Free printable Friday: Valentines on my Mind!

Happy Friday! Can you believe it’s February? This year is going by quickly and I can’t say I’m sad about it. So, to celebrate, here are two free printables for you. This year I’m focused on God’s definition of love and 1 Corinthians 13. I thought I’d base my freebies on that verse.

And here is one with the passage of Scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.

I hope you love these new free prints! In case you want to print them and frame them, I’d recommend printing no larger than 8×10. I like to use a print shop like Staples Copy and Print for mine. Just right click and save to your device!

And have an amazing week! We will see you Monday.

Winter self-care: beating those winter blues with a little TLC

I don’t know about you, but I am having some serious winter blues over here. It’s cold outside and I’m bored and ready for spring. I’m tired of seeing gray everywhere and bare branches. I need some sunshine and some color to lift my spirits.

The winter blues are fairly common, and after the year we have had, I’d say they’re a bit more common than usual. Today, I’d like to share some simple, low cost AND safe self-care practices.

1. Exercise

It’s been said that exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant. I can honestly say when I am stressed or anxious, I find running, strength training, or even just taking a walk will calm my mind.

2. A hot, relaxing bath

Are you tired and feeling anxious? A hot bath with some essential oils may help tremendously. This is something I honestly can’t get enough of.

3. Spa night

Get your daughters, or a good friend and have a spa night. Indulge with your favorite face packs, lotions and sugar scrubs all from the comfort of your home.

4. Read a book or enjoy a movie

Take about a half hour to read something you enjoy or watch a movie/TV show you can get into. If it makes you laugh, even better.

5. Phone a friend

Sometimes calling a friend or family member is all you need to put a smile on your face. I like to call my grandmas or my aunts when things get bleak.

There are a number of ways to lift your spirits and most of them don’t cost a thing! What do you do to care for yourselves and combat the winter blues?

The (Affordable) Parents’ 2021 Winter Survival Kit

By Emma Grace Brown, guest writer

No matter what, winter is always a challenging time for parents. It’s cold out, there’s not a ton to do, and kids and parents alike start to get pretty stir crazy. However, this year promises to be an even tougher time for many. Lots of families aren’t going to be comfortable with the sort of indoor activities and gatherings that have been winter-weather go-tos in previous years. 

We want to help you come up with ways to make this winter fun, despite the difficulties. To that end, we’ve come up with this 2020 Winter Survival Kit. We know money is tight for many families right now, so we’ve gone out of our way to make sure the list includes tips to keep these items budget-friendly. We hope it inspires you to have a safe, healthy, enjoyable winter: 

Outdoor Gear 

If you plan to meet up with people this winter, odds are it’s going to be outdoors. Since indoor gatherings are far higher risk than the alternative, it only makes sense to get out in the fresh air to see the people we love. If you want to meet outside in winter, however, you need good, comfortable, and most importantly, warm gear so it’s actually pleasant to be outside. 

Start with warm winter coats for the whole family. Grown-ups might be able to keep using their coat from last year, but kids tend to grow out of seasonal items before the next cold snap comes around. Outlet malls and shops like Nordstrom Rack are great options when buying for kids. You’ll get high-quality items without the sticker shock. Consider donating the coats your kids have grown out of to a local coat drive to help kids in need stay warm. 

Virtual Activities 

Using virtual means of connection, such as Zoom calls or video games, allow your family to stay in touch with non-household loved ones without risking catching or spreading COVID-19. If you don’t have a video game console, however, it’s easy to feel left out of the virtual fun. The good news is, there are tons of ways to play games with people virtually, no console required. 

There are plenty of online board games that only need a laptop, phone, or tablet for players to join. You can also check out hidden identity games such as Spyfall. Since this kind of game is based more on conversation and interaction than pieces or movement, it naturally lends itself to the video chat experience. Even party games like charades work surprisingly well over video chat! Stay creative and keep an open mind, and you’ll find tons of fun ways to connect online. 

Creative Play 

Finally, we recommend picking up art supplies and embracing creative play over the coming months. Studies have shown that, while the pandemic has made creativity harder, it’s also made it far more important. Art and other creative tasks go a long way toward working out the stress and anxiety the pandemic causes. Moreover, arts are notoriously underfunded in schools, so it might introduce your child to a passion they might not have discovered otherwise. 

A great way to find affordable art supplies is to look for a local second-hand craft shop. These are becoming more and more popular as people become more focused on reducing waste. If you can’t find one near you, you can also check out sales and coupons for local art and office supply stores. 

This winter, focus on finding low-cost ways to keep the whole family connected and entertained. Go gentle on yourself if the stress starts to wear on you, and give yourself space to mourn the winter you might have had. It’s always a challenge to be stuck inside, but creative thought (and lots of self-compassion) can make it easier. 

See more home and parenting hacks at Lumber in My Minivan.

Photo Credit: Pexels

2021 Winter Home Tour

After the splendor of fall and the grandeur that is our home at Christmas, winter is a time for me to simplify and just let my house breathe. We do so much decorating for Christmas that my home sometimes seems bare after we take it all down. I do like to keep some of our wintergreens and red berries out for winter, and fill in the gaps with other things (and by other things I mean snowmen). We do very simple decorating for winter and I’m very happy with the results this year.

This cute little vignette didn’t change much following Christmas. It sits on our sofa table in our front entry.
Our mantle: winter evergreen wreath with plaid ribbon and red berries, faux snow, white glass houses and zinc houses.
To me, this just feels cozy. There is a little left over Christmas but nothing that feels overly Christmas-y.
In our kitchen. This vignette hasn’t changed a lot since Christmas but we traded a white ceramic tree for a cute little snowman.
Isn’t he cute?
Beside our kitchen sink? More snowmen.
On our living room table? A trio of snowmen.
In my girls’ bathroom? Snowmen
I think that snowman used to hold a roll of tea towels. Maybe he needs to hold toilet paper since he is in the bathroom.
This is in our master bathroom. Wouldn’t you know? More snowmen. The one on the right is a tea light holder.
This is on our dining room table. It doesn’t have any snowmen but there are some in that room.

I may just have a snowman problem. Who wouldn’t? They’re cute, they’re wintery, and we live in NC, so we rarely get to build one. And there are worse things to love than snowmen 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Five Beautiful Handmade Ornament Ideas

I don’t know about you, but I love a great handmade ornament. Someday I hope to have an entire tree filled with my children’s handmade creations. These ornaments are simple and cute, and you can definitely make them with your kids.

1. Snowman face ornament

Just take an ordinary Christmas ball and coat it in epsom salt. You may need more than one coat. Then, fashion a “carrot nose” from a pipe cleaner and glue the carrot and two buttons to create the snowman face. Use an infant sock to create the hat.

2. Pine cone ornaments

You can make these ornaments so easily: just get some jute twine, ribbon for bows and some pretty pine cones from your yard. Tie the ribbon into bows and tie the jute twine around the bow knot. Hot glue the bow and hanger to the pine cone. That’s really it!

3. Snow globe ornament

We made these ornaments by gluing a tiny Christmas tree inside an empty clear ball. Then, we added some epsom salt “snow.”

4. Pipe cleaner candy cane

This is by far the easiest ornament on this list, and you can make it with small kids. All you need are red pipe cleaners and white- no glue and no cutting! Simply twist them together and curve them into a candy cane shape.

5. Picture frame initial ornament

Want a super cute gift for a friend or teacher? Go grab some inexpensive small picture frames and stick on letters (or cut them out with a Cricut or Silhouette). Attach a cute piece of ribbon and you are set!

Have fun creating!! What are some of your favorite handmade ornaments?