How to Stay Sane while Making Your Own Christmas Cards

20140320_211112It’s okay. I know you’re all thinking, “Becky, why are you posting about Christmas? It’s time for Halloween candy and fall decor!” Some of you that know me better are also probably thinking, “Becky, I thought you were totally against Christmas before Thanksgiving?!” While both of these statements are true and 100% accurate, I also believe it knocking things off the to-do list and being ahead of the game. That’s why I think now is the perfect time to start working on Christmas cards!

If you’re going to make your own holiday cards this year, here are a few of my tried and true tips for not losing your mind and actually getting the cards out on time!

1. Start early! Part of the reason for this post, hint hint, wink wink! You will be very disappointed and frustrated if you wait to start the project and aren’t able to complete it on time or as you would have liked to. (That embossed snow won’t finish itself, you know!)
2. Keep it simple! I love a good, elaborate, layered card as much as the next crafter. I also love my hair, my savings account, and my husband. For these reasons among others, I’ve learned to keep the card designs simple. My general plan is that I can purchase one new “toy” (be it stamp, punch, cutter, etc.) for each year’s card, and that usually becomes the one trickier piece to each of my cards.
3. Streamline! Continued from keeping things simple, make sure that your cards can be “mass produced,” especially if you have a long list of people to send them to! (More on that below!) Being able to break the design into steps that you can turn into an assembly line makes your project go much, much faster. Do all of your stamping at once. Cut all of the ribbon at once. Glue all the googly snowman eyes on at once. Whatever your design is, look for ways to make the process easier and create all the cards one step at a time.
4. Edit! This may sound harsh, but not everyone loves getting Christmas cards. Especially handmade beauties that could qualify for gifts on their own! Review your list of recipients and ask yourself the tough question – does this person NEED or WANT a card? And be honest with yourself! I cleaned my list last year and only sent about half the cards I normally do. People were on there that we had lost touch with, that weren’t involved in our lives anymore, and folks that just honestly weren’t the type to receive my card!
5. Set a deadline! Were you the type to stay up late writing papers the day before they were due? Did you tell people, “I work better under pressure!”? I may have done that a few times myself, but regardless, I am a firm believer that putting dates on things make them more pressing and more tangible. I send out my cards the second week in December. I know that I have to finish them before that so I can address, stamp and get them out. Gives me a little nudge when I realize the calendar has flipped to December!

Quick example. The photo is of our holiday card from 2012. I precut all the colors on the front. I precut the twine. I precut the rectangle that 2012 is on. I stamped all of the 2012’s at one time. I stamped and embossed all of the woodgrain one afternoon. I put all the brads in place before gluing down the brown strips. I put all the little 2012 signs on at once. I tied all of the twine bows last. (The inside of the card is blank for our personal notes.)

This was easily my favorite holiday card, in large part due to the streamlined, assembly line fashion in which it came together. So cute, and so little stress! Do you still make your holiday cards? What are your tips for beautiful cards that don’t take all year to make?

Waiting out Joaquin

Football and KnittingJust in case you haven’t heard, the East Coast is being pummeled by rain associated with Hurricane Joaquin. Gopher wood is in high demand and grocery stores are low on bread and water.

Joking aside, many on this side of the country are smartly playing it safe and staying home to avoid flooded roads and torrential wind and rain. I consider myself blessed not to have an event this weekend, and instead can hole up at home with three of my favorite things. Football. Crafts. And my husband. Wait…maybe I should reorder those things…

Today is going to be full of college football games and knocking out a mile long project list. Rainy days make me feel ambitious because, well, there’s nothing I can do outside! No guilt for not getting there!

How do you wait out rainy days? Do you take advantage of the good napping weather? Wrack your brain for kid-friendly activities? Does the overcast sky make you more ambitious or low key? Let’s get some brainstorming going because who knows how long we’ll have before this system moves on!

PS – one of my favorite rainy day kid activities is fort building. That makes even normal toys and games seem more fun!

Changing Fall Colors

Fall Colors 1 - traditionalWhen the temperatures drop and the breeze picks up, it’s hard not to jump on the fall bandwagon. As someone who loves the outdoors and natural decor, it truly is like a breath of fresh air! The outdoors are bearable again and there are so many beautiful ways to create a cozy home that embraces the season.

Now, I love the traditional autumnal colors and warm hues like red, orange and yellow, but as I began to bring out my harvest pieces, I realized that very little of it fits the mold for textbook fall style. That got me thinking, why should I feel limited to three colors? There are so many incredible ways to bring non-traditional colors into your fall look!

Fall Colors 1 - jewel tonesDo you love deep, rich colors? Bring some jewel tones into your space to complement the more natural neutrals that fall gives us! I love how Scout & Nimble incorporated navy into their tablescape through napkins and a burlap ribbon on the wooden crate. It adds a touch of class and refinement to what is otherwise a fairly eclectic design.

The porch scene arranged by Kate Riley manages to maintain a life and vitality that many fall themes lose. The gorgeous purple mums coupled with stunning coleus prove that while it may be harvest time, there is still lots of growing going on!

Fall Colors 1 - muted tonesMaybe you prefer a little more subdued color palette. Swap out the saturated jewel tones for muted earthy hues, and you have another amazing recipe for success. I mean, look at this beautiful mantel design by Michelle at Dandelion Patina. My rural Wisconsin roots make me immediately want to go out and buy a windmill, and those wooden candlesticks are a perfect complement for height! (I can’t not mention the squirrel! He’s adorable!)

Ok. Maybe after checking out Nothing Past Nine you’ve noticed that these are my kinds of colors. But can we just take a moment to enjoy the beauty of white pumpkins? I don’t say this very often, but *SWOON*! The combination of white and grapevine pumpkins looks unbelievable in the blue tinted crate! I want every bit of this design Laura put together over at Finding Home Farms.

Which way do you lean? Are you a traditional type with lots of warm colors? Do you go a little bolder with more lively jewel tones? Or are you like me and get excited about the soft, muted earth tones? I’d love to hear your thoughts, or better yet – share some photos of your fall colors! I can’t wait to see them!

Find more on each photo here: sunflowers, pinecones, tablescape, porch, mantel, coffee table

 

It’s Happening!

Under Construction Image

Big ideas in the new year are all well and good when you aren’t planning a wedding that’s happening shortly after!  Nothing Past Nine has suffered throughout my wedding planning process, and no more so than in the past few months.  I have decided to develop this lapse into an opportunity for growth and change.  Many of those big ideas from the new year will happen – better late than never right? – in addition to a few more projects I’ve been scheming about in between vendor meetings and table assignments.  Details are sorting themselves out, but a grand re-opening is on the horizon, and I am so excited to share everything with you!

 

Outdoor Style Addition

2014-05-27 18.22.04I bought my fiance a pair of Adirondack chairs for Christmas, and he had fun assembling them and giving them a few coats of protective finish.    We’ve used the chairs almost every evening since the weather improved, and while they are comfortable and beautiful on their own, I’ve been itching to add a couple of pillows for a pop of color and style.  My friend Joli gave me a beautiful collection of fabric remnants as a gift for my birthday, and there are so many fun, bold patterns, I knew I could find a couple that would look fantastic.

2014-05-27 18.22.37Putting a pillow outside with the humidity, pollen, sun, etc. made me a little nervous though.  Plus, the fiance didn’t want to take away from the natural comfort and simplicity of his chairs.  After convincing him that it would be a small addition and wouldn’t take away from his chair, I had what I am dubbing a stroke of brilliance.

Recycling is something we try to do a lot of, but plastic bags pile up in our house.  I never remember the reusable shopping bags like I should, and my solution is to recycle the plastic from time to time.  For this project, rather than putting those bags into the recycling bin, I put them into my pillow cases!  You’d never know by looking at them.  They aren’t meant to add comfort, and since I don’t have to worry about mold, mildew or other things growing in my pillow, it seems like a brilliant idea!

I’m sure there’s a downfall, but as of now, I’m just enjoying the feeling of having added a bit of style on the porch. What do you think?

Happy Places

So I have a few places in the world that I call my “Happy Places.”  Home would be the top of that list, and I include my parents’ house and my future in-laws’ house in that as well.  After all, home IS where the heart is!  Any and all Joann Fabrics stores are on the list as well, even though its rare that I ever leave one without spending my hard earned money.  The venue we are getting married in always makes me happy, as does anywhere I can be outdoors with my fiance in the peace and quiet – so humbling.

Now that you’ve been lulled into a tranquil state of mind, let me take you to a new “happy place” that I discovered recently.  DIY Home Sweet Home is a blog dedicated to all things me – crafts, organizing, life hacks, free printables, gardening, and more! There’s an entire binder full of fun organizational print outs!

DIY Home Sweet Home Planner

Jamie does a nice job keeping things simple, open and honest.  Projects are attainable, photos are realistic, and while I am admittedly not a huge fan of the overall look and feel of the blog…its straight forward.  Even the product reviews I’ve read haven’t been too over the top.

It probably won’t shock you that I’ve already spent more than my fair share of time on here, but there’s just so much to discover! I’ve already seen things that I could incorporate for the wedding…for the shop…for my life.

Alright, I’ve gotten that off my chest and get back to browsing the blog….er…finishing those to-do items before going back to work tomorrow!  Happy Monday!