Our Simple, Natural Christmas Tree



We like to keep our Christmas tree simple and, as a lover of all things cottage and farmhouse, the goal for our tree decor is to reflect themes of natural, neutral, old-fashioned charm.

Our secret ingredient? Potpourri! 

It all started when we were newly weds and poor as mice. Our tree was given to us by some amazing neighbors who were upgrading. We went to Hobby Lobby but nothing suited our unique tastes and tiny budget so my amazingly creative husband thought outside the box. We came home with this box for $14.99 and after an afternoon of hot gluing Christmas hooks we had a unique and (incredibly cheap!) tree!

Since then we’ve added a few homemade, DIY ornaments and store bought favorites. The tree’s charm and simplicity grew as we added glittery wicker balls from Pier One, wood slices (cut by D himself) with handwritten words, and pine cones which I picked up on an afternoon walk. 

Future goals include making our own dried cranberry and orange sliced garland (see Leah’s for an adorable tutorial!) and catching one of these adorable tree collars on sale! 

I love Christmas time. There’s something so good about it all — the snow, gifts, hot chocolate, family time, shopping, traditions. It’s all so good. — How do you decorate your tree? Are you a clear or colored lights sort of gal? Tag me in your pics on Instagram — I’d love to see your creativity! 🎄

Happy decorating! 

Frannie

5 Ways You Can Make Your Rental Feel Like Home

Home sweet home … it’s the creative renter’s heartbeat. But what happens when your home isn’t home-y? How do you make your house feel like a home when it isn’t your dream home?

(Or in my case, when you live in an adorable but grungy rental where the landlord forgets to mow the lawn and you’re not allowed to paint?)

After living in three rentals over the last (almost) five years, I’ve learned a few tricks that have warmed and welcomed our hearts and bodies. In other words, let me show you a few ways you can turn that cold and ambiguous rental into a space you love. Because, we want to love the home we have — we want to be joyfully content in the space we’ve been given. 

Here are my 5 secrets to making your rental feel like home sweet home: 

Keep what you love — pass on what you don’t

This one can be so hard especially when you are a saver (hoarder?) like me! 😉 I’ve never struggled with keeping unused items until we had Uriah. Now, I have trouble tossing a stained onesie away! 

(Let’s all do ourselves a favor and vow to throw out the stained onesies!)

It can be challenging pairing down items because we think we’ll use them one day. But one day could be years from now and your family’s peace of mind needs space and lack of clutter in order to thrive.

Unless the items you are saving are truly treasures give yourself the freedom to say, “When one day comes I’ll replace this item. Until then, I’ll give it a good home.”

There are many ways to pass on items you don’t need. Post a Facebook ad, have a yard sale, or (if you’re busy like me) find your local Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill and pass on the items. (I especially like the first because they will pick up large items from your home! Woohoo!) 

A clean + organized home = love

This is probably the most important way to make your rental feel like a home you want to come home to. Our current home is a beautiful, charming 1940’s brick with adorable built-in china cabinets, a yellow insert oven, and a gorgeous mantle. 

But as beautiful as our home is, it was also equally dirty. Grime from prior tenants was caked in the metal pieces which separate rooms (what are those called?). My stove fan was covered in grease from others’ messy cooking. And the kitchen floor was literally discolored from improper mopping. 

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. 

It took me an embarrassingly long time to catch up on these projects. I hated (hate?) the idea of cleaning up someone else’s irresponsible messes. 

But the projects begged to be done and the difference once done is amazing! I try to keep the house clean but really getting into the grime really made a huge difference! Just keeping our bedroom free of clutter makes a world of difference! 

We have better things to do than cry over the “no paint” rule

I understand how frustrating a “no paint” rule can be — I’m currently living in a home which forbids me changing the colors and it used to drive me nuts! (Not to mention the giant cracks in paint!)

After a few creative meltdowns I started finding rental-friendly ways to brighten and fill my walls without breaking the contract. In our living room, I’ve created a gallery wall. And in other rooms I’ve put up baskets, instruments, and unique frames. Check out this link full of budget-friendly ways to make your walls beautiful! 

Breaking up with ugly fruit wallpaper 

Ugly wallpaper breaking your beauty-loving heart? Me too … our dining room was bordered in a hideous, dirty fruit pattern that matched nothing in our home. After a year and a half I got desperate and found contact paper cute enough to pass the test. $10 and 30 minutes later, I had brand new walls cute enough to stop me from gagging every time I looked into the dining area. 

(I know that sounds dramatic but here is a before and after as proof to the wallpaper’s hideousness. And my OCD).

I know this is a super cute picture of Uriah so peel your eyes away from his adorable grin and notice the ick behind him. 😉
That wallpaper haunted me for months until I found a cheap, temporary alternative — contact paper. 

Temporary, budget-friendly decor

I’m thinking all about colorful rugs, pillows, DIY window swags (I love my burlap!), and Ikea plants that bring joy into your space! 

For a long time I was against any large rugs in our living room … I tend to be a matchy matchy kid of girl and bold colors make me feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed. (I know … weird). 

But when I found this rug just perfect for Uriah and within my dream color scheme I had to take the jump. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with splashes of color and have bought complementary pillows. 

Add in a few budget-friendly Ikea plants and you have decor you could easily love for several years and then pack up when you move! p.s: when you do move read my 7 tips for making it less miserable! 😉

Tell me how you make your house a home? Do you have an budget-friendly, Pinterest pins you can share? Comment below — I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

DIY, $10, Chalkboard Pumpkin

 

One pass through our home and you’ll know I love chalkboard art. <3 What’s not to love about erasable, easy to make, adorable, shabby chic, farmhouse chalk art? Because I am DIY-challenged I like projects that require minimum amounts of money and even less amounts of technical skill because … I still don’t own a hammer (but I do have a very well-used rock that works just as well). Thankfully, chalkpaint is super DIY-friendly.

I started craving a fall-themed chalkboard Uriah and I could use weekly as Autumn progressed. This is Uriah’s first fall and I want to create memories and traditions for our family of three. What better way than us finding things we are thankful for, me giving a mini lesson, and him babbling away in agreement?  Babies make everything more fun. 🙂

This easy, DIY chalkboard pumpkin turned out even cuter than I imagined. I started with a $9.99 wooden cutout from Hobby Lobby (and then I used my RetailMeNot app to get a 40% off coupon). I used two coats of chalkboard paint and tadaa!

I love that it’s large and fills the space above my stove. Now, once a week, Uriah and I change the theme of what we are thankful for. It’s an excellent teaching tool that will be more useful the older he gets. Until then, I get to enjoy the daily reminder and the daily does of cuteness it brings.

How do you practice being thankful? Do you have a favorite fall time craft? I know I’m currently loving Leah’s Thanksgiving Tree @ Grace Lee Cottage.  Share you ideas (or favorite Pinterest crafting board) in a comment below — I love hearing from you! 

With love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Beautiful Rental-Friendly DIY’s

AuthenticVirtue.com

I love molding a used, older rental into a fresh, lovely home. There’s something so invigorating about bringing in your own style and romance into a home especially on a newlywed’s budget.

Our newest rental is full of charm but needed a few fresh updates to it. Here are 4 of my favorite, diy projects I intend to bring into our home.

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My Top Springtime DIYs

Welcome, sweet people!

I’m enjoying a quiet day off with my Beloved man. And though our mid-Missouri town is cold and gray today I’m dreaming of future sunshine, green things and spring birds singing their hearts out.

I recently re-organized my Pinterest boards and found so many fun, budget friendly DIY’s I love. Here are six must-do projects I’m planning to do this spring:

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]In the Garden[/pullquote]

House by Hoff DIY Rope Containers

We have little gardening space so I grow veggies and herbs in containers lining our driveway. Our pots are needing some tlc and I’m going to give them a beautiful makeover I’ll love! (link here)

Survival Life Egg Shell Seedlings

This spring, I plan to grow seedlings using the cardboard egg cartons and shells I usually throw out. My last two growing seasons I skipped starting seeds and our harvest was poor. This year will be different … and this budget-friendly idea will be adorable in the process! (link here)

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]On the Balcony [/pullquote]

Golden Boys and Me No Sew Bench

Well, I don’t really have a balcony. We have a large parking space/driveway with a step area which houses our container garden and – my favorite diy of last summer – our $20 bench.

I love our bench — it’s adorable! This spring, I hope to make a bright cushion to join the bench. It’s time our rumps had something soft to sit on while outside. 😉 I love how adorable the seat cushion above is. (link here)

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Around the House [/pullquote]

Blick DIY Initial

It’s pretty amazing what you can do with scraps and smarts. I’ll be saving up cardboard tubes (from toilet paper) to make our last name’s initial for the front door. Of course, I could just buy one for $5 at Hobby Lobby on sale — but how handy is this? 😉 (link here)

Stone Gable Springtime Vignette

Spring is coming, and with it, my favorite way to freshen our home — bringing God’s natural handiwork inside. I already have a large jar, balls to cover with fabric, so now I’m waiting for fresh, blossoming branches to bring inside. (link here)

I Heart Organizing Dollar Store Rope Basket

Confession: I love shopping at Dollar Tree.

And I love that this DIY basket is fashioned from a $1 purchase. Organizing our home with cute baskets and totes is important to me but no matter how many times I drool over the Target’s bin selection I can’t bring myself to buy a basket for $40.

I mean, think of how many lattes a girl could get for that? 😉 Instead, I’ll set my hands to crafting something similar to above. After all, I already have the rope. (link here)

What is your creative heart dreaming of this Spring? Tell me in a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply. Also, Do you have a Pinterest board I’m not following? Share your username for all of use creatives to follow — after all, making things is more fun with friends! 🙂

Love, blessings and coffee,

Frannie