Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 27.

Goodbye joyous and peaceful Christmas that somehow felt extra good this year.
Goodbye well-deserved Winter Break, but it's back to hitting the books for my boy and hitting the highway pavement for me (and hopefully nothing else).
Goodbye packed malls, filled movie theaters, and swarmed sledding hills.
Goodbye late nights, sleeping in, and simply living life in the leisure-lane with no concept of time.
Goodbye 2011 as you came and went so fast and blessed us with so much.

Hello welcoming silence in order to listen to my inner voice and what it has to say to me.
Hello embracing new possibilities and sticking my neck out sometimes just to see what happens.
Hello out-of-town grandparents staying with us and ringing in the new year - Par-Taay!
Hello Christmas shopping-spree for my boy, sponsored by his out-of-town grandparents.
Hello 2012 and getting excited for all it has in store for us and hoping for grace, come what may.

Lilana Slater via from Pinterest
This last week of 2011 is filled with many of us thinking about resolutions for 2012. The lesson I learned this week is all the lists of resolutions come down to just one simple concept: We all just want to be better. It's not about doing the right thing all the time. It's not about being the best. It is simply about being and doing better than from where we started, where ever that baseline may be. If we can walk away from a year gone by and say, "I made some progress", then that is all we can ask. So, make it easy on yourself and resolve to do just one thing, "Be Better. Do Better."

How do you plan on "doing better" or "being better" in 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

No, I won't be prancing around in my bedroom tearing down curtains to make tapestry dresses just not that talented with a needle and thread, but these are a few of my most favorite gifts this Christmas that helped make the holiday merry and bright. Thank you!

1. Love, love, love my infinity scarf!
2. Lots of brand new socks for Christmas. All of mine had holes in them - you'd think I was a pauper.
3. My boy picked out this beautiful glass bead holiday bracelet. He was smart; he had the store wrap it.
4. I'll be sporting these cool ballet slipper flats in the spring.
5. Nothing beats opening the mailbox and a magazine awaits.
6. My favorite cards this year - both handmade.
What were some of your favorite gifts you got this year that made your holiday a little merrier?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {White-Bean Dip}

New Year's Eve is on its way and whether you're partying-down amongst a crowd or enjoying a more intimate soiree, you're sure to get hungry waiting for that ball to drop. As a precursor to midnight's gift of a new year, I hope you try this healthy and tasty snack. It's a bit like hummus, but, and I know I'm in the minority, I'm not a fan. Hummus has a bit of a taste that bites me back, but this White-Bean Dip copies the same texture and tastes a bit more mild than its pita-dipping cousin. Packed with protein, this is a great snack for a healthier new year!

What You'll Need
1 - 15 ounce can of Cannellini beans
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 or 3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar (to taste)
1 teaspoon Dried Rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste

What You'll Do
Open the can of beans, drain, and rinse. Pour the beans into a food processor.
Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar to the processor.

Add the rosemary. Salt and pepper to taste.
Turn on the food processor for about 40 seconds or until blended smooth.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
Pour the dip into a serving bowl and refrigerate for about an hour. This will help the dip blend flavors and become less runny. Serve this dip with pita chips and thinly sliced radishes.

What is your snack pick for New Year's Eve? 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Peace and the Quiet

The hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation is over. The exuberance of Christmas Day subsides. The peak has been reached, enjoyed, and downloaded into our memory banks. Now we make the emotional climb back down to a comfortable, steady elevation where we live the rest of the time. Take in a big sigh and get ready for a new year. A year that represents new beginnings, second chances, and realized dreams. Now is the time to sit, in peace and quiet, to reflect on yourself. It is only in the peace and the quiet that we make introductions to ourselves; in the peace and quiet thoughts of our mind we make reflections that reveal our true authentic selves.
"If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life." - Author Unknown
I hope you take some time to stew in your own peace and quiet and reflect on who you are, what you stand for, and what you want. Do it for yourself, it's OK. Allow me to make the initial introductions. Self, this is Me; Me, this is Self; Pleased to meet you; Charmed, I'm sure.

Not sure where to begin? Not sure the meaning of the words "peace and quiet"? Check out this post, The Discovery of You, to help get the mind in motion.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

What a weekend, huh? I hope all your cups have runneth over from this past weekend's festivities. And, Happy Boxing Day, Canada! Us Americans have our own version; heading back to the stores for gift returns, exchanges, and putting all those gift cards to good use, taking advantage of after-holiday sales! Whatever you received yesterday wrapped up in ribbons and bows, I want to give a gentle reminder that all we have really is all we need. That was true on Saturday, Christmas Eve, and that is still true today, regardless what was waiting for you underneath the Christmas tree. If you are questioning this line of thinking like where was the million dollars I asked for, Santa, then it may be a wise move to start a Gratitude Journal. I hope you seriously think of starting one for the new year, if you haven't already. I'd love to travel on this journey together, with you. Want to learn more? Click here.

121. I am so grateful for the gift of family. My mom and dad spend Christmas Day with us year after year. My mom is in a wheelchair and it is a sheer struggle for her to even get into my small home, let alone get around once she is inside. I know it's an inconvenience, I know she feels trapped when she's at my house, but I want her to know how much I appreciate the sacrifice she makes to make me happy.

122. I am grateful for my dad and his willingness to play Wii Bowling with me. He's not that comfortable with new technology but his willingness to try is so much appreciated (hold down "B" THEN release to drop the ball, Tata).

123. I am grateful for a close family friend that spent the day with us, as well. He will never know how much his relationship with my family is valued and cherished and I cannot put into words how much we appreciate his presence in our lives everyday.

124. I am grateful for my sweet husband and his giving heart that is always in the right place. I love all my gifts, sweetheart, and I thank you for taking the time in your uber busy schedule to go shopping as I know you'd rather have a root canal than enter any store other than Apple.

125. I am grateful for God's selfless act that I don't think I could ever follow myself: "...For God so greatly loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son...(John 3:16).

What is a gift you have received to which you have been most grateful?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 26.

Goodbye Christmas preparations of yummy cookies, wrapping gifts, burning the Yule log in the fireplace, and sweeping the dirt under rugs (there's just not enough time to be perfect).

Goodbye best ever gingerbread house creation - great job, my boy!

Goodbye jam-packed days of fun, fun, fun since Winter Break began, with friends new and old - whew.

Goodbye best foot massage ever given by my selfless, caring, giving little boy (OK, not so little, he's 9).

Goodbye hectic days, late nights, week of work for hubby - his busiest time of year. (Other than being a mom, owning your own business is the hardest, but most rewarding job out there, I think.)
Hello excitement for the Big Day and having to practice patience for just a couple more days.

Hello getting ready to share our home with family and friends - I love the way the house over fills with love and good cheer.

Hello new dessert I'll be trying for the first time. If it turns out well, I'll be sure to share.

Hello reflecting above us, staring into the starry night, and finding the brightest star out there, remembering the guiding star that led the Wise Men to witness the Miracle we celebrate.

Hello feeling peaceful and happy this holiday season, for life really is good.

I must be in the Holiday Zone to receive this lesson because it came out of no where and rings so true. I learned I should approach every day as if it were Christmas morning, with anticipation, excitement, and hope of good things to come.

My friends, I wish you all the merriment and good cheer Christmas brings. My hope is that you are surrounded by warmth and love from family and friends, not just on Christmas Day, but every day.
Merry Christmas.
Get this free printable, here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mommy, Is There Really a Santa Claus?

It happened as most tragic events do - out of the blue. I worked so hard to shield any doubt in my young child's noggin about the whole uncertainty surrounding the "big question". I took extra precautions when my son started school, making sure I picked him up from school starting the first of November, just to make sure he didn't over hear some sort of rumblings from older kids on the bus ride home - because we know the "truths" our kids learn on bus rides home from school. I figured starting the chauffeur service in early November was early enough as these kids weren't even thinking Christmas until December, or so I thought.

I remember the exact date: October 2, 2009. My son was 7 years old at the time and he came off that bus with a look of confusion, drowning in a sea of despair. I threw him a life preserver with the typical mom question, "What's wrong, honey? Come on, you can tell me anything," I pleaded. Without hesitation he calmly asked, "Mommy, is there really a Santa Claus?" WHAT?! Where did this come from? Whose parent was I going to call?

This is the ornament we chose to represent that year.

I had to think fast so I recited the typical speech many of us rub into our children's emotional wounds of dreams gone by. You know the speech. It's the one that talks about Christmas as a feeling, the Christmas spirit, a believing of peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. Yes, all true; to a seven year-old, mumbo jumbo. My son patiently stared blankly at my fumbling explanation and replied, "Listen, I just want to know. Do any of my gifts come from a guy in a red suit that comes down the chimney and eats my cookies, drinks my milk, and leaves on a sled pulled by flying reindeer?" My heart fell to my feet, I could see a sliver of innocence fleeing from my child's eyes. "No, no," I muttered, barely audible to the human ear.

As most seven year-old boys do, my son shrugged it off rather matter-of-factly, stated he "thought so" and went on his merry way. He wasn't phased at all. He still gets presents from "Santa" every year, but it's tongue-in-cheek I'm afraid.

Fast-forward 2 years later. I had a revelation this holiday season. It's one of those things you wish you thought of on October 2, 2009, but didn't. Perhaps you've unraveled the same mystery and I'm just a little slow on the up-take. It finally hit me. I finally made the connection while listening to the 24/7 Christmas music on the radio. I know Santa Claus is a pagan character so I'm hoping my revelation doesn't cause upset. I hope no one takes offense to the following statement as I do have facts to back it up, so hear me out. What if, just what if, Santa Claus is Jesus, himself?

This is our family's nativity scene, made from paper mache.

The Evidence
1. "Ask and you shall receive." - have we not stood in lines hours on end to ask Santa for our deepest desires for Christmas?

2. Jesus was a carpenter. Isn't Santa the head elf whose primary profession is woodworking toys?

3. Santa absolutely loves children. Jesus had this same devotion to children and even told adults to "come to Him like a child."

4. Santa spreads joy and happiness around the entire world and works miracles, GIVING people what they desire, all in one night! Sounds like Jesus worked a few miracles Himself, and spread the Word of love.

5. Santa comes bearing gifts to all good little girls and boys. Have you heard of the Fruit of the Spirit? Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control - all gifts given to us that gifts us a life worth living.

OK, still not convinced? Let's turn to some Christmas songs...

5. Santa Claus is Coming to Town..."He sees you when you're sleeping, he know when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake." Sound like Someone we know, the All-Knowing?

6. Here Comes Santa Claus is the most blatant..."He doesn't care if you're rich or poor, he loves you just the same. Santa Claus knows we're all God's children, that makes everything right...Peace on Earth will come to all if we just follow the light. So let's give thanks to the Lord above that Santa Claus comes tonight."

Trust me, I think you know me well-enough by now to know I mean no offense in comparing Santa Claus and Jesus to be one in the same. I would like to point out that if you celebrate Christmas, you are, in fact, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It's not about the food or the presents. The comparison was a revelation that hit me like a ton of bricks and if Santa Claus represents Jesus in our house, then that truly is something to BELIEVE in.


Can you think of any Christmas songs that may suggest the same premise?


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {Christmas Home Decor}

Welcome, friends. Put on a kettle, grab a cozy seat, and stay awhile; let me share my home with you this holiday season. Browse around some of my Christmas decorations scattered around my humble abode.

 My son is getting excited as the big day approaches. Admittedly, I'm getting excited, too!

My most favorite Christmas decor is our nativity scene. I'll share that with you tomorrow! What is your most favorite Christmas decor nesting in your home this year?

*The O Holy Night printable (center photo) is available from 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ready or Not - It's Coming

Lilana Slater from via Pinterest
Final preparations are underway leading up to the big Christmas Day. Are you ready? What is your role this season? Will you be the host or the hosted? Either way, we all have our To-Do lists and between baking, wrapping, cleaning, traveling (you lucky ducks), cooking, cleaning, and, well, you get the point, there may be moments of elevated blood pressure.

A couple reminders to help calm you down, because Christmas is coming whether you're ready or not:
  • Christmas is coming whether the gifts are wrapped or not - that's why they invented gift bags
  • Christmas is coming whether the cookies are baked or not - that's why they invented bakeries
  • Christmas is coming whether there are clean sheets in the guest bedroom or not - if there are issues, kindly explain to them the invention of a hotel
  • Christmas is coming whether the house is clean or not - that's why they invented Swiffer products and closets
  • Christmas is coming whether you burn the standing rib roast or not - that's why Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas Day
  • Christmas is coming whether you make one more handmade craft or not - that's why they invented Pier One Imports and World Market
  • Christmas is coming whether you move that darn Elf on a Shelf one more day or not - that's why they invented TV and video games as distractions for our children
  • Christmas is coming whether you get the good china out or not - that's why they invented paper plates printed with reindeer, Santa, and snowmen
Look beyond the perfection created in a Norman Rockwell painting and, instead, see something more meaningful than the glistening crystal goblets or a robust baked bird; see, instead, the togetherness of people surrounded by other people. Let's not lose perspective that if we are able to be surrounded by family and friends this blessed holiday season, that is the best gift of all.

Take a breath and keep it in perspective. Enjoy!

And, Happy Hanukkah to all of you celebrating this evening.

So, how are every body's preparations coming along?

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Gratitude Journal Monday

    Friends, I can't thank you enough for stopping by today. I know you have tons to do, gifts to wrap, parties to plan and attend, and holiday spirit to spread. There's a lot to prepare, I know. Yet, you've taken a wee bit of time out of your hustle and bustle to sit with me today and reflect on some thankfulness. I thank you and am so grateful for your presence. The benefits of a Gratitude Journal is a gift you give yourself. Why not get yourself a beautiful journal and start your own, today? Not sure where to begin, click here.

    Nothing is too big or too small when it comes to gratitude so thank away.

    116. I am grateful for this two-whole week Winter Break - no homework, no driving back and forth, forth and back to school, sleeping in and embracing a slower pace.

    117. I am grateful for the ability to not take offense easily. This week I was reminded of that and, although I was upset at first, I had to find revelation of the bigger picture and calmed down.

    118. I am grateful for knowing who I am and what I stand for.

    119. I am grateful for all the military service men and women who are stationed away from home during this sacred holiday season. I thank you for all your sacrifice in fighting for America's freedom that I enjoy daily.

    120. I am grateful you share your time with me. Happy holidays!

    Do you have any special holiday declarations of gratitude you'd like to share?

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 25.

    Our family tradition: an ornament representing the year. My son started trumpet, a new school, and earned his black belt in Taekwondo.
    Goodbye last week of school in 2011: so proud of my son's ability to adapt to new-everything.
    Goodbye turning my kitchen into a candy-making factory preparing my husband's client gifts, our homemade toffee and some batches of the Best-Ever Caramel Corn for people we so appreciate.
    Goodbye sticky kitchen floor collecting sugar dust and fallen sweetness.
    Goodbye letting go of chores to instead share a breakfast with new friends.
    Goodbye pop out of son's loose tooth while on a shopping trip to Target, right in the seasonal gift wrap aisle.

    Hello life veering to the slow lane, at least for two whole glorious weeks.
    Hello playtime all the time.
    Hello soaking in every preciously made memory this holiday season and basking in all its goodness.
    Hello finishing up the last of Christmas To-Do's.
    Hello recognizing the blessings in our lives and thanking the right One for it all.

    The lesson learned this week is the importance of family traditions, especially during the holiday season. It's where we find our comfort, it's what makes the holidays our own, it's the memories we pass along from generation to generation. You can almost hear Tevye bellowing the words of his famous song "Tradition" in his barn from Fiddler on the Roof. Yes, tradition defines our holidays and gives us our game plan. I wouldn't have it any other way (for the sake of tradition, of course).

    What's your most favorite family, holiday tradition?

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Who Needs Snow When You Can Improvise?

    My wonderful hubby and son are such willing participants in the Family Advent Tree I created for this month. You have to realize, I thought of each day's activity right after Thanksgiving so an activity involving snow was a bit more risky than I had anticipated at the time, I guess? We live in the snowbelt of Northeast Ohio. We're no amateurs when it comes to dealing with the fluffy stuff and planning an activity in the middle of December involving snow seemed like a pretty safe bet.

    Sledding for us is a no-brainer as we live across the street from a neighborhood sledding hill. It's a great convenience and I love its proximity. So, a couple of days ago the Advent activity read, "Today is National Cocoa Day! Grab some mugs, marshmallows, and milk after some sledding and let's make hot cocoa." Cocoa? Check. Marshmallows and milk? Check. Snow? SCREECH!!!! Umm, no! Not even an inkling of a snowflake was on the ground when we needed it most. Blame it on global warming, blame it on my luck, but sledding was not going to be happening.

    Enter Super Hubby - the man with a plan. He found and flattened a huge cardboard box, laid pillows on the landing, and persuaded our son to "sled" down the stairs. Oh, yeah, this really happened. And, you know what? It actually worked! My son had a blast, Hubby showed his brilliance, once again, and I, after my last sip of cocoa, settled down for a long winter's nap.

    Any improvisation stories you'd like to share?

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    What I Made Wednesday {Citrus Pomanders}

    Ahh, the sweet smell of the Christmas season; it really makes your senses come alive. These smells are the scents our children will remember when they become adults, thinking back on their childhood Christmases. These sweet smelling Citrus Pomanders help to create those ever-lasting memories and they are so easy to make, it's ridiculous!

    What You'll Need
    Whole Cloves (from a bulk foods store)
    Clementines or tangerines (not Navel oranges as their rind is too hard)
    Band-Aid in case your thumb gets sore

    What You'll Do
    Insert the tip of the clove into the clementine.
    If your thumb gets sore after pushing in all those cloves, use a Band-Aid as protection.
    What You'll Need to Know to Finish
    I fill my crystal bowl with the pomanders, some freshly cut pine, and ribbon.
    I hope you try these sweet-smelling citrus pomanders. It's an aroma from Christmas you won't soon forget.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Finding Inspiration

    I started this blog with intentions to write a daily post, Monday through Friday, and I don't plan on changing that strategy any time soon. I want my readers to come to this blog with confidence in finding a new post every weekday and getting something out of my words whether that's inspiration, creativity, or comfort. Many of you have told me this little blog has become a habit for some of you, a part of your daily routine, and I really like that so I'll try my best not to disappoint. If I ever do miss a day, rest assured either I or my computer have contracted a fierce virus (not likely, though, for my MacBook, but I don't have that kind of immunity).

    So many people wonder how in the world I am able to write every day during the week. How can I come up with so many post ideas? Well, it's really been easy so far (talk to me in a year). I'm a very observant person. I'm also a thinker, over analyzing the mundane to death. And I have opinions; lots and lots of opinions. I like to share my little views of the world and hope my positive words are powerful enough to lift someone's spirits. Inspiration is everywhere if you just take the time to look and notice.

    Here are some places where I find the most inspiration for many of my posts:

    The Bible
    Pinterest, of course
    Other blogs
    My own experiences
    Anthropologie (can't afford one piece of clothing there, but the inspiration is FREE!)

    Where do you find your inspiration? What is your creative catalyst?

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Gratitude Journal Monday

     The big day is getting closer and closer. How's the stress level? How's the To-do list? How's the wallet? Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and take a moment. Just stop and take a minute to reflect on a few declarations of gratitude. It helps to keep it all in perspective. If you're not familiar with a Gratitude Journal you can click here to get the details. Try it and let me know if it changes your life, too!

    Nothing is off limits when it comes to gratitude so thank away!

    111. I am grateful for all the holiday beauty that surrounds us this time of year; every where I turn my eye spies something either twinkling, sparkling, or shining.

    112. I am grateful for Pinterest where the prettiest things on the Internet are shared and stored.

    113. I am thankful for and delighted with all the holiday specials on HGTV this year; so inspiring and beautifully filmed.

    114. I am thankful for my smart hubby who always amazes me with his tech-savvy know-how and intellectual prowess.

    115. I am grateful for the local radio stations who choose to play Christmas music 24/7 from Thanksgiving through Christmas; it takes some guts, way to go!

    As days pass, getting closer to the big day, for what are you grateful?

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 24.

     Goodbye realization that I may be the only parent at school without a SmartPhone.
    Goodbye helping a friend finish the last details of a craft project I cannot wait to share with you.
    Goodbye best babysitter on the planet. My son loves you so much he recommended hubby and I schedule a date night every two weeks (ha,ha,ha).
    Goodbye Michael Buble Christmas special that I sadly missed - boo hoo.
    Goodbye fascinating talk on a little history of Cleveland's who's-who with storyteller Dan Ruminski.

    Hello last of the gift purchases, but made from the comfort of my home thanks to Amazon.
    Hello finishing up the Christmas cards and sending our joys and blessings of the season.
    Hello perusing my old stash of Bon Appetit magazines for Christmas dinner inspiration.
    Hello rest and spending time reconnecting with the family after a long, exhausting week.
    Hello new followers (LOVD Friends button to the right). I'm so glad you could make it and welcome!

    This week I learned you have to recognize opportunity. Then, when you recognize it, you have to DO something to make it into something bigger. But, you don't come charging at it. You don't grab at opportunity like kids grab for candy under a newly busted pinata, no. You have to approach opportunity delicately, cradling it gently in your hands and humbly taking that first step to where opportunity leads you; and always being grateful for the blessing in the chance that has been given.

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Friends: Quality not Quantity

    1. Lunches.
    2. Craft projects.
    3. Sharing our lives and life's lessons.
    4. Exploring new shops.
    5. Bouncing ideas off each other.
    6. Supporting one another.
    7. Celebrating birthdays.
    8. Being real with no pretense.
    9. Growing together.
    10. Sharing a laugh (and sometimes a tear) together.

    I may not have tons, but the friends I do have are worth their weight in gold in my heart. I love you all and appreciate our beautiful friendship. I just wanted you to know.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    What I Made Wednesday {Nature-Inspired JOY Wreath}

    Nature is so inspiring and so giving. Outside the school, along side the carpool line sits a lofty beast of a tree - a Sweet Gum. As it sits there, unassuming, eavesdropping on everyone's conversations and having the best view of school grounds, this particular Sweet Gum tree was doing something very unnoticeable, it was shedding its "spikies". Now, I'm not an arborist, horticulturalist, or anything ending in "-ist" of any kind (wait, does former rocket scientist count?) so the term "spikey" is non-techie vocabulary I'll take as my own (my apologies to those in the know).

    The "spikies" are a nuisance. It makes a mess, just the same as a Magnolia tree at the end of its bloom, but what's left behind from a Sweet Gum tree is sheer inspiration, not browned, withered petals. My son (reluctantly) and I did a little cleaning up of the Sweet Gum's mess. My son picked up each "spikey" hoping no one from the school would happen to drive by on this day off, and I, in contrast, delicately cradled each one-of-a-kind "spikey" wondering how anyone could pass each day and not have the same idea in creating these holiday wreaths (really?). I warned you in a post last week that I had a plan for those picked "spikies". I really enjoyed making them and wanted to show you how easy it was to get such a great result. Enjoy!

    What You'll Need
    3 - 8 inch straw wreaths
    Glue gun
    Glue sticks (I used about 7 long ones, hi-temp)
    Glitter scrapbook paper out of cardstock
    Spray can of sealant (not pictured)
    Ribbon of varying size, coordinating in color (not pictured)
    Collected "spikies", of course

    What You'll Do
    This is the fun part, and most relaxing! Start gluing your "spikies" all around. If you press down on a "spikey" too hard, it will bite back. Be careful the sharp points don't break skin.
    Cover the area atop the wreath and around the sides leaving the inner wreath and backside exposed (no "spikies"). Treat it like a puzzle, choosing large or small "spikies" depending on the space that needs to be filled. Just make sure to cover the straw facing front and side.
    Go outside and spray your wreaths with a clear sealant. I used a high gloss and it made the wreaths a deeper color and shinier.
    Using your computer, print out the word "JOY". I used the American Typewriter font in a 360 point-size.
    Turn over your cardstock and your print out. Take your pencil and trace the outline of your backwards words on to the back side of the cardstock. When you lift the printout, you should see an indentation of the letters in the cardstock. Cut out your letters.
    Position your letters and glue them down IF you want. I did not. I positioned my letters when the wreaths were hung and the stems of the "spikies" are just holding them in place naturally.
    Give your wreath a trim by only cutting away the "spikies"' stems where the ribbon will be so it sits flatter against the wreath.
    Determine the length of your larger ribbon and cut to size. Position the ribbon where the one side is slightly longer than the other so you can glue down the longer side atop the short side. Apply glue to the shorter side.
    Fold the longer side over the shorter side and press into glue.
    Hang your wreaths. I hung mine on a crossbar in the foyer that holds a tapestry the rest of the year.
    Like I said, you don't have to glue down your letters. I just used the stems to hold back the letters and tucked them into the wreath. They haven't fallen out, yet!
    What You'll Need to Know to Finish
    For an added touch, I took a smaller, coordinating ribbon and tied a double knot above each wreath.

    Thanks for stopping by! Have you ever used nature's gifts in a craft project?

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