Simple Paper Bag + Chalkboard Tag Advent Calendar

Woop, woop. I've officially got my first Christmas decor craft of the year done, up and ready for the season! Well, my first Christmas decor of the season besides that one time I decorated my living room for Christmas in October.

I am so excited about this Christmas. HDawg will only be sixteen months old, but I'm going to pretend like he understands all of the fun holiday stuff to come. That includes all of the fun stuff like Santa, Elf on the Shelf and... an advent calendar! Seriously, I fully understand that he will not have any clue what's going on this holiday season, but I do know that he will have so much fun with the advent calendar opening trinkets each day and repeating the motion of opening the bags.

I decided to DIY an advent calendar and went with a simple paper bag + chalkboard tag version.

I simply wrote the numbers for each day on chalkboard tags that I found in the dollar bin at Target. I used chalk markers instead of chalk for a cleaner look. Then I clipped each bag with clothespins onto baking twine. I hot glued faux evergreen pieces onto a few of the clothespins for some extra pizazz.

HDawg, if you're reading this, cover your eyes! I filled each calendar bag with some sort of holiday trinket that H will love. The first day is a big gift- a set of Christmas pajamas for the season! Then the rest are small items from the dollar bin like Christmas stickers, board books, coloring books and finger puppets. Oh, and Ninja Turtle socks. Because what kid wouldn't love those?

 And that's it, folks! Like I said, really simple. I strung the bags and bakers twine along the wall in the hallway in our stairwell. H already points to the display and smiles every time we walk past!

For more advent calendar inspiration, check out my post on BabyCenter today: a round up of seventeen DIY advent calendar ideas. So much fun inspiration!

2013 Holiday Link Party Announcement

We're baaaaaack. That's right, it's time again for our annual holiday link up party! Woot woot. 

This year, the girls and I have added a few new friends and we're so excited about the crazy Christmas crafting talent that they have to offer. The link party hostesses include Carmel from Our Fifth House, Michaela from Michaela Noelle Designs, Cassie from Hi Sugarplum, Megan from Honey We're Home, Courtney from A Thoughtful Place, Heather from The Lovely Cupboard and Natasha from Schue Love.

We've got four holiday topics lined up: holiday mantel, holiday crafts, Christmas tree, and holiday recipe/cocktail. On each of the days listed above, you'll have not one, but two places to link up to for that topic! 

Carmel and I will get the party started by hosting the holiday mantel link party on December 4th. That's right, it's time to get your mantel decor on this weekend so you're ready for the party next week! If you want some extra inspiration, check out the previous years mantel link parties that I hosted. There are millions and millions (okay, more like hundreds) of beautiful holiday mantels for inspiration!


And just for kicks, here's a peek at my 2010 Christmas mantel.

Are you ready for some holiday link party fun?! As soon as you finish your turkey on Thursday, start unpacking the holiday decor and join us for the fun next week! Grab this button or the graphic above and share on your sidebar, blog, Pinterest... wherever!

Psst! Thanks to Brittany for the adorable graphic design.

Baby And Toddler Proofing Ideas For Your Home

I get emails from you guys pretty often asking how David and I have baby proofed our home for HDawg. I've held off on writing this post for a few reasons. First of all, we didn't really baby proof our previous rental home because once H was ready to tear into things, we knew we'd be moving out of the house and didn't want to make any additions or improvements, even if they were minor. Also, it's safe to say that I'm no expert on this subject matter, so I don't want anyone to take this as hard core advice, but, rather, just me sharing what we've done around our house.

So. Two caveats. One- this is not an expert post on prepping your home for a baby or toddler. It's just me sharing what has worked for us (so far) around our home. Two- I am certainly not reinventing the wheel here. These are not new ideas, per se, but just our ideas and tips for keeping our toddler happy and safe. You asked, I'll share! On to the ideas!

1. Gates, gates, gates.

 Moving into a home with two floors presented a whole new dimension of safety issues to think about with HDawg... the stairs. He's actually pretty good at climbing them, but of course we'd never want him to wander up the stairs unsupervised. At the bottom of the stairs, we placed this walk through gate. It's a pretty easy latch system that I can do one handed... six-and-a-half months pregnant with a 25 pound baby and some laundry in my arms : )

Also, as a renter, this gate simply uses tension spots to keep the gate in place. H likes to play "jail" as I call it where he grabs the bars and shakes. He thinks it's especially funny when Tucker is on the other side. Anyways, even with all of that movement, I've never seen the gate or tension points budge. It's super safe!

But the top of the stairs presents a different concern. David and I were worried that a regular tension gate like this could possibly give when pushed (even though we find this one sturdy, it's always a possibility) and that our little bambino would then go tumbling down the stairs. So we wanted something more secure, like a gate that mounts to the wall or stair rail. As renters, though, we didn't feel comfortable drilling a hole into the wooden bannister to ensure a more secure gate. So we researched a little and found the perfect solution.

First off, we purchased this safety gate for the top of the stairs. It's made to screw into a wall or bannister and the gate only swings one way (ie. into the hall, not out over the stairs). Perfect for the top of a staircase.

Then, we used this stairway gate installation kit to give us a place to screw in the gate instead of the bannister. David said it was a little tricky to get right and, to be honest, it felt a little expensive to buy, but we're really impressed with how strong it is (again, no "jail" time movement here!) and we feel a lot of relief about not messing up the bannister. In fact, we'll probably use this kit again in our future permanent home just so we don't have to permanently damage the bannister!

2. Let there be light.

Seeing is safety. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Dark corners are no one's friend, including mine or David's when we have to get up in the middle of the night for an emergency cup of soy milk for H. We've plugged in these LED nightlights (takes up less energy than a regular bulb and lasts for longer!) in various spots in our house. These nightlights are light sensitive, so they only work when we need them to. It's such a small thing, but they give so much peace of mind.

For darker spots, we use this this guide night light which casts a blue hazy glow for us to see down hallways. Again, LED and light sensitive, so they're super efficient.

3. Plug it up.

This is definitely an obvious one. Cover all empty electrical socket outlet plates with safety plugs.

4. Hide the cords.

I have this totally irrational fear of HDawg tripping over or getting tangled up in the various cords throughout our house, so David and I have been trying to devise ways to hide the pesky things. In our living room, we went with the "tuck and tape" approach for the lamp cords.


We simply taped the cord down the leg of the table (with masking tape, so fly, right?) and then tucked the cord underneath the rug. The cord then runs across the room, under the rug (you can see a little bump but it's nothing that bothers me and certainly not big enough to trip over), peeks up for about six inches on the other side of the rug and then plugs into the wall. Totally McGuiver of us, right? Ha, well, we think we're smart. Until HDawg finds the taped cord and rips it off. Maybe we'll switch to duct tape then.

5. Lock up the doors.

Another duh. If your kid can turn knobs, it's time to use these door knob covers. H has access to attic space from his bedroom. Of course, this tiny door looks like the ideal play spot for this tiny tot, so he's obsessed with trying to get in there. But we're content that he'll be safe and stay on this side of the creepy attic now that we've got the knob covers on. Now I just have to figure out how to open the door with this thing on there....

6. Corral the cabinets.

Oh, the dreaded cabinets. Some of them are obviously ok for H to play in- pots and pans, plastic cutting boards, the towel cabinet in the bathroom- but others- cleaning supplies, medicine drawers, etc- are not. Again, duh Michelle! Instead of having to drill into the cabinet with any kind of lock or lever (another renter tip!) we chose these cabinet locks. While they literally make me want to claw my eyes out as I'm trying to open the cabinet doors to get ready for work at 5:45 AM, I definitely feel better knowing that H can't get into them.

So there you have it, six few tips and ideas we've used around our house to keep our tot safe. Our next big step is to strap all of our major furniture pieces (TV, dressers, cabinets, etc.) to the walls so there's no chance of H pulling them down when he's out of our eye sight. Not that I let my child run around our house unsupervised. I mean, I would never, unless Real Housewives is on ever, unless I was enjoying a really great cup of coffee ever do that! Of course.
Do you have any other sage safety advice for us momma's out there to help us contain our wild child?!

The Friday Jot List

Hellooooo, Friday. Is it just me or has this week flown by?!

This week, I've been all up in the Internet's business. Yeah, um, that sounds bad. Let's try this again. I've been putting myself out all week long. Hm. Yeahhhh, ok, I'm just going to stop now and, instead, tell you about where I've been and where you should check me out!

Over on BabyCenter, I shared one of my favorite past Thanksgiving DIY's with my cinnamon clove "give thanks" pumpkin tutorial. If you're looking for Thanksgiving centerpiece ideas, check it out!

Also on BabyCenter, I'm hosting a giveaway... $100 gift card to Target! Head over to enter here.

Speaking of contests, I helped to create a couple of fun holiday DIY projects and shared them with Here's a sneak peek of what I made! Homes is partnering up with Olioboard to design a Fabulously Festive design board with several bloggers' holiday DIY projects. Once you create a board, submit yours to enter to win up to $1000! Check out the details for the contest here.

Finally, if you're a renter or small-space dweller like me, I'm writing over at now on special topics for apartment and rental home dwellers. This week, I shared some ideas for easy fall decorating in your small space. Let me know what you think and if you've got anymore ideas for small space decorating around the holiday season!

I hope you guys have a great weekend. We've got friends coming into town to visit, a birthday brunch to celebrate one of my best friends and perhaps an Ikea trip thrown into the mix.... mu ha ha ha : )

Vintage Inspired, Burlap + Lace Wedding DIY Projects

My sister, Tori, had such a beautiful vision for her wedding: a vintage-inspired, rustic, burlap + lace theme. Armed with thousands of Pinterest posts and some Hobby Lobby coupons, we decided to craft up a few do-it-yourself vintage-inspired projects for the wedding.

First stop? The ceremony programs. Originally, we had planned to DIY programs like I did for my wedding. I simply designed them with a photo editor like PicMonkey and then had them printed at the print shop. At the last minute, Tori found this adorable idea to instead put your program information on a chalkboard sign at the ceremony. Brilliant! And much easier than 200 programs : )

We found this old rectangular frame at Goodwill for $12. It had a rockin' 1980's abstract print in it... very Miami Vice. We simply sanded down the glass plate and then painted with chalkboard spray paint. So, technically, she could remove the chalkboard plate if she ever wants to see Miami Vice art again. Just sayin'. 

Then I tried my bestest to break out some cute writing with a purple chalk marker. I'm definitely no skilled artisan, but hopefully the different fonts look sort of cute! Overall, I just love the idea to use a chalkboard sign instead of programs. Great idea, Tori!

The next sign we made was a Pinterest idea. Tori saw a sign like this and we both just loved the concept. Basically, the idea was a sign that directs family and friends to not choose bride versus groom sides at the ceremony, but to instead intermingle. 

I followed my DIY rustic pallet sign tutorial and built this sign from wood scraps in my garage. We painted it with chalkboard paint and then free-handed the slightly serial killer-ish letters with craft paint.

How cute is the sign leaning up against a tree when you walk into the ceremony space?!

Next up, we crafted some centerpieces. The florist did an arrangement for about half the tables, so we DIYed the other half. We stuck to a rustic mason jar + lace + burlap + twine theme and it turned out so pretty! And all it took was about 400 hot glue sticks! These jars had floating tea lights in them during the reception. They were gorgeous.

Finally, Tori and I crafted up a memory photo board to honor special family members who are no longer with us. Tori wanted a special spot for those special photos, so we made a board dedicated to just that purpose. I simply took apart an old vintage photo frame we found in my mom's basement until just the shell of the front frame remained. Next, I cut lace and hot glued ribbons of the lace across the width of the picture frame. All you have to add next are tiny clothespins and photos!

This project is a lot like my DIY clothespin + wire photo board but a slightly less complicated method.

Overall, the projects we created turned out great. And they looked amazing at the wedding itself. I can't wait to see the professional photographer's pictures of all of the pretty details! If you've got the time, DIY projects like this are definitely worth it in terms of saving money. And it's a lot of fun to create everything, of course. Tori and I had a ball making all of these things! If you're hosting a bridal shower, baby shower or wedding anytime soon, hopefully our DIY ideas will inspire you!

Tuesdays at Ten June

Hey hey! Let's dive into a fun round of Tuesdays at Ten June features.

How smart is this DIY West Elm inspired mirror from Kayla at Home Coming?

Spruce up your next tailgate party with this DIY washers game from Amusing MJ.

I think all of us mommas can relate to this one... need a little quiet time while you're getting ready in the bathroom? Sometimes I get to the point where I just let H unroll the entire toilet paper roll just so I can get my teeth brushed and a swipe of mascara in my eyes! Emily over at Dear Owen took matters into her own hands and created a baby play space in one of her old bathroom cabinets. Genius!

Did you see the amazing Home Depot holiday style challenge from Grace at A Storied Style? I was seriously blown away.

Gorgeous right? Check out the post for more photos and DIY tips. And check out my Home Depot holiday style challenge post right here if you haven't already!

I seriously can't wait for this holiday season and all of the fun decorating and projects ahead of us. Send me your holiday and Christmas projects and decorating tips for the next Tuesday at Ten June!

My Little Sister's Wedding

the beautiful bride!

Callie and I helping with the garter

her plum + lavender color scheme was beautiful!

HDawg was ring bearer extraordinaire

magazine worthy!

I love my sisters!

the beautiful venue

you may now kiss the bride!

apparently something in my speech was good : )

the sweet couple, Jason and Tori

I can't even believe it, but my little sister is officially married! The wedding weekend went perfectly, from the decor to the food to the family and friends to the ceremony to the weather... we couldn't have asked for a better time. Tori looked incredible her in vintage-inspired lace dress. Like, out of a magazine beautiful. I somehow managed to fit my big ol' bump into my matron-of-honor dress (my other sister Callie and I were both MOH!) and had a ball helping my sister all day and toasting her at the ceremony. And HDawg is officially going to grow up to be a professional wedding crasher... seriously, weddings are his thing. He kicked butt in his role as ring bearer and he had a ball tearing up the dance floor and schmoozing with all of the guests. Adorable. It was seriously the perfect wedding!

Tori and I crafted up a few fun DIY projects for the wedding and I plan on sharing those later this week! Until then, I'll be cuddled up in my sweats, recovering from the weekend and watching 19 episodes of Homeland in a row (David and I are in the middle of season 2 and we're obsessed!).

Don't forget to submit your Tuesday at Ten June projects to me today!!
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