A Simple Christmas Gift

I have a confession: I didn’t know what Black Friday was until I dated my husband. Growing up in the boonies, there was no such thing as Black Friday. Prices were the same the day after Thanksgiving as they were the rest of the year. There was no online shopping back then, so Black Friday was unknown to me. Some of you avid Black Friday shoppers are probably shocked, but that’s the truth. However, this Black Friday, I was going to be brave and stopped at Target to find a bargain or two. I walked in, assessed the crowd, took a deep breath, grabbed a cart and started browsing the $1 and $3 section. Only to put my cart back and walk out the door five minutes later! It was too much. Couldn’t handle the bustle. Oh well… I tried.

Christmas is really about Jesus, and spending time with family and making memories anyway, right? I’d rather be able to do more of that and less time browsing crowded stores trying to find the “perfect” gift. 

After the Target fiasco, I decided to make gifts. Something simple. Perfectly imperfect maybe. I really enjoy simple, homemade Christmas gifts. Even the dish cloth Grandma crocheted can be appreciated. It’s the time and effort someone puts into crafting something special that counts. And if it’s either useful or beautiful, that’s an added bonus! 🙂 

A couple summers ago, I came across an ad on Craigslist for free wood. Someone was tearing down their old barn. And wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t far away! I excitedly drove my car over and loaded as much beautifully weathered Ohio barn wood as I could into the back of old Betsie. I didn’t necessarily know what all the wood would be used for, but I knew there were projects in the future where it would come in handy.

Like today. My simple Christmas gift. Totally doable on a cold, snowy day.IMG_0627I found a couple boards of varying width and used my saw to make them the size I wanted. Using gorilla wood glue, I made the cross and put a bunch of library books as weights to hold them while they dried for a couple hours. Then I looped jute string around the center, with just a little bit of hot glue on the back to hold it in place.

Christmas is about Jesus humbling Himself, coming to this earth as a baby in a manger (can you imagine?), and thirty-three years later, dying on a cross to redeem fallen mankind. What better way to remember what He did for me?


“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.” (The Old Rugged Cross, by George Bennard)

Coffee Table Spruce Up

My husband and I started out with very little, like most newlyweds. We had our clothes, cars from high school, and each other! We were so blessed to end up with my aunt and uncle’s old dining table and chairs and hutch (of which you’ve already heard the story). They also gave us these 2 coffee tables. Here they are in our first little apartment. All those doo-dads on the table are most of the home decor items we received for shower/wedding gifts. 🙂 (The couch and chair were also given to us by generous friends…more on that later.)

random 024After graduation from college, we moved to my husband’s home state of Florida. At that point, I figured the table needed a little makeover. On a warm summer day, I hauled the table out by the pool in the hot sun and slathered on a layer of gray primer first, then painted it glossy black. (I really had no idea what I was doing back then, but you learn as you go, right?) 🙂 It dried- very quickly- complete with bubbles from the sun. But it was usable. And we did use it… for another five years or so. 100_5581Then one day, I ran across this. It kinda looked like our table and I liked it.

First, I measured the top of the table and figured out that I needed 4 4×6’s cut to 52 inches. The guy at Lowes quickly made the cuts for me.

Next, using a rag, I applied one coat of Zar stain. I love the dark, rich color!DSC_4411DSC_4413 DSC_4412Lastly, I put the boards on the tabletop, planning to glue them down later. (Still haven’t glued them…) But it looks great! And it’s easy to dust underneath. 🙂 (For some reason, the wood looks a little reddish in these pictures, but it’s darker in real life.)

DSC_4473 DSC_4477

Easy Wall Hangings and Throw Pillows

Have you ever been baffled about what to hang on your wall? I have. Out of all the things we’ve collected over the years, things to hang on the wall haven’t been one of them. But I figured I could make something pretty easily.

After doing some research, I learned that canvas or even cardboard could be used as a backing. Then I discovered these ultra-cheap foam insulation panels (they’re about $12 for a pack of 6). What a great idea! They are super light and easy to cut with a box cutter. They are also huge, so if you want a large wall hanging, this would be a cheap way to achieve that.


Here’s a picture for size perspective. DSC_4996

You can choose whatever material you like to cover them. After you cut the foam to the size you want, cut the fabric slightly larger than the foam so you have some to fold over the back. I used the glue gun to hold it in place. Here’s the fabric I chose.

I cut two rectangular pieces of foam and one square piece for the center. You could do them all the same, all different, whatever you like.

DSC_5003 DSC_5001Using a stencil and some of my “sample” paint from Lowes, I made the center hanging. It’s not perfect, but I think that’s the beauty of a DIY project. It’s your work, your time, your effort, your creativity. It doesn’t have to be perfect.


I also decided to make some “new” throw pillows to go with the wall hangings.

It doesn’t matter what the pillows look like because you’re going to cover them. I had a couple old, ratty rusty-red throw pillows in storage so I dug those out. I covered them with the same fabric I used for the wall hangings. The strip of burlap, lace, letters, and buttons just appealed to me at the moment so I threw those on too. 🙂 You can be creative! These pillows aren’t “permanent”, so if you wanted to change them out later, you could. (As you can see, the letters fell off at some point and I unknowingly switched them… I also switched out the square pillow for a little rectangular one when I re-glued them.) It’s really up to you how sturdy you want to make them. I actually pinned the backs originally, then found that it was rather unhandy to be poked in the hand whenever you tried to fluff or move them. So I used the glue gun the second time around. (DIY-ing is really all about trial and error! You learn as you go!) 😉



Sometimes it’s challenging to work around what you have when it isn’t something you’d choose. This was our bedroom in one of our rentals. Our whole bedroom was “blah” to say the least.


When I finally got to pick the colors for our bedroom, I began to explore the idea of a headboard also. My inspiration came from this. I liked the simplicity of it. It was cheap and something I could do myself!

After purchasing the lumber, I tried to stain it. But after about 3 coats, it still wasn’t the color I wanted. (The board on the left is the original lumber. The one on the right is after 3 coats…) Note to self: *Not all stains are created equal.


Here are all four boards. 
IMG_2645So I scrapped the stain idea and instead painted the boards black. Would I do it the same way again? Maybe. Had I known about Zar stain back then though, I may have gotten the color I wanted with only 1-2 applications. Here’s a more recent project (more on that later) that I applied 1 coat of Zar and got this rich, pretty color. Did I mention Zar stain is the best?

DSC_4412Mounting the headboard was a 2 person job. My husband helped me be sure the boards were level while we screwed a screw into each end of each board. After we mounted our new headboard, I painted the screw heads black so they weren’t so obvious.

DSC_4975 DSC_4978 DSC_4980 DSC_4981

Easy Chalkboard Wall

This was an easy couple-hour project that has been fun for both my husband and I, as well as the kids. We’ve enjoyed doodling and leaving each other silly or sweet notes.

My sister has also been wanting to do a small framed chalkboard on her kitchen pantry, so I challenged her to see who could complete their chalkboard first. I won. My sister said that I can help her paint hers next time I come to visit. 😉

Our chalkboard wall is just at the top of the stairs in the playroom where it is handy to scribble something as you walk by. Or you can sit and stay awhile. DSC_4936 I taped off the ceiling and along the baseboard (such an easy way to cut in, I’ve found… even though the “experts” say you should never tape to cut in!) Well, it works for me.

The wall only took one coat with touch-ups in areas where the paint was sparse. *Update: I’m going to add 2 more coats. The main reason is to be able to erase easier. As it is now, I have to use a wet rag to erase adequately. DSC_4938Doodles!

DSC_4945DSC_4957 DSC_4956

I found this fun little box at Tuesday Morning and thought it was perfect for holding chalk and an eraser. I might mount it on the wall…

DSC_4949 DSC_4954

DIY Buntings

My friend Kim over at Gravity Mom made this super cute, ultra easy Valentine bunting. So I thought I would include her idea along with a couple other buntings that I’ve made. Here is Kim’s bunting. I just love how simple, chic, and fun it is! Check out her informative tutorial! Valentine-Bunting I made this LOVE bunting last year around Valentines Day.IMG_9198IMG_9194 Buntings are cheap, easy to make, and take only a few minutes!

To make my LOVE bunting, I cut a burlap runner into four triangle shapes, but you could also buy a pre-cut burlap. (You really could use any kind of fabric or material you like!) I used the first triangle as the pattern for the other three. Lowes sells paint samples in little 8 ounce containers. One time as I was inspecting the jars they had on clearance, the guy working behind the paint counter exclaimed, “I’ll give you all of them for super cheap if you’ll take them!” So of course, I couldn’t pass up an awesome deal like that! He marked them down to $.25-$.50 a piece. (Normally they are $2.50 each). These are really great to have on hand for crafts! The color I chose for my LOVE bunting is called “Cream in My Coffee”. DSC_4751 Using a stencil, I stenciled on the word L-O-V-E, one letter on each triangle. After letting it dry for a few minutes, I strung the jute cord through it. DSC_4742(The picture below is the BLESSINGS banner I made for a friend’s baby shower.) FullSizeRenderIMG_1002 Today, I made an even simpler bunting. I found this lovely burlap banner in the $1-$3 section at Target. (Don’t you love great finds?) 🙂DSC_4676 I had some pretty sparkly gold stickers left over in my craft stash, so I simply peeled off L-O-V-E and stuck them on! I like it because it’s not permanent and the stickers can easily be taken off later. (I might even get some red sparkly ones instead!)DSC_4730 DSC_4731 The possibilities for buntings are endless. Here is one I made for our Florida-inspired (very-bright-you-might- need-sunglasses 🙂 guest room: IMG_9448 Buntings are a simple, chic way to add character to your decor! Be creative and have fun making one (or a few) of your own! 🙂


Bedroom Furniture Update

When Jonathan and I got married, we were like most newlyweds and had very little in the way of furniture. We were finishing up college and living in a little apartment.
We were so blessed though. My aunt and uncle were just getting some new furniture and offered us their old dining room table and chairs, china hutch, and 2 coffee tables. Some other friends gave us a loveseat, oversized chair, and couch. Most all of which we still have to this day! (More to come on these makeovers later) 🙂
One day as I was doing laundry in our community laundry room, a paper pinned to the bulletin board caught my eye. Someone was getting rid of a dresser and 2 bedside tables for FREE! I hastily scribbled down the number and called as soon as I was back at our apartment.
We lived with these for years. Until I realized I could actually paint them! And like them! The thought must have never crossed my mind. (I apologize about the before picture… I purposely cropped them out of most pictures I took of our bedroom because I disliked them so much!)



Another piece of furniture that we keep in our bedroom is a cedar chest my grandma gave me when I was a teenager. I was excited to someday have it in my home to store keepsakes, but it was also oak-colored and needed an update along with the dresser and side tables.




Chest redo

First I removed all the hardware and spray painted it glossy black. Then I removed everything from the drawers and took them out. I used a roller and brush to apply two coats of paint- an antique white with primer. After letting it dry overnight, I strategically and lightly sanded the corners and fronts of the legs then applied a dark stain with a rag all over the surface, wiping and smudging as I went. (You really can’t mess it up.) I did the same to the mirror.


Dresser Redo

I love the result and wish I would’ve taken on the challenge years ago! 🙂





I found this dresser on Craigslist for $20 soon after we moved into our house and painted it to match. It is amazing how all the cheap/free furniture now looks like a matching set!