Archives December 2019

Change Your Hair and Skin with this $10 Beauty Purchase

Maybe you’re a hair and skincare product junkie with cabinets filled to the brim with jars and bottles. Maybe you’re a minimalist that washes your face with body wash. Either way, I have a budget-friendly beauty purchase that can change your hair and skin, and maybe your whole life. OK, dramatic. But I’m seriously passionate about this one!!!

Friends, allow me to introduce you to my bedtime bestie: the satin pillowcase.

It all started when I was 15 and bought satin bedsheets from Urban Outfitters for my birthday as part of a “mature” room refresh. They were RED. It was a big mood for a high school sophomore, haha. Anyway, after sleeping on the sheets for a few weeks, I noticed something—my hair was sleeker and smoother, I was getting less split ends, and my skin was clearer. I didn’t know what was going on, but definitely didn’t think it was my sheets. Fast forward a few years and sheet sets later, and I found myself missing the cooling effects of the satin (I’m a hot sleeper and I find satin makes a huge difference for nighttime temps), so I bought a few pillowcases off of Amazon. The same things started happening as my accidental high school experiment. Happier skin, happier hair. I finally put two and two together and did some research.

Turns out, cotton pillowcases can be sneaky little things—they draw out moisture (meaning skin care products and natural oils) which can dull your skin tone. Not to mention the moisture in your hair can be depleted, which can make it brittle and cause damage and split ends. Cotton pillowcases also collect bacteria and dead skin, making it more likely for acne to pop up since you’re spending so much time with your skin up against them. If you’re already struggling with acne, this can obviously exacerbate the issue.

So with all that being said, there is an alternative—and it’s satin, baby! The beauty benefits of satin are kind of amazing, starting with hair. Satin is a slippery soft surface, so obviously your hair won’t get “caught” on the fibers like it can with cotton—it’ll just slide right over them. If you’re someone that tosses and turns a lot, you may see a big difference in the health of your hair after sleeping on satin for awhile, and you may notice that it just looks less unkempt in the morning as well.

As far as skin goes, satin doesn’t absorb moisture and isn’t as conducive to trapping bacteria, so naturally you might notice a difference in the clarity and the brightness/moisture level of your skin. Some sources say that because satin doesn’t create harsh folds like cotton it can prevent wrinkles, but there’s really no evidence to back this up, so I remain a skeptic on this point.

If you’re ready to try, I have a budget option, middle of the road, and a splurge option for you. Apparently, the mulberry silk is awesome, but I’ve used the very inexpensive brand on Amazon for years and have had great results.

Anyway, let me know if you have any questions below! I love a good budget beauty buy that makes a difference, and this definitely fits the bill. ?

xo Keely

Credits // Author: Keely Rust. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photo edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Cute Accessories For Any Hair Type

Growing up in the ’90s, headbands and scrunchies were the norm. I had a giant hair clip with a bunch of deflated balloons attached to it, and my mom would put it directly on top of my ponytail. In other words, I was really COOL.

I’m rounding up my favorite hair accessories today, and I couldn’t be more excited—I obviously love them for the nostalgia factor, but there are so many fun options to choose from now. My go-to headband (in the photo above) is this one. Don’t be afraid to wear a big, velvet headband. I think it makes your hair look more full and put together and you’re going for a look that’s a little more fancy.

I also have a thing for ALL hair clips right now (oversized, glittery, and minimal styles). I have a scrunchie in my hair at least three days a week when I want to put my hair in a bun. I’m ordering this oversized scrunchie today (it’s been on my mind for a while)—I’m all about creating the illusion of volume on top of my head or in a low ponytail since my hair tends to be kinda flat. Anyway! Shop my list below and let me know if you have any favorites in the comments. ? – Jacki

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Elsie’s Holiday Home Tour 2019

Happy holidays, everyone!!! I always give in and decorate for Christmas just a little bit earlier than everyone (in the world— lol), but it makes me so happy I can’t stop. Christmas is by FAR my favorite time to be at home. We leave our trees illuminated 24/7 and I love the way the rooms are always glowing—it just stops me in my tracks and makes me feel like we’re living in some sort of Hallmark movie (haha—but with better writing). HOLIDAY MAGIC is where it’s at.

First of all, let me say I had the cutest little helper on the day we did these photos. She was out of school for Thanksgiving break and she loves to help me anytime we decorate rooms. ? I’m so proud!

These bottle brush trees are one of my ongoing collections. You can’t really have too many, so I buy a few more every year!

I love these flocked trees, this glittery set, and these pink ones.

This is SUCH a good Santa year for us. Nova is so obsessed with her elf and curious about Santa … but still too sweet and innocent to really think of anything she actually wants. So she mainly just writes them love letters—the best!

I have to say, Joanna Gaines really won my heart with this letters to Santa box. It’s my favorite addition to our holiday decor this year … and trust me, it’s going to get very full. Haha.

My heart is so full! Also here’s a dog spotting since people always message me about whether we still have dogs (yes, we still have and love Dolly and Suki!).

Our ornament collection is a mishmash of sentimental ornaments and homemade. When we were newlyweds, we started buying one special ornament each year. This year, we added a few from China and a few from Magic Kingdom.

Four stockings this year!!! My heart is exploding. I was surprised West Elm was still carrying the stocking we got Nova two years ago, so we added one for Marigold too.

This little area above our play kitchen has randomly become a spot we decorate seasonally. I found my letter board at Target.

The Elf on the Shelf is such a special tradition!Here’s a link to my advent calendar (one of my favorite DIYs of all time). And here’s our exterior!

If you have any other questions about sources, or really anything, let me know in the comments!! HAPPY HOLIDAYS from my home to yours! xx- Elsie

Credits // Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

100 Ideas For Elf On The Shelf

The Elf on the Shelf is our MOST beloved holiday tradition for our 4-year-old daughter (it is our second year). However, recently it has come to my attention that a lot of people don’t like it or think it’s “too much work.”

Yes—it is a lot of work, but we’ve gotten so much joy out of it, so today I thought it would be fun (and hopefully helpful!) to share 100 ideas for The Elf on the Shelf. I hope it brings your family as much joy as it has ours!

1. Elf is sitting in Christmas tree.

2. Elf brings little note or gift (ours arrived this year with a book that Nova had been devastated to return to the library earlier this year—haha).

3. Elf is listening to music.

4. Elf is sitting on the breakfast table, eating Cheerios.

5. Elf is “hanging around” from door knobs or curtain rods.

6. Elf is sitting in a shoe.

7. Elf is sitting on piano (or whatever is specific to your home).

8. Elf is hiding in pantry.

9. Elf is in your child’s room when they wake up in the morning (this is VERY popular in our home).

10. Elf is reading Christmas books.

11. Elf is making paper snowflakes!

12. Elf is sitting inside of holiday wreath.

13. Elf is in coffee cup filled with marshmallows with a note: “Let’s make hot chocolate tonight.”

14. Elf has sugar out with a note: “Let’s make cookies!!!”

15. Elf has small wrapped gifts for each child (can be anything—even just a candy. Don’t overthink this.)

16. Elf has Christmas records out.

17. Elf is in sink like he’s taking a bath …

18. Elf is hiding in a plant.

19. Elf is roasting a marshmallow on a candle.

19. Elf is sitting in a stocking.

20. Elf is sitting in a cereal bowl.

21. Elf is making a snow angel (use flour or fake glitter snow)

22. Elf is riding a reindeer, unicorn, toy horse (we get a lot of mileage out of this one).

23. Elf is coloring in your kid’s coloring book.

24. Elf brings crafts you can make together.

For this next section … here are some ways your elf can be “naughty.”

25. Getting into the toothbrushes and toothpaste.

26. Getting into candy.

27. Eating cookies you just baked the night before (Elves are very hungry and they really like sugar).

28. Elf is hanging from chandelier, like above …

29. Elf is getting into coffee beans.

30. Elf is on toilet (bonus points for a drop of green food coloring in the toilet, OBVIOUSLY)

31. Elf has gotten into yarn and made a BIG MESS.

32. Elf is peeking through blinds.

33. Elf is “sledding” down stair rail.

34. Elf is building snowman out of marshmallows.

35. Elf is taped to wall (use washi tape, one piece for each arm and leg)

36. Elf has drawn mustaches on family photo.

37. Elf is getting into your child’s snack drawer or favorite snack.

38. Elf is in a bowl of popcorn.

39. There is a trail of mini marshmallows leading to where your elf is (obviously this may not work for you if you have pets)

40. Elf is “trapped” in upside down jar or water glass.

41. Elf is playing with your child’s favorite toy.

42. Elf is playing with playdough (can spell a word if you want, like HELLO).

43. Elf is in the fridge—add some ornaments or garland to make it funny.

44. Elf is riding a toy car.

45. Elf is sitting in your child’s coat pocket.

46. Elf is using the computer.

47. Elf has written on mirror with mama’s lipstick.

48. Elf has “spilled” candy all over the counter or table.

49. Elf has gotten into all the toys and made a mess.

50. Elves are VERY festive. Getting into the spirit with music just makes sense! If you have a record player, you can make them spin around … so cute!

51. Elf leaves notes with Post-it notes!

52. Elf is writing a letter to Santa.

53. If you make a gingerbread house, the Elf should be “moving in” soon.

54. Elf is in a basket of laundry.

55. Elf is getting into mama’s purse or diaper bag.

56. Elf is holding the camera (if you have an Instax camera you can have a photo already out of your elf, like they just took a selfie).

57. Elf is drinking maple syrup from a straw.

58. Elf has left a note on a marker board or chalkboard.

59. Elf is in a box of holiday donuts.

60. Elf is wrapped up in Christmas lights.

61. Elf is riding in paper airplane.

62. Elf is hiding in silverware drawer.

63. Elf has made snowman on bathroom mirror with shaving cream.

64. Elf is “walking” in pair of adult boots.

65. Elf is in little blanket—”brrrr, I’m cold!”

67. Elf is hanging upside down on fridge (use magnet clips on his feet).

68. Elf is tied in ribbon … wrapping gifts.

69. Elf is making snow angels with sprinkles.

70. Elf is making a big mess with bows and holiday wrapping.

71. Elf has been drawing pictures with your kiddo’s markers or crayons.

72. Elf is reading your child’s favorite book.

73. Elf has decorated a part of your home that isn’t usually decorated (like a dollhouse maybe, or your toaster …).

74. Elf has left a note with instructions for where a treat is hidden!

OK … I have reserved this last section for more elaborate ideas. If you want to be EXTRA … this part is for you! (for the record, we do almost nothing elaborate with our Elf and it’s still fun!)

75. Make a “swing” for your elf with a string and toilet paper roll.

76. Elf is floating with large bundle of balloons (I can’t WAIT to do this one!).

77. Elf has put clown noses (tiny red pom poms) on a family photo.

78. Elf is riding train set.

79. Take your elf to a photobooth and take photos of it to use one day (lol—this is very extra, but I want to do it!!).

80. Write messages on a plate in ketchup or mustard or sprinkles, etc. …

81. Craft roller skates for your elf made out of Cheerios ?

82. Make a hammock for your elf.

83. Elf is swinging upside down from a candy cane.

84. Elf has unrolled a roll of toilet paper all over your hall (or down the stairs); put elf inside the roll.

85. Elf is hanging in a paper chain.

86. Make a gum drop necklace for your elf and leave a bowl of gumdrops out.

87. If you have a dollhouse, use the furniture for your elf … rocking chair, toilet, bed, etc. …

89. Have the elf’s head sticking out of your kids pjs … this is a fun idea for gifting them holiday pjs too.

90. Print tiny photos of your child, so it looks like your elf is making a tiny scrapbook of them.

91. Stick your elf in a jar of jelly beans or M&Ms. Remember, even after the elf leaves the jar, the candy will be magic!

92. Put googly eyes on every item in your fridge and leave your elf in there!

93. If you finish ice cream or cookies (whatever) after your child goes to bed, leave the elf out by the pretending like they ate it all.

94. The elf is “sleeping” in the guest bed.

95. The elf is getting into the dog treats with a note: “Ew! Don’t leave these cookies for Santa!”

96. The elf has covered all the family photos with photos of himself.

97. The elf is making a holiday garland with Fruit Loops or popcorn.

98. Leave the elf in an empty box of candy canes with a note: “Can you find all 12 candy canes? I hid them all around your house!”

99. Leave the elf out with an empty cardboard box and a note to fill it with toys to donate.

100. Here are a bunch of printable ideas you can print and use as well! HAVE FUN.

Whew! There we are. 100 ideas. PLEASE pin this post so you can reference back to it for years to come!!

BONUS ROUND! Reasons why the Elf did not move: They were waiting for your child to do something extra nice (haha), they were being lazy, they “aren’t doing their job” … maybe they need a little talk. Remember, if the elf forgets to move, blame the elf! If your elf is extremely forgetful or lazy (lol), they can always apologize with a little candy or gift … and maybe a letter that says, “Don’t tell Santa!” ?

Woooo! I hope you are feeling motived! Happy holidays. xx- Elsie

Credits: Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

DIY Paper Dolls (with Free Printables!)

I know I can’t be the only person that played with paper dolls as a kid … I loved that you could change all their outfits and make up stories for them like you can with “real” dolls and (from a parent’s perspective now) it’s great that they are a toy that can easily be packed or stored away as they don’t take up much space. With us being in the midst of the holiday season, we partnered with our friends at Canon USA to create some printable paper dolls so you can make your own set at home—such a great gift!

–Canon PIXMA G6020 Wireless MegaTank Printer
-sturdy card stock or photo paper (or this Canon Magnetic Photo Paper MG-101 would be another fun alternative!)
–Paper Dolls Printable (right click to download)

OK, these steps are pretty easy, guys! First, print out your printable pages onto thick card stock or matte photo paper. I used the Canon PIXMA G6020 Wireless MegaTank printer for this project—its ink capacity is amazing! Being able to print at home is a huge time saver and that’s something we can all appreciate, especially around the holidays! Use your scissors (or X-Acto knife!) to cut out your dolls and accessories. If gifting, place them all into a box or folder for storage and let the dress up begin!

How sweet are those!? I think paper dolls have a wide range of ages, but I may wait another year to let my wild toddler have a go at these cuties. Thankfully, they will store well, so they’ll be ready when she is! You could also print these on Canon Magnetic Photo Paper MG-101 (cut off the tabs on the clothing) and use them on your fridge or a magnet board! I love that I could print these from my home and they can be an easy gift to print off anytime of the year you need a cute gift for a kiddo. What do you think, will these dolls make it onto your gifting list this year? xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Graphic Design: Mara Dockery. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

DIY String Art Ornaments – A Beautiful Mess

If you have ever wanted to make a DIY light up marquee but felt a little intimidated, then I have a project for you! You should totally make these DIY string art ornaments. They are very much like a mini marquee in that you’ll use a light from your Christmas tree to light up the ornament “star” on top.

For this project, I worked with Fiskars and used two of their DIY tools, their precision hand drill and hammer (with precision nail starter), to create these ornaments. I love the simplicity and design of their tools, they feel like they were created with makers in mind. But if you’re starting to feel intimidated just by the mention of tools, please read on because I promise these ornaments are SO easy to make and I just loved how they turned out!

You could easily customize these and use any colors for the tree and ornaments that you like. And if Christmas trees aren’t your thing, you could absolutely choose a different design for this string art ornament concept. I also think this could be a pretty cute project to make with friends or make a bunch and gift to others. ?

-small wooden rectangles
-small nails (I actually used 5/8-inch wire brads)
-embroidery thread
-mini pom poms
-super glue
-fine sandpaper
–Fiskars hand drill
–Fiskars hammer
-Fisksars nail starter

One quick note about the wooden rectangles: You can find these at craft stores or online, although I had a hard time finding some the thickness that I wanted so my brads would have a good depth to go into. But I also didn’t want the wood to be too thick. So I ended up buying some the shape and size I wanted and gluing two together for each ornament so the thickness would work for this project. You may be able to find small wooden rectangles or other shapes that work better, but if not don’t be afraid to glue a few together because it worked great for me.

Step One: Lightly sketch your design in pencil and then drill the hole at the top of the tree. If needed, use your sandpaper to smooth around the hole. And if you have difficulty finding an easy way to hold the wood while drilling, I recommend using a clamp and the side of a table. ?

Step Two: Add nails along the outside of your design. The nail starter helped a lot here I found because the wire brads I used were so small. And make sure to lightly erase any lines you’ve drawn as you go (although if you forget I noticed that you can hardly notice them after you add the string anyway, but still nice to try and keep the project super clean).

Step Three: Add the string, tying once you have your design in place. Then glue on the mini pom poms for the ornaments on the tree.

To hang these ornaments, simply find a light on the tree and tuck the light through the hole (so the “star” on there will light up when the lights are turned on). I obviously have an artificial tree, so it’s really easy to move the branches slightly as needed to help these stay in place. But if you want, you could also add a little ribbon loop at the top to hang these if needed.

As with any light up marquee made with wood and holiday lights, don’t leave the lights on overnight or unattended. This is good advice for Christmas trees too. Everyone be safe this holiday season. Happy holidays! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Harry Potter-Inspired Living Room Tour

If you listen to our podcast or follow us on Instagram, then you’ve probably already heard that Elsie and I are both creating THEMED short-term rentals located in the Orlando, Florida area. My house is inspired by the Harry Potter book series (a modern take). Today, I am super (like, CRAZY) excited to share the first room tour with you: the living room!

In this house, we worked with the Home Depot and used many of the products you can find on their website throughout the house. But what I really want to draw your attention to is the flooring in the house. Below you can see a before and after of the entryway. When we purchased the home, it had different flooring in so many places throughout, and some of it was beginning to look quite worn out. I wanted the entire first level (minus the bathrooms) to have a consistent flooring that I felt would not only look great, but hold up well in a short-term rental. I absolutely LOVE the flooring we chose. I wish I could travel back in time and put this flooring in my personal home because I love it so much!

And let me show you another before photo of the living room when we purchased the home, along with a photo my contractor took as the new flooring was being installed. I am also going to be sharing more photos and videos on Instagram today (and they’ll be saved in our “HP Bnb” highlight). I really want to try and show you what the flooring looks like in real life as much as possible through photos and videos. It’s my favorite engineered hardwood flooring I’ve ever seen and I know how much photos and videos can help when shopping for flooring online.

 Like I mentioned, I shopped for this flooring online. I looked at a lot of different options, searching through all the photos available on the website which were super helpful. I also ordered samples of the two flooring options we were considering the most. Trey and I narrowed it down between the Malibu Wide Plank French Oak Santa Monica and Hickory Crescent. After looking at all the photos on the website and looking at the samples we ordered, we decided to go with the French Oak Santa Monica because we liked the somewhat weathered look. It felt light (sort of beachy) in a way, and we felt this look might also hold up well to scuffs and families using and enjoying the home (which means, you know, some scuffs and scrapes over the years, I’m sure).

The new flooring really lightened up the space and also made it flow so much more since all the floors on the first level (again, except tiled bathrooms) are the same now. I LOVE it! The second biggest change was painting almost all the walls one color (see below). And then once the contractor work was mostly complete I stayed in the home for two weeks furnishing and decorating. Here’s what the living room looks like:

My color palette for the majority of the house is blacks, whites, and grays with a few warm or textured elements here and there for contrast. Again, I was going for a modern take on my Harry Potter inspiration. ? The space is also fairly simple, but everything has a functional or HP-inspired reason for being in the room (or both). The rug made me think of Dumbledore’s pensive in his office, or maybe even an Obscuru from the Fantastic Beasts movies. The three small wire shelves contain items that nod to some of the houses of Hogwarts (a raven, an owl, and a black velvet skull). The furry chairs and pillows made me think of Hagrid’s clothing and also some of the little creatures from Hogwarts that Harry encounters. And of course, I created an accent wall that is totally inspired by Platform 9 3/4. I’ll share a little more about that wall with you soon, just because I am so darn proud of it. Ha!

Above the entryway table, we have some winged keys and there is also a golden snitch bean bag for extra seating. In case you are curious of the wall color I chose for throughout the house, it’s Behr’s Weathered White which is a slightly cooler (think more blue than red) white paint.

The front door (leading into the living room) has a vintage owl door knocker and an HP-inspired doormat. There’s a little Easter egg in the Instagram story tour I’ll be sharing too, so don’t miss it. Hint: It may have to do with a favorite train snack … ?

Thank you to the Home Depot for sponsoring this post and thank you for letting me share! I will be sharing tours of all the rooms in the house and we hope to have the house listed to rent soon (finishing some of our tax papers for it now). Can’t wait to show you more spaces in this house as it’s been one of my favorite projects of all time! I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I read the books as they came out when I was growing up and Trey and I saw so many of the movies together too, so it’s really special to me. I hope the families and friend groups that stay in this home over the years can feel the love and magic I tried to put into it. xo. Emma

Room Details: flooring c/o the Home Depot, wall paint / Behr Weathered White, doormat, vintage owl knocker / Etsy, rug, couch, chairs, coffee table, floor lamp, ceiling fan, entry pendant light, media table, wire shelves, blinds, curtains, golden snitch bean bag, winged keys, entry cabinet and throw pillows / Home Goods. More details about the Platform 9 3/4 inspired accent wall to come.

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Amber Ulmer and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop. Big thank you to Steve Dennis, my contractor who worked on the home until I could come down. He did such an amazing job, and since I don’t live in Florida I could not have done this project without him. If you live in the Davenport, Florida area and need a contractor email me as I’d love to give you his contact information.

Punch Needle Embroidery Pillow Tutorial

If you’ve been itching to try your hand at punch needling but need something less intimidating to start with than a WHOLE pillow, this is the project for you! We partnered with JOANN to share a tutorial on creating this fun and festive pillow! Punch needle embroidery is the same concept but with much thinner thread, so you can work on more delicate lines, create embroidery-like images, or just get a lot of texture in a small space. It’s perfect for customizing a throw pillow or two for the holidays and can easily be scaled down to make your own ornaments!

In this round holiday pillow project, I used my embroidery punch needle to spell out the word “joy.” It took much less time than I imagined it would and since I punched it out on a red linen backing, I didn’t have to fill the whole front of the pillow and got to catch up on laundry instead. Just kidding, I caught up on Grey’s Anatomy.

–1/2″ yard scooter red linen fabric
–14″ wooden quilting hoop
–Boye 2.2 embroidery punch needle
–three skeins of 6 ply red cotton embroidery floss
–poly-fil stuffing
–JOY Pillow Template
–straight pins
–sewing machine (optional but I’ve linked to the one I’ve had for years and love)
-iron/ironing board

Step One: After pre-washing and ironing your linen fabric, use your embroidery hoop as a guide for cutting out two 16″ circles. The embroidery hoop is only 12″ wide but you can measure out 4″ from the edge and eyeball a wider diameter. Or you can follow these instructions.

Place one of the two circles in your hoop, center it within your hoop, and tighten the screw at the top. Pull your linen fabric taut in opposite directions to keep it centered within your hoop.

Step Two: Print out the provided JOY.pdf and carefully trim along the edges of each word to create a stencil. Center it within your hoop and carefully trace inside of your stencil with a black sharpie. You can pin your paper to the fabric as a precaution if you wish. The sharpie needs to be visible from the back of the fabric.

Step Three: Cut a 4′ length of 6 strand embroidery floss and split it into two bundles of 3 strands each. Six strands is too many for this size needle and less than 3 won’t stay put. Thread your embroidery punch needle according to manufacturer’s instructions. DON’T lose your needle threader. You’ll need(le) it. Hehe … For this type of project, you’ll want to adjust the length of your needle so that it’s only sticking out about 1/2″ from the handle. Not all needles are adjustable but this can help your loop height be more consistent.

Also, flip your hoop over. You’ll be punching from the back so that your loops stick out the front.

Step Four: Deep breath! Start just outside the sharpie line on one of your letters and leave about a 2″ tail hanging out from the needle end. Stitch forward, with the tail side of the needle where the thread is trailing out, on the back side. If the tail side of the needle is facing forward, it can pull your loops out more easily.

Step Five: When you’re punching through the fabric, you want your needle to punch through until your handle almost touches the fabric. When you pull it back out, keep the needle close to the fabric and move forward just a smidge. How much is a smidge? About the width of your needle. Since we’re using linen and not monk’s cloth or something with more obvious rows, just make sure you are keeping your stitches close to each other. You’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly and you can always fill in the gaps with more rows.

Punch until you run out of floss. Then reload your next length. Trim your tail ends down as you go so they don’t get in the way.

Step Six: Work your way around the outside of the sharpie so that it is covered up with loops on the other side. You’ll be moving your hoop as you work your way around the curves of each letter. You always want the needle to be facing in the right direction, so it’s best to rotate your hoop instead of rotating your needle. This is what three full outlines of the first letter looks like. If you like the outlined look, I suggest three rows but not less. This gives a nice thickness to each letter. If you want to fill them in, continue on.

Step Seven: This is the back of three row completions. You want to make sure your rows are as close together as possible to give it a full look on the front. If you see blank spots, just start a new length of thread and fill them in using more rows to keep things uniform. With this type of design, using only one color, it’s OK if you are moving all over the place with your stitches to fill things in. But if you were using different colors or making shorter loops, your rows would be more obvious and you’d want to keep things more uniform.

Step Eight: Continue punching rows from the outside in until all of your letters are filled in and fluffy!

Step Nine: Take a close look at the front and trim any stray strands from tail ends or loops that somehow stand above the rest. If you’re doing a really long loop, you can trim all of them for a completely different, shag effect. For this project, your loops may not be long enough for that to be effective or necessary.

Carefully remove your fabric from your hoop.

Step Ten: Place your punched fabric on your work surface with the loops facing you. Then place the second piece of fabric on top so that outsides are flush with each other and pin the two pieces of fabric together using straight pins as shown. Leave an unpinned space a little wider than the width of your hand in order to turn your fabric right side out later on.

Step Eleven: Hand stitch or use a sewing machine to start stitching on one side of your hand width of space, all the way around the inside of the circle, and to the other side of your hand width of space. Make sure your stitches are even and about 1/4″ from the outside of your fabric. Remove your straight pins. Fold the flaps of your hand width opening back and iron in place.

Step Twelve: Cut small triangle shapes about 1″ apart all along your circle. Make sure the tops of your triangle don’t reach your seam, though! This will help the seam breathe a little when you turn it right side out. If you skip this step, your seam won’t be quite as smooth. Reach your hand through your opening and gently turn your pillow case right side out. Avoid pulling by the punch needle section. Flatten your case and iron along the seam.

Step Thirteen: Stuff your pillow thoroughly and evenly with poly-fil and then use a ladder stitch to close the opening.

Step Fourteen: Fluff your pillow into shape and find it a happy home.

Now that I’m looking at it, it is giving me an ornament vibe! Who is going to take this tutorial one step further and whip up a matching set of “JOY” punch needled ornaments now? Just saying, it’d be real cute! –Rachel

Credits // Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

How to Build a DIY Dollhouse

If you follow us on IG (stories!) you may have already caught a sneak peek of our BIG holiday DIY of 2019. Last year, we made this play kitchen for Nova’s big gift and it’s honestly the only gift that has been played with EVERY DAY all year long. I also learned how meaningful it is (for me!) to spend months planning and working on a special project to give our children for Christmas.

This year, we’ve been on a bit of a Mary Poppins kick and Nova LOVES the scene in the movie where they are cleaning up with all the snaps. I asked her a month or so ago if she would like mommy to make her a dollhouse and she said, “Yes, but it needs to have doors.” Haha. I knew right away she was referencing the dollhouse in Mary Poppins and I knew we had to build one, inspired by it, just for her!

The first step was to design the basic build of the house. I spent a long time searching all the different kits you can buy online, but ultimately decided it would be the most fun to build it from scratch. With a little advice from my friend Mandi, we got started. I chose to do a simple, 4-foot tall house with two doors, six rooms inside and a bonus room hiding under the roof.

Here you can see the full inside.

The outside of the house has trimmed out windows with window boxes. The doors have windows that are basically just four holes.

Collin did an incredible job building this house based on a basic sketch I made. He added a lot of his own details as well, like the chimney (a Mary Poppins-inspired dollhouse OBVIOUSLY needs a chimney!). I’m turning it over to Collin now to walk you through the DIY steps of creating this house!

-six 1/2″ x 2′ x 4′ birch plywood
-fifteen 1/4″ x 2″ x 2′ poplar boards
-six 1/4″ x 4″ x 2′ poplar boards
-one 3″ x 3″ x 3′ poplar board
-small door hinges
-two cabinet door catch
-wood glue
–clear flex tape
-painters tape (optional)

-circular saw
-miter saw
-jig saw
-pneumatic nail gun and finish nails
-tape measurer
–12″ speed square (optional but very helpful)
-2 wood clamps
-400 grit sandpaper
-dust mask
-safety glasses

First, you’re going to want to cut all of pieces of plywood for the sides, back and bottom of the dollhouse. The overall dimensions are 30″ wide by 4′ tall x 12″ deep. The easiest way to cut your plywood is to lay them on a table or work bench with part of it hanging off while using wood clamps to keep it in place and make sure where the blade is going to be cutting the wood is also off the edge of the table so you don’t go sawing your table in half. To make sure you get perfectly straight cuts, hold a speed square in place to guide your circular saw (if you’re making cuts 12″ or shorter) or when making long rips in the plywood, clamp a scrap piece of wood on top of your board to guide your saw (as shown in picture above). This will make sure you get clean perfect cuts. Pro tip! Put a piece of painters tape on your plywood where you’re making your cuts to prevent unwanted splintering and shredding.

Cut the bottom piece of the dollhouse to cut to 29″ x 11″. The back two pieces at 40″ x 14.5″. The sides will be 4′ x 12″ with the top of each piece 45º angles as shown above.

Assemble all pieces together with wood glue and a nail gun with the side and back pieces attaching to the side edge of the bottom piece as shown above! I cut and added a scrap piece of wood to the top of the back pieces to hold them together, but it ended up not being entirely necessary (I found out later on), but you can add it if desired.

Next thing to do is to cut out the windows! I made a template out of foam board to speed things along in this process (cardboard would work too). You can make the windows any size you want but ours are 2.5″ x 2.5″ with 1/2′ in between each square. Trace out 6 sets of windows, 3 on each side of the dollhouse. It’s helpful to fill in the part of the window that is getting cut out with a pencil to make sure you don’t get your lines confused. Drill pilot holes in opposite corners of each window the same width as your jigsaw blade and cut out the windows.

Grab some scrap pieces of plywood that you probably have by now and cut some little 1″ strips for supports for the second and third “floors” and attach them to the walls with wood glue and a nail gun as shown above. Cut two more pieces 29″ x 11.5″ boards (same size as bottom piece) and place onto support boards and secure with wood glue and a nail gun.For the roof, cut two pieces of plywood to 32″ x 10″ with 45º angles so that when you put them together they meet in the middle like in the picture shown above. To make these long 45º cuts, just use the same method I explained earlier, but set your circular saw at a 45º angle when you cut.

Place the two roof pieces on top of your dollhouse and place a strip of clear flex tape along the top. You might be wondering why flex tape and not hinges. … Well, if I used hinges they would be very visible and stick out from the top of the roof and I really didn’t want that. I wanted it to appear as the roof didn’t open at all so it was an extra fun surprise when it does! So, I opted to use this stuff. Random, I know, but It is extremely strong and flexible so it can allow the top of the dollhouse to open and close really easily. Glue and nail gun the back roof piece to the dollhouse, leaving the front piece free to swing open and shut.

For the chimney base, take your 3″ x 3″ x 3′ board and cut a 5″ piece with a 45º angle on one side. Also cut one of your 1/4″ x 2″ x 2′ boards into four 3″ pieces with 45º angles on each side as shown above for the chimney top.

Attach the little 3″ pieces to the top of the of your chimney base, then glue and nail gun the chimney anywhere you want to the back side of the dollhouse. Next for the roof (shingles), take your six 1/4″ x 4″ x 2′ boards and cut them to the length of the roof (32″) and attach them to the roof starting from the bottom up. On the back side, you’ll need to cut the pieces to fit around the chimney. To do this, hold up each piece of 1/4″ x 4″ x 2′ to the chimney and mark where you’ll need to cut. Use the same cutting method as I explained to cut out the windows, drill pilot holes in the corners and jigsaw out the pieces.

Take your 1/4″ x 2″ x 2′ boards and with a miter saw cut a bunch of 6″ pieces with 45º angles on them to be the trim for your windows. Glue and attach all trim pieces to all 6 windows. Also cut some 10″ pieces with 45º cuts on one end for trim pieces for the roof as shown above. Pro tip! You can get some 400 grit sandpaper and stick it to a scrap piece of wood to sand the inside of the windows.

For the doors, cut two pieces of plywood to 40″ x 15″ and trace and cut out 6 windows same way as before and attach with hinges. You can add some trim to these windows as well, but we decided to leave them plain.

Cut 3 pieces of plywood at 12″x 13 1/4″ to be room dividers and glue and nail gun them in the middle of each floor to make 6 separate rooms. Also cut one more 29″ x 11.5″ floor piece, but this time with a 45º cut on one side to match the angle of the room for the top floor and “hidden room.”

Lastly, grab your 1/4″ x 2″ x 2′ boards and cut a bunch of 2 1/4″ length pieces and 6 1/2″ length pieces to make little window boxes on each of the windows on the sides of the dollhouse. Glue and nail gun them together as shown above!

In our next post, I’ll share the process of painting, furnishing and well, renovating (lol) the rest of the house. I’ve bought some of the furnishings online, but the vast majority of them we plan to DIY.

I wanted to start posting this series as early as possible, so if you feel the pull to create your own dollhouse, you will still have plenty of time! It’s definitely a passion project and something that takes a solid month or more to create from start to finish (well, especially the next phase with filling up all the tiny rooms). I can’t wait to get into the next phase, and even more than that, I CANNOT wait for this to be sitting under the tree on Christmas morning!

Stay tuned for more dollhouse updates coming soon!  xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson and Collin DuPree. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Emma’s Laundry Room Makeover – A Beautiful Mess

I am beyond excited to share our laundry room makeover today! This has turned out to be one of my favorite room transformations in my house to date. In partnership with Elkay, I selected two of their stainless steel sinks – the Sturdibilt Stainless Steel Sink for the laundry room and the Stainless Steel Wall Hung Service Sink for the small half bathroom connected to the room. I absolutely love the quality and durability of my new Elkay sinks! I love that their sinks are so versatile and can be used in many different rooms in a home. Design-wise, they were a bold choice that I think turned out so great in our space. Let me show you what we were working with before.

We really didn’t update anything about the laundry room since we moved into our house over four years ago. I did swap out the cabinet pull knobs or the shiny bronze ones you see in the “before” photo, but that’s it! There was large, beige tile on the floor and a sink/vanity that felt very mismatched. I also found that I got in a habit of piling things up on the vanity top, making this space look even more cluttered. We also do projects from time to time and have had contractors work in our home, and the previous sink had just gotten a bit stained and roughed up.

I think it took us so long to finally do something with this space in part because it does feel like a laundry area should be lower priority than, say, a kitchen or master bedroom. But our laundry room is connected to our garage, so we walk through this space every single day, in addition to using it when doing laundry or when I clean out my paint brushes and things. Now that it’s done I wish we had made this a priority sooner!

The space is very simple—I wanted it to feel clean and functional but still have design elements that my husband and I both love and that also go with the overall design of the rest of our home. We have a bit of a black, white, and green theme going in our house, so that was part of the inspiration. We added a closet bar for hang drying clothes (something I didn’t have before but wished I did). And I really cannot say how much I LOVE our new Elkay Sturdibilt Stainless Steel Sink. It has been much more durable and functional for our needs (hello stainless steel), but I also love the look in this space. It has a full-length backsplash and a wide apron to help eliminate spillover or grime.

As I mentioned, there is also a small half bathroom connected to our laundry room. It also just felt very beige and hodge-podgy to me (I realize that’s not a word but you get it, right?). Here’s a before and after:

The space is very tight, so removing the old vanity (we never used any of the drawers or storage anyway) with this Elkay Stainless Steel Wall Hung Service Sink made this small room feel so much more open without losing any of the functionality we actually used it for (washing hands).

These rooms are both fairly small, so we tried to show you as many angles as possible. I am just so happy with how this makeover turned out! Thanks for letting me share. xo. Emma

Room Details: laundry sink and bathroom sink / Elkay, green penny tile, globe lights, vanity light, circle mirror, and the soaps on rope. Also, here is my star sweater in case you are curious.

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.