Friday, December 27

How to Organize + Store Christmas Decor

I think we can all agree on one thing: the worst part of Christmas decorating is taking them down when Christmas is over. Ugh.

But it doesn't have to be so bad. This is your chance to set your self up for success next year! As you pack up, start by re-evaluating what you have, deciding what you truly need and want to keep, and purging the rest. Then, once you've settled on what is staying in your stash, you can organize and store your items in a way that makes them easier to find and use when you're decorating, and easier to pack away when you're done. So today I'm going to share some of my favorite tips for packing and organizing decor that is easy, cheap, and will save you both time and sanity next year.

Thursday, December 19

DIY Duck & Goose

If you have kids, there's a good chance you're familiar with the Duck + Goose board books. They're so cute, and my kids have all loved them as toddlers. Two years ago m3 was completely smitten with Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin - like read it five times a day smitten - and I knew he needed a Duck and Goose-inspired present under the tree!

I started with the Duck and Goose Christmas book, and I thought a set of plush toys would be the perfect pair with it.

So I got to work and whipped up this sweet little set. They are the perfect size for snuggling!

Monday, December 16

Low-Waste Gift Wrapping Tips

There's nothing like watching the kids open presents on Christmas. I love to see their excitement as they discover the treasures hidden inside each package. But.. have you ever thought about the trash bags full of wrapping paper when Christmas morning is over? It's something that's been in the back of my mind the last few years... but I've never actually done anything about it. In fact, I've already wrapped most of this years presents in traditional wrapping paper. But... I'm ready to do better. To waste less and teach my boys not to waste. It seems like a natural next step after simplifying our Christmas decor and simplifying our gift-buying this year. And now is actually the perfect time to start preparing! 

I just learned that Burtsbrisplease, one of my insta-favorites, saves back little bits and pieces all year to use for her Christmas wrapping. Look at the beautiful gifts she creates with them!

I 100% plan to start my own thrifty gift-hoard immediately. To build-up my stash for next year. Here are a few items I'll be keeping an eye out for:

Thursday, December 12

DIY Fresh Minimalist Wreaths

I've been on team faux-greenery my whole life. It's easy and affordable (even more so since most of mine was handed-down or bought second-hand). But this year, I'm branching out.

We have an abundance of pine trees in our backyard and I guess I just realized I should be taking advantage of that beautiful and free foliage! So this year I ditched the faux wreathes in our upstairs hallway (cheap though they were) and went foraging in my backyard to freshen things up with these simple and beautiful wreaths!

Thursday, December 5

Felt Pirate Map + DIY Stocking Stuffers for Kids

There is something special about giving handmade gifts to our kids. Even when we don't have larger handmade gifts on the Christmas list, I love tucking a little surprise in my boys' stockings. Today I'm going to show you how to make this sweet little pirate map, and then I'll link a few more of our favorite handmade stocking stuffers down at the bottom of the post!  

  • felt - for this map you'll need two full sheets of sand-color, a sheet of blue for water, and any other colors you want (I used greens, brown, grays, red, and yellow)
  • thread (I used a sewing machine, but you can also stitch by hand)
  • 22" long ribbon
You can customize this tutorial to make any design you want! You can make pine trees for a forest map, add a castle for a knight's map, or make an outer-space map for an astronaut! 

For this pirate map, I started by drawing up a basic idea of what I wanted my map to look like:

Monday, December 2

5 Tips to Simplify Your Christmas Decor

Minimal + Christmas. Two words that may not naturally go together. And while I wouldn't call myself a  true Christmas minimalist, I am finding ways to embrace a style of Christmas decorating that means less clutter, less to store, and less to pack up when the season is over. It's all about making careful decor choices that can make a big impact with minimal effort!

I might just call myself a simple and uncluttered Christmas decorator. In fact, this year I had an entire tote of decor left over from years past that we didn't even put out. And it feels like a huge step toward my Christmas decor goals of less fuss and less clutter. I've always struggled this time of year to strike a happy balance, because I want my home to be warm and festive, and I want to create lifetime memories with my boys. But I also know that I get stressed out when my home feels like chaos. This year, I'm here to find the best of both worlds.

Check out all my Christmas projects and tutorials here.

So today I'm sharing a few of my favorite Christmas decor tips that bring a punch of festive style without totally smothering any already overwhelmed folks like myself. Here's what we'll cover:
  1. Greenery
  2. Lighting
  3. The Color Red
  4. Beads
  5. Using Your Space Well 

Thursday, November 28

Easy DIY Christmas Decor

It's official. After today, all bets are off for Christmas decorating. But did you know it's only four weeks until Christmas?? So today I just wanted to share some of the best easy DIY Christmas Decor I've come across this year. And I mean easy. Because let's face it, at this point I don't have time for anything more than that! But I still love a cozy, handmade Christmas. So here are some of the best and easiest Christmas decor tutorials I've found. From ornaments to tree skirts, I've got you covered. So let's check out some decor you can truly pull together at the last minute!

Check out all my Christmas projects and tutorials here.

Click on the photos or links below to head to the tutorials! Most link to other blogs because those ladies have already done the hard work. So all we have to do is follow along to make our own Christmas magic. Happy making, friends!

Monday, November 25

Minimalist Gift Guide for Kids

You guys know how much I love Christmas.

But every Christmas brings a great balancing act. We want to create a magical time for our kids, but we don't want to be wasteful of our time, money, or space. I find myself drawn more and more towards minimalism, and I'm still learning how to balance that in a house full of small kids. I have to be careful or things get out of control reeeeally quickly. Especially around the holidays. So today I'm sharing a shopping guide just for those of you who are in the same boat and struggling to strike that minimalist balance.

But first, here's the best tip I can give you: JUST BUY LESS. It's okay. You don't need a ton of gifts, or expensive gifts. You'll save money and save that precious space in your home if you just don't buy that stuff in the first place. What a win! One thing that helps us with this is doing the "four gifts" list:
  1. Something they want.
  2. Something they need.
  3. Something to wear. 
  4. Something to read.
Four gifts = instantly less junk and clutter. But you can even takes steps to make sure those four gifts fit the lifestyle and habits you want to build for your children! Let's take a look at a few thoughtful, minimalist gift ideas for each category:

Thursday, November 21

No-Sew Felt Garland

There's something about Christmas that brings up nostalgia in all of us. We look to our traditions and savor the memories of each Christmas treasure as we pull them from their boxes. And there's something even more special about the handmade Christmas things! So today I'm sharing a project that will bring out the very best parts of Christmas . You'll be making your own Christmas treasure that your family will treasure year after year. It's a cozy handmade felt garland, and it's so easy you can even make with the kids!

My sister taught me to make these garlands last summer on our family vacation and now I can't-stop-won't-stop. They are so easy easy to make because they require absolutely no sewing!

Here's all you need to get started on your own:
  • felt
  • yarn
  • fabric scissors
Seriously, that's it. I used mostly reds and whites to make Christmas garland, but you can use any colors you like! Ready for the super easy steps?

Monday, November 18

Christmas Budget Printable

Every year we set a Christmas budget.
Every year we go in with good intentions.
And every year we blow it. 

Our track record is pretty abysmal. But not this year. With Dave Ramsey in our back pocket, we've set a budget that's lower than ever. And we are fighting tooth and nail to stick to it. We've talked to family about switching to a secret Santa system so everyone can spend less. We're limiting ourselves to the "Four Gifts" for our own kids (something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read). And we are so excited to say goodbye to both excess spending and excess stuff.

So I made this handy budget printable to help me keep track of what we have, what we need, what we've spent, and how much is left. And I'm sharing it as a free download today so you guys can join us in kicking Christmas debt to the curb! I also have a few budgeting tips to share, plus a video to walk you through exactly how we use each sheet.

Thursday, November 14

Easiest DIY Pillow Covers

Today we're going to look at a super quick and easy way to refresh a space... that also happens to be a great way to increase your holiday cheer factor. I'm talking about swapping out your pillow covers! And today I'll even show you the easiest way to make your own.

Pillow covers are one of my favorite ways to refresh a room, but did you know they're also one of the best secret weapons in seasonal decor?
  • They take minimal effort to switch out, but make a huge impact.
  • They take almost no space to store in the off-season.
  • They are easy and affordable to make!

Monday, November 11

Shop Small Gift Guides (under $30!)

Supporting small businesses and makers is a great way to tackle Christmas shopping while making a positive impact. It's something we've been trying to move toward for the last few years. But along the way I've stumbled across a few challenges and I'm wondering if you have the same struggles? So today I'm going to try to help guide you through them and share my 2019 Shop Small Gift Guides {for women, men, and kids}!

The two biggest challenges I've found in "shopping small" are budget and local availability.

The availability issue is becoming increasing easy to side-step, thanks to sites like etsy that bring hundreds of handmade shops right into our own living rooms. If you live in a rural area without local shops, this is a great option! If you live in an area that does offer local options, however, you should check them out! There are some really friendly people out there running the cutest little shops! For today, I'll be sharing a bunch of Etsy options that should knock this issue out of the park.

Now about that budget question. I know we all have different Christmas budgets and we do our best with what we have. I also know it can be tough to find local or handmade gifts that fit into smaller budgets. But I've got two tricks to try to help you over that hurdle today, too.
  1. All the options in my gift guides today are $30 or less. And I know, for some of you even that can be too much. I get that and I don't ever encourage going in to debt for Christmas gifts. It's not worth it. If you don't have that much to spend, don't sweat it. This is a zero judgment post. I just want to share the best options I can find and you are welcome to do whatever you want with the information. And just to be clear, we will be doing plenty of not-small shopping this season, as well. Looking at you, Legos. At the MLH house, we're all about those baby steps, folks.
  2. Sometimes it helps to rethink our priorities. This is a seed I've been watering for the last few years as I ask myself "What do we really want to bring into our home, and what values do we want to instill in our boys?" Do we really want to fill our home with a mountain of cheap plastic crap that will end up broken and in the trash? Do we want to create the feeling of such over-abundance that our kids stop feeling grateful for all the good things we have? Or... would we rather take that Christmas budget and invest it a little differently? Instead of a mountain of cheap gifts, buy fewer gifts that are meaningful and higher quality. Instead of a bunch of plastic, invest in sustainable wooden toys and gifts whenever possible. Instead of over-crowding and cluttering our home, give fewer toys and less junk we just don't need.
So today I'm making it a little easier for you to take that first step by rounding up a few of my favorite gift ideas that are all available on Etsy and that are all under $30. Ready to shop small?

Thursday, November 7

Cross-Stitch Family Portrait Tutorial

It's been a long time coming, but I'm finally putting together a tutorial for the cross stitch family portrait I shared on Instagram! If you've never tried cross stitch before, you're in luck. It's just about the easiest needlecraft out there. Seriously, my 8-year-old can do it. It's a perfect way to snuggle up and relax on a chilly evening, and make something beautiful at the same time.

These family portraits are easy to make and easy to customize for your own family! And they are officially the first post in my 2019 Christmas Series because they make such amazing gifts for friends and family. (I just saw a cross-stitch house and I'm planning to give that a try next that would also make a great gift!).

You only need a few simple supplies to get started with cross stitch, so it's a great hobby if you have limited storage space. Here's all you need (all from the same aisle at your fave craft store):
  • an embroidery hoop (The size depends on the size of your project. I used a 6" hoop for this portrait but could have gone smaller.)
  • cross-stitch fabric (I buy the rolls and cut it up for multiple projects)
  • an embroidery needle (larger than a standard sewing needle)
  • embroidery thread (whatever colors you need for your project)
  • a pattern (you can download my family portrait patterns, buy patterns in-store or on etsy, find free patterns on pinterest, or draw your own!)

Monday, November 4

Winter Bucket List 2019

Hey peeps! There's a chill in the air and I wanted to go ahead and get you this printable bucket list so you're ready to go whenever winter actually hits your area. Just print it out, hang it on the fridge, and make the most of this cozy holiday season! And let me know in the comments - what's your favorite winter tradition?

You can find the rest of my 2019 Holiday posts here, and check out my full holiday archive here!

Thursday, October 31

Natural Remedy Roundup (plus video tour of our DIY herbal "medicine" cabinet)

It's official. We've reached the time of year when we will have at least one runny nose in the house until spring. So I've been busy this week stocking up a few of our favorite remedies to help keep this bunch in tip-top shape. So today I just wanted to share all those favorites in one place, along with a video tour of my herbal "medicine" cabinet. I'll show you what remedies I make vs. which ones I buy, what herbs I keep on hand, and what I use them all for!

You can check out all my natural living posts here. 

Thursday, October 24

$50 Master Bedroom Refresh (Our Fall Challenge Reveal!)

It's reveal day! Did you join the Budget Refresh Challenge?

Today I'm sharing how we totally refreshed our master bedroom and made it so much cozier for under $50! If you love a good before + after, hold on to your hats. This is your time.

Let's start with the before (you can read more about it here). This picture was take almost two years ago:

Monday, October 21

Favorite Easy Fall Dishes

Hey friends! I put together a little bonus post this week with a few of our fall-favorite meals that are super easy to make! Spoiler: they're all in the soup family. Apparently I love a hot soup on a cool day!

I'm just going to list all the recipes for you in this post because they're so short and simple:

Thursday, October 17

Easiest Upholstered Headboard (and the easy way to mount headboard on the wall!)

We're finally giving our master bedroom a little during our Budget Refresh Challenge! (Get all the details here - there's still time to tackle your own space!) 

So today I'm going to show you how we made the easiest upholstered headboard ever!

We have barely touched this space since we moved in. I mean, we've addressed a few functional issues over the years. Two years ago when we upgraded to a king size mattress I had to build a frame for it (check out my posts on why we chose a floor bed and how we built it). Then I built a pair of crate night stands to match our new bed height and added a pair of thrifted sconces so we weren't living in darkness. But after all that it still felt like a bare-bones room!

Sunday, October 13

October 2019 Giveaway {Cozy Minimalist Home}

Hey friends! Just wanted to give a heads-up to anyone who follows my blog but doesn't follow me on social media yet - I'm doing a giveaway over there this month!

I am so grateful to all of you who follow along and participate as I run this little blog! It makes my day and it's actually a big help to me! So this month I have a great giveaway just for you guys. Here's all you have to do to enter:
  1. Follow me on social media (facebook, instagram, or both to double your chances!) 
  2. Like every post during the month of October. 
That's it! Just hit the little heart or thumbs up when you see me in your feed. Likes are such a big help to little fish like me - they help me be seen more, and make it possible for me to find partnerships and sponsors (which means more goodies for you!). So, really, when you see ANY of your favorite accounts in your feed give them all a quick like or, better yet, a comment!

But back to this giveaway- at the end October I'll randomly chose a winner who had liked every post! Your odds are pretty good. 😉 I've got a fun and cozy fall prize package that I can't wait to send someone's way! Here's what you could win:
  • A copy of one of my favorite books - Cozy Minimalist Home. It's an easy read that is absolutely packed with the best home decorating advice. More Style, Less Stuff. You will create home decor magic with this in your hand.
  • An all natural 100% beeswax candle. Candles are the ultimate weapon in creating a cozy atmosphere, and this one does the job without releasing anything harmful into the air.
  • One of my favorite pillow covers from Hobby Lobby. It's gray with tassels at the corners and great texture. Perfect for creating a cozy landing spot on your favorite couch!

This is just my little thank you to my peeps for following and interacting - I can't even tell you how much it means to me. Thank you for being my people!!! Tell your friends!

Enter on Instagram
Enter on Facebook 

**This giveaway is not sponsored by Cozy Minimalist Home, Hobby Lobby, candles, or anyone. 🙂 Open to anyone in the Contiguous United States. 

Thursday, October 10

Low-Budget Bathroom Update (during our spending freeze!)

Today I want to share a little inspiration for anyone taking on the Fall Budget Refresh Challenge - so I'm going to show you how we totally refreshed our second bathroom during our spending freeze and spent (almost) nothing. It's a tale of thrifty updates, leftover paint, and a broken toilet seat. You have been warned.

Are you joining the Budget Refresh Challenge this fall? There are still two weeks left to work all kinds of thrifty magic! Let us know in the comments or tag us on Instagram or Facebook!

Thursday, October 3

2019 Fall Budget-Refresh Challenge

When I feel that first hint of fall in the air, I get a craving.

And no, it's not pumpkin spice. I'm Team Apple Cider all the way! But that's not it, either.

I start to crave quiet. And coziness. And snuggling up. My introverted heart looks toward chilly days hunkered down at home. So as fall begins to creep in, I start to quiet the house and get it ready for winter. Not just shutting storm windows and draining hoses and all that other homeowner stuff, but I also start to ready the atmosphere of our home for this cozier half of the year. The home I want our kids to remember - a place that's warm and welcoming and ours.

And so Fall is always the perfect time for our Budget-Refresh Challenge. A last chance before winter to tackle that space or project we've been putting off! Last year was our first challenge and I'm super excited to host it again this year! Ready to join the fun and make your home the best it can be?

The Challenge:
Making space to weather the coming winter and enjoy time together. That's it. 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 your challenge space! And guys, we're doing it all on a budget. Because a house doesn't have to be expensive to be a home.

Thursday, September 26

Top 10 Things I Buy at Thrift Stores

Have you ever decorated your home with only a small budget? If so, then you’re probably already familiar with your local thrift stores. But whether you’re a seasoned pro or you’re new to the arena, it helps to know what you should be looking for! So today I wanted to share a short list of my very favorite things to hunt for when I’m thrifting, along with what I typically pay for those items. I’ll tell you now, there are some deals to be had out there if you’re willing to search a bit!

That’s why I love thrifting. Sometimes a little too much. It's easy to see those prices and just snatch up everything in sight that you might ever possibly use. I know. I used to do that myself. But trust me - from this side of things, I can tell you that it is so worth it to wait for the thing you really need and will really use. Right now. Don't clutter up your home just because it's a good deal. So, with that in mind, here are my top 10 favorite things to thrift!

Thursday, September 19

Breakfast Fried Rice

Okay guys. Get ready for one of my favorite breakfasts ever. It's time for breakfast fried rice. I'll start with the super simple recipe, then give you a few tips I use to make it extra-easy to put together in the morning. Be warned, I have no amounts listed because I just add whatever looks like enough for all of us.

Breakfast Fried Rice

  • bacon
  • cooked rice (leftover is perfect)
  • spinach
  • frozen peas 
  • salt + pepper
  • eggs (and oil if you want to fry them)
1. Cook the bacon. Then crumble it and set it aside. Reserve some of the bacon grease in the pan for cooking (I pour the extra in a bowl in case I need to add more later. You know, since I don't measure and don't know exactly how much I need.)

2. In the pan with the reserved bacon grease (you can use oil instead), dump in cooked rice. Stir fry it for several minutes until it's warm and toasty.

3. Add spinach, frozen peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until peas are thawed. Add crumbled bacon.

4. In a separate pan, cook the eggs. (I go ahead and start them while the rice is cooking so it all gets done around the same time) Most of my family loves fried eggs, but I always make a couple scrambled for the ones who prefer that.

5. Serve a scoop of fried rice with an egg on top! Season with salt + pepper to taste.

There are a few things you can do to make it all come together easy peasy in the morning:
  • Make a meal with rice earlier in the week. Cook extra while you're at it to save in the fridge for fried rice day!
  • Same with bacon - cook it earlier in the week for BLT's or something. Save several pieces of bacon and the bacon grease in the fridge. 
Then on the best day (fried rice day) the hard work is already done and it all comes together quickly.

Check out the rest of my recipes here!

The lesser-seen side of our dining room. I love how it's coming together!

What's your favorite breakfast recipe?

Thursday, September 12

Simple Mini Bookcase

"The best building plans in life are simple. Like, super simple."

Okay, that may not be a famous quote (yet), but I do think there's something extra sweet about plans that are quick and easy to build with basic tools. But did you know...

Simple doesn't have to be boring.

So today I'm sharing plans to build mini bookcase that's super simple to build and totally cute!
Check out our complete list of free plans here.

This bookcase is the perfect little size to squeeze in just about anywhere! Try it by your favorite reading chair, try it in a kids room, tuck it into a corner or hallway, even use it as a nightstand (perfect for all you bedtime readers!). But what really makes this guy special is the sweet trim detail on the sides. That trim really makes the whole thing look so high-end, and you won't believe how easy it is!

Thursday, September 5

How to Style a Mantle in 4 Easy Steps

It started after Christmas.

The lights came down, the tree came down, and then all the regular decor came down. I had just finished reading the Cozy Minimalist book and I was so ready to simplify. The room, the decor, the toys, and all the stuff. And the first step was to calm the room. Remove all the extra.

Take a breath.

Then carefully decide what deserves to come back in. 

We wrapped the mantle ourselves and added the faux shiplap!

Thursday, August 29

How to Cut Your Own Photo Mats

Have you ever had trouble matting a photo? I love how clean and professional frames look with a mat, but it's hard to find mats for large frames or odd-size photos and artwork. And when standard sizes don't fit you're stuck looking at pricey custom mats.

But there's a better way! You can cut your own photo mats right at home, in just a few minutes, for a fraction of the cost. Today I'll show you how!

Thursday, August 22

Packing + Organizing a Camper Van for a Family of 6

I've mentioned a few things about how we pack our DIY Camper Van, but I wanted to try to give you a better idea of how we actually make it work. What we pack, how we pack it, and where it all fits. So this is the post with all the nitty gritty (but probably not-super-interesting) packing details. Hold onto your hats, folks, and let's start at the beginning:

The first step in packing our camper van is to remove the back two rows of seats and the jump seat right by the door. This leaves room for Nathan and I in the front, followed by a three-seat row with two carseats (I left a seat between them open so I could sit by the baby sometimes), followed by a two-seat row with two more carseats. We've found removing the jump seat makes a world of difference when we're getting in and out of the beds! It's a little extra work to get it out, but totally worth it!

Not to scale. That leg room is false.

With the seats out, we can install the bunk system (it's removable when we're not camping and the foundation of making this van work for our family of six!). Once the bunk is installed, I put in both mattresses in place and go ahead and make them up with sheets, blankets, and pillows. Then I roll up the bottom bed toward the left side of the van like this:

Thursday, August 15

Felt Unicorn Altoid Tin Playset

You guys know I love a good DIY toy, right? (you can see our full list of toys here) Today I'm adding another installation to my DIY felt toy collection with this sweet little unicorn playset!

You can see all the other felt toy goodies here:
Today's toy is another little pocket-size set that fits in an altoid tin. It's great for on-the-go play and makes a perfect stocking stuffer!

The little unicorn lives in a little tree and has a little blanket to tuck in with.

There's also a basket that holds a tiny cupcake, carrot, and lettuce.

And it all fits into the tin when you're done playing! I mean, *ahem* when the kids are done playing. But no one will judge you if you need to play with it just a little.