Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Inspired Handmade Gifts and Packages

Hostess Gift Set (you choose patterns) by CityChicCountryMouse
I don't know if you realize this, but Christmas is coming. In fact, it's right around the corner and will be upon us before we know it. A friend posted on Facebook today that her kids all want Christmas to hurry up and get here, but she needs it to slow down because she feels the impending "deadline" of making it all happen. I can relate! That's why, instead of actually making it happen right now, I'm feeling a bit worn out and rebellious and am blogging instead. There's still plenty of time to choose unique, handmade gifts and wrap them beautifully.

Here's the thing that always gets me. Our family does a gift exchange and there are mostly men in the family. Which means that every year, instead of getting to purchase some of these lovely handmade things, I instead have to go buy tools, dress shirts, or Home Depot gift cards. A girl can only buy so many boy things before she goes crazy. So this is my reprieve!

Need help getting those gifts to look even half as good as the ones you see on Pinterest? I found this sweet Etsy shop called Kawaii Goodies that has everything from baker's twine (an extra-chunky version I've not seen before) to rhinestone ribbon (YES PLEASE!!!) to washi tape to cute "handmade with love" stickers. For my own "DIY" version, I have some of those little doilies which I will be using in combination with baker's twine and various ribbons for wrapping some of my gifts. I also have some tulle ribbon in pale pink that I purchased years ago for one of my daughter's birthday party decor, but it has come in so handy as ribbon on wrapped packages. It's different and makes the gift seem extra special.

Gypsya is a shop that is new to me, although judging from all their positive press from other high-profile blogs and shops (anthropolgie sound familiar, anyone?) it's been around a while. I stumbled onto this shop while searching for organic bedding on Etsy. I've absolutely fallen in love with her textiles. If I could, I would re-do my girls' bedroom in white and use her blankets (#2 and #8) for a big pop of color. Then, I would get her animals duvet cover (#4 or #6) for my sons bedroom. At the risk of seeming creepy, I'd go even further and would wear her scarves (#3 and #5) while carrying her purse (#7) while creating a masterpiece using her homemade watercolor paints, made from flowers! (#1).

This is the part where I have to sheepishly admit I just purchased two of her lovely pillow covers (#9)  when she had a Facebook sale. They have arrived and are lovely and happy and are just waiting for pillow inserts. Where have you been all my life, Gypsya?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Season of Hope: Happy Christmas Decor

This is a special Christmas for our family. This year our son Caleb has shown tremendous progress. We are seeing him develop in some exciting new ways, including taking his first steps with the help of a walker, working on feeding himself, and trying to talk. My outlook is more hopeful this December than it's been in a long time, and you can see my optimistic outlook in how I've decorated for Christmas this year. In years past, I've used mostly silver and white elements, with maybe one additional accent color thrown in. This time, ALL the bright and happy colors were invited to the party!

I always like to put my own spin on things, however. I like to be different. So, I suppose not ALL the colors were invited to the party. Red and gold were not welcome. But if pink leopard print ribbon showed up - well, the doors were thrown wide open!

Even my new candle sconce received peacock blue more boring white ones for you, buddy. (I recently purchased it at Back Porch Vintage, where we have our antique booth.)

$20 for this yummy candle sconce! Made in Italy! Can you even believe it?

I've been trying to collect colorful vintage glass ornaments this year at garage sales. It's been slow going because apparently everybody else has decided to collect vintage ornaments this year too, but I still managed to score a few good deals.

The glitter on this ornament hardly even sparkles anymore because it's so old...but that's part of the charm.

Oh boy...the tree topper with a Story. Basically, my husband's parents have had the same groovy tree-topper for as long as my husband can remember. It looks kind of like ours, only ours is a reproduction. Theirs is an original vintage star topper that rotates inside and sends lighted patterns across the ceiling. That vintage tree topper of theirs is like the only material possession that Chad and his sister care about, and they routinely fight over who's going to get it in The Will. So finally, a couple of years ago, my wonderful brother-in-law surprised us by buying both families reproduction star toppers to replicate the family heirloom one. So, we have come to a truce. For now.

I spotted these spiky frosted branches at Real Deals a few weeks ago, and I just couldn't resist them. This year I really wanted a flocked tree, but we've been making a real effort to eliminate chemicals from our home and we were concerned about what impact the flocking spray might have on our little home environment. So, this is my nod to a flocked tree. I also stuck white poinsettias in here and there to give the illusion of snow drifts.

Here's the floating shelf above our TV. The lighted twig garland also happens to be from Real Deals, although that was a few years ago now. I found the giant snowflake ornament at the Dollar Tree of all places and bought several to hang on the outside of our house as well.

I needed to bring some of those happy Christmas colors over to the other side of the room, so I put some ornaments in this footed bowl. I bought a whole bunch of vintage hot pink ornaments at Goodwill last Christmas that all still had their original pink tulle bows attached and were in their original boxes. I was going to sell them in our antique booth this year, but in the end, I couldn't let them go. There are some pitfalls to being in the buying and selling business, let me tell you...namely, the buying is sometimes easier than the selling and that can get dangerous.

Last month I did something a little unorthodox. I eliminated my dining room altogether and converted it back into a more formal living room space. It's small - especially with a huge Christmas tree added - but it provides a cozy gathering space around the fireplace, which I've missed having over the last several years. This pic is taken from what has now become the "family room" half of the room. It's a small front room that is long and narrow, and we've only ever really utilized one half of it at a time. This year I plan on changing that. We've already bought a cord of firewood for the first time ever because I am determined to make that fireplace earn its keep! I had times last winter where I would be so chilled that I would light a fire and then sit next to it in a hard dining chair. This year I plan on cuddling up on the love seat with a cup of tea and a cozy throw.

This sign fit perfectly above a doorway. It's ironic that Christmas is really about the peace that Jesus brought and offers to the entire world, and yet for many of us it can be the least peaceful time of year. I find that if I can just keep my focus on him, I have plenty of it. I'm praying for peace for my family and yours this season.

My white narcissus got dressed up in a bright blue zebra-print ribbon. Why not zebra print for Christmas, I say? Behind it you can see my mirrored garland. I love that it adds a bit of sparkle in a mod way. I almost always purchase fresh cedar garland for my mantel and love it...but this year I just felt like having a lighter look. Saved some money on not buying garland...are you reading this honey? Brownie points!

Here's my little collection of mercury glass candle holders and random silver Christmas trees...with a little vintage carnival glass thrown in for fun.

I painted and glittered this a month or so ago. I was inspired by a glitter artist I saw on an episode of  "Home by Novogratz" on HGTV. "Hope" is really my buzz word right now. There is hope that Caleb will soon walk, feed himself, and talk. Hope that we may have a diagnosis soon. Hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

And most importantly, for those of us who know Jesus, hope of an eternal future with him where there  is no more pain, no more struggling, no more disability.

HOPE. It's a powerful word.

Here's to a happy, HOPE-filled Christmas for all of us!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rockin' Around the Christmas Wreath (my Etsy favorites)

Diamond Grove Christmas Wreath

I can picture any one of these wreaths in my antique booth space that I share with my mom. This one is both crazy twiggy and elegant at the same time. I like the mix of rustic branches with metallic and jeweled accents.

20" Preserved Boxwood Wreath

Preserved boxwood wreaths will always be a classic, as far as I'm concerned. They will also always be out of my budget, too, but a girl can dream.

Paper Cone Sheet Music Wreath

We actually have a wreath similar to this in our Cottage Queens space at the antique shop. Secretly, though, I like this one better.

Winter Wreath

 This cute wreath is more my mom's style than mine, thanks to the primitive sign and the red berry accents. I still appreciate its twiggy-ness though.

Modern Holiday Wreath

At first I thought this was a felt wreath, but then I read the description and realized it's painted newspaper. Cool! The things people come up with.

Burlap & Antique White Scented Wreath

This wreath is another style that's so classic it could be part of your year-round decor. You know, sort of like the snowman door mat that's been part of my year-round decor (oops!), only much classier. And get this - it's scented with vanilla sugar spray. Yum!

As I looked at wreaths on Etsy, I was actually quite impressed with the quality of wreaths that were available. They are often quite pricey as well, but when you look at the amount of materials used and the time and patience it must take to craft them, THEN add the fact that the wreaths can be used year after year...they are worth it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Favorite Letterpress Christmas Cards

So I've been thinking about this little ol' blog for a while now. About how I miss it. About how I'd love to have a little corner of the world to call my own. A place (besides Pinterest) where I can post the things that are inspiring me in the moment. A place where I can talk about all the stuff I'd buy if I were independently wealthy. I've been re-reading some of my old posts with a bit of nostalgia. The fact is, I'm in no position to be in business again these days, what with my busy family life and all. But I'm feeling the need for a creative outlet, so I thought, why not? I've blogged a bit this year about food and our special needs journey and now I'm ready to dig back into some fun stuff.

Handel's Messiah assorted letterpress cards, set of 30, by Wild Ink Press
In homage to the time of the year, here's a round-up of my favorite Christmas cards. I'm digging letterpress (as always) and while I absolutely love receiving current photos of my friends and their adorable families, I've got a hankering for something different this year. Letterpress costs a bit more than typically printed cards, but the end result is so frame-worthy I think it's worth it!

Let Earth Receive Her King set of 12 letterpress cards by DingbatPress
 This graphic seems simple at first. Look closer. Love it.

Set of 10 Letterpress Cards by DancingPenandPress
 I like the elegance of these designs by Dancing Pen & Press! (See above and below.)

Letterpress Christmas cards, set of 20, by DancingPenandPress

Silver and Gold Chevron cards, Set of 8 by Wild Ink Press
Wild Ink Press does work that is simple, beautiful, and even humorous. You should check out her line of "three things" cards or her "literal" cards...perfect for belated birthdays, anniversaries, "I'm sorry", and more.

Arise, Shine set of 8 letterpress cards by WildInkPress

I love how letterpress is such an old-fashioned art that has really been made new again with modern graphics, fresh lettering, and even inspiration from chalkboard art.

Silver and Gold Christmas letterpress cards, splatter, set of 8 by WildInkPress
Sigh. This line of silver and gold letterpress cards that all feature the second line of famous Christmas carols is sweet and simple. Love.

Note to my family: don't be surprised if one of these cards ends up in your mailbox from me. :-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

my new space at Oregon Antique Mall

Hi there! Just checking in with my old Nesting Instincts peeps. Letting you know that while Nesting Instincts, the business, has been laid to rest, I still get to have a creative outlet. My mom Georgia and I have a little space at Oregon Antique Mall in Oregon City, Oregon. If you are ever in town, you should come visit! It's a great new antique mall that has been remodeled recently and is full of wonderful vendors. My mom and I are calling our little venture "Cottage Queens" and we sell a lot of re-purposed vintage, crafted items (using vintage materials) and awesome "junk".

Click here to like us on Facebook. :-)

Cottage Queens has a new home! You can find us in Aurora, Oregon at Back Porch Vintage!

Monday, November 15, 2010

swan song

When my second child was born almost four years ago, I was ready for a change. I had been plugging away as a part-time worship leader in my church, but had grown tired and ready to be a stay-at-home mom for a while. I had always had a dream of owning my own redesign business. It was something I was good at and had been helping friends redecorate for years just for fun. I started thinking, "Wouldn't it be fun to give it a shot?" I was blessed with a husband who had a steady job and we had always been committed to living on just his income, so there wasn't a lot of pressure to make lots of money right away. In addition, I had just given birth to my second daughter, and while she is a huge blessing now and brings so much joy to our family - she was not an easy baby! She refused to sleep at night and I was exhausted...I wanted somethiing "fun" to focus on. Thus, Nesting Instincts was born! I began working on a simple website, and when I started blogging in January of 2008, the business just took off! For a year, the business was just above and beyond what I could have hoped it would be. I was having so much fun. I remember saying to my husband, "I don't know how long this will last, but for now, it's just such a gift from God. He didn't have to bless this business, but He knew it was something I really wanted right now and he's brought clients and just really smiled on the whole thing this year."

And it's so true. I haven't talked about my faith a whole lot on this blog, because it's always been about promoting my business, but the fact is, I am who I am because of God. And my faith in Him colors everything about my life. I would be a mess without Him. So when my business started to receive accolades from even the most unexpected quarters, I thanked God, because I knew that "every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above" as the Bible says. While all of this was happening, I started attending a new church closer to my home and, while I no longer had to lead worship on Sundays, God wouldn't let me forget about worship leading. People who hadn't even heard me play or sing kept asking me to join worship teams or to lead worship at women's Bible study or various events. And then, almost 20 months ago, I gave birth to my sweet boy. He has been a huge blessing to our family and we're so grateful for him! However, he's also been an unexpected challenge. He's developmentally delayed, and we've spent the last eleven months in therapy, evaluations, testing, etc. to try and determine what the issues are and what the cause might be. We still don't have a whole lot more answers now than we did a year ago (except we know a whole lot of diseases that he doesn't have now).

And so, in spite of some big challenges and other time commitments, I have continued to plug away at my little Nesting Instincts. Decorating, shopping, bargain-hunting, graphic design, entertaining and throwing parties...I've always loved those things! And I always will! But recently, God's given me a new direction in life. He's shown me that he wants me to focus more on ministry to Him and to others and that the season of Nesting Instincts, the business, is coming to a close. Honestly, if you had told me a year ago that I would be writing this, I would have predicted that I would be feeling very sad and nostalgic right now...that there might be great "weeping and gnashing of teeth" as I close this chapter of my life. Actually, there is some nostalgia, but I am not mourning the end of this season! Mostly because I'm so excited about whatever it is that God has in store for me next. (And in case you ask, I have no idea what that might be.) I just feel like this is the right thing to do. God has shifted my priorities, and I want to be a part of what he's doing in the world. Many would say that I could have still ministered through decorating, etc. And that is true! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with decorating...I will always love it! But I've had a personal encounter with my God and I want to be available for the "something new" that he's going to do next. The when, what, how....I don't know that stuff yet. But I do know the "Who"...that's God...and because of Him, my life will never be the same.

I will always be available to help (and will enjoy helping) my friends and family decorate or plan parties or whatever. But I am going to put my business to bed for now and continue to seek God's will for my daily life and for my future. I have plenty to keep me busy...leading worship, parenting three little ones (one with special needs) and trying to be a blessing to others.

So, my friends...THANK YOU!!!!!!  So many of you have had me into your homes, asked my advice, read my blog, left lovely comments, purchased my cards, inspired me, supported me, encouraged me, blessed me. THANK YOU hardly seems like enough, but there is so much gratitude in my heart for each one of you that has played a special part in my life and in Nesting Instincts over the last three years! I love each one of you and pray that God will reveal Himself to you and bless you in a special way this year.

Hugs, hugs, HUGS!!!
:-) Courtney

PS I will leave NestInk, my Etsy shop, open until Thanksgiving, for anyone that wants to order Christmas presents!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

the most important things in life aren't...chandeliers

So yesterday I was blessed with a few hours to myself in the morning. What a gift! I spent the whole time browsing along each and every booth at Monticello Antique Mall in Portland. I love that place! Many of the vendors are very gifted at display, and I like how each of their individual personalities shine through their choices of stock and collectibles.

this is one of my all-time favorite dining rooms from a magazine EVER.

I was on a bit of a fact-finding mission, scoping out vintage chandeliers and pricing them. For those that have followed my blog for a while now, you will be very disappointed in me when I confess that I STILL have no chandelier for my dining room. Yes, the room that received a makeover two and a half years ago. Uh-huh. That's the one. No chandelier. What I do have (don't be jealous) is a gaping hole in my ceiling where I have also neglected to even install a three dollar plastic cap to cover the electrical wires hanging from the ceiling. I'm trying to figure out some way that I can pass this off as some kind of new design trend, but you all are too smart. I'm pretty sure you'd see right through that one. Anyway...

Back to chandelier shopping. It was supposed to just be a pricing and fact-finding mission, so I could be properly researched and prepared when the big moment FINALLY arrived to actually make a chandelier purchase. (Oh my goodness, I just realized that I should have taken my camera with me and showed you pics of some of the chandeliers I found! Bad blogger! BAD!) But, lo and behold, apparently my guard was down or something, because I found one that I got sorta attached to. The price was really reasonable and it was a good combination of old, rustic, and glamorous (what with the silk shades and all!). To further sweeten the deal, the booth vendor happened to actually be there in her booth that day and she offered me an additional 15% off! Yowsa!

So as you might imagine, I took a pic of the chandy with my phone and promptly texted both my husband and one of my girlfriends. (I have no idea how to get a photo from my phone to my computer, so don't even ask to see it.) Then, when I got impatient for a reply, I actually called my husband, who had apparently only just received the text and hadn't formulated a response yet. I love and adore my husband and one of the things that he is really good at is finances. Me, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the old finances. I mean, I am a bargain shopper, I do my best with the money the budget allows me each month as far as providing for the family's needs, etc. but I am not the one that pays the bills.

So, we had to have a difficult conversation. He didn't like it, but he had to tell me to "wait" on the chandelier, because there just wasn't the money available for it right now. He didn't like feeling like the bad guy, but there you have it. As you might imagine, I didn't care for it either. At the moment he did seem a little like a bad guy; not because he actually was, but just because in his quest to be a responsible money manager, he had to tell me to wait. And I wanted it. Now. Like, for some reason I've been able to wait for two and a half years, but suddenly I felt I could not wait another thirty minutes.

Well, here's the point to this whole long sob story. I'm ashamed to admit that I allowed it to ruin the better part of my day. But when I left the antique mall and got back into the car, there was a song playing on KLOVE that goes "I don't want to gain the whole world, but lose my soul". That line was convicting for me. It was a gentle reminder that life is not about acquiring things. Not even cute, on-sale things. Not even things we "need". I had allowed my disappointment in not getting to purchase that chandelier to suddenly cast a shadow over an otherwise lovely day.

When I was growing up, my mom had framed print in the living room that said, "The most important things in life are not things." I've always loved that quote, but apparently every once in a while, I still need to be reminded of the truth in that saying.

I was inspired to write this post because of a post I read over at Remodeling This Life called "There will always be something else". She's doing a series of 31 Days of Living Simply. And she's been able to make a similar point to mine in a much simpler way (haha) and with fewer words. You should check it out.

I read a lot of blogs about decor and design, and let me tell you, it's very easy to start feeling discontent with your own home when you see what others have. But once again I remind myself - "the most important things in life aren't things". I've been teaching my kids recently that when they are feeling discontent, they should make a list of five things they are thankful for. By the end of that list, their attitude has changed and they have a new perspective on things. Why don't I follow my own advice more often?

P.S. Oh, and I'm glad I have a husband who can stand up for what's best for the family, even when I don't like it. I sure do love that guy.

The photos in this post are a few dining rooms (and their chandeliers) that make my heart go pitter-patter. All photo sources: decor pad