Advent Calendar & DIY Leaf Garland

A couple of weeks ago I hauled the kids to our usual haunt, Tarjay, in search of many things; one of them being an Advent calendar.  We’ve never had one in our little family and my family never had one growing up but it’s a tradition I want to start with our rugrats.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t too excited about Target’s selection but imagine my joy and surprise when my friend from college, Kristen, asked me the very next day if I’d want one of the ones she’d designed.  I took one look at it and my excitement went through the roof!  It’s gorgeous!  Online it’s beautiful but in person it’s even more so.  It consists of 26 cards, one for each day of Advent (duh) and on the back of each card is the reading for that day and a short reflection.  On the front is a watercolor design (each day is different!) illustrated by Clarissa Krajewski.  You can either purchase it in printable form (you print) or you can purchase a pre-printed one and have it sent to you.  If you’re still looking for a calendar this year, I highly recommend this one!  During one nap time last week, I got ours all hung and ready.  See?
It’s hanging in our kitchen, where we’ll be able to pray with it around mealtimes when we’re all in one spot.  I got a little crafty with how I hung it after a long naptime and a dose of ambition called my name last week.  I used twine I had leftover from this soap dispenser project to hang the cards and along the twine I strung leaves that I picked off some tree branches Anthony had trimmed off of some trees in our front yard last weekend.  I’m not sure what kind of trees they are but the leaves are similar to magnolia leaves in that they’re thicker, a little waxy, and stiffer, making them perfect for this project.  After I cleaned them (I just swirled them around in some water + dish soap in the kitchen sink), I used our hole punch to punch a hole at each end of each leaf.
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Then I simply strung leaf after leaf onto the twine.  photo 1 (13)All of that probably took me 20 minutes…not long.  It was actually so refreshing even if it was a tad tedious because while I worked I listened to Bonnie’s podcast interview with Kristen on This Inspired Life.  If you haven’t heard, you should lend your ear.  Bonnie tells about her now-four-year-old son’s run-in with death at his birth.  You guys, he had no pulse for 61 minutes!!  But he’s now a happy, healthy, normal little boy thanks be to Jesus and the intercession of Blessed Fulton Sheen.  That’s all I’m going to give away…go listen when you get a chance!  (Pssst…If you don’t have a chance to listen right away but are dying to find out more about this miracle, you can read about it here on Bonnie’s blog.)

Back to the leaves…after I was finished stringing, I grabbed my favorite gold spray paint (Metallic Accents by Rustoleum), hung the strands on our swing set, and sprayed each down with a couple of coats.
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You can even make strands like this to serve as garland for your Christmas tree or mantle or anywhere that could use a little sprucing!  Silver, gold, red, blue, sparkled…oh the options!

It bears mentioning that…I hung two stands, as you can see in the first picture, and strung and painted one strand at a time.  The only reason I’m telling you that is because I realized, while stringing the leaves onto the second strand, that I had picked EXACTLY the right amount of leaves to fill both strands.  It was crazy.  Here I was listening to Bonnie’s miracle and stringing, stringing, stringing until I was done stringing and there were zero leaves left but I was done stringing anyway.  Here are the two ends of my second and final strand to serve as proof.
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I had even gone outside and grabbed more leaves before I started this strand because I didn’t think I was going to have enough.  I know I’m rambling about it and you probably think I’m nutso, but let me just tell you, it was crazy.  Enough said.  :)

The last thing I did before I hung each card was hand paint a little arrow design on each clothes pin.  I used a small test pot of the color Sonora Rose (by Valspar) I had on hand and a small paint brush and went to town.  It only took me about five minutes.
And that’s it!  I had everything I used on hand making this project 100% free and man, I love those kinds of projects!  I love how our calendar turned out and I can’t wait to start praying with it!
[P.S.  I have hanging 27 cards even though there are only 26 days in Advent.  The “instructions” card was too pretty not to hang and the way that I hung the cards, it looked better to have an odd number of cards on top and an even number on bottom, so I included it in the bunch.  Also, I hung the calendar over the frame collage but I’m thinking I might take the frames down because it looks a tad cluttered.  I’m not a huge fan of that collage anyway and have been itching to switch it up so after Advent might be my chance…]

Do you have an Advent calendar tradition?  What about Advent traditions in general?  I’m looking to expand ours so do tell!  I can’t believe it starts next weekend!


Southern Charm

Get a load of these guys:
Pinchable, no?

So let me tell you, I/we are anti-decorating for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving BUT this year we made two exceptions.  One – our tree.  We bought a new (to us) tree off of Varage Sale (sorta like a glorified Craigslist) and it’s currently in its spot in the living room because, hey, we have a week and a half and we’re not hauling the nine-footer to and from the attic twice in that span.  And two – our kids.
[Half-smile on the left and right…the only ones you’ll see in this whole post.  Happy children have we but you’d never know it in pictures.]

Feltman Brothers sweetly sent each of our tots his/her own holiday outfit (this dress and this suit).  The girls have three Feltman Brothers dresses from their infant days and so I was excited to receive more because, not only are they beautiful and a staple in Southern children’s wardrobes (smocking is BIG down here), but they are dresses that are timeless and that the girls can pass down to their own daughters someday (and Sebastian can suit up his son(s) too!)  They’re investment pieces that’ll be handed from generation to generation and if you love history as much as I do, that is really awesome!  (I have a nerdy side and you just witnessed it.)

Before all that happens though, we will get our use out of them while they fit and so Sunday Mass-goers with us will see them quite possibly every weekend for the next several weeks and of course, we’ll throw a couple of tiny cardigans over them on Christmas Day and, as much as Anthony might shake his head on this one, I might have to find Sebastian some knee-highs… ;)
Last Sunday we took advantage of the 70 degree weather and got some stills of our munchkins.   IMG_5451
[Nope, it’s not a dirt smudge on her cheek; it’s a bruise.  As sweet as she looks, rough and tough more closely describe this one.]

[Exactly two seconds before Seb made an attempted lunch of the acorns in his grasp.]


This one might be my favorite:


Go check out Feltman Brothers and “ooh” and “aww” over all of their adorable clothes!  Every outfit includes hand-embroidery and the quality is incredible!  I couldn’t get over the intricacy of the lace stripes in Sebastian’s suit!  And the fabric the girls’ dresses are made of is great!  Usually when you think white you think see-through, but these dresses were thick enough to hide tiny, colored undies but thin enough that they didn’t look or feel stuffy.  Besides the holiday garb on our kids, I am in love with these bubble rompers and their adorbable sweater sets!  Dressing the little humans never gets old, does it?  :)


Have a great weekend!  I’ll be back Monday with an Advent calendar idea for you using this beauty from Inspired Life Shop!  Kristin is a friend of mine from college and she and a friend designed it.  If you don’t have a calendar yet, I highly recommend this one!  It’s a printable so you can have it up and running by next Sunday!  :)

Oh Poop

That’s what I think when I look back on the main bathroom of our first house.   
bath1 after2

Don’t let me fool you now.  This is “after”.  Yeah, I know your eyes just got a tad wider and your jaw fell a tad closer to the floor.
    bath1 after1

It’s bad.  I know it.  Brown and orange with wood trim????!!!  Is it fitting or ironic or did I just take it too far?  Either way, maybe if I let you in on my thought process you’ll understand a tad more and renege on your sudden desire to turn me into the interior design police.

Once upon a time I went on a Parade of Homes.  You know, those shows where you go around from gorgeous home to gorgeous home, soaking in all the pretty and grand and letting your inspiration mug overflow with ideas for your dream home.  And on that little tour de homes, I laid foot in a beautiful powder room that the designer(s) of that particular home painted a deep dark brown and it looked incredible.  I hadn’t seen a room that dark before and so it was not only mesmerizing but someday I had to copy.

Enter our bathroom.  Not the bathroom that was the best slate for my dark bathroom must-have but what did I know?  Nothing, obviously.  When we moved into our first home, that bathroom was an awful shade of peach and had to go.  (Ha…it’s funny thinking back on how awful I thought the peach was, because it was, but how I covered it with an equally awful color…fool me once, fool myself twice…)  So Cabin Plank (Valspar) went up on the walls.  Wish as I did to want to paint all of the trim and vanity white, I didn’t.  All of the trim in the entire house was solid wood and stained the same as that in the bathroom.  And it wasn’t cheap wood trim either.  So, painting it, when we knew that the house wasn’t our forever home, we ruled out because we thought we’d get more money for our investment with the wood the way it was vs. painting over it.  (We ended up making bank off that house so I don’t know in the long run if it would’ve been better or worse to paint but c’est la vie.)bath 1 after3

To add a tad bit o’ color, I grabbed some dollar store daises and planted them in some dollar store vases and picked up some matching orange hand towels from Walmart.  The cabinet over the toilet we purchased at Target and the white shower curtain was a wedding registry gift (Target).  Those two white things were my sole two attempts to put some white in the room and were probably my unconscious trade for not painting the trim white.  I added some white frames that I filled with sepia-filtered pictures of our honeymoon (which just added more brown…dumb idea.)  The gold fixtures were already there along with the creamy white tile floor.  The toilet was a bisque color as was the shower/bath combo.  The room didn’t exactly scream “A Parade of Homes home was my inspiration!!”  But, it was an ultra-cheap transition from where it began, ringing in at around $35.

If I could go back and if I had to keep the wood unpainted, I think I’d go with a creamy white on the walls, add some bold fabric in the form of a roman shade over the window, swap out the over-the-toilet cabinet with a couple of large frames stacked on top of each other, and nix the flowers and orange anything.  Maybe this no good, very bad, two minute, photo-shopping job will help visualize it:
[If you squint, it might help it to look a little better…or better yet, chug a large glass of vino.]
bath 1 after3pix

So, there you have it.  One of the worst decorating decisions I’ve made.  What about yours?  Spill it.  :)

Sebastian: 10 Months

Is it possible that a boy child can be more affectionate/sensitive/cuddly than (two) girl children?  In this house, yep.  So far anyway.  Soaking that right up we are.  

Happy 10 months kid.  :)

.           .           .

And, in case you’re interested, here are the girls at 10 months.


**Just a quick reminder!  There’s a Luce Leather giveaway happening on our Instagram page that ends tonight at 8pm!  Nicole of Luce Leather has generously offered to give away a Magnificat cover that she made herself!  It’s so beautiful!  If you don’t read or don’t have a Magnificat, enter anyway!  Christmas is coming and if you win, it’d make a great gift!**

And speaking of leather…

Baby moccasins are the hot new thing!  Haven’t you heard/seen?  I have to admit, I wasn’t fond of them at first but I think they’ve rubbed off on me after seeing them alllll over Instagram.  But, when it comes to baby shoes, I have a pretty tight wallet.  My kids (maybe most kids?) are in a new shoe size every 4-6 months so hand-me-downs, clearance, and thrift stores are where we shoe shop.  Leather moccs can run anywhere from $45 to $60+ a pair and faux leather ones can be found on Etsy for $15+.  Our budget right now told me “no, you can’t buy any baby moccs” so I took matters into my own hands and made some!  Look!

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My friend Jesse came over on Monday last week after bedtime and we chatted, drank wine, and sewed our littlest tots a pair of moccs.  She made hers out of the leather skirt I wore with The Traveling Scarf (that she got at Goodwill for $1!) and I made mine out of a leather vest (that I found at Goodwill for $4).  I forgot to take a picture of the vest before, but here’s what was/is left of it:photo 1 (12)I still have almost the entire back of the vest left so if anyone has any ideas on what to make out of it, toss ‘em my way!

Here are the moccs we made that night almost finished:

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We used this pattern and this tutorial, combined with this tutorial, and a lot of our own tweaking.  I didn’t take pictures to write a tutorial but I’m planning on making some more as Seb grows and maybe even some moccs for the girls and when I do, I’ll make sure to document every step.  It was surprisingly simple even though the thought of making baby shoes is totally intimidating.  If I didn’t have Jesse by my side, holding my hand the whole way, my moccs might not have turned out as good but thankfully I did and the next pair will be even easier to whip up.

I’m still trying to convince Anthony that they’re cute though!  He thinks they look a tad too girly.

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Maybe it’s the fringe?  I might have to trim it to win his admiration. 

While the moccs turned out great (despite their potential girly-ness), I learned that next time I need to use a thicker leather.  The leather I used was super soft which would be great for a crib shoe version; not for a mover and shaker.  I took Sebastian out to the front porch to crawl around the day after I made them and just from dragging his feet across the concrete, they scuffed up pretty easily.  See the roughed up top?

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Jesse made a second pair using an old leather purse she cut up and they seem more durable.  Aren’t they so cute?  I am in love with the scallops vs. fringe for girls! photo 3 (6)  photo 4 (5)

Here’s hoping I’ll have some time to make some more soon so stay tuned!  If you’re not interested in sewing your own, check out these mocc makers:
>>Freshly Picked
Susan was on Shark Tank with her moccs, got a deal, and now they’re arguably the most popular moccs on the market but run on the higher-priced end.  You can find them all over the blogging world and there’s always a giveaway somewhere so keep your eyes peeled!
>>The Coral Pear
Amanda’s leather moccs are slightly less expensive and oh-so-cute!
>>The Striped Arrow
Courtney makes faux leather moccs that are really affordable and has some good sales that you’ll find out about if you follow her on Instagram!
>>Gracious May
You can find the cutest, fringed moccasin boots at Gracious May.  Their prices are up around those of Freshly Picked though but once you see the boots, it’s mighty tempting to splurge.
Audrey makes moccs and mocc boots out of reclaimed leather and they’re a lot cheaper than similar moccs and so stylish!  They’re also styled a little differently than other moccs out there which I appreciate!

Are there any moccasin shops you’ve come across that you love?  Or have you found a great pattern and made your own?  Please share!

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