Life Love Larson: 2013


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Home Tour

This year, I finally decided to donate a lot of our Christmas "stuff" and decorated only with what I really felt represented our style as a family. The most important thing to me is having a home that feels cozy this time of year. Gone are the days where I feel like I have to put out every little thing that was ever gifted to me or handed down!

I usually go pretty traditional on the porch, using fresh garland and a little ribbon to dress up the door. I love bringing this chalkboard outside for all holidays/parties.  The two small pre-lit trees were Goodwill finds from a few weeks ago!

I also decided to move my CB2 Knock Off Peace Wreath outdoors, hanging it in front of two windows on the porch.  It's huge, and I love how it looks from the street.

I only decorated the first floor with small touches and kept things pretty simple this year. There really is no theme, just a lot of color, which I am clearly not afraid of! The red dresser is always in the house, so it looks very festive this time of year!

We always get a real tree. I love them. Every year, we do white lights, and this year, I added a striped blanket as our tree skirt. I decided a simple ribbon would serve as the tree topper this year.

I actually scored another thrift store tree this year, and set it up between the kitchen and great room. I had some faux fur laying around for another project, and decided to use it as the tree skirt. Next year this will be the kid's tree, and the main tree might have to be changed up a bit!

Our mantel consists of more fresh garland, gold candlesticks, a DIY Metallic Tassel Garland, and some bright colored/glittered ornaments. I keep the driftwood on the mantel year round.

I added a few touches to the coffee table to make it festive too!

I am a sucker for a bust. A strand of gold beads and a little red bow dress her up for the holidays!

I only added a few touches in the kitchen. This DIY Pom Garland I made last year found its way back to the kitchen window again this year. I love the whimsy of this simple garland, and it brings great color to our white kitchen!

I find that adding ribbons and bows and bulbs to everyday items is such an easy way to bring in the holidays without having to do much work!

I found an image on Pinterest that I tried to duplicate on our large chalkboard wall between the mudroom and the kitchen.  Don't judge my artwork!  I like to be creative, but never claimed to be an artist!

Lastly, I have been hanging our Christmas cards on our DIY Sunburst Mirror this year. It makes for a decoration in and of itself, with no effort! I might be leaving these up after the holidays!

I hope you enjoyed a peek into our Christmas Home!  Thank you for stopping by!
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DIY Marbleized Ornaments

Kate was recently invited to a lunch and ornament exchange with the girls in her pre-k class. I thought this was a great opportunity to get a little crafty with her and DIY a few ornaments. We looked online and decided to make DIY marbleized ornaments (found via Hi Sugarplum).

These were super easy and fun to make, and actually turned out better than we expected!  You simply need craft paint and clear ornaments. The tutorial said to use paints in the same color family, which we tried. We also mixed in a little gold and some neon pink to see what would happen. We especially loved the punch of the neon pink!

After removing the top piece, squeeze in a little paint, and start twisting and swirling until it is coated. Make sure to empty out an excess paint, or it will take FOREVER to dry and will become heavy (trust me on this one :). When the paints start to mix, you will start to see a marbleized effect.

We used several shades of light/dark/neon pink, shades of light blue/mint/teal, and threw some gold in the mix on two of them. The possibilities are endless, and we want to make more! We tied a little pink/gold bow on the top for the ornament exchange. I know Kate felt special giving a friend an ornament she made herself! Thanks, Cassie, for the idea!

Linking up with:,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.reasonstoskipthehousework.com,,,,,,,,
Monday, December 16, 2013

Peppermint Kiss Cookies

Several families in our neighborhood took a trip on the "Polar Express" to look at Christmas lights this past weekend.  I volunteered to bring cookies and tried out a new recipe - Peppermint Kiss Cookies. They were a big hit, and I will definitely be making these again next year!

The recipe I followed can be found here.

A few tips:

- I did not use the peppermint extract and I don't think you need it. If you want more peppermint flavor, add more chopped kisses to the dough.

- I tried placing the kisses on top and running them to the freezer, but they still melted. So, I decided to just swirl the melted kisses around on top.  For the second and third dozen, I simply chopped extra kisses and sprinkled them on top for the same effect.  This was much easier, but probably not as cute as with the kiss on top!

- I found the peppermint kisses at Walmart in the seasonal food/candy aisle.

- I put the extra cookies in a freezer bag and will use to set out for Santa!  This recipe makes a lot of cookies and they freeze well!

I also made these White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies again this year and delivered to our neighbors along with our Christmas card. These are always a fan favorite if you are looking to try out a new recipe!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013

DIY Gift Tags {Using Old Christmas Cards}

I always save the previous year's Christmas cards we receive, look over them again when I get all of our Christmas decorations out, and then recycle them. I saw an idea in Martha Stewart Living recently and decided to recycle those old cards in a new way…DIY Gift Tags! So many cards come with a printed back side, perfect for saving and using for future paper projects!

I ended up using plain white gift tags I already had on hand, some baker's twine I picked up at the Dollar Spot, and a some gold scrapbook paper on a few. Everything else is from last year's Christmas cards, including the words!

These are so simple to make. Just start cutting and get creative with colors, patterns, and words. I adhered everything with regular school glue.

I made 12 of these in about 20 minutes. Why not give a gift with a homemade gift tag?! So much cuter than those cheesy Santa stickers!

Don't forget to hold onto all your cards this year, so you can do this next year! This will definitely be something I do every year from now on!

Linking up with:,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.reasonstoskipthehousework.com,,,,,, http://diyshowoff.com,,
Friday, December 6, 2013

DIY Tissue Paper Tassel Garland

I wanted to DIY a little garland for our mantel for the holidays. I have made one of these tissue paper tassel garlands before, and thought I would just change up the colors a bit. I opted for a classic white, gold, and silver.

I hung the tassels on a thin piece of twine and tied the twine to the ends of the driftwood that I always have on the mantel.  

These are super simple to make! You can find my full tutorial here. The gold and silver tissue paper was purchased at Hobby Lobby.

I love the touch of glam added to the natural greenery and driftwood! Simple and festive!

Don't forget I am participating in a Holiday Home Tour! Mine will be up Dec. 19th!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Countdown Calendar

I did a quick Pinterest search to see if I could find any free Christmas countdown printables, and came across this free Christmas tree page via Family Home Fun blog.

I discovered that the circles are 1", which is perfect for punching out scrapbook paper with a 1" hole punch (find these at any craft store)!

Simply download the printable to your computer and print on white card stock.  When we are finished, the tree will be decorated with different colored scrapbook paper "bulbs"!  A fun little tradition that we started last year with this Santa beard countdown!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Simple & Natural Thanksgiving Table

I mentioned before that we are hosting Thanksgiving again this year. Our dining room table is a little tight with eight people, but it is cozy and I love eating in the dining room (because we never do so otherwise)!  Besides the bouquet, I already had everything on hand, so this table came together quickly!

The placemats are pieces of cut kraft paper. I purchased several rolls of this paper at Dollar Tree last year, and am using it again this year!  The silver chargers are also from Dollar Tree, but you can get these almost anywhere for cheap.

In the center of the table, I placed a piece of scrap wood from our recent hardwood install. It was already stained and was the perfect size, I just added some gold craft paint to the sides to glam it up a bit. I like how it adds a little height in the center of the table.

The gold candlesticks are from an antique store, and the striped candles are from Homegoods (from last year). I added some mercury glass candle holders (from Michael's) and a few pears to finish it off. The autumn bouquet is from Trader Joe's.

I used paper napkins, accordion folded them, and tied them up with twine. The place cards were an easy DIY watercolor project.

Super simple and natural, and I love the mix of silver and gold. There is still plenty of time to throw together a festive looking table!  Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Watercolor & Pinecone Place Cards

We are hosting Steve's family for Thanksgiving again this year, so I starting working on the table setting yesterday. I decided to use all items that I already had on hand and as usual, wanted to keep it super simple. I will show you the finished table on Monday, but for now, I wanted to show you how I made place cards using pinecones and watercolors.

I am using paper napkins in orange, pink, and gold. I decided pinecones were an easy choice to use again this year, and added some watercolor name cards to bring out the napkin colors. I used watercolor paper and paints and used simple brush strokes to create the cards. The names are written with a gold paint pen.

This took about 5 minutes and I love the look of the watercolors. I accordion folded the napkins and tied them up with a little piece of twine.  

This is about as simple as it gets!  Now I need to get moving on grocery shopping and cleaning!  Have a wonderful weekend!  xo

Linking up with:,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.reasonstoskipthehousework.com,,,,,, http://diyshowoff.com,
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Easy DIY Shelving

I mentioned recently that we have done some rearranging of how rooms function in our home. A friend of mine inquired about the shelves we had up in the old toy room. I realized I never blogged about the shelves we installed soon after moving in. This shelving system is from Home Depot and they were easy to install, inexpensive, and worked very well in our space.

We had two sets, side by side, along a large wall of our toy room. We used the shelves for bins and smaller toys to get them up off the ground. The higher shelves displayed some of Drew's lego creations and are great for board game storage.

Having vertical storage was a huge space/floor saver! The shelves are already white, and you can customize with different sizes to fit your needs. These are not hard to install, but you must make sure everything is level so you don't have leaning shelves!

I would highly recommend these if you need any extra storage in an office, desk space (they have larger pieces that could serve as a homework station), toy room, closet, etc. See below how Duo Ventures has made these shelves look super clean, chic, and organized!

We are currently trying to figure out where these shelves can best be utilized now that they are out of the toy room. Maybe in the new office space downstairs or extra closet storage? I will keep you posted!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cotton Candy Cones (Party Favors)

Kate turns five next week, and we celebrated this past weekend with a roller skating party! The party pretty much ran itself (the best kind), and the only things I really had to do were make cupcakes and assemble some party favors. I decided to give out these cotton candy cones at the end of the party. Let's be honest, kids just want the sugar!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Hardwoods & Stair Carpet

Today is the start of a fun install in our home! We decided to hire someone to install hardwood floors in our upstairs hallway and stair landing. After the floors are installed/sanded/stained/sealed, they will come back through and finish off with a stair carpet runner on the stairs.

This is something we debated doing before we moved in.  At that time, things kept adding up, so we decided to hold off and change it down the road. Well, today is down the road and I am so excited!  Please excuse the terrible iPhone photos in bad lighting, but you get the idea!

The hardwoods are going to be the exact same wood (rustic maple) and stain as the downstairs.  I debated going a little lighter since dark hardwoods show EVERYTHING, but ultimately decided to just keep it cohesive.

I think this landing will look so much better with a dark floor to break up the light wall color and the light trim.  The huge mirror helps to bounce light around since our stairwell interior, with no windows.

The wood and railings will remain the same. The carpet we chose is light in color, very durable, and has a slight diamond pattern to it. Once it is installed, I will have more pictures.

This is a shot of our upstairs hallway, which will be all hardwoods. Can you believe we have lived here for almost two years and not one thing has been hung in this hallway?! Once the floors are done, I am going to do some touch up painting and get to work on it! Again, I think the white trim and doors will look a million times better with a dark hardwood floor below.

I like to DIY small projects, but this is best left to the professionals! We decided to get two quotes for this project, and ultimately decided to go with the company our builder uses for new homes, and who installed our floors downstairs, which we have been extremely happy with.  

Today is the carpet rip out and installation, Friday is sanding and staining, and first two coats of sealer. Saturday is the final coat of sealer. The first two coats will be water based, and the third will be a hard coating oil based seal for maximum durability.

I see lots of sock sliding kids in my near future! The next debate will be to add a runner or leave it open?? Thoughts??  

Oh, and Happy Halloween! It has been raining here for three straight days, which I think is a requirement on Halloween if you live in the midwest. Let me know if you encounter any Red Power Ranger or Ladybug sightings!  xo
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Look for Less Design Challenge: CB2 Knock-Off Peace Wreath

When I was asked to participate in a "Look for Less" Design Challenge, I jumped at the chance, as this is right up my alley!  I thought about doing several different projects just for the sake of doing them, but ultimately wanted to make something that I could use in my own home, that other people could easily recreate, and something I really loved.  I wanted to do something fun and modern.  I found this peace wreath in the new CB2 catalog and knew it was the perfect time for me to get a jumpstart on a holiday DIY! 

The CB2 Inner Peace Wreath (Novogratz Collection) retails for $49 + shipping.  I made mine for just under $13. It's huge, and I love it!

I love the simplicity and the modern/rustic feel.  This is so easy to make, anyone can do it!

Here is the wreath styled in our dining room niche.  When I actually decorate for the holidays, it will probably find a new home outdoors, but for now, inside will have to do! This wreath is very large, 36" in diameter, so it really makes a statement!

This wreath is large, but easily hangs by a nail (or Command Strip).

I simply purchased a large, round grapevine wreath (with coupon it was $10), some cheap twigs from an ugly piece from a thrift store (2.50) that I deconstructed, and a strand of Christmas lights I already had on hand. The inspiration wreath had a diameter of 36", and I was able to find one that large at both Michael's & Hobby Lobby.

I trimmed up the grapevine wreath with my garden shears to remove any loose pieces or sticks that were sticking out, etc.  I wanted the wreath to look very round and sort of compact. I used floral wire to tighten up the edges around the wreath.

I then deconstructed an ugly thrift store piece to acquire my long sticks for the center of the peace sign. They happened to be just a bit longer than I needed so I cut them all down to size. I also trimmed any wayward branches. These old pieces are easily found at thrift stores, or you can purchase bunches of sticks at craft stores (or gather some from your yard)!

I then used some of the leftover shorter twigs, as well as twigs I pulled from the actual grapevine wreath to get the two shorter sides of peace sign. I made two even stacks and cut them down to the the same length.

Once I had my three bundles, I secured each of them together with fishing wire to keep them nice and tight.

I then started placing (eyeballed) the bundles where I wanted them and secured those to the grapevine with fishing wire. I also stuck some of the twigs in between the grapevine sticks for extra security. You will just need to play around with this part until you get the peace sign looking straight and secured. You will not see the fishing wire once the strand of lights goes on, so secure as much as you need!

Once I felt the peace sign was secure, I wrapped a long strand of Christmas lights all around, leaving a foot or so of cord hanging at the bottom so I could plug it in. This part probably took the longest because you have to weave in and out without puncturing your hand with twigs!

I love the way it turned out and it is classic enough to use year after year.  PEACE OUT!

Be sure to check out all of the other great Design Challenge Posts by clicking on the links below!

Life on Virginia Street : Wood Bead Chandelier

Kitchen Table Art : Faux Pie Safe

We will be doing another challenge after the new year!  I hope you found something that inspired you! xo

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