A Nativity Christmas Mantle

I haven't been very much on the ball with Christmas this year.
In fact there is still a box of decorations in my dinning room and a decor meltdown happening in my kitchen with our church group's Christmas Party happening on Thursday.

Yea... but my dishes were done! Priorities.

But I did somewhat plan ahead. I knew I wanted to make a giant sign for my mantle.
My mantle space is HUGE.

Everything I put on it always looks super tiny so I decided to make something that would finally fill the space. It ended up being 4ft tall and 3 ft wide.

It was a beast.

It doesn't photograph well but it's beautiful in person. Promise. :)

The Star I made from Lowe's yard sticks using this lady's adorable tutorial from the 20 Minute Crafter.

I wouldn't recommend using Lowe's yard sticks because Lowe's painted numbers and etched on their yard sticks so I actually had to put like three coats of primer on it to cover their imprint.

The swag is just from Michael's. I added an extra pine cone swag to it that you can see by itself in my Thanksgiving Mantle. They look fantastic together! I want to keep it up all year long.... sigh...

We hung our stockings with command hooks cause seriously the person who made those is a genius.

You can never go wrong with red berries in green bottles. I collect bottles all year long that are random sizes or colors. You can spray paint them, glue on them, etch them, ect. They are a fun versatile decoration you can pop in anywhere.

Bryan added his family's antique nativity set, way out of reach of tiny little hands.

The rest of the house may be in chaos but the mantle is shining bright!

God bless and Much Love,


Easy DIY Wooden Christmas Sign

I like making things that last.

Do it once and use it forever right?

While styrofoam trees and painted pine cones are AWESOME they never look the same when I pull them out the next year. (Usually cause I didn't pack them properly the year before...)

I wanted to make some lasting items this year and the first one on my list was this bad boy:

That is just a plank of wood and some white and red paint.

Talk about super easy and about $6 for two.
That's right... for TWO.

Make one for you and ya momma!

Stop by Home Depot and pick up a pine 6ft board that's about seven inches wide.
(Home Depot you need to sponsor me and give me tons of wood and products. Please. :) ) 

I had the happy people in the orange vests cut it in half and VIOLA... two signs.

I took my new signs home and pulled out my mouse sander. I sanded down the corners a bit then made sure the wood was smooth all around so when I painted or stained it the color would go on smooth.

Then I grabbed whatever paint I had lying around. You can use paint samples you've acquired, a grey paint you used in your Living room or any color you like.

I grabbed my trusty gallon of Kilz Primer paint and painted both sides white.

I was going to use both the sides of my sign so when I got bored of one side, I would just flip it over!

After I let it dry I pulled out my Classic Grey Minwax stain and a cheap pair of rubber gloves. I used a Q-tip dipped in the stain and just rubbed it into the corners and along the edges.

Stain is a fickle friend. It adds instant change but even when you think it looks bad, it actually doesn't.
So, use as much or as little as you like or just keep your board painted the color you choose!

It will be in your house. Do what you like.

While it was drying I decided what I wanted my signs to say and opened a Word Document and just put it in.

Since the board was only 7in wide I could use regular printer paper. Score.

I had to print out the JOY twice just to get it the size I wanted.
You can measure it all out or just wing it. I wing it and pray for the best.

On the other side I wanted O Come Let us Adore Him with the Nativity star.
I found a star jpeg I liked online, printed it out the full size of a page and then the rest of the words.

To transfer your print outs to your wood all you have to do is flip them over, shade the back of the text with a pencil then tape it onto your project:

Trace and voila! 

I have a more detailed tutorial here if you'd like: DIY Easy Hand Painted Wooden Signs

After I finished with my JOY sign I took my mouse sander to it again to rough it up and age it a bit.
The other side though I used glitter and had a bunch of fun with it. 

Here are my finished products:

What do you think?

I'd love to see what Christmas sign you make!

God bless and Much Love,


A Thanksgiving Mantle

I find when I am focused on a task with a deadline, like say
...planning an anniversary party...
for some strange reason, I decide to start four or five new projects.

I've apparently always done this since no one is surprised but rather ready to stop or help me in my quest to be a crazy person doing ten things at once who should really be only doing say three things:

1. Making Husband's life incredible
2. Keep children alive, fed and unquestionably loved
3. One other random thing that will probably make a mess but look awesome later. 

My mom is usually my main accomplice in these situations. She doesn't always understand what I'm doing but is supportive and helpful in all situations. Which says a lot since yesterday alone I pulled out a glue gun, cordless drill, christmas lights, plastic table cloths and a chandelier. 
(It will make sense later, promise. I mean not later in this post but maybe later down the road...)

She and Bryan have the wisdom to see what CAN be accomplished vs. what I WANT to accomplish. 

Apparently that is a VITAL gift to have. Many of my friends and family have this gift and are always willing and lovingly ready to share it with me. Whew. 

One thing I was able to accomplish was my long abandoned Fall Mantle.

After my Fall Breakdown I resigned that section of the house as a fail and would wait till Christmas to redeem that area to something I would love staring at. 

This last week I was finding myself adding to the mantle. 
A pallet sign here. Pumpkin there. 

Then I found it.


You know, that one thing that you build everything else around.

My piece? My Turkey Platter.

Oh yea. It's cheesy, probably a bit ugly but me and that turkey... 
we go way back. 

I received that crazy bird plate in a White Elephant Gift Exchange in our College/Singles age ministry over four years ago. Bryan immediately hated it but I held onto it. Stuffed it in my China cabinet and brought that sucker back to the White Elephant Gift Exchange the next year. 

Except when the moment came for me to move on... I couldn't.

I stole the turkey back!!! 

Bryan was horrified. I was elated and the bond was forged. 

That turkey plate needed me. It had been tossed from White Elephant party to White Elephant party and it just needed a home (it had been to at least two other White Elephant parties before it made it into my arms).
A crazy, odd, loud home.

Yet, my husband wasn't a fan no matter how much I sang the turkey's praises.

So... when Christmas rolled around I wrapped him up, put him in a beautiful box and took him back to the White Elephant Party. I didn't shed any tears or anything but I did execute self-control and let the bird find a new home. 

Now you are wondering how that bird found his way back to me aren't you?

Well, when things belong together... they just find a way back to one another.

When we packed up to move to Texas many of our sweet friends came to help us store all our memories into boxes. While packing up our China cabinet I lamented over my long lost bird... 

Jenn: "A turkey plate? Jessica, I got that at the White Elephant Party last year!"Me: "You did?! I loved that thing!"Jenn: "I had no idea it meant so much to you! Would you like it back?"

That would be a Heck Yes and Bryan only smiled and nodded. Victory.

The bird was ours once again!

And now Bryan has to look at him on the mantle every day. 
Poor Man. 
Embrace the bird Bryan! It's awesome. 

That's a good lookin bird isn't it? 

At least Bryan only has to suffer it for a few weeks. The other project I started today (which was NOT planning my party... fail) was a giant pallet sign for a sweet Christmas Mantle. 
Let's hope I can pull it off.

Happy November!!

God bless and Much Love,


A week in the life of a crazy...

Last week I boycotted any new craft project.

Wasn't in the mood. Didn't want to make home decor for my never complete casa and didn't have to start working on my new batch of Wedding Signs until November. 

I did have other things to do though.

Two things. 

It's always when you only have two little things to do... that they take forever.

Granted, these weren't like take out the garbage or do the dishes.

It was finishing a a set of family Halloween costumes and writing a Murder Mystery Wedding from scratch. 

And you thought your week was odd... mine was half in Neverland and the other half planning a friend's murder. Yep... 

We aren't really into Halloween.

But... we are totally into dressing up and being silly.

I mean we throw at least two themed parties a year over here at the McCarty House.
So the idea of some family costumes... we were down with that.

Bryan wanted some good costumes since he celebrated Halloween when he was a kid so he still had that cute wonder about being able to dress up and be a hero or a frog. I'm a girl so dressing up is always an awesome idea and I've ALWAYS wanted kids who I'd have to pry superhero costumes off of.

A kid with a vivid imagination is a beautiful and treasured thing.

Well, Elliot informed us emphatically that he would like to be Peter Pan.

Peter Pan... I could do that! And there were enough characters that the rest of us could create costumes around him.

Bryan was obviously going to be Captain Hook and he needed his faithful sidekick...
so Ethan would be an adorable plump Mr. Smee.

While Elliot was Peter Pan I had two options for myself... Tinkerbell or Wendy.

I breifly thought about Tinkerbell and looked up tulle skirts and... there just wasn't much to Tinkerbell's costume... if ya know what I mean?

While I am cute and little and have a Pixie cut... I get cold easily and I wasn't in the mood to wear a nude bodysuit.

So, Wendy it was!

Wendy was going to be the beast of this project.

I was able to knock the boys costumes out during a nap time.
I followed this ladies directions for the Peter Pan costume except cheated and bought tights instead of making my own pants. Seriously people... I am not a pants maker here!
I just winged the Mr. Smee. He had stripes on him! I could do stripes. ;) 

Elliot was super in love with his costume and my little heart soared.
I felt like Super Mom as he told everyone he could see about his Peter Pan costume and he refused to take it off. Joy!

For Captain Hook I found a large ladies' blazer at a thrift store and embellished to my heart's content...

Now Wendy... oh Wendy Darling... I was super intimidated.
I love to sew. Simple things. Like a semi-straight line...

Not dresses. Dresses have pieces and patterns and words I don't always understand... and... and panic attacks... Yet, dresses do not scare my my sweet friend Marci. I called in a panic and she came over early last week and we knocked that puppy out in two days flat. She is amazing. 

Thankfully the week wasn't just full of giant projects. 

On Wednesday our dear friend Jason Fite had prepared a awesome presentation about Martin Luther for our church in honor of Reformation Day. Um... it was epic. 

Reformation Day is the day we remember when the German monk Martin Luther nailed his 
95 Theses to the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Saxony denouncing the efficacy of indulgences. 

That's a lot of fancy words to say that Martin believed that we DO NOT have to pay our way into Heaven or earn God's favor. That is freedom my friends. 

If you don't know anything about Martin Luther, please let me know and I will direct you to Sir Fite. You will not regret it. 

He really digs the Luther man, here is is dressed like him: 

On Halloween a bunch of our small group (led by Luther above) at our church got together at a friend's house and passed out candy and gospel tracts to all the kids. It was a super high traffic area. I think we saw over a hundred kids and their parents! One of the tracts was this awesome optical illusion, the kids were eating it up! I actually got to play with the trick yesterday and yea it entertained me for like ten minutes... 

Now, that Peter Pan hat did give me lots of trouble... my first version was kind of pathetic as my friend Katie will tell you, she gave me the sweetest look of "Aw, you tried but it still sucks". Man I love her. 
The second time... it hit the garbage quick but the third... Third time was a charm. :) 

Whew... Halloween over. New set of costumes (not to mention the five wigs I bought at Wally World after Halloween for like $3 each) now hang in our Costume closet. 

We have a costume closet. 
I'm not sure if that's pathetic or not. But if Bryan thinks it's awesome than I'll keep adding to it. 

After Halloween we had Family Pictures taken, because nothing says full week like adding the horrifying stress of taking pictures into it.

I have a ton of photographer friends and their wisdom of having photos taken has sunk in so I have tried to do it every year around November. Sadly my main photographer who has spoiled me over the years with her awesomeness moved to Kentucky when I moved to Houston. That's a bit of a travel dilemma... she still is amazing though and if you are in Kentucky, look her up: 

Being in a new town I scoured the Internet for the perfect Photographer that had great taste, excellent shots and decent pricing where I did NOT have to buy each photo individually spending upwards to a thousand smackers. 

Found her. 

She's a beast. Our photos are already done and she gave us a sweet sneak peek! What do you think?

Yea, I of course think the McCarty men look fabulous and I look stupid but don't mind me... that's my insecure and idiotic self-loathing talking. I'm sure no one has any idea what that is... 

But my boys. Oh they were a pain during the shoot. I mean they have beautiful smiles. Did they want to smile for the camera? No.

Maybe next year. 

It's the start of a beautiful friendship between Sarah and I, I can tell.
Her logo is darling. It would look amazing on a wooden sign.... :)

Now... to kill someone. 

Each year Bryan and I re-new our vows with a different central theme. This year, we decided to do a Murder Mystery Play. We are HUGE Clue fans. 

I love to write. And I'm a bit of a control freak... so the idea of buying a mystery play when I could write one myself seemed like a huge waste of finances. The phrase "huge waste of finances" is not my husband's favorite so I tackled the challenge with gusto!

I had done a Mystery Dinner way early on in our marriage:

Yet, that was only 10 people and some invisible person (me) had already been killed. 
This beast would have over 30 guests and the poor soul was going to die somewhere in the middle of my living room between the first dance and the cake cutting.

Did I mention this was going to happen in two weeks and I had to mail out the invite plus the character bios to the six players?

Yes... I have weirdo stress problems.

Yet, deadlines do wonders.

What do you think? 

I'll do a whole post about it on my McCarty Designs blog once it happens. I'm so crazy blessed I've met friends who delight in my weird side and are pretty much up for anything I throw at them.

... Mind if I kill you?

But to finish off my week... I got to celebrate my Six year Anniversary to this hottie:


I can't believe anyone could stay married to me for six years but he still is having the time of his life. I mean look at the Hook costume people... that was his idea. ;) 

I am beyond blessed. 

I am delighted that Jesus uses the example of a marriage covenant to demonstrate to our feeble minds the relationship between Him and us. Because if Jesus loves me more and cares for me more than my husband... than how great indeed is our Father!! Cause I don't deserve Bryan even on my best days (which I've yet to have...) and he loves me... how much more the Father does!!

Mind blown. 

Have an amazing week friends. 

God bless and Much Love,


The Blessing of being a Sitter... You should become one.

A few months into my marriage I was approached by my friend Paula Mason, our Pastor's wife. 

She wondered if I would be interested in coming over once a week to hang out with her kids, ask her questions about being a wife and what it was like to raise a family. She had done the same thing with another young married in the church who just had her first child.

Now,  I'm not the baby sitter type.

In fact I don't think I really liked children one on one until I had my own. I could teach Children's church till I was blue in the face... but me... watching children... one on one for hours?
And... not getting paid for it?

Yea, that was one of my nightmares I had on a regular basis.

But, being a wife... that was something I was learning and I wasn't too great at it yet so free advice and wisdom sounded like a really good idea.

So, every Wednesday for the next two years I spent a few hours with three of my most favorite kids.

Hunter, William, Ellie & I in 2009

Bryan & Ellie 2009

Paula taught me how to cook, how to handle meltdowns, she listened to my petty problems and was there for advice at any moment. She encouraged me in my marriage, had us over for dinner... and above all, she trusted me.

Each week she put her three most precious possessions in her existence in my hands and even gave them over to us when they had to go out of town! That's trust people.

I learned that children really weren't that awful and she had set up for me the foundation to have my own children.

I often remember as she would rush out she'd turn, smile and say:

"One day someone will do this for you and you will understand what a true blessing you have been to me."

Fast forward a few years and I have my own little munchkins.

Being a Mother is a crazy ride. It's beautiful and delightful and hard.

It's hard not because children are evil (although some can be) but because it's an overwhelming task.
We are raising little people who will grow up and need our guidance. We are responsible for their education, their safety, their care and we are their first introduction to Christ.

...It's a bit daunting.

On top of that we still have a hubby who wants our attention all the time too.

When I became a mom I attacked it with gusto. I was going to prove all those other mom's wrong that children were not a pain or a burden. When people asked me what it was like to have kids I would sigh with happiness... not sigh with exhaustion and misery.

I believed I should keep them with me 24/7. I had them. They were my responsibility. Pawning them off was not an option. Day care and Mom's day out were for women who really needed it. I was doing nothing... least I could do was keep the little boogers alive all day.

Yet, as with most things, God had a better and wiser plan because I am a full fledged idiot.

When I started having children Bryan and I were working in our college ministry and had the beautiful privilege of knowing some truly amazing young adults.

Young adults... who loved our children like their own. Who walked with me through my pregnancy with crazy excitement and waited patiently till I was secure enough to let them watch my bundle on their own.

They would often call and say,
"I'm doing nothing tonight. You want to go on a date and I'll watch Elliot?'

They taught me early on that my thoughts about my "responsibility" were dead wrong. I was not a bad parent for giving my children over to others to watch (and neither are you!)
I was actually being a bad wife to keep them to myself!!

Young marrieds without children, 
Young college age students, 
Older moms with your children grown...
Let me tell you the awesomeness you provide young mothers when you give up a few hours of your time to hang out with their kids:

1. You give a young mother and father a moment to breathe. We aren't perfect. We are sinners and sometimes when our sin is flaring the beautiful baby we adore becomes something we feel smothered with. Sometimes just an hour away helps a young parent regroup... to refresh and remember what a delight and blessing their little one is. 

2. You bless our marriage. We don't ever mean and shouldn't put our kids first... but sometimes when they can't even feed themselves it's hard not to devote so much attention to them and share your time equally with your spouse. But couples with children need those times to remember what it was like to date. To remember that the person they work with every day to raise a family is also the person they are madly in love with. This little service you do for us helps us stay married and there is no greater gift you could give us.

3. You teach our children the value of marriage. Sure, our kids don't always like it when we leave... but when we tell them that being with Daddy is more important we are setting an example for them of what a truly beautiful marriage is. And Marriage is the best analogy that God uses to help us understand the importance of His relationship with us.
When we teach our children that our marriage is first we are teaching them the value of marriage. Teaching them that it is sacred and something set apart by God... just like they are. 

4. You prepare yourself or remind yourself (for those of you who have kids) about the awesomeness of children. While I thought I was just playing around with Hunter, William and Ellie for two years... I was actually learning how to be selfless, to put their needs before my own and also how to lovingly lead small minds. Kids require practice. You are usually done practicing when they turn 28. If other parents are willing to let you practice selfless love on their kids... by all means. Take it. 

5. You make a friend for life. The world is pretty evil. When we hand over our children to you, we are trusting you utterly and completely. That trust is special. We don't give it out lightly. You become a part of our family when you love on our kids and as a part of our family... we care about you. We want to know your problems and walk with you when you start your own family. I mean... we will kinda owe ya for all the babysitting you gave us.

6. You win over a little heart. It's a fact that any child you watch will NOT remember you on a Sunday Morning when you see them at church. I'm not sure why this is... but it's true. But, they will remember you when it counts. They will remember you were their friend and to them you are the coolest friend they will ever have. It's been almost three years since I've hung out with my Mason Kid crew... yet every once in awhile Paula will message me and tell me that they wished I could come over and play and that I was their favorite sitter ever. And I'll melt with happiness.
It's hard to believe the day Paula always told me about is here. That the people who have lovingly watched, protected and cared for my children... show me a love I am speechless at.

If you watch someone's kids just because it's fun please know the blessing you are to them.

If you've never watched someone's kids cause it's scary and daunting... let this be your courage. Call up your pastor's wife or the couple in your church with those twins...  If they don't say yes the first time, let them get to know you first and eventually you'll be on their speed dial list.

As part of the body of Christ we are called to be in each others lives.
We are ready to teach you what little wisdom we have and trust us... if you play with our kids once and see how awesome they are, you'll be back.

Right now I have to go plan a date for my favorite person because I got this text awhile ago...

Tori is one of the blessings of my life. She was my pregnancy cheerleader and sometimes I think she loves my kids more than I do!

Toto with Elliot in 2011
Toto with Ethan in 2012

Tori with both my crazies in 2013

But may she know... and may all know who have lovingly watched and protected my kids from our wonderful parents to our dear friends in New Orleans whom my children miss to our new ones at TCAAB who lovingly share their time with us...

How truly awesome you are and how I cry with joy over the blessing that is you.
You sitters... you help me be a better mom.

Thank you.

God bless and Much Love,