Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Meet The New MomAdvice Contributors

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Contributor Collage

I am so excited to announce that we now have an amazing team of contributors for the MomAdvice website. As I shared with you last week, it is time for me to loosen those reigns on the site and allow some new voices in that can really showcase what MomAdvice is all about… empowering you and giving you the tools you need to live a great life on a budget.

We had over two hundred applicants and I really prayed hard about really bringing you what you might need as a mom. With that in mind, we now have contributors to assist you in food preparation, money management, and advice on parenting & motherhood.

MomAdvice Contributor Team

Money: Kelly Whalen (The Centsible Life)

DIY/Craft: Sarah Milne (Daffodil Design & Sarah M Style)

Marriage/Parenting: Mary Carver (Giving Up on Perfect)

Food: Shaina Olmanson (Food For My Family)

Food: Diana Bauman (My Humble Kitchen)

Managing Editor/ My Right Arm: Jami Boys (An Oregon Cottage)

Our contributor’s posts will be going live starting in the month of February! I can’t wait to share their words and ideas with you- I have no doubt that they will be awesome.
Thank you all for weathering the changes this week as we redesigned the site. My husband and I have looked like two zombies for the last week and with the snow storms blowing through here, I am enjoying a week to get back on my feet again.
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Speaking of weather…holy snowfall! We are snowed in over in Indiana! I am hoping that I can resume a normal work schedule (if my kids ever return to school!)
In the meantime, one more big announcement coming your way on Monday! Did you know it is my birthday week (yes, that is a thing!)? We are giving myself a big birthday gift for our ten year MomAdvice birthday and my 21st birthday…
A girl can dream.
In all seriousness, I can’t wait to share that with you! In the meantime, be sure to browse our new contributor’s sites! They are AWESOME!
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Welcome to the NEW MomAdvice.com.

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

10yearcelebration Happy New Year, friends! This is a big year for us as we celebrate the site’s tenth birthday. My husband and I have both been working behind-the-scenes on a brand new website for you.

Well…he’s been working and I have been nagging.

I digress.

As you can see, we are still a website under construction, but our foundation has been laid for all the new things to come… and there are oh-so-many great things to come!

Bear with us as we get settled into our new home. It has been no easy task for my husband to create all of this while maintaining his own full-time design job. We are still working out some kinks and will be adding on more layers as we get settled. For now, I hope you can browse and click around to see the site in all of it’s beauty. I may be biased, but I think it is pretty incredible.

Along with these design changes, in the upcoming weeks we will be announcing a fresh list of contributors who will be blogging along with me on all of the topics you care about- family, marriage, parenting, recipes, DIY, and personal finance. We had almost 160 applicants for these four positions and I have a feeling you are going to love the talent that we unleash on here. It will be just what you might expect from me, but even better because each one of these contributors is an expert in their topic. I can’t wait to blog along with them and to allow myself to finally let go a bit of all the creative control.

I am looking forward to what they will bring, what this new site will bring, and how we will grow with this new foundation in place. I am looking forward to celebrating MomAdvice.com’s 10th birthday with you on January 12th. The year of surprises is not over! Thank you for your love and support over the years- this would have never been possible without you! amy_signature

My Top 20 Posts of 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Thank you all for another fabulous year of sharing on MomAdvice. I am so happy to share with you our annual round-up of the most visited posts on our site. If you would have told me I would be spray painting furniture, making wreaths out of Peeps, knitting up boot cuffs, making flowers out of book pages, grating soap in my food processor for laundry detergent….all while sipping Peep Martinis…well, I would have told you that you must be crazy.

And I need an intervention.

I mean, seriously. That’s too much drinking.

Thank you all for your continued love and support! Many good things are coming this year, I can just feel it! I am thankful for each of you and that I get to call this my job.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

1. How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Teach Your Child to Tie Shoes

2. A New Way to Teach Your Child to Tie Their Shoes

Sashay Boutique Yarn Knitted Ruffled Scarf

3. Easy Knitted Ruffled Scarf with Sashay Yarn

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4. The Best iPhone Apps to Organize Your Family

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5. What Do You Do All Day? The Real Story Behind My Niche Blog

100dayssummer13

6. Our Annual 100 Days of Summer

Rosette Bib Necklace

7. DIY Rosette Bib Necklace Tutorial

Knitted Boot Cuffs

8. Knitted Boot Cuffs

Peep Martinis

9. Peep Martinis

Chicken Ceasar Pasta Salad

10. Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole from MomAdvice.com.

11. Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole

9 Baked Donuts MomAdvice

12. 9 Awesome Baked Donut Recipes

Peanut Ginger Chicken Noodles

13. Peanut Ginger Chicken Noodles

Fabulous Fall Drinks MomAdvice.com

14. Fabulous Fall Drinks Round-Up

Make Ahead Gravy Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

15. Make-Ahead Gravy Recipe

Book Page Flowers

16. Book Page Posies

DIY Peep Wreath With Rolled Rosette

17. Peep Wreath With Rolled Ribbon Rosette

Snowflake Tutorial

18. Tips for Making Paper Snowflakes With Kids

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

19. How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

Buttery Bread Machine Rolls

20. Buttery Bread Machine Rolls

Did you try something this year from our site? Feel free to share something you found helpful this year! We look forward to bringing you oh-so-much-more in 2014!

Sharing My Heart With You Today

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Sharing My Heart With You Today from MomAdvice.com

I don’t dive into my personal life too often on here, but I think it is important to keep you in the loop on a few things. For the last year, I have been a very sick girl. Almost every day this year I have felt like I have been under a fog, have no energy, and have been sick to my stomach. My weight dropped dramatically and the stress of managing this site and publishing my first book seemed to contribute towards my stomach issues. I have felt like I have been on a downward health spiral.

I went to see doctors, a food allergist, and two dieticians and the general consensus was that I had IBS. I felt like it was more than that though and continued to look for answers to resolve my health issues. I didn’t want to take medications and the nutritional advice offered didn’t seem to help me at all.

After seeing a dietician who had a focus on whole foods, she suggested that I try a diet to heal my intestines, but over the holidays to try a Paleo approach towards eating.  The very first day, I felt miraculously better and am continuing to feel better each and every day since. A removal of gluten from my diet has made me feel like a brand new person. A family history of celiac disease (despite testing negative on my blood work and still needing to go in for an endoscopy for a truly solid answer) leads me to believe that gluten has been the culprit all along.

Of course, giving up dairy and giving up gluten is really hard, especially around the holidays. I almost caved when I saw my grandmother’s chocolate cream pie and my mother-in-law’s world famous sugar cookies. I didn’t though because I am determined to heal and to be a healthy mom.

This may change the focus of some of our recipes, but it will not be a blog devoted towards dairy-free & gluten-free eating. The rest of my family still happily fills their bellies with the things I can’t, but I do think we will be able to offer more recipes that may cater to families who face the same issues as me.

MomAdvice- Coming Soon!

As for work, it has been the best year of my career yet. I have truly found the projects that I do to be so rewarding and I am so grateful for every project that has come my way. We are excited to be revealing a brand new design on the website that my husband has been working sporadically on the last six years on to create and I am so excited to continue offering the content you crave to keep you on budget and thinking creatively in your home & kitchen.

That being said, as we celebrate our tenth anniversary, I feel my heart is pulling me in a different direction. Perhaps because of the health issues, I am feeling creatively tapped out and I feel God has called me to do something bigger this year.

As you may have seen, I am hiring contributors for our website to assist with covering the topics that I know you want to see, but I can’t cover alone. I have done this for ten years alone with no one contributing, and I think it is time to give you more than that. After all, how many new things can I say after all this time?

We already have almost eighty applicants and I am reading every single blog and trying to pick the absolute best fit for our site and what you have come to expect from me. They will cover topics like parenting, craft, food, and home/decor, money, and health. These are all so essential to our site, but I just can’t do it alone anymore.

There Will Be Miracles

I will still be running our brand new book club and sharing crafts & the dishes you have come to expect from me. I will also be handling the sponsored content that pays my bills. Just as you see in a magazine with the advertisements, these sponsorships allow me to run this website. They pay for the web hosting, an assistant, contributors, an accountant to manage all the craziness, and everything else that we are able to offer for free to our readers. I am very honest about all of this over in this post.

Don’t just think of those sponsorships as my bill-paying opportunities though. I can’t wait to show you what I am able to do with the money from one of those sponsored posts I did last year. I was able to buy a birthday gift for myself that will bless 1,000 people. Although we can’t do that with all of our sponsored content, our family consistently uses the money from these projects to bless others and we have a commitment to continue doing that as long as our site affords us that luxury.

As for feeling a higher calling, all of that will unfold the week of January 12th. The site will be celebrating it’s tenth birthday and we want to do something big for a community in need. We will be calling upon you to help. Everything we have done here, has been free and we would love to celebrate our birthday with you by blessing others.

Sharing My Heart With You Today from MomAdvice.com

I will also be crafting nonstop, but not for my own financial gain this year. As we reveal this all on January 12th, I will be working to stock an Etsy shop called, “A Well of Hope,” filled with knitted hats, scarves, gloves, and coffee/tea cozies to sell to dig wells in Africa. 100% of my profits will go towards this passion project in giving children & mothers clean water. I feel like God gave me these skills for a reason and it is time to bless others with them. 

Right now I am in the beginning stages of getting permissions on patterns (to sell my wares), shopping for supplies, and pattern-testing. I’m so excited about sharing this with all of you once I get everything up and going. I hope you will think of my shop when selecting your holiday gifts for next year.

I felt it was time to confess to you what is on my heart and where I am at right now. I hope you will stick around to see it all unfold and ask that you pray for us as we take these big leaps with our business. It is scary to give up the creative control that I have had for so long, but it will give me time to focus on the bigger things.

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Hiring Contributors for MomAdvice.com

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

now_hiring

I am looking for four new contributors to add to our team in anticipation of the relaunch of our site next month. I am interested in expanding our audience and would love to add some fresh voices to our site. Some of the topics that we are interested in covering are Food, DIY/Home Decor, Fashion/Lifestyle, Craft/Sewing, & Parenting.

I will pay $50 per post and am looking for an individual who could contribute once monthly a unique post for our site. Upon publishing your post on our site, you could publish the content on your own site, we just ask that you wait three months to republish it!

If you are interested in writing for my new team, please fill out this survey and I will be in touch with you. Please note, the application will be closed on Friday! Thank you so much for considering this!

DIY New Year’s Eve Craft Ideas

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

DIY New Year's Eve Crafts

I can’t believe that December is already here and we are dreaming up great New Year’s projects for you! Of course, I am featuring glittered projects and upcycle projects that could be enjoyed any time of the year. The best part is that you can find many of the materials for these projects at your local Goodwill Store for a fraction of the price compared to other retail stores.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips Blog to get the scoop on these fun and festive projects to ring in the New Year!

Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

*This post is sponsored by Ritz Crackers

Each year, I find myself coming to the topic of simplifying the holidays.  Don’t we just all wish this time of year was a little easier?  Despite my best efforts to simplify, it can feel impossible in the midst of the kid’s holiday programs, get togethers, shopping, wrapping, sending of cards, gift-giving, & holiday baking.

I don’t want to brag, but this year we really did achieve that simple holiday we have been longing for and I am partnering with Ritz to share how you can avoid the parade of endless holiday to-do’s and instead embrace a simpler holiday.

 Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Simplify the Giving of Holiday Cards

 

I love, love, love having pictures that I am in and having someone else take them for me, but we lost track of time and weren’t able to book our usual family session. Instead of not sending cards, I set my camera up on a tripod and we took our family shot by setting the timer on our camera and having me jump into the family picture.   By getting everything set up in advance before my family came outside, we were able to get our picture in a mere five minutes.  Before everyone had their coats off, I had our photos edited and cards in the mail. The best part is that we have moved our family session to the Spring, a time of year we decided was much less chaotic, and will really enjoy it all a little bit more.

I will admit that I was also was more laid back about how we did our cards this year and enlisted one of my favorite helpers to assist me in this year’s mailing. Not only was she excellent at adding our stamps and sealing the envelopes, but she also kept me on track because she was waiting for me to get those addresses on so she could do her part with them.  It gave us time to chat while we were doing them and ended up being fun instead of a holiday chore this year.

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Simplify the Holiday Baking

 

This year we decided to skip the big baking day and make easy treats instead. Although I usually love holiday baking, this year I focused more on creating knitted gifts than my typical holiday treat box. Fortunately, we found a fun holiday treat that we could make that didn’t require a bit of baking, but was just as delicious. On the Ritz Holiday Parade site, we found an easy recipe for Mint Thins to create together that tasted just like one of our favorite cookie treats, but were made with Ritz Crackers, chocolate, and crushed candy canes.

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

It just goes to show that making holiday treats doesn’t have to be an elaborate baking day. My kids loved helping to crush (and eat!) the candy canes for our cookies and we enjoyed eating these while watching, “A Christmas Story,” this year. Yet another simple and easy tradition is born!

 Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Simplify the Gift Giving

 

I often talk about our commitment to do the Four Gift Rule, but this year we took it a step further and asked the kids if they would like to skip the presents and just take a family adventure together. We gave them lots of options for places we could take a mini-vacation to and they chose a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan for our holiday getaway. We are so excited to take in all of the museums, holiday lights, ice skating, and see the sites of the city.

If your kids are struggling to come up with gifts this year or your home is overrun with just too much stuff, consider creating your very own, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” vacation in lieu of gifts. Not only did I have a lot less to buy this year, but I also get to spend four days with my family making incredible memories that I hope they will remember forever.

Start planning and dreaming ahead for next year though because those vacation rentals do go quickly!

 Ritz Parade Float

Focus On the Fun

 

Ritz wants to bring back the fun for the holidays and this year they have created a fun interactive Ritz Parade where you can visit the site and build your very own float. You can add up to twelve items on your float from toys, characters, celebrations, and banners. The pieces can be scaled to your desired size and placed anywhere on your float. Once it is complete, you can share your holiday float with others. It’s a fun little interactive tool that you can use to keep the kids busy while you are putting those last minute touches on those holiday festivities. Since we adopted a cat this year, we loved making a float of her for our holiday parade. I am sure this illustrates just how special she has become to all of us!

In addition, the Ritz parade allows consumers to unlock deals to help decrease the stress of gift buying! You can check out all the deals here!

For a little added holiday fun, check out how Ritz surprised shoppers with a fun rap. Get it? Rapping Wrappers!!

 

Happy Holidays, friends!

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Easy Mint Thin Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Looking for a quick holiday treat to share that doesn’t require any baking? You must try these delicious Mint Thin “Cookies.” You won’t believe how good or easy these are to make (and eat!)
Ingredients
  • 2 pkg. (4 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 36 RITZ Crackers
  • 1 candy cane (6 inch), crushed
Instructions
  1. Mix chocolate and extract.
  2. Dip crackers in chocolate mixture, turning to completely coat each cracker. Carefully scrape off excess chocolate.
  3. Place crackers in single layer on waxed paper-covered baking sheets; sprinkle with crushed candy.
  4. Refrigerate thirty minutes or until chocolate is firm.

 

This post is sponsored by Ritz Crackers. I’ve received compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com

I love sharing ideas for cute hostess gifts and today’s gift idea is a free pattern for a wine hat and scarf that you can use to adorn bottles of wine or champagne for your favorite hostess over the holiday season.

Walmart challenged me to create a New Year’s Eve craft and I immediately thought of a fun way to decorate a bottle of bubbly or wine for the holidays. I love this project so much because these are so fun to create and can be decorated in any combination of yarn colors and you can even experiment with stitches and hat toppers.

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com

You may recall that I made knitted sweater coffee cozies for our teacher & bus driver gifts this year? I used the Red Heart Super Savers yarn and I still had some left despite wrapping all my holiday gifts in the yarn, knitting hair bows for gifts (coming soon!) and even making my yarn ball ornaments. I can’t believe how many projects you can create with just $2.47 of yarn!

I wanted to create a festive gift I could share with others when I attend our holiday gatherings this year. What is more festive than tiny hats and scarves for your wine bottles?

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com

Modifications Were Made to The Featured Pattern. Please Read Carefully!

I tried a few different needle sizes since the pattern said you could use a few different sizes, I recommend going with the largest size (US 8) recommended because it created the fullest scarf (the red one in the back was done on US 8 needles). There were also some interesting stitches in the pattern for the scarf and I tried it three different ways (recommended, my own way, and then a simple stockinette). I loved just simply doing a simple stockinette (knit one row, purl one row- repeating) with the US 8 needles. The scarf will curl in a bit, but I think it added more texture to the top of the bottle. You can, of course, experiment with what you think looks best though.

These tiny hats are knitted on double-pointed needles. If you haven’t tried using double-pointed needles before, this is a perfect project to try them on. You can find a few tips from me over here on needle recommendations and getting started! Don’t be scared, it is easier than you think!

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com

I know I keep talking about my pom-pom makers, but they seriously have made me so happy this year. I bought them when we made pom-pom bouquets for our grandma (you can read my tutorial on how to use them there)  and then I completed a pom-pom marathon when I made my DIY Pom Pom Trees. I used the smallest Clover Pom-Pom maker for these tiny hats.

While you are buying it, you might as well as buy the larger size because you will be just as addicted to me as pom-pom making!

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com Knitted Wine Bottle Hat and Scarf from MomAdvice.com

I hope you all have the best holiday season and that a few of the projects I have shared on MomAdvice have helped with your gift-giving this year! Cheers to you, friends!

Grab the Pattern HERE on Ravelry (FREE!).  Don’t forget to friend me while you are there! I love new knitting buddies! Oh, and here are 54 MORE Handmade Gift Ideas to get you thinking about crafting this holiday season!

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Review & Giveaway: Scribd eBook Membership

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Scribd e-Book Membership Review

This post is sponsored by Scribd. All thoughts & opinions are my own!

 

Have you ever wished that there was a Netflix membership, but for books? Well, you are in luck, dear readers, because such a membership does exist and I am so excited to be working with Scribd today to share about this amazing ebook subscription service that costs less than one paperback book a month!  Not only am I chatting it up about how awesome Scribd is, but I am giving away one 6-month membership and I am offering ALL my readers an exclusive FREE 3-month trial membership to give it a try yourself.

Longtime readers know that I am a big reader and I often use the e-book library book lending services that our library offers. Unfortunately, many times when I check out the books from our library, they are not available and I have to be put on a waiting list until the next available copy comes in. It definitely puts a damper on that immediate gratification that ebooks  provide.

With Scribd you have unlimited access to over 100,000 books (and counting!) from over nine hundred publishers including HarperCollins, Kensington, Open Road Media, & New World Library. These books are available across all the major ebook reading devices including iPhone, iPad, IOS, Android & the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet. Not only that, but all of these devices offer syncing to the exact page you are reading across all of these platforms.

The subscription is priced at $8.99 per month and includes nonfiction books (like cookbooks) , young adult books, and children’s books. Basically, your entire family can benefit from this service, all with the cost of just one membership.

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s dive into my own personal experience with Scribd.

Create Your Own Personal Library Shelf

Scribd e-Book Membership Review

Creating a library is very easy and Scribd really makes it easier by offering recommendations based upon other books you are reading or have in your library list, much like your experience with online book purchases. Once you decide what you might like to add to your library, you just open up the book and read it. I love taking advantage of the ability to read these books  when wifi is not available by adding them to my cloud.  As a busy mom who is running her kids all over, this is a big plus for me because I am able to access my books anywhere regardless of the internet situation around me!

As someone who travels a lot and is always worried I won’t have enough reading material with me or that my device won’t be able to sync from our library’s ebook offerings, I love that you can download up to ten books to read offline when you are traveling or when you are somewhere without wifi access.  I can already imagine how useful that will be on road trips with my children.

Read on the Go On Your Phone

I do the majority of my ebook reading on my iPad, but there are those moments where I am standing in line waiting, waiting for my kids at the bus stop, or find myself in the doctor’s office waiting room without my iPad with me. I love that Scribd also offers a mobile app that syncs with my iPad, giving me the chance to take advantage of those little moments to continue reading my book.

A Subscription Service for the Whole Family

This subscription isn’t just for me though, this is a subscription for the entire family.  I love that I can start a new nighttime tradition with my kids and read one of the many kid & family book offerings that are available through the Scribd service.   For example, there are numerous Beverly Clearly books for my daughter, the Warrior Cats series for my son, loads of nonfictional geeky-goodness for my hubby, and I can even explore some great cookbooks and DIY books all through our one membership. Since you can save content on up to six devices in your home, you can really make the most of your membership for your entire family.

Scribd e-Book Membership Review

It’s a Great Gift for Anyone On Your List

If you are looking for a gift for that person on your list that has everything, the gift of a Scribd subscription is the perfect gift to share with them. You can select a 1 month subscription for $10, 3 months for $25, 6 months for $50, or 1 year for $100. The gift cards are beautifully designed which makes the giving of a subscription even more fun!

Scribd e-Book Membership Review

The best part about the gift cards is that you can choose from fantastic quotes from books or from these gorgeously redesigned classic book covers. Doesn’t that Little Women cover make your heart go pitter-patter?

Everyone is a Winner Here!

Even if you aren’t the winner for our six month membership contest below, EVERY MomAdvice reader can receive a free three month trial membership by using our exclusive access code. This offer will expire on December 31st (worth $26.97)  gives our readers access to over 100,000 books for FREE so make sure to activate your membership soon!  I’m so excited for you to try this service and I just know that you will love it as much as I do!

Giveaway for MomAdvice Readers

Today we are offering one lucky reader a six month subscription to Scribd  Follow the instructions provided by the Raflecopter widget below to enter to win!

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This post is sponsored by Scribd. I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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DIY Holiday Yarn Trees

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

DIY Holiday Yarn Trees from MomAdvice.com.DIY Holiday Yarn Trees from MomAdvice.com. DIY Holiday Yarn Trees from MomAdvice.com. DIY Holiday Yarn Trees from MomAdvice.com.

What could be more fun than decorating for the holiday season? For this month’s holiday project, I wanted to share with you a fun DIY project for creating festive yarn trees that you can create to decorate a ledge, table, or mantle in your home.  You will only need a few affordable supplies from your craft shop to create this craft. The best part is that you can enjoy doing this craft while watching your favorite holiday movies!

I am absolutely in love with these trees for the holidays and I am sharing my tutorial for them on the Kenmore Blog today. Check out my DIY Holiday Yarn Trees over there and find out how you can make this craft for your own home!

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