Friday, December 14, 2012


My heart is heavy. I sat down to write a lighthearted post and checked in to Facebook as my pictures were downloading. Saw the news about the shooting today.

I can’t write anything happy right now. What a horrible, horrifying day for our nation.

I pray for those babies, the staff and their families. My heart is breaking for them all. Breaking.

I am counting down the minutes till I can hold my Kindergartener today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas tree party, 2012

christmas tree party 

Well hey! It’s time to show off all those beautiful Christmas trees as we finish up our holiday home linky series again this year! This is probably my favorite little party of the year and it’s become a tradition for me here at TDC. :)

I’ve shared our monster, beast of a tree before – we got it last year at Lowe’s and it’s 12 feet of Christmas CHEER. At least that’s what I repeat in my head as we’re setting up. Under my breath:

tall christmas tree

Why 12 feet? Well, ask my husband. ;) He’s got a thing about tall Christmas trees. Seriously, he asks for SO little when it comes to decor, but he’s all about a big tree. I would be happy with a much more normal 10-footer (well, normal for us), but no.

Last year was the first in my 37 years that I did not have a real tree, for numerous reasons (a few:  cats, water, hardwoods, trees falling over, etc.) and I do miss a real tree a little, but man, not putting all those lights on (and ripping them off) is a TREAT. I’ll take it!!

I have to admit, when it’s up and decorated (we do all red and gold on this one) and lit, it’s absolutely stunning.

Yet again, the hubby is right (GAH):

tall christmas tree

But this year I have a new crush. I’ve ALWAYS wanted a flocked tree. One of my BFFs has one and every year I ooh and ahh over it, touching it, staring. (It gets a little uncomfortable.)

I never saw one in a store that looked great though, at least for what I wanted to pay. Until this year. I think WalMart (yes, Wally World) may have had flocked trees for awhile, but I just noticed them this year. It looked REALLY good in the store, I was quite surprised.

So I got my flocked beauty last month and I LOVE her. She’s got just the right amount of flock:

flocked christmas tree

And the stuff doesn’t come off either, I’ve even dragged this baby across a room and it didn’t shed much at all.

I think it is just beautiful – the whole thing just glows:

flocked christmas tree

And yes, I know all Christmas trees glow…this one is just different.

We used all of the glittery (WalMart!) ornaments that I used on my little office tree last year, and then some of our white and silver ones as well:

flocked christmas tree

I was going to do just white, silver and blue, but then we stuck a few green on there and I was smitten. It works perfectly with the basement decor:

flocked christmas tree

Isn’t she a beaut? I’m pretty much obsessed. (And yes, it barely fits our ceilings down there. It’s a close one.)

I usually DIY my tree skirts (just yards of fabric fluffed up) but I saw this fluffy one at Marshall’s a few weeks ago and knew it would be perfect. And. it. was:

flocked christmas tree blue and green

We spend so much time down in the basement now, I wanted to have something Christmasy down there. Next year, as more is done, I hope to decorate this space even more. But for now, this tree is plenty.

It sits in the spot where we plan to install/build a fireplace someday (soon?):

flocked christmas tree

It’s 7.5 feet tall for $130 I believe. Since then I’ve kept my eye out and I haven't seen anything close to it as far as quality for the price. Target has one that’s 7 feet tall for $230 and you know I LOVE Target but it doesn’t even compare. (Not enough flock for my taste.)

Meijer had a 7-footer for $20 more I think, that was just sad. I think it was because no one had fluffed up the branches but still. Poor guy.

I still can’t get over how pretty this one is for the price – I’ve seen some for hundreds (and hundreds) in specialty shops that rival it:

flocked christmas tree

And of course, the Peanut Butter loves it too:

bokeh lights

He would sit in front of it all night long if we let him.

So now it’s time to see yours! YAY!! I’ll leave this party open for a week so you can continue to link up for a while.

I would SO appreciate a link back with or without this button:

christmas tree party Thanks so much!!

Here you go, link them up!:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Buying For A Less-Privileged Child?

Christmas brings a time when many families buy gifts for children in need.  Our church has a Christmas tree where we can select a family, and this year we went out on a limb (ha!) and chose a Spanish speaking family with several boys. 

The challenges: 1.) I do not speak Spanish, and 2.) I find it more difficult to buy for boys than girls, especially teenage boys.  I am hoping we will be able to communicate through our children (their boys' English, and Kim's first-year-Spanish).  I will let you know how it goes; I've been considering ideas. 

Having worked in child welfare, I've learned a few things about giving to children in need.  It's important to consider some of the challenges multi-stressed families face and how this can play out in an appropriate gift selection.  It's important to remember that these families often live without many necessities we take for granted, including adequate food and housing.

Here are some tips:
  • When buying clothing or coats choose dark colors over light--many families do not have easy access to a washing machine and dark colors can be worn longer with less staining.
  • In colder climates hats, gloves, footed p.j.s, and warm clothing are always nice--many families lack adequate heat.
  • Blankets and fuzzy throws are welcome gifts for the same reason, and many children sleep on couches or even the floor. 
  • Socks and underwear--families sometimes have access to used clothing but lack these necessities (tho one of my children is still certain underwear are not necessary!).
  • Avoid battery operated toys--families rarely have the funds to buy replacement batteries (and may even lack a screwdriver).
  • Avoid toys/games with lots of pieces--families often lack storage space and move frequently.  If you give a toy with pieces, focus on those where it won't matter if a few are missing (Tinkertoys).  If one missing piece will spoil the toy (puzzles) steer clear.
  • Buy a storage container to go with toys such as building blocks.
  • Always consider safety--some children lack adequate supervision and/or the safety of a toy isn't clear.  As an example, I love Magnetix, but I would never give them to a family who might not know the danger of a child swallowing the magnets (they can stick together in the stomach).
  • Buy durable toys.  Hot Wheels cars have to be one of the greatest toys ever made!
  • Board books are often appropriate even for pre-schoolers.
  • Buy classic toys that a child will still play with months from now, including sports balls. 
  • Along the lines of safety, always give a helmet if you buy something like a scooter.
  • Consider useful/life-skills gifts such as a knitting kit for a teen.  Play dishes for young children can often be used in the real kitchen. 
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste are a great addition to all gifts.  A washcloth or bath towel will also be greatly appreciated. 
  • A wind-up flashlight can be security for a child who knows the fear of having electricity cut off.
  • Craft items/colored paper/stickers/washable markers/glue sticks (with storage box) can give kids hours of entertainment.  You can even cull your craft closet for additions.
  • Remember that over the holidays kids aren't getting free breakfast/lunch at school.  Consider adding some high calorie/high protein snacks such as power bars, peanut butter, tuna packs.  Special individual snacks will also be a thrill to children who often see their classmates with them (pudding snacks, cheese and crackers, fruit leather).  Fresh fruit is coveted. 
  • Don't forget that teens love the addition of food too!  Gatorade (powdered goes a long way), a bag of chips, Poptarts, granola bars, pepperoni sticks, or a movie-size box of candy. 
  • Feel free to bring gently-used items with the gifts--clothing, books, stuffed animals, toys, blankets. 
  • Finally, the most important thing.  Write the child a note.  Tell them you will pray for them/send them good thoughts throughout the coming year--then do it.  You may only have a first name, but God knows exactly who you are praying for!   

Reindeer vignette in the foyer

Hello there! First of all, thanks for all the well wishes here and on Facebook! I really appreciate it.

I felt pretty good this morning and threw together a little vignette for Rhoda’s party – the next in our holiday home series:

I had grand plans for putting together a pretty vignette this weekend, but then the sickness hit and it just didn’t happen. When I say I threw this together, I mean it – and just so you know, I don’t say that in a braggy way, I say that so you know that it doesn't always need to take a lot of stuff and a lot of time to put a little something together!

I started with these cute particle board reindeer I picked up at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago:

cardboard reindeer

I’ve bought very little new Christmas decor this year, and actually plan to get rid of a bunch more (it seems I cut my stash by a third every year). But these were just too darn cute to pass up. Each one was $6 and I got them half off, so $9 for all three.

It took about three minutes to put them together, and they were MUCH bigger than I thought they would be, so I only ended up using two. If you need something big to fill a spot these would be perfect!

I set them up on our front foyer buffet and then was on the search for stuff to fill in the empty spots. I started with some clips of some real greenery, and then thought of these cute light bulbs I’ve had forever:

colorful christmas bulbs

A friend gave me strands of these lights years ago because most of them were out. I LOVED the bright round bulbs, so I took each one off and saved them.

And then didn’t know what to do with them. ;)

Last year that were just placed in the glass candleholders, this year I have new plans for at most of them.

The others I just nestled into the greenery around the reindeer:

reindeer vignette

I wanted this to be a fun little vignette, nothing too serious. The bright bulbs were the perfect addition.

I added a flocked tree I picked up last year for some height and was pretty tickled with the result:

reindeer vignette

It was cheap and easy and I had everything on hand. And it was QUICK – the most important thing to this girl (points to self with both thumbs) this week. :)

I LOVE these reindeer with their bright houndstooth!  I only used two – there was a brown one too but like I said, they were much bigger than I thought they would be:

reindeer vignette

They even have a little bit of glitter around all the edges. And the best part – they come apart and store away flat – brilliant!

Our musical advent calendar sits at the other end of the buffet:

reindeer vignette

We got it from Costco and the Bub LOVES it. When you open the little doors the music comes on and the little vignette lights up and moves. So adorable.

So there you go – it’s not the most amazing vignette ever, but it’s cute and colorful and that’s what I want guests to see when they walk in our home this season. It makes me smile, especially those houndstooth reindeer. ;)

Can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with over at Rhoda’s today! And don’t forget my annual Christmas tree party coming up on Thursday! Can’t WAIT!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Doctor Is In

Last night, during bedtime stories, Lan Lan became upset about a sibling taking her seat and she stomped out of the room. 

Patrick looked up at me, shrugged his shoulders, then stated nonchalantly, "Well Mom, I guess that puberty video we saw in school is true.  It said that between the ages of eleven and nineteen kids can become extra emotional."

This kid makes me laugh!

Haven, again!

Hey all! Hope you had a wonderful weekend! My was a mix of great and not-so-great – we celebrated our boy’s sixth birthday (SIX!!!) but on Sunday I spent the day in the ER dealing with food poisoning. Ummm…that was interesting.

I’ve never experienced that before and would prefer to never again. :) The culprit – salmonella from two chicken wings from a pizza place. Just TWO people. I am SO GLAD I only ate two. I cannot even imagine what would have happened to me if I had eaten more. It really, really freaks me out.

We also discovered that I have strep throat while in the ER, so it’s just been a barrel of FUN around here. Did I mention I missed the Bub’s birthday party? Yeah. Hubby was a rock star and with the help of some family he pulled it off all on his own.

This morning I was still feeling like death warmed over, but after some more sleep and a shower, I’m feeling somewhat normal again. Now I’m just dealing with the effects of the strep.

So anyway, that’s the reason for this late post today. But I’m SO excited to share some news that we’ve been planning for months – the next Haven Conference is set for August 2013!:

aqua background 3

We had such a blast last year, we knew we had to do it again. :) It truly was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I know it’s crazy to say about a conference, but it was.

The planning team for this year includes myself, Beth from Home Stories A to Z, Chris from Just a Girl, Rhoda from Southern Hospitality and Traci from Beneath my Heart.

What is Haven?

Haven is a two-day conference Thursday, August 1 through Saturday, August 3, 2013 that will allow people to learn from and gather with some of the most notable DIY/Home bloggers in blogland. Conference sessions will focus on DIY instruction with a mix of blogging and social media:

Where is Haven?

The Haven Conference will be held in the beautiful Buckhead Grand Hyatt in Atlanta, Georgia:

Who will be at Haven?

Haven is open to all who are passionate about blogging, DIY projects, and creating beauty in the home for less. With a perfect mix of DIY and blogging sessions, it's a conference not to be missed!:

I LOVE that we have the sessions set up so that bloggers and non-bloggers alike will benefit. We had a bunch of non-bloggers there last year which I thought was so cool!

For more information, and to see more fun pictures from Haven 2012, you can click on the button below.

Haven Conference 2013 

Ticket info:

Tickets go on sale Tuesday, January 1st, 2013! The full conference pass is $225, but there is a way to get them for even less:


The first 50 people to purchase a ticket will get a $25 discount!

Special Thanks to the Home Depot for being our Platinum Sponsor again this year!:

To Kristin Stockdale, from Stockdale Designs, for being our AMAZING event planner again this year!:

And Kristi, from Creative Kristi, for helping us out with our web site again:

I hope to see as many as your faces there as possible! We are so excited!! Are you planning on attending?

I’ll be back tomorrow after a little more sleep, pain reliever and antibiotics. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

St. Nick

Since our years of living in Germany our kids have enjoyed the tradition of St. Nick arriving on December 6th (or sometimes the 7th as I often can't remember if he arrives on the 6th or we are to put the shoes out that day!)

This year St. Nick scaled down and didn't bring the kids each an individual gift.  Instead, he brought a family game of Yahtzee and the traditional chocolate Santa, piece of fruit, and juice (or in this case an Izze).  Lots of smiles and two boys who ate their Santa bright and early--the breakfast of champions!

Miss me?

Hey there! Happy Friday all! Hope you have a lovely weekend planned!

I’ve been meaning to catch you up with some issues we (bloggers/businesses in general) are having with Facebook. Quite a few of you have mentioned you don’t see my updates anymore and the reason is that Facebook has changed the way they do things.


I used to reach about a third to sometimes half of my friends on FB when I updated, say with a link to a post. Now, I’m lucky if reaches ten percent of you. It’s a major bummer.

Thing is, they want us to pay (each time we update) to reach even a percentage of you, even though you already follow our pages. It’s the same for everybody – I have followed Dave Ramsey on my personal FB page for years now and have seen one or two updates out of hundreds in the past few months.

They really stifle our updates when we include a photo or a link to something. So that’s why I’ve started adding my link to the comments. :) I’m sure they’ll change the algorithms again and make it so even that doesn’t work, but for now we’re all trying to see what helps.

Sooo…if you would LIKE to see more of my updates, there’s a few things you can do!

First, go to the “liked” button and hover over it:

Click “Get Notifications” on the dropbox.

Then, make sure “Show in Newsfeed” is checked.

You can also set up “Interest Lists” to set up a specific list of sites you want to follow on FB – almost like a Facebook Reader. :) Just click on “Add to Interest Lists,” then click “New List,” and go up to “Pages” to find pages you have followed that you can add to the list.

After you are done your different lists will show up on the left sidebar of your FB page.

It’s really super easy and takes just a few seconds. I’ve done it with every page I want to follow. Cause when I clicked “Like” that first time it was because I wanted to see their updates. Grrr.

You can get to my page here if you want to make the changes.

Anyhoo, that should help if you’ve noticed you don’t see updates from your favorite blogs and businesses anymore.

And on another social media note – I’ve finally bit the bullet and joined Instagram. I’m SO WITH IT. Watch out, you can’t keep up with me!! You can see what I’m up to by searching thriftydecorchick or going here

Just wanted to let you know about the Facebook change and a way to still see those you want to see. And if you don’t want to see us, welllllll, just leave it. :)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crafty Christmas knock offs

Hello all! How’s your week going? I just got back late last night from a whirlwind trip to Atlanta to see the Ballard Designs headquarters – it was a blast and I learned a ton!

Today we are continuing our holiday home parties with the crafty link up over at Kate’s!:


There have been a couple crafty ideas that I wanted to recreate for a while now – one was a project I saw last year and one I just saw a couple months ago (because the decor comes out in October – gives me time to plan!). ;) Of course, I was able to do both for MUCH cheaper, and the result is JUST as cute, at least I think so. ;)

The first was a pretty glass ornament from Target:

I can’t remember how much it was – I think $6? Not too bad I guess, but if you want a bunch of them that’s going to add up fast. For this one I was lucky to have everything I needed from Christmases past (har):

DIY snowy ornaments

I had the glass ornaments, the little teensy pinecone jobbies (so cute!), some glitter, sprigs of faux greenery, and fake snow.

I actually started with some epsom salts we had, but it was too heavy looking so I ended up with my go-to fake fluffy snow as the first step:

DIY snow ornament

You kind of have to push it down in there through the funnel. I used scissors to get it in there.

Then I cut off the little berries and pine cones from the wires and dropped them in:

DIY snow ornament

Added some glitter, and then one little sprig of greenery in each one:

DIY snow ornament

They are TOO cute! I love them! I cut down some of my real greenery I’ve been using around the house and laid them in it on the bookcases:

DIY snow ornament

I love how they turned out!:

DIY snow ornament 

I had the epsom salt one leftover and just hung it with a ribbon from my manzanita branch:

DIY snow ornament

I love the texture of the snow with the pop of green and the natural little pine cones! Best part – they didn’t cost me a dime. Hoarding craft supplies has it’s benefits, fo sho. ;)

The next project was inspried by an idea I saw last year over at Michelle’s place. I’ve seen it done a million times since and I’m sure you have too. The inspiration was the West Elm nutcrackers:

west elm nutcracker

A couple months ago I picked up a set of small nutcrackers from Hobby Lobby, $4 for six of them (got them half off):

I tried to find some last season and they were loooong gone. Hopefully you’ll be able to find some! 

I primed them first (on my Goodwill sheet turned tarp) and honestly, the spray painting took FOREVER. They are so detailed, I had to keep turning them every which way:

I was going to do a festive red, but I’m loving my copper spray paint so much, I went with that. I knew I wanted to use these in the bookcases as well, and I like to do brown and green decor in there this time of year:

Again, this part took FOREVER. Gah.

I didn’t even finish the backs (helloooo, are you surprised??):

spray painted nutcracker

I nestled them in more greenery and love how they turned out! They are small but mighty!:

painted nutcracker Christmas decor

I have quite a few more projects I’d like to tackle this year, but only time will tell if they get done. :)

Here’s a few of my crafty ideas from years past – my Anthropologie knock off jars:

anthropologie jars

I still can’t believe how expensive those are in the store. Cannot. believe.

And my simple glass candleholders wrapped with paper are still one of my favorites!:

candleholders covered with scrapbook paper

And I think the cutest by far is the Santa hat craft from years ago: santa hat craftI love those things!!

Be sure to link up your crafts at Kate’s place today! Do you have a favorite Christmas craft project?