Saturday, December 31, 2011

Setting New Year’s Goals

This past week I have been focusing on planning out and setting personal goals for myself for 2012.  I did this for 2011 and felt that it helped me stay on track very well. 

This year I am doing things a little bit different and being much more detailed and intentional.  I have six main priorities, and I am breaking down those priorities into focus areas for the year.  My monthly goals will be based around those focus areas.   It is taking a lot of time, but I really believe that it will be worth it in the end.  I’m a list kind of girl and love checking things off, so making written goals really helps me stay motivated!

I have been inspired by Crystal from Money Saving Mom- she has provided a guide for setting up your priorities and goals and lots of free printables!  I highly recommend checking out her blog if you aren’t already a reader!

My priority areas for the year are:

1. My personal relationship with God

2. My marriage

3. Our Finances

4. Ministry through Element Church

5. Keeping a (mostly) clean and organized house

6. Health and Fitness

And here are my focus areas for each priority:

1. My personal relationship with God

  • Spend intentional time daily in the Word and in prayer
  • Read books that encourage my spiritual walk
  • Share my faith with others

2. My marriage

  • Pray together daily
  • Read Scripture together daily
  • Commit to open communication
  • Spend intentional “technology free days” with Jeremy
  • Read books that encourage my marriage

3. Our Finances

  • Written budget monthly
  • Weekly check up on our finances and balancing our checking account
  • Envelope System
  • Pay off all credit card debt
  • Fully fund emergency fund
  • Begin more fully utilizing, Upromise, and other online tools

4. Ministry through Element Church

  • Support Jeremy as he leads the student ministry
  • Intentional relationship building with youth girls
  • Implement Element Women’s Ministry

5. Keeping a (mostly) clean and organized house

  • Quick 5 minute pick up every morning before work
  • Wash dishes before going to bed
  • Daily chore tasks
  • Strategic placement of furniture, etc. to create a an “easy to stay clean” atmosphere
  • Read books that inspire creative homemaking

6. Health and Fitness

  • Exercise 5 times per week
  • Drink 8 glasses of water daily
  • Portion control
  • Eat more natural and real foods



I’m currently putting together my monthly goal sheets so I’ll hopefully be able to share those with you tomorrow!  What are your new year’s goals?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thankful for the Reason

Thankful this morning for that night in Bethlehem, thankful for the humble coming of our King, thankful that He was born to die, and thankful for His everlasting promises.  Thankful for the Reason of all this season brings.

Thankful for our first Christmas together, thankful for new traditions in the making, thankful for a warm house,  for family, and gifts we will receive.  Wishing we were with Jeremy's family but our hearts are full thinking of them.

Allow today to be one of worship.  O come let us adore Him!  We can sit at the throne of God because of the babe in the manger.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Portillo's by Mail

Jeremy's parents sent us a big surprise this week for Christmas- Portillo's by mail!  Portillo's is a hot dog place in Chicago and they ship around the country.  What a thoughful Christmas gift!  We aren't going to be able to make it up to visit Jeremy's family this year for Christmas, but he was able to have a little slice of home with this meal.

We had fun opening up the box and discovering all the fixings for Chicago hotdogs.  Everything was included- step by step instructions for preparing the dogs Portillo's style, and it even included a Portillo's crew member hat!

I'll have to get Jeremy's phone and get some pictures of him too- he just posted the ones of me on facebook and I copied them off of there.  :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Tour of Homes 2011


First a little introduction for those popping in from the linky parties... My husband and I got married this past summer and had a beautiful beach wedding.  We are settled in North Carolina where my husband is a youth pastor at a local church.  We moved into a duplex a few months ago and have been enjoying settling into our first home.  We are loving our first Christmas season as a married couple!  We welcome you to take a look around at our Christmas decorations and hope you'll take a moment to look around our blog!


Here's our front porch...

The porch is the only place where pops of red can be found in our decor.  I found this red berry wreath at a thrift store for $3.  I think I might have ran to it- I just knew someone else must have had their eye on this thing.

Last year I found this antique sled on Craigslist for $15.  I used some clearance ribbon I picked up last year after Christmas, some berries from the yard, and some evergreen branches that my friend gave me to spruce it up a bit.

My best friend gave me lots of branches that she and her husband cut from the bottom of their real Christmas tree so it would fit in their stand.  I was able to make swags for our windows as well as stick it around the house.  Thanks Heather- I've loved decorating with it!  Plus, I didn't have to buy wreaths!

When you come into our living room from the front porch, we have our Christmas tree up!  My favorite thing about our Christmas decor is the Christmas tree.  It is a mixture of handmade ornaments, hand me downs,  and ornaments I found on clearance the past couple of years.  The tree skirt is a huge wedding dress train!

The crowning jewel of the tree is the capriz shell look-alike garland.  It is actually made from wax paper!  You can find my tutorial for it here.  For under $2, I think it really "made" the tree.

For our gift wrapping, I went with simple kraft paper and simple bows.

I also printed graphics from The Graphics Fairy onto white lunch bags.  I used shredded book pages to stuff the bags and fill in around the gifts.

I planted paper whites in early November and have been able to enjoy the blooms this past week! 

Another favorite in our decorations are our Christmas stockings.  I made them from canvas drop cloth material I had leftover from my ottoman slipcover and leftover lining material from my custom bridesmaids dresses.  The vintage pin was my great grandmother's and I wore it on my wedding dress.  It is special and I wanted to showcase it.  

We don't have a mantle so I just hung them from the top of our bookshelf.

Above our nativity set, I wrote a verse on our chalkboard to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.  

Several years ago, my parents bought me the Willow Tree nativity set and I love it.  I finally get to put it up in our home!

We decided to put the wise men across the room and move them closer to the nativity set throughout the season.  Because the wise men were not actually there the night of Jesus' birth, we want to leave our nativity up a little longer than our other Christmas decorations and finally have the wise men arrive.  Right now they are by the Christmas tree.

I also made a pillow based off my favorite Christmas book- The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.

And just for fun, here is everything at night.  We love how cozy it is!

Thanks for stopping by!  We hope you enjoyed the tour!

I'm linking up to:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Our paperwhite bulbs bloomed this past weekend.  They are beautiful!

However, I wasn't aware of the foul odor they have!  I have been moving them to the laundry room at night when we are sitting on the couch because they stink so bad.  Oh well, I still like them.

I put an olive wood nativity figurine beside the paperwhites on our end table.  I purchased it when I went to Israel and was in Jerusalem.  It has such special meaning to me and love the unique look it has.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Our Christmas Cards

I'm beginning to get our Christmas cards ready to send out!  I am loving being able to send out cards to our family and friends for the first time!  I decided to go with the wedding theme for our pictures.  Some of you may be seeing one of these in your mailbox soon...

I got all of our Christmas cards for FREE this year by watching for freebie deals on moneysavingmom and freebies4mom.  Thankful for beautiful cards that we didn't have to pay for!  We got around 50 all together.

The first card came from My Publisher, the second from Rite Aid, and the third from Card Store.  

I'm linking up to 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Tablesetting

Here's our simple and natural holiday tablesetting

I made mini stockings to hold the silverware.  I think they add a special touch.  I also used the china I got from my grandmother's attic

I'm linking up to The Lettered Cottage

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wax Paper Garland Tutorial


I made a  faux capriz shell garland out of wax paper  for our Christmas tree.  I promised a tutorial and here it is!  This is one of my favorite DIY projects to date, and I hope you enjoy the tutorial!  if you have any questions just let me know!

Materials needed:

  • Wax Paper
  • Iron
  • Towel
  • Large circle paper punch (mine is 1.5 inches)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine and thread

(thanks to my sweet husband for taking these photos and video for me…they were taken on his iphone, so the quality isn’t very great.  But you’ll get the idea)

Step #1

Find a hard surface you can iron on and place a thin towel on top of the surface.  (I used our kitchen counter)

Step #2

Tear off 3 sheets of wax paper (as long as you want, but I just did about 2 foot sections at a time). 


Step #3

Line the sheets up evenly and place on towel. Begin lightly ironing over the three sheets.  They will begin to fuse together. 

wax paper2

It will look like this one ironed


Step #5

Trim the ends so that they are even.


Step #6

Begin to fold the wax paper back and forth in an accordion style fold.  (Making sure that the folded surface is large enough for your circle punch)



Step #7

Taking half of the accordion fold at a time, begin to punch out your circles.



Step #8

Once all of your circles are punched, look through to see if any need to be trimmed


Step #9

Begin sewing your garland together on your sewing machine.  It is easier to just show you than explain it, so we did a short video clip to help you understand.



Once you’ve sewn all your circles, you can make more cirlces to make longer garland strands or cut and make several smaller.  I opted for several smaller because I am too impatient and wanted to see what they looked like on the tree!


I was inspired by these this tutorial for a garland and this tutorial for a chandelier

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!

I love our white themed Christmas tree!  I have collected white and silver ornaments over the last couple of years on clearance after Christmas for when Jeremy and I got married.  So we had a few to put on the tree, and then I also made some ornaments.

My favorite part of the tree is the garland.  It has a capriz shell look to it, don't you think?  It is actually made from wax paper! Here is my tutorial for making your own wax paper garland

Here are some of the ornaments I had bought over the past couple of years.

The olive tree wood ornaments above were some that I bought on my trip to Israel.  They are so special to put on the tree, and remind me of my time there, as well as the true meaning of Christmas.  

Another one of my favorite parts is the tree skirt.  It is in fact a wedding dress train!  If you've been a reader for a while, you may remember this post where I mentioned using it as a tree skirt.  I worked at a bridal shop when I lived in VA, and we received this huge wedding dress train as a donation.  We couldn't sell it, so I I took it home and made a couple of things from it!  

I think it works great as a tree skirt! 
I only wish that I had some way to get those wrinkles out- any suggestions for how to get wrinkles out of real silk?  I tried to steam it, and I just made brown spots.  

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