Christmas decor (and sneak peek house tour!)

I’m excited to be participating in The Nester’s Christmas Tour of Homes!  I haven’t really shown any pictures of our new house yet because I wanted to get some decorations up.  Well, I still don’t have curtains in most rooms, pictures on the wall, or even all the furniture I want, so still no full house tour yet, but I do have our Christmas decorations up and I want to show you those.

(P.S. If you want to see my home apartment tour from last year, check it out here)

So, step into our home.  Enjoy the Christmas music and this cup of hot chocolate I made you…I mean, turn on Pandora to a Christmas station and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, and take a virtual peek into our home :).

living roomAs you walk in the front door you’ll see our living room.  This is the main area that I decorate for Christmas.

tulle and lightsI used the all-inspiring Pinterest for many of my Christmas decorations this year…including my tulle and lights.  I just cut strips of tulle and tied them in between the lights on a strand of white lights.  This would be beautiful on a mantle but we don’t have a mantle so…the sofa table it is.

Christmas treeI already showed you all the details of our Christmas tree, but here it is again.

garland 1This garland I made it probably my favorite Christmas decoration this year.  It was super easy to do (another Pinterest find), I cut circles of various sizes out of Christmas-y scrapbook paper, and sewed them together into a long strand.  An easy and cheap way to add some Christmas pretties!  It can be done in any color combination too…so I’m definitely going to be using this for other holidays and events!

pie safeI used some of the extra branches from our Christmas tree and my Merry Christmas blocks to decorate the top of the pie safe.

stockingsThe stockings were hung on the barstools with care…

Christmas cardsI used a similar method to last year and hung the Christmas cards with clothespins.  I’d love to make a cute Christmas card display thing that I can use year to year, but so far that hasn’t happened so twine and clothespins are working for us right now.

Christmas countdownWe have this funny little alcove in the living room next to the bathroom, and this bookcase fits just perfectly.  I’m using it to hold Michael’s Christmas Countdown bags.

Willow Tree nativityMy Willow Tree nativity is on top.

tablescapeIn the dining room we have a centerpiece (see more about how I made it here) on the table.

china cabinetAnd the china cabinet hold Michael’s collection of Santa’s that he had from when he was little.

Michael's tree

And then finally in our bedroom, we have Michael’s little Christmas tree.

A few simple decorations this year, nothing huge since we just moved in, but still beautiful and festive and very us.

Merry Christmas!

card keeper book tutorial

In one of my very first posts ever I showed you the little books that I made to organize all the cards and letters we had gotten through the years.

I made them before I started blogging so I didn’t think to take any how-to pictures (not that I do a great job doing that now when I make crafts!).  I promised I would show a tutorial next time I made a book – yesterday I made my card book for 2012 and so I tried to take lots of pictures to use for a tutorial.

supplies needed: cardboard for the front and back cover (I used the very thin cardboard pieces that come in packages of scrapbook paper to protect them from getting bent – also, I only needed 1 square of the cardboard), scrapbook paper (I used 2 matching pieces for the front and back, and 1 complimentary piece for the insides), another color paper for embellishments, glue of some sort, paintbrush (not pictured), paper cutter, ruler, hole punch, binder clips (those silver rings), and my hole punch template (the cardboard piece)

start by cutting the cardboard for the front and back covers – my rectangles were 6 in x 9.5 in

once your squares are cut, lay them on your paper (whichever one you want to show on the front and back of the book) and cut a rectangle a little wider/longer than your cardboard piece (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch larger on all sides)

squirt glue on the cardboard piece and then spread it out with a paintbrush (you could also use modge podge instead of glue)

glue the cardboard piece to the paper

put a thin line of glue along the edge of the cardboard

fold up the paper (you may have to hold it for a few seconds to get it to stick) – do this on two opposite sides (I did the top and bottom first)

fold in all four corners, then fold over the sides that haven’t been glued and glue them down like you did the top and bottom

your cardboard should then look like this – what you see in the picture will be the inside of the front or back cover

Here’s where I sort of quit taking pictures…so just imagine with me

cut your contrasting paper into rectangles that are slightly smaller than the piece of cardboard – glue to the inside part of the cover, leaving a little border of the other paper showing

punch holes along the side – I created this template the first time I made these books; I just decided how far apart I wanted my holes and punched them into a piece of cardboard.  I marked the middle of my template so then I can line it up with the middle of my cover or my card (either by eyeballing for the middle of actually measuring) and then just punch through the holes

once the holes have been punched you can put the binder clip in

I used the Cricut to cut out the numbers and glued them on the front.  You can see the different ways I embellished my other books here

Since it’s the beginning of 2012 and I don’t have any cards yet (feel free to send me one – I love getting happies in the mail!), this little guy is empty for now

But just in case you’re not sure what to do once you’ve made your book…

I’ll show you what I did with all our Christmas cards

you can see how my template matches up with the binder clips

I just eyeball where the holes should be on each card (I try to make it pretty much even on each side, but sometimes I will off-set it a bit to avoid punching through part of the message)

then I just hole punch through the template and the card

and it’s ready to be put into the book

some people create books just for their Christmas cards – I use the books to store all the cards we get all year long

I used the 1.5 inch jump rings on the 2011 book and it wasn’t quite large enough – you can see that it won’t close flat, but the 2 in ones are harder to find so this will do for now.

I hope I’ve made that clear enough, but feel free ask questions if you have any.  Happy crafting!

Linking up t0

five days five ways | feature friday free for all 

Christmas card display {Works for Me Wednesday}

Remember the countdown I made for Michael?

As he took bags off I intended to take down the pieces of twine.  But at the same time, Christmas cards starting coming in the mail and a little lightbulb went off in my head.  Why not display the cards on the top of the countdown?  So I bought some clothespins that that’s what I did.

It’s not fancy and it’s not something I will be able to use from year to year like some of the cute card displays like I’ve seen before, but for our small space it’s perfect.  Plus it was cheap and easy and I’d already done all the “work” when I made the countdown.  Score.  And that works for me.

Speaking of Christmas cards, after my Christmas card fail I ordered some cards from Snapfish when I had a 40% off code and a free shipping code so they weren’t too very expensive.  I’m quite happy with how they turned out although I wish I had ordered more because I didn’t have enough to send to everyone I wanted to send one to.  So if you didn’t get one, I’m sorry; next year I will order more.

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

a fun little photoshoot

Mom took a few snapshots of us a few weeks ago so we could try to get a good picture of us for our Christmas card (aka not one where one of has their arm stretched out taking a picture that inevitably shoots up our noses).  Unfortunately Mom’s camera was was doing something funky and the color was off in most of the pictures.  We finally switched to our camera but by then we were losing light so we didn’t get many.  So there aren’t any that are really frame-worthy, but at least we got one to use on our Christmas card (you can read about my DIY Christmas card fail here).

Here are some of my favorites and some of the silly ones:

What you don’t see in this shot is this:

Girlfriend (Mom’s dog) wanted to be in every picture!  I’ve never seen her be like this before – she would run over and it looked like she was just posing there, waiting for the shot.  Hilarious!

this one we chose for the card

This last picture confirms that I should in fact be an extra on Twilight

I’ve got the paleness down pat (I’m blaming it on Mom’s camera, though), just need some sparkles.

a DIY Christmas card attempt that failed

Before tomorrow’s Works for me Wednesday post, I thought I’d share something that didn’t work for me.

This will be my first year to send out Christmas cards.  As I started looking at photo cards I came to realize that they were a bit pricier than I expected.  After a little searching I found this tutorial that taught how to make your own Christmas cards using Picnik (a free, online, photo editing program).  I’m not very technologically savvy but her tutorial looked really easy to follow so I decided to give it a try.

After Picnik crashed a million and twelve times I finally ended up with a design that I liked.

(the black spot is not part of the design, it’s where I blacked out our last name)

Excited about my creation I proceeded to upload the image to Snapfish; my plan was to treat it like a picture and order a bunch of prints.  At the time I had a coupon code for 100 free prints, all I had to pay was the $6.00 shipping.  $6.00 for 100 Christmas cards is amazing!  I thought I would then just buy some matching envelopes and all would be well.  (not that I needed 100 cards – imagine the postage!, but you had to order 100 in order for the code to work)

A few days later they arrived in the mail.  Imagine my dismay when I opened the envelope and found this.

Yep.  Merry ristmas love, ael and Caitlin.  Awesome.  The whole left side got cut off.

I’m not really sure what happened.  It could have been because Snapfish offers an option of printing pictures that aren’t exactly 4×6 (4×5.3) because it supposedly keeps the ratios truer to a digital camera.  Anyway, that’s usually what I pick when I print my pictures and so that’s what I picked when I printed these cards.  I don’t know if going with 4×6 would have worked better or it there was something off in the dimensions of the picture when I saved it (again, not exactly a computer whiz here).  Whatever happened, these pictures were a bust.  What a bummer.

Back to square one.  “Real” photo cards have been ordered and are on their way. Fortunately Snapfish had a 40% off code and a free shipping code so I was able to get them at a fairly reasonable price.  Finger crossed that they turn out ok!

Designing our own Christmas cards did NOT work for me!

(FYI, I in no way blame Snapfish or the creator of the tutorial I used.  I’ve ordered tons of pictures from Snapfish with great results.  The tutorial I used was awesome and helped me lean so much more about the possibilities of Picnik.  Even if you aren’t going to try to make a Christmas card, I suggest you check it out because you can do some really cool things with your pictures for free.  It’s definitely not her fault that the pictures printed weird.)