painted plaster ornaments

I have a collection of ornaments that I enjoy displaying every year: Baby’s First Christmas ball (mine), Santa shooting hoops (his), Nacatamales (ours). Some have been gifts from friends, and others have been knick knacks we’ve picked up along our travels. The ornaments tell a story, from the heart my mother-in-law gave us at our bridal shower, to the crystal snowflake made by my best friend.

Because I love this part of my holiday, each year I choose an ornament for our families. Sometimes they are handcrafted, other times I find the perfect ornament in a little shop. Between the two of us, we have eight siblings, four parents, and dozens of nieces and nephews. To keep it affordable, I usually stick with a $5 budget.

painted window ornament

This year, inspired by an ornament given to us in Ireland, I picked up plaster ornaments from Michael’s on sale along with a selection of Martha Stewart acrylic paints. If you want to create your own painted plaster ornaments, here are a few tips:

  • Michael’s carries an assortment of these ornaments every year, but you can also purchase from Etsy, eBay, or bulk suppliers.
  • Thin the paint a bit with water. This will prevent brushstrokes.
  • Use a variety of paint brushes. I picked up craft brushes from Lowe’s (they shed, a lot) and better quality oil brushes from Michael’s (the bristles are stiffer). The longer, softer brushes are good for thin stripes, and the shorter, stiffer brushes are good for really fine details.
  • Go slow! It’s worth it to take your time.
  • Paint the entire ornament with a background color (I used a soft white). It’s easier to clean up mistakes on a painted surface.
  • It helps to go from the inner part to the outer part because your hand won’t smudge the paint.
  • If you do make a mistake, take a clean brush, wet it slightly, and then use it to wipe up the paint. The water makes it much easier.
  • Use tweezers to remove any debris before the paint dries, use a damp cotton swab to blot up bigger mistakes.
  • Use a spray sealer to finish and seal the ornament.

I hope this helps you during your holiday crafting marathon sessions!


porcelain tealight house

Two of my nieces slept over on Thanksgiving night, and we spent the day putting up our tree and stocking up on lights. It’s the latest of a series of family sleepovers, involving both of our families. The older of the two, Rory, has been a bit upset over the way stores decorate before Thanksgiving is over, and how materialistic the Christmas holiday has become. She’s an old soul, if you can’t tell.

Her complaints made me examine my own traditions. For me, Christmas is so much more than a day where gifts are exchanged. It’s an entire season of sparkle and shine, parties, lights, crafts, baking, and gathering with loved ones. Christmas is shopping for a fresh-cut tree the day after Thanksgiving, hanging ornaments, pulling out my grandmother’s recipe for divinity, and searching for beautifully decorated homes.

This holiday season, we’ll be snowshoeing in Idaho, baking in Tampa, having Christmas breakfast in Birmingham, and setting off fireworks in Georgia for New Years. It’ll be a whirlwind month of time spent with family, where the focus isn’t so much on gifts, but quality time with each other.

I love seeing friend’s craft projects and holiday festivities, so to bring a little bit of my traditions to my friends, I’m trying a new December Daily project on Instagram. If you want to follow along, you can click here to see all of my #bekahbemerry posts. You can also follow my Winter board on Pinterest.

For my first post, I gathered clippings from our tree, added in cinnamon scentsicles, a porcelain tea light house, and wood snowflake cutouts. Because when it’s 80° F out, you need to bring winter in any form you can.

If you want your own porcelain tea light house (pictured above), you can find it at Michael’s. All holiday decor is 50% off (as of Dec. 2nd). Originally $7.98, I picked up this porcelain tealight house for $3.99. 



How to Beach

Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life

Until I talk to someone who hasn’t spent every summer holiday at the beach, I forget that “beaching” is a skill, much like driving or sewing. It takes experience to know how to beach, and to bring just the right amount of stuff. Enough to be comfortable all day so that you don’t have to make the long trek back up to your room or car, but not so much that you give up halfway across the sand because of the effort it takes to haul your bag over your shoulder while sinking six inches into the hot sand with each step.

It takes baking for hours in the sun each year to know when you need to apply sunscreen-enough to protect your skin, but not so much that you don’t tan. To know when to shift your chair into full sun, and when to seek out shade, and what book, music, and sports equipment to toss into your tote bag. As a child, there were more toys. As an adult, there is more sunscreen and water.

All the effort is worth is, for the days spent listening to waves as they crash on the shore, seagulls as they beg for food, and children laughing as they build castles. For the dreams that come that night of floating on the waves while the sun paints freckles across my nose.

Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life

Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life

Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life

This year, our summer holiday was spent in Alvor, Portugal, a small town in the Algarve region of Portugal. The area is famous for its white sand beaches, turquoise water, cliffs filled with fossils, and rock formations that stretch out into the water.

Photography by Rebekah Burder. Please do not reuse without credit.

Slept: Prainha Clube Alvor | Ate: Canico Restaurant | Did: Rented sunbeds for €12 a day at O! Luis, Walked the strip at Portomao, Shopped for trinkets in Alvor

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DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

I love a good old-fashioned bulletin board. There’s something about pinning papers to the board and getting them off my desk that makes me feel a bit more organized, a bit more in control of my agenda. Plus, it’s a great place to put a photo of family, or a goal, to keep you motivated.

But. That ugly cork gets to me. It’s hard to find one that fits in or looks pretty. I’m not a huge fan of the fabric covered versions. I just want something clean and modern for myself. So, I came up with this really simple idea that anyone can create in under an hour. Here’s how to make your own DIY abstract bulletin board.

DIY Abstract Bulletin Board DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

Start with a blank bulletin board, something to hold your paint, a good sized brush (1″ or bigger), and colors you’d like to use. Start painting with a base layer of white. Be liberal with the paint, cork will really hold a lot of it. You want the layers kind of goopy, because you’ll be using a wet-on-wet technique to blend the colors together.

DIY Abstract Bulletin Board DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

After you’re done with the base layer, start brushing in color, layer by layer. Use a bit of pink and yellow with a lot of white to create a soft pink or peach color. Use small strokes or large strokes, dabs or dots. Whatever you like to create texture and depth. I painted the edge to blend in with the board, but you could also paint in a solid color to frame the board.

DIY Abstract Bulletin Board DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

Paint multiple colors in and let dry. I set it in a safe place overnight, and it was ready to hand in the morning. There you have it, a simple and easy DIY abstract bulletin board to dress up your home office or cubicle!

Spring Gardening Checklist via Honeysuckle Life

April may be volatile, but the warmer temperatures and suddenly clear blue skies are welcome respites from winter. By the start of the month, I’m getting a bit itchy to be outside in the garden. On the first sunny day of a stretch of warm days, I pull on my gloves and start on my spring gardening checklist.

This year, I’m trying to do a little bit each afternoon when the afternoon allows, rather than having several weekends crammed with activity. I’ve found that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the never-ending list of little things to be done when I spread it out. Here’s what is on my spring gardening checklist. Most of the activities are prep and maintenance, with a little bit of planting after the last freeze has occurred.

Spring Gardening Checklist via Honeysuckle Life

Spring Gardening Checklist

  1. Feed the plants – I use a combination of compost and fertilizers and apply it to each plant as needed. I use specialty fertilizers for edible plants and roses, and stick with good old Miracle Grow for flowers and containers. BBC has a fantastic guide on fertilizing plants that will provide a more detail.
  2. Kill the slugs – These little pests are the bane of my existence here in Ireland. It’s breeding time right now, so the battle to protect my plants has started. The commonly available slug killer pellets are highly toxic to dogs, so I only use those in containers that Larry can’t easily access. For the rest of the garden, I use glass jars buried to their necks filled with beer. It’s not an easy solution, but it’s the best one I have. It requires regular emptying, something that I always forget to do until the jars are filled up with one of the nastiest combinations of dead slugs, beer, and rain possible. My goal is to empty these weekly.
  3. Weed – Staying on top of weeds now will prevent more from forming. A bonus: with the soil really wet from rain, small weeds are easier to remove and only takes about 20 minutes to complete. However, the front driveway and back patio are a different matter. Weeds seem to sprout in the cracks every two days. I hate using weed killer, so each has to be pulled up individually.
  4. Add mulch and soil – I haven’t been a fan of mulch in the past, but with a dog who loves to tramp through my gardens and use plants as toilets, I’m trying to corral him into a lightly planted area. I’m adding mulch to it in the hopes that it will be more attractive to Larry and create a ground cover to prevent weeds. I also add potting soil and compost as needed and turn it in to help add nutrients to the soil.
  5. Plant containers – I’m saving the best for last! I love love love container gardening, and can’t wait to try ideas I’ve been gathering on my outdoor + garden board on Pinterest over the winter. After seeing the “thriller, filler, spiller” image about three thousand times, I’m using it as the basis for each containers. I’d like to use more grasses as thriller plants, which is a new obsession of mine.

Muscari via Honeysuckle Life

I hope this list helps you! Here are a few great resources for creating your own checklist for spring gardening:

What’s on your spring gardening checklist?

Bee Friendly Plant via Honeysuckle Life