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ONE BOOK A MONTH READING CHALLENGE

Want to pick up a book more and the remote less? Try the one book a month reading challenge for some motivation!


This post contains affiliate links used to help support The Bluebonnet Farmhouse. For more information, please see my disclosures here.


Ready to accomplish your goal of watching less TV and more reading this year? I had the same goal and decided to try this one book a month challenge when a friend of mine shared her success with it.

It’s simple: read and complete one book every month.

I found this challenge to be so motivational that I actually far exceeded one book a month and ended up reading double my initial goal! Did I stay up way too late reading some nights? Definitely, but there is something about getting your hands on a really good book that causes you to be incapable of putting it down.

Get your hands on some good books and make this year a year full of learning, growing, and happiness.

Do you need some inspiration on books to read? Check out my list below on the books I enjoyed during my first reading challenge!


CHRISTY MILLER SERIES

I read the Christy Miller series in high school after a sweet friend of mine recommended them to me and I have been hooked ever since. At the time, there was Christy Miller – high school and college years – along with series on her friends, Sierra Jensen and Katie Weldon. The author, Robin Jones Gunn, has since added Christy Miller’s married and baby years!

I have not had the opportunity to read the married and baby years yet, but considering it has been a while since I was in high school when I read the original series, I chose to re-read ALL of the books leading up to the new additions.

A note, the high school years and Sierra Jensen are written for a young adult audience, but I certainly still love reading them!

If you have a daughter, I cannot recommend these books enough. Whether she is a teenager who can start reading them now, or a little one who can read them in the future, these books are truly special. I believe every young girl should read them so strongly that they are actually my signature gift for preteen and teenage girls.

Robin wrote these books with the girls in her Sunday school and they exhibit every scenario, emotion, and thought a teenage girl goes through in addition to valuable life lessons, such as what truly matters when dating and searching for the right man.

These books will surely not disappoint! There is more to the series than what is listed below, but these are the ones I managed to complete during my first reading challenge.

FAITH + LIFE

If you are a fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines, and want a lighthearted, hilarious read, then you will love The Magnolia Story!

It was inspiring for me to read about where they started and how God had everything fall perfectly into place for their story. Not everything was perfect, but perfectly planned.

One night this book had me laughing so hard I was crying while trying to reiterate the story to my husband. I routinely found myself laughing and telling my husband of Chips antics, while learning some much needed mommy life lessons from Joanna that I believe every mom needs to hear.

MYSTERY

Just like my friend who introduced me to this reading challenge, I went the nostalgic route and chose to do a quick, easy read of Nancy Drew to help meet my goal. My mom read all of the Nancy Drew books growing up and I certainly read quite a few too. You can’t go wrong with a good, clean mystery!

CHRISTMAS STORIES

The Bridge is my favorite Christmas book so far. I had first heard of it through Hallmark Channel’s movie version of the story – I had only seen the first movie at this point. Then one day I stumbled upon a copy of the book and decided to pick it up. I enjoyed the book so much, I immediately turned around and watched the movie series on Hallmark!

One Perfect Gift was a gift from my mother-in-law, and I absolutely love that it takes place in a farmhouse in the early 1900s. I very much enjoyed this read and still giggle thinking about one scene in particular. This is actually the second book of the Culdee Creek Christmas series and I plan on reading the other two books as well!


Feeling motivated to take on the one book a month challenge? Tag us on social media to share your progress and books of choice with us!

Our new social media tags:

  • Facebook: @TheBluebonnetFarmhouse
  • Instagram: @the_bluebonnet_farmhouse
  • Twitter: @TheBBFarmhouse
  • #TheBluebonnetFarmhouse

Happy Reading!

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DIY CHALKBOARD WINE BOTTLES

Recycle your wine bottles into budget-friendly and versatile decor. All you need is a little bit of wine, cheese, … and chalk!

diy (how to make) chalkboard wine bottles

This post contains affiliate links to help support The Bluebonnet Farmhouse. For more information, please see my disclosures here.


If you are like me, then you probably have a small stash of wine bottles and corks in hopes of doing something creative with them one day. These chalkboard wine bottles are a creative and versatile decor option that work great on a wall shelf or fireplace mantel!

I stumbled upon this cute project when searching for some wedding gift ideas. Between the expense of airline tickets, hotel stays, and a rental car, we honestly didn’t have much in the budget for a wedding gift. You can look at it as our main gift was getting to be there to celebrate with them!

After some Pinterest inspiration and some ideas of my own, I ended up pairing these chalkboard wine bottles with a chalkboard serving tray and wedding date pillows for some handmade wedding gifts!

The idea of using chalkboard paint on wine bottles creates tons of versatility in the project. With three bottles you can write initials for bedroom decor or baby showers, his and her initials for wedding showers, “JOY” for Christmas, etc.

In addition, you can swap out seasonal floral to give them a fresh new look all year long! Flowers, branches, dried floral, Christmas tree clippings, etc. Using the same decorative items year round, but simply changing it up a tad for every season, is such a great way to stay in budget with home decor.

Now, this tutorial is going to be rather straight forward, but here it is none-the-less!

how to make chalkboard wine bottles

SUPPLIES

  • 3 Glass Bottles (wine, champagne, cider, etc.)
  • Floral (live, dried, faux, etc.)
  • #28 3-Ply Natural Jute (Mine is from Hobby Lobby)
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Chalkboard Paint (This is our favorite paint brand!)
  • Sponge Brush
  • Wax Paper
  • Chalk

PREP + PAINT

The first step is to determine which three glass bottles to use. I say three because of the rule of three; items arranged in odd number groupings is more aesthetically appealing. In addition, I chose to use varying sizes to add dimension; two of the same size wine bottles and one spiced cider bottle.

Remove the labels and any residue from the glass until the surface is free of any gunk. Wash and dry the bottles.

painted chalkboard wine bottles

There are two ways you could go about painting the bottles: liquid paint or spray paint. I had some liquid chalkboard paint on hand from my chalkboard serving tray and decided to use that.

When working with either liquid paint or spray paint make certain to work with THIN coats; otherwise, you will end up with paint drips running down the sides of the bottle – thanks a lot gravity.

Apply additional coats until you reach the desired thickness of chalkboard surface, allowing for adequate drying time between each coat.

I chose to not paint the bottom of the bottles; therefore, I was able dry them upright on wax paper. The wax paper works great by preventing any sticking to the bottles surface when dry.

DECORATE

Let your creative side shine and start decorating your bottles! I kept mine simple and only used jute to remain versatile for everyday decor, holidays, and other occasions.

Use a hot glue gun when adhering the jute and periodically apply beads of glue while wrapping the jute around the bottleneck.

decorated chalkboard wine bottles

After the decorating is done, grab some chalk and test out your new chalkboard surface! Finish them off with dried or faux floral.

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Thanks for following along!

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DIY WOOD PALLET SHELF

diy wood pallet shelf

Learn how to build this easy farmhouse wall shelf on a budget! Display your favorite coffee mugs, chili bowls, dog leashes, etc. All you need is a little scrap wood, some chain, and a tiny bit of time.

diy wood pallet and chain wall shelf, chili bowl shelf, coffee mug shelf

This post contains affiliate links used to help support The Bluebonnet Farmhouse. For more information, please see my disclosures here.


When I was in college, I found these adorable chili bowls for only $1 each (a dollar!!) at my local grocery store. Am I the only one that was love-struck by that price? The price was perfect for a tight budget college student like myself!

I loved the antique, western flair of the bowls and wanted to use them as decor in my apartment. For starters, I did not have a wall shelf at the time – keep in mind a broke college student – but I did have a pallet and my dad’s tools.

I chose to do a basic construction, but added the chains for a unique feature and enhanced stability. By keeping the construction of the shelf simple, it accentuates the rustic aesthetics of both the shelf and the chili bowls.

The shelf ended up being an ideal size – not too big, not too small – because no matter where the Navy sent us, we have easily been able to find a wall to accommodate it!

This beautiful hunk of wood has moved with us between two apartments plus one home, and has been used in the kitchen, dining room, and entryway. You can see how we used it in our dining room here.

This cute little shelf is a quick and easy project to add some rustic flair into your home. Are you ready to start making your own rustic shelf? Check out our tutorial below!

how to build a wood pallet and chain wall shelf

MATERIALS

  • 1×8 Board
  • 2×4 Board
  • 2’ #14 Black Jack Chain
  • (4) #8 Steel Eye Screws
  • (4) 1” Steel Cup Hooks
  • (3) 2” Black Screws
  • (2) 4” Black Screws
  • Black Spray Paint
  • Long Nose Pliers
  • Circular Saw
  • Drill
  • 2 Bar Clamps (optional)

NOTE: I was able to get my hands on a very unique and gorgeous wood pallet that was used to deliver some furniture. I have no clue what kind of wood the pallet was made of, but I do know that it did not require staining – yay!

I have since not seen another pallet made of these quality 1×8 planks instead of the typical 1×4 pine. Therefore, you may have to use and stain scrap wood or purchase new boards.

Three 2″ black screws used to attach the 1×8 to the 2×4.

PREPARATION

Cut the wood to size. You will need a 1×8 board cut to 32” and a 2×4 board cut to 30”.

Use pliers to detach the links of the jack chain and create two 9½” long strands.

Paint the steel eye screws and cup hooks with black paint.

Two 4″ screws used to attach the shelf to the wall.

ASSEMBLY

Lay the 1×8 board with the top facing up. Drill pilot holes ¾” x ¾” away from the two front corners where two of the steel eye screws will be and hand screw the eyes into the holes.

Use pliers to open the end links on the chains and attach them to each eye. Be careful to not chip the black coating of the chain, otherwise simply touch it up with the black paint previously used.

Use clamps – or your husband – to hold the back of the 1×8 to the top off the 2×4. Evenly space the three 2” screws along the back of the 1×8, drill pilot holes, and drill in the screws to attach the two boards.

Remove the clamps and lay the shelf with the topside facing down. Evenly space the four cup hooks across the underside of the 1×8. Drill pilot holes and hand screw the cup hooks into the holes.

You’re shelf is done and all that’s left to do is to hang it up!

Account for the size of the eye screw when hanging the chain.

INSTALLATION

Hold the finished shelf against the wall and make sure it is level. Drill two pilot holes through the 2×4 and into the wall. Next, drill the two 4” screws into the pilot holes to attach the shelf to the wall.

You can choose to add more screws depending on the anticipated weight of décor.

Lastly, take the chain and extend it towards the wall until taut. To ensure a tight tension, leave a small space between the wall and the end of the chain to allow for the eye screws to fit in between.

Mark the location for the two steel eye screws, drill small pilot holes, and hand screw the eyes into the wall. Use the pliers once more to open the end links on the chains and attach them to each eye.

chili bowl shelf, coffee mug shelf

Time to decorate! Hang your favorite chili bowls or coffee cups and enjoy your new pallet and chain shelf!

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Comment below or tag us on social media to share your finished shelf! Thanks for following along!

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DIY CHALKBOARD SERVING TRAY

diy chalkboard serving tray

Learn how to make a custom chalkboard serving tray. This tray is such an easy project and perfect for a wedding gift, housewarming gift, etc.

diy chalkboard serving tray, how to make a chalkboard serving tray

This post contains affiliate links used to help support The Bluebonnet Farmhouse. For more information, please see my disclosures here.


Summer is here and that means pool parties, BBQ, and good company! All of this equals entertaining, and with entertaining comes serving ware.

I was actually searching for wedding gift inspiration when I stumbled upon the idea of these neat chalkboard serving trays. I decided to give it a go and make one as a wedding gift for one of my best friends, in addition to using the tray at her bridal brunch.

In addition to this chalkboard serving tray, I also made chalkboard wine bottles and wedding date pillows for some more custom decor to use as accompanying wedding gifts.

If you need a great gift idea this is it! I fell in love with the finished product and wanted to keep it for myself. Needless to say, I plan to make one for us as well!

diy chalkboard serving tray, handmade wedding gift

MATERIALS


WOOD PREP

Begin by either finding a piece of scrap wood in your garage, or by cutting a board to your chosen dimensions. I had managed to find the perfect size of scrap board in our garage that was left over from a previous project we had done – no cutting required!

Lay the handles and a few dishes you might like to use on the tray to determine what size would be best.

how to determine the size of a serving tray

Use an electric sander to round all corners and edges of the tray. I wanted to add a unique feature to the back of the tray so I chose to wood burn my logo into the lower corner. If you would like to add a special feature of your own just follow these simple steps below!

how to sand the edges of a serving tray

WOOD BURNING (OPTIONAL)

Print out the image or text onto a piece of paper at the size you want. Lay the paper onto the wood and use a pencil to trace the outlines you wish to display. Press hard when tracing with the pencil to make indents on the wood.

Remove the paper when you are finished and make sure all of the outlines you want are pressed into the wood. Simply trace the outlines with your wood burning kit and you are ready for staining.

how to wood burn a logo on a serving tray
– When our name was still The Navy Home. –

STAIN + SEAL

Select your choice of stain color and apply with a staining rag. We used Minwax in Red Mahogany, but have since found and highly recommend this brand.

Apply additional coats until you reach the desired color, allowing for adequate time to dry between each coat.

Next, use a sponge brush to apply a thin coat of polyurethane. I chose to seal the tray in case any liquids were to get on it during food prep, serving, etc.

CHALKBOARD PAINT

Once the tray is nice and dry, apply painter’s tape around the edges to form the area that will become the chalkboard surface.

Using the painter’s tape, create a 1” border along the length of the tray with a 2” border along the widths where the handles will be added later. Be sure to press tape down firmly around all edges to ensure the chalkboard paint will not bleed underneath.

how to paint a chalkboard serving tray

Time to pop open your can of chalkboard paint and get to painting! I’m not gonna lie, this is when I stir my paint with a stick I found in the yard. But, I am 99% positive this is not recommended. Instead, a clean stir stick does the trick and helps maintain the integrity of the product.

Use a sponge brush to apply a thin coat of chalkboard paint to your tray within the taped off work space.

When painting at the tapes edge, make sure your brush is lightly soiled with paint and apply with strokes moving away from the tape, not towards. If you paint with stroke towards the tapes edge, you are liable to end up with paint under the tape.

Apply additional coats until you reach the desired chalkboard surface, allowing for adequate time to dry between each coat.

diy chalkboard serving tray, how to make a chalkboard serving tray, handmade wedding gift

ASSEMBLING THE TRAY

After your new chalkboard surface is completely dry – especially at the tapes edge – carefully remove the tape by pulling at a slight angle towards the painted surface.

The only thing left is to attach your decorative handles! Mark the locations for your screws, drill small pilot holes, lay the handles in place, and drill in the screws.

You’re done! Look at that beauty! Now you have a fun and beautiful chalkboard serving tray for all your summer festivities!

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Comment below or tag us on social media to share your finished shelf! Thanks for following along!

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RUSTIC FARMHOUSE DECOR WITH BUDGET DECORATING TIPS

rustic farmhouse decor

Rustic farmhouse decor with tips for how to decorate on a budget and choose versatile furniture pieces that can move with you.

rustic farmhouse decor with budget decorating tips

This post contains affiliate links used to help support The Bluebonnet Farmhouse. For more information, please see my disclosures here.


We recently rearranged our living room area which in turn lead to us redoing our fireplace mantel. Before we did any rearranging; however, this was our original setup for what was the dining room portion of the area.

We do not have a grand china cabinet, but I felt this cabinet could work as a rustic, yet elegant substitute for housing serving ware, table linens, candles, etc.

As a side note, I apologize for the not-so-fantastic picture quality; military base housing is not known for its spectacular lighting. Okay, so base housing is not all to blame…

HOW TO FIND VERSATILE FURNITURE PIECES:

Anyone who lives in a rental home or apartment knows that storage space is key. This cabinet was actually a piece I purchased when living in the definition of a “zero storage space” one-bedroom apartment.

When apartment hunting, I somehow did not notice the massive lack of storage space… that is until I moved in. I actually had to purchase four new pieces of furniture in order to have a place to put everything.

Food had to be stowed away in the very few kitchen cabinets, which left the dishes to be stored elsewhere – cue my newly dubbed buffet cabinet. Once everything had a home, it was the perfect sized apartment for me… until my husband moved in. There was no hope for a storage solution after that.

One of the things I love about this particular piece of furniture is its versatility. A china cabinet is exactly how it sounds, a cabinet for fine china. It is most likely a very large piece of furniture and located in the dining room. However, this buffet cabinet is really just a cabinet that can be used for anything and in any room making it a great choice for those who move often.

Another perk is the reduced size of this cabinet versus a china cabinet. This allows for greater versatility in where the piece will fit in each given room or new home.

When trying to select and purchase versatile furniture pieces I look for these features: storage, size, and style.

STORAGE

Does the piece have useful storage space or is it really only for decor items? I always go for the storage feature because when moving with the military I never know what our storage space will be like in the next home.

SIZE

How big is the piece? If the piece is a massive structure that needs a large solid wall to house it, odds are I may not always find a spot for it in future homes. If the piece is too small it is essentially not very functional – at least not for storage. I try to go for moderately sized pieces and have never had trouble finding walls to place them against in each new home.

STYLE

What is the overall style of the piece? This one is easy, I go for pieces that I love and are compatible with the rest of your home decor. Neutral is always best here because it can transition with changes in decor, color scheme, etc. Mine is not exactly neutral being that it’s green, but it went great with the rest of our decor so I chose to go out on a limb with this one!

HOW TO DECORATE ON A BUDGET:

After you have your required storage, all you need is to decorate! Choose some decorative conversation items if the arrangement is in one of your common rooms where guests will be.

I loved this setup for the dining room area because it showcased some conversation starters – such as college stories, vacation memories, and the first rose my husband gave me – all while storing additional serving ware.

A great option we use for budget-friendly decor is simply mix and match items we already own along with some DIY projects. Some decor items I recommend are decorative books, cookbooks, souvenirs, coffee mugs, floral arrangements, DIY projects, family photos, etc.

The wood shelf and the preserved flower were my own DIY projects for this space.

I recommend appropriately balancing your pieces with one another in addition to both the size of the room and wall. The shelf adds a nice upper balance to the weight of the cabinet below, while the overall scale works nicely for the wall size.

When it came to the floral arrangements, these were originally for the townhouse I shared with my brother during college. My brother did not want any decor that was “too girly,” but I had already found these adorable burlap bags and had to get my floral arrangements in them somehow.

So I decided to use flowers that were not too feminine in both color and appearance with greenery. The key element here was I chose to use a more masculine twig-like greenery and moss to seal the deal.

I explained to him my balance between masculinity and femininity in the arrangement… I am not sure if he actually bought my reasoning, but he caved either way!

Through this rustic, farmhouse inspired arrangement we not only added lots of storage to the space, but also added an abundance of color to the standard barren rooms of rental properties.

If you have a lack of storage space or a tight budget, try not to look at it as a bad thing. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to get creative! You could end up inspiring your friends and help them solve their own decor or storage challenges.


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