Thursday, December 27

2012 in review

I can scarcely believe that 2012 is nearly over!  I've always heard that the older you get, the faster time flies.  I believe it!

Here are a few of my favorite projects from this year.

I dabbled with homemade chalk painting and turned an old chest from Bombay Co. into a pretty nightstand:

Then I re-did the guest room around the new nightstand!

I turned our bonus room into a very functional space for very little money.

I made some pretty updates to our screened porch for just a few dollars.

I created a gallery wall of mirrors in our master bedroom.

Speaking of mirrors, I made one myself--a clothespin sunburst mirror for the laundry room.

And my favorite project of all was re-doing our "outdoor living room," also known as the front porch.

All in all, it's been a good year at our house; I hope it's been a good year at your house, too!

Friday, December 21

Feature at Southern Hospitality

I'm so excited to be featured at Southern Hospitality today.  Rhoda is such a dear person, and I'm honored to be her guest today.  Check out her post here!

And if you're visiting here from Southern Hospitality, welcome!  I'm so glad to have you.  Come on in; the door's open!

If you'd like to look around a bit while you're here, you might want to check out the "My Heart" and "My Home" tabs at the top of the page.  They'll give you an idea of what Imparting Grace is all about.

I'd love to have every one of you sit right here in the kitchen with me.  We could have a cup of coffee and visit. . . .

You might like to know that I host a weekly party to celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace.  Grace at Home runs every Thursday, and I'd love to have you join us.

Again, many thanks to Rhoda for the feature!  Please pay Rhoda a visit and leave her a comment.  She is a bright spot in the world of blogging!

Tuesday, December 18

Christmas House Tour

The halls are decked and our house is ready for Christmas.  Join me for a tour!

The front porch:

Since the porch is an outdoor living room, I like having a Christmas tree in the corner!

Inside, our decorations are simple this year.  Our son Preston had surgery on December 14, and I had just didn't have time or energy to get out every decoration.  But I think things still look festive, so I'm really glad for you to come in.

Opening the door:

Peeking inside:

And now with the door thrown open wide:

Just inside the front door, looking into Jack's study:

The study:

The cowhide ottoman was a new purchase this year.  It's one of my favorite things and brings a touch of whimsy to this very traditional room.  Just look at the texture of the hide:

The simple mantel in the study:

The living room mantel:

And on the other end of the living room, our tree:

The dining room:

The kitchen:

Yes, that's a Lego Advent calendar on the counter.  Of course.
(Pottery Barn-inspired NOËL tutorial here)
(Peppermint stick candle tutorial here)

And the screened porch:

I'm joining these wonderful parties:
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Monday, December 17

Home for the Holy Days 2012

Welcome to the second annual Home for the Holy Days party!

For Christians, Christmas is a special time to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Of course, the Bible does not tell us the date of Jesus's birth, nor does it require that the birth of Christ be celebrated in any particular way.  But over the centuries since Christ lived on earth, churches have adopted the tradition of looking forward to the coming of Christ during the season of Advent and celebrating the birth of Christ on Christmas.  This special remembrance is good for our souls.

Yet amidst all the hustle and bustle of this season, it's easy to become overwhelmed and to forget what Christmas is all about.  This party is a celebration of the ways we keep our focus on Christ at this busy time of year.

At our house, a lot of Christmas decor is centered on Christ.  First of all, our tree is always situated in the corner of living room, right alongside my cross collection.  I like this reminder of the fact that what began at the manger was completed at the cross.

We have a number of nativity scenes, as well.  One of my favorites is this candle trio from Dayspring.

This is a new nativity set.  Our oldest son, Will, went to Israel last year as part of a Duke University class.  He spent New Year's Eve in Bethlehem, and he brought me this sweet nativity set made there.

We also have an Advent wreath. Lighting a candle on each of the four Sundays of Advent is a special way to remember the season.

One of our most treasured traditions is attending our church's Christmas Eve service.  Although neither of us grew up attending a Christmas Eve service, Jack and I started this practice when our boys were very small.  This is one of my favorite services of all the year.  For several years now, Preston has read the passage from Luke 2 about the birth of Jesus.

Last year we got to add another service to our Christmas Eve remembrance.  Will was asked to be a reader at the Duke University Chapel 11:00 P.M. service of Lessons and Carols.  This is a particularly beautiful service that's always jam-packed with people.  Because Will was part of the program, we had reserved seats right at the front of the chapel.  Being there all together was a great gift.

Now, what about you?  What do you do to keep the focus on Christ at Christmastime?  Link a post about your Christmas decor, traditions, favorite books--anything that's special to you. If you've written a a Christmas devotional, I'd love to read that, too! Be sure to link to your specific post, not your blog's home page, and please include a link to this party.  If you don't have a blog, feel free to link to a Facebook post or leave a comment describing your traditions.

Saturday, December 15

Dollar Store Gifts

This week I participated in a Dollar Store Holiday Decorating Challenge.  I made peppermint stick candles.  While I was browsing around the dollar store, I noticed several things I thought would make good gifts.  So in addition to the peppermint sticks and candles, I brought home several other goodies.

Here are the gift items I came up with.  Maybe you could use some of them, too!

Personalized cookie spatula:

I just used a Sharpie to add a name to a wood-handled spatula.  I've had one of these spatulas for years and just love it--it's a great little tool and very sturdy.  I made one for a friend and made this one for myself.  

Back scratcher:

Again, I used a Sharpie and free-handed "Quid pro quo" onto the backscratcher's handle.  Get it?

Cinnamon stick candles:

I simply cut cinnamon sticks the same length as the height of two pillar candles and hot-glued them on.

Cinnamon stick ornament:

This is just three cinnamon sticks tied with a bright bow.  I attached an ornament hanger to make it easy to place on the tree.  This would also be great tied on top of a package.

Note:  To make my cinnamon stick creations even more delectable, I rub some of this oil onto each cinnamon stick.  You can't buy this at the dollar store, but I think it's worth the investment.  This is my favorite Christmas scent, and the cinnamon sticks are the perfect absorbent surface. You may be able to find this at a store or purchase it from

I simply poured some lavender-scented epsom salts into a jar and added a tag.  These smell wonderful!

Hand and body scrub:

I mixed some plain Epsom salts with extra-virgin olive oil to create this pretty citron-colored scrub.  It exfoliates and moisturizes.  (You can use any kind of salt and any kind of oil for this. My favorite method is to use coconut oil. Sometimes I use Tropicana suntan oil, and the mixture smells like the beach!)

Hot cocoa mug:

I poured a cup's worth of hot cocoa mix into a disposable cake decorating bag, added some marshmallows to the top, and tied it with twine and a tag. 

Then I simply placed the cocoa mix into a dollar store mug along with a giant peppermint stick.  

Note:  My "tags" are just pieces of cardstock.  I used Microsoft Word to create the messages and just printed in the colors I liked, then cut the tags out with scissors.  Not very sophisticated, but it works!

Do you ever use dollar store items to make gifts?  I'd love to hear about them!

I'm joining the Dollar Store Christmas party hosted by Debbidoo's and Fox Hollow Cottage.

*This is an affiliate link. 
If you make a purchase via this link,
I'll receive a tiny commission. 
Of course, your cost will not change.

Friday, December 14

Dollar Store Decorating Link Party

Today I'm at Duke Hospital with my son Preston, who is having surgery; your prayers would be appreciated.

But today is a special day, because it's the day for the Dollar Store Decorating Link Party!

This week I was blessed to be part of a group of bloggers been sharing our ideas for decorating using dollar store items. It's been fun!  And today it's YOUR turn to show us your ideas.

In case you missed any of the posts, here's a recap so you can see them all:

Now it's YOUR turn!  Link up your decorating ideas/crafts using dollar store type items.  And be sure to visit other party goers--join the fun and spread the love! 

Wednesday, December 12

Our Christmas Tree

Right now I have just one tree photo to share with you.  And I didn't take it.  But I love it.

Want to know why I love it?  Because my 21-year-old son, who is a senior at Duke University right here in our hometown of Durham, North Carolina took it.  He brought a group of friends over the first weekend of December and took this nighttime photo of our tree:

Then he posted it on Instagram with this caption:  "Just because I'm from Durham doesn't mean I don't miss home."

Do you hear that, you moms?  I know you get tired.  I know you sometimes wonder if all your work is worth it.  You wonder if anyone really appreciates all the work you put into making your home lovely during the holiday season.

I'm here to tell you that it matters.  Keep on.  You're providing the stuff of memories.

I'm joining these wonderful parties:

Christmas Tree Link Party at Honey We're Home
Holiday Home Christmas Tree Party at Thrifty Decor Chick
Inspiration Friday, At the Picket Fence
Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now

Dollar Store Christmas Decorating

I'm excited to be participating in this week's Dollar Store Decorating series with Gina at The Shabby Creek Cottage and six other wonderful bloggers.  Lindsay at Makely School for Girls is also taking part in the series today; you'll want to check out her post here!

My dollar store creations are super-simple, but I'm pleased with how they turned out!

While browsing the aisles of the dollar store,  I was especially inspired as I looked at the display of old-fashioned candies.  So I bought three bags of Bob's "Sweet Stripes" peppermint sticks, along with a couple of red pillar candles.

First I used clippers to trim off the bottoms of the peppermint sticks, making them the same height as the candle.

Then one at a time, I simply hot-glued peppermint sticks to the candle, like this:

It took 17 sticks to go all the way around the candle.  Here's how they looked when I finished:

You can see that the bottoms of the candy sticks aren't perfect.  But that's no problem if you nestle the candles in a bed of greenery, like this:

Or add a ribbon to the base of each candle, like this:

I'm tickled pink with my pretty Christmas candles!  At first I was a little bummed because the pillar candles at the dollar store are smaller in diameter than they used to be, but I realized as I was gluing on my peppermint sticks that the smaller size is really better for the project.  When you add the size of the candy sticks to the total diameter of the candle, it's just right for sitting atop a pillar candle holder.

The two pillar candles cost me a total of $5.00--$1.00 for each candle plus three bags of peppermint sticks at $1.00 each.  I think that's a lot of bang for the buck.

I found these treats in the dollar store candy aisle, too:

I bought a couple of canisters and added these goodies to a bag displayed on my antique scale:

At Christmastime I keep the scale on my kitchen island, along with an old gift wrap holder:

That's my DIY Noël hanging in the window; click here for tutorial.
I found both the scale and the gift wrap holder (complete with Christmas paper!) at an antique mall last year.  I love having them displayed on the kitchen island at Christmastime.  It's almost like having the counter of a general store in my kitchen!

While I was at the dollar store, I found a number of items that I made into Christmas gifts.  I'll share those later this week.

I'm so grateful to have had this chance to join the Dollar Store Decorating series!  Tomorrow's posts will be contributed by Karen at The Graphics Fairy and Tonya at Love of Family and Home.  You won't want to miss these.

If you shop at a dollar store, you can take part in this series, too.  All eight of us in this series are hosting a huge link party.  Write about your dollar store decorating and join Friday's link party!

So tell me--do you shop at dollar stores?  Do you use dollar store purchases in your decorating?  I'd love to know!

See this post for lots of gift ideas using dollar store items!