December 3, 2014

DIY Hydrangea Christmas Wreath

This is the tale of how the non-craftiest person in the world (me) made some adorable DIY hydrangea Christmas wreaths. It starts with the itch I had to update my Christmas decor this year. Our old house only had one door and all the wreaths we had were hand me downs. Cute hand me downs, but for our new home I wanted to start all over and update everything.

What does one do when faced with this yen for new decorations? Pinterest, of course. Pinterest led me to this wreath. It was adorable but I wasn't fond of the price tag, never mind that it wasn't available anymore. I did use it for my inspiration for these wreaths though.

So since so many of you (well, at least a few) have asked for a tutorial I thought I would share how to make these totally adorable super easy hydrangea Christmas wreaths. Seriously they are so simple even I couldn't screw them up. That's impressive when you consider any time I want something crafty done for my girls I ask my best friend Libba to do it. She is the craft master; I'm just lucky she hangs out with me at all considering my dearth of DIY skills.

First, you need to go to your local craft store and look around at their pre-made wreaths. Decide that the prices are ridiculous and since you don't love anything there you will make your own. Purchase your supplies. This list is for two wreaths since we have beautiful double front doors now!

You Will Need:
  • Plain outdoor friendly Christmas wreaths
  • Good quality artificial hydrangeas in colors of your choice. I like classic Christmas colors so I went with a scarlet red and creamy white to compliment the green in the wreath. I decided on six scarlet red and four creamy white. This gave me three red and two white on each wreath.
  •  4" Burlap ribbon, the amount will vary on how big you want your bows to be and how you want to hang your wreaths. I used about twenty feet for the bows and to hang them. 
  • Wreath hangers. I used these since my doors have glass panes.
  • Wire cutters
  • scissors/kitchen shears
  • hot glue gun, and glue sticks. I wasn't sure I would use these but to me crafty = hot glue so I went ahead and fired that bad boy up!
  • 2 hair ties OR needle and thread
  • small piece of cardboard about 5"x3"
  • lap top or iPad for bow tutorial purposes 
  • Christmas music*
  • Christmas flavored coffee*
*not required

Get yourself all set up with a large workspace that is well lit. I went for the kitchen table since it is in a nook with a large window and an overhead light. Turn your Christmas music on. I went for Now That's What I Call Christmas: The Essentials, but your favorite will do. May I also suggest Idina Menzel's Holiday Wishes. I am really loving her album this year.

Instagram it, because, blogger.

Remove any tags from your flowers and wreaths. Go ahead and cut them off, trust me. Pulling them off will only result in massive amounts of frustration. Benefit from my experience, folks.

Using the wire cutters cut your hydrangea blooms off of the longer stems. Leave some of the foliage up near the top. Save the stems that should hopefully have some larger leaves on them. We'll be using all parts of the buffalo here, y'all. 

Next fluff up your wreath.

After this decide what flower configuration you want. I knew I wanted mine to be offset and heavier on one side. So, I decided to put two flowers on one side and three on the other. You could put two white on one side and three red on the other or you could do like I did and put one white and one red on one side and one white and two red on the other. Coming in from the top of the wreath poke your first flower down through the wreath. If you have an extra leaf pull it down then back up through to help keep the flower in place.

My flowers had some longer foliage poking out so I arranged it how I wanted and then wrapped the wire fronds from the wreath around it to hold it in place. I tried to take a picture of what I'm talking about.

Do this with the rest of your flowers until you've got them arranged just the way you want them.

Next make your bows. I ended up blowing off the you tube tutorials and just making my own. I cut a long length of ribbon off and laid it out flat. Take the right end and make a loop with the end of the ribbon draped across at a diagonal. Repeat with the left end. Pinch together in the middle.

You should have a bow at this point. Now, here I kind of freaked because I made the bow but had no way to keep it together. I knew that hot glue wouldn't do the trick, so after scrambling a bit I grabbed a couple hair ties. Just wrap the hair tie around the middle to keep everything in place. Now if you are a truly crafty person you would probably have had a needle and thread just lying around for this purpose. I don't fit into that category so, hair ties for the win!

Next make the puffy thing that wraps around to hide the hair tie. That's a technical term, by the by. Cut a length of burlap ribbon around four inches long. Put the ribbon on your piece of cardboard. This will protect your work surface from getting glue on it. Take your hot glue gun (yes! I knew that thing would come in handy!) and run a bead of glue along the long edge of of the ribbon. Fold the long edge over to the middle and hold it down.

 Repeat on the other side and you should have a piece of ribbon that is thicker and about 1/3 as wide as the bow ribbon.

Wrap this piece of ribbon around your hair tie, hiding it. Using the hot glue gun secure the ends on the back of the bow. Set aside until the glue is entirely dry.

Now you want to attach your bow to your wreath. I went with the very classic bottom of the wreath position. Just stick a frond through each side of your bow and pull it tight to secure it.

Now, step back and look critically at your wreath. Do you love it? I did, but I didn't LOVE it. So, remember those stems with the big leaves I had you save? Cut a few of those off, and grab your hot glue gun! Put a small bead of glue on the stem of the leaves and stick them down where you want them to go. This made a huge difference in my wreaths and I encourage you to do the same!

Lastly, decide how you want to hang your wreaths. I looped enough ribbon to go over the back of the door and be secured on my suction cup wreath hangers.

After you arrange your wreaths just so on your door stand back and admire your handiwork. Instagram it again, because you, the non-craftiest person in the world just made some adorable Christmas wreaths and didn't walk away with your hand hot glued to your head! Amazing!

Merry Merry, y'all and if you make these wreaths let me know! I'd love to see photos!

Also you can PIN IT for later!

November 21, 2014

Vol Family Road Trip Part Two: Bristol and Bristol Motor Speedway

One of the main reasons we decided to haul our entire family, including a three month old with a notorious dislike of the car seat, out to east Tennessee and Virginia was to visit Christopher's Aunt Sue and Uncle Addison. We really wanted to make sure that they had a chance to meet Emma while she was still a little baby. I know Emma won't remember it but they will. It was definitely a special visit!
We woke up Sunday morning feeling a little more refreshed after going to bed at a decent hour. After we all got showered and dressed we hit the road for Bristol, VA. I should pause to mention here that we consisted of the following: Chris, Pat, Roy, Tricia, Emma in her car seat, Evie in her car seat, Tricia's toy poodle Andie and me. So that's five adults, two kids and one dog. It's a good thing we all like each other! The drive wasn't too bad, and it was kind of mountain-y so the scenery was nice. We don't really get four seasons where we live so beautiful Fall leaves are a bit of a big deal for us. I loved looking at all of the colors. After stopping to get lunch, we had a great visit with Aunt Sue and Uncle Addison. The girls even both managed a brief nap.

{Family photo with Chris' Aunt and Uncle!}

{Chillin' like a villain at Aunt Sue and Uncle Addison's!}

While the girls napped Chris, his father and I drove to the Bristol Motor Speedway. Since the two of them are rule breakers we found an open gate and drove up to the darn thing. Then somehow they managed to find an open gate into the actual arena (arena? racetrack? what is thing called? ) and despite my protests conned me into going in. Y'all that thing is HUGE! I really want to go to the Battle at Bristol but I know we would have to get nosebleed seats and I would be terrified of falling!

 {Trailer sitting outside!}

{Crappy panorama shot with my iPhone, but you can see how big it is}

After we left the track we headed to Sonic for coffee (did I mention we were tired?) then to say goodbye to Aunt Sue and Uncle Addison. After we said farewell we piled back in the car and headed back to Knoxville. After a quick dinner on the road it was time for bed. We needed a good night's sleep before heading to Gatlinburg the next day!

November 19, 2014

Vol Family Road Trip Part One: Rainstorms, Malls and Football Games

I guess since it's been over a month since we got back I should finally blog about our family road trip to Knoxville, Gatlinburg and Bristol. Never mind me, always a step behind. It's fun to look back and revisit anyway! Right?
On Friday October 10th Chris, the girls, his parents and I loaded up into the Yukon and headed East to Knoxville on a trip to visit family, go to a Football game at Neyland and visit the Smokies. We learned a lot about traveling with two kids. Evie while very talkative, was a great road tripper. Emma has basically been dealing with some reflux issues for her whole life and we just now figured it out, so she was a little challenging. All in all though we had such an amazing time!
The drive there was a little rough. We did great until just outside of Nashville. 
{Loaded up and ready to go!}

{Sunset over the Tennessee River!}

We stopped to grab dinner and while it was a little cool and breezy when we went into the restaurant to eat as we were leaving the bottom dropped out of the sky and rain started pouring. It was so bad that I had to dig a dry shirt for Chris out of our suitcase. He was drenched. While Roy (my FIL) filled up the car Chris and I ran into Dunkin' Donuts to grab coffee for everyone. That coffee would be a Godsend. My husband drove the next three hours in the pouring down rain and dark. Now when I say pouring I mean I felt like Noah himself should have been piloting the vehicle. Chris has nerves of steel and managed to get us all safely through the rain and into Knoxville. We arrived at Aunt Tricia's house (Aunt Tricia is really a cousin, but as Pat (my MIL) is fond of saying, we promote people in our family) around 1:30 am. After getting both the girls snacks and settled it was time for the the grown ups to hit the sack as well.
We woke up very tired on Saturday morning ready to hit the mall so Aunt Tricia could spoil the girls at Build a Bear and later to head to Neyland Stadium to watch the University of Tennessee Volunteers take on... someone else. I can't remember who, but suffice it to say it was a cupcake team because it was homecoming.
{So. Tired.}
Evie had a blast building a bear with her Aunt Tricia. The bear turned out to to be this really weird horse looking thing that Evie has since named Pony. She sleeps with it every night. Emma got a cute little puppy dog, but since she was mostly in the ergo with Momma she was largely unaware that her collection of babies was growing. After Build-a-Bear we grabbed a bite to eat in the food court and headed home so that Evie, Emma and I could nap before Chris and I took Evie to the VOLS game.
{Evie and Aunt Tricia waiting their turn!}
{Emma chillin' in the Ergo}

{Stuffing Pony!}

I think taking Evie to see the VOLS play at Neyland might have been one of the top five best moments in Christopher's life. He positively beamed with pride every time Evie saw a power T and hollered "GO VOLS!". He had such a great time buying her popcorn, pretzels, frozen lemonade and of course an orange and white pom pon! Seriously, such a proud Daddy. Emma didn't get to go this time, but we look forward to taking her to her first game one day!
{Thanks to Tricia's boss we managed to score some amazing tickets and a parking pass!
This was the view from our parking spot!}

{Ready for her first football game!}
{View from our seats! Not zoomed in at all!}

{Behold, our future!}
{That's a super proud Daddy!}

November 4, 2014

365 Days and Two Pink Lines

One year ago today I was standing in the hall bathroom of our old house shaking as I watched not just one, but two pink lines, slowly but surely appear in the window of a pregnancy test that would set in motion a year filled with more change than I've ever experienced in my life.
My sweet Emma, a year has gone by since we learned of your miraculous existence. It's been a hard year, and that's okay. There are hard years to our lives my darling. Hard years aren't without joy though. You have brought me so much joy and happiness little one. You filled holes in my heart I wasn't aware existed. You healed scars I didn't know I was carrying. Just like your sister you are everything and nothing that I was expecting.
When you smile at me I know every moment of worry, every minute spent with my head hanging over a toilet bowl, every cramp and contraction, every twinge, and every tear shed were worth it to get us to you.
I love you with every single bit of my being Emma Ann. You are cherished more than you will ever realize.

October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Patch 2014

In Fall tradition we patched it up again this year, well as much as we could patch it up with a crabby-ish 3 month old in tow. We still managed to have fun, Evie found her perfect pumpkin to carve and I managed to get some cute, if not very flattering photos of my girls together.
I am really looking forward to next year. Emma will be a little toddling mess (my favorite age) and I hope Evie will have outgrown some of her threenager-y attitude. And y'all it's not that I'm not enjoying this time in my girls' lives, I am. It's just a time when even the fun things are a little bit hard.  I'm finding that it's ok to go through hard times as a parent, years of your children's lives that just aren't your favorite. The main thing is that we just continue to love these sweet souls unconditionally, even when we want to pull our hair out!

{She found the perfect little pie pumpkin!
The kids get a pie pumpkin with the price of admission.}

{The perfect pumpkin!}

{Excited about her pumpkins!}

{THREE-NA-GER, y'all. Oooh, that sassy attitude!}

{Evie is doing her "I'm tired and ready for nap" fake smile.
Emma just wants to gnaw on that pumpkin stem!}

{Evie is clearly so over it, and Emma is throwing gang signs. It's time to leave!}
Like the past two years we've gone to Cedar Hill Farm for their pumpkin patch! Want more pumpkins? Check out all of our pumpkin patch visits!


October 29, 2014

Pimento Cheese Recipe

You know what I love about Fall? Football, and having folks over to watch it. Victory and defeat always come a little easier when you are in good company, and trust me I know a little bit about defeat being a VOLS fan these past five years. The other plus to having company is an excuse to make yummy snacks! One of my favorites is pimento cheese. Pimento cheese is one of my favorite things to eat, but only if it is homemade! Store bought won't do and the extra effort shows in the delicious taste!
Chris and I recently had his mom and dad over to watch the VOLS battle it out with Ole Miss. There was no joy in Mudville that night, but the pimento cheese was darn good. So, I hope you'll try this delicious pimento cheese recipe and if you do let me know what you think!
Southern Pimento Cheese

What You Need
  • 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. I suggest sharp cheddar at least, and we prefer extra sharp. Also, take the time to shred the cheese yourself. It makes all the difference in the world. I love the bags of pre-shredded cheese you can get at Kroger for casseroles and the like, but for this recipe you need freshly shredded cheese. Trust me.
  • 8 oz of cream cheese, completely softened
  • 3/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 4 ox jar of chopped pimentos, drained
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper. Adjust this to your liking. Start with less and add more if you want more bite.
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • crackers, celery and carrots, for serving

What You Need to Do
  • Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, (if you don't have this beaters are ok, just go easy on the speed so you don't overdo it) combine all ingredients on medium speed.
  • Once all are combined taste and adjust cayenne as needed.
  • Cut celery and carrots into sticks
  • Serve with crackers and veggies for dipping
  • Enjoy!
Recipe altered from Southern Pimento Cheese

October 17, 2014

Lake Last Hurrah

A few weekends back Chris and I took the girls to meet our families at Pickwick Lake for one last boat trip this year. Evie has really had a great time at the lake this year. I know we've got a bona fide lake lover there, and I hope in time that Emma will love the lake as much as the rest of her family! Even though we will spend some time in Pickwick over the Fall and Winter I am really looking forward to going back next Spring! We love the lake!
{Emma and me! She's really into blowing spit bubbles!}
{Boat naps, for the win!}

{Evie and Uncle William}

{Daddy and his girls!}

{Emma was NOT a fan of the cool lake water!}


{Always sad to come back into the no wake zone!}

{Leaves starting to change!}


September 26, 2014

The Knowing: On Being a Second Time Mom

Have you ever seen The Day After Tomorrow? That's what becoming a mother for the first time felt like to me, a tornado wrapped up in a monsoon inside of a hurricane. It was kind of like the Turduken of weather battering my mind and my heart.
It's so completely overwhelming your first time. You think you are prepared, after all the books you've read you could not be anything other than prepared, right? And all at once this tiny human explodes into the universe and rocks your world, in a way you realize instantly you could never be prepared for. The tiredness creeps in and you think to yourself, "I never knew it would be like this. Will I ever shower again? Will I ever eat a hot meal/poop or pee in peace/get more than two hours of consecutive sleep/sleep late/have sex with my husband/move off this couch again?" You start thinking of all the things that you'll do when the baby is older. Every first and milestone is anticipated. The baby slept through the night! The baby rolled over! The baby is eating every four hours instead of every damn minute!
Until one day you look over and that tiny newborn that you've never actually noticed growing is blowing out the candle on her first birthday cake and you think back to this day one year ago when everything shattered, got knocked down, rearranged and put back together in not quite the same way. You think back and wonder where did 365 days go? And you wish with every fiber of your being that you could have that newborn back just for an instant, to remember how her head smelled and how her body melted into yours when you rocked her to sleep in the middle of the night.
Then one day you have your second child and more gently than the first she changes your world. Motherhood is not new to you, sleepless nights are less of a shock, the double edged sword of confusion and love is dulled slightly and you know.
You know that tiny toes grow into stinky toddler feet. You know that the baby will, in fact, sleep through the night one day. You know that you will not always feel confined to the house, afraid to leave lest your bundle of poop and joy squall at the top of her lungs in the middle of the cereal aisle in Kroger. You know that the newborn sleeping peacefully on your chest will eventually roll her eyes at you and say, "whatever, mom". You know of the succession of baby crap that slowly makes its way into the attic. First go the newborn clothes, then the bumbo seat, followed by the 0-3 month clothes and the baby bathtub until one day it's all gone and your baby is sleeping in a full sized bed. You know the ache that follows the pride when your child crawls for the first time, walks and talks for the first time.
The knowing causes you to savor your second child more than your first, love more, surely not, but savor, oh yes. You'll hold her longer because you know how short that time is. You won't worry about rocking your child to sleep because you know that has no bearing on her ability to sleep. You refuse beat yourself up over how you choose to feed your baby and how other people view it because you know it really doesn't matter. You won't love being up for midnight feedings, but they won't be as bad because you know how you creep into your babies' rooms to stare at them in their quiet sleep once they start sleeping all night. And even though it baffles you completely you know that you will want these overwhelmingly hard days back. You know, the same way the blue haired lady knew when she stopped you to tell you the day your baby was squalling in the middle of the cereal aisle in Kroger.
Follow on Bloglovin