Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pom-Pom Flower Arrangement

Last month, when I made this pine-cone wreath, I couldn't decide if I was really ready to decorate for fall yet or not.

I decided to make something fall-ish for the kitchen table. It didn't scream "SUMMER" but it wasn't pumpkins either.

At our first MOPS meeting (you can read about that here), I had decorated my craft tables with some pom-pom flowers in my milk glass vases.

I used the same idea on my kitchen table, setting the vases on my great grandmother's cast iron griddle. I love to use a tray as a base for a centerpiece. It can make a lot of little items seem like they belong together. It's also easy to move everything off the table for a meal or for cleaning.

I put rice in the bottom of the vases to help in the positioning of the flowers.

For the flowers, I used these pom-pom makers (large size and small size), I know there are tons of tutorials out there for making these on forks or your fingers. But these cheap pom-pom makers are one of my favorite craft tools. They make uniform sized pom-poms every time. I have made wreaths and bunting with these pom-poms too.  They also make adorable "bows" for gifts.

After making the pom-poms, I simply stuck a bamboo skewer into the center of each one. The rice helped me to be able to set the flowers at different heights in the vases. I love the contrast my table cloth offers as well (purchased here).

As you can see in this post, I have since embraced fall, setting pumpkins throughout my house. But I am still enjoying my mustard colored pom-pom flowers.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Read with me

I grew up reading the lessons that the Berenstain Bears learned in their books. I am loving that I am now able to share these stories with my kids. I was excited to add The Berenstain Bear's Storybook Bible for Little Ones to our collection. This padded covered board book is perfect for my kid's little hands - and I don't have to worry about them tearing pages.

The book shares Bible stories starting with creation and ending with the resurrection. The Bible characters are illustrated to look like Berenstain bears but the Biblical truths are still present. I love when my kids enjoy things that I enjoyed as a child - and I am loving sharing these books with them. I am thankful for the Biblical emphasis that these books now display.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Paper Goods Projects- a Super Make-It book is a cute craft book that gives great tutorials for projects using everyday items. The paper-back cover is attractive and the photography in the book is adorable and descriptive.

While most of the crafts are for kids. there are some projects that could be used for adult events, decorations or gift wrapping. I always enjoy a book that shows easy and useful projects. The tutorials are easy to follow and there are patterns included in the back of the book for some of the projects. The supplies needed are items like coffee filters, cereal boxes, cupcake liners, etc.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Dear Mary was a refreshing book in which Sarah Jakes describes "Lessons from the Mother of Jesus for the Modern Mom." Being fully immersed in "mommy world" these days, it was great to think of Jesus' mother experiencing some of the same feelings and struggles that I deal with. I finished this hard-backed book feeling encouraged, hoping that I can learn from Mary's life experiences.

"Having an opportunity to mold, protect, and cherish a life is a precious trust given to us by God. When done with purity of heart and a desire to achieve excellence, it is the greatest investment of self one can give."

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Kid-Friendly Pumpkins around my House

I love quick decor. I love cheap decor. I love kid friendly decor. My pumpkins around the house are great examples.

At a local produce stand, I picked up a bunch of small pumpkins. The large ones were so pretty and so tempting - but the small ones were cheap. Plus, with little ones, I am limited as to where I can sit these pumpkins without them being eaten or kicked.

This year, I am loving these little pumpkins nestled in with my milk glass collection.

It didn't require "undecorating" a space to make room for fall decor. It's out of the way yet still festive.

I also stacked a couple pumpkins in the living room. Turning the stacked books around let the pumpkin colors stand out.

(Wreath tutorial here. Antler tutorial here.)

When I bought my pumpkins, I also picked up a few stray stems on the ground. The produce stand let me have them for free. When I stacked pumpkins, I also pulled the stems off a few that I had purchased.

I let them dry out for a few days. I picked up a few small plastic pumpkins at the craft store. I love the look of the pumpkins, but the stems are always rather fake looking. Using hot glue, I attached my real stems to the fake pumpkins.

It might be my favorite fall decor this year. I love that it adds a little quirkiness to the plain plastic pumpkin.

(Wreath tutorial here.)

Using a paint pen, I added a few white dots to one of the plastic, re-stemmed pumpkins.

Stripes or other patterns would be adorable as well.

I had picked up some styrofoam pumpkins from the Dollar Tree a few years back (like these). I saw that they are still selling these pumpkins this year.

A steak knife easily removed the stem. I decoupaged wrapping paper and tissue paper on the three pumpkins. There was no way to get all the wrinkles out. So, I decided to embrace the look and not worry about it.

My pile of door knobs in the garage made excellent stems. I didn't glue them in place so that I can use the knobs for other projects.

Paper tags act as leaves, tied on with baker's twine.

Book pages cut into leaf shapes would also work.

And, I still love to pull out my fabric pumpkins.

I made five of these several years ago when Hudson was a baby. They have been wrestled, stacked, slobbered on and thrown. They get used as pillows, towers, seats and balls. And they still look like the day I made them.

You can see the original tutorial here (and see how little Hudson was!). They are super simple to make (and I hate to sew). I used felt for the stems. The real stems would also look cute on these pumpkins. I would just be worried about them stabbing the kids at this point.

Maybe someday I will switch out the felt stems.

For now, I am enjoying my quirky cheap pumpkins sprinkled around my house. And my kids are enjoying them too.

Monday, September 28, 2015

God wants to use me (An Easy Yogurt Bar at MOPS)

MOPS meets many needs in my life. I love getting together with other moms to encourage and pray for each other. I love hearing the advice that our speakers and mentors give. And I love the friendships that I have gained from my Monday morning meetings.

But MOPS also helps meet my need to be creative. At this week's meeting, we all did Zumba for our activity.

I didn't have to plan a craft or fill my car full of supplies and decor. But this morning, I found myself loading my trunk anyways.

We all take turns bringing breakfast items to the meetings. It was my table's turn this week - and I had planned to bring some yogurt and toppings. A few other moms also decided to go this route. Before I knew it, we had a full-blown yogurt bar with an impressive number of toppings.

Last night, I selected out bowls and plates to hold our toppings and cups of yogurt. Using all different vessels made the yogurt bar seem fun and full.

I used little flags made from fabric tape (from the Dollar Tree) and bamboo skewers to serve as labels for a few of the items. Little bamboo spoons helped the moms be able to quickly grab the right portion of each topping.

And, for the first time, I made my own granola. I'd like to say it was because I always make everything from scratch...However, this time....I just didn't want to have to run to the store.

My sister shared with me the recipe that she always uses (found here) and I have now decided that this will become a staple breakfast item in our house. It was so simple, so yummy, and actually, so inexpensive to make.

I followed this recipe here.

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 cups oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

The brown sugar, honey and oil were melted on the stove and then poured over the oats, cinnamon and salt. After mixing the ingredients. I baked the granola on a greased cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven for one hour. Every 15-20 minutes, I would gently stir the granola, helping it toast evenly. After removing the pan from the oven, I let the it cool for 5-7 minutes and then tossed the granola. The original recipe suggested letting it cool completely and then breaking the granola into pieces. Since I didn't want huge chunks of granola (and I didn't want to spend forever trying to scrape the granola off my cookie sheet) I took my sisters advice and tossed it before it was completely cooled.

I stored my granola in mason jars, but any air tight container will do.

I sure do love these ladies and the time that we spend together. I love that we were able to discuss how to focus on the right aspects of our day, finding time to rest in the midst of our chaos. I love that we were able to laugh with each other as we tried to keep up with our awesome Zumba instructors steps. (One mom did the entire workout while wearing her baby - guess I can't use the kids as an excuse to not have time to exercise!)

And I love that this group provides the perfect place for me to use some creativity to minister to others.

For some, decorating or crafting might be stressful. But it leaves me feeling that I have accomplished something. Martha Stewart says that preparing for guests in your home is an opportunity to make people feel welcome and ensure that their time spent with you is memorable. And, as I decorated the food tables this morning, I was praying for the exact same outcome for our moms. I prayed that they would feel a sense of belonging in that room. I prayed that they would feel that we had prepared for them. And I prayed that they would have a memorable time.

I love that God made us all unique. And He made us all in His image (Genesis 1:27). He made me creative - and He is creative. And I am finding that I am never more content or joyful than when I am using the gifts He has given me for His purpose. I am humbled and thankful that I don't have to try to become someone else to be used by Him. He made me this way and wants to use ME. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Free Pine Cone Wreath for Fall

Everyone seems to be jumping full force into this fall season...but I love summer. I love the sunshine and warm weather. Trips to the beach and wearing shorts. It's one of the reasons why I am so happy to be living in Tennessee.

So, I have decided to just slowly decorate my house for fall. A small pumpkin here and some autumn colors there. I've also decided to use mostly natural items for now.

I started with my front door wreath. Thanks to a large pine tree in our front yard, we are constantly picking up pine cones. One day, I collected a grocery sack full and left them in the garage.  The cones seem to be tightly closed and a little damp when they first fall off our tree. After a few days, the cones had dried out and "bloomed" nicely. (Please don't judge my lack of proper pine-cone terminology)

I was going to try hot gluing the cones to a wreath form - but Martha said floral wire was the way to go. In the end, I was thankful for the wire - this allowed me to "pose" my pine cones as I went along. And since I may use this wreath for multiple seasons, the wire will help my wreath to last longer.

Martha suggested a wire wreath form, but since I had part of a grapevine wreath already in my wreath stash, I thought I could avoid a trip to the store. When I buy a grapevine wreath, I usually cut the vine that is wrapped around the entire wreath. I can then get two wreaths from the same set of vines.

To make this pine cone wreath, I first cut a bunch of 6-8 inch pieces of the floral wire.  Wearing my gardening gloves (because those pine cones are prickly), I did what Martha said and wrapped the wire around the top part  (I am sure there is a name for that) of the cone.

Then I wrapped the wire tail around the grapevine, tucking in the leftover wire.

I was pleased with the end result and I love how it looked against my blue door. In January, I might paint the tips of the pine cones with white paint to resemble snow.

I took a little walk today with a pair of sturdy scissors and came home with a little bit of bittersweet. Most of the berries are still green (usually til after the first frost), but I was able to find a few branches that were turning that pretty shade of orange.

Little pieces of the vine stuck nicely in between the pine cones. As the berries open up, more and more orange will be exposed. Eventually, these berries dry a burnt orange color. I still have a vase full from two years ago. They seem to last forever.

So, for $0, two nature walks and a nap time, I was able to decorate my door in a natural way. I love the little bits of color that the bittersweet added. And I love that my blue door tells me it's OK to hold on to the cheery summer weather for a little bit longer.