As I sit here in the last days of 2023, I like to take a few minutes to look back over the year. Actually, I don’t love it, but I find myself doing it anyway. What I really want to do is look forward to how I’m going to make the next year better, but as I start to do that, I find myself realizing that all the “new” things I hope for next year have their root in the disappointments of the year rounding up. Yuck. It’s full of failure, sin, and shame! I feel like the list of things I want to get better at and the sins I want victory over is longer than the success list!
Each year as Christmas ends and I really start thinking about it all, my mind travels back to a New Year’s from years ago when it happened to be on a Sunday. Our pastor preached a sermon that touched my heart! Instead of talking about setting goals for the new year, he focused on letting go of the old one—saying good-bye to all the mess-ups and sins we still carry around even after repenting from them.
He reminded us that when we ask God for forgiveness, those sins get nailed to the cross. Not only doesn’t carrying them into the new year make sense, we aren’t supposed to do it! All the guilt and shame that I tend to carry around without realizing it need to be put off.
It was a simple but powerful reminder to start fresh and not drag the old stuff along. That sermon inspired a painting that I’ve remade many of the years since. Here is this year’s for you to download if you would like! I hope it is a blessed reminder to your heart as it is to mine!
Without much snow to speak of, winter made it’s official beginning today. I thought I’d pop in before it’s tomorrow! Christmas is coming, but winter is here and will be here for some time. In central PA, we generally get the bulk of our winter in January and February, so we aren’t surprised when we can get some work done outside this late in December.
With winter here and Christmas a few days away, I wanted to pause everything else and wish you a Merry Christmas! I’m still working on new things for the shop, alongside baking and trying to shake this chest cold. I hope your Christmas is just the right temperature for you and full of health!
This week I hosted a Winter Wonderland baby shower for a lady at our church. I specifically picked a January date because I really wanted to do this theme.
I placed my chalkboard sign at the entrance to the room with one of my family’s favorite winter decorations. At home we call him, “Mr. Man… Mr. Snow Man.” At any rate, I’m not sure what happened to his jacket. It seems he was messed with after I set him up (kid helpers!) and I didn’t notice for the picture. Oh well. (See, parties don’t have to be perfect to be a blessing!)
Those little snowmen on the right were Hallmark singing snowmen from 20 years ago. When I started having kids I took the batteries out (sanity preservation!) and changed them from red to blue for our January decor at home.
The jar is full of cotton balls and has a sign that says “Snowballs 5 cents”. I had it in my kitchen with black and white ribbon but switched it to blue for the baby shower.
I’ve been waiting for a chance to set up a hot cocoa bar for something and this was it. Can you see that sign on the wall? Wait…
Here it is closer. This is a chalkboard placemat that the kids got for Christmas. The link will take you to the product on Amazon (not an affiliate link, I get nothing for this). When the kids opened it Christmas day, I told my aunt (who sent them) that I was stealing the extras for me! 🙂 I wasn’t kidding. I love these! She sent them with these great chalk crayons too, which I cannot find on amazon yet. I’ll have to look for them some more because we’ll want to be able to get them again. (I may have to review these in a separate post… super cool!)
Anyway, back to the party. I used my chalk marker for this and was super happy with the way it turned out. Rolled up some scotch tape and taped it to the wall.
The shower was for a baby boy, so it was super easy to use blues in our decor. I love the way sprinkles, candies and Hershey kisses in blue really make the table pop!
I didn’t go out of control crazy on the food since cocoa is filling and sweet in itself. Instead I focused on cookies. This mama was dairy free, so I switched up some ingredients in my go to sugar cookies and added some meringue cookies to the mix. I also whipped up some dairy free dark chocolate for dipping the pretzels in. To add some gluten free options (in addition to the meringues, which are naturally gluten free) I also dipped some gluten free pretzels in the dark chocolate (I’m so glad I did as another mama and her little girl in attendance needed gluten free and dairy free treats!)
Mix up some dairy free cocoa with almond milk and you are all set!
I love these cups I picked up second hand (leftovers from a friend’s wedding). They were originally from Amazon (again, I get nothing from this link, just passing it on). The circle sticker was something I designed with my fun little snowflakes. Adding these little details to your parties makes them even more special! I’m planning to have those stickers in my Etsy shop for next winter!
I didn’t remember to get a picture of these big hanging snowflakes until after guests had begun arriving, so this is only half the room, but aren’t they fun?!? I found them here on Pinterest. I can’t tell you exactly how the process went because I asked a co-host to make them for me, but she said they were fun and easy. We also used the cheap white lunch bags from Walmart, so the whole things was just a couple dollars for big impact! We had 5 of them in the room.
I made this cute little snowman diaper cake for the gift table. You can see a super short video clip of it here if you want more angles. I used 72 size 2 diapers, white dot fabric to cover the rubber bands, 2 black buttons for eyes, felt to shape the nose and a cheap pacifier (cut off the mouth part) and hot glue it all on the fabric. The receiving blanket adds to the gift and makes it look more like a snow baby. I used 6, 8, and 10 inch cake pans to hold the diapers until I get them banded together.
And that’s it! I hope you found some little thing you can use in your own celebration or decorating and enjoy these last days of January!
Did you see my Mini Chicken Calendar and love it, but not care so much about the chickens? I hear you. Chickens aren’t for everybody. And while trucks aren’t for everybody, I know that a bunch of you do love old trucks! I hope you love this little calendar with all their whimsical illustrations just as much!
I love to tie these little cuties (mini size) onto a package or plate of cookies for a Christmas gift. It’s what I’m doing for our pastors’ wives again this year. The first year I included a mini easel from Hobby Lobby. They make a great stocking stuffer too and fit perfectly. If you prefer the larger sizes, place them in a frame and switch them out, clip them to the fridge, or slide them in the front of your school binder! So many options!
Whether they are for you or for gift giving (both?), you can find them in my Etsy shop right now!
What do you think? Do you like them? Which month is your favorite. Tell me in the comments!
This is one of my favorite designs to date! (And with 2 colorways!)
Happy Advent Season, and Merry Christmas to you all! Things have been busy at my house of late, which means they’ve been slow here! I have some posts I hope to get up in the next couple weeks, so we’ll see what happens! 🙂
This is the latest version of my custom tree lots. I love my old version (one like it here), and it’s ironic claim that my family of 8 is a “little” tree lot. Sorry… I find those sorts of things fun. 🙂
This latest version was originally designed for my pastor’s wife to replace the one I hand painted for her several years ago. Almost right after I gifted it, their family decided to adopt again… a set of 4 siblings! Then their oldest married! And a baby! It was clear that I needed something that would be easy to adapt for a growing family! This is what I came up with.
These are great for large families, but you can also get them for small families. You can see several other family groupings and the second colorway at my Etsy shop.
While you are there, use coupon code TREELOT30, to get it at 30% off through Decmeber 8, 2022. I like to give my readers this exclusive discount whenever I list something new. (In fact, if you ever see something new that I haven’t talked about here yet, message me about it and I’ll give you a special discount code to save you even more! –Hint Hint). You can also click here to have the discount automatically added.
Back by popular demand, I have illustrated new mini doodle calendars for 2023! I did a couple of them years ago (here too) to sell at our Christmas market. They take a lot of time to create, though, so it’s been a while since I’ve done one. This summer I took up the challenge with my mini illustrated chicken calendar.
While I am hoping to sell them at our Christmas market next month, I also have them in my shop as digital downloads. They are downloadable as a PDF with three different sizes: mini, 4×6, and 5×7.
The larger sizes can be framed for display or clipped up, but I love the mini size on easels and tucked on a shelf or in a windowsill above the sink or stove.
I have dreams of posting a second design before the end of the year, but I haven’t decided what the design should be. Any ideas? Flip through some of my past content to see ideas of what sort of artwork I’ve done in the past and post your suggestions in the comments.
I took my boring old books lists (reading logs) and I kicked them up a notch… mamasbrush style! If you are new here, that means changing things up seasonally… sometimes even monthly (as is the case here)!
If you’ve been around here long, you know that before I’m a blogger, designer, artist, or small business owner (check out my shops in the sidebar), I’m a mom… and a homeschool mom at that… to 6 kids. Any homeschool moms reading? Leave me a quick comment and tell me how many kiddos you have! 🙂
Where was I? Ah yes, homeschooling! Always homeschooling! (I know for most of you, school just ended, but we homeschool all year, so we are getting ready to kick off a new school year at the beginning of July.) As such, I have a number of tools I’ve developed over the years. With my younger set, the ones learning to read and practicing to be more fluent, I started using book lists several years ago. I make a list of the books I want my littles to read through in order to practice what they know and to push them just a bit out of their comfort zone. When they finish a book, they put a sticker or a check mark or a smiley face in one of the boxes after the title. I encourage them to read the shorter books (not the chapter books) multiple times for fluency, so there are several columns for stickers. When they finish a list, I pick books from the next level up and start a new book list.
All this said, while fully functional, they aren’t especially cute. That is to say they weren’t especially cute. Well, one of the reasons it’s been a little quiet around here lately (other than all the gardening and asparagus… oh, the asparagus!) is that I’ve been overhauling my book lists. They are now, officially, cute. — At least I think they are cute! 🙂
There is a different page for each month with unique artwork that fits the theme (northern hemisphere only, sorry if your seasons don’t match!), plus a few extras for holidays and good measure!
I also created a chart for older kids/ adults who would rather have a place to put the date finished instead of stickers.
These charts are great for summer reading logs, assigned or free reading records for school or homework, or homeschool families. I love how it helps me record what the kids were reading for our portolios and evaluations at the end of the school year.
Some of my kids use them in their binders, others on a clipboard or taped to the wall. Keep them handy for best use!
I’ve finally got these digital downloads in my etsy shop. You can print them as many times as you want for as many kids as you have.
February is here, and with it comes a change of decor around our home. I decorate a few other places, but none as loved as these amazing shelves my husband made for me out of the beams he took out of our 1900 farmhouse.
A few things I kept from January… my black and white wood bead garland, but I flipped over the circle. This side has “home” on it with a heart. Good all year, but also good for Valentine’s Day. Also, my buffalo check wood house, black snowflake block, my skinny wood snowman (made by one of my boys when they were younge) and some snowballs. In our part of the country we still have snow in February.
New for the month are the ceramic strainer (from Hobby Lobby last year), my XO blocks (also made by one of my boys) and my new red truck (Hobby Lobby a couple weeks ago.)
On the bottom shelf I added a couple red felt hearts my oldest daughter made a few years back.
Oh, and the black chalkboard on the left is something I added mid-January and kept over. 18 days ago, in fact. That’s my sugar free count. I’ve been sugar free off and on over the last 4-5 years. But when I get back on it, it’s hard to go off again. I was thinking that the sign would help, and I was right! Today is day 18 off sugar! It keeps me accountable to all the kids. They are such a great cheering section. In those first few days when I would normally be super tempted to start over again at “Day zero”, I hardly struggled because I knew I’d have to write a zero on that board. The other night when I so wanted to have a “cheat” day because everyone else was eating cake and ice cream, I didn’t because of that board.
Have you ever added an accountability board to your decor?
It all started with a toothbrush holder… a broken toothbrush holder. We’ve been gimping along for weeks (months?) with this thing. Usually toothbrushes are everywhere (remember, there are 8 of us!) and today when I knocked a bunch onto the floor I decided to revamp our situation.
I ripped the broken toothbrush holder off the wall. Unfortunately, I actually did rip it off… and some of the wall with it. Ugh. I wasn’t mad, I just wasn’t careful. Sigh. The bathroom is bound for a remodel shortly anyway, but still, this look was taking us in the wrong direction. I needed something to cover this up.
Enter “Valentine’s” Bible verse. 🙂 I had already illustrated the cute snowman with the snowflakes for another project, so I just grabbed him and added some hearts (from yet another project).
To be completely honest, the verse print was one I was creating for the upcoming women’s retreat I’m decorating for. I just switched out the artwork and made a couple tweaks.
Perfect solution to covering a couple bad spots on the bathroom wall!