christmas embroidery // a craft + template

when you think of christmas songs, which is your favorite?
mine? hands down, baby it’s cold outside by dean martin

i realize it doesn’t have anything to do with christmas, but it has everything to do with winter weather and a time gone by when people had class and morals with regard to relationships. the back and forth conversation is just fun and amusing.

obviously the title has been used a million times but it doesn’t lose it’s luster for me. i knew i wanted to display the sentiment in the house for this holiday.

with the cooler weather nearing, the thoughts of christmas are heavy. we’ve had a long and warm summer and i’m ready for some cold outside. embroidery came to mind and this project began to take shape.

christmas stitches

i designed the template on my iPad, using the rhonna farrer photo app. i saved it and then printed it the size i wanted by inserting the picture into word and enlarging it. i used the cluster of stars only because i liked the placement, even though i ended up stitching little asterisks to look for like snow. feel free to save the photo for yourself and make your very own!


this was my first time stitching on black fabric. i still used the same technique as i normally do but had to use a white pen to trace onto the fabric. (if you’re new to embroidery, i made a tutorial a while back).

since my colors this year are black/white/gold/red, i opted for an easy two color design. at this point, the white is done and i’m ready for stitches

the gold is done, i’m adding little stars for stitches

i used a small dowel and black embroidery floss to hang it.ย christmas stitches

because i was having so much fun, i also stitched another one. i found this printable on pinterest.

christmas stitches

christmas stitches

thanks for reading!

until the next time we chat, have a great week!


diy painted sign // a craft

when i first moved in to our new house, i knew i would need to cover up the old brass fireplace cover.

but the solution wasn’t exactly clear.

i toyed with a few ideas and searched pinterest until i decided that a large painted sign would be the simplest and cheapest way to go. and it turned out to be one of my favorite things to look at.


i started by measuring the width and height of the fireplace cover. i added 2 inches to each side and 2 inches to the top for my total dimensions. the plan was for it to just lean against the cover.

at lowes, i had them cut this size from a 4×4 piece of mdf. i didn’t need a fancy piece of wood and this one cost $12. once they cut the two sides off, i was left with 2 other pieces to use for another project….score!!!

i measured how tall i wanted the letters and which fonts i wanted. i printed the letters using MS word to make it easy. watched some tv while i cut each letter out by hand.


after 2 coats of white spray paint, i lightly glued the letters down. measuring and adjusting as i went.


2 coats of red spray paint and some dry time later….


…we were able to start peeling the letters off.


i love that some parts didn’t come off and that other letters don’t have a super clean edge.


it is easily my new favorite piece. ๐Ÿ™‚

happy crafting!

andrea_signature copy

my craft space // an update


if you recall the bare bones workstation i created in our new house, you’ll notice a simple design, free of junk and unnecessary clutter.


being fond of the simple kind of life in this space, i was looking to add a bit more in the way of organization and color.

enter // phase 2


after spending a significant chunk of time in this space a couple weeks ago (see: reason why), i realized some flaws in my setup.

number one // surface space was lacking

my trays of paper and supplies were taking up so much desk space that after adding the paper cutter, little trash bin and my phone and water, i barely had room for a single page to work on.


so i found a larger box in my garage (from our local big box store), some empty shoe boxes and reorganized how i stored my 4×6, 3×4 and smaller scraps.


instead of making sections myself like i did here, i used some smaller boxes and containers that were being used elsewhere. two of these are the base and lid from one of my first project life kits.

this lid holds my 4×6 inserts perfectly.


the bottom of that box holds two rows of 3×4 inserts which makes looking through them so much easier.


these other boxes i found at target’s dollar spot. they are perfect for the little scraps and small paper embellishments.


number two // smaller accessories were hidden and not easy to get to or took up too much space

another supply that commandeers my work surface is my growing collection of tapes.

so what better place than up where i can see them all! thankfully i still have a little ikea shelf that ended up being perfect for these little rolls of colorful goodness.


you’d think this would mean i can’t buy anymore tapes since they go from end to end, but wait!…..there’s room for a second row behind there! boom!



my acrylic stamp collection is also growing. they needed their own home and were in a few different places before. in one tray and on top of a bigger ikea shelf was perfect.


oh look! what’s that under the shelf?


i spray painted mason jar rings and nailed the lids to the underside of the shelf and now, those little half pints store chip boards, buttons and flowers that would be otherwise shoved in a box and never seen or used. hello functionality!



all pens and tools used to commune in the same desktop tray. but i covered a narrow shoebox lid and can keep all the journaling pens horizontal like a good little scrapper but all the other tools get an upright position in a mason jar.





we can’t forget about ribbon, twine and rick-rack. they get to mingle in a larger mason jar and stored in the big box of papers and scraps. now it’s super easy to see what i have and can use them frequently!



i’m using a magazine holder for tall sheets of alpha stickers and another little box for a couple circle punches, extra glue sticks and tools i don’t use too often.


magic can happen in small spaces, all you need is a few jars and empty boxes.


happy scrapping!

andrea_signature copy

our new digs // my closet

seven years.
my clothes spent seven years in a closet the size of a matchbox. a matchbox that i split 75/25 with my dear husband.

but those days are over.

because now, i have a closet that’s about 25% larger and i don’t have to share it. in fact, matt’s closet is the same size and he doesn’t have to compete with skirts or ruffles. lucky him.

but seriously, let’s get back to my closet. it has mirrored doors, did i mention that?

here is the left half…
tops, organized by color. and shoes.


and here is the right half…
the green to blue tops, then dresses, then skirts, then pants.ย and yes, more shoes. these need to be weeded through. it’s something i just couldn’t do before the move.


a colorful little bunting adds the right funkiness to my accessory area, don’tcha think?


it’s made from fabric scraps and simple sewn together at the top. no hems, no bindings, just raw edges and push pins to hang them up.


a peg board holds earrings, necklaces, bracelets and belts.

two ribbons, attached to the wall at top and bottom, hold my hair clips and fabric flowers.


over the last few years, i have made so much of my own jewelry. but my tastes are changing and i have decided to toss or reuse some of the items i am not wearing anymore. only a select few made the cut and got to remain on the board.

this peg board has been magical. seriously. i need to see my stuff, or it will never get worn. i can easily select the right accessories and they have a permanent home. plus, it’s pretty, and that’s half the battle. ๐Ÿ™‚


rings, stud earrings and chunkier bracelets live on my dresser. this is a clear plastic organizer that i bought at target. i think it’s meant for a drawer but it’s perfect for this.





do you struggle with a small space? how do you organize your closet? by sleeve length or by color? i’d love to know!

andrea_signature copy

weekly wrap up 2013 // week 16+17

weekly wrapup_4x4

still playing a bit of catch up from april. ya ready?

week 16

tuesday | april 16:

so proud of my dude for being proud to be drug free. i pray he keeps this same attitude when he’s having everything shoved in his face.

love that he sports this #proudtobedrugfree bracelet. #gibsonnow

wednesday | april 17:

33 has been good to me so far. gonna keep that up for the rest of the year.

33 has been good to me so far. gonna keep that up for the rest of the year. #chucks #chucktaylors #33 #iwillprobablywearchuckswhenimfifty

thursday | april 18:

oh how the sun spills in.


it’s beginning to look a lot like moving…which means drive-thru dinners. and this is where i keep my atm card while i wait. ๐Ÿ™‚


friday | april 19:

took a day off work to do some personal stuff and preparation for the garage sale tomorrow. one thing was heading to my uncle’s house to pick up some things. mom and i got a large cabinet, a treadmill and a ladder in the back of my yukon. we rock at spacial organization!


signs are happening. soon we hang them around the ‘hood.

Prepping for the big moving sale tomorrow!!! Getting ready to hang up signs.

saturday | april 20:

and there ya have it, the moving sale. a ton of stuff went and we made about $500! anything that was leftover was hauled off to snowline hospice. i didn’t take anything back to the new house….felt so good!


sunday | april 22:

today is a full day of movie making. we have a car chase happening here.


just keeping the actors in the shade and comfortable.


just waiting for his scene.


take 4.


and that’s a wrap folks. the final scene was finished today! if you want to see SHIFT, here’s the link:


his good and patient attitude all day earned him some iPad time. his choice: tom &  jerry episodes on youtube.


and then i treated the boys to ice cream at thrifty’s.


week 17

monday | april 23:

now that SHIFT is in the can, gibson has been tasked to pack every day after school.

it's gettin' really real up in here. we get keys tomorrow and can start moving little stuff before the big move on saturday. #wontbeabletosleep #thegraymoveof2013

tuesday | april 24:

when my guy fill sup my gas tank, he also fills up my love tank.

when my guy fills up my gas tank, he also fills up my love tank. โค

wednesday | april 25:

we got the keys today!! the paint looks perfect and marshall loves the room to run.


this is my bathroom mirror. the size is incredible, compared to what i had in the old house. and my favorite feature is the window. natural light and morning air are what i need when i’m getting ready for work.


ran over to ikea with my mom and the boys to pick up my craft desk and some other fun goodies!


inspiration for my bedroom came from the very first display in the store. i need to pick up that script fabric and instead of black pillows in the back, i want turquoise.


“don’t bother me, i’m working.”


marshall’s still afraid to get up there.

the boys' new treehouse! built by the talented @jerojo and @calebandrewj #thegraymoveof2013

thursday | april 25:

after work, mom, dad, the boys and i headed to the new house to assemble my desk, gibson’s new desk and work some other little things before we started really moving in.


@minifrantic putting together his new desk #PicTapGo #thegraymoveof2013

i’m so happy over here that i’m doing cartwheels.

I'm so happy in here that I'm actually doing cartwheels! #thegraymoveof2013

friday | april 26:

sometimes, when you need to prop open a door, you just need a target bag and an empty apple juice box. (my dad’s genius idea, becasue that’s how we roll.


making trips down the street. marshall counted and it is exactly 60 seconds between the old house and the new house. i made 3 full trips before 10am and we made a total of 16 trips on friday, just filling up the back of the yukon and getting boxes into the closets they belonged in. my mom is the best.


my new clock from ikea. it’s the very first thing i hung up.


saturday | april 27:

it’s moving day! here’s a tip i found on pinterest. it works with adult clothes too, but we used large hefty duty trash bags. this was a LIFESAVER!

pinterest idea for the win! the best and only way to move hanging clothes!

the friends who helped us move were rock stars! because of all the prep work we did, they got all the big stuff in easily. well, the piano took all 4 of them to lift and carry. we fed everyone pizza and are so grateful for the help!

gettin' there. #thegraymoveof2013

sunday | april 28:

today is a “put-away” day. figuring out where accessories will go is top on the list. ๐Ÿ˜‰


i still can’t believe this whole closet is mine. i don’t have to share. and when i install the shelf below, i’ll have even more space!


bathroom is done! those shelves are wooden spice racks from ikea that i picked up years ago. they still sell them!


my vintage collection of goodies is going up next!


so thankful that i kept my grams standing mixer. and it still works!!


these it is. (it’s changed a bit since i added my gram’s sifter)

my vintage kitchen wall turned out EXACTLY how I envisioned. is it weird if I just want to stare at it for the rest of the night? โคโ—

so many things on my list. and all the time i need! gonna make good use of my next two days off.

happy days!

andrea_signature copy

our new digs // the main rooms

welcome to our new digs!

to see how we got here, check out this post.

since moving in, there are some rooms that got decorated right away. well, honestly, almost everything got decorated right away because i had so many ideas and decisions were easy to make.

some rooms and walls and closets are going on the back burner because obviously i can’t do everything right away. but i’m ready and super excited to share what’s been done so far.

we’ll start with the back side of the family room…

the piano:

the story of this piano is short and sweet.
it’s my gram’s. well, it was. when she passed last february, she left it to me.
what’s special about it is that most of my memories of her were playing it.
mostly hymnals. and christmas music.
she was a music teacher and music was her passion until she passed.
having her piano is like having a piece of her here.
unfortunately, at the old house, i had no room for it inside.
my only option was to keep it in the garage.
but now, she has a home. and it makes my heart filled with joy.

i knew i wanted to put my alpha wall above the piano. and i knew i wanted it to ascend up the wall and wrap around to the adjoining wall. it’s kinda metaphoric now that i type it out.

here’s how i planned it out:

i arranged and rearranged until it was perfect. i snapped a picture and threw it up on my laptop to reference by eye as i hung each piece one at a time.


and here is how it turned out. i changed some things between the picture and getting it on the walls. sometimes you just have to go with what feels right. ๐Ÿ™‚


i figured this was a perfect place for all my records.


i found this cute doily candle holder at IKEA for $4.50.


hello gorgeous.



my crafty space:

at the old house, i had a huge space i created in the garage. it kept ALL of my crafty stuff. sewing, scrapbooking, jewelry stuff, misc projects and overall craftiness.

i also had a desk in the hall closet that i used for mail, office type stuff and a place to put everything that didn’t have a home.

basically i had a ton of stuff. so before we moved, i purged like crazy. because i knew i wanted to condense everything to fit in one place.


tall cabinet: IKEA / aneboda wardrobe. yep, it’s a piece of my bedroom furniture that i bought almost 10 years ago. we were using it as our kitchen pantry at the old house. i covered the front panel with white contact paper and added some circle corks on the side.

desk: IKEA / malm desk with sliding side piece. it’s new and perfect. that piece against the wall is actually on casters and can tuck in under the main part. but because i keep my project life stuff out, i’m keeping it out too.

chair: IKEA / it’s old, but they still sell them. just got a black one for gibson’s room.

rugs: IKEA / yep, i said rugs, plural. there are two red shag rugs that i placed together. each rug was $10. SCORE!


some details:

set of 3 cork hot plates: IKEA / $3
i strung white yarn along the wall and pinned some cute scraps up with those tiny clothespins.
the lamp is a paper lantern i’ve had for years, also from IKEA.







the dining room/side kitchen:

another wall that i’ve had in my head for ever.
say hello to my vintage kitchen stuff:


i have my gram’s sifter, standing mixer, cheese grater, recipe books from the 50’s, hand mixer, pizza cutter, soup ladle and melon baller.
other items are my mom’s marble rolling pin, a gas lamp from my uncle and an old oil bottle. i bought the white and silver strainer at ikea for $4 and the smaller red strainer at raley’s for $5.



the side kitchen:

what else do you call a place like this? it’s not the kitchen-kitchen. (that’s another post in itself.) it’s technically in the dining room, but it’s so much a part of the kitchen. so we labeled it the side kitchen but i knew that i really wanted it to function as the launching pad.

it houses our family calendar, important docs we get to and file away, keys, general officy things. so far, i’ve been able to keep it clean and tidy.

there’s also a perfect little cranny for my gram’s grren kitchen stool. i plan to upgrade the stool next. all the metal will get a clean chrome finish and i will recover the seat and back with a bright yellow fabric.


but this is what makes me the most happy. ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got room for trains.


so that’s that!

questions? comments?

next up is the family room, master bedroom/bath, the boys rooms and the kitchen.

andrea_signature copy

nail + string art // representin’ cali

i’m officially obsessed.
i want to buy nails and string and pieces of wood in bulk!

because this is the result i get.

normally, the non-symmetrical messiness of a project like this would send me into a state of anxiety, and fast. but as of late, i’ve been working on being less rigid and enjoying the imperfect. learning to fall in love with the random has been incredibly freeing.


the inspiration for this piece comes from my one little word for 2013 and my journey to explore the state i live in. i want it to hang in the family room as a reminder of all the fun family things to do, right around the corner, and inexpensively. if you’re curious, i’ve been keeping my eye on this site for ideas.

i admit that this project was tedious because of the letters i added in the middle. when i do another one, i will be sure to make the letters a bit bigger so they are easier to wrap string around. if you are planning on attempting one of these projects yourself, i would suggest the following tips:

first, see my first tutorial on this project for major details.
when nailing the letter outlines…nail the inside parts first and work your way out toward the outer shape. for example, i did the outline of california after i nailed the letters so you have a full range of space to nail. (sidenote: realizing that i’ve used the word nail too much but i’m kinda out of other options.) okay, moving on.
i though that using smaller nails for the letters and larger nails for the outside shape would be a good idea. WRONG! because you’re connecting string between the outer nails and the letters, it would have been helpful if they were the same height. instead i was constantly holding the string with my fingers to guide them around the tighter areas.

but everything else was fun and easy! one of the best parts is that i can tie off anywhere and put it away until i can work on it again. ๐Ÿ™‚

feel free to pin this awesome project!


family room update // winter 2013 // part one

it was time to do away with the woodsy winter and bring some bright color back into the room. so of course it was red + turquoise.ย 

and of course it’s cuter with my little marshall in the shot.P1010889

oh hey…what’s that there? is that a new nail + string art project? why yes it is. i’ve got a new blog post about it tomorrow so come back and check it out.P1010893


my coke bottles are good for so much!P1010897

and since i was in the organizational mood all weekend, i tackled this little monster as well. something about this space just never works. it’s meant to be a space for me to corral all the papers the boys bring home, have some office-y type things handy and provide some inspiration for creativity. but it always becomes a catch-all for stuff that ends up on the family room floor and i just can’t keep it clean.

i’m hoping that what i’ve done will help me keep it clean and tidy (and keep to-do items in view so i don’t forget about school activities and deadlines.

here is the 3/4 of the closet that i utilize. the left 1/4 does hang jackets and houses a large bin of my bags and purses.

the curtain allows easy coverup and a clean and crisp addition when it’s closed.


i installed the ikea shelves last year when i really upgraded the space but i had them loaded with things that i couldn’t get to easily and i was afraid of the weight capacity since these are a floating shelf setup.

to help with stability, i added a thin piece of wood on the desk and placed my magazine file on it and it fit snug under the small shelf on the right, which has a small mason jar on top of it, helping to secure the larger shelf.

the cookie sheet turned magnet board got moved from near the front door (like 3 feet away from this closet) in here so i can keep important reminders at eye level. the file keeper was hung up on the wall, right under the shelf which left it hard to see when standing and kinda tough to get things in and out of. i thought it would be good on the wall to save desk space but if it’s not working, it needs to change. so it’s down on the desk.


some items that were on the shelf got moved up to the very top shelf. items that are pretty but that i don’t need to get to and can be out of the way to make room for the more pressing stuff.


i love inspiration boards and this is as close as i got with the space i have. there’s a women’s retreat from church that i put up, a couple of cool cards from a coca-cola deck that i found (while i cleaned and organized our game closet also this weekend), the current series we’re talking about at church, a favorite fabric swatch, a craft paper star and a little canvas that reminds me to remember the important things, and a heart that marshall made.




here are just a few more details…P1010912




i keep my embroidery box, kit and current projects in my monogram tote.P1010919

my next dream for the family room is to move the tall bookshelves we’ve used in the garage to store our dvds, books and some cds into this room. i would love to find an old short dresser, paint it turquoise, put in under the main shelf, put the tv and components on it and anchor it with the two bookshelves. but finding a piece will be the hard part. i think i’ll make my rounds to the thrift stores this weekend to have a look around.

my dream may be a long shot but can be doable with a little effort and some strong hubby persuasion. (he doesn’t always agree with my whimsical ideas at first.) ๐Ÿ™‚ cross your fingers for me!


nail + string art // faith

a special friend deserves a special gift for christmas.

a handmade gift, of course.

a super cool, one-in-a-million, knew-she-liked-it-’cause-she-pinned-it, made-for-her gift.

so this is what i made for my best girl. love ya t.


supplies i used:

any size raw wood
light sandpaper
embroidery floss


following the directions on the stain, i only used one coat to get the color i wanted.


i used microsoft word to make the word and cross.


lining up the word where i wanted it on the board, i just nailed the paper right to the wood. i hammered a nail to each corner of each letter.


when all the nails are in place, i simply ripped the paper off carefully.


start at a corner and tie off. then use both hands to wrap around and keep the string taut.

i like the look of 2-3 strings per edge.

when you’ve covered all the edges, tie off your string again. it can be on a different nail than the starting point. when i finished all the letters, i cut the leftover strings pretty short and then used a tiny bit of super glue to seal off the knots.



i took some freedoms and went crazy with the cross. going this way and that, but trying to keep it balanced. i went all around the edges first, tied off and then went for the inside.


i’m so thrilled with how it turned out! my goal was to make her cry (in a good way, of course) when she opened it and i got what i wanted!


i have two more boards and plan to make some more for myself. one like this and another with my three little words.


a woodsy christmas

it all started with one endcap display at target.

this one. right here. what you don’t see in this pic is the craft brown accessories that go along with this theme. this is what made my decision that his years’ christmas theme would be a woodsy and warm one.

i usually do something bright or different. some years it’s red, pink and green. others have been black and white and silver (with a white tree of course).

but we’re going to the back woods this year…and i’m super excited.

so i began scouting out what target had. these berries and branches are delicious. but $12 is kinda expensive. 

are. you. joking right now? sweater covered stars? i have a ton of these stars already, so maybe i just need an old sweater and i can recover mine. because again, $20 is too much for these guys.


same thing here. i love these. the trees are so cute. and look at those white reindeer! eek. but my goodness, i would go broke redecorating my house this year.

so of course, i head to pinterest to see what i can make myself.

these pillows are going to happen!Untitled

i knew i wanted burlap and twine to be dominant in my decor. this gives me and idea….

at michael’s i found a million things i could use to make myself.

styrofoam cones (1 large and 2 small)
a 10 foot roll of burlap (6-inches wide with finished edges)
bunches of pinecones
a roll of twine
some greenery and a bird with holly and some bundled sticks
a bag of holly berries
cardboard 3d star ornaments
pack of kraft paper cardstock

i grabbed this branch from one of my backyard trees.Untitled

and glued a ton of these little berries on. cheaper than $13 and a lot more fun.



i had a huge roll of grey yarn from another project so i wrapped a large tree and a small tree with it. i wrapped the other small tree with twine.


the big one ended up on the ledge.Untitled


and that vase from earlier didn’t get the branch in it. instead, i wrapped it in burlap and it gets to hang out with the leftover berries and a votive candle inside. all 5 of my candlesticks got a little twine tied around them and one of my owls made down to visit.

a large mason jar makes a cute topiary for a little bird and some forest favorites.

a plain branch in a silver vase sits between the jar and my wooden letters.Untitled

here is the ledge from the other side where we hang our stockings. this green star was $2 (50% off so i snatched up two, the other one is on the front door.)Untitled

i made the stocking hangers from frames i spray painted red, burlap glued to the back and a clothespin glued to the front. i used a red fabric marker to hand draw the monograms.Untitled




my gallery wall got a nice little update.


pine cones. a vintage bike. candlestick passed down from my mom years ago. they used to be red. then they were turquoise. they’ve been black for 2 years. i like them black.

as always, the airplane stays.

my coke bottles make excellent vases. and not just at christmas time. i found an old brown frame and hot glued a piece of burlap behind it and hung it up. 

this is a shoebox lid that originally just had the fabric, ribbon and bow last year. i added a strip of burlap underneath.


these mice will always make an appearance during christmas, no matter what my color theme is. they belonged to my grama vera who collected mice while she was alive.Untitled

another strip of burlap added to a fabric wrapped shoebox lid.


wrote JOY on a burlap banner i made. i think the pen didn’t show up enough and that i might grab some red acrylic paint next time i’m at jo-ann’s to make them stand out better.

here’s that wall. sorry for the blur.

i also wrapped a few ornaments in yarn and twine. i ran out of twine or i would have done a lot more. plus, laziness washed over me at some point.Untitled


i found these next two at target for a dollar each.Untitled



my little village




i absolutely adore how warm and cozy this year’s theme feels. normally, i shy away from neutrals and warm tones and am proud of myself for going outside my comfort zone, running with it like crazy and loving it!

do you do a theme for christmas or do you just decorate with everything you have each year? i like making new things and using items i haven’t seen in a while.

hope you have a great week!