Friday Wrap + Year Beginnings

Hello and welcome to 2017! I finally plopped down long enough to write something, and it feels really good. It’s so nice connecting with you again.

In case you were curious, here are five highlights of our year so far – all six days of it. >>

{ONE} Creating A Fresh Welcome

We decided to take down Christmas decorations this week, which usually leaves our house feeling empty. Seriously, was my house always such a yawn?

Brandon and I were both off for the week, so we took this opportunity to make some updates. And boy did we get to work.

In addition to freshening up accent pillows and artwork here and there, we completely overhauled our garage. I know. Garage? Really? But hear me out. It had become a source of frustration every time we looked at it, which was every day – sometimes 3-4 times a day. So it was time.

The garage disposal, which is what I lovingly called the project, consisted of removing nearly 25 trash bags full of who even knows what or why we had it. We also sorted and LABELED the stuff we decided to keep. It was a really happy day for this neat-aspiring-freak. And it was Brandon’s idea! He goes in the keep pile. Always.

And if that wasn’t enough of a project, we also decided to totally redecorate the girls’ room. Oh, and their and bathroom. We painted, hung new mirrors, bought new bedding and an area rug, and even removed the doors from their closets and replaced them with pretty curtains. Are you as tired as I am just thinking about all of that work?

It was also a lot of fun. And seeing how much the girls are in love with their “new” room made it worth the effort. <3

{I pinky promise I’ll dedicate a post to this project to show you how it turned out. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of their bedding from Pottery Barn.}

This is the Brooklyn bedding from PB Kids.

Somehow, through all of this, I also managed to dig up my chalkboard door hanger and write a new year’s message for the entrance. It still feels a little bare out there, though.

I had Christmas trees in the urns on either side of my front door. Now that they’re gone, I’m not sure what to put in them. I’m really at a loss and would love any suggestions!

{TWO} Adulting with my Day Planner

In addition to wanting to jazz up the house, I always get the strong urge to pull out my fresh Day Designer and make all kinds of plans and goals this time of year. 2017 proved no different.

I’m a thousand percent in love with my new planner and can’t wait for events to pop up just so I can write them down. #plannernerd

If you haven’t replaced your planner, yet, should totally check out the Day Designer. It’s one of the only ones I could find that has a full page for each day. It also has a section in the front that helps you define your personal mission statement, vision and values. Powerful stuff.

{THREE} Keeping Traditions

I’m a fan of traditions. They help me feel grounded and comfortable, like a pair of well-worn jeans. There’s a lot to be cherished in that feeling, too. Especially in a world full of bloated schedules and uncertain tomorrows. It’s nice to have something simple, like cheesecake on your birthday, that you can always count on.

Our New Year’s Tradition

Several years ago Brandon and I created the tradition of choosing one word that sums up our intention for the year ahead.

For instance, last year my word was “adventure”. I wrote it in my planner and put it on a sticky note on my computer so I was always reminded of it – and had no excuses. And it worked.

We logged more miles across the country and into the woods than we ever had before as a family. I think my focus on having a more adventurous spirit led me on many exciting journeys.

So now what?

I put much thought and many prayers into choosing my word for 2017. And…

I landed on “open”.

When I told my kids, they twisted their heads with question. It might not be as clear as “adventure,” but it strikes a chord deep inside of me for many different reasons.

I explained to my family that I want to live my life more open.

I want to…

Open my heart and find the courage to always be myself.

Open my mind to new ideas and possibilities.

Open my arms to anyone who needs me.

Open my eyes to see things that are important and meaningful.

And that’s just the beginning!

I want to open more books, open more doors, open more conversations…maybe even open a store?! I don’t know. All I can say is that I’m open to it. 😉

{FOUR} Illustrating My Faith

Okay, so one other thing I’m open to is a new hobby. And I think I just found my new love.

This starter kit for illustrating my faith was one of my most favorite Christmas presents (other than a subscription to the Magnolia Journal!!!)

Brandon even bought me a special bible that has plenty of space for journaling and illustrating scripture. The kit came with pretty stickers, washi tape, paint, markers, and a devotional guide. {They had me at stickers.}

I’ve never done anything like this before, which is why I have started collecting as many ideas as I can. I’m also taking suggestions.

Are there good resources I should know about?! And how do I get over the fear of making a total mess of my book?

{FIVE} Embracing Stress Like a Gift

As you can tell, this has been a whirlwind of a week. When you toss in annual goal setting and some existential questioning, you’ve got yourself a tiny bit of stress. I think this is why I was stopped dead in my tracks when I stumbled upon this TEDTalk by Kelly McGonigal.

You may have seen this at some point. I think it’s from 2013 and has something like 12M views. Um, where the heck have I been? All I know is that I needed to hear this message right here, right now, smack dab in 2017.

Kelly explains, so easily and eloquently, how stress shouldn’t be something to fear or get rid of. We should embrace it – like a gift – and let it work for us. She even explains how it can heal us. Not even kidding. It totally transformed my thinking. Now I’m open to stress. Crazy, right?

I hope you’re off to a great start and that you’ll share some of your thoughts and ideas with me. Here’s to another year of friendship and figuring things out together!

With open arms,




Christmas Mantel Magic

Christmas MantleMantels rank right up there with Christmas trees when it comes to important places in the house to decorate. It’s the first thing Santa sees when he drops down that chimney, you know. Gotta impress the big guy.

I wanted to do something different for the mantel this year, and I love the look of chalkboard messages as the focal point. That was really the main inspiration for this year’s look.

Now, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a large chalkboard. I also didn’t want to mess with buying hardware supplies and chalk paint to try and make one. I wanted something a little more temporary, but that still looked nice. So…off to Hobby Lobby I went.

After finding black wrapping paper and a box of white chalk, I had a thought…I’d just wrap a painting!

I had NO idea how this was going to turn out. I figured the worst that could happen is I’d be out $6 from the supplies and possibly be featured on Pinstrosity. I decided I could live with that.

Since I already had a large painting, I was able to use that as the base.

Thanksgiving Mantle

This is what things looked like before the Christmas transformation. Notice the painting? That’s what I used for the base of my “faux real” chalkboard.

All I did was roll out the paper and wrap the painting like a giant present. I used double-sided tape to carefully adhere the paper.

Backside of Painting

This is the back where you can see how I just wrapped to the edges.

“Oh Holy Night” is one of my favorite Christmas songs, so I knew I wanted to use this for the art. Chalk CloseupI used regular ol’ chalk to write. I discovered it easily wiped off with my hand. If I felt more confident in my hand lettering, I probably would have used a chalk marker.

Liquid ChalkA note on the wrapping paper. Hob Lob only had glossy paper. It turned out really nice, but a matte finish would probably look even better.

Matte Paper

This pretty matte paper is on Amazon.

Once the chalkboard was up, I added some finishing touches.

Finishing Touches

I added lanterns, paperwhites, and a few red and silver ornaments tucked inside clear cylinder vases with snow at the base.

Bonus idea: Another way to repurpose a picture is to swap it out with a beautiful Christmas card.

Christmas Card PicThis idea is compliments of my sister. She snapped a quick pic of the one in her home, and I thought it was such a creative way to holidate (holiday + decorate) your house. Thanks, Debby!

Now, show me your mantels. (I’m totally making t-shirts that say that.) Be sure to take pics, use #TheNeatNook, and tag me on Instagram @Katejandersen so we can all see your creations.

Have the most creative day, yet.