good Christmas tree.  So, we had to find the perfect tree tonight!  We set off for this really cute tree lot- café lights and all.  When we got there, it was closed.  Like had closed two hours before we got there.  What kind of tree lot closes before most people even get home from work?

Not to be defeated, we set off for Home Depot.  There were no café lights, but there were trees.  I was pretty disappointed by the trees on display, when my husband gently turned me to the huge lot attached to the store.  Angels sang.  We spent the next half hour in the cold, deciding between several trees which looking back on it probably all looked the same.

We decided on a tree, took it home, turned on some Christmas music (specifically Otis Redding Holiday, my new favorite thing) then started decorating the tree!  It felt great to spend some time at home, but that meant there was no time for finishing the ornament wreath.  Luckily, that just means there’s more Christmas decorating to come!

I hope you’ll check back in to see the finished ornament wreath with step by step instructions! 

And, I hope you’ll follow Mim and Olive on Instagram.  You’ll see glimpses of the day to day things I love to celebrate! Like a good Christmas tree and a great guy!

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Burlap Garland

 

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My parent’s log cabin is situated between the homes of Mim and Olive.  I could see both of their homes from our front porch, and could yell to Olive when I wanted to come to her house to play.  Playing at Olive’s was fantastic!  She would let me play with her make up and shoes, and once she sent me home with a kitten. You can’t beat that!

Olive had a formal living room that had this giant (to me) antique sofa.  It had rolling arms and was covered in pink floral fabric.  I would lay on that couch and read with Olive all day.  I thought that room was the grandest thing.

Several years ago, Olive’s home was remodeled to be used for visiting family. Out went the antique sofa, and in came the camouflage.  Along with the remodel, we began calling Olive’s home the “camp house”.  While it was a big change, it has been fantastic!  We have used the camp house to host dinners, hunting trips, weekends with friends, and family gatherings.  When the camp house was hit by a tornado in 2011, we were devastated, but the family took to rebuilding.  The rebuilding process was long, but it was completed just in time for my sweet husband and his groomsmen to be able to get ready there for our wedding.

Groomsmen at camp house

The camp house is truly fantastic, and it has been transformed!  Where there were paintings, there are deer.  Where there was floral fabric, there’s plaid.  It doesn’t look like Olive’s, but it still feels like Olive’s. That’s what really matters!  It is warm and inviting and a little eclectic.  It’s impossible to feel uncomfortable there, and the kitchen table reminds me of the time I spent with Olive and Mim in their kitchens.

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I recently spent some time at the camp house dreaming about my upcoming trip for Christmas on the River.  In all of those dreams I saw burlap garland.  The great thing about having  a Christmas party in a camp house is that you can really play with lots of rustic design ideas, and I am ready to cover that tree in burlap garland!

When I decided to make those burlap dreams a reality, I stumbled upon Simply Notable and Life in High Cotton.  They both made beautiful garland, and if you want to see other techniques or learn how to make your own burlap ribbon, you should check them out. Both sites had lovely results.  The steps I used to create my burlap garland most closely resemble what I saw at Simply Notable, and I’ve added a few things I learned along the way.

Here’s how I made my burlap garland:

You will need burlap ribbon, twine, scissors, and a quilting needle to make burlap garland.

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Let’s get started: Decide on the length of garland you would like.  An average garland length is 9 feet.  I have made all of my garlands to be 10 feet long.  You can customize your length based on what you need.

Cut your twine to the length that you will want for your garland.  So, if you want  9 feet of garland, cut 9 feet of twine.  I like to have a little wiggle room so I cut 10.5 feet of twine for 10 feet of garland.

Once your twine is cut, you’ll thread your needle leaving about four inches of twine.  This helps when you’re ready to tie off the twine at the end of the garland.

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Run the thread and needle through a tail of the burlap ribbon leaving about 4 inches of twine for your knot.  I started the stitching about 1.5 inches from the end of the ribbon.

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Tie a thick knot at the base. I made 4-6 knots to make a thick knot that will keep from slipping through the burlap.

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Once your knot is secure, start weaving your twine through the burlap.  Over, under, over, under, over, under, you get the idea.  My stitches were 2 inches in length, which is also about 14 squares in the burlap.  This is not an exact science so it’s okay if some stitches are a little longer or shorter.

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Make 6-10 stitches, then hold one end of the string, and scrunch the burlap towards the knot.  Fluff and shape the burlap then move on to your next 6-10 stitches.

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Keep on stichin’ and scrunchin’ until you get to the end of the burlap.  If you get to the end of your burlap ribbon, and it’s the length you want, great!  Just tie a secure knot, and you’re done.   That just wasn’t enough for me!

I  found that a 15′ roll of burlap ribbon makes about 4′ of garland.

 So, if you get to the end of your burlap ribbon, and need more for length, like I did, you can combine the two rolls of burlap by doing this:

Keep stitchin’ and scrunchin’ until you have 6 inches of burlap left un-stitched.  Unroll the next roll of burlap ribbon, and overlap the ribbons.  Start weaving, over and under, to connect the two pieces. Once the pieces are connected, you can continue stitchin’ and scrunchin’.

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Continue this until your burlap garland is your desired length.  Once you’ve reached the desired length, tie a secure knot to complete your garland. This is a glimpse of the ten feet of burlap garland I made.

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It took me about two hours to complete ten feet of garland, but I’m sure you could do it much more quickly.  It had been a long day, and making the garland was super calming for me. Just what I needed!  If you can find a dog to lie beside you while you watch Frozen and make garland, it will be even better! Thanks, Tuck.

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I’ll be hanging this garland on our Christmas tree at the camp house! And decorating the tree and kitchen table with other rustic elements.

I hope you’ll check back in to see the finished Christmas tree!

I’ll also be posting some of my favorite breakfast recipes on Friday.  What’s a relaxing weekend without a great breakfast, right?  

 

 

Thankful for Neighbors

I grew up in a tiny town.  When I share that with people, I’m usually met with an “I know! I grew up in a small town too” kind of comment.  Here’s a few questions that will help us determine whose town is really the smallest:

1. Did you grow up in a town of more than 60 people? That’s not a typo, that’s 6-0, sixty. 60 people total.

2. Did your town have a zip code?

3. Can you find your town on a map?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, Congratulations, your home town is bigger than mine.

Dayton, Alabama is where I grew up and where my parents still live.  In a log cabin.  On a quail farm.  Right between the homes of Mim and Olive.

I didn’t have a real address until I was in middle school. Every year when we recited our address and my classmates said “1234 Main Street” I panicked.  I didn’t have a street number.  Did I even know my address?  Who doesn’t have a street number??  To this day, I can send a letter addressed to my parents at General Delivery, Dayton, AL 36738,  and it gets to my parents.  Don’t be fooled by that zip code, it belongs to the next closest town.

Here’s another valuable piece of info about the postal service in Dayton:  Don’t have a stamp?  That’s okay!  Just put some change in the mail box with your outgoing mail, and they’ll put a stamp on the letter for you.  Need to break a $20?  Just leave the stamp off your letter, put a $20 bill in the mailbox, and voila!  The post master will not only put a stamp on your letter, they’ll give you change.  Imagine my sweet, St. Louis husband’s surprise when I went to the mailbox with a stack of unstamped letters and a handful of change. Lesson learned.

Another piece of info: Olive was Dayton’s post-mistress.  She operated one of the only stores, and also took care of the mail.  She had a giant jar of rubber bands that I loved to squish between my fingers.  And, she let me have all the candy I wanted from the store.  It was a pretty sweet gig.

Dayton is tiny, and I seriously love it.  Some pretty amazing people have come from Dayton, and I feel like little pieces of my heart are put back together the closer I get to that tiny place.

However, I don’t know a lot about living near people. I’ve never had a trick-or-treater come to my door until three years ago.  I’ve never had pizza delivered to my door, until three years ago.  And, I’ve always intimately known the person living next door to me, until three years ago.  When your neighbors are family or people that you claim as family, it’s pretty disorienting moving into the suburbs of a larger city.

When my husband and I moved into our home shortly after our marriage (3 years ago) I realized I could see the windows of the next person’s house. People I’d never met and had no history with were in my backyard.

Mim and Olive taught me the importance of close friends and family.  They helped shape me into a person who is relational to her core.  I value relationships and friendships over all other things, and will neglect almost any task to spend time with a friend.

So, when I realized I knew none of these people, these neighbors, I knew I had two options.  I could continue on with my life, pretending I lived in Dayton and not recognizing the people all around me, or I could get to know them. The relational side of me always wins out.

It’s a pretty daunting task-this getting to know your neighbor thing.  Especially when there are more people on your street than in your home town.  The best way I know to meet people is through food.  So, for Thanksgiving, my husband and I made goody bags for our neighbors.  We haven’t always done the best job of getting to know our neighbors, but we want to do better, and we’re trying that here!

So, watch out neighbors, I’m coming over with some pretty delicious baked goods.

Here’s the cast of characters in the goody bags:

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That’s Turtle Back Cookies, Apple Butter, and Pumpkin Bread.  I can’t think of a combination of foods that speak to my Fall Lovin’ Soul more than these things.  And those colors! Orange, cream, flecks of cinnamon…yes, please!

So, these are going in the bags, but what about the outside of the bag, you say?  Easy- I will take every opportunity I can to use stationary.  I didn’t want the bags to be fussy.  I love the rustic feel and simplicity of Thanksgiving, and wanted that to be evident from the second a neighbor gets the bag.  My husband and I drafted a note, wrote a few cards, and made these note cards with rosemary for the front of the bag.

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With goodies in the bag and notes attached, these little get to know you goody bags are ready for delivery!  They’re waiting by my front door, and will be handed out tomorrow!  Just in time for Thanksgiving.

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What are some things you’ve done to connect to the people around you?  I’d love to hear how you’ve formed relationships in your community!

I hope you have a wonderful, and delicious Thanksgiving!

Check back in later this week for a little history lesson about the Turtle Back Cookie, and one of the easiest, most delicious cookie recipes around!