Transitioning from Christmas Decor to Winter

I am probably the only person who will say this, but I miss my farmhouse Christmas decorations that I shared with you here. As January rolls around and we wind down from Christmas and New Years, our home looks so bare after we pack away the Christmas decor. This year I decided I wanted to keep some semblance of winter and the outdoors.

I tried to repurpose things for the sake of my budget, but I did add something new to our winter decor. Neutrals accessories are a great way to celebrate winter. Personalized pillows are great because you can use them year round. I decided to make this personalized pillow to celebrate my sweet marriage. We will be married exactly 23 1/2 years on Valentine’s Day! You can make one easily with materials for a pillow, a vinyl cutter like a Silhouette Cameo. You can also order one like this or request a custom design here.

pillow couple date watermarked

There’s nothing wrong with repurposing, so that’s what i did with my garlands, pinecones, and snowflakes from my Christmas decor.

Moving snowflakes from the tree to our china cabinet was easy. I simply tied them from some twine. I used a couple of the grapevine wreaths but removed the holly, berries and ribbon.

winter china cabinet decor

Making a snowflake garland took me less than ten minutes by simply stringing plastic snowflakes and crocheted snowflakes onto some jute twine.

winter snowflake garland mantle

Filling boxes and vases with the doorway and archway garlands was just as simple as moving them from one spot to the next. I added pinecones or dead branches to the centerpieces.

winter tablescape

winter entry foyer decor 2

winter centerpiece

I reluctantly put away my porch Christmas trees and filled our galvanized buckets with pinecones and kindling from the yard. I added some cute personalized decals. I decided I wanted to welcome my guests as well as honor our family with each of the decals.

winter buckets and decals

Investing in a grapevine wreath is one way to make decorating easier on you. I have a neutral bow at the top with a wooden initial hanging on mine. I add different seasonal items to it by winding them through the vine or attaching with floral wire, and then I change them out with the seasons. For winter, I added some dried boxwood and snowflake ornaments.

winter porch decor

I utilized the other side of the “Our Savior’s Birth” sign and created a “Let it Snow” design. I made this with my vinyl cutter as well. I’ve really enjoyed having my Silhouette Cameo, but more importantly I have been truly blessed by the way God is using our family’s small business. He has allowed me to help people gift so many custom and personalized gifts to their loved ones for all sorts of reasons and occasions. Their stories are so touching! He’s also developed our talents and gifts in ways that enable us to take clients’ ideas and create all sorts of custom treasures for them and their loved ones! This sign is definitely one of my favorites, but I sure would like to see some of God’s real snowflakes, too!

winter let it snow sign

It may not be snowing here, but we do get our share of cold weather. Curling up on the couch with my blanket and a cup of coffee or cocoa is one of my favorite winter pastimes. I didn’t have to think twice about leaving our cocoa and coffee bar out. It’s been a huge hit for our family and our guests this year.

winter cocoa bar decor

I added little touches of snowflake ornaments and confetti on our bar accessories, too.

winter utensil holder

I actually left the lighted garland on our screened back porch and also left the tabletop Christmas tree, but removed the bow and ornaments leaving it looking more like a simple plant on our table.

I know Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but I think I’ll leave my snowflake and nature decor out and simply add some hearts and love scriptures throughout our home. These snowflake decorations may be the only snowflakes we see this year in SC. I think I’ll keep them up until spring!

Names of Jesus Ornaments with Christmas Devotions

christmas-ornaments-watermarkedIn years past we’ve used a Jesse Tree and devotions during the Christmas season.  A few years ago I was pinning some of my favorite Christmas crafts I came across a picture of some beautifully crafted glass ornaments with the names of Jesus on them.  I repinned the post and read later (like most of us do when we are short on time).  I really liked this idea, because I ADORE anything that reminds me of all of the names of my precious Jesus.  I also liked the idea that each of my children could make their own set of ornaments to celebrate the advent season.  Not only could they use them to decorate their own trees in their rooms, but they could also keep them over the years and share them with their children.

I began researching and found an awesome Names of Jesus unit study here from the Easy Fun School website.  It teaches 24 names of Jesus, scripture, handwriting pages, word searches, and activities for each subject which are tied to the lesson.  The study actually includes a list of all of the names of Jesus so you can study even more. We did this study and made these ornaments years ago, but my children still use these today and they plan to use their ornaments in their own home some day.

To create our Names of Jesus ornaments and Bible study, I went to my craft closet and gathered all of my supply bins.  I purchased sets of fillable glass ornaments for each child (and one for myself).  I would get extra in case some break.  You can also purchase acrylic ornaments, but they are more costly.

You could utilize paint pens in black, gold and silver to write the names of Jesus and the scripture reference on the outside of the ornaments or you could purchase vinyl decals here.

There are lots of options for decorating the ornaments:

  1. You could pour a small amount of paint into the inside of the ornament, cover the whole and shake. You can also swirl a few colors into the ornaments to give them a marbelized effect. Then be sure to turn the ornament upside down and put it into a bathroom sized paper or plastic cup to drain for a day or two.
  2. I love the look of glittered ornaments, but glitter on the outside is extremely messy. Polycrylic is a clean and beautiful way to glitter ornaments. Simply pour a little polycrylic into the ornament and immediately turn the ornament upside down into a cup to drain out the excess. Then sprinkle a little of your favorite color glitter into the ornament and slowly turn the ornament around in your hands to coat the entire inside with glitter. Add more if needed. Then turn the ornament upside down into another cup to allow the excess glitter to sprinkle out. Then you can immediately put your top back into your ornament. You can pour your excess glitter and polycrylic from your cups back into their respective containers. e of the ornaments, squirt small amounts of paint inside and shake.  You can swirl more than one color inside as well.
  3. Fill ornaments with trinkets that pertain to the scripture reference. For example, for “Bright and Morning Star” we filled our ornament with star confetti. We didn’t completely fill our ornaments with trinkets as sometimes that makes the label on the outside difficult to read. You can also see the trinkets better as well.

You can easily fill ornaments with sweet trinkets. However, I found that it could be quite pricey to fill them completely so I only fill ours half way to be thrify. It also makes it easier to see the trinkets when there is still room inside the ornament. Be creative with your trinkets. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas:

1. Alpha & Omega–fill with cutouts of the Alpha & Omega symbol.
2. Wonderful Counselor–fill with paint or glitter or beads or filler.
3. Mighty God–fill with cutouts of barbels or gold ball filler or beads.
4. Everlasting Father–fill with artificial pine needles or paint green for evergreens.
5. Prince of Peace–fill with dove confetti or cutouts of doves or crowns or artificial snow filler.
6. The Firstborn of Every Creature– Fill ornament with birthday candles or birthday confetti.
7. The Unspeakable Gift–we made cutouts of gifts using small construction paper or gift-shaped confetti or little bows.
8. Lamb of God–fill with cotton or fiberfill.
9. The Good Shepherd-fill with cutouts of shepherd staffs or mini candy canes.
10. Bright & Morning Star-fill with star-shaped sequins.
11. Messiah–glitter or paint.
12. Immanuel–another filled with paint, glitter, sequins, or beads.
13. Holy–glitter or paint.
14. Light of the World–mini light ornaments or mini light bulbs (just be sure they will fit in the hole of the ornament).

15. Dayspring–glitter or gold, pink, orange paint to represent the colors of a sunrise.
16. The Word–In small font, I printed John 1:1 on paper, cut out multiple, curl, and put inside ornament or Bible confetti.
17. Servant–I printed a small picture of Jesus washing the disciples feet and put inside ornament or paint/glitter.
18. King–Fill with gems or crowns.
19. Rose of Sharon–Fill with real or silk rose petals.
20. Lily of the Valley–Fill with silk lily petals, paint or glitter.
21. Friend–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
22. Savior–Fill with cutout crosses or cross shaped beads
23. Shiloh–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
24. Ancient of Days–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.

When your ornaments are all dry you can store them in their box or put them in a bowl, etc.  You can begin utilizing them in whatever fashion works for your family.  We started on December 1st and will follow the study daily for 24 days as a family during our night time devotions, but this is a unit study so you could actually use it during your homeschool day.  During our devotions, we study the name and verse.  We have chosen activities from each day to do together as a family.  Then we close in prayer and each of us puts our ornament of the day on the tree.  Sometimes we put them on the tree. Other years we put them in a crystal bowl or wooden box on our table so we can reflect on the names each time we pass through or sit down to eat in the heart of our home.

If you need simplicity this Christmas season, you can purchase a set of 12 Names of Jesus ornaments here. They come with printed scripture reference and prayer focus. I pray your family is able to utilize this and other ways to enjoy celebrating Jesus throughout the Christmas season.

Gingerbread House Alternative

 

Building gingerbread houses is a favorite tradition at Christmas time.  As you may know I have one child with gluten allergy, one with gluten sensitivity, and one with soy allergy. Most gingerbread house kits contain these allergens. So do most graham crackers which is what many people use instead of kits.

For the past few years I have made homemade gluten free gingerbread dough, rolled it out, and cut out pieces with a template and baked them. It’s not much more effort than anything else I do for my children with food allergies. I really wouldn’t have it any other way because almost everything I make is from scratch.  Even if they didn’t have food allergies, I’d still prefer to make that effort because homemade foods are much healthier.

However, we’ve had a busy break so far. Some of our traditional activities have sneaked up on me.  So today was the best day for us to make our gingerbread houses, but I did not have time to make them from scratch. There are no stores near us that sell gluten and soy free graham crackers.

I did some research and found a wonderful alternative: cereal treats. You know, those old favorites made from crisped rice cereal or cornflakes and marshmallows. I rushed out to my local store and they were all out of gluten free crisped rice cereal. So, I scanned the aisle and racked my brain for a good substitute.  Cocoa Pebbles were my choice. They do contain more chemicals and sugar than crisped rice, but they are gluten and soy free, and they are brown–perfect for a house!

So I gathered up some of their favorite gluten and soy free candies.  I grabbed some marshmallows, ingredients for icing, and rushed home for some fun with my two youngest blessings.

When I arrived home I made a batch of treats using the traditional Rice Crispy recipe.

Gluten Free Rice Crispy or Cocoa Pebble Treats
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 10 oz bag mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups

Melt butter in a stock pot.  Pour in marshmallows and continuously stir until melted. Dump in the cereal and coat completely with melted marshmallows.

I greased two mini loaf pans, packed most of the mixture into the pans, and inverted the pans onto a plate or cardboard. Then I put them into the freezer to set and harden a little.

Once they were set, I dumped them out of the pans back onto the plates or cardboard. I used the remaining mixture to make roofs for the houses. I greased my hands and molded roofs into the shape of triangles onto the houses. Then I put the houses back into the freezer to finish setting.

While they were setting, I made homemade soy free, gluten free buttercream icing.

Buttercream Icing
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • pinch of salt

Soften and cream butter, milk, and vanilla. Gradually and slowly add powdered sugar while mixing. Add salt. Mix until nice and smooth. Add icing to piping bags or use plastic zipper storage bags by cutting a small corner of the bag after filling.

Allow kids to squeeze or spread icing onto their houses wherever they would like to add accents of snow and candy. We used gluten and soy free sprinkles, gumdrops, peppermints, candy canes, and holiday Skittles. I melted soy free, gluten free chocolate chips into a square plastic dish, froze it, and broke the hardened chocolate to make shingles or stones for pathways. You could decorate with peppermint flavored marshmallows, gummy bears, or red hots, too.

One of the best things about these houses is NO ROYAL ICING! Let’s face it–it’s not that tasty. We weren’t wishing we were an octopus trying to hold panels of gingerbread or graham crackers waiting for the royal icing to harden like glue. Many times in the past our houses have broken during the decorating phase, but not these!

My twins made some beautiful houses this year, and we had so much fun! gbreadhouse2gbreadhouse1