Thursday, December 27

Two Ways to Save on Christmas Cards

We're wrapping up our 2018 Christmas posts with a few quick tips for saving money on Christmas cards! We love to send a little something to let friends and family know we're thinking about them this time of year, but with all the fancy new photo cards I know it can get expensive. So here are our best tips for saving money on Christmas cards!

The details: We typically print 100 cards a year. This is enough for friends and family plus several extras for anyone else we think of later (because I always seem to forget someone when I make my list!). Postage is usually our biggest Christmas card expense. You can cut this down by hand-delivering as many as possible, but for the rest this is just a reminder to  include postage in your card budget! Here are our two favorite low-budget card tips:

Traditional Card + Photo
The first money-saving method (we did this last year) is totally different than the snapfish/shutterfly cards we used the last few years and actually saved quite a bit of $$. These cards took a little forethought and planning, but they ended up better than ever!

It all started the Christmas before when I found some beautiful cards on clearance after Christmas. I've always been a sucker for a real card, especially with a handwritten note, and these beautiful little fellas caught my eye! And the best part? They came out to about $0.13/card! So, yes, I bought these a year in advance and stashed them in the basement until Thanksgiving rolled around. Like I said, there was a little forethought involved!


But we didn't just send a card (because we all know photos are half the fun). I used Photoshop to add "Merry Christmas" to a regular 4x6 sized photo and printed them during a $0.01 print sale on Black Friday (snapfish and shutterfly both run this sale occasionally). The card + photo brought my total up to under $0.15 per card (well under half the price of most photo cards!).


So we got to include both a beautiful card and a family photo... but guys, that's not even the best part.

Monday, December 24

2018 Christmas Tour

Or should I call it the 2018 Christmas EVE tour? I know. Every year I have these big plans for Christmas projects and Christmas posts to share, but then the season comes and we just... do Christmas instead. I highly recommend this method.

But I do have a few super easy and budget friendly decor tips that are too good to miss for another year! So here we are with a quick Christmas Eve tour!


We'll cut right to the chase with our cheery kitchen window. Easily one of the most cheerful little corners of our home, and it also happens to be one of the easiest and cheapest to decorate! That merry Christmas sign above the sink? It's our sneaky reversible "farmer's market" sign. It only costs a few dollars to make (get the tutorial here) and when Christmas comes you just flip it around to the Christmas side. The window wreathes are from Dollar Tree (so just $1 each!) and I hung them with scraps of red ribbon. Most of our house has the original wood windows, but these ones were updated to double-hung windows which make hanging wreaths so easy. Just loop ribbon through a wreath, slide the top of the window open a crack, and pinch the ends of the ribbon in the window. No nails, no hooks, just easy peasy wreaths.

Sunday, December 9

$5 Christmas Stocking Hack

Our mantle decor got a major upgrade this Christmas with a beautiful new set of stockings! (we also updated the actual mantle earlier this year when we wrapped it with wood and added shiplap) But this big upgrade didn't have a big price tag. Believe it or not, these beautiful, classic stockings started with a set of plain red Amazon stockings that were only $5 each. They just needed a little MLH farmhouse flair!


I like to think I know a thing or two about stockings. I've spent a good amount of time looking at them over the last ten years, because every. single. year. I search again for our perfect fit.

I've found plenty of beautiful stockings over the years, but all the ones I loved failed to fit one important requirement. Budget. As much as I dreamed of perfect stockings, I just didn't feel like I found the right ones for a price I was willing (or able) to pay. I began my stocking saga after baby #2 joined the family. Our budget was strapped pretty tight, so I made handmade stockings with leftover flannel (you can see how I made them here). They were totally free, but I didn't love the fabric (I wont' totally knock that idea, though. I seriously considered making a matching plaid set this year before I found these red ones, and I think that would feel wonderfully cozy!).

A couple years later when we needed to add a fifth stocking, I decided to scrap those guys and start fresh. But wouldn't you know it, I was pregnant and tired and just needed something before the baby got here... so I just got the best Hobby Lobby had to offer for $5 each (you can see them in this post). It did feel like an improvement, but it also felt like a wasted opportunity because deep down I knew I didn't love those moosey stockings. They weren't my style, and for the next couple Christmases I cringed with regret every time I pulled them out. But I couldn't justify replacing them - they were brand new!


Then, earlier this year, we added baby #4. Even last Christmas before he was born I knew - we would need a sixth stocking. I knew this was my chance to get a new set, and this time I was ready. This time I knew what I wanted, and this time I was ready to hunt. it. down.


Sunday, December 2

DIY Wooden Stocking Tags

Christmas decorating is in full swing at the big blue house, and today I wanted to share one of my favorite projects for adding a cute and personal touch to any stockings. And the best part? It's sooo easy and super cheap!



I love DIY Christmas decor, and a project that's just as useful as it is beautiful? Well that just takes the Christmas cake! These little wooden stocking tags are a perfect way to differentiate matching stockings, add a personal touch without springing for embroidery, or just add a cute wooden accent to your Christmas decor.

Ever since we bought these off-the-shelf stockings a few years ago, I've been craving a personal touch. A way for all the little fellas to know which one is theirs and run right to it Christmas morning. Something to make them unique and ours. And these simple little tags have been the perfect touch!


Here's all you need to make your own:

Wednesday, November 21

Reversible Farmer's Market/Christmas Sign

I know Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but have no fear. This Christmas project has a secret identity that can be used all year! You may know by now that wooden signs are some of my favorite Christmas decor (my DIY Christmas tree farm sign, hand painted signs, and Christmas photo signs are just the tip of the iceberg!) but every year I encounter two problems with my sign collections:
  1. finding wall space to hang them that doesn't feel awkward or like an afterthought (and that doesn't put holes where I don't usually them)
  2. storage space when I take them back down
Well today we're solving both of those problems with handy reversible sign!


Most of the year it's just chilling in the kitchen as an unassuming Farmer's Market sign. Adding a little rustic charm and perfectly filling the space above my sink.


But come Christmas time, I just flip it around and BOOM. Instant Christmas cheer. No hunting for a spot,and no digging it out of storage.

Monday, November 5

Updating Second-Hand Chairs with Spray Paint

I finally did it. I finally picked a color and painted our dining chairs.

There's nothing like impending winter to kick me into gear, and this was one project I knew I needed to get done before the cold! So this is the story of how I painted them, and the silly, indecisive journey that made the process take so long. But after 30 years, I know indecisive is the way I work so I'm just rolling with the (very slow) punches over here.

Whether you're indecisive or not, painting is always a great way to freshen things up on a low budget, and dining chairs are no exception! This is a perfect project for spray paint because you don't have to worry about streaks, drips, or getting a brush around all those spindles and nooks. 

But before can paint, you need some chairs. Obviously *said in my best Prof. Snape voice*. For me, that meant starting with a hunt for a new set of chairs. We had a set of DIY industrial chairs from our last house, but they just weren't fitting my style any more. Ever since we moved in and built our extra-wide farmhouse table, I'd been dreaming of a set that better fit the style of our new table and new house.

For more chair-painting goodness, check out my $3 yard sale chairs and my industrial chair makeover!

I did a little poking around sites like wayfair and overstock, but deep down I knew that my thrifty roots couldn't abide new chairs when there were so many second-hand options out there for a fraction of the price. You know what they say: "Buy used and save the difference!" So I put most of my efforts into Craigslist and fb marketplace. I knew I wanted something simple, not too formal, with a classic style. And I didn't want to spend a fortune. During my long search for chairs, I also looked at tons of dining room inspirations on pinterest (part of the reason my search was so long was because I couldn't lock down quite exactly what I wanted) and, at long last, I started to hope for a classic Windsor-style chair. The one day, these guys popped up:


Wednesday, October 31

Shoebox Gifts: How + Why

Guys, did you know it's Shoebox Season??? Every year Operation Christmas Child delivers gifts around the world, and you can be a part of it! Drop-off week is November 12-19 this year, so let's get packing!

We look forward to this every year because - not only is it tons of fun - it's a great way to get your kids to think about giving in a season that's usually all about getting. Don't have kids to do it with? It's still super fun and an amazing opportunity to give!


All you do is take the kids (or yourself) to the store and fill a shoebox with all the gifts you can pack in. Then Samaritan's Purse International Relief will deliver the boxes around the world to impoverished little boys and girls who wouldn't get a single Christmas gift without you.

Here's all you need:
  • a shoebox (we like to buy plastic shoeboxes that can be also be used as buckets if needed)
  • age appropriate toys (you can see the age categories and suggested gifts here, plus a list of things you can NOT include like toy weapons, candy, or liquid soaps.)
  • a letter or drawing to the child
  • OCC printed label for your box (plus $9 to help cover shipping and other expenses)
  • A large rubber band to secure the lid


That's it! We love letting each boy pack a box for a boy his own age. Here are some of our favorite gifts each year:

Monday, October 29

$35 Home Office Refresh {Fall Budget-Reno Challenge}

Guys, this was fun.

I mean, I always like DIY and design projects, but there's a whole different kind of thrill when you pull off a big-impact change with a small-budget price tag. Lately I've been struck with the realization that as much as I love HGTV, I can't help but feel that they've taken a far step from attainable DIY into a new realm of "low budget" that's... way outside my budget. What's the point of looking at these beautiful spaces if they make us want what we can't have and buy what we can't afford? I so badly want to bring us back to a place where we look into our own homes and our own resources and carefully create homes that our just what we need them to be in every way. But that's a rant for another day. It's also the main reason I was so excited for this budget challenge!


If you joined us in the challenge we'd love to see (or at least hear about) what you did! You can leave links in the comments, tag us on instagram (@more.like.home) or facebook (@morelikehome), or tag your posts #morelikehomeblog and we'll check out your work! 

The rules were super simple (full details are in this post):
- refresh or reno a space in your home before you're cooped up looking at it all winter
- set a budget (whatever works for you!) and stick to it
- make thrifty magic happen (we'd love to see some $0 spaces!)
- share it with the group! If you want to. No pressure, guys. 


Ready to see what we did with our $50 budget? Brace yourselves - here's a quick flashback to the sad place we started:

Monday, October 8

Fall Budget-Renovation Challenge

Ready for a challenge? I'm checking one more thing off my to-do list before the cold weather hits and I'd love for you to join me!

Let's stretch those creative muscles and get our homes ready for fall! And I'm not talking about pumpkins or scarecrows. I'm talking about getting our homes ready for our families to cozy up inside on a chilly day. Making space to weather the coming winter and enjoy time together. Is there a corner of your home that needs a little attention before you're cooped up with it all winter? A dark kitchen that needs painted? Living room that needs freshened up or rearranged? Need to simplify the play room? That's the space we're talking about! And guys, we're doing it all on a budget. Because a house doesn't have to be expensive to be a home.


So what's the budget? It's whatever works for you. The point of this budget isn't to tie you down to an impossible goal. It's to give you the freedom do what you can, where you're at right now. Whether that means spending $50 or $100, just buying a can of paint, or reusing what you already have (I would love to see some $0 makeovers!), I want to see what you can do with what you've got.

This is a use-what-you-have, DIY, Craigslist extravaganza. 

Leftover paint? Use it! Hand-me-down chair in the basement? Bring it up! Need a new table? Start second-hand hunting! Let's make it happen.

Of course this is going to look very different for everyone depending on what materials you have on hand, the skills at your disposal, and whether or not you're a furniture hoarder from way back. *ahem* But guess what? It doesn't matter. You don't need to worry about what anyone else is doing/making/spending because this challenge is all about you, what your family needs, and what your home needs.

Now let's talk details: I'm setting a deadline of three weeks. That way any weekend warriors will have three full weekends for their DIY feats, and you Craiglist ninjas have time for some serious hunting. So on Monday, October 29 I'll share what we've done and I love for you guys to show us what you've been working on!

Sound good? Are already thinking of the perfect space to tackle? Here's what I'll be working on:


The little desk corner of our home office/library. This little room is one of the most-loved in our home and between reading, homeschool, and crafting we spend a good amount of time in here most days. The other half of the room is ready to go with floor pillows and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, but this side just isn't working for us as well as it could. Or as well as we need it to. We need space to roll out felt, storage for homeschool books, and more simplified/organized space on the whole. So here's my basic plan:
  • make the desk space more functional with a larger work surface
  • add shelving above the desk
  • organize and simplify the stuff (including that craft closet next to the desk)
Hopefully that's as simple as it sounds! And my budget to get it done is under $50.

https://www.instagram.com/more.like.home/

I'll share progress and sneak peeks on Instagram as we go if you'd like to follow along! And we'd love to see your work - just tag us @more.like.home!

https://www.instagram.com/more.like.home/


What would you love to tackle for your fall budget-reno??

Tuesday, October 2

Butcherblock Countertop: What Didn't Work

This countertop has been my bane. If you're here looking for a perfect fool-proof finish for your own butcherblock, I'm sorry to say you've come to the wrong place. I wish I could help you, but I know when I'm beat. And this thing has beat me down real good. In fact, if you have any tips on sealing a wood countertop please leave a comment and point me in the right direction. Please. But for now I will tell you what we've tried (and how we landed on butcherblock in the first place) in case it can be helpful to your own project!

 

In spite of all the woodwork I've done, this is my first experience with wood countertops. We've had everything from laminate, to concrete, to the dark granite in our current kitchen. But I've always loved the look of butcherblock. So as soon as we decided to add a small peninsula into our kitchen I started toying with the idea of a wood top.


Wednesday, September 26

Kitchen Island DIY - on a budget!

I love so many things about the kitchen in this house. It has a beautiful bay window. It still has sweet original cabinets. Those original cabinets were already painted white by the previous owner (which is my preference and I didn't have to do the painting!). Plus it's a nice open space with plenty of room for the whole family.

But after a while we started wondering if we were making the best use of the wide open space by just leaving it... wide and open. Hmmm. So I grabbed the kitchen cart we had parked along the wall and pulled it out to see how the space would feel if we added an island or peninsula.

See how much space there is even with the cart pulled out?!

There wasn't a good spot for an island thanks to the traffic flow through the kitchen, but a peninsula? Well, that just might work. I told my husband we'd live with it for a few days and see how it felt. And then about an hour later I was on craigslist looking for cabinets because why didn't we think of this sooner??

beautiful kitchen by biggerthanthethreeofus I pinned for inspiration and didn't actually copy at all. but still beautiful.

Sometimes Craigslist means a lot of waiting and searching and more waiting, but this time I found something right off the bat. A set of two cabinets that came within 2" of the total length I was looking for. The doors and drawer fronts were plain, which was a good fit with our original cabinets. And it was listed for $125 for the set! The post was a few weeks old so I offered $100, the seller accepted immediately, and we had our cabinets by the end of the week. It saved hundreds over buying new, plus hours over building our own. Guys, I love Craigslist. Always start there before you buy new or build!

The cabinet resident proved to be somewhat problematic:


Check out these beauties:

note the green wall

Monday, September 10

Spruc*d Market Furniture Plans (with Ana White)

Have you ever had an idea for a furniture piece and just didn't know where to start? Or loved one of our plans but it wasn't quite the right size? Or wished for a printable PDF version? Well guys, the days of wishing are behind you. Now I can help you find the plan of your dreams at Spruc*d Market!


Have you heard of Spruc'd Market yet? It's a new project by Ana White (DIY builder extraordinaire!) that offers the best premium and custom plans at a low cost!


Now I know what you're thinking. "But you already offer plans for free!" Yes, I totally do that. And I love it and will continue to do it. Guys, all the plans I share on my blog will still be free! So stay with me here. But when I get requests for custom plans, or specific adjusted sizing for my plans, I can't justify the amount of time that takes away from posts that will appeal to a wider audience. I wish I could, guys. But I'm a full-time mom and part-time blogger so I've got to make my blogging minutes count. The great thing about Spruc*d Market is that it allows me to do this for you - whether it's making a custom plan from scratch, adjusting a plan to fit your space and needs, creating an especially intricate or time consuming plan, or just offering the plan you want in a pdf format - and get a little something back for my time.

There are lots of plans from other vendors, too! Including one of the best tiny homes I've ever seen!
 
So if you're in the free plan game, stick around. We love that you're here and I'll keep the free plans coming! (and check out all our free plans here) But if you're needing help with something specific, head over and send me a message on Spruc*d Market and let's see what we can make together!

Thursday, September 6

Living Room - Post Nesting

After all my talk about the living room while we were waiting on baby #4, the little squirt showed up early and I never got around to sharing all the updates we actually made! Turns out babies have no respect for my blogging time. None at all. Well, never fear, because today I'll show you just where we ended up (you can see full pics of where we started in this post).


Let's just go down the list:

Sunday, August 19

DIY Pinata - Our Birthday Tradition

If you read our post last week about how we do birthdays, you know that we love a good pinata in this house. And by that I mean a free, amazing, whatever they come up with pinata. So today I just wanted to give you a basic idea of how we make them, so you can go forth and make whatever your kids dream up.


Did you guys do paper mache growing up? Because that's all this is! All you need are balloons (or thin cardboard from a cereal box if you need square shapes), newspaper, flour, and water. Plus any paints and decorations you want.

Start by making your pinata form with balloons or cereal boxes. Don't use anything thicker than that or you won't be able to break the pinata when you are finished! Just do your best to make the basic shape of your item. Here are some examples:
  • Death Star - one large punching balloon (easy!)
  • Ninja - two regular balloons taped together with one blown up slightly less for the head (construction paper arms and legs added at the end)
  • Long Neck Dino - two regular balloons taped side by side for a long body, a small balloon for the head, and a paper towel roll for the neck (we added construction paper legs when it was done)
Tape a loop of string to the form that you can use for hanging it when you are done. If you can loop it all the way around to the bottom that will give you the best hold.

Monday, August 6

3 Tips for a Great Kids Birthday

I love birthdays. Always have, always will. It's a good thing since we're getting to have a quite a few birthdays around here. In fact we just finished prepping for another one, so I thought this would be the perfect time to share how we do birthdays at More Like Home!


Over the last few years I've found there are really three keys to  making an amazing birthday that we all enjoy but all of it really boils down to this - it's completely un-pinterest-worthy. Because we don't do the pinterest big three: 1. elaborate decorations 2. themed party favors 3. a big party *gasp*  But we do our very best to make it a super special day for the birthday boy. And we do have lots of fun, lots of memories, and very few regrets. So here are the More Like Home top three birthday planning tips:

Monday, July 30

Sweet & Simple Play Kitchen Plans

Kids love toys. And moms love beautiful toys. So this post is for all the parents out there just as much as it's for the kids! Today we're sharing plans for this sweet and simple little play kitchen. 


Any parent knows how easily toys can overrun a home. Part of that comes from the number of toys (which is why we do a toy purge several times a year to help keep the clutter down), but sometimes we overlook how much the style of toys impacts our home. We know toys will be left out during the day. No doubt about that. But when those toys are easy on the eyes, they feel more like part of the decor and less like a mess. In fact, some toys are so pretty we leave them out full time! We have a set of wooden dump trucks from a yard sale that live on the window seat in our living room. They get played with every.single.day. because they are right there in front of the boys, and I don't mind seeing them out one bit!


But let's be real, not all of our toys are so simplistic and beautiful. Not by a long shot. We have a whole herd of beloved PJ mask toys that get just as much play time as this kitchen. But we've found any step we can take in that direction (especially with larger pieces like a kitchen) helps make our house feel more calm and put-together. Even with a play kitchen in the dining room.

Wednesday, July 11

DIY Mantle Revamp (how to wrap an outdated mantle with new wood)

Part 1 of my nesting-driven fireplace makeover was adding a shiplap accent around the top, but it still looked a little sad with a glossy black painted mantle. Not my jam, and not working with our farmhouse vibe. So part 2 of the process was returning the mantle to a beautiful wood finish!

You can find all the "before" photos and the rest of our nesting plans here


I would have loved to restore it back to the original wood, but that just didn't turn out to be a feasible option for us. There was nick in the corner of the mantle where we could see at least four layers of paint - black, green, brown, and beige - and we still couldn't see the wood!


Whether we sanded it or stripped it, we would be looking at a huge mess. So we decided to start with a clean slate and wrap the entire mantle with new wood. It worked out great!


I love how it plays with the new shiplap for a more casual farmhouse vibe. And you can do it, too! This is also a great option if you want to cover a concrete or brick mantle to add a little contrast to you fireplace. Want to give it a try?


Tuesday, June 19

DIY Shiplap Fireplace

Sometimes I just need a little kick in the pants to get a project done. Or a little bun in the oven. I've wanted to update our fireplace ever since we moved in (two years ago) but it wasn't until this spring when I was in full pregnancy nesting mode that I finally decided "I AM DOING THIS. RIGHT NOW." Naturally the "I" translated to "husband" because we were in the late-pregnancy stage of nesting. And he isn't one to let his round wife balance on a chair with a nail gun. He's a keeper.

And so, with a little help, we managed to check it off my nesting to-do list just in time before our newest guy was born. (you can see my entire living room nesting to-do list here, and how we wrapped the mantle here) One of my favorite details is the faux shiplap we installed above the fireplace.


I love the texture and charm it adds to the living room. I've always dreamed of a casual, cozy space for our family to gather, and I feel like this was a step in the right direction.


Here's a little "before" action. Just drywall painted the same gray as our walls.


Now it's even lighter, brighter, and totally beautiful. And I really need a full-fireplace photo. Not gonna lie, I probably shot close up because the floor was a hot mess. But I don't really remember. Because newborns don't sleep. It's all a blur.



The best part is the whole project only cost about $15 for wood! We also had to buy nails for our nail gun (I lost that price in the newborn-blur). But we saved a few dollars on paint by using the leftover from our cabinets... which doesn't quite match exactly, but that's a problem for another pregnancy.

Tuesday, June 5

DIY Travel Map Pinboard

This little project is almost too simple to even mention. But it's also so easy and so fun that I don't want guys to miss it! It's a little framed map pinboard to mark all your travels. It's easy dress it up or down to match your decor by switching out the frame or changing the map style, plus it's a great family keepsake!


We only have a handful of pins so far. My first thought was to only mark the places we'd all been together, as a family of five. But now that already doesn't make sense because we just added a new baby who hasn't been any of these places! So we might as well go back and add everywhere we've been since we were married. Maybe we'll use a different color pin to show how big our family was for each trip.


This map was a great fit for the new adventure gallery in our dining room. You can see it up on the far left above the mountain painting.


Thursday, May 31

DIY House Painting Tips {how we painted our huge house and saved thousands}

Last fall we took on our biggest project to date. It was a doozy. But a very necessary doozy that would have cost thousands of dollars to hire out. We painted our house! It was an enormous job but we're here to tell you that it is actually totally doable, and it can save you a big chunk of change.


We knew when we bought our old yellow farmhouse that it came with 90-year-old wood siding. Which was pretty cool. But in our new house excitement we maybe overlooked just what condition that siding was in. After our first winter, we started to notice that it was looking a little worse for the wear. Then we found out from a neighbor that it hadn't been painted it about 15 years. And it showed.


We spent the summer trying to decide if we should paint it now or hold off until next year. And then we had a hail storm that knocked off huge amounts of paint (so I guess it did some of the work for us!). Now it was painfully obvious that we needed to do something before things got any worse.


Fortunately I had spent those summer months thinking about what color paint to buy. Which is good because I used every minute right up until my husband called and said "I'm on my way home and we are buying paint tonight. You have to decide." Seriously, it took me months. (You can see all the top contenders here. Including the one Husband hated the most. Just do me a favor and don't tell me if I was wrong. M'kay? We are not repainting.)

It was so pretty in the fall!

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