Pinterest Win – Simple Scarf Organization


You may remember my little Pinterest To-Do List I posted last week. Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve crossed one off the list!


Simple Scarf Organization

I said this: Now that I finally have some cute scarves, I thought I should have them organized in some way other than draped across the coat rack, door knob, chair and floor of my closet. When I happened to run across this idea, I got unreasonably excited. I mean, who gets so excited about shower curtain rings on a hanger? That would be me. Now, let’s see if I actually do it, and, more importantly, if my scarves still get left on the coat rack, doorknob, chair & closet floor.


I did actually do it, so that’s a start. I still have two scarves on the coat rack, but that’s because it is freaking cold here this week, and I need those babies every single time I go outside. They have made it back to the fancy scarf hanger whenever it warms up, so I feel like this is something I can keep up with on a regular basis.

Here’s mine!

Paperclips & Play Pens - Pinterest Win - Simple Scarf Organization

Now, for the issues…

First I tried this on a regular hanger, and that little guy just couldn’t handle the load. Even doing half of the rings on one hanger made it droop pretty bad. So I ended up using one of those heavy duty plastic coat hangers (the that are as big around as a thumb).

I’m also having trouble keeping them from all going to one side and hanging down to the floor. I’m actually keeping it in the closet (just took it out to get this photo), and it’s kind of annoying that I can’t get them to stay upright. I’m considering adding some kind of small weight to the middle, but I haven’t figured out the best way to do this yet. Will keep you updated, because I’m sure everyone is on pins and needles about the state of my scarf storage!


Also, I’d like to say…

Happy Birthday!

to My Mama. You are the most amazing lady in the world, and I feel so lucky that I can call you my friend as well as my mom. I love you!

Pinterest Win – diy Pomander: Paper Hydrangea


Occasionally, I actually use get around to using an idea I found on Pinterest. Given the thousands of pins on my personal account, I should have a few Pinterest Wins to show off.

Of the few I do have, this is one of my favorites. The first time I saw this, I knew I had to make one, even though I had no idea what purpose it would actually serve to have one.

Isn’t is lovely? Pretty much useless, but lovely just the same.

Yeah yeah, I know it’s just for decoration, but even as far as decorations go, I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to actually *do* with these little guys. That’s besides the point though…since they are terribly cute.

I was completely in love with light blues & greens at that time, especially mint & robin’s egg blue (like half the world). I grabbed a few sheets of scrapbook paper at the craft store and I assume I picked up the craft punch mentioned in that tutorial since my petals look like theirs. I don’t really remember punching all of those tiny flowers, but I do remember this project taking a lot longer than I had planned. Maybe I used the Cricut for this and the part that took so long was skewering all of the tiny flowers with corsage pins? Either way, this mess took a lot of patience to finish.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Pinterest Win - diy Pomander: Paper Hydrangea

When I was done, I was reasonably happy with how they turned out. Instead of styrofoam balls, I just bought small foam balls at the dollar store (you know, the ones with Princesses and other characters on them) because styrofoam balls at the craft store cost a dang arm & a leg. I painted over the graphics on my dollar store balls with white craft paint, but in my haste, I didn’t bother with multiple coats, so you can kind of see the brush strokes between the petals, which gets on my nerves to no end. You may catch a glimpse of said brush strokes in the photo above if you look close.

Still, I thought they were pretty cute, and I used them as part of the centerpiece when I co-hosted the Best Baby Shower Ever.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Pinterest Win - diy Pomander: Paper Hydrangea

That’s the centerpiece in all its glory, as well as the dessert bar in the background. You may notice that I never finished posting the photos from that epic baby shower, but I really should try to do that at some point since it was so stinking cute. Maybe I’ll add that to the to-do list.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Pinterest Win - diy Pomander: Paper Hydrangea

That’s one of the little guys close up at the shower. You can really see here that my balls were just too small (heehee) for this to look as full as the Pinterest image.

Compared side-by-side:

Paperclips & Play Pens - Pinterest Win - diy Pomander: Paper Hydrangea

I definitely still consider it a “win” though. Unless you compare it to the original, you wouldn’t even notice. So yeah, solid win in my book.

Check out the great tutorial for Pomanders (Flower Balls) here.

Pomander Tutorial at Pizzazzerie.

I Want to do Something Fun!


Ruby is in a 3k Montessori program at school, and is only in school for a half day. Now, a half day is apparently 7:30 – 10:30AM. This means that she gets out of school before recess, before PE, before art, before music. She’s only there for the morning work time, although it should be noted that the work they do is definitely not digging ditches or anything I would complain about spending my time doing.

Almost every single day since she started school, when I pick her up at 10:30 AM, she immediately starts asking if we can “do something fun,” which quickly turns into her demanding that I find her something fun to do. Her idea of “something fun” is pretty narrow, and mostly consists of playing at some other child’s house or the playground with other children. This definition doesn’t work out very well, since I have to come home and get to work and most of the children we know either live too far away or are at school at this time of the day. She does not want me to take her to the playground to play by herself…she insists that the playground is “no fun” unless there are other kids there, and it is required that she is previously acquainted with the children. I have tried to explain to her that she needs to be able to make her own fun, but having a sibling so close in age (as far as she’s concerned, a constant play companion here solely for her amusement) for all of her life has left her with a severe distaste for playing by herself.

She whines and complains off and on for the rest of the morning. She’ll find something to play for a while, but she inevitably comes back to me with whines of exponential strength.

Now, I thought I was doing great this week. One day, we went to the playground when we picked Sadie up from school, with the plan of staying there for at least an hour, if not two, at a time when we knew at least 15 other kids from school would be there as well. Included in this group of children at the playground on this particular afternoon were at least three of the children that Ruby always asks to play with during her long whining sessions. I figured I was totally rocking motherhood and that I had just bought myself at least a moderately cooperative evening from Miss Ruby in exchange for my awesomness.

After we were there for about 10 minutes, I notice Ruby playing over in the sand by herself. I go over to see if she’s okay, and her response?

“Mom, I don’t really want to play with the other kids right now…I’d like to just play by myself.”

You are killing me, child. Killing me.

Favorite Friday – Outfit Posts


Favorite Friday

Continuing with my efforts towards the goals I set in my to do list for this year, specially the one about improving my wardrobe, I’ve been spending some time looking around the internet for websites & blogs that discuss fashion for real people. Not the real people who wear shirts that look like they’ve been sliced up by chipper shredder or the real people who wear leather shorts. Those people are totally fine, and I’m very happy that they’ve found their style. But looking at those types of images doesn’t really inspire me to dress cute. They really just inspire me to get some fuzzy socks and comfy pjs because all I can think is how uncomfortable I’d be in anything like that.

But seriously, there is no way anyone is getting my fat rear end in a neon shredded top & leather shorts.

So I need clothes for real people. They don’t have to be my size (I have an imagination and can pretty well picture an outfit plus 30 pounds), but just people who make an effort to look cute and put-together but who aren’t too far removed from what I consider to be realistic.

I also don’t care to look at images of shoes that cost $400 or dresses that cost $1200. Splurging on clothing to me is a $60 dress. If I can see that I’d wear it often in many outfits, I might go a bit higher than normal, but this budget does not have a ton of wiggle room.

With those criteria, most of the blogs I’ve come across that discuss fashion are just not cutting it for me.

So, I was extremely excited when I ran across this blog while browsing Pinterest (yeah, I know, I spend way too much time on there).

I just happened to catch the site right before her two year anniversary of blogging and caught some of the blogger’s back story…

    This site was started two years ago when my work environment changed from going into in a corporate office each day to working from home. It was intended as a way to motivate myself to put on an ‘outfit’ instead of my pjs/workout clothes each morning. I really only thought that my best friend, sister and mom would ever stop by.

As I read that, I realized this lady was speaking my language. You also work at home and are inclined to stay in your pjs all day? Sold!

The biggest thing is that the site is exactly what it says it is: outfit posts. She takes a photo of what she wore, shares the inspiration photo if there is one, explains what items are included in the outfit and where to buy them (or similar, often more affordable versions).

My favorite is the year end wrap up showing all of the different outfits she wore with individual items, like this white button down shirt.

Favorite Friday - Outfit Posts

This is a collage of a ton of her year end wrap up outfits. There are so many! And they’re all so cute! Go to her blog Outfit Posts to see them big enough to tell what they are

And then there’s the One Suitcase Series where she shows all of the different outfits you can make with a small number of items that would fit into one suitcase for business or leisure travel. I mean, not that I ever go anywhere, but since my wardrobe is fairly limited now and I’d like to start purchasing pieces that I can wear with lots of different things, that series looks like a good place to start for picking out good versatile items. I hear those are called “closet staples”…see, I’m learning!

I love that she links to where you can buy items she’s wearing in the photos, or similar items. If you see something you like, she usually gives several options for how you can get it. Even the clothes she wears that she’s had for a long time, she’ll still find items elsewhere that are similar. Now, some of the items she links to are a bit steep for my budget (I clicked on this cute chunky necklace once and I swear it said it was $80), but usually the similar items at least are much closer to my price range.

I’m really excited about all of the inspiration in one place. Looking through her blog actually made me kind of look forward to clothes shopping. Pretty crazy huh?

Anyway, head over there and check out the blog if you’re looking for some cute, everyday fashion inspiration.

Getting Back on the Horse…Wii Fit Wednesday


So, the last time I did a weigh in on this blog was April in 2011, almost three years ago. Yikes! I had been busting my butt for a year trying to lose the weight I gained when I was pregnant with Ruby (and Sadie, since some of that was hanging around too), and even though progress was very slow, I had managed to get down to a size 8/10 in clothes, and I honestly felt pretty good.

In March of 2010, when I started keeping up with Beth Anne’s McFatty Monday, I weighed 147 lbs. I wanted to lose 25 lbs, and I wanted to do it cheaply and without changing my routine too much (because, as I said before, life just ain’t worth living without shrimp scampi & garlic biscuits.) So, in April of 2011, it had been 13 months since I started, I was down 13 lbs (after a little bit of losing & gaining back & forth), I had spent about $30 and hadn’t really changed anything about my routine. Not a huge win by the numbers, but I felt so much better.

Well, then life happened. I stopped exercising, got super busy & stressed, totally overwhelmed with life, and at some point, a little depressed. It was a tough couple of years. I really couldn’t complain in general, because nothing terrible happened, but there were a lot of small things that just kept piling up and piling up, and it got to me. Over the course of these past few years, of being stressed & overwhelmed & stagnant, I gained some weight. I knew I had, since my clothes didn’t fit & I had to go get new ones. But I didn’t really realize just how much I had gained.

That is, until I decided that it was time to make some changes and get more healthy, as well as lose some of the extra weight. I got out my Wii Fit & hopped up on the board. The number totally shocked me.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Weight Loss


171


Yep, I gained back all 13 lbs I lost, plus another 25. I gained almost 40 lbs. Which, for anyone interested, that’s more weight than I gained with either of my pregnancies. I gained almost 40 lbs, not by growing a human, but by sitting at my computer & snacking.

I knew I had gained weight, and I felt like a big fat cow, but I couldn’t believe I was over 170 pounds. 170 totally works for some body types, but for me, it is considered obese, and not where I need or want to be. Looking at the little sad Mii and listening to the “WAAH WAAAAH” sound as the scale pointed to obese, I felt awful. Big fat FAIL.

Then, fairly quickly, I stopped caring as much about that number. Granted, I do have a goal weight I want to get down to, but its really a lot less about the number as how much healthier I know I will feel when I get there. I don’t need to be some sexy beast who distracts men driving down the street & causes them to run over their mailboxes, and I certainly don’t need a thigh gap or bikini bridge or whatever the hell girls are going for these days.

I need to be able to chase my kids in the yard without getting super winded, and I need to be able to lift the box of Christmas decorations up to Kyla on the attic stairs without dropping my precious Hallmark ornaments everywhere. I need to be able to open the stupid jar of jelly for Ruby without turning red in the face.

Here’s my weirdest goal: to be able to move my body around in the bath tub without feeling like I just started a tsunami. Sounds silly, but that’s when I first noticed I had gained weight. I was laying back in the tub relaxing, and I went to scoot forward to grab the soap, and the movement of my body in the tub sent the water crashing forward, spilling out in waves over the edge and making this loud splash that I was sure would wake up the kids and make Kyla think I had done a cannon ball. If I could ever say I felt like a whale, that was certainly the time.

All that is to say: I want to be thinner, and I want to be stronger. Not body builder strong or super model skinny. Just a reasonable weight and fitness for me to be able to do the things I want in an average day without getting tired or struggling.

I will keep up with the numbers because I’m competitive with myself and need it to feel like a game, but the numbers aren’t what I’m going for. The feeling is what I want. And I really am going to work my rear end off to get it!


So, this is where we were as of my weigh in on January 6th (last Monday).

Paperclips & Play Pens - Weight Loss

I had gotten down to 165 before Christmas, and gained a little back over the holidays. I was fine with that though, because I could tell how much stronger I was, and I was starting to feel just a little lighter, and more comfortable. Still get the tub tsunami, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day!


Now, here’s where we are today:

Paperclips & Play Pens - Weight Loss

1/15/14 (AM)

Weight: 166.4 lbs. (last week – 166.4 lbs.)
BMI: 30.63 (l.w. – 30.63)

Change since last weigh-in:
Weight: same
BMI: same

Total (starting from 171.3)
Total Weight Loss: 4.9 lbs.
Total BMI Loss: Well, crap, I forgot to look, and I’m too lazy to get it back out.

Not bad, not bad. We’re holding pretty steady overall. I’ve gotten back into my yoga routine from before the holidays, and started using my new dance workout game. I haven’t learned all of the moves yet…I’m still flailing around like a crazy person and about three steps behind on every song, but we’ll get there. Now that the girls are finally back in school on a regular schedule (they had delays last week because of the cold), I’ve been able to get back to working out after I drop them off at school.

If anyone else is working on fitness goals for 2014, let me know how you’re doing!


Also, side note…I’m going to stop tagging this as Postpartum Weight Loss since I’m well past the generally accepted postpartum phase now. If anyone has been reading the old posts and wants to keep up with the new ones, please follow the regular old weight loss tag.

Pinterest To-Do List


I absolutely LOVE Pinterest. I know I’m not alone in this, but I could seriously sit on there for hours without any concept of how much time has passed. I have this bad habit of going through a feed (my home feed, the popular feed, everything…anything!), right-clicking on anything interesting to open it in a new tab. Then, when I finally get to the end of that page, I look and I’ve got like 50 tabs open. Kyla will sometimes look over my shoulder while I’m on Pinterest, seeing the million tiny red circles on my browser tabs, and realize that I will likely not be going to bed at the same time as him that night. Maybe there should be a Pinterest Widowers Club…though I have a suspicion Reddit already fills that need for some, as it does for Kyla.

Over the course of the several years I’ve been on Pinterest, I’ve amassed a collection of about 5,000 pins. I tried for a while to limit myself, that I could only spend two hours on Pinterest for every one project I completed that I found on the site. Now, obviously, that did not happen. I was fairly successful for a while, but one weekend spent on the couch with sick children browsing Pinterest on my phone between trips with them to the bathroom pretty much killed that plan.

Anyway, I have a ton that I want to accomplish this year in general, and getting to some of those Pinterest projects I’ve been swooning over for years is one of my big priorities. Here are the ones I’ve decided to tackle first:


Simple Scarf Organization

Update: Nailed it! You can read all about it here.

Now that I finally have some cute scarves, I thought I should have them organized in some way other than draped across the coat rack, door knob, chair and floor of my closet. When I happened to run across this idea, I got unreasonably excited. I mean, who gets so excited about shower curtain rings on a hanger? That would be me. Now, let’s see if I actually do it, and, more importantly, if my scarves still get left on the coat rack, doorknob, chair & closet floor.


Behind the Door Shallow Book Shelves

There’s this weird little space behind the door to the girls’ room that is very similar to the space in the photo. We don’t have a ton of storage space in the house, and the short little ladies can’t reach most of it, so this would be awesome to keep their books where they can reach them!

One thing I really love about this is that the books face front so the kids can easily see the cover to pick out a book, say, for bedtime reading.


Faux Enamel Necklace

I’d love to wear necklaces more, but I generally have pretty simple style when it comes to jewelry, so most of what I see out there seems way too overwhelming. This are small and pretty and perfect. I’d love to pick a few colors that would go with the few cute outfits I own. Maybe if I get more cute clothes, I could make more the new outfits as well, and wear multiple necklaces together if they coordinate with different color scheme outfits. You know, if I can get in the habit of changing out of my pajamas occasionally.


Over the Door Shelf

We have really high ceilings–like 10′ high in every room–but we only have two closets in the whole house. So, making use of vertical space for storage is really important for us. I’ve been really wanting to do this for a while, so I’m really ready to get it done. Not sure yet if I only want to do it over the door, or all the way across that wall (since it’s not a particular long wall). Still thinking on that one.


Years in the Making Graduation Gift

I’ve written letters to the girls sporadically since they were born, but I would love to do something like this on purpose and on a schedule. I’ve also seen a pin where you put money in a photo album, so maybe I could combine the two and have a letter, photo of the child & money envelope for each age.

If I’m going to start it, I should probably do it while the oldest is in kindergarten.


Empire Waist Blouse

I have always loved tops with this silhouette, and apparently they’re one of the most flattering on my pear shape. This pattern looks pretty clear, so this seems look a good one to try.


Blackout Curtains

Since we live on a very busy street with a good bit of foot traffic, curtains are a pretty big deal. We have blinds up now, but with the cat and the babies, they’ve started looking pretty rough. We don’t really want new blinds, so it’s curtains for ya! Heehee. We need them in the foyer and living room, so this should end up being two projects.


Hope fully I can get on these projects pretty quickly and move on to some others. Fingers crossed! If anyone happens to read this and has tried any of these projects (or similar) let me know how it went and if there’s anything you’d do differently!

Dressing Chairs: What To Do With Not-Quite-Dirty Clothes


Whenever we clean our room, Kyla & I realize that most of our mess is just the semi-dirty clothes that cover every available surface from the corner of the bed to the top of the dresser. These “semi-dirty” clothes are items we consider not really dirty, because they either weren’t worn for very long or don’t really need to be cleaner than they are to be worn again, but not clean enough to go back in the closet or drawers.

Please tell me that someone else thinks like this, other than me, my husband, and frat boys.

Kyla told me about some piece of furniture that was popular in the Victorian era that was shaped like a chair (I’m not sure why it wasn’t a chair if it was shaped like a chair, but I’m just telling you what he told me), and men would hang their shirts on the back and throw their ties and pants over the arm. Its sole purpose was to hold clothes that were somewhere in between clean and dirty. That sounds rather opulent to me, but also quite ingenious.

I decided to look into this, since it sounded like such an awesome thing to have, and realized that they are, in fact, called chairs. Kyla now insists he did not tell me they weren’t called chairs, but I know what I heard. Anyway, “Dressing Chairs” is what they’re called, but they’re apparently also called Valet Chairs. And now that I know they exist, I want one badly.

They come in all kinds of shapes and styles, from pretty upholstered formal…

Dressing Chair, Chair Valets, Valet Chairs - Paperclips & Play Pens
Source: North Gate Gallery

…to Danish Modern…

Dressing Chair, Chair Valets, Valet Chairs - Paperclips & Play Pens
Source: My Dad’s Furniture Blog

…to, well, whatever you would call this. Regular?

Dressing Chair, Chair Valets, Valet Chairs - Paperclips & Play Pens
Source: Proman via Amazon

There’s also a nice list of valet chairs at Squidoo/Cozy, which includes some of these, other new ones for sale and some vintage.

It is officially my goal to get a Dressing Chair in the not-too-distant future, but buying furniture for my semi-dirty clothes seems like a birthday/Christmas/other special occasion purchase at best, so I think we’ll wait a while on this. Maybe we’ll try to make one using a thrift store chair…but regardless, I will have a Dressing Chair one of these days.


Now, since we don’t currently have one, and I still needed somewhere to put my workout clothes and pajama pants, I knew we needed some solution. Because I’ll be damned if I’m going to wash those after wearing them once. I asked The Godmother, and of course she had a simple fix that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of myself.

Command Hooks - What To Do With Not-Quite-Dirty Clothes - Paperclips & Play Pens

Yep, Command Hooks. Just on the wall. BAM. Problem solved.

The plan was one hook for Kyla and one hook for me, but he doesn’t seem at all interested in putting his clothes on the hook, so I’ve appropriated both of them. One hook is holding my workout top (the pants are in the wash right now, oddly enough), and the other is holding my gorgeous floral poncho/robe hand-me-down from my mom, which she got as a hand-me-down from my grandmother. Watch out, I’m totally going to show that awesomeness off sometime!

While it’s not as cool as a Dressing Chair, I thought this ended up being a great solution to the problem of what to do with those not-quite-dirty clothes. Thanks Godmother for always-fantastic advice!

The Paint Plan


One of the big items on my to-do list for this year is to finish painting the exterior of our house. I wasn’t actively posting on the blog when we started this, but let me tell you, we’ve been working on it for about three years now. Yes, three years. And yes, it is painful for me to admit that.

We decided we would paint the house ourselves because money was tight and hiring a house painter (especially for a house this old that is very likely to have lead paint) is pretty pricey. So we were like “Sure, we can totally do this!”

Huh.

So i spent weeks on Pinterest & the internet, looking at possible paint colors. I took photos of our house and Photoshopped the possible paint colors so I could see what it would look like. I spent several days going back and forth between shades of gray. It was probably way more than 50 shades.

Finally, I settled on this paint scheme, and Kyla (wisely) agreed:

Paperclips & Play Pens - Bungalow Exterior Paint Color Plan

Here are the colors:

The gray is a nice, cool, greenish gray, and I love the visual weight it has. Our house is currently a really pale blue, and I have to admit that even after living here for over five years, I still miss the house sometime and have to go around the block to get back home. The creamy off-white for the trim is light enough to still look crisp and fresh, but not too bright that it will look dirty quickly. The red for the accent is a deep, rich mahogany red, which is about the only red I could ever handle since I’m just not a bright red door kinda gal.

After choosing the paint colors, I decided I better get some info on dealing with lead paint, since we were fairly sure we would have to deal with, being that the house was built in 1922. So I went to a workshop on painting older homes that was held for free by our city. It was really informative, and the notes I took from that workshop are pretty hilarious to read. When I take notes, I generally just write as much as I can of what someone says, and then go back later to read it and actually process what they were saying. One part of my notes reads “Question: what do you need to do it yourself? Good caulk [followed by more info on the good caulk], good paint [followed by more info on the good paint], and either lots of alcohol or lots of prayer, whichever works best for you.”

Over the course of a couple of months, I watched the paint sales and went to purchase my paint. I got some ridiculous amount of paint…and my back patio was covered in sealed five-gallon buckets for the next year. We still haven’t opened any of those top coat paint buckets, and I don’t even know if they’re still good.

We did start on the house though, even though we still haven’t gotten to the final paint colors. We scraped and scraped and scraped for months. My Mama, Daddy & Crazy Aunt came down and helped one day. My Daddy scraped half of one entire wall pretty much on his own. We nailed down boards that were loose, puttied big holes and scratches, and caulked the heck out of every gap. As we were going through this, we realized why the living room was always so cold. We knew there was no insulation in the walls, and we could see some small cracks in the beadboard on the interior wall. But when I saw that there were gaps as large as half and inch between some of the siding boards, I realized it was amazing that our electric & gas bills weren’t $500+ every month.

The next year, I got brave, borrowed a tall ladder from a neighbor, and set to work scraping the front gable of the house above the porch. I would do this while the girls were in preschool, and various pedestrians would comment as they walked by. I would always wear whatever random old clothes I could find, my hair was always speckled with paint where I wiped it away from my face before remembering my hand was covered in paint, and since I’m terrified of heights, I either had a look of intense concentration or pure dread on my face. So, when these pedestrians would greet me or ask questions, I held on to the ladder for dear life and turned as much as I dared to answer them. I was convinced they thought I was nuts.

Sometime we got tired of scraping, and decided we’d go ahead and put primer on the parts we had already scraped. Since it was taking so long, and we didn’t want the hundred year old siding to be totally exposed for too long, this seemed like a good idea. We got most of the wall by the driveway primed (except the top 6 feet or so, since we didn’t have a ladder that could reach that high), the walls on the front of the house under the porch, and parts of the porch itself. Now, we didn’t use a white primer, since we’d be painting a medium gray for the top coat…we use a primer tinted with 50% gray. This 50% gray primer has a bit of a bluish tint to it, and it turns out that most people who have visited the house think that’s the final paint color. I find it funny that everyone looks at it and thinks we’re about halfway done!

This year, it will happen, I swear. By Christmas 2014, the house will be totally painted, either by my hands or someone I’ve hired, because this has just gotten ridiculous.

Better to Give – diy Christmas Gifts


Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

Every year we make many Christmas gifts ourselves…which is partially because I love doing stuff like this with the girls and partially because we have over 70 people on our Christmas Gift List.

Yep, over 70. And that’s counting some couples as one person.

We’re not complaining…we’re happy to have so many people we love and we really want to give all of them something they can use and will enjoy to let them know we’re thinking of them during the holidays. Between Sadie’s therapists and all of the girls’ teachers (class teachers & music, dance, PE, etc.), Kyla’s big family, my big family and all of our friends & neighbors, it adds up quick. We’re really lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives, and Christmas *is* my favorite holiday, so we’ve gotten a system that makes it relatively easy to not have to leave too many people out.

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

Since we’re not made of money, we usually end up picking one thing to make for many of the people on our list. This year, it was homemade food goodies in mason jars. We did hot cocoa, pumpkin pie spice & pancake mix. The plan was originally to give everyone a stack of four recipes as well, but my printer was not digging the card stock I bought, so the recipe cards just went to a few people we thought would really enjoy them.

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

So, here’s what we did…

First I searched all over Pinterest for the right recipes. I knew I wanted to do a few jars of my homemade pancake mix. I love the pancakes I get with this recipe, and I figured it would be easy to do the dry ingredients with instructions on what else to add. I can’t remember where I got this recipe, but here is the version I’ve emailed to people who have asked.


Best Pancakes Ever

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sale & sugar
Make a well (like a crater) in the mountain of dry ingredients
Pour in the melted butter, egg, then milk
Mix until smooth
Heat a lightly oiled skillet/griddle/frying pan over medium high heat
Scoop/pour desired amount of batter onto surface
When the edges start looking solid and the center is bubbly, flip


I also knew I wanted to do a cocoa, but there are so many delicious sounding recipes out there! I ended up printing several recipes to take with me to the grocery store, and the recipe I ended up using was just the one I managed to get most of the ingredients for (I was very frazzled during this shopping trip for some reason, so I’m surprised I even made it out of there with enough ingredients to make any of them!) So, with the exception of the candy canes, this recipe from My Recipes, called “Peppermint Stick Cocoa,” was the winner.

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

Let me tell you…after I made the first batch, I tried some myself. And that is really some delicious hot cocoa.

Next was the Pumpkin Pie Spice. I had seen this recipe from Rachel Cooks early in the Fall and decided I needed to try it. I was amazed at how the photography made a lump of spices look positively mouth-watering. It was really easy and really yummy, so it made the cut.

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

* Just in case anyone is wondering, yes, I made those graphics myself, and no, I am not being paid by anyone to drive traffic to their sites. I’m just overly worried that someone will think I’m trying to take credit for their work and I like to make sure I’m as obvious as possible when giving credit! *

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

Next we got a ton of mason jars and the little spice jars at Hobby Lobby during their glassware sale. I really loved the small spice jars, which were really cute and a great size for the spices. I think Hobby Lobby is kind of expensive on mason jars and glass stuff usually, but at half off, these definitely fit into my budget. Later I realized I could have bought a case of the mason jars and gotten them cheaper, but I always forget I can just pick up a case of them at the grocery store!

I had intended to also get some red & white baker’s twine, but every where was out of it (presumably because they had the same idea I did), and I ended up getting the green. I’m really glad I did, because it made it look festive but not quite so in-your-face Christmasy.

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

Now, the labels were my favorite part. It started with my running across these gorgeous recipe cards from Love Vs. Design. These were exactly what I was looking for, and they’re downloadable for free and absolutely beautiful!

The only problem was, I needed to also make tags and labels for the top of the mason jars. So, I hop into Illustrator and basically rebuilt the recipe cards so I could then use those same graphics to make the labels for the top of the mason jars and also the tags to hang on each jar explaining what was inside.

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

I’m pretty sure I’m going to use that downloadable cards to redo my recipe book at some point. Those are just way too pretty!

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

So then I set to work making everything. I started trying to make everything in large batches but then I realized the proportions of ingredients would be off when I separated it into jars, so I really just made about 1 batch per jar. The exception to that was the Pumpkin Pie Spice, because the girls were having a great time helping me measure out the amounts of each spice. We destroyed the kitchen over the course of two days, but we had a blast!

Paperclips & Play Pens - DIY Christmas Gifts - Homemade Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pancake Mix in a Mason Jar

Everyone loved the gifts and commented on how great the tags looked, and I have to say that I was super proud of how they turned out. Actually, I’m pretty sad I didn’t make enough to keep any for myself!

Deck the Halls – Holiday Home Tour


Anyone who has ever been to my house during the holidays know that I’m kind of a Christmas nut. At least when it comes to decorating, I can get pretty intense. Word of my six Christmas trees has gotten around, so I thought a little tour of our yuletide display was in order, if for no other reason than proof.

Thankfully, my amazing neighbor (who needs her own nickname for this blog…must work on that soon!) just got a new camera, and she came over to my house to show it off and try it out, which means I got lots of cute pics of my holiday decor. She even let me take a few shots!

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

My favorite room is the living room, because this is where the stockings and the “Family Tree” are located. This tree has all of the sentimental ornaments, all my Hallmark ornaments, red bead garland and red glass ball ornaments.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

This tree kind of goes with a red color scheme, but I love that this one is more of a mish-mash of things we love. Here are some of my favorite ornaments.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

I’ve always loved this little swinging girl. I can’t remember if this was my mom’s or grandma’s, but its been around a while.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Ornament commemorating some of the landmarks in our hometown.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

This is another old Hallmark ornament that I remember loving as a kid. His wheels are kind of messed up, but it still makes me happy just to see it.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Mine and Kyla Brown’s First Christmas Together ornament. I think this photo was taken of us at a bar during one of his band’s shows.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

One of my favorites from the Frosty Friend’s series. My mother has the second Frosty Friends ornament in the series, which has been going for over 30 years. I started collecting this series a few years ago, and now have a nice little collection of my own.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Cupcake ornaments the girls and I made last year.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

I get teary every time I see this ornament. Kyla’s Mom got us this one year, and she got it because of Kyla’s “I’d love her if they told me she was a fish” comment about Sadie’s diagnosis.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Every year for Christmas, the girls each get an ornament from the series I started them on. Ruby gets an ornament from “Season’s Treatings” and Sadie gets an ornament from “Santa’s Sweet Ride.” Pretty stoked that candy/sweet themed series started in each of their birth years!

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

We’re going for the “cute & cluttered” look on our double mantel, mostly because I have no ability to edit when it comes to putting out Christmas knick-knacks. I love them all way too much!

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Our stocking hangers are *supposed* to say “Noel,” but the first year I had them, I would always come into the room to find that someone had moved them around to spell something else. It wasn’t always Kyla…some friends would come by and torture my by moving them, too. So, one year, I just spelled “Leon,” and no one ever touches it now. Ha! I Win!

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

This is a quick cell phone shot I got Christmas morning right before the girls tore into their presents. Wow, I thought my cell phone took pretty good photos until I saw this one next to all of these others!


The next big deal tree room is the girls’ bedroom. They used to have one small tree they shared, then they got a slightly larger tree to share. But this year, they each have their own trees. Sadie went with the white sparkly tree decorated with pale pink and green ornaments. Most of these ornaments used to be my grandmother’s, and I absolutely love that Sadie loves them now too! Ruby wanted a “hot purple” tree, and she honestly decorates it with whatever she feels like. This girl does not like my color scheme nonsense and refuses to humor me about sticking to any one theme at all.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Yep, I’m pretty proud that my 4 and 6 year old’s have their own Christmas trees. Wonder if they’ll grow up totally in love with Christmas like I am or completely Christmas-ed out and not even put a wreath on their front door.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

I love how their trees look reflected in the mirror of their vanity.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

One night, Ruby asked if I would turn off all of the lights but leave the trees lit up for her, because she said it was “so lovely to go to sleep with the pretty Christmas trees.” Maybe there is hope that I’m passing on the joy of holiday decor.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

With the lights on, the pink and purple overload in the room is even more evident.


The tree in the kitchen is really special. It belonged to my great-grandmother, and it is in wonderful shape. We even have the original box and the brown paper tubes that go on each “tree branch.” Unfortunately, we don’t have a spinning color light projector like so many of these trees had, but I love the blue & silver, so I can definitely live with it.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Most of the ornaments on this tree are the first ornaments I bought when we got married. I was on a big blue kick then, and had disposable income, so I ended up with a ton of beautiful blue ornaments.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

There are even a few ornaments the girls and I made on this tree. The white string ball ornament is one of my favorites, because Sadie & made these the year before Ruby was born, and we had so much fun getting so messy!

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls


When you first walk into the house, you’re greeted by the short light-up Santa my parents had when I was little. I’ve always loved this miniature Kringle, and I was so stoked when my parents offered to let us use it. Of course, they said it is for the granddaughters to enjoy, but I think I like having it here even more than they do!

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Look how cute he looks! He’s about 4-4.5′ tall, so he’s definitely not tiny, but not quite what I expect to be life-sized.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

*Another cell phone shot*

The tree in the foyer was my grandmother’s, but its not particularly old, and I honestly haven’t really gotten a theme going for that one yet. Right now it just has all of my gold and white porcelain ornaments on it, with a few other random Santas & angels. I’ll probably do more with this tree next year, but I honestly forgot I had it until it came down from the attic.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

The foyer has gone through a lot of changes over the past couple of years. The Family Tree used to be in the corner where the drum table is now. When my grandparents moved into an assisted living facility, the drum table came to our house, and it absolutely had to go in the foyer. One day, it will be in the center of the room under a beautiful hanging shade, but for now, it does well in its corner.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Here’s the view of the foyer tree on the drum table and the view into the dining room. You can see the white wire mistletoe hanging in the doorway, which is a very happy addition to our Christmas decor since before we got it, Kyla decided every year to go on a mission to find mistletoe and bothered me to death about it.

I love this view, because there are so many things that I love in this room. My mama’s wedding picture is on the wall on the right, and just below it is my grandmother’s sewing machine table. You can even see the crazy wooden tribal bust that Kyla got at our neighborhood yard sale one year!

You can also see my beautiful chine cabinet in this shot! The Mama-in-Law got it for me this year and I’m totally in love with it! “Be an Awesome Southern Lady Bucket List Item: Have a china cabinet which contains at least 2 sets of china”…check!


This chandelier decoration was kind of a last-minute decision, but I love how it turned out. It is so sparkly! And Kyla thought to add the garland, which made a huge difference.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

The fishing line looks a little weird, so I might try something else next year.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

If you’re keeping count, here is tree #6! This tiny tabletop tree was mine when I was a kid, and the ornaments used are the ones I had as a child as well. It looks a little sad though, so its going to get a bit of a makeover next year.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

This shot looks a little weird because normally my computer is on top of that white table in the background (that’s actually my desk). Also, there are usually chairs at the table, but this was before our Christmas party, so everything was a little wonky. I do love how you can see the dining room table and my grandmother’s silver!

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

Another year, the girls and I made these little mason jar “snow globes” (without water, because that definitely would have been a disaster!). These are the three we made to keep.

Paperclips & Play Pens - Deck the Halls

This has to be my favorite shot…the little bottle brush trees in my china cabinet. *Swoon* It just makes me feel like such a good Southern lady to not only have a china cabinet, but to have even decorated it for Christmas!


Well, that’s it! Since we don’t have any exterior outlets, all of our decorations are inside. We’re hoping to change that next year though! Hope you enjoyed the tour!