Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Use-What-I-Have Chirstmas Decor

Two short weeks ago, I believed this would be the first year I skipped decorating for Christmas.

Then this print showed up, made by my talented friend, Aliza Latta, who sends notes saying things like, "Please don't think you have to share this. I just wanted you to have it!"

It inspired me instantly, and of course I knew I'd want to share it.

I love that it's Christmasy without trying too hard. My Christmas spirit is left-of-center this year, and this made so much sense to me. I love the look of it, and I especially love the truth of it, because God packed up and moved to earth as a squaking baby in order to kill fear forever. That's a year-round truth, guys. (Plus, white hand-lettering on black? Hello.)

As often happens without warning, I immediately wanted to change almost everything in the room. So I did. And now I'm here to dish.

{I'm going to try to keep this brief, because you and I both know those pork chops on the counter aren't going to sear themselves.}

The first thing I did was lovingly yank down the Mexican Fiesta curtains. They just never work with Christmas, and I'm sorry about that, Baby Jesus, because I know you love slightly-spicy salsa as much as I do.

Since we have bamboo blinds (bought online from Home Depot a few years ago), our windows would still be covered at night while I embarked on a hunt for some type of mistreated "curtains".

I looked everywhere. I looked at fabric. I looked at sheets.
In the end, it was all more cash than I wanted to spend. Also, I started to feel like we were rocking a sort of spare, Scandinavian vibe, and Scandanavian vibes are my second-favorite, after British. (And, well, Mexican.)

If you think I'm talking right now just to hear my own voice, all I can say is that when I went to Belgium for a month as an 11-year old, the Finnish/Norwegian people stole my heart, mostly because I didn't realize they existed before then, which was both stunning and amazing, not to mention their inherent style and the fact that they spoke really good English.

After ditching the curtain idea, I thought I'd buy some greenery to drape across the empty curtain-rod brackets. I even saved coupons so I could get them for 50% off.

Early last week I realized I just didn't have it in me to care.  Ironically, I had this distinct thought as I was running into my favorite thrift store. Little did I know my mind was about to be blown by strands of wiry, strange greenery sold for $1 per bundle.

Two bucks later, voila.
I shouldn't have let on that it was fake...I'm sure you never would have caught on.

Kidding. But guys, sometimes good enough is good enough. Especially when it's almost free.

I bought a few maps from an antique store for $2 each, but had never used them. So I taped them to the wall, randomly overlapping them. I bought a pre-cut photo mat from Michael's (using my 50% off coupon, so this cost less than $3.) I taped the print to the back of the mat, then Cory hung an empty, black frame, and tacked the print in the middle. There's no glass here, no fancy custom-framing, no nada. I find it all very swoony.

I searched around for some pink pillows but came up with squat. Maybe next year, although who are we kidding? I'll probably have a different idea next year.

Actually, no. I'm keeping this idea every Christmas for infinity.
It's my fave.

A note on the Swedes: this is our first Christmas with the Ikea Karlstad sectional. It has revolutionized our propensity for laziness. It also takes up our entire living room, which is why the Wonky Christmas tree had to be shoved in a most inconvenient corner.

Exhibit A:
{While I could use a scapegoat right now, the Swedes had nothing to do with us accidentally switching the order of the branches, resulting in its hour-glass shape.}

My dad found this aqua crate in their barn.
How does this happen, this magical finding of magical things in barns????

Magic is also mysteriously found at Aldi.

(Sidenote: Please buy all of their dark chocolate salted caramels and eat them until your teeth rot out, then thank me. I promise not to stare at your mouth when you do.)

I think Howard might be part Norwegian.

The tall, narrow cabinet-of-many-drawers-that-incites-all-your-envy-that-I-bought-at-a-garage-sale-for-$15-but-now-I'm-just-rubbing-it-in was topped with white trees, a creme brulee dish, a page I tore out of a kids book, and an old fair ribbon.

This old painting seemed like the most Christmasy thing I could imagine.

Okay, you've got me. The nativity is Southeast Asian.
I'm babysitting it for my sister and have contemplated abducting it, not just because Joseph's hat (?) says "Honda" and I drive a Honda.

 Moving on.

I hung the gingham curtains (made by a friend, hate me) in the dining room. QUALITY!

Silas filled a sticker chart that he conceptualized and created on his own, earning a strand of his own Christmas lights, with which he decorates something different every single day.

A friend sent us two puzzles, so we've been pretty busy around here...

I hope you believe me when I say living in our house is like living in a single room. I'm  plagued with messy-house angst, because no matter where you are, every mess is visible. There's just nowhere to hide around here. Literally. And figuratively. (I have tried both.)


Every Christmas our cow gets a bow on his horn.
It's complicated.

And I added a few wintry thrift-store mugs into the mix because I have discovered the limit to my self-control and it's THRIFT-STORE MUGS. I'm especially bedazzled by the pedestal mugs. They're tall, like me.

I also hung new napkin curtains, because Dutch is practically Finnish.
And I shoved some more old, fake greenery into a rando chicken feeder I rediscovered in the basement of doom.

 That poinsettia plate is plastic perfection.

And if I have to explain why I love that monkey snow globe, we should probably just part ways amicably before things get ugly.

Let's end with the creep babies.
They never disappoint, amiright?

Merry Christmas, Party People!
Wait a sec...

God jul, Partymanniskor!

That about sums it up.

PS - Here's the link to Aliza's shop, Choose Brave. Lots of good stuff here.

PPS - I read EVERY SINGLE ONE of the posts you guys linked on the Christmas link-up. You're all the best! I loved peeking into your worlds so much.
PPPS - In a happy coincidence, Nester's Christmas link-up is happening right now! 
PPPPS - This post took about 80 hours to write. I had to pee twice while I was working on it. THIS IS ME TRYING TO BE BRIEF.


  1. All I can say is ..... you're my favorite. :) You make me smile in the best ways! Merry Christmas!!!!

  2. Perfect...Simple,,,Just the right amount of everything!! I enjoy reading your blog and adventures! Gods blessing to you and yours this Christmas.

  3. Just loved it! You make me want to keep all the plastic plates my husband students give him laden with cookies that all taste like peppermint. Note to the world: IF YOU MAKE PEPPERMINT COOKIES, WRAP THEM TOTALLY SEPARATE FROM THE OTHERS!

  4. i can't stand it, you are tooo funny!! also, i cant decide if i love country living uk style or scandinavian style more! both are swoony. i love how your christmas decor is so bright and crisp this year!
    have the merriest christmas shannan!

  5. I have never commented here because I am super lame, although I have been reading your blog before you moved into this house. Anyway, I finally, finally wanted to say that I really, really love you. (Is that creepy? I'm not creepy, I promise, I am a mom with five kids, which might be weird and loud, but not creepy). Anyway, I love your house decor, and your search for color has inspired me. And I have also realized, per your house, that I really love color, but I also really love white walls to bounce the color off of and give it main stage. Unfortunately I am lazy about updating, so it's not like I have picture of my house on my blog or anything, but I love looking at yours.
    My husband and I have had many late night conversations about your life (you know, those conversations where you really should be going to sleep because it is getting late, but can't because there are thoughts burning in your heart?), and about how much you have "given up" to be where you are. He is finishing his last year of a Ph.d., and so we have spent our whole marriage (nine and a half years, now) living one one student stipend and trying to budget out our eyeballs. So although I am a ninja budgeter, and even take joy in it, I have also spent a fair amount of time dreaming of when he would graduate, and get a job, and buy that bigger house, buy those nice pieces of furniture that didn't originate from a thrift store (or curb). And although I believe in giving, and we fully tithe and give fast offerings (money given in my church every month to help feed/clothe/house/medical bills for those in our congregation, or our congregational boundaries), I often had spent lots of time dreaming about what I would do with more money when our ship came in. And then I read your blog, and your ship had come in, and you had left it, and walked back to the shore and were living (by choice!) a completely different life. And it was a huge upheaval for me. I see people being minimalist online, and the simplicity appeals to me, but I see you and your family and I realize that simplicity for a purpose is what is important - not just simplicity in itself.
    Anyway, I am always telling my husband what you are writing about - and my family. It has become a guiding light to me in my life in shaping our life so that we we may choose to give of our time and money and talents, and not filling up our life so much with "needs" and wants that we cannot give to others. And I love your house decor, which is what I meant to comment about, but since I am finally leaving a comment I couldn't not say anything about the meat of your blog that I love as well. It helps me to remember too that I can have a small house that is beautiful, and doesn't cost much, and still love it, and still host lots of people in it.

    I almost thought about trying to come up for your girls night (I live in Ohio), but I have a nursing baby and all that....plus I am not mainstream Christian (I am Mormon), and I admit, I was a little worried that everyone would not think I was really Christian, or didn't believe in Christ, or I don't know. Anyway, I will stop typing out this novel.

    1. Fellow Mormon here! I too love this blog. I don't think you should ever worry about people wondering if you're Christian or not. :) Of course we are! Shout it out loud and proud girl. I've belonged to Protestant Bible study groups, Christian Moms groups, and my girlfriend (also Mormon) sends her kids to a Catholic school. Our faith has never been an issue. Be brave! :)

      P.S. I loved what you had to say in your comment.

    2. Thora - This comment was my FAVE. Loved every word and so fun getting to know you back! Thanks for delurking. Next slumber party - you + me.

    3. Aww - you made my day! I'm excited - now that I have commented once and told you my life story, I feel like I can comment more often, and I just love your posts. Sounds good - I don't know if I really love salsa (unless it's fresh, and then that's the best thing ever), but I do love mexican food, and any and all food, so that's good. :)

  6. Love your simple little decorations...and I am really digging the wrapping paper in the basket front and center. Thanks so much for hosting the link up last week!

  7. I bought a box of Butter Keks from the Aldi Supermarketextravaganaza today and instantly thought of you as I slipped them out of their box. All the way from Germany - not too far from Sweden - is it? I was never geographically inclined. Merry Christmas Shabs. Your place is perfect.

  8. I love your style and in all honesty, I love your tree! I am one of those root for the little guy types.... Merry Christmas :)

  9. What IS it this year? I can't get into the decorating EITHER - except that now YOU can -- so there's that. No US anymore. Sad face. Still, I am not alone. I am hearing this from others (or is that my own voice reverberating in my head?) At any rate... the "redeemed" print w/ the chippy blue wreath-of-sorts (what IS it exactly?) .... THAT little scene is swoony for me! Merry Christmas Shanny! xo

  10. Did you know I'm Danish? That's almost Finnish. Also, go get some Stroopwaffles from Holland (or Meijer), speaking of Europe and crack treats. Loooooove this year's decor. You hit it outta the park again!!

  11. Your are absolutely hilarious and I absolutely adore your Christmas decorations. Beautiful!

  12. love your Christmas decor. And that cows gets me every time you post a picture of it. makes me all nostalgic for my grandparents (sniff.) who had the same thing hanging in their house (they were dairy farmers).

  13. I love your Christmas house (especially the cow with the beribboned horn...well, and the mug with the fox on it), but I love your words best. Thanks for making me laugh and think. Love.

  14. shannie its beautiful and charming and so perfect!! i especially love the white winterland of bottle brush trees and the book page and the RED ribbon. gosh. i love that. and then i love in second place that blue circular thingie with the redeemed art work...and holy cuteness those red checked curtains. gosh. merry christmas my friend. i wish i knew you when gregg was alive and we visited his fam in goshen and osceola... <3

  15. How come everything you do looks great?!! I can't figure it out!

  16. I love it all! And what I love most about you is that even with my busy schedule of teaching full time, I can read your blog after being away from blogging and your sense of humor, writing style and pictures always shine through!

  17. I want to move to your house - the right mix of fun and funky. And what's up with people (1) having relatives with barns and (2) the barns containing cool things? Clearly I don't have the right relatives.

  18. I love this so much! Reading your writing is like talking to a good friend over a cup of coffee and your pictures/style are right up my alley. Happy I found your site!!

  19. Again. I simply adore you. This post is perfect. And hilarious and I love your Christmas d├ęcor.

    PS I started watching Serving Life, thanks to your mention, and I am.blown.away.
    PSS I am reading Every Bitter Thing is Sweet. Have you read it? I keep thinking of you as I read. I leave work and go straight home to read it. I'm obsessed.

  20. I have that same pointsetta plate. Bought it a few years ago at a thrift store. I love your Christmas decorating wonkiness. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  21. I've read this post a few times now, and I'm sure I'll be back again. It's just so dang happy. You're funny and clever and your house is lovely and interesting and warm. I like it all. And, is Southeast Asian Baby Jesus riding a skateboard...because that seems just like the sort of thing He'd be into.

  22. This IS a happy blog post :D I (and my husband ?) are moving towards living 'tiny' in our big house. I am finding your execution inspirational and supportive for keeping things simple and to the point e.g. color evokes a feeling = the red ribbons. It's all very fresh and real. I always smile when I read your work and thank you for spending all the time with this one. So happy I found you <3 Merry Christmas

  23. i couldn't be any more in love with your house girl. it's simple and sweet...just like you! that feel safe and feel loved ahhhh i need that. is it just stuck on the wall? couldn't tell.

    1. They're vinyl adhesive letters from Ace hardware. Back by the garage sale signs. ;)

  24. and that crate! are you kidding me!!! that doesn't happen:O

  25. Brief (s). Pee. (Twice)
    I see what you did there ;)
    Couldn't love you more.
    I want to go move all the things right now. Tear a page out of a book, reorganize the branches on the tree, tape up a print, go thrifting right now for wonder --- mainly, I want to see like you :)
    And you teach me every post. Please, keep writing, no matter the hours, or the washroom breaks -- we'll all be waiting right here with bated breath :)

  26. There are no words for how much I love this. And as much as I LOVE your curtains, you're right: this whole set up is better without them. But that just means they'll be fresh and new when you bring them back in January or at least spring. And PLEASE bring them back, because I DO love them.

  27. I love how it looks! Also, I made crack bark for people this Christmas and it's changing their world. I thought you'd be proud.

    1. Also the two comments above mine are gold. You're calling the good doctors, right? :)

  28. Also, next time you find a magical barn, please take me with you!!!

  29. So....my super long comment that I had posted on here mysteriously disappeared. Ai ai ai! Anyways what I had said was that I met you today at my mops group and I felt like we could be BFFs. Reading this post confirmed it! I am obsessed with thrift stores, anything vintage and/or turquoise, and have a stash of those Aldis salted caramels hidden away because they are too "insert d word" good to share!!!! I love being a stay at home mom- part time Photographer, and full time crazy person! :) thank you so much for sharing today. Loved listening to you and I love you heart for Jesus. Love Does is also my favorite book other than my Bible. Just sayin' :) Your Christmas decorations are amazing as well- I always think I will do more...and then scrape together the bare minimum. However I do bake...so maybe you can come over and restyle my decor for me and I will bake you cinnamon rolls or Buckeyes or cheesecake. Sound like a plan!?! :) have a wonderful Christmas with your family!!

  30. I have many weeks of blog posts to catch up on but I'm so happy to start here. First off, your Christmas decorations are quirky and wonderful. As is Silas. That kid slays me. Your house house always feels special and unique and I adore that. I think the display above the drawer tower with the red prize ribbon might be my fave. In other news, I a little bit wanted to smack you when you bragged about your daddy finding that Aqua box in the barn!

  31. Just popped over from The Nester. Love your home!!! And your sense of humor, too. :)

  32. MY Joy is back to me after a very long time which i an my ex separated since i was alone my life change every thing about me change a friend of mine gave me an email address and told me that this was the email address she contacted when she was in the same problem so i contacted the email i got a reply he ask me to send him my number so i did he was a man call Dr.Oyalo he caster a spell for me and told me that within two day that my ex we be back for good within that two days my ex was back, i and my ex are getting married. next week, you contact him at dr.oyalospellhome@hotmail.com once again thank you Dr Oyalo.

  33. You could do or not do just about anything and I'd adore you just the same. Your words have always kept me coming back! What a gift you have my dear!

  34. Your blog makes me happy. Merry Christmas!

  35. two things:

    1. i have never been called a partymanniskor before. it was high time.
    2. you were in my last-night's dream. i shall email with deets.

  36. Im proud to have a 2 foot fibet optic tree and stockings. My OCD is high and Im on a no mess vigil. I googled for the yule log channel today. Life is complete. Happy. Holidays.

  37. How am I just finding your blog?!!! I would type in all caps to express how excited this makes me, but then I'd be afraid you thought I was yelling at you like it's your fault. Merry Christmas and what-not. But seriously, I must have been living under a rock. I love, love, love your sense of style (and thrift). Also, I soooo relate to the tiny house that's all open thing. I've thought about seeking therapy over it. LOL I'll be reading from now on. Merry Christmas for real this time!!!

  38. Hi! Quick question....did you paint the horizontal stripes on your walls? If so, can you share your trick? I've been considering this for a long time...we're living in a dated colonial and alive waited years for a farmhouse of our own....thinking it's time to bloom where we're planted. 8)

  39. Howard is Norman Rockwelling the heck outta this get up! It's fan-freaking tas tic! Also I'm the girl who's read you for all the years and just now come clean! When I do that, read all the stories that is, I often dream of the authors. Gets out creepy flag. Years ago I dreamed I came to visit you and I remember thinking her house isn't as great as it seems on the Internet. How was I to know it was likely prophetic as to the Betty Draper digs. Look how far you've come! It does my heart good to know you're right where He wants you and you're still Shannon with a magazine worthy house! I hope that makes sense that He changes us and keeps us. Scouts honor if I have anymore dreams or visions of 1950s shag I'll confess all!

  40. Love your decor! May I ask where you found your darling napkin-curtains? I've been looking for some just like that!

    1. It was a tea towel I cut in half, found at a flea market somewhere. :)