Crafty, DIY, Holiday, Life, Nifty Thrifty

Our Middle Earth Christmas Tree


Every year since my bug’s first Christmas, we’ve had a themed tree in our home for Christmas.   Since I like to have a different theme every year, I don’t like to spend a lot of money on ornaments/tree decorations.  I also like my trees to have a personalized touch as well, so we tend to make quite a bit of the decorations that we use.  I typically let my bug choose the theme of our tree, and I also let him choose what the topper will be; this year, our theme was “Middle Earth!”  This was topped off with Sauron’s helmet!

Now I will tell you that my bug and I are major J.R.R Tolkien fans and we love love love The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings (LOTR) books and movies.  I’m not kidding– my bug has the entire collection of Hobbit toy figurines, he actually had a Hobbit/LOTR birthday party, and his entire room is covered in life-size Hobbit/LOTR cardboard cutouts and decor.  My bug has been a huge fan since I introduced him to the LOTR movies a few years ago.  He’s 7 now, and although his fandom now includes Star Wars (double win for me!), Hobbit/LOTR still reigns supreme in our house.

I had so much fun putting this tree together with my bug, and although I wasn’t able to complete everything I had planned for this tree (December was a really busy month for me!), I’m still really happy with the results:

Our tree this year.  Sauron was feeling festive too! 😀20171225_091957.jpg

I am really proud of Sauron’s helmet– I made it out of a single 24×24 inch sheet of black poster board, scissors, and glue, and using only the picture below/right as a guide:


I planned on painting it but completely ran out of time!  I’ll still finish it though and will add it to the decor in my bug’s room.

The Tree of Gondor  was painted onto black cardstock (4×5 1/2 inches) with white acrylic paint, but it could also just be printed if you don’t mind using the ink (I didn’t want to!).


For our Rings of Power, we just took a black sharpie to a few standard gold ornaments and did the best we could to duplicate elvish font/writing:


I also made a few other paper crafts/prints that I just tucked onto the tree.  The fans were made out of paper lunch sacks and were each about 3 inches in diameter; the print strips were just images I found on Google Images that I cropped and printed out on to regular printer paper.  The remaining ornaments were just some items I found in the bottom of my Christmas ornament box that I thought complimented the theme of the tree.


Because I had all of the materials on hand, this project cost me $0; however, assuming I had none of the materials on hand, I estimate that the total cost would have been roughly $15, conservatively, and would include glue, scissors, paint, poster board, etc.

Making ornaments and assembling our tree is my favorite Christmas tradition– I love that we have no idea what it is ultimately going to look like until it is complete, and best of all, we are making beautiful memories every step of the way.

We love our tree so much that we still haven’t taken it down…I’ll get on it soon enough. 🙂  In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you– what kinds of holiday traditions do you have?


45 Days

I remember the day I first really entertained the idea of quitting my job to take some time off.  I had just come home late again after having spent over 12 hours in thick coveralls out in the summer heat of Texas.  This was followed by a long drive home, where Houston traffic forced me to spend 2 hours reflecting on the frustrations that had been accumulating at work over the past year.  Working the way I had been over the last few years, it became common for me to come home late; in fact, I can not tell you how many nights I had to put my bug to bed over the phone.  It broke my heart, but my job enabled me to provide well for my bug, so I bit my lip and continued to press on day after day.

But on this particular evening, I came home in tears.  I had reached critical mass and  decided I was done– but I didn’t have the slightest clue about what “done” looked like.  I sat in my car a little while longer, sobbed a little bit more, then pulled myself together before I was able to get out of my parked car and go inside.

Being a single parent and the sole provider in my home made it difficult to even entertain the thought of quitting my job without an offer; nonetheless, I began to crunch numbers that night– the exercise alone lifted my heavy spirits.  However, as I moved from row to row in my spreadsheet, I began to realize that with some preparation and a revamp of my budget, that quitting my job and taking a break from work were entirely possible.  That was enough for me to commit to make the leap.

Fast forward to today, I am officially 45 days in to my “sabbatical.”  These last 45 days have been powerfully rejuvenating, each filled with simple pleasures that have been therapeutic in their own right.  Though the time has certainly sped by, I already feel like a new person– less hurried, less stressed, and more open, loving, and giving.  As I reflect back on 2017, I realize that my favorite parts of this year have mostly occurred in the last 45 days–  I have spent my mornings having breakfast with my mom after walking my son into school, or sipping on coffee as I curl up with a book; visiting my bug at school for lunch; and picking him up every day after school; volunteering to tutor at his school, or just to come and read a book to his class.  I have been experimenting in my kitchen again, and I successfully baked my first bread cornucopia and made tamales for the first time; I spent hours crafting ornaments for our Christmas tree and many more hours crafting goodies for my son’s classroom holiday party that I also hosted.  Most satisfying of all, I have had the honor of serving in my community again, donating time, resources, or even just a batch of homemade goodies.  I am not only happy, but in a way that I haven’t felt in a very long time.  I can honestly say that this break is one of the greatest gifts I could have ever given myself and my family, and I am better because of it.

2017 has been a good year for me and it is ending on a wonderful note.  I am so thankful for the good, the bad, and even the ugly parts of this year, for it has reminded me of the things in life that are truly important.  As we get ready to enter January, I will begin the New Year feeling refreshed and with a greater sense that my priorities are back in order.  I’ll go back to work in the near future simply because my savings won’t last forever, but for now, I will just sit here and enjoy the quiet while I sip on my coffee; and as I wrap up this post, I am smiling both on the inside and out.

Here’s to the end of 2017 and to the start of an even better 2018!  Thanks for visiting my blog–  I have a bit of catching up to do on on here but I hope you’ll be back soon anyway!

Have a very safe and Happy New Year, everyone!



This Suburban Elf goes on Sabbatical

Oh my gosh I am so excited to finally kickoff my blog!  I have been wanting to start a blog for several years now, but just couldn’t find the time.  Up until very recently, I had an extremely stressful job– I was working well into the night to meet deadline after deadline, I was on-call 24/7,  and my round-trip commute was over two hours per day.  On top of that, I am a single mom and my work was resulting in me spending less time at home with my family, and even less time on myself.  I had reached a point of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion and was not willing to submit to that life any longer.  I knew needed a break, and more importantly, my family needed a break. So I cut my living expenses, saved some money, and on November 15th, 2017, I resigned from my position to begin my “Sabbatical.”

After having spent years dreaming, I realized that this Sabbatical was going to be the perfect opportunity for me to start my blog.  While I hope that through this blog I might be able to share some handy tips and tricks to save you some time, money,  or maybe just to give you a little creative inspiration, the most important thing I hope to impart upon you is that time is forever fleeting; don’t forget to invest in yourself and the things that make you happy.  Because when you’re happy, you’re magic, and you make the world a brighter place.

I don’t know when I’ll go back to work and to be honest, I’m not giving it much thought right now.  Right now, I’m going to focus on re-calibrating my mind, body, and soul and  devoting my time to the main pillars of my happiness: my friends, my family, and my community…one project at a time.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll be back soon!


The Suburban Elf