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Christmas Decor Inspiration

Hello friend! Looking for Christmas decor inspiration? Look no further. In this post, you will find many of my Christmas designs I did this past 2023 with coastal inspired Christmas decor, an elegant blush and gold tablescape, porch inspiration, a gingerbread party, and even a pink Christmas tree.

When decorating, I choose what brings my family joy, calm, and delight. These design choices bring happiness to me, and I hope you will be inspired!

Enjoy the photos and videos and let me know if you have any questions on how to achieve any of these looks in your home!

Happy decorating!



Cozy Up Your Home & Heart For Fall


Reflections on a Heart for Fall

Life seems to constantly remind us of the need to hold on, but then to let go.  It whispers to us to stop wrestling and to be still. Fall asks us to open our hands, let go, and be patient. It can be difficult when we want to hold on and not let go of what is comfortable and familiar.  Do we have a heart for fall?

I think we all long for the eternal sunshine of summer in our lives, and we don’t always want fall to come. We are told how fall is proof that change is beautiful; however, with change, there is also growing pains, uncertainty, and uneasiness even in the midst of beauty. It is natural to not want the discomfort of change with growing pains. Sometimes, we just want to sweep this discomfort under the rug, close the door, and pretend it isn’t there, but we are meant for more.  We are meant for healing, growth, and joy.  Growing pains in these seasons of growth can be hard. Just like the leaves must fall off for new growth to emerge, we too must let go of what is familiar for something more in our lives.  This letting go isn’t always easy to do.

What can we do in the discomfort and uneasiness of life’s changing seasons? Psalm 1:3 says, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that He does, he prospers.” We can plant ourselves with the anchor of our faith, resting secure as life’s transitions blow our way. Our leaves do not have to wither in the midst of the changing seasons in our own personal lives. We don’t have to be like the leaves that blow all around one way to the next.  Instead of becoming  discouraged and growing more restless, our hearts can find rest and peace as we trust in our faith in God in the midst of the discomfort of the changing seasons of life. We can take comfort in the truth that God doesn’t change even when all around us does. He is faithfully holding our life safely in the palm of his hands, and He knows why one door may open while another door may close.  He knows the purpose in the leaves falling away for new growth.  Take heart because He knows the timing. You are meant for more. Rest secure in your faith this changing season and don’t lose heart. There is a purpose for every season in your life, and none of it will go to waste. Be glad because God is faithful in the autumn rains. The Bible reminds us in Galations 6 to not become weary in doing good because at the right time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. These growing pains that feel uncomfortable right now are making you stronger and growing more character in you.

A Home for Fall

As you grow your heart for fall, you will find rest and peace in your home. We all know that the rain, fog, wet leaves, and wind gusts occur sometimes more frequently than the golden rays of sunshine that shine on the gorgeous fall leaves. So how do we cozy up our homes as it gets darker outside earlier and the rain starts to fall more?

Get Inspired

To be inspired, you must spend time nurturing your soul. Sing, create, read, walk, write, play, listen, pray, and get outside.  When the sun comes out again, have a campfire in your backyard, roast some marshmallows, and let your kids run around in the leaves. When it’s not raining, pull yourself out of your home because if you don’t, you may just miss the beauty of this season. Try a new craft like making a leaf book or painting a pumpkin, and bring the outside in with fall decor.  Make some soup or chili, and get that crockpot out again.  With the rush of sport activities, don’t let that get in the way of taking a hike in the mountains to appreciate all that this season offers. Appreciate all that nature has to offer by getting out on the water, enjoying the beauty of a hike, watching a gorgeous sunset, feeling the leaves dance in the wind, and breathing in the crisp fall air. Be inspired and then create.

Create a Fall Tablescape

Out of the inspiration you are feeling, create. If you want to create a fall tablescape, go for it.  Use the colors that are speaking to you right now and that bring you calm or excitement. For this year’s fall tablescape, I decided to stick with a white and cream color scheme with a touch of green. I found my flowers at Joanne Fabrics with the buy 3 get 2 free sale.  I trimmed them to fit and added some white and green pumpkins.  I decided to sit these on eucalyptus garlands that I found on sale at Michaels. Whatever you decide, have fun creating!

Refresh Your Kitchen for Fall



Enjoy Comfort Food

Bring out all of the comfort food you enjoy.  For me, that is adding cinnamon, nutmeg, lemongrass, cilantro, and pumpkin spice to my recipes. I also enjoy honey cornbread, soup, chili, apple crisp, popcorn, and apple cider.  Nothing beats apples and salted caramel for a go to snack this time of year. Whatever brings you comfort and nostalgia, bring those ingredients into your kitchen and enjoy! You can dress it up with some plush pumpkins, flickering candles, and pumpkin platters. I found my pumpkin decor at Home Goods.

Try Some DIY Fall Crafts

As you enjoy being creative, try out some DIY fall crafts.  This year, I made my own fall wreaths for my islands.  I just got my mini wreaths on sale at Joanne Fabrics and some pumpkins and sunflowers. I used some creme and gold ribbon on it.  As I was creating, I also tried out making an elegant fall pumpkin.  I just got a craft pumpkin on sale at Michaels with floral foam and glue, and I made a flower arrangement on top.  So far, it has held up outside in the wind under the covered porch.  I really like how it turned out.  I also placed video tutorials on these DIY fall crafts on Instagram if you want to check those out. Lastly, I made my kitchen island flower arrangement with floral foam, a wooden planter, and white sunflowers/pumpkins all on sale at Joanne Fabrics and Michaels.  It was energizing doing my own DIY fall crafts this fall season and definitely more affordable.

Pretty Up Your Porch

Thinking of spending more time on your porch this fall season? Pretty up your porch for fall with faux pumpkins, basket flower arrangements, and mums.  You can use faux or real mums.  I decided to do real mums and faux fall flowers on sale from Michaels.


Warm Up Your Living Space With Lighting & Plush Pumpkins

If you don’t have flickering candles or soft flickering lights, I highly recommend that you add these into your living room.  I added 4 flickering candles on my coffee table with plush creme pumpkins. I also added 2 flickering candles, soft lighting on a cozy blanket, and a variety of plush/glass/wooden pumpkins around my fireplace mantel with white sunflowers.

May you have a wonderful fall season as you cozy up your home and heart for fall. Let me know what DIY fall projects you are up to and what you are cooking this fall season.  I’d love to hear from you.  If you haven’t checked out my Instagram page, feel free to follow me for more fall decor ideas!

Home With Carolyn

Outdoor Living Among the Flowers

Follow this simple way to move beyond just being outside to actually enjoying your outdoor space at home. Your home will feel more like a vacation every day as you seek to cultivate, nurture, welcome, enchant, and rest in your outdoor space.

There is nothing quite like sitting at home among a garden of flowers watching the birds, butterflies, and bumblebees. You don’t have to be retired to enjoy your home.  I want to tell you today that you can create your own outdoor space that feels like vacation.

There is something so life-giving about spending time among the flowers. Spending time in the garden can bring our soul rest. It will invite us in and ask us to stay awhile. It will give us a reason to stay outside just for a few hours more.  Outdoor living shouldn’t feel like an obligation or a chore. It should refresh us and invite us to itself. If it isn’t life-giving, then I would encourage you to find refuge among the flowers. This is the restorative power of a garden. Everyone can have outdoor living like this.


Cultivate a garden that works for you.

We use a Rainbird irrigation system that goes off for an hour early each morning. We added extra extension pieces and sprayers to various parts of the garden that need more water. We also released ladybugs in the late evening to help with the aphids. Using Neem Oil and Seven throughout times of pests in the garden also proves helpful. Make sure you don’t water in the evening as much since this can create a white powdery fungus if your garden is too wet into the late night. Don’t be shy about pruning and removing dead blooms. It will actually create more blooms for you after going through this process. Being diligent about removing dead blooms on a weekly basis will help to keep your blooms fuller. Use Repels All if the deer are getting to your plants and look for more deer resistant plants next time you visit your garden store. Check out deer resistant plants by Better Homes and Gardens HERE


Take time to nurture your outdoor space. In areas where you can’t mulch, plant wildflower seeds and watch nature nurture itself. While you tend to your garden beds, you will notice the work of the butterflies, bumblebees, and birds surrounding your outdoor space with delight. They will be hard at work tending to your wildflower garden, and you will see the importance of nurture at work. Pour your nurturing self into your outdoor space, surround yourself with that which makes you happy and brings your soul rest. Find the bird and butterfly garden plan from Better Homes and Gardens HERE


Enchantment comes from the sun pouring into our front porch or back patios. It’s the sparkle and warmth from the golden sun that will add magic to your space. Bring an added caress of enchantment to your outdoor living space through the use of sheer white outdoor curtains. Use outdoor curtain rods and curtains then watch the magic happen.

You won’t regret the few hours it takes to set this up for your warmer months. Dress up your porch with garlands around your door and planters on either side of your door.  Switch them out as the seasons change. Bring in seating that relaxes you.


Welcome in friends, neighbors, and family to your front porch. Make your front porch fun and welcoming with the use of artificial flowers in a planter, garlands, and a color scheme that makes you smile.  Switch it out as the seasons change and have some fun with it.  Do it just because. We can bring back the simpler times to our children, family, and neighbors.



In a world that pulls us in a million directions and tells us to be more and more, learn to rest. Learn to tell yourself that you are enough, you did enough, and your life is enough.  Sometimes, we need to be still and enjoy all that we have worked so hard for. Sit, read, talk with loved ones, and listen.  Let your nervous system learn to rest again. Find comfortable seating and spend the extra money to get what you really like so that you will use it. We decided to go with Breezesta Polywood furniture on our patio and keep our cushions inside our home until it is time to use them.  Use furniture that is most comfortable for your family and enjoy!



Tips for Fighting for a More Connected Childhood

Many of us intend to be intentional about our parenting, but it can be challenging being generous with the face to face attention we give to our children. Our hurried and distracted lives can often get in the way of giving our children our undivided attention.

This world makes it harder each day to focus on the most important work we will ever do—parent.

Many of us value a playful and truly connected childhood, but childhood has been redefined by the world. Take heart because we don’t have to let their childhood be redefined when we can intentionally create the childhood we want them to have.

What do you find nostalgic? Skipping rocks, camping out under the stars, spending hours playing outside, or telling campfire stories? Create that life for them. We can light up our child’s life with love, faith, and hope. There is such a thing as a connected childhood.

I think we need to rediscover what we may have lost. What have we lost? I believe it is connection. It’s time that we go back to a more connected childhood where family and our faith is put first, but we must fight for it. In a world throwing screens and activities in our children’s faces every second it can, we must fight for a more connected childhood.

Remember, just because our lives can get filled with the rush of activities, there still may be connection missing. In order to grow a connected childhood, we need to get rid of the weeds of distractions and the constant wheels of entertainment in our children’s lives because a connected childhood can’t be put into a microwave and warmed up for 3 minutes. It is not fast food. It is not an amusement park ride. A connected childhood does not need to rush when it can soar on the wind. It is time that we pause and examine this season more closely so we have no regrets.

The Problem in a Distracted Childhood

It’s easy to only want to focus on the magical parts of childhood, but there are also hard lessons to be taught and learned by our children. These essential lessons will become their foundation for the rest of their life.  Think about how many lessons you can teach them about living with integrity, pursuing love, making the right choice, valuing relationships, and leaving behind a legacy. It’s an awesome privilege and blessing in being able to parent. Our children are relying on us to teach them these important life-giving lessons. It’s not someone else’s job. It is ours. Embrace this role in your life, and know that what you are working so hard on instilling in your children matters.

Don’t Use a Screen As a Pacifier

This is a judgement free area because we have all been here at one point or another. We have allowed both ourselves and our children to be pacified by the comfort of screens. We must ask ourselves one question: When did connecting on our devices replace connecting with each other? I think that life has become harder than we thought it would become, and we have turned to screens as pacifiers. Even when life gets easier though, we keep turning to screens out of habit. Think about your intention. Think about your reason for turning to screens, and think carefully about how addictive it may be getting for your children.

A connected childhood should not look like our children staring at their screens instead of the eyes of their parent. Our car ride conversations should not be silenced and lost to our children quietly staring at their iPads. When our children are upset, we should not be appeasing them with the addictive salve of a screen. We shouldn’t measure our success as a parent as having a quiet or obedient child as we sit at a restaurant; instead, we need to have the bravery to help our children cope with life and deal with their emotions in a positive way instead of putting a screen in front of their faces whenever we don’t want to deal with something.

Let’s talk more to each other and grow our relationships. How will our children cope as adults and deal with life’s hardships if they are not learning how to cope with their frustrations and failures now? We need to step back and take a look at what we are doing. Are we giving them coping skills or a screen? Are we modeling communication skills and coping skills or have we given up in exhaustion? The very screens we are giving them are causing hyperactivity and restlessness. It may appear like a quick fix, but it’s just not worth it.

Read more from Face to Face Living here about how we can, “take liberal amounts of time off from screens and replace them with a healthy diet of hands-on, creative, and attachment oriented social behaviors”.

Try These Tips for a More Connected Childhood

Try out some of these strategies below:

1. It’s hard to connect when we are fighting with our children. Life will get filtered through our children’s lens, and they will not always know how to express their emotions in a positive way. Don’t wait. Be present. Don’t ignore their poor behavior hoping it will go away. Before it gets worse, give that redirection, cue to refocus, and model the positive communication and behavior they need. Are they not responding positively or obeying? Talk to them one-on-one quietly and tell them what they should be doing, remove them from their preferred activity, and take something of value away from them as a consequence. Have them sit it out and think about why it’s important to make the right choice. Talk to them when they are ready and allow them to now express their emotions in a positive way. Having issues that are getting overwhelming for you? Go talk to a counselor for strategies in handling your child’s unique needs, and bring them with you to the counseling session so you can work together on finding solutions and connection again. As you work to resolve conflict, you will find connection. Don’t lose heart. Get the support you need so you can have the connection you need again. 

2. Encourage imaginative play each day. Make a fort, a stuffed animal show, or a ferris wheel because building in creative play connects us, inspires us, and allows us to hold on to those moments even longer.  Give them space to use their imagination and play pretend. Play with your children. They do desperately need your attention, and even when you are tired, try to find the energy to play hide and seek with them.

3. Build in time for giving and maintaining more eye contact for a longer time with your child. Schedule uninterrupted time. This can be found at regular family meal times and day to day conversations. Read more about the importance of face to face gazing from Face to Face Living here.

4. Think carefully about how you are greeting them and saying goodnight to them each night. Make a point to add in words of encouragement, affirmation, and gratitude each evening. You are helping build their emotional intelligence each day. That’s a pretty awesome job in itself.

5. Let your child join you in everyday tasks and chores. Talk to them while you are doing these everyday tasks and show them how you do them. Connect over washing the dishes or putting them away. Connect over folding laundry and baking in the kitchen. As you connect in these every day tasks, they will learn to find connection in their tasks as adults. 

6. Spend quality time together during your free time. Don’t rush them off every weekend to a babysitter. Build that relationship with them and find peace in spending time together. If you aren’t finding peace in your relationship, you may need to prioritize finding new solutions to handling conflict in your home.

7. When children feel safe and know what to expect next, they start feeling more connected. When they know they are not just heard but listened to, they start giving more respect. Give your children your listening ear and spend more time listening to them. Give them the structure and the routines they need, so they can connect and feel more connected.

8. There is value in also staying home and being still. Don’t always rush back and forth. If you are always running, you may miss out on presence. Don’t forget to give hugs, cuddles, and eye to eye contact throughout the day. Building that relationship with your child will often require engaging in conversations, play, and not over scheduling your life. If you are having a difficult time making this a reality, ask for more help and support from friends and family members, so that you can be more present.

9. NPR wrote about how our children are getting dopamine from their screens. Because of this, it’s very difficult to get them to stop after they start. You can view this article here. Just like we can get addicted to sugar, we can also crave screens even when they don’t make us feel better. My tip is to just remove screens as much as you can from your home so you don’t have to fight this battle. Get outside instead as much as you can. Make a list of all of the outdoor activities your family can try out whether it is hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, playing on an outdoor obstacle course, or camping. Make this list and schedule outside time each day and week as much as possible. The more they are outside, the more they won’t crave a screen. Children don’t need a TV in their room. They don’t need to be on social media. They don’t need to have phones. They don’t need to have access to an iPad. If you do allow an iPad, keep them in a hidden area that they can’t get to, so you can control when they have access to them. If you do allow a TV in any part of your home, keep the remotes out of sight until you allow them to have it. You can control how much they are on a screen. Be sensitive to what is happening in the brain when they are getting on the screens.

Looking for more tips? You can also read more about preserving your child’s innocence and childhood in my other article.

As you can see, a connected childhood takes time and work. It takes building a strong relationship with your child, being consistent, and making sacrifices to be more present. I hope this article helped to inspire you to become more present with your child while offering them a more connected childhood. I’m cheering for you.

Grateful you are here,



Event Planning

A Playful Popsicle in the Sun Party

Welcome to a playful popsicle themed party for the kids this summer.  Here are a few event planning tips if you are wanting to try out this theme.

Please note that if you need help in planning your next party, contact me using my contact form. I will be providing event planning services starting fall of 2023 in the Harrisburg, PA area.

Balloons Galore

Blow up those balloons and get the party started with a simple balloon machine.  You can find this balloon garland on Amazon as well.  Balloons are a great addition to any party, and they are one of the most inexpensive items you can add. Use them for a balloon garland or make floral ice balls to keep those popsicles chilled.


Photo Backdrop- Yes, Please!

Yes, setting up a photo backdrop is easier than it looks. You can find this sweet “pop on over and chill” photo backdrop on Amazon, and it’s not going to cost too much. Use sandbags and heavy paint pails on either side to help with the wind.  Just cover those sand bags and paint pails with blankets or rugs for a more elegant look.

DIY Picnic

A DIY picnic is very easy to set up.  Don’t want to buy or make a low picnic table? I just used a ping pong table we already had, set it up on plastic bins, added some flowers, added a white tablecloth and a popsicle table runner, and threw down some plates/chargers/pillows/blankets I already had in my home. It made for a fun get together for the kids! Use what you already have.  You may have more pillows than you realize!

Poppin’ Popsicles

Get poppin’ with some playful popsicle ideas. Popsicles can come in all types of different forms. You can have fun with this theme by having popsicle sugar decorated cookies, popsicle chocolate, chocolate covered bananas on a stick, watermelon on a stick, and obviously popsicles. Just get some popsicle sticks, and let your imagination take off. You could also do hotdogs on a stick as well!

Kid Friendly Summer Treats

I wanted to try out a few of snack ideas, so we did Oreo dirt in a bucket, donut towers on a stick, and funfetti dip with animal crackers.  I also made my own labels on Canva. I’ll post some of these treats below. We also had soft pretzels, bagel bites, and pizza.

Popsicle Party Labels

I hope you found some possible ideas for your next party! Like what you see? Share with a friend and follow me on Instagram for more party planning ideas. Continue to build community and connection with your loved ones and have a relaxing summer!


Cultivating Creativity as a New Mom

I’m a new mom and a creative– guess which identity marker took a back seat in the early days of my daughter’s life?

In the throes of new motherhood when it seems like caring for a baby is all that gets done, it can be hard to imagine time allocated for anything else.

Time for hobbies? you may balk, I’ll be lucky if I’m confronted with the sweet choice of sleeping or eating in the whole 20 minutes I have today.

My new mom hobbies morphed into:

Observing my baby’s bowel movements, amount and texture
Tracking baby’s milk intake
Inexplicably trying to compute milk math when making bottles of formula + pumped milk
Laundering items in an endless loop
Sleeping on a nursing pillow the moment my daughter fell asleep

I’m in a season of life that is not conducive to sustaining extensive hobbies– to the dedication of great amounts of time and energy for a particular passion project, other than household and survival needs. But I have, miraculously, found ways to weave creativity into these busy, bustling, blessed days.

Savor unexpected opportunities to create

One of my creative passions is baking, and though I haven’t had much margin for testing new buttercream recipes or trialing a new bake (next on my list is macarons, by the way!), I’ve found my creative wheels whirring, or at least giving a committed squeak in ways I hadn’t thought of before.

The minute we got the greenlight to feed baby solid foods, I set out to create a homemade puree full of love. It was a simple mixture of just two ingredients (roasted sweet potato and chicken bone broth blended together) but the act of creating something that I knew would be healthy and tasty for my baby gave me immense satisfaction. This simple creation harkened back to the days when the kitchen was my canvas, my laboratory, my studio of delicious innovation.

So you see how small, surprise chances for creativity can sneak in between the stacks of laundry and a sink full of crusty dishes.

Opportunities can arise simply and unannounced– like dressing up baby in a snazzier-than-usual outfit.

It could mean reading different books to baby or formulating exciting new characters for your funny faces and peek-a-boo expressions.

Just because the before-kids version of yourself never thought these would be creative endeavors, doesn’t mean the New Mom You can’t relish in the unassuming chance for invention.

Plan spare time with intentionality

Spare time, if you have any in these days, can seem like a fleeting treasure.

Before we had a more established sleep routine with my daughter, spare time became catch-up-on-sleep time. As she got older, and we gained more slumber, I began to dream about the possibilities.

One day, I set out to bake. It took the planning and coordination of a covert military mission to achieve this, but we snuck in this wonderful chance for creativity. I made a dark chocolate layer cake with a light Swiss meringue buttercream and topped with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. This victory (and cake) was truly sweet.

Remember that new motherhood is a season

Some days, I have a sliver of a chance to do something not directly related to parenting. And on the days I don’t, that’s okay, too.

On tiring days, I try to remember, before we had our baby, how much I yearned to have a child.

I try to remember that even though I can’t foresee the exact bounds of the season, though I can’t measure the amount in this particular life vessel, nor can I calculate with any degree of accuracy the perimeter of this place, it will not be like this forever.

I can be grateful for this period of motherhood. I can be grateful for the sporadic, creative bursts that pour into my soul. I can choose to embrace (or at least tolerate) it all.

Charmaine is a mom to an almost-one-year-old, writer, and former elementary school teacher. She writes at about her process of leaving teaching and finding other means of work while caring for her home and family.


Finding Home

Have we found the true meaning of home?

I’m afraid we are too easily fooled into thinking that remodels, custom designs, or the latest home trends will bring us fulfillment. While these things may bring us a temporary satisfaction, they do not bring us into the true meaning of home.

Finding home means finding connection. It means being heard, listened to, and listening to others. Finding home means knowing we belong and how we belong. Finding home means cultivating contentment and an inner peace in our hearts. It means going home and knowing there is no where else we would rather be.

For too many of us, we have circled around and around on the carousel of life, and it’s been a dizzying ride at times. With each round circling into a new chapter in our lives, we can grow dizzy of the quick changes of life. This merry-go-round of life can be filled with joy and delight, but often we can become dissatisfied or disconnected from the very place we spend year after year.

It can be that in-between time when we get off the carousel of life and wait to get back on again that makes us want to question what it means to find home. This is when our life can feel like a blur. A blur of getting on and then getting off again. This dizzying ride can too easily continue until we start to ask ourselves if there is something else in store for us. I do think there is something we are missing at times in our lives and that is finding home.

How can we find the true meaning of home when our lives have become so transient? How do we fit those separated pieces of our lives together? We see the puzzle pieces of our life laid out before us, and we can become confused with how to put the pieces back together. So many of our lives have been scattered around, and it’s hard to know where our home begins and ends. It is easy to feel disconnected especially when our lives and the lives of those we love have become transient.

So where do we go from here? Let your home begin and end in unconditional love. Let the foundation of your home be built on your faith with your morals and values.  I want to encourage you to find home in connection, rest, peace, and contentment. You are the heartbeat of all the homes you have lived in. Let the four walls of your home be faith, hope, love, and healthy relationships. Finding home should mean finding our place of rest, contentment, and inner peace. It should be the place where we know we truly belong because we are loved, valued, and cherished.

If you don’t feel that in your home, then make today the day you prioritize finding home. Push aside everything that is distracting you from living the life you want to live.  If something is getting in the way, find a way to get around it. Your time is precious.  Choose to pour your heart into things that will build you up. Put up healthy boundaries in the areas that need it. Choose genuine relationships that make you strong and bring out the best in you. Choose authenticity. Cultivate contentment while still pursuing your dreams. Choose connection. Choose community. Choose rest. Choose love. Find home and don’t look back. Design the life you want to live.

Grateful you are here,




A Coastal Elegance Tablescape

Hello friends!

Today, I wanted to show you how I am incorporating a coastal elegance theme in my tablescape for both my breakfast and dining room table. Want to try this look? Here are a few tips.

Light Up the Night With Candles

This is the second time I have used these batttery operated candles.  I appreciate how they flicker like real candles without the worry of a real flame. They elevate the look by providing warmth and a romantic feel. I linked them below in case you are interested in trying them out.

Bring Home that Coastal Feel with Woven Seagrass

You can find glasses at Home Goods and Pottery Barn that are wrapped in woven seagrass.  When washing the cups, just simply slide off the woven seagrass when not in use.  This makes every afternoon tea feel extra special.  You can also easily find napkin holders and chargers that have this similar feel.  When incorporating all three of these looks, you will be sure to bring that coastal feel home.

Bring in Gold for Added Elegance

I added small touches of gold for added elegance to this tablescape.  I did this using gold bases for my candles.  Those are linked below.  I also paired a clear charger with a gold rim behind my plate to give it an extra touch of elegance. I found that at Hobby Lobby. You can see that I also added a wine glass that has a gold rim and sea green base.  This was a great find at Home Goods. Just these three small touches of gold bring more elegance to this coastal tablescape.

Use White & Sea Green Flowers With Seashells

I used these clear vases going down my table like I did with my spring tablescape again because they are so versatile with any tablescape theme.  I used artificial flowers from Hobby Lobby in the colors of white and sea green so that this theme can last well into the summer months.  I simply just alternated seashells from one side to the other as I went down the centerpiece.  I was really happy how this look turned out.

Extend the Coastal Elegance Look

I added starfish decor from Hobby Lobby with various pieces that use woven material and rattan to extend the coastal look. I added in an extra flower arrangement here as well with more shades of blue, sea green, and white.

For my kitchen island centerpiece, I took a larger and smaller hurricane vase and added potpourri that had seashells, sea glass, and driftwood to the vase.  I chose to fill this one with bright white flowers.

Coastal Elegance Breakfast Table

I wanted to extend this look to my breakfast table so I used a striped table cloth, light woven table chargers, a beaded lantern centerpiece, and coastal plastic plates. My island was already painted in waterscape paint color by Sherwin Williams with the use of shiplap to connect this theme throughout my home.

Carry the Coastal Elegance Look Outside

We ended up purchasing polywood furniture in the sea glass color for outside on our back patio area.  There is something calming about seeing this peaceful color scheme outside as well. I will create a post on our patio look when those furniture pieces arrive.

Thanks for following along.  Like what you see? Share this post with a friend or subscribe to my blog for more home inspiration.  Stay tuned for my summer patio look! Happy hosting!

Shop the Post
E&F Modern Designs™ Rectangular Floral Centerpiece for Dining Table – 24 Inches Long Rectangular Vase
GenSwin Flameless White Taper Candles Flickering with 10-Key Remote, Battery Operated Led Warm 3D Wick Light Window Candles
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Preserving Our Children’s Innocence & Childhood

As I walked through the forest on a rainy day with my family, all I could notice was how the rain was glistening on each of the leaves of the trees. I noticed how mini pools were forming at the center of the larger leaves. As I took each step deeper into the beauty of the forest, I started to enjoy the forest, safe from the pounding of the rain under our large umbrellas and canopy of the trees.  However, my son wasn’t enjoying the walk anymore.  The tears started to roll down my son’s face because he didn’t want to walk in the rain. He stopped finding joy in the rain.

What do we do as parents when the storms of life try to steal our children’s joy? As parents, we go through seasons where we walk and even carry our children through the pounding difficulties of life. When our children and teenagers become more and more frustrated by the rains of life, we can start to feel powerless and wonder what we can do.

While we can’t take away the rain, I do believe there are intentional things we can do to protect our children’s innocence and childhood while showing them how they can still have joy throughout the rains of life.

Think ‘Greenhouse’

When my son wanted to feel the warmth of the sunshine, we went back into the greenhouse with him. I think we can do this in the storms of life as well.

We don’t need to put our child into a bubble when we can turn their childhood into a greenhouse.

We can provide them with a loving home where family is first. Even in the bitter cold rain our world is going through, we can still put our children in a safe and nurturing home. In a greenhouse, it lets in as much light and warmth as possible, and all the rays of sunlight pass through with everything staying warmer than outside. Even in the depth of winter, greenhouses stay 20 to 30 degrees warmer. We can create this loving climate for our children metaphorically speaking while they’re still growing and putting down their roots. As they figure out who they are, we can speak words of encouragement to them that help them to pursue their talents and dreams. We can be more intentional about family time and what we allow or don’t allow in our homes. We can also choose what type of education we think will be best for them as they grow. For our family, we chose a classical Christian education where our child is being challenged academically and morally. While nothing is perfect, this was a personal decision we made to help our son grow more spiritually and academically.  Your choice for your child may look different, but what matters is that you make a conscious decision to help your child to put down their roots into a rich soil that will allow them to grow, glow, and truly thrive.

We all understand that greenhouses require maintenance and care, but so do our children in this critical stage of development. This will require you to make sacrifices for your children and to be more present for them.  You may have to put a dream of yours on pause while you nurture your children.  You may also have to push the task you want to complete to the side so you can listen more, but I do think this choice will pay off in the end. Don’t underestimate how important you are in your child’s life.

Just like plants need warmth, light, and moisture to grow, so do our children. More than ever, they need love, special care, and nurturing.  They need time to allow their roots to deepen in the rich soil, so that when more storms come, they will not be uprooted.  How are you giving your children this time to put down their roots? I do think this looks differently for each child.  I would encourage you to thoughtfully pray about what this may look like for your child and their own specific needs.

Just like a greenhouse protects plants from the extreme cold, we too can protect our children from what is trying to steal their childhood and innocence from them. Just like a greenhouse needs air circulation to maintain healthy plants, we can provide the foundation of our values, beliefs, and convictions to our children. We can surround them with a healthier and wiser way to live their lives.

May our prayer for our teenagers be, “No longer uprooted.” May we continue to seek this strong foundation of love for our children. They can then choose to carry this greenhouse with them as they leave our homes because they will need to be able to stand strong in their identity and faith. Life is going to be cold and rainy, but they can stand secure in their faith and God’s love.

Gift Them With Integrity

I was a child of the 80s. I was a barefoot child, spending most of my time outside playing under the warmth of the sun or participating in sports, music, and church. We had family time, and we sat around the table and talked about our days at dinner time.  We didn’t have cellphones in elementary or high school. We didn’t take many photos. Our lives were not lived out all over social media. We didn’t watch TV very often except for TGIF where most television shows only lasted 20 minutes and taught a lesson. While life just does not look like this anymore, we can still instill values and morals into our children. We can still get them outdoors and off screens.

In my childhood, I understood the value of doing the right thing when no one was looking.  We learned all about what it meant to have integrity.  Our lives were not perfect, but our lives were grounded in our faith and the love of our family. We can still show our children the value of integrity.  We can still cultivate the life we want our children to have.  We don’t need to overschedule our lives.  We can replace our busy schedules with more intentional living. Our children can turn to us with their questions instead of their computers. We can be the one answering their questions and teaching them how they can live their life with integrity. We don’t need to leave that up to someone else.

Gift Them With Your Presence

Our children and teenagers should be able to turn to us during the storms of life.  We can show them something to smile about through the rain and make them feel loved even in this unloving world.

There are so many flowers that are unopened  and that aren’t quite ready to bloom.  If our children are these unopened buds, we don’t need to allow the world to force their blooms to open before they are ready. We can be patient with them as they grow.

Many of us want our children to remain kind, cheerful, innocent, sweet, and gentle. However, the world has a way of exposing our children to way too much too soon. They aren’t able to process or handle what they see.  They are still growing, and their young minds can have a difficult time handling their emotions. There is one thing we can agree on—it’s just too much, way too soon.

Fill Your Children’s Thoughts With Good Things

We need to stop allowing our children to view violent movies or video games. We need to be careful with what they are taking in on their screens. In my family, we didn’t play violent video games, and we weren’t filling our minds with horror stories or violent books or movies. Instead, our thoughts were grounded in our faith at a very young age. We were entertained by playing outside, listening to stories of faith, and spending time with loved ones. We learned to be respectful, kind, and generous because of our faith. We learned to think about each other’s needs and be unselfish and caring.

Stop a minute and think about what is filling your child’s or teenager’s mind on a weekly basis. You may not be sure. Pay attention to it, and be more observant because what they are filling their mind with will impact them.

What inspiring sayings are you filling your home with on a daily basis? These can be inspiring or uplifting words you speak to your family, but they can also be sayings you place on your wall.  What inspiring sayings are filling your home? More importantly, what words are you speaking into the life of your children? For our family, our Christian faith is the foundation of our life. We find peace and joy in the love of God. 

I want you think about how you are reflecting your values to your children. In our homes, how are we thinking on ideas which are true, honorable, worthy of respect, pure, wholesome, lovely, peaceful, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy?

I want to encourage you to go through the words below, and think on how you can further reflect on each one on a daily basis in your home. 



Worthy of respect








“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.” Philippians 4:8 

I hope you found this article helpful in your parenting journey as you seek to fill your home with more love. Our children and teenagers are counting us. When the rains of life fall on our growing teenagers and young adults, may they remain rooted and secure in their identity and faith.

Home With Carolyn

Pantry Cleanout & Organization Tips

Hello friends! Are you ready to learn more about how to do a pantry cleanout and improve your kitchen organization? At Getting Creative With Carolyn, we completed a pantry cleanout and organization for family.  It is possible to have an organization system in place that works for your family, and you can do it in just a few days if you work hard and stay focused!

Here are some tips.

Clear Out Absolutely Everything

Remember these six words: it is going to be messy. You are going to want to quit and not finish.  Request the help of friends or family because you really need to clear out everything in your cabinets and pantry.  I mean-everything. I want to be honest with you, so you know what to expect going into it. Your pantry cleanout may take you the longest to complete depending on how long it’s been since you have cleaned out your pantry.  You may end up finding things you stuffed in there when you moved into your home.  You will also find open bags with no clips, and it will get messy.  Don’t underestimate the amount of trash bags you will use.  You may end up using 10 trash bags filled with boxes and expired food.  Please note that boxes take up a lot of space even when they are broken down.  Be ready with lots of trash bags for this step.

Pay attention to all dates on food products.  You can give some away to a local food pantry if needed as well. I recommend using your hand held vacuum in the cabinets since things will get messy here.  Expect food to fall on the ground and some sticky mess in your cabinets.  You will be doing a good amount of cleaning in this step.  Have someone on garbage duty to help you with this step.  Doing this cleanout will show you how much food waste your family is accumulating and help you see the value in not wasting your food. You will see how shoving your food into your cabinets is just continuing the cycle of not knowing what you have.  We all get busy and do it, so don’t feel bad.  This is why you need to set up an organization system that will be easy for you.  You will start to realize that it is important to see what you have, so it doesn’t get lost in your cabinets anymore.

It is so easy to shove food into your cabinets until we forget what we got in the first place.  Have you ever opened one of your cabinets and thought, “Oh, I forgot I bought that” or “That’s where it went”? This happens to all of us when we don’t have a system for organization.

Be Practical

When thinking about what organizers you want to use, think realistically about your family.  If you will have small children for the next two or more years, I would definitely use plastic organizers.  If your children are getting older and they can handle glass, then maybe go with glass.  Remember, you can add organizers as the years go on. Put glass up higher if you don’t want your kids to get to it. The goal right now is to just get started.  Once you have your organization system in place, you can add more stylish organizers to it as the years go on.

We chose to use organizers from Target for this kitchen cleanout since they were plastic, more affordable, and easier to use for small hands. We wanted to ensure that the entire family, including the kids, could get involved in baking or getting their own snacks without any worries of glass breaking.

Request Help

You will want to request help from someone who can take all of the organizers out of their boxes.  Even pulling off all of those stickers on each organizer will take time.  Have them line them up by size, so you can see what you have to use. Someone on garbage duty and organizer duty will help you tremendously through this cleanout process. I requested the help from my son and husband for these two tasks. With the support of friends or family, you can get this done!

Get More Organizers Than You Think You Need

I underestimated the amount of organizers I would need.  I thought I got more than enough just to find myself running back to the store two more times.  I didn’t realize how many I would need since I went in spurts for my organizers in my own home.  Because I was doing it all at once, I definitely needed more than I realized.  This did add up due to the current costs of inflation.  If you don’t have any organizers, you will be starting from scratch.  Please note that this will be a larger investment in organizers to get your pantry organized.  I do believe though that it is worth the money you will spend since once you have your organizers, you won’t have to go back and get many more as time goes on.  You should have what you need in the long run, and your organization system will be in its place.  Just think how your food items will stay fresher, and you will have less food waste. Everything will have a home, and this will bring more calm to your home.  I think it is definitely worth the investment.

So how did I set up everything?

Set Up a Breakfast Zone

Put your oatmeal, granola, and cereal in one location that is easy to get to in the morning.  Be sure to have extra shelving above it for future cereal boxes, so that you don’t overflow this area again.

Set up a Baking Zone

I put all of the baking items together in 2 roll out drawers beside each other. I placed the measuring cups, rolling pins, sprinkles, and other baking items in these drawers as well.  Everything that is needed for baking should be in their own baking zone. This way, you aren’t trying to figure out where you put the cocoa powder or chocolate chips in your pantry. I like to put them low so the kids can easily get involved in the baking fun!

Set Up a Condiment/Seasoning Zone and a Canned Product Zone

Keeping all of the condiments and seasonings together in their own drawer will be helpful when cooking in the kitchen. I put this across from the oven, so it would be easier to get to when cooking.  Due to the weight of canned products, I recommend putting those on a lower cabinet or the ground in their own groupings.

Set Up a Drink/Coffee Zone

All of the tea or coffee products and drink supplements should be in the same space.  Put this by the coffee maker and the sink to make it easier when making drinks. I used bamboo for these organizers.

Don’t Forget Your Spices

If you are able to have a vertical roll out spice cabinet installed in your kitchen by your oven, I would definitely have one installed.  If you are unable to do this, you can buy one to mount on the side wall of your pantry.  We did this temporarily until we got our vertical roll out spice cabinet in our new home.  In our own home, I purchased glass spice containers and labels and filled mine.  If you already have matching spices with green lids like the picture below, you won’t need to do this.


Set Up a Snack Zone

I like to put the snacks together on the bottom 2-3 shelves so that it is easier to get to by kids.  We want our children to learn independence, so place these snacks within arms reach so they can easily get into it after school.  Watch out for those candy items though.  You may want to move those to a different location.

Leave some of these organizers empty since they will fill up more in time.  Also, use varying heights if needed.  You can place a basket in the back upside down to simply elevate the items in the back.  You want to make sure you can see your snacks, or you will end up buying more without using what you have.

Create a Grill Zone

I like to put grill tools together so it is easy to get to during those barbecues and cookouts with family.

Create a Pasta and Rice Zone

Put all of your pasta and rice items together in your pantry.  It makes it easier to get to when you are ready to cook. I like to put this together on one shelf.


Work With What You Have to Start Your Pantry

Most closets can be turned into a pantry with extra shelving and paint.  You can set one up temporarily like the one below then in the future, you can add in wood shelving, wallpaper, and extended shelving into another space.  I would recommend that you work with what you have for now to get started then in the future you can go back and add in those special touches when you are ready to invest in a larger pantry area. Do what you can with your current budget.

If you are ready to financially splurge on organizers, wooden shelving, wallpaper, and a large extra pantry space in another area of your home with shelf lighting then get that project written up.  Remember though that you have to live and eat in your home, so if you do decide to do it all at once, it may make it challenging to eat in your kitchen while the project is going on.  If you do it in these steps, it may make it more manageable for your family. You can always go back and add in a larger pantry space after your food is organized and your organization system is completed.

Set Up an Overflow Area

Is there a spot in your kitchen that is just being used for storage? Perhaps, you can move that into a plastic bin, label it, and place it in your basement by your seasonal decor.  This area could be used for your overflow area.  You will get to the point where you will need more space.  If you don’t have a larger pantry space in your home, set up an overflow area for now.  Once you see what you need to store, you can change out the height of the shelving or the organizers.  For now, try to get this overflow space started.

Add in an Easy Craft Area

You may already have a craft area or a place in your playroom for those crayons and markers.  However, sometimes, it is nice to have craft supplies ready to use in the kitchen for those rainy days when you are cooking and the kids are wanting to spend time with you in the kitchen.  If you have an extra cabinet, I would recommend that you fill it with an easy craft area for the kids.

Thanks for following along! Like what you see? Subscribe to my blog to receive updates about my latest articles.

Grateful you are here,



How to Nurture Creativity in Your Children

Come along with me today as I share ways we can help our children and teenagers grow in their creativity.

As many of you know, I spent 18 years of my life aiming to inspire creativity in teenagers with writing, reading, literature, research, and presentations. With the daily frequent watering of kindness, memorable learning experiences, and encouragement, I saw how the creativity inside of my students was able to be nurtured. Year after year, I would see students grow and blossom in their creativity, and this would always make me smile.

As a parent myself, I also seek to inspire creativity in my son. I’ve incorporated various activities into our weekly and monthly schedule to help nurture my son’s creativity. However, nurturing our child’s creativity is not just a lifestyle; it is also a mindset. Many parents have been asking me ways we can better nurture the creativity within our children. I thought I’d share some ideas today for you that will help you along your path in parenting.

Remember the life-giving purpose of creativity.

In my opinion, we should create to inspire others. We should create to lift each other up.  We should create to heal.  We should create to make a positive difference in the life of another person. Creating should be life-giving.  It should not be used to discourage or bring fear; on the other hand, it should bring restoration, life, and joy to others. I strongly believe that we should use our creativity to be a light of hope to a hurting world.  There is so much pain and suffering in the world already. Why not use our creativity to bring hope and healing?

Creativity then invites us to heal, grow, find joy, and find our safe haven. It then offers light in the darkness and hope in a troubled world because our creativity is tied to our purpose. It is life-giving.

Did you know that we are made in the image of God, and we are God’s workmanship? Since God is our creator, then we are also made to create. The Bible encourages us to not neglect our gifts and to do good works. In my opinion, creativity is a God-given gift, and He has given us all skills to do the work He wants us to do. God is the ultimate innovator who created the heavens, the earth, mankind, and more than we can imagine.  He created mystery, so they we would go out and explore. It is the creativity we have inside of us that makes us who we are and allows us to live out our purposes in our life.

Don’t underestimate the creativity you see in your children or teenagers, because it will help them to grow in their identity and lead them into their life’s purposes.

Help your children embrace a growth mindset.

When our children are afraid to fail, they won’t try. Read that again. When our children are afraid to fail, they won’t try. Allow your children to feel like it is okay to ‘fail’. You are their safe haven; help them to feel safe even when they fail. Don’t trap them accidentally into feeling like they have to be perfect. Within reason, let them make mistakes, get messy, and figure things out. When they get frustrated, encourage them to take breaks, revisit it another time, look for other solutions, and learn from their mistakes. Offer encouraging feedback that helps them to grow into their best selves. You don’t want your child to give up before they even begin because they are afraid of messing up. A huge part of being creative is taking risks and feeling safe trying. Help your children see the value in trying things out and not being scared to try. Fear can keep us from missing out on what we are meant to do and be. While it is important to cultivate caution and discernment in our children, we have to also balance that with helping them to explore and try out new things.

Pay attention to their questions.

We want our children and teenagers to wonder.  There is an art in wondering and asking why.  When we ignore our children’s questions or don’t encourage our children to keep asking questions, guess what they do? They stop asking questions.  One of the saddest things is when children and teenagers stop asking questions. This saddens me. When you make intentional regular time to talk to your children, also remember to allow them to ask you questions.  You may not always know the answers, but you can still encourage them to ask those questions and have a heart for exploration.

Model questioning for your children with statements such as, “What if…”, “How do you know that?”, “I wonder how…”, “What makes you think that?”, or “I wonder why…”. Also, model thinking for your children.  Begin your ideas at times with phrases such as, “I’m thinking how…” or “I’m thinking about…” Your child will pick up on these cues and engage in more thinking.  We want our children and teenagers to pursue creative thinking, abstract thinking, critical thinking, analytical thinking, and application thinking.  Inspiring thinking is so important in the creative process, and we can help with this at home.  Whether we are reading with our children, watching a movie together, driving to the next sporting event, or sitting around the table, we can also allow them to ask us questions in these moments as well.

Encourage your child to pursue their passions and hobbies.

You may have your child in multiple sports, but are they pursuing any hobbies or passions on the side? When those sports end in their life, what hobbies or passions will they be able to turn to as an adult that they have cultivated as a child?

Watch your child closely. When they have nothing to do, what do they turn to? They could take art, acting, and/or music lessons each month or week. Allow them opportunities to explore music and the arts. Let them play around with various musical instruments and visit the local orchestra regularly. See what they are gravitating to and allow them to explore their passions.

Get outdoors every single day with no screens.

Give your children or teenagers unstructured time where they can create and be imaginative outdoors. Sometimes, just getting outdoors will help with any blocks to creativity.

For Younger Children: Allow them to use their imagination and make up their own pretend games. Let them be bored and engage in more imaginative play. When they are younger, they could go on a nature scavenger hunt, watch the clouds, collect rocks, make a garden, play in the creek, look for salamanders, make a fairy garden, or even make a small home for a ladybug family. The sky is the limit when kids are being imaginative. Giving them plenty of time outdoors will be good for them whether they are playing on their playset, going on their obstacle course, playing make-believe games, or throwing a frisbee.

For Older Children:  They will more than likely want space to unwind, and they are always up for food!  This could look like hanging out with friends outside on the patio with snacks, camping, fishing, hunting, boating, going for a run, rollerblading, riding a scooter or bike, taking walks with music or a podcast, going on nature hikes with friends, having a campfire with youth group, or playing capture the flag.

Spending more time in nature often helps us to slow down, disconnect, and remember what really matters. Make this a priority for your family.

Encourage them to be innovative.

I’ve written about this before in my STEM gift guide HERE. Feel free to check that out since I’ve detailed ways you can incorporate STEM learning each month with activities and toys. As mentioned there, you can give them monthly STEM learning activities and let them figure out how to think outside the box as they solve problems and think critically. We have enjoyed the Eureka monthly crates and the Tinker monthly crates for STEM learning.  Allow them to do science experiments and sketch out their own inventions. Get their friends together and do science experiments safely.  There are multiple STEM toys to pursue as well. You could also pursue a science camp over the summer or obtain a membership to a local science center.  Visiting museums is a wonderful learning experience too!

Make music and the arts a priority.

Give your children time to pursue art & create. In a world that doesn’t always value art, you can value it in your home.  Show your child the value of creating something.  You could have them paint, enjoy photography, draw, or complete a monthly craft. As they continue to grow, continue to create a photo book every few years of their art creations.  You can also continue to hang up their work in your own gallery wall at home, and put a frame around some of their artwork.

Put them in music, creative writing, theatre, or art camps. Check out your local university’s summer camp offerings for school-aged students. Also, check out your local theater or science center’s summer offerings.

Keep music in your home, and life will be a song. Play lots of instrumental music in your home. Check out more details for fostering a love for music HERE in one of my prior articles. Find a music teacher for your child and see how it goes!

I hope some of these ideas were helpful for you in your parenting journey.  You may already be doing a lot of these ideas.  I’d love to hear what you are doing.  Feel free to comment below or share this post with a friend who may be looking for more creative ideas for their children or teenagers.

Home Projects

Meeting Your Backyard Goals Step by Step

Let me share with you 4 words that you need to repeat to yourself over and over again as you go through your steps in meeting your backyard goals: Good things take time.

Today, I will share with you how our backyard that we couldn’t even walk in went from this…

and this…

To this (on a budget!)…

Sketch Out Your Dream Yard

Dreaming about your future backyard? I would recommend that you sit down and draw out how you envision your backyard.  Also, create a Pinterest board of ideas you like. You may find some ideas you weren’t thinking about originally. Have your kids join you. My son and I did this, and it was exciting dreaming about it. Hang it up and get the family excited about the process of meeting your backyard goals. They will be more eager in joining you in the planting process as you begin.

Think About Your Lifestyle and Future

Does your yard get a lot of rain and wind? Do you get run off or lots of shade or sun? Be sure to consider your environment as you think about your lifestyle and future.  You may want more trees or color. You may want a covered or uncovered patio with a fire pit eventually.

Ask yourself multiple questions. Will you be hosting in your backyard? Will you have pets in the future? Are you into gardening and want to work on it as a hobby, or would you rather have a low maintenance backyard?

Don’t sketch out something you can’t take care of.  Often, family members may have very different ideas and differences in opinion.  Come together and decide what will be manageable.  If you want lots of color, you will need to work on it to tend to those plants. Remember, what you like now in your younger years may not be what you want in your older years.  Perhaps, you will want more privacy in time or maybe a future pool. Keep all of this in mind, so there is room to grow with your landscaping choices.  Be honest with yourself and with each other.

Get Free Estimates

Next, get free estimates from a landscaping company for the most important work you want them to do. If you aren’t happy with the prices, get other estimates from other landscapers. Think about it and sleep on it. Ask yourself what the most important part of your backyard will be.  Some things are worth paying for, and your backyard is an important investment. Perhaps, you can start with the basics then revisit some other projects in the future. Give yourself time to save.

Hire a Landscaper Only For the Most Necessary Work

We ended up hiring a landscaper to do what we couldn’t do ourselves. They cleared the brush with their machines and pushed all the heavy rocks in the yard against the hill for erosion control. We also had them put down grass seed all throughout the large yard. They cut all the vines that were choking the trees and pulled up lots of poison ivy and thorny brush safely. On the steep hill, we had them put down low maintenance grass seed and wildflower seeds. They also put in some fill on the hill to make it less steep on one side for the future steps. For safety purposes, we had a fence added to the top of the hill. Paying for this did cost around $20,000 with landscaping; however, we stopped there. Yes, landscaping is a lot of money, and it is not always done perfectly the way you want. It is hard labor and a job not everyone wants to do carefully and thoughtfully. Be aware of this when hiring your landscaper.

Create an Easy Sitting Area You Will Actually Use

It is okay to set up your sitting area before you tackle your next project of creating a patio. Perhaps, you are not quite ready to pay for a patio.  That is okay, and you can still use your backyard while you wait for this next project. Year by year, enjoy what you can complete.

So what type of outdoor furniture is worth purchasing? Often, people will put down patio furniture only to not use it since bugs, spiders, and wasps create their homes in it. Also, it doesn’t always hold up outside, or it fades. Who wants to take off covers only to find another spider or something living in your patio cushions? Let me help you with this one. Don’t waste your money on something you will just have to replace 3 years from now. Instead, my recommendation is that you only use recycled plastic polywood outdoor furniture without covers. This was what we ended up doing. We used to use our wicker patio furniture all of the time, but now we live in the mountains—enough said. With all of the little critters outside, we decided to invest in polywood furniture by Breezesta. It’s worth the investment knowing you will have it forever and replaced with their warranty plus no animals or bugs will get to it. Also, let it rain on it since it doesn’t matter how wet it gets. It is made out of recycled plastics so you will also be helping the environment as well. This material doesn’t need covered. I’m grateful I finally found the polywood furniture I love in the sea glass color. Breezesta offers multiple colors.

Use Solar Lighting

It can get very dark in our backyards.  Illuminate your trees and paths with solar lighting.  With only 1 or 2 watts of solar lighting, it may be more decorative than functional.  Pay attention to the brightness since if you don’t get as much sun the lights may not get as bright. Try some solar lights out and see how it goes.  Find the ones you like that work in your yard. We like to use it for ambiance and security.

Create a Colorful Container Garden

I decided to plant colorful annuals for my container garden along the rocks at the bottom of our hill. This adds a burst of color to the landscape. I am thinking of also planting citronella, peppermint, and lavender plants to help keep away the mosquitos. Plant your container garden for both functionality and color. I personally won’t be doing an edible garden since we do hydroponic gardening inside our home with the Gardyn and Aerogardens. Spray your gorgeous flowers with Repels All to keep animals from eating your plants.

Set Up a Play Area For the Kids

We set up a cedar playset since it helps to repel insects. It’s been a wonderful addition to our backyard which is used practically every day! I have no regrets with this purchase. It’s held up very well even with it being moved to the backyard! We also added a tether ball pole as well as an outdoor obstacle course, hammock, and rebound soccer net. It all is being used regularly so that is a plus. Being outside is so important for children. We make it a priority to be outside each day after homework unless it is raining. We bundle up even on cold days and make it happen.

Add Natural Privacy

Trees and natural hedges are great for privacy. We kept all of our trees which was wonderful since so many yards just don’t have many trees anymore. We purchased 3 flowering trees for added privacy. We also planted rhododendron bushes in pink and purple plus yellow forsythias to create a colorful flowering hedge between our yard and the neighbor’s yard.

We are also considering getting emerald green arborvitae trees for added privacy behind the flowering hedge if needed. Research some tree choices and write down the ones you like!

Get a Storage Shed

I hate to say this, but it is so true.  Our garages are meant to hold our cars, not our stuff.  Think about an affordable storage shed you can put into this new backyard to store your lawn mower and other stuff that just adds up. Make it a priority so you can enjoy your garage again. Be sure to get a head start and pick out your storage shed and get it approved by your HOA that way you will be ready to go when you are ready to make the purchase. Don’t wait for this one since it will be frustrating doing lawn work without this important item.

Final Words of Advice

You will plant things that won’t make it. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you will also plant flowers that aren’t planted correctly.  It is okay, and you will learn what works and what doesn’t work. You will learn from your mistakes. Try to have a good sense of humor. Just know that all of your hard work will pay off since many of your plants will grow, and they will look beautiful! Down the road, you may want more of a backyard or less of one. You will have unfinished projects like we do and more ideas you may want to try out.

Landscape projects don’t just happen overnight. You can’t just snap your fingers and have what you want.  If only it was that easy. Plants take time to grow. You will find what works for your soil and how to enrich the soil.  Remember, it is a work in progress. Be sure to put in compost and enrich your soil before planting, and be sure to water your plants regularly especially when first planting and in times of drought. Another year from now, you can complete another project as you save money. You can plant different flowers and plants as the seasons change, and your garden will grow…in time.

Some things are worth waiting for.

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