Decorating On A Dime – Making a Decorating Journal


I love traditions and I love new things too. I think that about describes me pretty well. I feel a need to never lose sight of the past while embracing the future, find ways of keeping the important things of the past and yet not requiring everything to be exactly the same year after year.

I try to be very frugal and I’ve made mistakes, sometimes big ones. I’ve taken the route of buying things because I liked them only to realize it didn’t really work for my home or long term plans. You know those cute little angelic figurines of children playing that take up space, require more dusting than any human should have to do, and works with absolutely no decor?  Yes, I went there…. for years. It would be one thing if they just filled me with so much joy every time I saw them but they didn’t. I just thought they were very pretty. I had to sit down and come up with a plan of action to keep me focused and I’d like to share it with you.

  • Take some time and think about your vision for your home. What is the overall feel you are going for. Rustic? Modern? A cultural theme? Mediterranean? Beach inspired? If you are not sure start by writing down things that you love looking at. Look online for decorating ideas and make note of what you like. From here, narrow down your vision for each room. Some people like to have a different over all them per room, others like it to flow through the whole home.
  • What is your color scheme? Take cues from your home vision. Go to your paint shop or paint department and pick up swatches, then look at them in the room(s) you are planning to use them in. You may find you like the color in one room but not in another.
  • Make a Binder or use a Day Planner, preferably one with pockets. You can use binder dividers with pockets and page protector sleeves.  Have one section per room. Don’t forget to make a section for you porch or patio, garden, as well as for the general outside of your home. I’ve settled on a slightly larger than purse sized planner that zips up so I can take with me. Many stores now carry a variety of pocket sized accessories for day planners that are very useful for this purpose.
  • For each room have a pocket or page protector to fill with ‘inspiration’ clippings. Have a second one for samples you actually use. I keep curtain packaging (Picture, model, color info), furniture tags, paint swatches I use, and any other important key piece info. This allows me to reorder or find complimentary colors.
  • If possible, have a few sheets of paper/ card stock for each room too. This is especially important if you use a custom paint color as you can paint it right on the card stock and can be used to get an accurate sample. In my living room I used a color wash technique. I was able to paint a sample of it and then on the card stock next to it  I wrote the proportions and techniques used. You can also take photographs of any key elements or make pencil drawings with exact measurements.
  • Keep your eyes open year round. You may find the perfect item for Christmas in June. Make it a habit to check out thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. Some items might need a little love but when you are saving 90% over the brand new price, it is a small thing. Most of the decorations in my home cost me under $5.
  • Only buy something if it speaks to your soul. There are plenty of beautiful things, but not everything will work for your home, and even less will “speak” to you. Never buy something for the “meantime”.  If I spent $5 on something for this Christmas and intend to get something better for next year, I’ve wasted those $5. It is better to do without than settle. By only investing in what deeply moves me I’ve saved so much money!
  • Pray. It might sound silly but I always make a list of things I’m looking for and pray that if God wants to bless me and my family with it, I would be happy to receive it. One year I had $10 to buy my husband a birthday gift. He he had been talking about how much fun it would be to have a compound bow for target practice but couldn’t see spending the money on it. I prayed before going garage sale shopping asking the Lord if He would help me find the perfect gift for my husband and if somehow that would be a compound bow for $10. As I was driving, I ‘just happened’ to see a garage sale sign out of the corner of my eye. I had stopped with my boys and walked around when we saw it. A bow case. We opened it and there was a perfect compound bow and it’s arrows inside. I almost dared not hope. The woman told us her husband only used it once and didn’t like it. I braced myself as I asked her the price. She said, “How about $10?” I think I almost fainted. Needless to say, I bought it. When we took it to a shop we found out it was worth $350 and it was in perfect shape. Talk about God blessing us in all ways!
  • Storage. Do you have room for storage? Determine just how much space you are willing to use for seasonal item storage. This will put into perspective that desire for the 8 foot teddy bear with a Santa hat.
  • Determine a budget. Use a coin jar for spare change or set aside a little from each pay check. It doesn’t have to be much. Just .50 cents can add up. Find what works for your family and your budget then stick to it.
  • Have fun! Decorating should be a joy. It’s about filling your home with visual reminders of God’s beauty. If it stresses you, change how you do it.

Remember that you can modify any or all of this to make it work for you. You might consider making a digital version using a tool like Evernote for when you forget to take your binder with you. However I suggest to keep the hard copy as digital images can leave something to be desired when color matching.

Do you have an idea or suggestion to add to this? Leave a comment with your ideas.


Snowman Egg Nog Bowl

Egg Nog. If there is a beverage that makes me think of Christmastime festivities, it is egg nog. It is spiced, creamy, heavenly, goodness. To smell it is to think of a snowy night in front of the fire.

Serve it cold or warmed with whipped cream on top. A side of Christmas cookies completes the snack.

A few years ago, I was very sick for Christmas. I couldn’t decorate much or even cook Christmas dinner. (Thankfully my oldest is very skilled in the kitchen.)  I’m all about setting the atmosphere. I am definitely a Martha type person needing to be more like Mary. I just wanted to do something, anything, to be a part of making the day more festive. I didn’t have much in me but thankfully all it took was a simple footed bowl, construction paper, and sticky tack. If you don’t know what sticky tack is, let me tell you….it was the creation of pure divine inspiration. Blue putty that doesn’t dry out and causes things to stick together. But I digress…….

Out of desperation I created my silly little snowman egg nog bowl. But that little bowl ended up being a favorite item. It reminds me that it’s the simple things that make a difference. Spending a few hundred dollars may make a beautiful display, but bringing smiles and creating memories doesn’t cost anything but your time. Money can never buy happiness.

Cuddling under the blanket reading a story or walking through the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights are simple ways to draw closer to our loved ones and create memories. What simple ways can you add to this season to create memories your family will cherish?


Snowman Egg Nog Bowl

Snowman Egg Nog Bowl












And to help you with your egg nog endeavors, here is a link to my Pinterest egg nog recipe board. Enjoy!

To Elf Or Not To Elf, On A Shelf.

I’ve never been for or against the Elf on a shelf. The creative side of me loves the idea of finding new and crazy ways of displaying him around the house during the Christmas season. I imagine him sitting on the sofa with the remote in his hands watching the Elf movie. Or maybe he would hang from the light fixture over the dinning room table as we sit down for dinner. Then on Christmas morning, an elaborate display of tinkertoys would form a scaffold for him as he climbs the tree. Yes, I could really get into it. I always just assumed he was a prankster of sorts that hung around to build up Christmas cheer. So imagine my surprise when I learned earlier today that his purpose was to keep watch over the family to see who behaved well enough to earn presents at Christmas. In an article I read, a mother seemed horrified that she had traumatized her child with the elf. And when I think about it, I guess I can see where some find him a little creepy. Still, I’m not convinced that there is no place for him in a Christian home.

Having said that, I think there are a couple of things about the Elf that might be a really good idea to give up. I also think there are things about him we can embrace and utilize without the potentially traumatizing effects of his intended purpose.

First, I don’t think it is a good idea to have a supernatural being that watches over you so he can punish you when you fail. I think it trains a child to look at God that way. I also find that it’s basis is of creating good behavior for a reward instead of out of loving obedience to God. It is the difference between training a child to do right things and heart training/discipling a child. This undertone of behaving because you are watched can have far reaching consequences into the character and integrity of a growing child.

What about repentance and forgiveness? With the elf, your behavior is reported and that’s the end of the story. You are either good or bad. There is no room for becoming Christ-like. This too, in my opinion, reflects negatively on God.

Is the focus on Jesus or is it on behaving to get gifts? It is difficult enough to fight against the tide of all the consumerism and keep the true message of Christmas the priority.   So what is the alternative?

Why do we have to use this toy exactly as intended? He could be nothing more than a doll that is used to spread Christmas joy. We don’t need to read the book. We don’t even need to use the Elf! Maybe you have a snowman or other wintery themed figure that you could use. Maybe he could be a prankster with fun lighthearted silliness as we often find suggestions for. Maybe he can hold messages of encouragement and affirmation. Maybe he can hold Scripture, memory verses, or act as a reminder to read the Word. Maybe he can hold a special project for the day. Whatever you decide, he should be something that strengthens your family and does not distort God or the real reason for the season.


Why do we have to use this toy exactly as intended? He could be nothing more than a doll that is used to spread Christmas joy.

We don’t need to read the book. We don’t even need to use the Elf!


As a final thought, some children (and adults) just find the Elf creepy. For example, it has taken me years to not hate clowns. There will still never be a clown in my home. If you were to bring anyone in my family a clown themed anything I would assume you hate me. With this in mind, let us respect that some people will not be comfortable with him no matter how he is utilized. Just look for a different way to fill your home with Christmas joy!


Big Major Side Note: Just as I was finishing up this post I found out about a great post at Give Peas A Chance. The Wandering Wise Men and the Christmas Angel are both great alternative ideas!



Advent Candle Decoration with Printable


advent candles

Advent is the time of year we prepare for the second coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ while reflecting on what His first coming has offered us. Celebrating Advent was thought to have begun in the 4th century as a 40 day fast in preparation for Christmas. Others attribute a more contemporary celebration of Advent to the 1800’s.

While the modern use is in the form of a wreath, I decided a few years ago that I wanted to give the advent candles a more prominent place in our home as well as visually having a reminder of the meanings of each candle. Normally the wreath consists of 5 candles. 3 purple, 1 pink, and 1 white. Each of these candles have a significant meaning.

On the first Sunday of Advent a purple candle is lit called the Prophecy Candle or Hope Candle. It brings to remembrance all those who foretold of Christ’s birth.

On the second Sunday another purple candle is lit called the Bethlehem Candle, Faith Candle, or Love Candle. Depending on the source it represents the manger, the prophecies surrounding Christ’s humble beginnings, or the Bible.

On the third Sunday a pink candle is lit called the Shepherd’s Candle or Joy Candle.  It represents the joy of knowing His coming is near. In some churches there is a tradition that it is the time of “stirring”.

On the fourth Sunday a purple candle is lit called the Angel’s Candle or Peace Candle. It represents the announcement of Christ’s birth.

On Christmas Eve or on Christmas day, the final candle, a white candle is lit called the Christ Candle. It represents the sinless, spotless Lamb that washes away all our sins.

Each week we read Scriptures that tie into our Advent focus. You might choose just one to use all week, or a different one each day.

Knowing I wanted the candles to remain lit often and knowing that I didn’t want to buy stock in a candle factory, I purchased 5 LED white candles. One candle is taller than the others, this would be the Christ Candle. I created labels using a sheet of 10 clear labels. I made one for each candle, naming it for the appropriate week and coloring the text according to each week’s advent tradition. Once printed, all I needed to do was place a label on each of the candles. When the candles are lit, we can read what each candle represents. Placing it on the mantle next to our Christmas tree, my family is able to see and remember the real reason for the season.

If you would like a PDF copy of the labels I made, you can download it here: Advent Candle Labels.

It is my hope this simple decorating project is one small help in keeping Christ the focus of your Christmas season.



Decorating with Scripture

For a long time I had debated which Scripture I wanted to put up in my living room and how exactly to do it.

I wanted something that edified the family and was a reminder to seek the Lord. I also wanted it to convey the hope or promise attached to it.  Then one day, while reading the Word, I saw these verses and knew it was the right message for the right place.


I found the great bird house design through a company that makes vinyl wall art. I made the letters with a scrapbook die cutter on store-bought vinyl. I learned a lot from this project. For example, my walls are uneven and even with a guide I can’t make a straight line. 🙂

Now I am trying to imagine some other locations and ways to places verses around my home.  Do you have any suggestions? Leave me a comment.

I am entering this into a great contest over at Doorposts. (A last-minute entry.)  If you don’t know about Doorposts, I highly recommend checking them out. They have a great Christmas Sale going on for products that will aid you in raising your family.


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