Category Archives: Handmade

{Simply} Decorating for Winter

Simple Decorating for Winter | A Simple Haven

always clean up holiday decor with a mixture of sadness (all the pretty stuff is gone) and relief (less clutter!).  But after I finish mourning the loss of my tree, I’m generally content with a clean slate for the new year.

Such was the case this year–until last week, when I was preparing to host a small gathering of friends and realized the house felt a little bare. I missed the Christmas lights, garlands, and general sparkle.

I wanted to spruce things up a bit.

But how do you decorate for winter after Christmas, anyway? It’s winter. The season of hibernation.

There’s nothing noteworthy going on outside, no upcoming holidays to decorate for (I don’t hop on the Valentine’s decor train), and barely any greenery to bring inside.

After picking through Christmas decor and foraging in my garage and yard, here’s what I came up with.

{Simply} Decorating For Winter

Bring the Outside In

Pine cones, dried clippings from farm and field, evergreen branches, and even faux moss can spruce up a bare post-holiday home.  Group them in a mason or apothecary jar, vase, or just lay them on the table as a centerpiece.

If I weren’t trapped in the Polar Vortex, I’d have half a mind to go clip more branches from my friend’s backyard to adorn our mantel.

winter decor4

Keep Some Lights Up

There is nothing better than cozying up in front of a fire on a winter’s evening. Add a lit Christmas tree and it’s pretty much perfect.

Since I can’t reasonably keep the tree up through February (though there was that one year when we lacked a reading lamp), I strung some white lights on these little winter trees my mom gave me.

winter decor1

On Visiting | A Simple Haven

Make a Daily Ritual of Lighting Candles

I light candles when we have company over or at special dinners, but I’m not in habit of doing it daily.  After reading this post, I decided that on dark winter days, I want to usher in dusk with this simple ritual.

Use Non-Christmas-y Holiday Decor

For me, this looked like keeping out my Narnia-esque snow globes, red candles, antique sled, and handmade snowman.  Anything non-Santa or baby Jesus is fair game in my mind.

Or keep that manger scene up all year.  It’s still relevant.

winter decor2

winter decor.11

Make a Wreath

I realize this falls outside the bounds of “things you can do in five minutes,” but hear me out. If you spend the time to make a wreath you love, you’ll get to enjoy it for years.

I love pulling handmade seasonal decor from my basement closet.  Just remove and hang.  Done.

Here are two I’ve made in the past couple of years.  The grapevine (similar to this one) one took very little time; the burlap beast, inspired by this one, was another story.

Looking at it now, it seems to need a little fluffing.  But, again, it’s done.

winter wreaths

So, there you have it.  Nothing fancy, just simple touches to make the winter months a little more festive.

Do you decorate for winter?





Nature Notebook

Nature Notebook for Kids.3

s the summer heat dies down and hints of fall are in the air, exploring the outdoors with the littles again becomes one of my favorite activities. The room to run and endless supply of objects to investigate always makes for a enjoyable outing.

In a favorite book on education, the author remarks that as we explore the natural world, “we are observing God’s handiwork. And it is spine-chillingly wonderful.”

This is the perspective I want to cultivate in my children, even if at one and three they simply enjoy digging in the dirt, picking flowers, and shouting about seeing the moon. “IT’S THE MOON, MOMMY! THE MOON! LOOK–IT’S SO BIG!”

Studying in greater depth will come later; for now I will do as Charlotte Mason would suggest and just “involve them directly with the world, letting them enjoy, wonder, and question.”

With all of this in mind, we take our fair share of nature walks. Recently, I got all Charlotte Mason and decided we needed to preserve the bounty collected on these trips.

Making a real nature notebook might be a bit beyond my 3 ½ year old. But as I enjoy this sort of thing as much or more than her, I’m willing to endure a little glue mess and broken pressed flowers in the name of identifying and appreciating the flora in our little neck of the woods.

Frankly, I could probably do to say “yes” to a little more mess in our lives anyway. Which is why I encouraged the use of glitter in decorating our nature journal.

**To read the rest, please join me over at day2dajoys!**

Keeping it Real in a Pinterest World: Calling it Done


Welcome to this month’s installment of “Keeping it Real in a Pinterest World,” where Breanne from This Vintage Moment and I explore what it means to live purposefully in a world that bombards us with a million good things.

We’re just two moms on a journey toward being ok with not being able to do it all and fully embracing the season of life that we’re in–with all of its joys and limitations.

Once a month, we’ll share about our crafting fails, what we’re currently saying “yes” and “no” to, and the beautiful reality of daily life. Will you grab a warm cup of something and join us?

e recently switched Bun from a crib to a “big girl bed.”  Surprisingly, this transition went smoothly, with no weeping or gnashing of teeth to speak of.

We started by taking the front rail off of her crib and watching for any madness to ensue.  When she took to it really well and talked of nothing besides getting a big girl bed, we took the plunge and hauled out the twin bed that had been in the basement for two years.

Hey, we just hadn’t been ready yet.

Bedding was pieced together and Hubs constructed the bed.

Calling it Done.1 | A Simple Haven4

Bun’s new sleeping digs required that other pieces of furniture be rearranged.  And then the wall art had to be moved accordingly.  Of course.

And little big girl gave all sorts of input along the way. Of course. Continue reading

Garage Sale Easel Re-Do


hile we’re on the topic of garage sales, one of my favorite finds is an easel I found last year for Bun. Originally unfinished and having only a dry-erase board (dry-erase markers are not my medium of choice for 2 year-olds–you?), I saw not what it was, but what it could be with a little stain and chalkboard paint.

That sounds like some kind of life–or at least decorating–motto: “I saw not what it was, but what it could be…” Continue reading

An Upcycled Easter Basket

easter basket1

aster is a mysterious holiday. I’ve read numerous explanations of its annual movement through the calendar, but always get lost amongst the spring equinoxes, new moons, and Passovers–which is unsurprising, as I seem to lose I.Q. points with each successive child I birth.

And then there’s the eggs and bunnies. I’ve not researched the history of these, but I defy anyone to convince me that celebrating the risen Lord with clandestine colored eggs and baskets of chocolate rabbits is not the greatest non sequitur in history.

The basket is where we’ll focus our attention today. Continue reading

A Simple Spring Wreath Tutorial


In honor of the First Day of Spring, I thought we’d pause the retreat series to celebrate the occasion with a lovely spring wreath. Happy Spring and Happy Crafting.

h, springtime. Birds are chirping, buds are emerging, and if you’re where I am, sleet is encrusting the earth with a reminder that winter hasn’t quite given up her hold.

In an effort to ring in spring regardless of the temperature outside, I recently crafted a wreath to adorn my front door. Until my garden blooms with actual flowers, I will happily settle for some handmade fabric and ribbon ones, nestled in verdant-yet-faux moss and topped with a vintage button from the collection I seem to be growing–and promising myself I will actually use.

Set it all in a rustic grapevine wreath and it’s sure to bring a smile and a promise of new life whenever I open the door.

Happy Spring!

To see the tutorial, please join me over at Dinker and Giggles today!

Calendar Art

*Today’s post comes to you courtesy of “the other Jen” here at A Simple Haven–Jen P. Jen hails from rural Oklahoma but now feathers her nest in Dallas, where she’s been known to show up to baby showers wearing outfits she made that morning. She is way more talented than she realizes. You can find her fabulous creations at The Urban Spindle.


hen you purchase a house, one of the things you quickly find is that you have a lot of walls. This would seem like common sense to most (unless we got totally ripped off), but the unfortunate part is that these walls come completely blank.

As much as we’d love to have the income to afford beautiful art, it all disappears quickly in swirls of down payments, inspections, and closing costs. This desire for art without disposable income creates some fun stories, as we’ve tried making “art” out of things like magazine clippings, recycled soup cans, and plywood. Continue reading

Handmade Burp Cloth Tutorial


ne of the first presents I received when pregnant with Bun was a set of handmade burp cloths.  Their soft, feminine print heralded the upcoming birth of our first daughter and the prospect of using them with a real baby of my very own made me practically giddy.

Sweet Bun was born several months later, and with her came a diagnosis of acid reflux and the most enormous amount of spit-up.

Granted, I was a first time mom and had no reference for quantities of baby fluids. But even after birthing a second baby and observing friends’ kids, I’m pretty sure Bun was an Olympic-level spitter.

Good thing I had such beautiful burp cloths. Continue reading