Saturday, December 9, 2023

Simple Christmas Traditions

    Good morning. We are only 3 weeks away from Christmas and I am, per usual, feeling the pressure and overwhelm. Especially when everyone starts releasing their very packed Christmas bucket lists. I used to try and do every single holiday thing available because I didn't want my kids to miss out, but not a lot of it was intentional. And it didn't leave much room for being sick, or our already hard to juggle schedule. Homeschooling is a full time job, caring for a home and kids is a full time job, throw in some animals and a husband who hunts and works very crazy hours and just got put back on nightshift...and it feels like there isn't much room for anything extra. So I wanted to narrow our bucket list down and make it more about achievable traditions. Now my kids are small - 4 and 6, so my list may look different than yours, or than it will in a few years. But for now, here are some things that we do to make this holiday season more special and intentional. 

1. Decorate! We decorate early to mid November, my husband leaves town for an extended hunting trip. This is usually when the kids and I start decking the house. It gives us something fun to do to fill our days and not miss him so much, and they get so excited for him to come home and see the transformation. Decorating early also gives me the opportunity to focus on other things during December. Including enjoying the cozy environment we've made.  

Our decor has been collected over many years, long before our kids came along. I purchase or make a few new things each season to add, replace or change, but otherwise, it looks very similar every year.

2. The first gifts of Christmas. This was an idea I got from The Little Home of Mine several years ago. Thanksgiving night each kid gets a gift - the first gift of Christmas, something simple...a new ornament for the tree, Christmas pajamas, a new Christmas book, etc. But this has been a fun way to officially kick off the season. 

3. Another tradition we have is making crafts or doing some DIY decor together. My mother in law always has a handful of craft kits she does with the kids that they love and we can usually turn into tree ornaments. We LOVE making our orange garland and paper bag snowflakes - you can see more about those on Instagram.

4. Movie nights! We love to snuggle up to Christmas movies around here. I created a huge list of favorites and shared it on Instagram so go check that out! 

5. Christmas books! This collection is something I'm still building. But we are big fans of curling up with a pile of books. Years ago, my mom gave me an old wooden vintage sleigh with a beautiful hand painted snowy scene on it. I use it to hold most of our favorite Christmas stories in and park it under the tree. If you have a favorite Christmas or Winter book, I'd love for you to share it in the comments! Like I said, this is a collection I am still building. 

6. Driving around to see Christmas lights. We have a large park nearby that goes ALL OUT and sets up massive displays that we can drive or walk through. This is something we visit at least once or twice a year. We usually grab some food and eat dinner while we drive around. 

7. Something I started a few years ago was when we get our first snow, we make snowball cookies! You can find the recipe here

8. Advent. A few years ago I found these gorgeous countdown to Christmas bags on Amazon...they aren't available anymore but there are others if you do a quick search. Then I printed out the daily Advent reading from Jesus Storybook Bible and put them inside and we open one each day for our main daily Advent activity. It's very simple but still points to what's important. As my kids get older we will probably move on to something more in depth, but for now, it works well. There is also a Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Activity Book you can buy that's full of crafts, etc.

9. Christmas School. We are a homeschooling family so this one might not appeal to everyone. This year we decided to add a special Christmas curriculum. I chose THIS ONE from Little House Learning Co. She created this to be simple for my kids age, but what really sold me was her use of Biblical prophecies. I am finding it so important in the world we are raising children in, for them to know prophesy. She covers the Old Testament prophecies with the New Testament fulfillment. 

10. Give! Time, money, gifts...This can be cookies for the neighbors, go caroling at a nursing home, adopt a family or child for Christmas, donate to a toy drive, collect items for the humane society, etc. 

Also, don't forget to carve out time to intentionally rest and enjoy this season. Mamas, enjoy the magic you're creating for you and your family. I don't personally do an advent study because it becomes just one more thing on my list, instead I join in with what the kids are doing. There's just as much take-a-way for me as for them. Not to mention, I've been extremely pregnant during this season twice, so I know what the anticipation of a baby at Christmastime feels like and reflecting on that, makes it personally more special. 🎔🎔🎔🎔

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Finding Contentment in the Home You Have

Good morning, friends! Grab some coffee and let's chat for a while about our homes. I shared a little on Instagram the other day, but, today I want to talk more in depth about finding contentment in our homes. And at the end I'm sharing some of my favorite budget friendly ways to create a beautiful and unique to you, home. Hint- It's mostly about perspective, patience and elbow grease.

“A true home is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world’s perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into discipline and strength, where character is molded.⁣
Few things we can do in this world are so well worth doing as the making of a beautiful and happy home. He who does this builds a sanctuary for God and opens a fountain of blessing for men.⁣
Far more than we know, do the strength and beauty of our lives depend upon the home in which we dwell. He who goes forth in the morning from a happy, loving, prayerful home, into the world’s strife, temptation, struggle, and duty, is strong—inspired for noble and victorious living. The children who are brought up in a true home go out trained and equipped for life’s battles and tasks, carrying in their hearts a secret of strength which will make them brave and loyal to God, and will keep them pure in the world’s severest temptations.” —J.R. Miller

Our homes don't have to be magazine worthy to be life-giving.

It’s ok if your home isn’t your dream home. But spending all your time wishing for something else is only going to breed jealousy, greed and unhappiness. It will literally steal your joy. Making you and everyone around you miserable. So while you have this special image in your head of the home you want one day, how can you be content in the home you have now? There’s two steps.

The first is to practice gratitude. Remember this saying; “There is always someone out there who wishes that they had what you have.” Another way to practice gratitude is to remind yourself of all the ways your current home protects and serves your family.

The second step is: to lovingly care for it. I know it can be hard to feel motivated or inspired to do this sometimes, especially when you have a mile long list of projects you'd love to do. But I promise, when we spend the time to care for our homes, we bond with them. 

Simple free or cheap ways to care for our homes -

1. Clean it! Vacuum, mop, wipe down kitchen and bathroom, dust, get rid of clutter, make those windows shine, put.away.the.laundry. (preaching to myself on that one). Clean your carpets! Look, if you have carpet, I can promise you that investing in a carpet cleaner is A LOT cheaper than the wood floors you’d rather have. Don’t not do it bc “one day we’re getting rid of this carpet”. Especially if one day could be years away. I have a carpet cleaner I got for under $100 and I love it! New furniture not in the budget? Clean, repair, freshen up what you have. Rearrange it! 

2. Refresh your paint. Paint is one of those things that isn’t a huge expense and makes a WORLD of difference. Even just going around and touching up the existing paint will make your home feel new.

3. Add flowers or plants. $5 dollar grocery store flowers can really go a long way. Houseplants are also relatively cheap and I’ve had some of mine for over 6 years now.

4. Personalize. I refuse to spend a lot of money on decorating our home. There are so many budget friendly ways to do it. So this is where I love to challenge myself to either use what I have, or make it myself, or find bargains/wait for sales. We live in a trendy, more more more, culture and it is breaking our bank accounts and creating homes that all look the same. So here are some of my favorite ways around that.

-Our little town has flea markets one weekend a month during the Summer and I have found some really inexpensive treasures there. Goodwill. If there's something specific I'm looking for, I prefer to visit the stores in bigger or fancier towns because they will likely have a larger selection and nicer things. We have a vintage oil painting gallery wall in our living room and all of the paintings were either scores from family, flea markets, yard sales, goodwill or FB marketplace. 

-We also have a collection of items passed down from family that we love to display. You'll see really gorgeous ceramic and wooden ducks all over our house that belonged to my husbands grandpa. I have several treasures that belonged to my grandparents as well. I framed an old document from my Papas Navy days that is a huge conversation starter! I'm a big fan of displaying heirlooms and other things that honor a special person or accomplishment. 

-CRAFT! Hang your kids artwork! Find ways to display the cool projects they make. If you walked in my house right now you'd see a few dozen drawings my kids made just taped to the walls. They take a lot of pride in their work and love that I let them hang it wherever they want. Occasionally I go around and take them all down and let them start over. 

-Probably my favorite hack is using bed sheets as curtains. Curtains add soooo much texture to a room but they can be very expensive, especially if you have large windows. You can buy twin size flat sheets, use a seam ripper to open up the area at the top of the sheet (open at the edges) and slide the curtain rod through. Use a steamer or wrinkle release spray to get the creases out and make them look custom.

These next two photos are from our old house. We had massive windows and custom curtains weren't in the budget, that's where the idea of using sheets was born.

-Print your photos!! I use Walmart one hour printing service. They're cheap but quality. They also have really nice inexpensive frames. 

-Make your space feel new. Like I suggested before, rearrange your furniture! I often rotate/move my kids toys around and every time I do this it's like they just got all new toys. You can also take everything off the walls and hang things somewhere different. Basically trick your brain by making a space look completely different, without spending a dime.

“I believe that a godly home is a foretaste of heaven. Our homes, imperfect as they are, must be a haven from the chaos outside. They should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion.”- Jani Ortlund

If you have any ideas that I didn't mention, I'd love to hear them!

Thanks for hanging out, I hope this gives you some inspiration. ❤ 

Friday, September 30, 2022


 There's nothing like the changing of seasons; from the heat and humidity of Summer, to that first Autumn chill. Sweatshirts, bonfires, soup for dinner, colorful crunchy leaves, trick or treat, and Fall movie nights. It's my absolute favorite time of year! So I thought it would be fun to share a series of all my favorite Fall things. First up is some of our very favorite movies that really get us in the mood for Fall and Halloween. I'd love it if you left some of your favorites in the comments so we can keep the list going! Now just a heads up, I'm not really into scary movies, so other than a few, most of the ones on my list will be more about the atmosphere of Fall/Halloween rather than the scary stuff. But I promise, there is something for everyone here!



                                            Don't judge me on this one. It's Harvard in the Fall...
and makes for the perfect girls night movie!

Hocus Pocus and Sleepy Hollow are about as scary as I can go.

Also make sure you check out the Hallmark channel Fall movies. They have some great ones like FALLING FOR VERMONT, OCTOBER KISS, PUMPKIN PIE WARS, HARVEST WEDDING, etc.
And GAC Family has some new ones this year that look good!

FAMILY NIGHT (Some of these won't work if you have younger kids.)

I watch Harry Potter movies all year long. But these are great to start from the beginning and slowly  watch all throughout the Fall and Winter.


The whole series obviously.

I loved the Goosebumps books as a kid and the movies are just as fun.


All of the kids movies listed are ones parents will truly enjoy as well!

The first Hotel Transylvania is the only one I really like. I find the others to be a little too dark for small kids. Bigger kids may enjoy them though.

The Secret Life of Pets, The Nut Job, and Bolt are all really fun adventure stories about friendship with beautiful Fall scenery in the background.

I'm sure I'm missing soooo many. So leave a comment and tell me what all I forgot!! 🎔

Simple Christmas Traditions

     Good morning. We are only 3 weeks away from Christmas and I am, per usual, feeling the pressure and overwhelm. Especially when everyone...