Christmas Gifts for Kids – that will last!

I spend a lot of time deciding on thoughtful gifts for my kids each year. The honest truth is my kids need NOTHING! Truly. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy choosing lovely things they don’t need…But, will hopefully appreciate and enjoy. Here is a little round-up of things and websites that should get you going in the right direction:

Books ~ Throughout the year most of our books are borrowed from the library or bought haphazardly from thrift stores and garage sales. Because of that I really look forward to buying books specifically for my kids that I know I will enjoy reading over and over and that are beautifully illustrated. The place I look first is Usborne. They have such a great variety of picture books, craft books & story books. We especially love the illustrated story books and coloring books. We already have a few of the illustrated titles and I bought 3 more for my kids this year!

Usborne book collage

{to find more shop here}


Lego friends ~ I have to admit that I have generally been confused by the lego craze. I have sat through countless presentations by little boys in our homeschool group giving in-depth explanations of the fire-blaster-helicopter-launch-pad they created themselves and I really didn’t get it. However, for my middle daughters birthday this year we got her some lego friends sets (because she had shown interest after playing with her cousins’). Well, let me tell you, I get it now. We have had hours of fun putting together a tiny vintage trailer (that looks an awful lot like our real one), a garden scene with tractor, etc. Also, if you are like me and don’t like the thought of throw-away toys these really keep their value. So, when your kids outgrow them you can resell them to someone on craigslist. Here our favorite set:

lego friends camping trailer

{of course you can find these anywhere, but start with a local toy store. If you live in Bend try Leapin’ Lizards. If they don’t have it in stock ask if they can get it. Local shops are grateful for your support and ours gives great service!}


Playmobil ~ For all the same reasons as legos. These are not throw-away items. They last and keep their value. My son has a set of Knights that were my husbands when he was a kid. It’s also a bonus that these are interesting enough to draw me in {same with legos}. In general I don’t play a lot with my kids. When they ask me to play I remind them I had extra kids so they could play together. But, on the occasions that I do play I actually quite enjoy these.  Just try not to be drawn in by these adorable (& detailed) play sets! These could be in the family for 30 years (ours have been!):

playmobil camping set

playmobil park set

{Try and find these locally too! Our toy store stocks a huge selection of playmobil!}


Musical Instrument {& lessons!} ~ It is a secret dream of mine that my kids grow up to be a bluegrass trio (if only to play for us on our back deck). So, when they first heard the three brothers that make up the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys and then started assigning each other instruments (Franki-Banjo, Eliza-Fiddle, Kitch-Guitar) I wasn’t going to let the moment pass. So, Franki is getting a banjo (along with in-home lessons starting in January) this year for Christmas. I’m more than a little excited. I know she will be too! For your listening pleasure:


Compassion International ~ Last, but not at all least. We have sponsored children through Compassion International for 13+ years. In fact, the first boy we sponsored is aging out this year. For both of our girls 5th birthdays we have let them choose a child their age to sponsor {& will do the same for Kitch when he turns 5}. Wouldn’t that be a great idea for Christmas too! One of our advent activities will be writing Christmas cards to the girls that our girls support (with their parents help!). We love that they are connecting with a real, live kid their age that happens to live in an impoverished situation. It’s been a really beautiful way to introduce and talk about the importance and spiritual richness of giving to others, and about the responsibility of giving our excess away to the Lord. We aren’t perfect in this, but we are desiring to create compassion in our children and this has been a great organization to help us. If sponsoring a child isn’t for you (although, why in the world isn’t it for EVERYONE with excess! – Such an easy way to make baby-steps towards loving ourselves less and being engaged in other peoples needs…) What about a one-time gift through their gift catalog? Click here to link to their catalog.

{feel free to skip all the other stuff & just sponsor a bunch of kids!}


Inspirational Word Art

I am just going to come right out and say it: I can’t stand the meaningless word art that is mass produced. Keep calm &… Home is where the heart is. Or, even worse, the meaningless & self-centered drivel that pops up constantly on my Pinterest feed. I almost made a board that was called ‘dumb words’, but then I didn’t – because I try to move away from my cynical self and this didn’t seem like a move in the right direction. My all-time favorites include (but are not limited to):

“stay true to you & you will end up happy” -unknown *WRONG*,

“a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life” -Coco Chanel. Coco, I respectfully disagree with you. Unless you mean that her life will be changed by looking in the mirror 25 times a day and muttering “this is the worst haircut on planet earth, i should have saved $115 dollars and let my 6 year old try her hand at it”

“I got my own back” -Maya Angelou. I have two things to say about this, A.) that’s a shame and B.) this thinking is what’s wrong with the world.

Years ago when I made my first word art canvas I thought I had come up with the idea (it was before pinterest days). Clearly I wasn’t the only one with a good idea. There are so many mediums and styles, you are sure to find something that suits you AND puts beautiful truth into your way every day.

Here’s a little round-up of some of my favorites:

doxology press

{this lovely excerpt from a favorite hymn is by doxology press. I have it up in my family room, and it gets me humming the tune pretty much every day}

 word printable

{This is up in my oldest daughter’s bedroom. I think it is a great perspective at any age. You can purchase it from Katygirl Designs}

In Christ Alone

{how pretty is this embroidered art from Elizabeth Street?! It’s one of my families favorite hymns!}

love never fails

{three little – VERY TRUE – words! printable available for the teeny-tiny amount of $6.50 from BW prints. Think of how much encouragement those words could give you, as opposed to having your own back like Ms. Angelou…just sayin. As an aside, this one reminds me of the beautiful Ellie Holcolm song with this title – I will put it below for your listening pleasure because good words should be seen AND heard}

{if you need some good tunes feel free to listen to the Ellie Holcolm pandora station all day long like I do}

they broke bread

{I have been thinking of making something similar to this on a wood slab with the quote “enough is as good as a feast” for my kithen. I think this one found here by would be a great addition to a dining room or kitchen}

be still and know art

{the worship project produced a bunch of modern posters and canvases using words from worship and sacred music. So many good options over at society6}

cease endlessly striving

{this is from the beautiful Ruth Simons at Gracelaced. What parent doesn’t need to read this 500 million times a day. Such wisdom!}

great minds eleanor roosevelt

{My wise sister-in-law Beth quoted this years ago in a conversation and it has really stuck with me as a way towards meaningful conversations. You can find this print at Whisker Prints}

love is patient

{If you ever watch the HGTV show fixer upper with the adorable husband wife hosts Chip & Joanna Gaines, you might know that they also have a great online shop. For those of us not close enough to shop at their brick & mortar store you can explore their goodies – including this beauty – at the online Magnolia Market shop}

i carry your heart ee cummings

{My sister just sent me this lovely wood tablet with these e.e. cummings words inscribed. You can buy them from Wildwood Graphics}

love begins mother teresa

{love this ceramic plaque and these true words. find them here}


I’m not sure this falls into the category of “inspirational”, but if you are related to me (or you have ever been around me when I was really hungry) you will know that this would be a good fit for my kitchen:

I'm sorry for what I said

{you can buy it here, if I don’t buy it first}


I have just scratched the surface on this, and since I have worked on it on and off for  year and I am going to call it done and put it out there. Put good words in your home! For more good words follow my words pinterest page.

to see my older post about DIY word art click here.

Teepee, Tent & Playhouse round-up

My girls share a room so there is not a lot of “alone time” for my older daughter. When we find our next house and settle in I am planning on finding a little teepee or tent to give a little extra space for reading, or just having a few minutes alone. Here’s my round-up of my favorites so far:


 canvas play house

{canvas play house by Toriee Gainstory}

camper tent

carnival tent

{camper tent and carnival tent by land of nod}

tnees tpee

{teepee by Tnee’s Tpees}

simple play tent

{simple tent by beautiful toys}

fox tent

{fox tent by snail candy}

modern wood playhouse

{play house by Maja}

play house pottery barn

{play house by Pottery Barn}

diy teepee

{for all you crafty mamas, here is a link to this spacious DIY teepee from A Beautiful Mess}


For some outdoor inspiration here is a round-up of fabulous modern playhouses from Modern Maven}


For more play house inspiration take a look at this post about inspiring play spaces.

House Exterior Before & After

You might think that a person who writes a home blog would take really great before and after photos of their major projects. But, in my case, you would be wrong. The before I lifted off the Redfin site and the after was taken on my iphone. Better than nothing though, right?


30th exterior before

house exterior after

Shortest post ever!


Backyard Office Dreams

We are on the move again! This time we are headed to dreamy Bend, Oregon. We are hoping to find a home to stay put in for awhile.  Our wishlist is pretty long and our budget is modest…But something we will need for sure is an office for hubs, as he will go back to working from home. You may remember the adorable home office he built himself a few houses/years ago (if not, you can see it here). While he is handy enough to do it again, he is short on free time these days, so I have been hunting down some pretty pre-fab office options and architect designs. Take a look:

Studio Shed

{studio shed}

backyard office

{Thomas Lawton Architect}

backyard cottage

{Beaman Building}

pod space

{pod space – my personal favorite}

rustic backyard office

{Park City Architects}


{Bunkie Co.}



ecospace backyard office


shipping container cabin

{shipping container cabin}

Dreamy, right? I think he might have a hard time not doing this himself, since when I showed him the last one with the shipping container he said, “I should do that!” Yes, husband. I think you should. Hope I’ve inspired some backyard office dreams for you. If you find something great I missed, please post a comment with a link.


For more inspiration follow this pinterest board, or this post

State Pride Swag *Go Oregon!*

Has anyone else noticed the amount of goods being produced in the shape of the US States? Now, I realize how silly this is going to sound…But, I have always been super proud of myself for being an Oregonian {it makes no sense, I know, since I had absolutely no choice in the matter}. In fact, during my first week of college in Chicago, I was in the elevator with another girl and she just turned to me and said, “you’re from Oregon aren’t you?” WELL! She might as well have said, you are the most beautiful person in the world, so high was the compliment in my mind (turns out she was from Canby, a neighboring city to Oregon City, where I grew up). Needless to say, I think my home state is pretty swell. But – I’ll just be honest – I never imagined everyone felt the same way. I mean a pillow in the shape of Florida? Really?!? Now that you’ve seen my true colors let me show you my favorite Oregon swag . And if you are partial to – oh, I don’t know – Oklahoma, I’m sure you can follow the links and find your state swag too.

vintage inspired Oregon map

{via Paper Parasol Press}

Oregon pillow

{via love, California}

Oregon necklaces

{Oregon necklaces in silver, wood & leather via tru.che}

Oregon wood block art

{via LuciusArt}

Oregon keychain

{key chain by Duo Studio}

Oregon coffee table

{coffee table via Fontana Studios}


Here are a few goodies for the kids:

Oregon Rattle

{State rattle by Bannor Toys}

teether crop

{teether from Little Sapling Toyswe just bought their guitar teether for Kitch’s stocking}

Oregon Onesie

{‘made’ onesie by Seven Miles Per Second}

Pumpkin Decorating {& eating} Inspiration

Here’s a little pumpkin decorating inspiration round-up from around the web:

monogrammed pumpkins

{we’ve done some version of monogrammed pumpkins on several occasions. Love this version with 3 types different pumpkins and fonts. via BHG}

crossword chalkboard pumpkin

{clever chalkboard crossword pumpkin. via cecy j}

trailer pumpkin

{adorable! from BHG}

gold painted pumpkin with house numbers

{love the simple gilded pumpkin with house numbers, originally found on em for marvelous}

glitter pumpkins

{pretty sure my girls would die and go to heaven if I made these glittery pumpkins with them…But dad has a strict no-glitter policy. via thefabguide}

faux bois pumpkin

{I love pretty much anything faux bois. It appeals to my rustic tastes in the same vain as bison, moose, woodland creatures & burning wood. For instructions take a look at the original post here}

for more inspiration take a look at last years pumpkin post


Pumpkin edibles to try:

pumpkin spice trail mix

{the recipe for this pumpkin spice trail mix is here}

baked pumpkin donuts

{I saw these on pinterest awhile back and they looked so good that I went out and bought a donut pan and whipped up a couple batches. They are divine. Especially straight out of the oven. Yum. Take a look at the recipe here}

Modern Rug Round-up

Kitch is starting to sit up…& fall down! Which means a face-plant into our HARDwood floors. So, I really need to narrow things down in my rug-hunt so that sweet little peach can face plant into something a little squishier. Here is what I have narrowed it down to:

jonathan adler sybil rug

{Jonathan Adler Sybil Lines Warm}

trina turk2

{trina turk vivacious blue hook rug – I love the one in pink too}

 orange/cream modern rug

{momeni bliss rug in orange}

surya modern blue geo rug

{Surya cosmopolitan rug – this is the current front runner}

gray/white modern tufted wool rug

(surya harlequin in oyster gray}

angela adams ocean rug

{Angela Adams ocean rug}

modern peony rug

{Harlequin Tembok – Peony}

modern HAY dot rug

{HAY dot rug}

amy butler sandlewood rug

{Amy Butler Sandlewood Grass}

i ♥ ranch-style homes

I love ranch-style homes (not to be confused with actual ranches, which are also nice). 10 years ago I would have never thought my favorite style would be a ranch. But, I love them. I love the living all on one level (especially since we are in the throws of having little kids who find our downstairs “creepy” and refuse to use that entire half portion of our fairly small house without me glued to their hip). There is something uniquely cozy about the low vaulted ceilings & large-pane windows. I used to dream of a craftsman with a big front porch, now my dreams are all mid-century ranch goodness. Don’t think you are a ranch lover? Take a look at these and maybe you will change your mind:

modern ranch

modern white ranch

{see the entire home here}

modern ranch interior

modern ranch interior

{see the entire home here}

ranch remodel on a budget

ranch remodelled on a budget

{see the entire home here}

light bright ranch

breezy ranch renovation

{see the entire house here}

mid century ranch renovation mid century ranch renovation

{see the entire home here}

modern ranch

modern ranch redo

{see the entire home here}

new ranch exterior

zen ranch-style house

{love the serene exterior of this new ranch. see entire house here}

mid century modern remodel

{see the before and afters of this ranch redo here}


Pretty Stuff I Like {for kids}

My ability to finish a blog post with 3 children is becoming a little bit of a joke. I have started about 10 in the last few months and finished 1…So, I am officially lowering my standards. It’s my blog and no one is paying me to maintain it, so here is a list of some pretty things I like that have no connecting force, except that they are kid focused {makes sense, since I am kid-focused these days}:


{camp was more exciting to me as a child then Disneyland – yes, really! –  so you can imagine how dreamy I find these camp cots from the adorable french shop Serendipity. The 3 unrelated words on the pillows gave me the giggles thinking of the funny stationary I purchased in SF’s china town years ago because it had totally non-sensical “English” phrases. I think this must be the French’s equivilent of us putting french words on things and finding it tré fancy}

orange and white striped teepee

{love this teepee from Land of Nod. Hoping to get it for Kitch is he ever has his own room}

white modern high chair

{this simple and beautifully designed high-chair from the Swedish shop Stilleben puts the awful babies-r-us high chairs to shame}

knitted fox mobile

{best little knitted fox mobile ever – maybe the only one ever – I don’t know, I just love it}

baby outfit

 {this may just be the cutest little outfit I have ever seen. I love it. You can buy it from Layered Cake}

USA map

{map by Petite Collage}

auggie bedding

{I adore all the bedding from the Canadian company Auggie – I also adore Canadians. I married one.}

toddler backpack

{Dora the explorer backpack? I think not. You have options, I promise…check out these adorable toddler backpacks over at Weepereas}


Need some more kiddo inspiration? Take a look at this pinterest board: