life is always about the journey...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From the Dean Family
We hope you have a blessed, wonderful, magical holiday
filled with love of friends & family!

I'm taking a few days off from blogging to spend with my family and to enjoy some downtime. But I promise I will be back!

Riley with Baylee, Me & Alexa on Christmas Day!

James & Alexa

Alexa in her new Ravens hat

Riley & his large Gummy Bear lol

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Tink in a box...our game night on Christmas Eve ;)

Riley, Alexa & James

The National Christmas Tree in DC


Friday, December 20, 2013

Rustic Country Shaker Ornaments!

Every year I choose a few ornaments to create for my trees because I love to and its a bit of a tradition. I've been making ornaments for my trees since I was first married and the budget was tight.  Now I do it because I enjoy it and it makes my trees unique and special for my family.  I keep a folder of Holiday Ideas full of magazine tear-outs that I've had for YEARS (long before Pinterest people lol) and dig through it! And I believe it was Country Living (I think) that made some similar ornaments but without the trees many moons ago...but I pulled it out this year because I saw the letter beads at Hobby Lobby that looked similar to those they had used.  They are inexpensive to create and you can customize them for your decor and taste!  These ornaments I finished later than I wanted in the season but that's ok...they're done and that's what counts right LOL!  

These are for my kitchen tree (above) which is more rustic and countrified and they look pretty scattered all over it because they reflect a bit of light.
I think they'd be also fab as gift toppers or table favors on each holiday plate! Change the sentiment to a name or nickname...just remember to not make them too long that they fit awkwardly in the ornament!

(sorry my tutorial pics during the project had some "issues", I think there was a smudge on my lens and I didn't want to reshoot, forgive me, please? lol)

Supplies I used for these:

-Some clear glass ornaments..whatever size you choose
-Rustic Letter beads like these
-Faux Snow
-mini bottle trees either bought or homemade 
-small pinecones
-some faux greenery
-ribbon of choice
-craft tweezers or regular tweezers
-hot glue gun

1) Pop off the metal hanger on each ornament.  Hold a bottle brush tree at the very top with tweezers and add hot glue to bottom of tree...quickly place brush in ornament where you want it (the tree will squish thru the opening). Let that dry for a few minutes.  (if your bottle brush tree has a tiny wooden bottom it may fit thru hole, if not clip it off and add glue to the bottom of the trunk instead)
2) While waiting glue your letter beads together to create a holiday sentiment...keep it short & sweet and hot glue the beads together where the holes are so you can't see them when you are finished.  Set aside.
3) Spoon or funnel in some faux snow...I used 2 spoonfuls in my ornaments but you can always add more or less.
4) Then put in beaded sentiment, pinecones and greenery and place the top/hanger back on the ornament.
5) I cut strips of burlap and hot glued it around the metal hanger to cover it.  I tied a simple knot with another strip of burlap through the loop of the hanger and glued on a simple gingham bow.

Here is one done without the bottle brush tree inside...I made a few variations of each for my tree.


Bag of Letter Beads - $2
Bag of Faux Snow - $1.50
Glass Ornaments - FREE (given to me)
Faux Greenery - Free (my stash)
Small Bag of Mini pinecones - $2
Burlap - Free (my stash)
Gingham Ribbon - Free (my stash)
TOTAL for 6 Ornaments:  $5.50

And that's it...quick and easy to make!  Switch them up and add different words or different objects inside of each ornament...that's what makes them special!!

Merry Christmas!

I'm entering this into the following link parties:

Domestic Superhero
Six Sisters Stuff
Inspiration Gallery
Making Monday


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wintry Muslin Trees!

I've seen lots of versions of crafty holiday trees on the web and in magazines and love them all.  But I wanted to put my own spin on some and I had some styrofoam trees tucked in the back of a closet that were screaming calling out to be used (I think I purchased them on sale after Christmas 3 years ago..shhhh)!  So I bought a yard of cream muslin at JoAnn's for $1.56 on sale and was ready to create.

I used a hot glue gun for this because I wanted the fabric to adhere quickly so I didn't have to "hold" it while it dried.  You can use whatever kind of adhesive you like and YES the hot glue melts the styrofoam a tad, but really not that much that it was an issue.  If you have cardboard or other tree forms on hand those would work as well...I only had styrofoam so that's what I used.
I cut squares of muslin (I doubled up fabric and then cut it).  Then I started at the bottom and pinched the fabric in the middle and glued on..going around the tree base.  Each of the next layers hang over the one before it.  The more rough & varied the edges the more rustic it looks and that's the goal...well it was my goal ;)
*for the top..glue a small piece of fabric over it and then cover with layers of smaller muslin squares

I added dried hydrangea blooms from my garden and twine (it came off the roll curly which I loved) to add some interest to the top in the place of the usual star.

I just love the raw edges of the muslin and varied layers...perfect for a rustic wintry look!

Here they are on my holiday table!  They would be cute done in any fabric or color you chose of course..I liked the "wintry" look of the cream muslin for mine though.  I made another set for a friend for their Christmas present too...I sure hope they love them :)

TOTAL COST:  $1.56 for just the muslin
The rest of the supplies I had on hand & blooms were from my garden.
Super easy to make for yourself or as out for burned fingertips..and just be patient as you work around each layer of the trees.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Inexpensive Holiday Decorating!

Along with the usual hustle and bustle of the holidays, most folks struggle with tight budgets this time of year.  And if you have kids you tend to make sure the kids get what they want need first and the rest falls away.  So sometimes money for holiday decorations just isn't there, or just not enough for what you may want to accomplish.  I love to decorate my home for the holidays but I don't want to spend a lot of money every year.  And there's a certain satisfaction that comes with decorating on a budget..when your home looks festive and you know you didn't spend big bucks...I LOVE THAT!

I have 10 Christmas trees and bins of decorations but I didn't just gather them in one year, no way. When we were first married we struggled financially especially when I stopped working to have our daughter and money was tight for a couple of years.  So we started with one tree just like everyone else and slowly built our collection.  My mom bought me a Christmas ornament every year growing up (just like I do for my kids) so I had a good start when I got married.  And I also had ornaments we found at the thrift stores...a box of 12 vintage glass ornaments for $3 that I still have...gorgeous and I love that they have a history.  But because money was tight when I added our 2nd tree I came up with ways to decorate both the trees and house inexpensively.  A lot of items I made myself and I still continue to make myself as its a great way to customize your decorations and make them special!

So don't feel that you cannot decorate your home beautifully for the holidays on a budget...BECAUSE I'M TELLING YOU THAT YOU CAN!!  
And I speak only truths :)  Trust me over half of my decorations were made or bought for under $10 if not done for free over the years.  I do not discriminate on Christmas decorations...whether its free, from the Dollar or Thrift store, homemade, handed down, or bought.  As long as I love it and it works...then its included in my holiday decorations.  And don't get caught up in what your home "should" or "could" look steps people...things of value & admiration take time and effort. If you are willing to put in the effort you can achieve most things I truly believe!

The most money I spend each year is on a few ornaments for the kids for their collection and lights...that's really it.  Then I choose one item I really, really want and save for it.  This year it was an antique sled that I got for a BARGAIN in Lucketts for only $58...over the years I've seen them go for over $200 so I was real lucky and I ADORE it!



Ribbon on two of my trees above..I usually use two different patterns of ribbons and alternate them on the trees.

You can find ribbon at most craft stores and usually its on sale especially AFTER Christmas when you can get rolls of ribbon for $1 or less.  Or use those coupons on rolls of ribbon.  Ribbon is a great way to take up space on the tree, add some elegance and personality to your trees.  I have ribbon on some trees that I've had for over 12 years. I also have a bin full of different styles of ribbon (bought after holidays on sale for 99 cents a roll for 3-5" ribbon) in case I want to change it up.
*I used ribbon on my family room tree this year that I bought 10 years ago but never used :)  Most average size trees you will need 3-5 rolls of ribbon to decorate by wrapping around the tree or have the ribbon falling down from the top.
*When you wrap your ribbon around the tree, don't just wrap it and let it be.  Tuck the ribbon in, twist it, and curl it so that it gives visual interest on the tree BUT DOESN'T overwhelm the tree want it to be an accent to the rest of your decorations on the tree.
*Also there are great videos online that show how to create beautiful bows...take the ribbon and make bows and hang them on doorknobs, wreaths, tree toppers, chandeliers and more!
*Wrap pillows with ribbon and bows, set on your furniture or add a few to a rustic basket or crate.


my holiday banner made inexpensively

I use yards of fabric for most of my tree skirts

Yards of fabric purchased on sale or with a coupon is another way to decorate your home inexpensively for the holidays. 
*One or two yards and you have a lovely no-sew tree skirt.  Just bunch it around the base of your tree and ta-da...its gorgeous.  
*For a vintage look rip strips of fabric (so the edges fray) and tie onto tree branches in random spots.  *With canvas or drop cloth material you can cut out holiday shapes like angels or stockings and spray with a heavy fabric starch, punch a hole in top, add some ribbon or jute and you have some inexpensive ornaments.  
*Fold a yard of fabric in half and use as a runner on your a simple seam or use fabric tape to finish off the ends of the fabric nicely...or leave raw edges for a rustic look.
*Use fabric along with stamps/stencils and acrylic (or leftover wall paint) to create a holiday banner for your mantel, walls or hutches.  See HERE for my holiday banner made inexpensively pictured above.


Faux & dried blooms and pinecones on some of my Christmas Trees

I love to include both faux and real blooms on my trees, just another way to add interest and texture to your trees.  
*I use dried hydrangeas that I clip each year from the bushes around my home and tuck them into the branches of my trees.  And of course you could use any dried flowers your might have.  Buy faux blooms on sale/coupon at your craft store. Those holiday flowers go on a deep discount after Christmas and great time to pick up a few.  After Easter/Spring is another good time to buy floral items from stores.  On my white & gold tree I use faux white roses, poinsettia and baby's breath blooms that were all bought on sale & have been used for years.  
*Wreath or floral sprays can be expensive but the closer we get to Christmas the deeper the discounts. I use sprays on many of my trees. Another way to add texture & depth to your trees.
*Pinecones look beautiful hung or nestled into tree branches or stacked in bowls or baskets.  Flock them, paint them, glitter them for a fun look as well.  You can buy bags of them for around $3 at most stores or gather them from the woods for free.
*Same thing goes with branches from trees...easy to gather and FREE!  Stick them in the branches of your trees to add some rustic elegance, spray paint them in metallics or colors to add some fun visual interest.  You can spray paint them and add them to vases or urns as well...hang small ornaments off the branches or beads...they make great holiday accents for the home. I love to see branches sprayed white with some small silver ornaments hanging off the branches...very elegant for a centerpiece on your tables.  
*The Dollar Store is a great resource for inexpensive boxes of metallic or sparkly ornaments in bulk for just a $1 to decorate your branches too!


I love to have greenery in my home...I tuck it into all nooks and crannies, shelves, containers, draping over clocks, mantels and more.  I clip it from the trees around my house so its free but it adds SO much...looks festive and smells great.  Add some twinkling white lights or colored lights for interest.  Don't have any trees around your house?  Some home improvement stores have a bin of discarded branches from the trees they sell and they are free.  Ask at your local Christmas tree farm or lot if you can have any clippings.  Ask a friend or relative if you can give their trees a trim or if they have woods you can tromp around on and gather some greens.  Lots of way to find greens without paying a steep price.


(my dining room tree with sheet music & burlap)

Dollar Store Candles wrapped in old geography paper, burlap & jute

Go old school with paper I say!  Its always in and always looks fabulous!  Soooo many ways to use paper in your holiday decorating.  
*Use inexpensive construction paper or cardstock to create paper chains for your trees or mantels in your favorite colors.  
*Wrap inexpensive dollar store candles with old paper or scrapbook paper, ribbon or jute. Mine above were made in under 10 mins with supplies on hand and $1 candles...easy!  These candles sell for $10 or more in specialty stores.
*Make paper banners instead of fabric banners and decorate with glitter for more sparkle.  
*Cut shapes from cardboard scraps and decoupage with holiday papers (extra wrapping paper, wall paper scraps, magazine pages, book pages).  For the price of a bottle of Modge Podge you can make a treeful of decorations.  
*I used sheet music curled up and tucked into my dining room tree for some vintage elegance...I got a vintage book of holiday sheet music for $3 off of Etsy and I only used about 10 pages out of the 40 it has.   
*Take old Christmas cards and cut out images from them that you like...modge podge them and add a hanger to create fun & unique ornaments.  Or display old Christmas cards in inexpensive frames around your home...great way to keep special cards that mean something nearby.  
I'm all about sentimentality in your decorating, so much more special that way when you have a memory, person or experience attached to it.


Fill your home with the scents of Christmas using herbs & fruits! 
*Make some stovetop potpourri to simmer all can make it so inexpensively (see here for a recipe).  
*Bundle up cinnamon sticks and tie them with a festive ribbon and hang around the house or on the tree.  
*Stick cloves in oranges and lemons, place in a pretty bowl and put on your table.  Add a bowl of red apples to your countertop for a punch of color.
*Rosemary trees placed in pretty pots are inexpensive, smell great and look pretty placed in your kitchen.


I bought this chalkboard art on Etsy, printed at Staples for $2 & framed it with a frame from the Thrift Store that cost me $2.

If you have a computer and a printer there are endless ways to make some holiday decorations to your home.
*Create subway art or chalkboard art in your photo editing software (use a free one like PicMonkey) and print out and then put in an inexpensive frame.  You can buy them off of Etsy already done for under $10 as well if you are not computer savvy....or ask a friend that is :)
*Download free clip art or scrapbook paper and print to use for decorations, decoupage or holiday tags.
*Print patterns/images out and cut with scissors, add ribbon and use as decorations on your trees.


Oh the wonders of the mason many fun ways to use them for the holidays!

*Make mason jar snow globes as seen HERE.  If you don't want to add water you don't have to, they still look beautiful!
*Add some ribbon & accents to the top and a candle inside for instant rustic charm.
*Frost or Paint mason jars to use as pretty vases on your tables.
*Make Mason Jar luminaries for mantels, on your stairs or outside...if using inside please use a flameless candle if they can be easily knocked over.
*Fill mason jars with a fun recipe mix, add a festive tag and place around the kitchen or on a pretty tray for hostess gifts or party favors.
*Add water, some cranberries and greenery and float a tea light on top for a beautiful centerpiece (like HERE)
*Fill with festive candies and tie a pretty ribbon around top.
And so many more ideas used with these inexpensive jars!  Think outside the box!


Antique silver pieces I collect filled with some greenery set atop old books

Take items you already have and use in your home and give them a holiday REpurpose.

*Add old Christmas books to the table--I buy mine off of Etsy for $4 and under.
*Add greenery or herbs to old silver serving pieces or tea cups...I buy antique pieces locally for $10 and under.  Add a tea light to pretty antique tea cups as well and scatter around.
*Take old, antique & vintage tins and add greenery or blooms.  Stack them on old books, place them in bathrooms, add to a hutch or just simply on a shelf..I use them everywhere. Old books add a lot to your decorating all year round too.
*Tie bows on door handles or chandeliers.
*Buy inexpensive glass ornaments and pile in bowls or in hurricane vases to add sparkle around the house easily.
*Add a string of white lights to a glass vase or other colored glass object and place on end tables.
*Make luminaries with paper bags, punched with holiday designs and flameless candles/tealights.  Use brown bags for rustic, white bags for elegance or colored bags for festive fun.

Both retail stores & thrift stores have great deals after Christmas.  Comb your thrift stores after the holidays as well because lots of people end up donating holiday decor items because they no longer use them and don't want to pack them up again.


So many ways to add holiday beauty to your home whether you are on a budget or not.  Think outside of the box, use what you have on hand, go on a walk in the woods and gather items from nature.  Get crafty with your kids...even if you aren't crafty you can do a lot with simple items like paper, scissors and glues.  Look online, on store websites, in catalogs for ideas that you can recreate inexpensively and easily.  Just because someone SELLS it doesn't mean you have to buy it...try and make it.  Barter with a crafty friend for something...make her dinner for the use of her Silhouette Cameo...etc.  
Most importantly have FUN, don't STRESS, ENJOY it and make the holiday perfect for you and your family!

Linking to these fab Linky Parties:


Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Holiday House Tour--Part 1!

Hello & welcome to our holiday home this year!  Warning: I decorate a lot for Christmas...I mean A LOT!  Which is why I'm doing two separate holiday posts for you so as not to put you to sleep with my photo intensive posts.  But I love Christmas so much and even though its just one month of the year, I always like to make it magical. There is nothing like a house lit up with the glow of many Christmas trees, the smell of greenery & cider and just the excitement of the holiday season.  When I pack the decorations up in January the house always seems so bare so I'm enjoying every minute now.  Plus if I didn't decorate members of my family would pout..majorly ;)  And yes it takes me a full week to get everything done including the outside.  And there are MANY things in my house that I use to decorate that have lots of memories and are special to me...decorating with items like this make it super special.

This is what we woke up to Sunday morning...a nice wintry covering of snow and fact its icing again today. I hate surprise to many of you that know me..but I do find this light coat of snow during the holidays very pretty.  Course I didn't have to go out in it nor shovel it ;)  Our front porch gets a tree too decked out in red lights, red burlap ribbon and pinecones.
*Before you ask why the cars are out car is inside the garage and the truck is always outside BUT hubby's car got stuck outside because the other side of the garage is filled with items/furniture for GoodWill that he hasn't taken yet..oh well lol.*

Let's start in my dining favorite room at the moment due to its major makeover (see more about that here).  The tree in the dining room used to be red & gold but I changed it over to a more rustic, vintage feel this year.

This tree got some burlap weaved through its branches, rolled up vintage Christmas music sheets and gold/cream ornaments mixed in with some sprays of fruit and pinecones.  Everything on this tree I owned already in my holiday stash so I didn't have to purchase anything for this re-do.

My new pictures in rustic frames surround my buffet now...more on that in another post.
On the table is one of my many Santa's along with his gold reindeer that I've owned for years.  Some burlap, greenery, my lanterns and a sled filled with pinecones & sheet music.  Again nothing new on this table this year, just going into my stash to pull out things I hadn't used in awhile.

Greenery is one of the most inexpensive ways to bring holiday magic into your home...its beautiful and it smells good.  I have many trees around my house that get a good haircut trim this time of year! :)  Another one of my vintage Santas in woodland gear, some gold trees and votives added to the mix.

This is the view from my front hall to the dining room...entry door is on the right.

This is my 9 ft foyer tree dressed all in reds, burgundys and golds--this is one of my trees that ONLY has amber/gold lights on it...I love the warm glow they provide.  This tree holds many of our White House ornaments (the old car is one) from over the past 20 years.  Also a Maryland Blue Crab ornament because I was born & raised a Maryland girl...and lord knows I love my blue crabs!

In front of the foyer tree is my large Santa holding his naughty good list :)  And a trunk full of toys I've collected...including vintage holiday books, an antique car and some of our 40+ Nutcrackers.  Alexa did ballet for 13 years and the Nutcracker every we have MANY of them scattered around the house during the holidays.  I like to mix in fun animal prints when I can...just because I that's why my zebra trunk makes the cut LOL!

This is the topper of my tree...lots of hydrangeas (my fave flower) and some swirly-twirly gold sticks from the floral dept of Michaels years ago.  My garland this year is of simple Magnolia leaves...I used to have a heavier lighted garland but I didn't use it this year...I wanted something simpler instead.

This is looking from the dining room across the foyer into the living room.

My living room tree is all gold & is home to most of my Precious Moment ornaments that I've collected since I was young.  It also holds most of our ornaments from any trips we've made or I've there are a LOT of ornaments on this tree that mean a lot to me.  This is always the first tree I put up (I put them all up but the family room tree by myself) and it takes me awhile because I like to thing about the memories associated with each of the ornaments when I pull them out.

Sitting next to the tree is my childhood rocking chair that each of my kids used as well.  It holds a Fisher Price "My Best Friends" doll...I've collected them all over the years from Ebay because I love them, always wanted them when I was young but never got one.  Funny how as an adult I collect MORE toys than I once had as a child...hmmmmm LOL!  And an angel that I've had for 18 years tops this tree.

Working our way into my kitchen & eating area...which is part of our great room and where we spend our most time.  Yup there are cats in some of these because it was dinnertime and well...I have 6 cats so they're always into something :)

That's Winston waiting patiently for his dinner hehehe...the door at the right goes into our mudroom/laundry.  I really want to paint my island black this winter with Annie Sloan chalk paint..hubby isn't on board..but that never stops me ;)

 Looking from my kitchen into our family can see both the family room and kitchen trees here.  And yes that's football on the TV..its football ball on Saturdays and NFL on Sundays...always!!

Both Riley and I adore penguins..these came from Costco last year and proudly sit on my kitchen island.

At the end of my island are some of my collected antiques that I love..tins, lunchboxes, scales and more.  I tuck in some greenery and lights to add a bit of sparkle.

And one of my fave kitchen vignettes:  Baker Santa with an vintage toy stove (that I adore, from Ebay) that I added some holiday cupcakes & candy (from Etsy) to.  I tuck in greenery in my kitchen too..its easy to move around to clean and when it dries I just add new.

This is our kitchen tree...its all creams, sage green and woodland inspired.  I wrapped it in toile ribbon and grapevine ribbon (like the wreaths & yes incredibly stubborn to handle at times).  If you don't have a tree skirt, buy inexpensive material on sale (2 yds) and bunch around the tree and hide the seams...I do this for most all my trees.  They can easily be washed if something happens too!

My kitchen table with my vintage Coca-Cola crate filled with greens, an old pitcher filled with more greens and a folk-art Humpty Dumpty made by an artist years ago in Vermont.  I can't have real poinsettias in my house because of my flower-eating cats...arghhhh. But they don't bother the greenery..go figure!

Our family not be alarmed the paint color is actually a creamy yellow but in these photos it looks brighter than it actually is LOL!

And here's our beauty...our almost 12 ft live fir that we hunted (in this post) at our tree farm.  Its a beauty and smells so good!  If you don't have a real tree get some of those Scenticles..they smell so yummy.  And my mantel, mirror and banner from other posts on the blog...see sidebar for those.
More pics of some of my fave ornaments on this tree to come in Part 2 including my vintage Coca-Cola ornaments I collect.  My tree skirt was made by mom mom for me and my husband as a wedding gets used every year !

This is my antique crate filled with greenery & twinkling lights...just adds a bit of "magic" to the other end of the fireplace.  Easiest & most inexpensive decoration to add to your decor...cut some greens, add some lights in a favorite container and tada..beautiful!

Here's a pic of me & Riley decorating the family room tree.  This is the tree the whole family participates in and is filled with ornaments that the kids or I've made.  I also buy them each 2-3 ornaments a year and they have quite a collection going..this way when they have their own homes they will have something to decorate their tree with.  And the ornaments are fun to look at because they chronicle their ages so well...Alexa's Barbie and RugRats mania...Riley's obsession with Star Wars and penguins and animals. I also have their baptismal shoes on the tree and some wedding favors from my wedding.  
As far as I'm concerned you can add anything to a tree but what really makes it special are the memories :)

And now that we've finished half of the tour let's have some White Chocolate Peppermint Tea from Teavana using my new tea kettle that I adore and sit a spell yes?

Any questions or comments on anything...leave a comment & I'll message you back :)
Stay tuned for Part 2....are you tired yet???

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