Category Archives: No place like home

Christmas Decorations


When pulling out my Christmas decorations to put out this year, I tried to look up on the blog how I’d arranged mantels and stuff last year, but I only found pics from a few years ago…since I had never posted the photos I took last year…so now I’m posting photos from this year and last year (which include a move between the two, so same stuff in a new space). My favorite addition from the past two years is the big magnolia clips with glittery centers…that came from Dollar Tree!)





I’m realizing now that I forgot the way I set up the little birds in nests in the middle of the Christmas mantel…




Chalkboard Scripture Art


  I am about to make-over my chalkboard again and thought I’d post some of my previous boards. These were both Scripture passages that I needed to be reminded of and store up in my heart at that time…and still today!

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

Quickly create a Gallery Wall


Hello beautiful summer! We moved to a different house, so packing and moving and turning a house into a home took up all the time that I would normally have gotten to spend “blogging.” However, now that we’ve been in the house for almost a month-and-a-half, that “excuse” has officially expired. Welcome back to me! Appropriately, I’m celebrating my return with my personal trick to creating a gallery wall. My husband and I are wall art junkies, collected almost exclusively through church garage sales, “junking,” and framing art created by family and friends. So, to make our collection look pleasing, I wanted to construct thoughtful arrangements into a larger work of art.

In this first example, I was going for a portrait theme, mixing painted portraits with family portraits – you can see in the “after” photo that I later added some silhouettes as well. I left some blank frames where I plan to add in a Scripture word art, either printed off the computer or that I paint myself, but I wanted to have the place for the quotes ready to fill in with the frames that I already own.

So, without further explanation:

Step 1: Choose a unifying theme or idea for the gallery wall to give direction and inspiration {e.g. portraits, floral, landscapes, nautical, quotes, round objects, or just paint all the frames the same color}

Step 2: Gather the frames/prints/art/décor that might want to be included in the arrangement

Step 3: Arrange the objects on the floor in a pleasing way

Step 4: Take a photo!

Step 5: Measure the height and width of your arrangement (envisioning the gallery as a large square that encompasses all the pieces, measuring the height at the tallest point, same with width)

*If you are like me and can only have breakable frames lying on your floor for so long, now would be an acceptable break in the process if you need to pick up the arrangement and continue later or just continue without hazards on the floor where a 1-year-old might step on them!!! You can refer to your photo and measurements to hang your beautiful gallery wall!

Step 6: With small pencil marks, measure out the height and width of the gallery wall where you want it to go – I just made small marks in the middle of either side and the middle of top and bottom.

Step 7: Refer to your pic as you hang! One thing at a time, noting each piece’s relation to the surrounding pieces, I started in the middle usually and work out to either side

*side note, if things don’t look right or centered when you finish, check your measurements on the wall to see if the height/width match your goal – one time I marked the wall incorrectly on one side and had to do the left half over again : p

For this second example, my theme was floral, if you can’t tell 🙂 I love how it turned out! I knew which print I wanted in the middle and that I wanted my largest frames anchoring the ends and went from there. Once I had it arranged on the floor in a way that pleased my eye, I completed all my steps! In fact, I completed this larger arrangement at two different times, using my picture and measurements to hang the next day.

 Hope you enjoy unifying some meaningful art and making a gallery wall where you live!

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Fall Decorations!!!


IMG_1729.JPGDecorating for fall is the most satisfying season because it is so warm and cozy, comes at the beginning of a new season, and you get to leave it up for 2 or 3 solid months! Plus, fall is a great time to host gatherings and have friends over, so there are lots of opportunities to share the fun of fall decorations. Now that I share my seasonal decorating with Pen Elaine, I am more in tuned to how kids can be actively involved with making the house fun and inviting for each season or holiday. Growing up, I remember getting excited every October to decorate an orange pumpkin made of construction paper, giving it shape, a stem, and a jack-o-lantern face with black markers or crayons. Now, Pinterest has opened up so many more possibilities that I forget the simple joys of childhood only need “pen” and paper sometimes, but the important thing is to let my kiddo feel special and proud of her part in making our house a warm and whimsical home.

1. Scarecrow – we made a scarecrow with an old party sign, some little-used pants and top, a hat, gloves, and Pen Elaine’s super-cute contribution: a pinwheel! Items that needed to be tied down were secured with string. Since it’s on a wooden stand that can be easily moved, sometimes I’ll stick it in the garage if there’s a big rainstorm or we are going out of town.

2. Front door hanger: Instead of a fall wreath, I had seen this embroidered hoop idea on Pinterest and thought it looked really do-able and a nice changeup. Plus, I had bought a couple giant hoops for 3 bucks each at some junk store. I ended covering my letter with yarn because that is what I had on-hand, but next time, I would want to try something else.



3. I finally got around to painting a new scene/quote on my windowpane for fall. I saw so many fun quotes and verses for fall, I will have to put up a new one for November, ha! I always want to paint a pumpkin on the glass, but it never looks quite right to me…I’m just not sure what to replace it with…a tree?





Here’s a picture of the hoop art. I wrapped the letter in one layer of yarn using modge podge to secure it; then I attached it to the burlap with a second, more sparse covering of yarn. I hid the loose corners of burlap by taping them down to the back of the hoop with some masking tape.



4. Candle display tray: I had seen a candle display similar to this on Pinterest that looked straight out of Hogwarts…thus I had to try to replicate it. My collection of little glass jars/bottles finally got put to use for a spooky effect…







Make a Preschool “fall festival” at home!



We are loving fall and all the Halloween, dress-up, outdoor festivals, and pumpkin activities that go along with it! October is a great month to have kids under 5! Pumpkin patch photos and choosing my baby’s costume is enough to make this the best season ever. seriously.

Recently, we watched the newest pbs kids special: “Curious George’s Boo Fest,” which includes a lot of talk about their Halloween festival, including games, costume contests, haunted “fish” house/tunnel, etc. Halloween movies for preschool and toddler-age kids are definitely my favorite, just the right amount of spooky for me.

Watching this show inspired Pen Elaine and I to make our own “fall festival” at home, starting with a “haunted tunnel” that was really just a blanket thrown over toddler sized chairs and table. Pen Elaine loves making tents and tunnels already, and tunnels are helpful for my little crawler (Snugly Man) to practice and develop his gross motor skills. The three of us crawled through it like a train, and Snugly Man returned to it periodically during the whole time it was set up. The tunnel was a definite hit at the festival!






Brainstorming carnival/festival games, I thought of the Ring Toss. So, I gathered some plus rings from a baby toy, and we tried tossing them onto a pumpkin stem. This proved rather difficult for both Pen Elaine and me, so we tried using little plastic bracelets, and while those were a little easier, we only played this game a few times and never returned to it. We did feel extremely accomplished and proud when we got a bracelet to land on the pumpkin. “Pumpkin toss” had a good run.








diy preschool "festival" @Whimsyinlove


To make our festival complete, we obviously needed a sign, so we used a chalkboard for a cute, “scary face” photo op.







The absolute hit of our DIY festival was most definitely the “Ball Toss.” Using a doorway that led to a dead end hallway, I used masking tape to taped up some butcher/wrapping paper remnants that almost spanned those whole doorway after writing “Ball Toss.” Next, I cut out the middles of three paper plates and used duct tape to attach them to the bottom of the sign. For balls, we gathered up some little plastic “ball pit” balls and toy “coins” that could fit through the paper plate openings – “balls” that would not cause any injury if accidentally thrown at Snugly Man.

Actually making the balls go through the rings was only successful for Pen Elaine if she stood very close to the goals, but she also decided that simply throwing your ball well enough to make it roll all the way to the back of the hallway also made it a “winning” throw, so this game turned out to span skill levels. Placing the ball toss in front of a dead end ensured that balls did not go flying everywhere – they were contained. As with any game played with a preschooler, this was great practice for gross motor skills, taking turns, being a good sport and encourager, teamwork and cooperation, and following rules. Plus, it turned out that Pen Elaine and Snugly Man both loved hanging out in the hall behind the ball toss rings, catching balls and throwing them back, being in the middle of the action. Because of that, we kept the ball toss game up for over a week – making visitors come in through the garage door or duck underneath our sign, since we loved playing this so much. For a few days, it was a pre-bedtime ritual to come play ball toss, with both kids retrieving balls while my Honey and I honed our aiming skills. This game will definitely be a returning DIY festival tradition!

As you can imagine from the last pic, Snugly Man did eventually rip the bottom ring, leaving two behind.






Sweet Storybook Baby Shower

Sweet Storybook Baby Shower


For a good friend having her third baby any day now, I had so much fun throwing a storybook baby shower. She is having a little girl; so, sweet, vintage books that included old Nancy Drew, Madeline, and a collection of Golden books were perfectly enchanting for the decorations, along with a vintage-looking baby girl dress, and a banner made of book pages and craft-paper lettering that read “Sweet Baby.”


For my chalkboard art above the food table, I put a quote by Hans Christian Anderson, “Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s own fingers.”

IMG_1132.JPGBaby Shower FOOD!

I thought long and hard about what to serve at this afternoon (storybook) shower. Knowing I had my own nursing baby and that I would be out of town the week before the shower (getting back home the day before the shower…not in the plan when we picked the shower date, ha!), I wanted to choose foods that went along with childrens’ books and could also be mainly prepared and frozen a week or two ahead…So I decided on cookies! If you give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff is a super fun book that turned into a series, one that my own Pen Elaine loves and is great for learning cause and effect, as well as practicing the concepts around reading comprehension and order of events. I made two of my favorite cookie dough recipes (Chewy Brownie cookies & PB Nutella cookies) a couple weeks in advance, spooned them onto a cookie sheet to cool in freezer, rolled them into balls and froze on the cookie sheet before storing all the cookie dough balls in freezer bags labeled with the baking directions. I simply placed dough balls on baking sheets and followed the directions on the morning of the shower.

For a third cookie option that looked more “girly, I made(super simple) red velvet cake mix cookies with white chocolate chips on the night before the shower. I also mixed up sweet chicken salad the night before, which I placed into adorable, single-serving paper cups (they looked like cupcake holders) that were pink-polka-dotted from the party section of Hobby Lobby, I think. I served the chicken salad with a bowl of wheat crackers. My gracious cohost brought all the fixins for fruit and veggie trays. For those, we put up a sign that said they were from “Mr. MacGregor’s garden.”

I kept drinks simple with mason jars, pink polka-dot paper straws, water in a drink dispenser, and a pitcher of iced, raspberry green tea (thanks to powdered drink mix).







So, honestly, my entry way activity did not actually get done – but here’s what I did with good intentions…first, I labeled one tiny plastic baby (from the cake-decorating section of Hobby Lobby) with a piece of colored tape or sticker. Then, I blew up some balloons and stuck a little plastic baby inside each one, thinking people could pop a balloon and find a baby inside. The guest who found the “labeled baby” would get a door prize. Part of the reason we didn’t follow through on this activity was that a teeny, tiny 6-week-old came to the party, and we didn’t want to scare him! Also, there was enough other stuff going on that we didn’t need another “filler” game. However, I thought it looked cute just as decoration!

To go with our storybook theme, I thought this Children’s Book quote quiz by Pumpkin Seed Paperie on Etsy was so much fun. I just gave everyone some paper and a pen, then I read out the quotes and let guests write down their guesses for title and author, each worth one point, for the book quote. At the end, I read out the correct answers for all of them, and guests scored their own sheets. There was a prize for the most correct answers. This was a fun, simple game that got everyone seated and ready to watch our special mama open her gifts.

(I love seeing what mamas receive at baby showers!)

In order to send the honored mama home with some sweet notes to read over and be encouraged, I customized these precious cards by PopSugar Moms by adding space on the back, printing them double-sided. Guests actually worked on these at their leisure, throughout the shower, but I reminded and encouraged everyone to finish them up and leave them in a stack before we started the group game and presents.





P.S. My new favorite baby shower gift, especially for a new baby girl, for a second or third time mama, is something practical (e.g. diapers) and this book trilogy by Mo Willems – Knuffle Bunny.



Pen Elaine is turning 3!






With Pen Elaine’s third birthday coming up, I was feeling like we could do something low-key…but then Pen wanted to invite all 7 of her closest friends and said she wanted a pancake party…and once I got started, I just couldn’t help myself!

So, here is Pen Elaine’s third birthday party, brought to you by the letter P!

We celebrated with Pancakes, Pirates, Princesses, Pop rocks, pink paper straws, a Piñata, pictures, and Pet (candy) “butterflies” to take home.



Prior to the birthday party, though, I filmed Pen Elaine answering the questions on this birthday interview by bestactivitiesforkids, who also has a free printable version…of which I plan on filling out and taking a photo to keep in my computer photo files to have a “hard copy” for posterity.



  Chalkboard art came first – I chose a quote from Berkeley Breathed’s Goodnight, Opus, which I absolutely enjoy as an adult, and it’s a fun one for kids too – those make the best children’s literature, that appeal to adults as well as kids…and include fabulous illustrations that incite the imagination.

To draw, I started with a chalkboard tutorial for a cool banner that my sis sent to me, via Pinterest.


Then, I added in the quote, drew balloons, and then, feeling like it needed something more…I scavenged for colored chalk in the chunky outdoor chalk box that Pen Elaine gets to use and found colors for a rainbow. This turned out perfect for a birthday celebration that is colorful and for a little girl who loves Rainbow Dash.


 Once the chalkboard art was finished, which I finished the night before Pen Elaine’s actual birthday morning as a center point above the kitchen table, I strung up a

  • banner of balloons in the same room
  • Birthday banner in its traditional spot
  • balloon and pinwheel above the kitchen table
  • pinwheel in a main doorway off the living room/entry way



 Instead of gifts, I asked on the invitations for guests to bring a hand-made picture for Penelope, so I had a garland with clothespins attached along it, waiting  below the mantel to display the pictures that were given at the party.


 The kid pictures were precious and sweet while the adult-made pictures got pretty creative and artistically finished! It seemed like a few closet artists had just been waiting for an excuse to stretch their artistic wings 😉



Birthday Party Activities!

We made maracas using

  • plastic Easter eggs,
  • plastic spoons,
  • uncooked rice, and
  • pretty duck tape

(inspired by apartmenttherapy) and some pretty masking tape for extra cuteness. Pen Elaine is still playing with the one that she made 🙂


 When guests entered, we had a table set up as a {pirate} tattoo station and spot to pick out a birthday party hat. I had bought pirate tattoos from a party supply section and some mustache tattoos from Hobby Lobby that were for the more adventurous seafarers. Supplies needed were:

  • temporary tattoos
  • safety scissors for cutting out the tattoo they want
  • water squirt bottle and
  • washcloth for applying the temporary tattoo


I had seen a cute idea for decorating party hats, but I never cut out blank paper to decorate them…however, I did buy sparkly pipe cleaners that added some extra pizzaz!


I turned our summer castle into an opportunity to play a game of ring toss, using paper plates with their centers cut out.


 Party Refreshments



  • Pancakes, of course- my Honey made banana-chocolate-chip and berry-chocolate-chip, I think…
  • awesome, easy flavored cool whips by growingajeweledrose, I chose a pink and a purple one and mixed in some sparkly sprinkles
  • chopped pecans
  • Nutella
  • cold pizza!
  • totally addicting Cake mix Funfetti Buddies by SixSistersStuff
  • our version of a Watermelon Monster, copied from Lovethispic
  • Cinnamon rolls inspired by a combining a funfetti cake mix recipe and a bread machine recipe, complete with cream cheese or (electric purple) vanilla frosting…and sprinkles!
  • little pink, polka-dot paper cups of Lucky Charms
  • (Pink, strawberry) Pop rocks, inside their cute packages




 Here’s Pen and I rolling out our cinnamon rolls on the morning of the party – everything else could be done ahead of time, but I had to throw the ingredients in the bread machine when I woke early to feed Snuggly Man, then Pen Elaine helped me roll out the doll and cover with butter, cinnamon, and sugar before rolling and cutting them into rolls to rise and bake in the oven before the party started at 9.


 For drinks, I used mason jars and cute lids to work with pink paper straws. I even found plastic, lidded “mason” jar tumblers at the dollar store for the kids to use!


We had a pitcher of water and a pitcher of “Pink Punch” (also made the morning of the party – Pink Punch Ingredients: 1 (46 oz.) can pineapple juice 1 (6 oz.) can frozen pink lemonade 2 1/2 c. water 3 (28 oz.) bottles ginger ale 1 qt. strawberry ice cream).



 Final take-home treats: Adopt a Pet Butterfly

Pen Elaine and I made butterflies (inspired by JugglingwithKids) with snack bags, clothespins, pipe-cleaner antenna, and filled with sweet tarts, since they’re toddler safe candies…and I could set this up days in advance. I forgot to take a photo before the party, when the chicken-wire frame was full of butterflies, but here’s how it all ended.