The Giving Manger

Christmas is always such a special time of year and our family looks forward to all of our yearly traditions like, Southern Lights at The Kentucky Horse Park, our Elf, Penny returning with crazy shenanigans while we sleep, baking and leaving cookies and Ale-8 for Santa (the Ale-8 instead of milk is how we do it in the bluegrass state) Snuggling together watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas and cooking yummy treats to share. There are so many fun traditions we have that we treasure, but we are always thinking of ways to bring the spirit of giving, and serving others into our home most of all. What better time to build these lessons, than during the Christmas season! I have a very special Christmas tradition that I want to tell you about today. It’s called – The Giving Manger

I’m a sinner saved by his loving grace. I fail daily, but I pray to always have my heart be filled with Jesus and to live the way he intends for me to. We want to teach our children to strive to do the same and to have giving, compassionate hearts. My kids may see us cook a meal for someone sick, or help someone homeless or spend the day lending a listening ear to someone hurting, and they never question why.. they know It’s because by serving others is how we glorify Him. Being compassionate is everything in life and I only hope we can do more. The Giving Manger is a great tradition that helps our children and our family be aware of giving gifts of service.

When I was first introduced to – The Giving Manger,  I fell in love with the idea and I was so excited to get it for our family! The mission behind The Giving Manger is to spread the love of Christ through a story and activity that centers around serving others in a way that even little minds and hearts can understand and value. I knew it would be amazing for our kiddos and it would make our Christmas even more full and blessed every year, seeing our family giving gifts of service.

The Giving Manger Christmas Tradition Box set includes :

“The Giving Manger” story book

A small wooden manger

A bundle of straw

And a wooden carved baby Jesus

When we opened the book, we saw the simple yet beautiful illustrations and as we read each page, my eyes filled with tears and those tears started rolling down my cheeks. Each word wraps you up in the story and tugs at your heartstrings. It makes you count all your blessings and makes your soul eager to be a light for him and give gifts of service.

We had teary eyes and hearts filled with gratitude, when we finished the book. Through the story, we learn that each time we give gifts of service, we earn a piece of straw to put in the empty manger and once we have served all season long and the manger is filled with straw, we are then able to place the baby Jesus inside.

I’ll tell you a little bit about our week.. Last weekend we made the decision to finally let the kids get a puppy. They’ve been wanting one for a very long time and after praying about it, we decided they were ready for some responsibility. That being said, with a cute puppy around, there has been some fussin’ over who gets to hold and play with sweet little Nelly Lou.. Well.. Ya’ll, I’ll just go ahead and call it like it is, our darling little Belle has been nothing short of a puppy hog. Bless her little heart.. She has not wanted to share those puppy loves with Bryce or anyone else. When we made her give a turn she would pout and say we don’t think she’s a good puppy mommy and go cry in her room.

So I was pretty surprised, when as soon as we finished reading The Giving Manger, she looked up at me and over at Bryce and said “Here bubby, you can hold our puppy” and put her in his lap. I told her I was proud of her and handed her a piece of straw and she placed it in the manger.

Later, I asked Bryce if he wanted to help me put away laundry, which is usually Belle’s chore and he did. He also picked up trash so that daddy would come home from work to a clean house and be able to relax. I gave him a couple of pieces of straw to put in the manger. The next day I heard Belle singing the words “If you’re happy and you know it, Praise The Lord!” And teaching her puppy about the Joy we have in Jesus. Then later she selflessly gave mamaw her very last piece of her most favorite candy, along with kisses and a big hug. There are sure to be plenty of days where they will be more selfish and need more reminders to serve others, but this week they have earned quite a few pieces of straw for the manger and I’m so proud of their giving little hearts.

The Giving Manger is one of my most favorite Christmas traditions. It’s helping us shape our kids hearts in the most precious way, while having a fun and memorable tradition to share together as a family, every single year! I hope y’all enjoyed hearing about it and if you decide to order it for your family, to enjoy this Christmas, I know you will love it as much as we do!

Magnolia + Kilz Chalk Style Paint

I don’t think it’s any secret how much I LOVE Magnolia, so when I received a package of Magnolia Chalk Style Paint goodies from Joanna Gaines + Kilz, you can imagine, I was beyond thrilled! It completely made this Kentucky girl’s world!! Everything was all packaged so beautifully inside an amazing guest tray, created by a talented Waco artisan and filled with everything you could possibly need to successfully try their paint. I am so honored to try it out!

The quart of Chalk Style Paint was tinted in the shade – Shiplap and of course it’s my favorite color of all, in their line of beautiful paint colors! The swatches they sent were all amazing! There were tones for those who love neutrals and also for those who love bold color. Lots of beautiful blues and greens and even some pink and red hues. Any color you could dream of, they’ve thought of it. They were gorgeous! My personal favorites were the white palettes and the blue, gray + green palettes.

When I told you they included so many great details, did I mention they even included a signed copy of The Magnolia Story?! How cool is that!? I am a huge book worm and reading brings me so much joy in my life and I sure loved reading – The Magnolia Story. I loved turning the pages and hearing Chip and Joanna tell about their journey together from the start until now, driven by their faith. It was so inspiring and heartfelt and I will definitely cherish and keep this copy forever.

I used the Kilz paint opener provided to easily open the paint can. The color – Shiplap was a perfect, soft white.


If you follow me on Instagram, you probably feel like I’ve been talking about this post forever.. I had been searching for a small antique buffet to try my Magnolia paint for the first time, but.. I never found exactly what I was looking for and I didn’t want to keep you guys waiting any longer (plus I was super excited to try out all these goodies!). So, when I came across this nice and sturdy, old spindle chair at a junk store for $14 and I thought it would be perfect to try out my Magnolia Chalk Style Paint. If I ever do find that buffet I’ve been looking for I will be using Magnolia Chalk Style Paint on it too and I’ll be sure to post it as well.

• The only prep work I did was wiping the chair down with a damp rag and let it dry before painting.

• One of the first things I noticed when I started to brush on the paint, was that it went on extremely smooth and I only needed a little bit on my brush to go a very long way. The paint brushes gave a great smooth finish and were by far the best brushes I have ever used. I’ve never used any that compares to their performance. The handles are so comfortable and the bristles are such beautiful quality and they wash so well! I followed the directions on the package when I was finished painting and soap + water worked perfectly to get them nice and clean. I reshaped them, and used the loop they have at the end to hang them to dry. The next day they were good as new!

• The paint is a nice thick + smooth texture that you want in a good chalk paint, without being too thick to work with. One thing I did notice right away was how fast this paint dries. I actually prefer a quick drying paint so that I can work quickly and get a first coat finished and be able to add the second coat without waiting a day for it to dry.

• The chair needed only two coats to get the coverage I wanted and I still had over half the can left. The color – Shiplap is perfection! Ya’ll, I’m obsessed with this paint!

• I haven’t used a lot of dark wax in projects before, but I was excited to try it.  I put a little portion on a clean rag and worked it in small sections in the creases of the spindles and details on the chair so that they would be darker and have more depth.. Then immediately wiped off of the excess with the clean side of my rag.

• I used a sanding block to rough up the corners and places like the edges of the seat, that naturally wither away paint with aging to give it an authentic distress.

• The last step was applying the clear wax. It was so smooth and easy to use. I simply put a little on a another clean rag and worked it into the chair all over. It had a very clear,( not yellow at all ) matte finish.

I LOVED trying out the Magnolia Style Chalk Paint, brushes and waxes. There are so many different color options with this paint, it’s easy to use, dries quick, goes a long way and it gives a beautiful, matte finish. It’s the best chalk paint I’ve ever used. The brushes were great and I can tell with proper care, they will last a really long time. The waxes were very easy to use and left a great vintage style finish.

A huge thank you to Joanna Gaines, Kilz + Magnolia for this fun opportunity! I wish I could give them all a big hug for sending such a great package to Sweet Kentucky Holler!

Thanks for stopping by today, y’all!

– April