I am so excited to be closing out this week with a look at our very first holiday decor of this season AND in this house! Getting the holiday decor up has been a little slow going around here for a few reasons (baby on the way, sick kiddo, and general post-move fatigue); but as usual, once I finally get myself going, I tend to really get into it despite my commitments to “keep it low key” (which I promise myself year after year after year)! What typically holds me back from getting started with our holiday decor is deciding on what direction to go. Since I participated in several holiday home tours a few years back , my Christmas stash is borderline excessive and embarrassing; but that also means I can pull off a variety of looks without having to run to the store. You guys know that decorating with red isn’t one of my preferred colors; but around the holidays, I just can’t seem to get enough of it. So, I decided to embrace the red for our outdoor porch decor and went for a very classic yet fresh take on our porch display!
Greg spent all last weekend hanging lights along our roofline while I stayed cozied up with a sick Henry on the couch. Greg really loves to hang lights, but our first year in a new house is always a bit tedious as we figure out the best arrangement, buy new lights to meet the new requirements, and determine how to hang everything on our new digs. I’m thankful Greg genuinely enjoys that part so I can turn my attention to the craftier projects. With the lights looking so wonderful, I really wanted to pull together a front porch display to match. However, our front door is tucked back into a “vestibule” of sorts so I didn’t want to clutter it up with a bunch of stuff that either wouldn’t be seen and/or crowd our walking path. I turned to a bunch of things we already had on hand and my tried-and-true combo of a green wreath and green mini tree to pull together one charming vignette!
As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it;” and that sentiment couldn’t be more true for our wreath. Years ago, I shared my 15-minute ornament wreath here on the blog. It worked so well then that I have literally turned to the same technique every year since (just swapping out different colors and bows to achieve different looks!)
I always start with a fresh green wreath (this oversized one is from The Home Depot) and tie on ornaments in clusters of three with floral wire (you can see the full tutorial HERE). I think what really makes this a winner is the textural combination of the greenery, pinecones, and metallic ornaments. The fact that it comes together in a matter of minutes also helps 😉
The holidays are a great time to get a little whimsical, so I didn’t pull myself back when I wanted to combine two of my favorite ribbons (a buffalo check and a stripe) into a single massive bow. It’s finished off with a sparkly branch, and I am kind of obsessed with how it turned out!
Not only do we have some empty space to the right of the door (where I did have a porch plant until this week), but we were also looking for a way to hide all the plugs, timers, and cords from all the various strands of lights we have about. As I was considering all my different planter options, it occurred to me that my Fall apple cart would be the perfect addition to our holiday porch!
After sanding off the apple seeds on the wheel, I loaded in a table-stop pine tree…
…and topped it off with another patterned bow.
A remnant of faux fur always comes in handy this time of year; and since we don’t get much rain here in southern California, it became the perfect way to conceal those cords as well as the tree base.
The vinyl “Merry Christmas” was a last-minute decision (as I said, when I get rolling, I tend to really get rolling!) and brings the whole display together nicely!
A jute rug and some white lanterns (both from Marshalls/HomeGoods ages ago) ground the whole display! I am so glad I followed my instincts and went with the classic red this year. Combined with our steel blue door and white house, the arrangement couldn’t be more perfect, and it’s really gone a long way in getting me into the holiday spirit.
If you’re just getting started with your decor, I hope this quick little display gives you some ideas for your home. This weekend, we do the inside of the house, so look for that update sometime next week (hopefully!). I also have another sewing tutorial coming up for you, as well as some more fun Cricut Christmas crafts! See you back here next week!
P.S. While I’ve got some fun things in the works for you guys, I did want to mention (as you might be able to tell from some sporadic posting in recent weeks) that I’m starting to get bit behind. Between holiday commitments, preparing for baby, and just plain being exhausted, I can’t get as much done in a day as I used to. I so appreciate you all coming around here each week to see what I’m up to and please know I’m trying my hardest to keep up. The best way to stay up-to-date on new posts hitting the blog AND if Baby Boy has made his entrance yet is to follow me on Instagram. Of all the social media outlets, that’s my fav (and easiest!) to update! Have a great weekend, friends!
There is something about the arrival of the holiday season that makes me want to get crafty. Even though there are about one hundred other things I should probably be doing with my time these days, all I wanted to do this past weekend was play with some pretty papers and make a fun holiday craft! Henry is already (constantly!) asking how many days there are until Christmas; and since he is now at an age where he understands the concept of an Advent Calendar, I thought it was the perfect craft to satisfy my crafting urge while getting our holiday season off and running. After waaaaay too much Pinterest surfing and brainstorming, I’m thrilled with what I pulled together for this year. There is a bit of time before December 1st, so I’m breaking it all down today should you want to make your own version too!
As I was researching various options for a countdown calendar, I came across so many great ideas. From Lego-building projects to bible versus, holiday activities to scavenger hunts, there are so many fun ways to count down the days until Christmas. However, since we are officially entering “Baby Watch” time, I didn’t want to load more things onto our plate and stress our family out with more fuss and stuff. I wanted something that would be fun and engaging for Henry but easy enough to maintain no matter what the next few weeks hold. Here is what I came up with:
Using my Cricut Explore, I made 24 paper presents, each tucked inside a cute little paper envelope. Each envelope has a number that corresponds to the first 24 days of December.
The paper presents are tacked up onto a bulletin board in a very specific arrangement.
Why such a special arrangement? Because inside each paper envelop is a letter. Each day of December, all we have to do is slide off each paper envelope to reveal the letter underneath…
By Christmas Eve, the letters come together to create a “secret” holiday message!
Can you figure out the message yet? If not, here you go!
Henry is very much into words, letters, sounds, and spelling…so I am pretty certain this will be a big hit with him. However, he is ALSO very much into the jokes on popsicle sticks (even when he doesn’t understand them!) so I thought I would add a fun little addition to the back of each paper present as well! Besides revealing a letter, each paper present also has a kid-friendly Christmas-themed joke printed on the back. Not only is a letter and a joke per day totally manageable for our household right now, but it’s just SO Henry!
Admittedly, these little paper presents (with cute little paper bows) were a bit time intensive (lots of little pieces). But they were exactly what this Mama needed to keep her hands busy while she relaxed on the couch after a long holiday weekend!
This same “hidden message” concept could be adapted to any size/shape, but I really love that the presents are attached to the board and we just slide off each white envelop. Now that it’s made, its execution couldn’t be any easier!
What You Need
To make a Hidden Message Advent Calendar as shown, you will need:
Red cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
Blue cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
Green cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
White cardsticj (6 12×12″ sheets)
Photo paper or sticker paper (4 sheets)
24 mini clothespins
Tools: Scissors/paper trimmer, 2″ circle punch, Cricut Explore, craft glue, hot glue gun/glue sticks
I’ll show you specifically how this whole project comes together; but if you are going to do something similar, I can’t recommend enough getting everything cut at once and planning out your colors, numbers, jokes (or whatever you’re including) and phrase before starting to assemble anything. With lots of a little parts to keep track of (including spelling out a phrase!), assembly will go much quicker if you don’t have to stop and think through it all!
Okay! Are you ready to see how cute Advent Calendar comes together? For a single paper present, here is what you’ll need:
2″ scalloped circle*
Printed paper joke
Paper envelop that fits #1*
*These images can be found in the Cricut Design Space library. If you’re interested in creating this project exactly as you see it, you can access my file here!
Making the Printed Numbers and Jokes
There are a variety of ways to number your little envelopes (including number stickers, numbers cut from paper or vinyl, etc). I found the easiest way was to create some circles in a computer software program and fill them with fun patterns, numbers, and jokes (you can find the kid-friendly Christmas jokes I used HERE.) Once you have your files as you like them, print out all the circles onto photo paper for a glossy and professional finish OR sticker paper to make application quick and easy!
To trim the circles down to size, use a paper trimmer to slice the paper into strips, then cut each circle out with a 2″ punch. This print-then-punch method is a much quicker solution for numbering the envelopes than cutting a bunch of circles and numbers with the Cricut and gluing everything together individually.
Making the Envelopes
With the numbers printed and punched, you can start assembling each daily present! Let’s start with the envelopes.
The envelope is really just a rectangle with some tabs and a fold line. Fold everything along the score lines and then secure it shut with some craft glue…
Use more glue to layer the printed number and scalloped circle onto the front of the envelope.
Continue with all the envelopes and numbers until you have 24!
Making the Lettered Paper Presents
On the front of each present, secure a letter with craft glue, and then attach a joke (or bible verse, activity, etc) to the back. Make sure you pay attention to your spelling (if you’re doing a phrase) and color pattern as you go!
To create the 3D paper bows, fold the longer bow loops as shown below left. While keeping the two ends together, fold the ribbon tie around the middle of the bow and attach with craft glue.
Secure the bow to the front of each paper present with more glue for a fun 3D effect!
Load each letter present into the corresponding envelope to conceal your hidden message or other countdown surprises!
Securing the Envelopes
With the envelopes all made and the message hidden within, it’s time to figure out how you want to display them! You could tape them to a wall or refrigerator or load them into a basket or jar. I found securing them to my old cork board gave me the visual display I was craving while also keeping it super easy for Henry’s little hands!
To hang up our envelopes, I hot glued some thumbtacks to the backs of some mini clothespins I snagged from the Target Dollar Spot ages ago…
I then clipped up each envelop and pushed them right into the cork board in the formation that worked best with my hidden message.
This project was admittedly a little tedious because of all the paper pieces, but I’m so thrilled with the result and I know Henry will enjoy using it to countdown the days until Christmas. I also love how flexible this project is! You can use any paper shape/envelopes (even pre-cut ones available at craft stores or in the Target Dollar Spot!) and spell out any phrases or words you wish!
Henry hasn’t seen it yet, but I’ll be sure to update you on how it’s working out in my next coffee break post!
I’d love to hear how your family counts down until Christmas! Do you use some sort of countdown calendar? Do you do special activities or stick to chocolate? Am I the only one who gets an urge to craft this time of year? Feel free to share in the comments!
I’ll be back here on Thursday with a look at our holiday porch! See you then!
Two weeks ago today, I wrapped up my very first round participating in the One Room Challenge (ORC) – an online home decor design challenge where bloggers from across the web commit to decorating an entire room from start to finish in the span of 6 weeks AND document it in “real time” on their blogs. The ORC is something I have seen and followed along with for many years, but never felt compelled to participate in myself. I decided to play along this time around for a variety of reasons, but primarily used the challenge to motivate myself to get the baby’s nursery not only started but completely finished. Now that the dust has settled and my energy has (mostly!) recouped, I thought I’d take a minute to share a few thoughts on the experience as a whole and weigh in on some of the pros and cons of decorating on a deadline!
First…how about a quick tale of two different rooms!
Years ago (about 3.5 to a be a bit more precise), I remember deciding (and declaring here on the blog) that I was going to makeover our North Carolina home office/craft room while my husband was away on a short-term deployment. I thought the hot summer combined with the clear deadline of his return would motivate me to finally put a design in place after waffling in the space for a good two years. At first, I was able to make some fantastic progress on the office side of the room with a few projects that were already at the top of my To-Do List. While I made fast progress on one half of the room, I stalled out big time with ideas and a solid creative direction for the craft side of the room. Instead of walking away and waiting for inspiration to strike, I forced more projects for the sake of progress and being able to call the room “done.” This ultimately resulted in re-doing certain aspects of the room (even several times over) throughout the following year; and I was actually unable to bring the room to a well-designed finish I was truly satisfied with before we had to move. At that time, I remember thinking to myself that I would never force a room design just to meet a “deadline” again…because it simply led to too much wasted time and money and a whole lot of frustration!
About a year later (when Henry was about 3), he was ready to transition out of his crib, and I was (more than) ready to finally move on from his owl-themed nursery decor. I picked some fabrics I loved and built a design plan around them. I certainly didn’t intend to do the room from start-to-finish and didn’t put a strict deadline in place. However, this room came together rather efficiently, probably in about a month or so. In this instance, I had a solid design in place and simply worked from one project to the next in a very linear fashion. To date, it’s still one of my all-time favorite spaces, and often I reflect on how easy of a room it was to design. However, it’s always stuck with me that I got some feedback from readers that they found it a bit boring to follow one space from week-to-week. By the time the room was done, so were my readers!
I share these two anecdotes to shed some light on my perspective coming into the ORC. While I have successfully designed rooms from start-to-finish on a condensed timeline; more often than not, my room transformations unfold more like the first story. I have learned over the years (and waaaaayyy too many re-done/un-done projects or replaced items) that I create better spaces when I pursue the projects and decisions that feel really right and walk away when I am stalled, frustrated, bored, or unsatisfied. Additionally, having watched several previous ORC participants share that it was not only a really stressful experience, but that they also regretted some of the decisions they made because of the strict deadlines and pressure to deliver…the experience never felt like a good fit for me, the blog, or my readers!
So Why Did I Participate?
For a few reasons, actually! Each time the ORC has rolled around in the past, we have either been getting ready to move, just moving in, or all our rooms were done. This time around, the timing was perfect. We were settled enough after our move that it didn’t feel disruptive, and I was super antsy to get working on some more creative projects (rather than just the tedious moving in stuff!). The other big reason was Baby! I know he won’t be in his room at the get go, but the timing of the ORC and my due date couldn’t have been more perfect. I was chomping at the bit to work on baby items, and the nudge of the challenge was just enough to get me started. As I’ve shared a few times here and there, I have also been feeling a bit directionless and hopeless about the state of this house, and thought a full-on room makeover would be the perfect thing to get my creative juices flowing again. Lastly, I was honestly curious about what all the blog “hype” was really about. I was interested to see what kind of traffic, new readers, and opportunities participating in the challenge would bring!
And Was It Worth It?
In some ways, yes…and in others, nope! The biggest perk is that we have a fully finished nursery that I am completely smitten with. I have a bunch of back-logged posts/projects that I am hoping to share once baby gets here to help ease the load of my posting schedule. And it feels so wonderful to have one room in this house that feels like me. The rest of the house may be a chaotic, undecorated mess. But this room…this room is how I like things to look, function, and feel.
Thankfully, the nursery room came together much like Henry’s big boy room did. I started with a solid plan (both design-wise and time management-wise) and executed the entire plan in a very linear fashion. From paint color and fabrics to art and storage, I had a very crystal clear plan of what I wanted to do, and the challenge was the perfect motivation to force me to execute it all. Participating in the challenge also encouraged me to make some decisions I would have potentially held back from (i.e., the wallpaper and the closet built-in), which in the end, turned out to be two of my favorite elements in the entire space.
However, there were some aspects I didn’t quite enjoy. For one, I try very hard (although it might not always appear that way) to vary my content from week to week. I realize some of you guys come here for decorating ideas or organizing ideas or military content, etc. Keeping the topics changing from week-to-week (hopefully!) keeps you guys from getting too bored or saturated with a specific topic. 6+ weeks of nursery content may have been boring if nursery decor isn’t something you’re “in to” right now. Also, posting in real time felt very unnatural for how I typically do things around here. I like to show you guys all the projects in a space across isolated posts and then do a final reveal post once everything is done. Even though the room is done and you all have seen it, there are some things I want to re-visit in more detail, and I hope it doesn’t feel too redundant for you. Lastly, even though I had a good plan in place (and I committed to myself that I wouldn’t do this), I too found myself doing some last-minute running all over town for the “perfect” finishing touches just to meet the reveal deadline. In all honestly, I am quite happy with every last basket, diaper pail, hamper, crate, and accessory, but I don’t think I really needed to stress myself out trying to find those things last minute just to meet a self-imposed deadline.
(Pssst – You can catch up on the One Room Challenge posts below:
Whether you’re a blogger/designer or not, I do think “designing on a deadline” has its time and place. If your faced with the need or desire to pull a space together quickly, consider these pros and cons before you get started!
A Deadline Gets the Room Done! As I said above, the best part of participating in this specific design challenge was that the nursery is 100% done. It is decorated, stocked, organized and literally ready to go. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be saying that right now without the ORC deadline. If you are just so sick and tired of looking at a room in its current state, a deadline will indeed motivate you get it done!
Motivation to Follow Through on Already-Made Decisions. In the few rooms I’ve worked on that have come together quickly and easily, I started out with very good and solid design plans. There was not a single element that I was waffling on or worrying over. From the wallpaper to the shelves and everything in between, I had all the large nursery elements planned out before the clock even started running. A good design plan combined with a deadline is a sure fire way to get yourself to actually take the plunge and follow through on specific ideas and products. I had been talking about painting the ceiling for weeks. Without the deadline, who knows how long it would have taken us to get it done (which had to be finished before we could do anything else in the room). If you know what you want to do in a space and just can’t find the motivation to start, set a deadline!
Focus. While I prefer to work on projects across various spaces as inspiration strikes, that approach can admittedly lead to a serious lack of focus. I am very guilty of floating from room to room and project to project (or even having several projects going at once), which can make a house feel un-done and constantly messy. Focusing on the nursery and the nursery only allowed all of my creative energies to stay fixed in one spot (as well as the mess, the tools, etc.) There were indeed times when I didn’t really want to work on the nursery because I was suddenly feeling inspired to work on something else. The deadline forced me to keep my eye on the nursery and follow through until it was done.
A Deadline Can Lead to Hasty or Poor Decisions. I think this is the biggest con and carries more weight than the others. When you have a deadline, real or self-imposed, it can cause you to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make just for the sake of calling a room “done.” Whether it’s choosing a rug you don’t love or agreeing to pay a price for something that you know will eventually go on sale, deadlines can force your hand when it’s just not necessary. If you find a deadline will help you get a room moving, commit to yourself that you won’t buy or pay for something you don’t truly love or can realistically afford.
A Deadline Makes Things Stressful.There were definitely a few occasions when I didn’t have the time or energy to work on a certain aspect of the room; but because of the deadline, I had to keep rolling so that other projects wouldn’t get off track. We stayed home a few weekends in a row to accomplish projects I needed Greg’s help with, and I flat out wore myself out hanging that darn wallpaper by myself. Imposing a deadline can add another layer of stress on projects that may already be a bit stressful (ahem, the ceiling), and they can certainly steel some of the joy and fun of DIY (which are notorious for going wrong somewhere along the way anyway). If you have a lot of DIYs in the space you’re trying to complete, maybe a loose deadline is a better way to proceed in order to keep stress levels in check!
A Deadline Doesn’t Guarantee a Room You’ll Love.I can speak from a lot of experience on this one. Setting a deadline, in hopes that it forces you to design a room and finally make some decisions, even if they aren’t the right ones, can lead to disappointment and a lot of wasted time and money. If I was told I could only participate in the ORC if I decorated our family room, I wouldn’t have participated. I currently have NO idea what I want to do in there. No direction, no inspiration, no concrete vision. Sure, a deadline for that room would force me to get thinking about it and start researching ideas more seriously. But the stress of a deadline could also result in design paralysis by over-analysis. A deadline might also cause me to settle on a design prematurely; I typically don’t start on a room until I know for sure what direction I’m going in. I think creating a from room start-to-finish on a deadline is best accomplished when you already have a clear vision of what you want, you just need to motivation to follow through.
I can’t say that I’ll never work on a room from start-to-finish again. As I said, I think self-imposed design deadlines have their place. Over the past 2 years, I’ve gotten SO in the habit of working on the house as a whole that it was actually a nice change of pace just to work and focus on one space at a time. While I do prefer to make decisions a little more organically, there is something so wonderful about having a completed room in such a short time span. Of course I can say that because I love how the room turned out!
I would really love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you like to work on a single room all at once, or make adjustments to your home whenever inspiration strikes? Can you think of any other pros or cons to design deadlines that I didn’t cover here? As a reader, did you enjoy the week-to-week updates or would you prefer makeover posts to be a little more spread out?
For those of you that have been around here for a while (and especially since the “very beginning,”) you likely know that I am somewhat of a meal planning junkie. In fact, one of my very first posts to ever go viral was my Magnetic Menu Board; and despite very little work on my part, it is still one of my most popular and shared posts almost 6 years later! While I still love and believe in that monthly meal-planning system, somewhere along the way it stopped working for me. I’m a pretty big believer in adjusting our organization methods to meet our needs (or else we won’t stick to them!), so I simplified our system about 2 years ago and have pretty much stuck to it ever since. Fast forward to this year and, for some reason, I have been in a meal planning, shopping and prepping rut! Planning out our family meals, and even more so, shopping for them, has become one of my least favorite (and most procrastinated!) home responsibilities. Since that’s usually a big ol’ red flag that I need to change something, I set about to re-vamp our system yet again. Today, I thought I’d chat a bit about all the various things I’ve tried over the last year to get our meal planning system back on track and share why, despite all my failed attempts, I still can’t quit meal planning (even if I really want to!)!
The Magnetic Menu Board System
As I mentioned above, my first attempt to reign in our meal planning was a project I called the Magnetic Menu Board. Henry was a brand new baby, and I was not enjoying my weekly meal planning sessions at all, so I decided to adopt a one-month-at-a-time system. At the start of each month, I sat down for a few hours and hashed out all of our outside-the-home meal commitments, new recipes I wanted to try, and other events, and then filled in the rest of the calendar with a well-balanced variety of meals and sides. The monthly planning session did require quite a bit of time, but I really liked that I only had to sit down and plan once a month. And while I continued to shop for perishable items weekly, having the entire month planned out allowed me to take advantage of sales and bulk offers on certain shelf/freezer-safe items. I actually stuck to this monthly system for several years. There were certainly times that I moved meals around or strayed from the calendar entirely. But overall, the single month system worked really well…until Greg left on deployment…and then the whole system seemed too much for a single person.
Planning from a Recipe Log
When the monthly menu board became too much, I wanted an easier version of the same system. Besides planning out one month at a time, the other “trademark” of the above system was how I organized my recipes: by protein source. For some reason, this method of organizing and dispersing recipes across a week made the most sense to me (so much that I haven’t changed this particular part of my meal planning ever since!) I find these 6 categories are enough to keep things separate, distinct, and organized, but aren’t too many to keep track of or understand.
I then used my Recipe Log to plan out my meals weekly in my planner…
When Greg came back from deployment, I stuck to this weekly planning from my Recipe Log but displayed meals on a dry-erase board in the kitchen so he could see too.
I found the weekly meal plan was quicker and easier to manage (meaning I was more willing to actually do it) compared to the monthly version. However, planning one week at at time didn’t quite guarantee a strong recipe rotation, use of freezer stock, or bulk shopping the way the monthly system did. Still…it got the job done for about another 2ish years.
Then this past Spring, my willingness to meal plan came to a screeching halt. Not only was I “over” planning out our weekly meals (and shopping for them), but I was really, really tired of our usual recipes. I decided to halt all my planning and try the “just wing it” system. I eased off on following recipes (which were feeling really burdensome to pull together) and instead stuck to more of a protein + side + salad combination. Surprisingly (or perhaps, not surprisingly), this approach proved even harder and more frustrating for me. Without a list of recipes (or at the very least, loosely planned out meals), my shopping list became difficult to fill out. This caused me to spend more time and money at the grocery store just filling my cart with things I “might” use or need. More over, without a plan, pulling together evening meals became an even bigger chore. I would stand looking at the pantry and fridge and become increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t make basic meals because I was missing one thing or another. What I thought would liberate me from my meal planning boredom and frustration actually led to an even greater disdain for the entire task.
When we moved into our house here in California, I knew I needed to get our meal planning back on track. The “no system” I was using before, during and right after our move was increasingly making me frustrated and caused me to dread grocery shopping and meal time even more. For some reason, my previous systems felt too cumbersome to return to so I began the hunt for a fresh approach. This research lead me to the digital meal planning service: Relish! This very reasonably priced service did everything I didn’t want to do: pour through/select recipes and generate a grocery list…and I was more than ready to give something new a try!
Once logged on, all I had to do was drag-and-drop the meals that appealed to me into The Weekly Menu and set the serving size. I loved that it showed me which meals were crockpot-, freezer-, and kid-friendly and that I also had the ability to browse their full recipe library (rather than being restricted to certain meals for the week). Each meal also came with a pre-designated side dish, but it was super easy to go in and change out anything that didn’t appeal to us!
But my absolute favorite part? Once your meal plan was done, it automatically generated a printable grocery shopping list pre-populated with all of the items needed for that week’s recipes (in the correct quantities!).
In just a few minutes, I was able to pick all of our recipes for the week, and print out a grocery list as well as all the corresponding recipes. Not only did this cut my meal preparation time down dramatically, but it also was super efficient when it came time to prepare the meals. The recipes, when printed, included both the main dish and all the corresponding sides on a single sheet of paper. Each night, I just had to grab the next sheet and get to work.
I honestly thought I had found my ultimate meal planning solution. I loved Relish’s online platform; the pre-populated grocery lists were pretty much the best thing ever; and the meals were super tasty and easy to make. It took away so much of the effort and brainpower behind meal planning and prep and really got me out of my meal planning funk. Unfortunately, it only took a few weeks for me to grow tired of this system as well. Why? Well, for one, I found that I was buying lots of random ingredients to make very specific recipes. This left me with higher-than-usual grocery bills and lots of leftover ingredients. Second, I again grew weary of making a recipe every single night and didn’t enjoy feeling like a “slave” to the system. Third, I was having a hard time working in my “usual” recipes, pantry staples, and family favorites on both the meal plan and the grocery list. I don’t like to duplicate my my efforts or use two systems to accomplish the same task, and it was taking me a lot of time and effort to adapt/merge the online system with my family-specific needs. Finally, as nice as it was to have a pre-populated grocery list, it didn’t match up with how I shop our store(s) and organize my own lists. I was constantly missing items as I was shopping because the list wasn’t organized the same way, making my trips longer and more tedious.
What I’m Doing Now
After my experience with Relish!, I was feeling a bit defeated. I was so hopeful I had found a perfect system (so much that I was planning a whole post to tell you all about it!), and was frustrated when it turned out to be too cumbersome for my needs. I waffled around a bit more with not planning at all, planning a month at a time, and even thought about digging my dry-erase board back out of the garage. While I brainstormed and worked through my options, I decided to print out a bunch of my Weekly Planners and Grocery Lists as a “for now” solution. About 2 months later, I’m still using my printable worksheets and am LOVING the simplicity of it all.
I printed out a bunch of both my the weekly planner and grocery lists printables and have them clipped to the side of the fridge. I sit down every Monday morning with one of each and plan out that week’s activity and meals on the same sheet and then fill out our grocery list to match. I’ve eased off on forcing a consistent spread of protein sources and recipes and instead try to pick recipes that are easy to make, satisfying to the whole family, and work with our schedule (crockpot versus freezer versus fresh). It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s no fuss. And what’s most important: I’m sticking to it!
So you might be thinking to yourself, “Gosh Megan, if you’ve struggled so much, maybe meal planning isn’t your thing!” But it is. If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself in the last few year of my meal planning is that I need it. If I don’t use some sort of meal plan, grocery shopping and meal preparations becomes infinitely harder; our grocery bills go up; we constantly face an empty pantry and refrigerator; and we eat out more often. I don’t LOVE meal planning, but I’ve learned that, for our family at least, it’s a necessary evil!
While my simple two-page printable system (shown above) is working pretty well, my experiences with all of these different meal planning systems have taught me a lot about what works and doesn’t work when it comes to meal planning. As such, I have identified a variety of new systems that will truly make meal planning a more efficient (and maybe even pleasant!) experience. I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few months brainstorming and creating a whole series of printables to take the hassle out of meal planning, grocery shopping and meal preparation! I am so excited about what I’m putting together and think you guys will love it too. I’m not quite ready to spill all the beans just yet, but here is a sneak peek!
These printables and SOOO much more will be ready in the New Year. To make sure you stay up to date on what and when everything is available (and to get more sneak peeks and freebies!), make sure you are subscribed to my mailing list. If you aren’t already, you can sign up below:
I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I’d love to hear from you! Is there anything specific you need from a meal planning system? What do you currently use? What kind of system works best for you? What is something you really need from a meal planning system that you can’t find elsewhere? You guys always have the best ideas, so be sure to share in the comments!
This week is Thanksgiving in the United States (so Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!), but I will be back here on Thursday nonetheless with the post that was supposed to hit last week (when I took a very much needed break!). I’ll see you then!
I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Relish!did provide three free months of their meal planning service for me to try. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!
Six weeks ago, I kicked off our very first entire room makeover in this house as part of the One Room Challenge, hosted by Linda of Calling It Home! Ever since, I have focused all my time and DIY efforts into this room, tackling everything from paint and wallpaper to storage and styling. I am beyond thrilled to be proclaiming the room “done” with just a few weeks to spare before baby gets here, and I am so excited to share all the final details with you today! As many of you know, we have been waiting and praying to bring another baby into our family for a very long time, and working on every single element of this baby boy nursery transformation was truly a labor of love. I’ve got a lot of pictures to share with you today, so get comfy and let’s get to it!
If you’re just stopping by for the first time, we moved into this rental home in Southern California this past summer. I started with a pretty neutral canvas in this upstairs bedroom and had big goals for transforming it into something bright, fresh, and functional. Here is a quick reminder of where we started 6 short weeks ago!
You can catch up on all the projects and design decisions by visiting the previous One Room Challenge posts below:
Now that you’re all caught up, come on in and have a look around this finished space!
The long wall opposite the door is the main focal point of the room. The sky-blue ceiling paired with the silver-and-white star wallpaper created a bright and fresh backdrop to our darker nursery furniture.
The entire jumping-off point for this room was the Super Hero Kids fabric by Ann Kelle. Not only did I use the primary colors in the fabric to accent the space, but the stars in the fabric also provided a secondary decor theme that is sprinkled throughout!
This wonderful star mobile was generously provided by Brandy of Brandalyn’s Paperie. The paper stars are perfectly sized, spaced and hung to create a simple yet stunning arrangement above the crib. It really is the perfect accent to finish off this corner, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with what Brandy put together for this makeover! Be sure to check out her shop for other great paper products!
There was just enough space right next to the crib to place a rocking chair and ottoman for feedings and reading…
I transformed the rocking chair years ago and am thrilled with how well it’s held up over the years (and through 2 moves!). The white fabric felt like such a gamble, but its proved super durable and ultimately flexible as it moves from room to room as we move from house to house.
One of the biggest projects in the room was to create better storage in the closet. Not only did the previous sliding doors make it very difficult to access anything in the closet, but it really closed off the already-tight space between the crib and closet.
The closet now serves many functional purposes including as a side table to the rocker, as a folding surface for little laundry, and as the ultimate clothing storage station! Everything from books, burp cloths, clothes, and shoes are now stored here!
An old toolbox was given a fresh coat of paint and now works perfectly to hold all the feeding supplies we’ll need in the early months! Those brightly-colored burp cloths are still one of my favorite things in the whole room!
As you continue around the room, you come to an expanse of wall between the closet and door. We wanted to keep it furniture free for good traffic flow, making it the ideal place to create a gallery wall!
As I shared in my very first ORC post, these prints from Amy’s Simple Designs were what really pushed me to go for a super-hero-themed nursery. The kids dressed up as super heroes work so perfectly with the Super Hero Kids fabric and add the perfect amount of color and whimsy to this side of the room! Amy’s shop is filled with so many fun prints and the quality is exceptional. A big “thanks” to Amy for providing the prints for the space; they are easily Henry’s favorite part of the entire room!
Now let’s flip around and look at the other corner of the room. Here is the view from the rocking chair:
I love this corner so so so much (and it’s a good thing too, because I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in that chair!). Not only is this corner a gem to look at, but we’ve outfitted it to be as functional as possible once baby arrives!
Beyond just outfitting the inside of the drawers, we added some other smart storage solutions elsewhere too!
A simple peel-and-stick hook holds baby’s bath towel for easy access…
In the corner by the door is a hamper and diaper pail…
Since we were able to store so much in the closet and the dresser drawers themselves, this allowed me to put fun accessories and books on the top shelf of the hutch!
The wooden crates on the top hold our back supply of extra diapers and wipes. Thanks Sister!
Even before we found out the baby’s gender and decided on the nursery theme, a dear friend gifted us this frame. I’m so struck by how perfect it ended up being in our space!
I was so excited to discover there was just enough space on this wall for the dresser as well as a rolling cart I snagged from IKEA on clearance years ago.
We removed the top of the cart and outfitted it with some perfectly-fitting baskets to hold more baby necessities!
Everything we need for diaper changing, swaddling, and infant care is all stocked and ready to go. I love how easily accessible everything is in this cart!
This corner is finished off so nicely by this awesome print from Sprout Jam. As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly where I wanted to put it. It’s another somewhat subtle super-hero accent that helps pull all the elements in the room together. Be sure you take a moment to check out their shop of amazing prints. And if you find something you love, which I know you will, use the code “THIHM” to get 15% off your entire order!
There are so many elements of this room that I love…but this view really is my favorite!
There are obviously some other projects and updates I’ve made to this room in the final week that I haven’t yet shared in detail. Don’t worry, I will share every last detail in some other posts down the road. Today, I just wanted to stick to all the pretty pictures and enjoy the fruits of my labors! Before I sign off though, here are a few quick “before and afters” of each wall in the room.
I’ve done my best to link up the products used in this room below. If I missed something, just let me know and I’ll add it in!
*affiliate links used
Ceiling paint color: Sherwin Williams Notable Hue (cut by 50%)
I especially wanted to thank Sprout Jam, Amy’s Simple Designs, and Brandalyn’s Paperie for providing all the artwork for this space. Each of these shops offers really unique and high-quality products that truly provided the finishing touches to this room; I hope you will check them all out! Last but not least, don’t forget to visit the final room reveals of all the other participants by clicking here:So there you have it! I am beyond thrilled with how this room came together…and maybe even more excited that it’s truly done, fully stocked and ready to go for whenever baby boy makes his entrance. I’d love to hear what you think of the space in the comments below; and I hope you all have a great holiday weekend. If you need me, I’ll be sitting right there enjoying the one and only complete space in our house!