personalized button hoop art for kids


It’s a bustling week over here at the Cottage, and we are still learning how to do life well amid busyness. :) Husband and I were away for a weekend getaway for our anniversary (or rather, the past three anniversaries, dated in June – ha! That’s how far behind we are, and how difficult it’s been to get away.) and had one of the best times together we’ve ever had!  I can’t wait to go through my pictures of our time in lovely Savannah.

But for now, here’s a little DIY for you and your favorite little person.

Zoe and I did this project together back in November when she was sitting low and recovering from her tonsillectomy. She wasn’t well enough to run around and play, but the days got long just sitting on the sofa and looking at books.

While a movie can be a good idea sometimes, I do tend to be a little old-fashioned, and I want my daughters to know how to do things like cook and sew and some of the other lost homemaking arts of today. This was one of the first sewing projects we did together, and we both enjoyed it very much.

So, inspired from my sister Ervina, who did a similar thing for our sister Claudia’s wedding, we did a little Button Hoop Art.

The hoop arts that are trending right now are so fun, I think. So vintage, so clever, and such a unique art that can be so varied.

So one quiet day, this is what we did.

Supplied needed:

cast of characters

  • wooden hoop (found in sewing departments of craft stores, size your choice)
  • cotton or muslin fabric
  • needles & thread
  • scissors
  • pencil for marking
  • assorted buttons of choice


Because Zoe only has three letters in her name, we used her name instead of a monogram. Olivia wants me to do this with her too, and then I’ll do her initials.

So, step one: write the name or monogram on the fabric, leaving allowance for the hoop. Be sure to stretch the fabric tightly in the hoop.

[Next time, I'd also leave more space between the letters. I used various sizes of buttons, and the letters of the name quickly crowded into each other.]


personalized hoop art


Step two: teach the favorite little person how to thread a needle.

Because this was her first time working with a needle and thread in a real project, I kept the thread fairly short so as to minimize the risk of tangling. :) That did result in many needles having to be threaded, so she and I did it together, trying to have 2-3 needles ready so we could keep going with the project.

learning to thread a needle


Step three: begin sewing buttons on the penciled pattern.

These buttons were an assortment of vintage & new buttons. Zoe’s Nana gave her the pink/blue/green ones that came from the dollar bins of Target, and they were the perfect pop of color!

assorted new & vintage buttons

hoop art for kids

[yes, those are pajamas :) ]

Zoe and I took turns, each sewing a button at a time. Doing the whole project by herself would have been too overwhelming for her (she’s six), but if we kept trading then she really enjoyed it. It took probably two hours or so, but it was a special time together.

teaching kids to sew

making button art


After the buttons were all sewed on, I took off the hoop and spray painted it, just for fun.

This is the finished product that now hangs in her bedroom, along with her one-year canvas photo and the lovely “Happy Girls” canvas from Aimee Weaver Designs.

button hoop art


Other options with this:

  • When I do this project with Olivia, who is 4, I may make this a hot-glue gun project instead of a needle & thread project. :) Her patience levels aren’t quite long enough for this, but the glue gun (one of the low temp kinds) would still be fun for her and teach her how to follow patterns and have the pleasure of a completed project.
  • At Christmas, draw the outline of a Christmas tree and use bright buttons for “ornaments.”
  • Use a small floral patterned or colored fabric for the background, and solid color buttons for the monogram (i.e. aqua fabric with white buttons)
  • Your ideas? :) I’m sure some of you have done similar projects, and I’d love to hear about it and see links!


Happy Hump Day!







Down here in the Deep South, we are rather in amazement at all the arctic weather we hear about and see pictures of, all within a day’s drive due north.

Here? We just spent a happy weekend at the coast with friends, and are having weather in the 70′s and 80′s. It’s… nice. :)

But I would be lying if I’d say I don’t miss the snow. I spent the first few years of my life in the tropics of Central America, and after that, in the Northeast United States. Some of my favorite childhood winter memories include snowfalls and winter wonderlands and hot chocolate warming frozen fingers and making snow forts and snow tunnels and snow men with my dad and sisters and all kinds of things involving SNOW!

faux snow day

kiss the boy


I have to admit to a bit of wrestling with contentment this winter. It’s very probable that if you’re a “transplant” of any kind, you may feel as though your kids miss out on what you knew as a kid, to a certain degree. I’m not mad I live where I do… It’s just that it makes me sad that my kids don’t know what a real snowfall is like, or what it’s like to be snowed in! [Yes, I'm a real snow-lover, with no shame at all about it. :)]

And if you’re a transplant yourself, you may feel similar feelings, only with your particular memories in mind. If you experienced a happy childhood, you just want your kids to have a similar experience. Funny thing is, if we ever moved north, my southern husband would probably think his kids are missing out on southern things! :)

faux snow day with kids

blowing faux snow

holding faux snow

Olivia - blowing faux snow

Sometimes, the grass looks greener somewhere else.
Or, in my case, sometimes the snow looks more appealing than 70 degrees. :)
And sometimes, I just have to CHOOSE joy, no matter what the circumstances are.
I don’t know about you, but joy isn’t something that necessarily comes hunting me down:
it’s a perspective I must choose, even in the midst of what I think are less-than-perfect circumstances.

For me, joy is a trust that God’s ways are perfect, that He is good, and His heart for me is kind; and that even when things don’t make sense, I can still trust HIM. Out of that spills joy – the knowledge that God knows best [for me and my kids, and they're not missing out!] and He sees the bigger picture.

It’s a lesson I only have to learn, well, every day. :)

a faux snow day

Faux Snowday

So, just for fun this year, on one particular day when my family [who lives in the arctic weather] was having yet another 8 inches of snow, I declared a snow day here. Yep, right here in the Deep South. There was nary a flurry in sight, or even the hopes of one, but thankfully it was cool enough to build a fire in the hearth,  so I gathered the kiddos around and told them snow stories of when I was a little girl. And I told my wide-eyed children that some people get to have snow days, when it snows so much they can’t even go to school or to the store, and they stay home and have fun. [Right, northerners-with-cabin-fever? :) ] And we had ourselves a snow day! *insert cheers and hurrays*

We read stories, like The Long Winter, the kids played and colored pictures and couldn’t believe the great idea of their mother, and we pretended we were in a blizzard. :) It was just the most fun ever!

So where does this “faux snow” come from, you may wonder? Well, places like Target or Michaels sell a generous bag of faux snow  ['faux' rhymes with 'snow'] for $1.99, so we opened up a bag leftover from Christmas and had us a little snow fall. :) The pictures were taken on Christmas Eve, our snow day was two weeks ago, and I’m just now writing about it. :) – thus the Christmas décor (which is still up on my front porch, actually: I just cannot bear to take it down).

I absolutely loved the kids faces on these pictures ~ Zoe especially. When she’s thrilled out of her mind, she laughs. And she was laughing and laughing during this little snow play. ♥

it's snow fun

happy snow fun

faux snow fun

And they were having faux-snow much fun, I had to join them! This little spur-of-the-moment snow fun will be one of the best things of the Winter of 2014 for us! It really IS the little things. :)

just snow fun

take time to play in the snow

on a faux snow day

And what do you know, we made [faux] snow memories, even in the south! :)

May your day be sweet, as you choose joy this day.


Postscript: Just a reminder that this is the last day of the Chalk Shop giveaway! The winner will be chosen and notified tomorrow.




When we were in Pennsylvania over the holidays, I spent an afternoon with my dear friend Shelly.

As I think over our friendship, it’s been so unique in that most of the time we’ve been long-distance from each other. There have been a few segments of time where we’ve been in the same location for two months, at two different times, but mostly, we’ve lived far apart.

The amazing aspect of all that is that we’ve only grown closer with time. As we’ve gotten married, had babies, remodeled or built our houses, Shelly has been a friend that’s been constant. She’s not threatened (if our phone conversations don’t happen as often as we’d like), and simply does not carry offenses (even though I’m not nearly a perfect friend).She enters my world, delights in my children, exclaims over new details in my life, has inspired me to make food an art form, challenges me as we raise our children in the love and fear of God, and has taught me precious things about friendship.

So imagine my delight when I was able to spend some an afternoon with her ~ just the two of us [and the two of us have multiplied into 11 now, including us and our husbands and children! :)]!

Shelly suggested Styer’s Garden Café, also known as Terrain. Knowing she has great taste in food and restaurants, and we both love an adventure, we set off. It was a bit of a distance away, but that only allowed for time to us to talk and catch up with each other.

And before we knew it, we were at Styer’s. This place is so hard to describe… but just think ~ what if Anthropologie turned into an upscale café? And that is exactly it. Yes, it’s not just an eating place ~ it’s an experience!

Deliberating over the menu took a considerable amount of time. It was not the normal cuisine that I’m accustomed to eating, but we finally chose a…

Red Wine Poached Seckel Pear Salad
parsley & frisee salad, toasted hazelnuts, Rogue smokey blue, pomegranate vinaigrette
And a platter of Artisanal Cheese…

Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert, Rogue River Smokey Blue Cheese, Shellbark Farms Sharp Chevre, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper

house-made pickles &‎ preserves, honeycomb, crostinis

[um, I know, right?? how does one even pronounce many of those foods?]

Let me just say, it was an entire experience that delighted the senses!
I have rarely ever enjoyed food to such a degree as I did that day;
the atmosphere, the presentation, and the flavor were all simply delicious.


pennsylvania holiday 117

pennsylvania holiday 114

The location is within a greenhouse, converted into a unique dining experience. There is still a fine greenhouse on location, with exquisite plants and greens, and you walk through part of it to arrive at the café area. It’s most enchanting.

pennsylvania holiday 121

pennsylvania holiday 119

They had fabulous kraft paper rolls around the restaurant area, displaying specials and notices. I dream of them in my kitchen one day. Dream.

pennsylvania holiday 123

After a leisurely lunch of a few hours, we strolled around the Terrain - the store part of the venue. It is in collaboration with Anthropologie and a few other noteworthy stores, so you can only imagine the unique and delightful pieces we exclaimed over!

pennsylvania holiday 131

pennsylvania holiday 132

We attempted a self-timer photo, and this is the best that we got. :)

pennsylvania holiday 136

And another take… You’d never know by these pictures that Shelly was within days of birthing her 4th baby. I was a little nervous, lest the baby decide to come early, and I’d need to take a midwife role on a highway. :) Thankfully, bebe stayed put and waited until the right time.

pennsylvania holiday 129

As I look through these picture I relive the afternoon all over again. :)

Moments such as these are truly what brings beauty to our lives – the richness of relationship, the time to savor and enjoy special moments, the delight in loveliness and uniqueness and creativity. It was inspiring in so many ways. Thank you, Shelly, for a treasure of a day! xo

Now it’s your turn! What is one of your most favorite cafes or dining experiences?



And we have a WINNER!
Sharon was chosen from an online random number generator, and we will be contacting you promptly!  Congratulations, Sharon!

On listing her favorite piece, she said, “Too many to choose from, but JOY or the Christmas one with the names of Jesus!”

[There may be more than one Sharon who entered, so if it was you, you will be receiving an email within a few minutes.]

Thanks so much to all of you who participated, and made this a fun giveaway!


When I featured my sister Jana’s beautiful home on my blog in December as part of the Christmas Home Tours, there were quite a few people interested in her lovely chalk art. At that point she was considering making it a business venture, but hadn’t gotten it off the ground yet.

Well, I am here to announce the opening of The Chalk Shop!


the chalk shop


Jana is a superbly talented woman, with much artistic ability, and I wish her well in this business venture! Her handwriting has been much admired long before the opening of this shop, and I love to see Jana using her God-given abilities to bless other people through art.

Here is a little sampling of some of the pieces she’s done. The chalk art is available framed or unframed, on wood or canvas, and special orders and customization are available!


the chalk shop - collage

The giveaway piece is an 11 X 16 “You are my Sunshine” chalk art, valued at $30.


You are my Sunshine

The chalk art is a sealed piece of art, meaning that although written with chalk,
it will not smear or smudge off.


To enter  the giveaway, please do both of the following:

1. “like” The Chalk Shop on Facebook

2. Leave a comment on this blog telling Jana your favorite piece of chalk art in her Facebook shop.


The giveaway entry time is from January 29-February 4.
The winner will be announced on Thursday, February 6th.


Happy entering! :)

entry for the giveaway is now closed.



When Ervina comes to visit 557
In November, one of my sisters came to spend a week with me.
Her husband was gone for the week, and he so kindly said she can go somewhere too.
I was so honored when Ervina picked me to spend her time with!
We had the most wonderful days together, and got to spend time with our sister Jana too.
Sisters are the best thing that ever happened. :)

And not only did she come, but she brought along a little baby bump.
That’s right – the first niece or nephew on my side of the family is on the way!!
I couldn’t be more excited!

So, of course, we had to do a little photo shoot to document the time together,
and to document Twenty Weeks of Pregnancy for her.

It was a lovely Southern evening when we set out,
and although we didn’t know exactly where we were headed,
we looked for fields and wooded areas.
And we found some lovely sun-kissed [sun-drenched?] spots…

When Ervina comes to visit 561 When Ervina comes to visit 477 When Ervina comes to visit 464 When Ervina comes to visit 483

Have you ever seen such an adorable baby bump,
and such a radiant mother-to-be?
I tell her I’d be so intimidated if I’d be pregnant along with her,
because she’s just so tiny and adorable! :)

I’m not the only one that thinks so:
she’s even had a fashion blogger ask to take her picture for “chic maternity style.”
So true. :)

My sister, however, has been more sick than almost anyone I know.
This baby is hard on the poor mommy!
I tell her when that baby is placed in her arms, it will be worth every moment. ♥

When Ervina comes to visit 421 When Ervina comes to visit 460
I am so excited about the new little life soon to be born to my sister and her husband.
This child is already so loved, not only by them, but by so many people!

I think it’s so precious, because Kenny, my sister’s husband,
is over the moon excited about his little baby on the way.
I don’t think I’ve ever known a daddy to be more excited!
They will both be wonderful parents, and this baby is so blessed to be born to them.

When Ervina comes to visit 582 When Ervina comes to visit 595 When Ervina comes to visit 583 When Ervina comes to visit 599

Baby Love: due March of 2014

“Behold, children are an heritage from the Lord…”



postscript: stay tuned for a giveaway later this week! a little hint of what’s to come: remember the amazing chalk art my sister makes from this post?…… :)


Hello all!
I feel a bit shy coming back to this little white space.
It’s been a month since I last wrote here?
How can time pass so quickly!

This blogging break was really not even intentional,
but with traveling out-of-state over the holidays,
and exhaustion catching up with us from the busyness it all,
and a tree falling on our internet line,
and the cold days of January…
well, it all turned into a little break that was actually very needed.
Sometimes the best thing is to step away and just be quiet.

Turns out, life has been so full of busy I’m having to LEARN to be quiet!
I don’t mean not talking; I mean, quiet in my soul.
To where I can be in my home and sit still,
to read a book, to not have to be doing something.
I didn’t realize just how busy our past year was until I hardly knew how to do quiet.

Sometimes life just brings busy, and it cannot be helped.
That was a lot of it, last year.
But, I also know there are choices involved, and I want to learn how to make wise choices in our schedule in this coming year, to learn how to live WELL,
not just survive and end up exhausted!

I came across this quote recently:

“One thing’s for sure: if you decide to be courageous and sane,
if you decide not to overspend or overcommit or overschedule,
the healthy people in your life will respect those choices.
And the unhealthy people in your life will freak out,
because you’re making a healthy choice they’re not currently free to make.
Don’t for one second let that stop you.”
[Shauna Niequist]

While I’m not sure how it can all be played out in reality
when I also live in community (part of a living body of people & church),
I also did like the freedom given to step away and say no,
something I want to do better at learning to say…

So, my goodness, just where DOES one start again?
Everyone is long past the Christmas and New Years and Resolutions and even Organization 101, and headed toward Valentine’s Day projects.
And me? I just went through my holiday pictures yesterday, and am still working on those resolutions. :)

So, since I’m taking it slow-style these days, here’s backtracking waaay back,
nearly a month ago.

Most of my family lives in a beautiful garden state up north,
and this was the year for our Christmas get-together.
With six of us kids, four of us married, and two living out-of-state,
holidays are a little more complicated than they used to be! :)

But it was all okay; we decided the best time to work with everyone’s schedules would be the weekend after Christmas. It was a little sad at first to not be with my family on Christmas Day, but then we realized that our own little family could have our first Christmas together – something we’ve never done because of always having extended family events on that day. And that turned out to be really really special.

I kind of felt like a grown-up though (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but more of a “I can’t believe I’m the adult around here!”) ~ the tradition-making, all the food prep, it was all up to me! It was a reality-check for a woman who still thinks she’s a kid. :) But we had a lovely family day, playing games, reading by the fire, and just enjoying one another. Oh yes, we had grits and shrimp, as requested by the kids. :)

We traveled north the day after Christmas, and the pictures are all from our time there.

// Christmas dinner //

Christmas table
// Salad: English cucumber serving as the bowl, spring greens, red and yellow pears, pecans seasoned with butter & sugar & cinnamon & cayenne pepper, pomegranate seeds, and feta cheese, with a red wine vinaigrette dressing. //

pennsylvania holiday 033

// centerpieces of candlesticks & paper snowflakes //

pennsylvania holiday 027

// Time with family is always so special, and if you far away from each other, it’s even more treasured. My father leads us in meaningful times together, reading Scripture as he did when we were small children, and now giving us opportunity to share with each other and connect on a deep level. Priceless. //

Daddy reading the Christmas story

masculine gift wrap styles pennsylvania holiday 087 gold wrapping paper presents

// One of my favorite pictures of the whole time is below on the left: it’s a bit abstract, but it shows childhood wonder and delight. Zoe pulled out princess dress-up clothes and wore them for the Christmas dinner. Against the Christmas lights and tree, it speaks of life as beautiful.

Also, I thought it was so fine when I found a little hipster beanie for Hudson at Baby Gap on clearance. When he wore it in the north, snuggled in a cozy wool blanket, I started laughing because he looked like a little Amish boy! I think the Amish are more fashionable than given credit for. :) //

children's thrill of Christmas
// The kids and I had prayed for snow while we were there, and what do you know ~
IT SNOWED! A glorious, beautiful snow! My southern-transplant-sister and I were absolutely THRILLED. :) //

pennsylvania holiday 155

// I love this picture. My three kiddos were in awe, and it was Hudson’s first time at seeing snow! [rave warning: I LOVE SNOW!! ] //

pennsylvania holiday 145

little girl snowball fight

snow wonder pennsylvania holiday 198 Olivia's many faces pennsylvania holiday 239 lovely Jana   precious sleeping baby

// We had only part of one day when everyone in our family was all together, before the guys had to head back to work and schedules resumed. It was much shorter than usual, and we did have one or two evenings together besides that, but we just decided to soak it up and enjoy what we were given. We sisters were together, and spent time with extended family and friends too. //

// The Sisterhood! [don't miss the subtle pointing at a baby bump :) ] //

pennsylvania holiday 166


// Our grandmother is 81 years old and we are so grateful to still have her with us; we enjoyed brunch one morning with her and our aunt and cousin. ♥ //


pennsylvania holiday 110

pennsylvania holiday 100 pennsylvania holiday 102
// Dear friendships that feel like family, and keenly missing the one beautiful friend waiting for us in heaven… //

pennsylvania holiday 098

// Game time! we always try to make time for some lively interaction, and try not to hold grudges after the game is over. Ha! //

pennsylvania holiday 156

// My husband was helping his brother in their new house for a few days, so we spent some time with his family too [sadly, no pictures :( ], and it gave a little extra time for things like taking coffee to my brothers at work. :) //


// It was tradition as kids and parents: after a snow at nighttime, we would go to the local Bird for breakfast. We did it again for old times’ sake, now with a family multiplied double in size. :) Thanks, Daddy. //

pennsylvania holiday 160

// The final leg of our trip ended a bit west in a weekend with my dad’s big wonderful family. Late nights, crazy laughs, wonderful family times, and it was time to head due south… //
  pennsylvania holiday 290
// The dining hall where we last stayed, and I just loved this collection of dishes.
I think it would look fabulous as an oil painting in a kitchen! //

pennsylvania holiday 297

And though there were many more memories and dear people not captured on camera,
we hold them all close in memory, and are so thankful for the richness of family and friendships we’ve been given.

Sometime over the holidays, as the wonderful mail and pictures came so thoughtfully to our mailbox, one of the girls asked, “Mommy, do we have a THOUSAND friends?”
And I laughed, and thought a second, and answered,
You know, honey, I think we almost DO.”

It was an amazing moment of realization, of feeling SO RICH.
No, we don’t get a thousand cards at Christmas. :)
But we have amazing family, and cherished friendships, and that is the best kind of wealth.
The wealth of loving and being loved?
There is no price high enough for that.

Is our world perfect?
Wow, NO.
Is our family perfect?
Wow, NO.

Behind every person, every picture, every blogger,
is a story unique and their very own, and nearly every time, there are elements of great pain.
Most times, you never know.
Most times, you shouldn’t know.
Pain is also sacredly private, often with only a safe inner-circle that knows.
The saying,

is so true.
Tread with kindness.
Speak with compassion.
Live with tenderness.

But, in the midst of the hard, imperfect things in my life,
I also am immensely grateful for all the beautiful gifts of friendship.
Those who love unconditionally,
who also love enough to speak truth,
who care and live and walk beside me in friendship.
Thank you.

Live quietly and with rest today,



“Rejoice, O sinners, everywhere for the restorer of the castaways, the Savior of the fallen is born. Join in the joy, ye saints, for he is the preserver of the saved ones, delivering them from innumerable perils, and he is the sure perfecter of such as he preserves. Jesus is no partial Savior, beginning a work and not concluding it; but, restoring and upholding, he also prefects and presents the saved ones without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing before his Father’s throne. Rejoice aloud all ye people, let your hills and valleys ring with joy, for a Savior who is mighty to save is born among you.”

- Charles Spurgeon

I saw this quote this morning one the page of some favorite authors, and it summed up so much of what I’ve been thinking of the past few weeks…

REJOICE because of a SAVIOR, who is mighty to save, has come!

// DIY gold glitter & lights marquee sign that husband and I made. I’m nearly giddy over it, I so love how it turned out. I’m nearly convincing Husband in my gold-crush. :) Also, newly redone fireplace brick. ♥ //

Christmas at the Cottage l JOY marquee DIY

Christmas Cottage l JOY marquee mantel

Christmas Cottage 2013 427

Christmas Cottage l mantel with antlers and garland

Cottage Christmas l small living room with indoor wreath and gold pinecones
Christmas Cottage l noel pillow   Christmas Cottage l Anthropologie inspired

Christmas Cottage l front door entry

Cottage Christmas l front door entry

// I love indoor wreaths. Outdoors is so pretty too, but indoors? That’s when you can really see them to enjoy them. Plus, they smell wonderful. //

You know, so often I say that Christmas is Jesus. I talk to my kids about it, I sing songs about it.

This year, the Christmas season has been clouded by so many losses and sadness. My own family is still present, and Lord granting us life we will celebrate together tomorrow. But I have never known of more loss and sorrow in the lives of people I know than I do this Christmas. For so many, this has been an incredibly hard month, and tomorrow is very sad day. I have shed many tears in the past few weeks – tears for some people that I know, and some that I only have heard of.

And I realize more than ever: Christmas is not about me. It’s actually not about any of us. Yes, Jesus came to save us from our sins, from ourselves. But the emphasis is not, Jesus came to save US. The real emphasis is, JESUS came to save us! A Savior of the world has come. How desperately we need a Savior, and Redemption. I am so grateful He came.

// whispering of Christmas in the kitchen //

Christmas Cottage l kitchen

Cottage Christmas l whispering Christmas in the kitchen
// THE best gingerbread cookies ever found, and perfect for children //

Cottage Christmas l gold & gingerbread
Cottage Christmas l gingerbread men


Cottage Christmas l feather wreath inside kitchen door   Christmas Cottage - lovely silhouette vignette

Christmas Cottage - kitchen mantel

This is not about a magical feeling I get at Christmas. It’s not about my world being perfect, or the people in my life being perfect.

This is about JESUS. About the redemption He offers us, about the gift He’s given us through his life and death. About the reality that this life not being the end of life ~ and sometimes it takes painful, shocking things to make us realize that. Christmas is not about it just being a happy day for me; it’s about worshipping the One who has given us a reason to live, and a reason to anticipate the life after this! That doesn’t mean it won’t be a happy time, but that the focus isn’t us; it’s on the One who gave us salvation and redemption.

It’s a frightening thought that Christmas can even be turned into idolatry, when we make it about ourselves, about what we want out of it.

// Jesus, the hope of the world! //

Cottage Christmas l dining room


Cottage Christmas l ornament garland
Christmas Cottage l Dining Room
// ‘Mommy, why does that ‘joy’ have a world in the middle of it? Oooooooh! JOY TO THE WORLD!” -Zoe, age 6 //

// also, feel free to laugh at my geography. I wasn’t looking at a globe while drawing it and realized how little I know details! //
Christmas Cottage l Joy to the World chalkboard

// One of my favorite vignettes in the whole house; the oversized chalkboard. The great thing about having a husband who is a carpenter is that I can rummage through his extra scraps in his shed and find almost any pieces of scrap wood I want. All I bought in Christmas décor this year was wrapping paper and a few strands of Christmas lights. //

Christmas Cottage l oversized chalkboard in dining room
Christmas Cottage l Christmas details


And even with the heaviness and brokenness and sadness of life, there is also such deep JOY. Because this isn’t the end of the story! Because Jesus is the Redeemer of mankind! He offers hope, and justice, and righteousness, and life everlasting!

Christmas Cottage l music room mantel

music room Cottage Christmas l music room

It’s a strange thing that makes joy and pain run parallel, and even stranger how the human heart can feel both so deeply, at the very same moment.

But in the midst of this gift of life, I want to squeeze every drop out of this precious gift of life. I am a different person because of the Life Jesus has imparted to me; my heart can know peace and rest, even if there is sorrow and misunderstanding and brokenness and sad relationships… and how could that NOT bring such joy? Joy not because of perfection in my life, but because of Who I know that is perfect, and yet loves me anyway. Joy not because of everything being happy; but because of knowing I have a Savior and Redeemer of my heart! This is Christmas; knowing Jesus is Christmas.

// master bedroom; sometimes this can feel like the most difficult room in the house to pull together, and there are still things left to do; but right now, I do love it.  //

Christmas Cottage I master bedroom

Cottage Christmas l master bedroom wreath

Cottage Christmas I  bedroom vignette

Cottage Christmas l master bedrom vignettes

Sometimes, this December, it’s seemed silly to decorate the house all pretty when there are such tragedies happening all around the world. But the flip side of that is that I’ve been given today, I have the incredible gift of loving my family today. There is no promise of any tomorrow, but today, I want to make it special. Today I want to love them so hard. Today I want to squeeze them tight and make special memories and create traditions and watch their eyes sparkle to see pretty things. That’s not silly or wrong. That’s loving them.

// the front entry //

Christmas Cottage l welcome holidays

Cottage Christmas l front porch entry

// a few DIY projects… ♥ //

Cottage Christmas l southern snowflakes

Cottage Christmas l DIY gold mug


The most amazing thing to me this Christmas:
Emmanuel: GOD WITH US.

That will always amaze me, and cause me to worship.

God with us.


Thanks for following these Sister Christmas Home Tours the past week. It’s been so fun to interact with you and I think my sisters have enjoyed it too. :) Many of you know there are actually four of us sisters, and may wonder why there isn’t a fourth home tour. Well, Claudia and her husband were in Colorado for several months this fall, and just returned home. I do hope she’ll give us a tour of their home one day, but it won’t be this Christmas. :)

Thanks to those of you who stop by this little spot. I’m so honored by your visit.

To those who have great sadness this Christmas: may you experience the presence of Emmanuel, the miracle of God with us. May He bring you great comfort, because He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, the One who came to bring Healing…

To those who are so excited about Christmas: don’t feel guilty. :) Enjoy the moments, treasure the togetherness, drink in the love, and you worship Jesus doing so. May you also experience the miracle of Emmanuel, the God who became man to be with us, and the One who dwells within us now.

We will have a quiet Christmas, a first for our little family to be alone, before spending time with extended family. We are very excited about both. I asked the kids for food ideas, and the all the girls for was grits for breakfast and shrimp for dinner ~ I laughed, because they are definitely being raised in the south. :)

Happy happy Christmas to all of you!