Homemaking | Dried Orange Garland


As my kids have gotten older, I've tried to found easy Christmas crafts for them to do during our long days inside.  We have done cinnamon ornaments, essential oil play-doh, and orange garlands.


We have already done our orange garlands for the season, but we will dry some more to use on gifts this year to fancy them up!  I love these because they are easy, they give the kids some ownership over our gifting and decor, and they keep little hands busy for a time.  I have received oodles of questions about how I go about drying my oranges, so I decided to put it in writing so I could simply share the link with everyone who wants to know how to make these.  


Items you will need:

A bag of oranges
kitchen twine
knitting needle (safe for little hands)
Cinnamon Bark oil (optional, but recommended)


How to dry oranges:

  • Heat oven to 200-250 degrees
  • slice oranges thinly (this is key to getting them to dry well)
  • pat the oranges dry
  • lay oranges on a cookie sheet without overlapping them (I like to put mine on a wire rack, but this isn't mandatory)
  • place the pan in the preheated oven
  • flip oranges every hour
  • bake for (around) 7 hours, depending on thickness of oranges and the oven
  • leave on pan overnight


How to string oranges:

  • determine how long you want your garland and cut the twine
  • thread the needle
  • pull the needle in one orange section and out another (this keeps the orange slices from sliding down the twine as it is hanging)
  • put a drop of Cinnamon Bark EO on your fingers and run it down the twine and on the orange slices (don't touch your eyes ;))
  • knot the ends and hang it up!
And... a video sharing our process...

Homemaking | Beddy's Beds


We wake up every morning and trot into the kitchen for a warm breakfast.  We wipe up the table and then scatter to prepare ourselves and our rooms for the day.  I fill diffusers during this time and turn on some music to help us get a little pep in our step.  


It's no secret that I really, really like a tidy home.  It is always worth it to spend a few extra minutes prepping our home in the morning to make sure our day gets started on the right foot.  Two of the easiest tips I have for making your home look tidier without much effort or money is...

1. Make your beds... every morning
2. Put the toilet seats down... every time

Go on, try it and see if it helps.  :) The kids all make their own beds, but part of my morning routine is to go upstairs and straighten bedding that might have been difficult for the kiddos to straighten.  I don't mind doing this, but it is often frustrating for my little girls to work so hard on their beds, and it still not be quite right.  Well, I finally stumbled upon the solution... Beddy's Beds.


Have you seen these?  They are beautiful bedding sets (that come with a pillow case and a sham) that go on like a fitted sheet, yet all the little ones have to do is zip up the sides when they get out of bed!  That's it!  My girls have been over the moon about these.  They feel like their are camping out in a sleeping bag every night. :) 

During the day, when they play or read on their beds, they don't have to fuss with their quilts and get them unwrinkled again.  Beddy's Bedding stays put and wrinkle-free, even when kids are bounding on and off of them.  


So, if you are needing a good solution for unmade beds- this is the solution.  We went with "Love at First White" bedding in the little girls' room and it looks just spiffy. If you missed my detailed posts on keeping a home... click here and you can peek at them. 

Homemaking | Christmas Mantle Foraging


There's just something about having bits of real greenery throughout your home during the Christmas season that feels extra festive.  I used to only use fake garland and fake wreaths during my first years of marriage, but I noticed that every time I saw a photo of a mantle that made me smile, it always had the real stuff scattered about on it.  

That realization started my love for foraging for greenery.  I remember the first year I wanted a real tree.  Mark went out into the timber and brought back a true Charlie Brown tree with wild (poisonous) berries on it and branches that would slice your finger right open.  It smelled terrible and I'm not sure why we even kept it, but we did.  I decorated that thing and it sat in our dining room, which doubled as our school room, at the time.  


We've upgraded since then, and only get our trees from a tree farm and our garland usually comes from a local store (make sure to check the Black Friday ads.... I have always gotten a steal on that day).  I do still like to find little bits of greenery around our home, though.  It's fun to layer spruce upon spruce and make it so it has lots of movement and texture.  

If you're wondering about the mess... it all depends on what you get.  Do a little bit of research and you will find the best kind that fits your needs.  I love firs, and even though they drop needles, I don't care one bit.  I simply dust bust and it's like new.  If you spray your greenery with a spray bottle periodically, it will extend the life of your live decor.  


So, here is the final product.  It isn't Christmas yet, so I didn't want to make it too festive just yet, but that will be coming soon. :) I don't do much seasonal decorating, but Christmas and winter just bring it out in me.  If you are needing a free way to spruce up your mantle... head outside with a basket and some clippers.  It doesn't take much to dress things up.  

P.S.  If you live in a place where you don't have any access to greenery out your back door, then visit your local Lowe's and see if they'll let you take the clippings from their trees.  I have done that for several years and they have always allowed me to load up my car with any of the branches that they trimmed off. 

I made a little video for you.  I hope you enjoy it.  Be sure to "subscribe" so you don't miss any of the videos that I post that don't make it onto the blog.  :)

Style | Fall 10 x 10 Capsule

I shared about the Fall 10x10 that I was doing with a few other homeschool mamas, but I didn't share my actual outfits.  I picked several tops and pants and simply swapped them out.  It was easy and so non-stressful, especially since this was my first capsule where I only picked 10 pieces.


This was so much fun and it was even better because I did it with friends.  I hope you enjoy seeing my pieces in action.







These are the outfits I managed to snag a photo of.  All of my pieces are casual, but make me feel pulled together.  They all fit well and are things I can wear all day long without fussing with them.  The rest of the days, I simply switched up my pants and tops differently.  So easy!  

If you want to see a few videos of me doing my "mom" thing in my capsule... check out the "CAPSULE" highlights on my Instagram feed. 




Gifting | Christmas Ideas for Kids

Christmas is one of my very favorite times of the year.  I love the sights and the smells, the music and the yummy treats. Basically, once October hits, I'm chomping at the bit to throw up some live garland and deck the halls. :)

I try to share a few gift ideas every year for those who are interested.  I always benefit from people sharing what their kiddos love, so I'm going to share a couple of toys that our kids play with regularly so you can get some ideas for your little ones.  I will do a follow-up post on things that I'm personally loving, in case you have a hubby that needs some ideas for you and you are all dried up on what to put on your list.

We try really hard to keep our kids' gifts to a minimum.  We usually fill a stocking for them with things they need like toothbrushes, toothpaste, a new movie, books, new markers, etc.  Other than that, we do 4 gifts (sometimes less) for each kid.  Not only does gift giving get expensive, but we are reductionists here in this home and prefer to reduce the amount of stuff shoved in every nook and cranny as much as possible. :) So, with that said, I'm happy to share a few ideas that my kids have loved and that were well worth the money.

1 | Felt Board 

I cannot even tell you how much this thing has been played with- by every kiddo in the house.  It is a quiet toy and there are enough boards for each kid to have one so they can all play together.  I also love that it comes with a bag and everything gets put back in and stowed away easily.  I keep it in a closet up high and bring it out every few weeks... it's like Christmas all over again.


2 | Woodzeez

They are adorable, my friends.  All three of my girls love these little animals.  My mom started giving these to my girls and now they anticipate with excitement which family they will get next every time it's their birthday.  There's something about the sweetness of the toy that makes them feel nostalgic to me.  I grabbed a vintage basket from the thrift store and they stay in there while they aren't being played with.  Those little houses in the pictures were also found at the thrift store.  The kids enjoy setting up towns and playing with their legos and woodzeez with them.


3 | Wooden Building Kits

This one if for the boys out there that love building and working with their hands.  Liam loves doing these kits and using his tools to put them together.  Afterwards, he will paint them and then display them in his room. And, if you want to go a different route, cut some small pieces of wood and let your little guy make his own creations.  Liam recently made the little girls a table and chair for their doll house and it is so cute.


4 | Wall Doll House

You can get (or make) several doll houses like this one, but I highly recommend the one we have.  It is sturdy and I love that we can mount it to the wall to help free up floor space.  It is big enough to play dolls (or woodzeez) in, but it's also perfect as a book shelf for older girls.

5 | Kid's Drill Set

I will be honest, I usually try my hardest to steer clear of plastic toys, but this one is so good.  We've had this drill set for years and both Liam and the girls enjoy it.  It helps with hand-eye coordination and gives the kids an activity that will take them some time, instead of them needing something else to keep their attention 5 minutes later.  Plus, they love using the drill. ;)

6 | Songbird Tea Set

This was a request from Ella last year and my mom snagged it for her for Christmas.  We have pulled it out many times and each time I think about how cute it is.  The girls each have a favorite songbird tea cup and we serve tea crackers and talk in poorly executed British accents during each and every tea party. :)

That is my gift guide round up for this year.  I hope it was helpful in some way as you whittle down your list for a little one you're buying for.  Let me know if there are any gifts you would definitely add to the list!





Homeschool | Fall Things


I am the least crafty person out there, so listen up non-crafty homeschool moms... your kids don't require a lot from you in the craft department.  All you need is a yard full of fall leaves, some glue, and a piece of paper.  


We have been reading some fall books the past few weeks, which I will link at the end if you are at all interested, that have helped enrich our enjoyment of this fall season.  Mark has raked leaves and the kids have jumped and plowed through them several times already this year, which has been so much fun, but these books have helped us really soak up how lovely autumn is.


A leaf activity is always a must during October.  We've done leaf garlands (which I'd like to do again, if we have time), leaf classifying projects, and leaf collages before- each that the kids have loved and none that are time consuming on the mama's part or expensive. Win, win!



This year, it was time for another leaf collage.  The kids each had some paper and they went outside to hunt for the leaves they thought would fit their collage picture.  Upon returning, they glued their leaves in their spots and layered them until they were happy with their picture.  We hung them and daddy came home and immediately had to guess what each collage was a picture of. :)


I hope this encourages you to just do something.  Kids find enjoyment in anything out of the ordinary.  My kids, literally, glued leaves on a piece of paper and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  It's all in the presentation. Light a candle.  Put some slices of apple and bread on the table.  Play some music or a book on tape.  They'll love it. 

If you're interested in the books, here are the links to the ones we enjoyed this year:





DIY | Rolled Beeswax Candles


This will be the third year for me to roll beeswax candles for our own enjoyment and to tie on top of packages for people we are giving gifts to.  It's amazing how festive they look atop a gift when they are tied with a bit of twine and have a sprig of greenery placed underneath them. :)

Now, you might be wondering why I'm publishing this post so far before Christmas.  Well, it's almost November and that's when we begin to make things for our Christmas season.  We dry oranges and make garlands to hang around our house.  We make cinnamon salt dough ornaments right before Thanksgiving so they are ready for our tree whenever we get one.  With that being said, I wanted to post this so you would have ample time to get your kit and start rolling.  ;)


I have yet to share the details of my rolled candles, and I get asked often enough about them that I wanted a post to lead people to that wanted to know more.  I buy a kit every year and the candles last me all season.  That's even when I use some for gifts.  

One thing I do to make them go further is to cut the sheets in half (down the width) so I have double the candles.  They are a bit smaller, but I don't mind and it actually fits my jars and candle holders better.  

Another thought... these are great for older kids to do.  I wouldn't let my 4 year old have at it, but my 8 and 10 year old certainly can do this on their own.  :) Again, it is something they can take ownership in and it makes them so excited to give the gifts to others.  These would be so cute in a sweet brown bag with some homemade Christmas cookies. They could be gifted to neighbors and friends.  So fun.  

These are the exact ones I use every year.  If you are more into a typical, dipped taper candle... try these. :)