Nativity Scene – DIY Project

‘Tis the Season for making handcrafted projects…perfect for gift-giving or for your own seasonal display. I like to do this project with friends — and even with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups. Combine the making of this Nativity Blocks project with the reading of the Christmas story (and maybe throw in a little Christmas cookie eating), and you have the perfect gathering this season.

Nativity Blocks

You’ll need the following materials:

Vinyl expression #19904 from Uppercase Living in your color choice (whipped creme shown here)

Blocks cut to the following specs, painted in your color choice.

Nativity Blocks

Click here for the how-to video.


Nativity Blocks 2013


Why, oh why? (Why, let me tell you.)

For someone who doesn’t particularly like appearing on camera, November 2014 is shaping up to be my video debut month! I was asked to be a presenter for Key Ministry’s Inclusion Fusion ~ a worldwide disability ministry web summit. (Registration is free…please check it out!)

Then, I was invited by Uppercase Living to share my “why” with everyone. Here it is.

If being part of something positive — something that uplifts and inspires others — is important to you, I invite you consider joining my team. Here’s a no-obligation FAQ and other info. Have questions? Want to learn more? Let’s chat.

Fall Decorating That’s Not Too Scary

I love decorating for Halloween! No, not the gory, creepy, make-you-scream type of decorating. I love bringing in lots of orange and a little tiny bit of spooky.

Halloween - mantel collage
Fall Mantel

Here’s my mantel featuring orange lights with black metal accents. And a gauze ghost that graced our front yard one year. (I think I need to make him again…he was quite the sight!)

the ghost in frame
Gauze Ghost

Some of my favorite pieces are from Uppercase Living. Here are a few:

halloween - too cute to spook in frame
Click to order
halloween - on orange board in frame
Click to order
Halloween - happy halloween in frame
Click to order
Halloween - beware in frame
Click for Recipe

Of course, you have to have a way to organize your fabulous fall decorations in the “off season.”

Halloween bins
Click for tips on organizing and storing Halloween decorations

Happy Halloween!

The Finishing Touch

How seriously cute are the picture boards you’ve seen on Pinterest?


Decorate a board, add some interesting knobs or hooks, and proudly display your beautiful photos or meaningful momentos. {The star boards pictured on this page are available for a limited time from Uppercase Living and provide the perfect backdrop for your personalized project. Click on any photo to see size and pricing information for any of the expressions on this page.}

Let’s take it a step further, though. Here are a few unique and creative ways to hang your favorite photos.

laughing photo
Use twine and clothespins to pin your photos (instead of hanging them from the knobs).
Add paperclips to a bold-patterned grosgrain ribbon for a simple picture-hanger.
StarBoard_Pin_Generations - Copy
Here’s another project with the twine/clothespin combo.
StarBoard_Pin_Medals - Copy
Don’t limit yourself to photographs! You’ve earned the medals and the badges…display them with pride!



Driving Away

Today I watched my oldest son back the car out of the driveway and drive away. Now, granted, he was in a car marked “STUDENT DRIVER” and he arrived home safe and sound with his instructor (who had his own set of brakes in the passenger seat) two hours later, but still.  It is a weird experience. I got so verklempt I had to retreat into the house so that he didn’t see me get a little weepy.

But, I realize that’s how this whole thing works. Eventually they do fly (drive?) away from the nest. And that’s a good thing. So, please just bear with me while I get used to the whole idea.

roots to grow

Together may we give our children roots to grow and wings to fly

Thinking Orange

keep calm and think orangeLast week I was in Atlanta for Orange 2014 — a Children’s/Student Ministry conference — along with 6,000 other attendees.

For us, “thinking orange” means embracing the faith strategy that combines the two primary influences that impact a kid’s life: three color dotsred is the heart of the home and yellow is the light of the church. 

What does the color orange mean to you?

BElieve in YOUrself

orange is the happiest color

keep outOrange is an attention grabber. Think traffic cones and construction zones.

A true orange is fun and vibrant when paired with bright blues, crisp greens or deep reds.

tangerine tangoOrange provides a pop of color to a spring or summer color palette. The Pantone Color of the Year in 2012 was Tangerine Tango.

halloween wine bottlesFall is my favorite decorating season. Whether your style is the terra cotta shade of fall foliage, or the valencia orange hue of a pumpkin patch, the color orange is a must for your autumn decor.

orange - bird on branch

Where can you add a little — or a lot — of orange in your life?flower vine on fridge - orange

orange - when all else fails


common cooking measurementsWhat is your family’s favorite recipe? What’s your go-to meal that is always a crowd pleaser? The comfort food in our home is Spicy Peanut Noodles.

The recipe is embarrassingly easy. The hardest part is remembering to prepare it a few hours ahead of time so the flavors can meld.

spicy peanut noodles on cutting boardSpicy Peanut Noodles are served chilled or at room temperature, so it’s a smart choice for picnics or a buffet. Add leftover chicken and now it’s a main course.

Here’s the recipe. For the record, I don’t bother to measure the garnishes (cilantro, green onions, peanuts and sesame seeds). I have also made this with pretty much any type of spaghetti noodle (from angel hair up to regular thickness) and in quantities ranging from 8 oz. up to 16 oz.

From my home to yours: bon appetit!


(This recipe requires 4 hours to refrigerate)

  • 16 oz. thin spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • ¼ cup corn oil
  • 3 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ c. roasted chopped peanuts
  • ¼ cup green onions, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

In a small saucepan, heat oils and red pepper for two minutes over medium heat.

Remove from heat and stir in honey and soy sauce.

Combine noodles and oil mixture. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Garnish with last four ingredients and serve.

spicy peanut noodles

Tote-ally Organized Shelves

My Dad is a very handy guy. He can take an idea, sketch it out, then bring it to life with some power tools and several trips to Home Depot.

bins 1Eleven years ago (when my parents were visiting to spend time with their newest grandbaby), he transformed an area of our basement into the ultimate storage tote shelving unit.

Suddenly, we had a place to store all of those “things” that we wanted to keep, but didn’t want sitting out all the time. Halloween decorations are, of course, in the orange and black bins. Christmas decorations are easy to spot in the red bins with green lids.

bins 3As our boys grew, the storage rack (which is EXTREMELY sturdy) became a jungle gym. They would climb up to the top and then shimmy hand over hand across the I-beam on the ceiling. It also made an awesome fort; remove a few bins and add blankets, pillows and flashlights.

bins 2Let’s talk about organization for a moment. The outside of each bin is labeled with a number using Uppercase Living vinyl. Here’s where you can really take your basement “stuff” to a new level of organization. We created a spreadsheet where each bin number corresponds with an overall category (e.g., #5 = Halloween). Then, the contents of each bin are listed on the spreadsheet next to that bin’s number. (You can use index cards for this, too.) Need to find your white Christmas lights for a party you’re having in July? Refer to your chart to find the Christmas bins (yes, there are half a dozen!) then narrow your search to see which of those six bins has “lights” listed in their contents. Now you only have to dig through one bin, not 25.

Do you use totes like the ones pictured here for storage? How do you keep them organized?


Measuring Up

Collage of playhouseOne of our favorite family traditions is the annual measuring-of-the-cousins (my boys and my siblings’ kids) when they are visiting their grandparents each summer.

My parents, known as Nana & Papa to their nine grandchildren, have an adorable shed-turned-playhouse in their backyard. Nearly ten years ago (when there were only five grandkids), we took a Sharpie and marked the height of each child on the playhouse walls.

Every year since, we’ve dedicated one summer evening to s’moresplayhouse 1 around the firepit and seeing how everyone measures up (against their last year’s height and against each other).

You’ve probably never seen kids stand with such impeccable posture.

Everyone has fun seeing the results!

playhouse 3

playhouse 2A few years back we started letting the kids write their own names, with some pretty hilarious results.

Each child is so unique in his or her growth rate, even among siblings. I am realizing, that when we measure up this coming summer, one — or two — of my boys will be taller than me. Yikes. How did that happen?

growth chart
Growth chart: $39.95 [click to order]
baseball growth chart
Batter Up! growth chart: $42.95 [click to order]
[Want to ‘measure up’ in your own home? Here are some of my favorite growth charts from Uppercase Living.]

Bloom growth chart: $64.95 [click to order]

Inspiration for the places and spaces where you live, work, and play. What's important to you? Put those positive messages on your walls with Uppercase Living vinyl expressions and decor. Click "Shop UL" tab to browse expressions or place an order.