Festive Holiday Wreath

It’s December! Which means it is time for peppermint hot chocolate, fuzzy slippers, twinkling lights, and cozifying! This is such a beautiful time of year with so much inspiration — I only wish we could capture that feeling of creativity throughout the rest of the year.

Our home is getting cozier and cozier. Last week we installed a heat pump to replace our 40+ year-old electric furnace, which means that now we have affordable heat for the winter! Chris has added rigid foam insulation to most of the exterior walls, which means that the heat stays inside MUCH more than before. We have our Christmas tree up and we’ve had a few wood-burning fires in the fireplace, and I’m starting to get serious with decorating and crafting! There’s less than a month till the big 24, so there’s lots to do!

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I made this simple wreath from a craft store grapevine wreath form, and some ribbon and shiny plastic balls from the dollar store. Anyone can make this wreath with some inexpensive materials, a glue gun, and an extra half-hour. I hung mine on top of a chalkboard that we have in our kitchen and wrote “Tis the Season” inside the wreath.

I love the earthy texture of the grapevine contrasting with the glamorous shiny ornaments. And I’m still in the midst of my love affair with navy =).

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Materials

Small grapevine wreath ($3)
Two colors ribbon, about 2 yrds each ($2)
Shiny plastic ornaments, mini and small sizes ($3)
Glue gun and glue

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1. Wrap the two ribbons around the wreath form, overlapping with each other. Secure ends on the back of the wreath where they won’t be seen, either by tying a knot or by gluing with the hot glue gun. Cut off excess ribbon.

2. Tie a bow with the two remaining pieces of overlapping ribbons (just a simple regular bow, nothing fancy). Hot glue it to the wreath form.

3. Snip off any hanging string from the ornaments and glue them on the wreath, arranging them as you see fit. It looks nice if you alternate using larger and smaller balls. You can remove any ornaments carefully by peeling off the glue after it has dried. When you’ve arranged the ornaments to your satisfaction, add extra glue to secure them.

4. Tie a loop of ribbon at the top of the wreath to hang it. Tadaa, you’re done!

You can use any extra ornaments on your tree and extra ribbon for tying up presents, so this project really comes in at less than the $8 upfront cost. Simple and easy, just the way I like it!

Check out these other holiday crafts!

Holiday Crafts

Peace and Joy Bunting

DIY Christmas Tree Skirt

What holiday crafts are you working on this December?

Sharing at SavvvySouthernStyle and TheBlissfulBee!

Simple Peace and Joy Banner

Are you in full-on Christmas mode yet? I know it’s not Thanksgiving yet, but well, as a Canadian my Thanksgiving came in October so I feel totally free to embrace Christmas in earnest.

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For some reason I haven’t been crafting much in the last couple of weeks. We’ve done a lot of other projects — painting the front door (pictures soon), installing a new furnace, insulating the house and sealing window frames, and spending time with family. Somehow crafting and decorating have gotten lost in the mix, which is why this project is awesome — it literally takes 15 minutes to do and is almost free.

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I just cut up a brown paper shopping bag (this one is from the GAP) into little two-tailed flags. I glued on some silver chipboard letters I got from the dollar bin at Target.

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Then I taped the flags to some red and white baker’s twine (also from the dollar bin at Target).

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And I used washi tape to hang up the banner in the foyer. (Boy I wish that thermostat wasn’t there.)

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Easy, peasy! Total budget: less than $2 (since I’ll be able to reuse the extra chipboard letters and baker’s twine).

Are you getting your holiday decorating on? What have you been crafting lately?

Sharing at TheBlissfulBee!

DIY Christmas Tree Skirt

DIY Xmas Tree Skirt

When I told a friend today that we had already put up our Christmas tree, she did a double-take. What, already? The truth is, I put up the tree so that I could take pictures of this holiday craft in action. But really, if you’re going to go to the trouble of putting up a Christmas tree, you might as well enjoy it, right?

I have never owned a Christmas tree skirt. Last year, I just draped a throw blanket around the base of my artificial tree, but this year I decided to plan ahead and make one.

diy tree skirt

I’ve never found a tree skirt that I like that is affordable — the ones at Walmart are too glitzy, and the ones I like at West Elm and C&B are upwards of $50 — so I decided to make my own. This was a surprisingly easy project, if you have a little experience with sewing. If you’re a beginner, you might want to leave off the pom pom trim, as that was the hardest thing to sew.

tree skirt pompoms

This tree skirt has ribbon ties that hold it together and pom pom trim. But you can of course customize it however you want. You might use a different kind of trim, or use Velcro instead of ribbon. I basically followed Design*Sponge’s excellent tutorial for making a basic tree skirt, but added the trim and the fleece backing.

Ok, let’s get started!

Materials:

Square of fabric (48″ to 60″ dia, depending on your tree)
Square of fleece fabric for backing
pom pom trim (enough for the circumference of the circle, pi x dia)
grosgrain ribbon in color of your choice (4 pieces of about 10″ each)
sewing machine & thread
pins
scissors
fabric marker or chalk (or just a pen)

First, I took a square of fabric big enough to cover my tree base, and folded it into quarters. I already had this plaid fabric, so it was free! I usually like more color but for Christmas I like traditional decorations, so this was perfect.

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Most tree skirts I saw in retail stores were between 46″ to 60″ wide. My tree is a 6.5′ artificial tree, which isn’t huge, so I made the diameter of my tree skirt about 48″. I made a makeshift compass using a thread, a pin, and a pen. I tied the thread to the pin and the other end to the pen. My thread was about a foot long. I stuck the pin into the folded corner like so:

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And traced a quarter circle on my fabric. See the faint green line?

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Then, I carefully cut through all 4 layers of fabric using sewing scissors. I unfolded the circle of fabric, and used the scissors to even out any jaggedy areas. Then, I used the circle to trace another circle onto my fleece backing (which was just an old blanket I had lying around) and cut it out.

Now we have to cut a hole in the middle of the circle for the tree trunk. I folded the circle into quarters again and used a bowl to trace a quarter circle on the fabric. Then I cut out the circle.

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I unfolded the circle half way (so it is folded in half), and cut along one of the straight folds.

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So now you have a two-sided circle of fabric with a hole in the middle and a straight cut from the center hole to the outside.

Make sure once again that the wrong sides of the fabric are together. If you’re using pom pom trim, fold back the top layer of fabric and pin the trim to the bottom layer, with the pom poms on the inside. Replace the top layer of fabric and pin it in place. So now, you have two layers of fabric with the pom pom trim sandwiched between.

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On the straight open edge, sandwich your ribbons with the long ends inside the fabric (I used 4 sections of approx 10″ long grosgrain ribbon). Pin them in place. When it is sewn it will look like this (short ends out, long ends in).

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Now, you just need to sew around the entire perimeter of the circle, as well as up and down the straight edges and the hole inside. Leave an approx 5″ hole through which you can turn the whole thing inside-out. Sorry, no pics of this step, I was concentrating on sewing. As you sew the edges, make sure you catch the edge of the trim which is sandwiched between the fabric layers. This is the most challenging part.

Then, turn the whole tree skirt inside out through the hole. You can sew the hole closed by hand, but I just folded the raw edges in and top-stitched it on my sewing machine (because I’m lazy like that).

Christmas Tree Skirt

 

If you were able to catch the edge of the trim as you sewed around the circle, the pom pom trim should now face out and be securely attached! It’s like magic.

I wish I had better progress pics, but it was hard enough just doing the sewing with a toddler constantly underfoot, much less take photos. If you’re having trouble understanding my instructions, the Design*Sponge tutorial is really helpful.

My tree isn’t decorated yet! That will be a fun family activity in the next few days. I’m excited to decorate for the holidays and to make a few more crafts for this season! As a young family we don’t have a lot of traditions yet, but I’m hoping to make holiday crafting one of them!

DIY Xmas Tree Skirt

Oh and my budget breakdown was this:

plaid fabric = already owned but it orig cost $1/yard at a discount fabric store, so about $1.50
fleece fabric = reused an old throw blanket I already owned, so $0
pom pom trim = used a coupon, about $6
ribbon = $1

So in all this tree skirt cost me about $8.50 to make! It would have cost almost nothing if I hadn’t bought the pom pom trim, but I like it! It looks like little snowballs!

Are you planning to DIY a tree skirt? How about any other decorations for the holidays? You might like these other holiday crafts!

Holiday Crafts

Festive Holiday Wreath

Simple Peace and Joy Banner

Happy Holidays everyone!

Sharing at TheBlissfulBee, TheIdeaRoom, TatertotsandJello and SavvySouthernStyle!

A Weekend Mountain Getaway

Last weekend Chris and I took a much needed weekend away — away from house stuff, Internet, and yes, even our baby (she had an awesome time with her grandparents). It was so nice not to have to do dishes, do housework, or change diapers, and so refreshing to sleep in for a weekend! Not to mention having so much time to talk about anything and everything that was on our minds =), something we haven’t had enough off these days.

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We went to Idyllwild, which is a town nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains. It is a really beautiful area with lots of nature walks. I loved the cooler fall weather up there (I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and fall is my favorite season) as well as the shows of bright yellows and golds as the leaves changed colors.

(I always want to spell it “Idlewild” instead of “Idyllwild”…Idlewild was a location in one of the Anne of Green Gables books, I think.)

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We stayed at the Peaceful Mountain Inn, in one of these cute A-frame cabins. If you ever go, try to get one of the rooms off the back with a view. We didn’t have a view but it was a quick walk over to this amazing vista:

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So pretty, right? The inn was REALLY peaceful for the first night because we were the only people there, but the second night, Peaceful Mountain Inn wasn’t quite as peaceful. The people in the unit adjoining ours starting playing music and having a little get-together with their friends, though thankfully they stopped at a decent hour.

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I had to take some pictures of the main lodge because it is the cutest.

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They had some rustic mountain decor going on.

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We spent a lot of time sitting around, reading magazines, talking, just hanging out, which was just what the doctor ordered! Slept in…which was SO nice for me as I have chronic insomnia.

As we were driving through the woods there were all these adorable little cabins and cottages. This one caught my eye and we paused for a quick photo op.

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Isn’t it just so cozy? I want to go to there. I love how this cabin is rustic and cute but doesn’t have all the gingerbread (fake Alpine) trim.

This is now my go-to happy place at night when I’m drifting off to sleep (or at least, trying to drift off). It’s fun imagining what the interior is like and all the cozy, comforting, non-stressful activities going on within, like sitting in front of the fireplace while knitting (if I knew how to knit). Or sipping hot cider. Or reading a good book. Everyone needs a happy place to go to when you’re falling asleep, right? Or am I just weird?

Hope you all had a great Halloween! I’ll be back next week with some Christmas crafts (What, it’s not too early! It’s my favorite holiday!) so I’ll see you all then!

Camilla

Honest Company Product Review (Part 1)

I’ve been using Honest Company products for about 3 months now, and I think it’s time for a review. The Honest Company (founded by actress Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan) sells natural diapers, personal care items, household products, and nutritional supplements. The Honest Co. promises that their products are free of sulfates, phosphates, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde (a popular conventional baby shampoo still uses formaldehyde in its products!!!), chlorine, and other toxins.

honest co review

A little background before the review — I have a 1-year-old, and keeping harsh chemicals out of my home is definitely a priority for me as a mom. The Honest Co has a lot of great baby products and that’s how I first became interested in the company.

I also have really sensitive skin, chronic mild eczema, and indoor allergies. A while ago my skin started itching unbearably, especially at night. I would lie awake for hours before finally taking a Benadryl and finally falling asleep. I decided to switch to completely natural personal products and ordered the Honest Co. shampoo/shower gel, healing balm, and a few other products.

This review is completely my own opinion. I was not compensated for writing this, and I am writing this review on my own initiative. However, if you decide to purchase some of these products after reading this review, I would love if you would do so through my invitation link to The Honest Co., as I will receive a discount on future purchases. Use discount code INVITED10 to get $10 off when you spend $25 or more..

Honest Company Invitation

How the Honest Co works is that you’re encouraged to sign up to be a member and have a subscription of their products mailed to you either monthly or bi-monthly. I ordered the Essentials bundle and I get 5 products of my choice for $35.95 a month. That makes the price of the products very reasonable; about the same as buying Method, Seventh Generation, and other “natural” products in stores. Of course, you have to be smart about the items you order too. If you order five $5 items, you won’t get as great a deal as if you order five $8 to $12 items, obviously.

You can buy their products separately from their website without a subscription or bundle, although it costs a little more.

Okay, now to the review!

Honest Co Sunscreen SPF30

Summer in Southern California means my 1-year-old is going through tube after tube of sunscreen, and “natural” baby sunscreen isn’t cheap! I was buying California Baby sunscreen for $20 a tube! The Honest Co mineral-based sunscreen was half the price and I LOVE IT. First of all, it is the only sunscreen I’ve seen that claims to be safe for babies under 6 months, because it uses completely natural ingredients (although check with your doctor).

Second, it goes on super smooth and is moisturizing, unlike other baby sunscreens that seem to dry out my daughter’s skin. It is a little shiny, but doesn’t leave the white cast that other mineral sunscreens do. I happily use it on my own skin (which is usually dry) for extra moisture and protection. I’m going to order a few more tubes for gifts and stocking stuffers this year!

Rating: 5/5

Honest Co Shampoo + Body Wash

I’ve only used a few “natural” shampoos before, and they’ve always frustrated me because they don’t foam as well as conventional shampoos and I don’t feel that they clean my hair as well. The Honest Co shampoo and body wash seems to hit a happy medium. It doesn’t foam as well as the chemical-laden shampoos, it’s true, but it does seem to be more concentrated and foams better than other natural shampoos (for example, it’s a lot thicker than Burts’ Bees baby shampoo…though I love Burts too). I find it helps if I rub it between my palms with a bit of water to foam it a bit first.

I love that the whole family can use this shampoo and body wash — it really cuts down on the bottles in the shower! I love the scent, and my scalp is no longer as itchy as when I was using regular (conventional) shampoo. Is my hair incredibly soft and silky? Well, not noticeably more than with other shampoos. But I’m not itchy, and I’ll take it. The shampoo has a nice orange cream scent.

Note: Costco sells Honest Co Shampoo in packs of two in a larger 17 fl oz size for about $14, which makes it the cheapest place to buy this shampoo.

Rating: 4/5

Honest Co Healing Balm

Oh the healing balm. I can no longer go without it. It’s the first thing I pack when we go out of town. Needless to say, I love it. It is super moisturizing so I put it on dry knees, elbows, and baby’s face when it’s irritated and dry. I use it as a diaper cream on my daughter to prevent and calm rashes. It calms itching and soothes my skin in the middle of the night. I even put it under my eyes as a super moisturizing eye cream.

It’s definitely an ointment though, so if you don’t like that sticky feeling it might not be for you. It does tend to sit on top of the skin more than a cream or lotion (although that’s good for me, as it’s more protective). The consistency is like petroleum jelly, without the petroleum =). It has a nice subtle botanical scent. It’s not a miracle cream — if you have severe eczema you’ll still need to talk with your doctor, but it’s perfect for dry, irritated skin.

Rating: 5/5

Honest Co Conditioning Mist

This spray leave-in conditioner works really well for detangling and leaves my hair nice and soft. But the bottle is really small! I don’t think I’ll order it again in my bundle since I feel like I can get better value with other products.

Rating: 3/5

Honest Co Bathroom Cleaner

I was pretty amazed at how well the Honest Co Bathroom cleaner cut through bathtub grime! I sprayed it on and five minutes later wiped it off without needing to scrub. It works wonders on mildewy grout too. I was honestly impressed at how effective this natural product works — it works as hard as non-natural products do!

The first ingredient is alcohol (after water), and the cleaner has a pretty strong alcohol smell. Although alcohol is “natural” and not as toxic as other cleansers, it’s still not something you want to leave out where kids can grab it, and you’ll want to wash your hands if you get some on there.

Rating: 5/5

Honest Co Oxy Boost

Eh, kind of meh. I can’t really see a huge difference in my laundry between using the Oxy boost pods or not using them. My whites don’t seem all that whiter. I do think that it helps to deodorize cloth diapers slightly, but nothing mind-blowing.

Rating: 3/5

There are still many more Honest Co. products I want to try, so this product review list isn’t quite complete yet. I have the laundry detergent but I want to finish my old one first (All Free and Clear). I also just ordered the baby toothpaste, the conditioner, and the moisturizing lotion.

Overall, I think the Honest Co. products are definitely worth the money. They are good quality and really reasonably priced compared to other “natural” products out there. I know the subscription format isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but since you have the option to get the bundle every 8 weeks, and there’s a lot of variety to choose from, I find that it works fine for me.

Again, if you are interested in purchasing Honest Co products, I would love if you would click through my link. I don’t get any cash, just a discount on future purchases from Honest Co., but every bit helps! Use code INVITED10 to get $10 off $25.

Honest Company Invitation

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Honest Company Product Reviews!

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