roundup: advent calendars

Hello, friends! I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. Now, let the Christmas decorating and music begin!

Growing up, I remember being so excited when I got to open the doors on the advent calendar each day, leading up to Christmas. Our advent calendar was one of those wall hanging kinds, with little doors that you open each day. It’s hard to say, but I might have peaked ahead a time or two. I know, you’re shocked reading that, Mom. How unlike me! Even though we had the same calendar each year, it never lost its excitement.

As he quickly approaches three years old, this will will be the first Christmas that Gabriel will get it. Actually, I guess that’s not totally true. I have almost 22 years on Gabriel and I don’t get why Christ would come to die for me. Isn’t it amazing? Christmas gets lost on the big man in a red suit and gifts under the tree (which aren’t bad things in themselves), when it’s about the birth of our Savior. He was born for a reason, with a specific purpose: for our salvation, to reconcile us to God. It began in a manger and was accomplished on a tree. The cost was great, but the gift is free!

I’m especially excited for Christmas this year. I’m excited to start traditions that Gabriel will remember. (We have some already, but I’m looking forward to adding more). One of those is an advent calendar. Advent is the time leading up to Christmas. It’s the anticipation of the birth of the Savior. As John Piper writes in this article, advent is a time of looking back and looking ahead. We look back to the time of Christ’s birth, thinking of the anticipation of those waiting for the salvation that God promised, not knowing what to expect (and probably not expecting a baby born in a manger). And we look ahead, waiting, longing and preparing for Christ’s return, when redemption is complete. In short, it’s all about Jesus!¬†This year, advent starts on Sunday, December 2. (It starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve). We’ll get our Christmas tree on Saturday, and then begin our advent celebration on Sunday. I’ve been looking at creative advent calendars and started making ours yesterday. Today, I’ll share some inspiration. And then I’ll be back with the advent calendar I made and how our family will be celebrating!

Does your family have an advent calendar? What is your tradition? I’d love to hear!

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diy: rock place cards

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m here today to share a quick diy project to add some charm to your Thanksgiving table. My main contribution to our family’s Thanksgiving is to decorate the table. It’s a self-appointed job that began last year (or maybe it was the year before) and is something I have fun with. For the most part, I use things I already have, which is true for this project. Even with just 6 people (plus Gabriel) it’s still kind of nice to have place cards. I think they add a nice, personal touch to the table. And they’re fun to make.

Last year I used wine corks. This year I’m using rocks. If you have a few moments to spare and want to add a little something to your table tomorrow, here you go!

Supplies:

River Rocks (1 per person)

Paint (I used gold spray paint)

Paper/Calligraphy Pen

Twine

1. Paint your rocks. I used gold spray paint. But you could use craft paint and a brush, and any color you wanted.

2. Write the names. I cut strips of card stock and wrote each person’s name with a calligraphy pen.

3. When your rocks are dry, put the name cards on each rock and then wrap it with twine, tying the twine in a knot on the front.

And there you have it. Simple, easy, quick and cheap place cards for your Thanksgiving table…. or anytime you want to add a little charm to your meal! Have a wonderful time with family and friends!

diy: book page wallpaper

Wow. Talk about some serious neglect to the blog. To end this streak of silence, I have a project I’m pretty excited to share with you!

We have a big wall at the top of the stair landing that’s been calling to me every time I walk by. You see the wall as soon as you open the front door (because you look right up the stairs). When we moved in, it was partially painted a light green/blue color. The color was nice, but it only went half way up the wall. I assume they didn’t want to get a ladder to paint up to the ceiling. The partial painting wrapped around the wall, up the stairs. Kinda tacky. Drove me nuts. I decided a while ago to paint the whole stairway white. I thought about finishing with the blue/green color, but realized there was no (safe) way that I was going to reach to the ceiling and be able to cut in. I’d need scaffolding. Not going to happen. So I decided if I did it all white, I could just kinda wing it with a brush on a pole at the really high parts. I actually haven’t even painted up the whole way yet, because only in certain lights can you see where my white ends and the other white (from the unpainted blue/green) begins. It’s hardly noticeable and I’m probably the only person that even notices it. Well, now that’I’ve mentioned it, you might notice it, too.

Anyway, back to that wall at the top of the stair landing. I’ve been wanting to do something fun to it. I thought about stenciling, but that takes too much math/calculation/patience/time…. eh, not something I felt like! I wanted something that’d make a big impact, cost (next to) nothing, used supplies I already had and didn’t take a lot of time/precision/patience. You can see why the wall stayed empty for so long.

I’ve often read about people using starch to attach fabric to the wall like wallpaper. But I didn’t have any fabric I’d want to use for that. I’ve seen book pages covering a wall, but never wanted to commit to that, either. And then, while wasting time, I mean, perusing, pinterest, I saw this image….

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I think it was the green mirror that made me fall in love. I love the old newspapers covering the wall. It looks intentional and unique. What a charming bathroom. I don’t have old newspapers, so I decided to take one of my old, falling apart books that I use for other projects, and use the pages to get a similar effect.

And this is what I came up with!

I had a can of spray laundry starch and decided to try my hand at the whole starch temporary wallpaper thing. Now, I probably should have done more research before jumping right in, but I was just too excited. And impulsive.

I started on the bottom left corner of the wall, working left to right, making lines of pages across the wall. I was thrilled. It was just as I envisioned (and rarely do projects turn out just as I envisioned). I got a big portion of the wall done and then had to quit to think about dinner.

I managed to steal some time in the evening to finish the rest of the wall. I marveled at my job well done.

We went about our evening, having dinner and playing dragons, knights and princess (Tristan’s the dragon, I’m the princess, Gabe’s the knight, clearly). I’d peak up the dark stairway and marvel at my new wall. Every now and then I’d hear a crinkling sound but would ignore it. But then I heard a much larger crinkling/falling sound. When I turned on the light and looked up the stairs, I saw a long strip of pages at the top of the wall, hanging off…. and a lot of other pages peeling back. Oh, I was bummed. I taped a couple pieces up, in hopes that it would hang on until the morning when I could give it some TLC.

I was relieved to find pages still on the wall in the morning, though not very securely. I ripped some off and decided to try again. I repaired the ones that were repairable and added new pages where needed. I think the trick is saturating the sheets with starch and carefully smoothing them on to the wall, rubbing all over the sheet and pushing out any air bubbles. Then smoothing some starch over the front, too. But I’ll admit, I also got out my double sided tape and went to town securing down the sheets that were peeling away from the wall. I even got my regular clear tape and taped on the front, for a more seamless look. It’s all done now. My wall is covered in book pages. If you look really closely, you’ll see tape holding down some corners, but for the most part, it’s held up there by laundry starch. The starch didn’t do as good of a job as I had hoped, but I’m really pleased with the final product!

(The view from standing at the bottom of the stairs, by the front door. I recently used some leftover black paint from a dresser makeover to paint the backs of the stairs. Perfect for hiding scuff marks.)

To summarize a really long post about starch and book pages… here’s what I learned:

1. I used starch in a can. Spray starch. It’d probably be better to use true liquid starch and roll it on the wall with a paint roller, secure the pages to the wall, and then roll another layer over the top. So if you’re going to buy starch, get a jug of the liquid kind.

2. The problem I found, with spray starch, is that it’s kinda bubbly/foamy. I think this made gaps between the wall and the pages, even when I tried to thoroughly smooth it down. Perhaps that’s why some of them peeled back.

3. Starch is messy. And sticky. I’d recommend laying down some towels. The good news is that it will wash out.

4. It really is temporary. Out of curiosity, I tried peeling off one of the pieces that was really stuck down. It came off. And when I want to take it off for real, I’ll probably get a slightly damp rag to help loosen it. A couple pages got stuck on the floor, and a scrubby sponge took them right off.

5. When you put the pages on the wall, you can slide them around a little big to get them where you want them. Once the starch dries, if you need more, you can add more and it’ll work just the same. On many of the pages that started to peel back, I just added more starch and pressed it down.

6. There’s nothing wrong with enlisting some help from double sided tape!

7. I really wanted a seamless look. I used some regular clear tape to help get that look. You really can’t tell. It especially helped at the top, where I didn’t like looking up and seeing gaps between the pages.

So there it is. My book page wall! I’m quite pleased with the results! Do you think you’d ever cover a wall with book pages?

In the next post I’ll be sharing the details of the greenery wreath. It was also made with supplies I had on hand (or growing in the yard). It was easy and adds that green from my inspiration picture that I love so much.

(I wish I could find the before pictures of the hallway… when I find them, I’ll post them! It’s quite a lovely transformation, if I do say so!)

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for the wreath diy post. I promise I won’t disappear for weeks again :)