Saturday, October 29, 2011

Making A Cone Tree

This year I am in need of some new sheet music decor to mix into my gold and silver color scheme.  I have seen these cone trees and decided to attempt to make my own using sheet music.  You can make your own using any type of paper medium that fits your decor.  Check back after the first of December to see my cone trees used in this year's Christmas decor.

Cone form (you can use styrofoam but I did the paper mache...they are much cheeper)
Hot glue gun & glue
Round object to curl your paper...I used the handle of a wooden spoon

I chose to glitter the bottom edge of my paper.  For that you'll also need white glue, glitter, a small brush and a paper plate.


1. Cut your paper into two inch strips

2. (Optional) Glitter the bottom edge of your paper.  The easiest way I found to do this was to pour  a puddle of white glue onto a paper plate.  I gently tapped the bottom edge of my paper strip into the glue.

3. I dumped a pile of glitter into a paper box lid.  I took my glued piece and tapped (sometime dragged) in through the glitter.  Applying the glue and glitter this way gave a fairly even amount of glitter along the edge.

4. Set the strips aside to dry.

5. After the strips are dry, roll them horizontally around a round object to curl them a little.

6. Cut horizontal fringe into the strip of paper.  Cut them about one inch high.

7. Using a hot glue gun begin applying the strips around the cone.  Start at the bottom and work your way up.  I glue in one to two in sections.  this allowed me to fold and tuck the top of the strip to keep the paper going evening around the top.  Once you get going you'll get into a groove and it becomes fairly easy. 

8. Be creative when you get to the very top.  Wrap it in a similiar fashion, trimming and gluing it as needed to cover the entire cone structure. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Featured CD - Jim Brickman

One of my all time favorite instrumentalists is Jim Brickman.  You will often find his music playing in my home, at my desk, in the car.  His non-seasonal CD's are enjoyable when I need a calm atmosphere.  His beautiful music has a way of hitting your soul and bringing about peace.  His holidays albums are no exception.  The first (and most favorite) Christmas CD I ever purchased was THE GIFT.  It is an amazing collection of holiday music.  It is definetely a CD you should add to your collection.

Another great Christmas album that Jim released in 2003 is called PEACE.  It is also in the same stylings as all of his other albums and is extremely pleasing to listen to.  This one also  gets high ratings in my book.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm In Pumpkin Heaven

I got a call from my mother yesterday to tell me that she had run across something that she was sure I'd be excited to try.  PUMPKIN SPICE TEA by Bigelow!  Notice that I used all caps to express my excitement over her special find.  Ha ha!

You see, I like almost anything pumpkin.  It screams the holidays for me (more than just Thanksgiving).  This tea is fantastic.  I must admit that my enjoyment level with this amazing tea has been slightly diminished because of a recent diet that has me using a sugar substitute.  In my opinion, there is nothing that replaces the use of real sugar in hot tea, but...I'm being good and enjoying it with Stevia instead.

If you love pumpkin and hot tea then this tea is for you.  My mom purchased it from her local IGA.  You can buy in bulk from the Bigelow website.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Give Old Parts New Life

It is fairly common for holiday decor to wear out or end up with missing pieces.  Maybe you've got an artificial tree that has too many missing branches to use any longer.  Try to re-purpose some of those stray parts outdoors to spruce up your yard.  It's a great way to prolong the life of your decor without spending money on something that will likely take a beating from the elements. 

I transition the things in my yard with the seasons.  I start to imagine what kind of holiday touches I can add to my yard as I begin putting away all the summer and fall items.  I like to swag old garlands from the arbor or along my fence and hang wreaths from old window panes. 

Place an old wreath into a birdbath.

Remember that tree that was missing branches?  Those branches are perfect for sticking into window boxes and planters.  Simply fluff them up and position them into the dirt. 

Add pine branches to a wooden box or bucket

You can also take a few different sized branches and create your own pine sprays.   Here's how I created one for my fence piece.

1.  Fluff three branches (2 long and one short) with the back side remaing flat.

2. Interlock the two larger branches together, side by side.  Hold them together by twisting a few of the branches from each piece with the other.

3. Interlock the smaller piece in the opposite direction, covering the exposed wire ends of the two longer pieces.

4. Manipulate the branches as needed on the back to hold the exposed wire ends into place and conceal them from the front. 

5. Attach a piece of wire from behind to aid in hanging the spray.

6. Hang your spray and decorate it how you wish.  I'll add bows and lights to this later.

Here are some images of my yard in the Fall.  Check back later to see the transformation for Christmas.

Color Inspiration - Silver & Gold

I'm known for trying any color combination known to man...except some of the most common.  After much consideration (which means I've already planned on and then changed my mind a few times) I have decided to put gold and silver together.  These two look very good together and I'm not sure why it's taken me all of these years to finally put them together on the same tree. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cricut Expression...My New Best Friend

I always make a small amount of items each year as I plan to decorate but for some reason this year I am making a lot of things.  I had already begun working on some of my handmade things when I got the life changing email from Joann Fabrics (which is an amazing email list to be on because of the great coupons you can get...go sign up

This particular email was advertising the CRICUT EXPRESSION machine.  I have seen these machines before but never really given much thought to them.  For some reason I noticed this ad and began investigating.  I did lots of research online and even made several trips to Joann's with the intent of buying the machine...always talking myself out of it each time.

The sale price was pretty decent but I kept going back and forth on whether or not it was an investment I wanted to make.  I was standing in the store while on my 4th or 5th visit, talking to my mother on the phone.  She finally said, You had better just get it now if you want it that bad.  You know you'll come back and it will be gone and then you'll really be disappointed."  So...I bought it.

This machine has changed my life.  Not only do I dispise cutting out piece after piece with scissors, I am not the most precise cutter in the world.  The outcome is always a little crooked or lopsided.  This machine was worth every penny...even if I only used it when it came time for me to create for Christmas.

Here are some of the details posted on Joann Fabrics website about the CRICUT EXPRESSION

An exciting way to cut letters, shapes, and phrases in impressive sizes using the 12" x 24" mat or the 12" x 12" mat. The possibilities are endless with this larger machine, allowing you to create bigger die cuts for classroom decor, scrapbook layouts, signage, and so much more.

    • Mix and match creative features in the same cut
    • Use the entire library of existing Cricut cartridges
    • Cut portrait or landscape
    • Includes 1 mat: 12''x12''
    • Includes 2 cartridges: Plantin SchoolBook Font Cartridge & Accent Essentials Shape Sampler Cartridge
    • No computer necessary
    • Change settings such as language and units of measure
    • New LCD screen that shows exactly what you're typing for your next cut.

If you are a scrapbooker or make as many things as I do, this machine is something you should consider purchasing.  So far I have cut to my little heart out...making ornaments and even embelishing the outside of a care package.  Here are a few pics of some of the things I have created using this cutting maching from heaven.  LOL

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Legends of the Christmas Tree

Here are some of the interesting legends of the Christmas tree.

Many legends exist about the origin of the Christmas tree. One is the story of Saint Boniface, an English monk who organized the Christian Church in France and Germany. One day, as he traveled about, he came upon a group of pagans gathered around a great oak tree about to sacrifice a child to the god Thor. To stop the sacrifice and save the child's life Boniface felled the tree with one mighty blow of his fist. In its place grew a small fir tree. The saint told the pagan worshipers that the tiny fir was the Tree of Life and stood the eternal life of Christ.

Another legend holds that Martin Luther, a founder of the Protestant faith, was walking through the forest one Christmas Eve. As he walked he was awed by the beauty of millions of stars glimmering through the branches of the evergreen trees. So taken was he by this beautiful sight that he cut a small tree and took it home to his family. To recreate that same starlight beauty he saw in the wood, he placed candles on all its branches.

Yet another legend tells of a poor woodsman who long ago met a lost and hungry child on Christmas Eve. Though very poor himself, the woodsman gave the child food and shelter for the night. The woodsman woke the next morning to find a beautiful glittering tree outside his door. The hungry child was really the Christ Child in disguise. He created the tree to reward the good man for his charity.

Others feel the origin of the Christmas tree may be the "Paradise Play." In medieval times most people could not read and plays were used to teach the lessons of the bible all over Europe. The Paradise Play, which showed the creation of man and the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden was performed every year on December 24th. The play was performed in winter creating a slight problem. An apple tree was needed but apple trees do not bare fruit in winter so a substitution was made. Evergreens were hung with apples and used instead.

Another story comes from Germany about spiders and Christmas trees. Long ago families allowed their animals to come inside and view the Christmas trees on Christmas Eve. Because the Christ Child was born in a stable, they felt that the animals should take part in the Christmas celebration. But spiders weren’t allowed because housewives didn't want cobwebs all over everything. of course the spiders were unhappy about this, so one year they complained to the Christ Child. He felt sorry for them and decided that late at night He would let them in to see the trees. The excited spiders loved the Christmas trees and all night long they crawled about in the branches, leaving them covered with webs. On Christmas morning the housewives saw what the spiders had done. But instead of being angry, they were delighted. For in the night the Christ Child had turned all of the cobwebs into sparkling tinsel. And even today, tinsel is often used to decorate Christmas trees to add that same sparkle the Christ Child gave the cobwebs long ago, in Germany.

Information listed obtained from The Holiday Spot

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hand-Stamped Ribbon

Creating your own hand-stamped ribbon is the perfect way to add a coordinated touch to your decor plans when you can't find exactly what you're looking for.  There are very little limits to your stamping choices with all of the rubber stamp resources today.  Check your local craft store and then online.  I always start my searches on eBay and then move to Yahoo and Google when I have no luck there.  If you still can't find what you like, create your own image or print and take it to your local office supply store.  They can turn your print into a rubber stamp.

The best fabric to use when making your ribbon is muslin.  You can get unbleach and bleached virtually anywhere that sells fabric.  If you'd like color options, I'd suggest either trying another fabric or dying the muslin.

Please note that it's best to find a permanent ink pad.  Non-permanent ink will smear and rub off onto your hands when you're handling the ribbon.  Give the ink plenty of time to dry before handling.  It may be wise to press the ribbon between a cloth with a warm iron to help the ink set in completely.  Be careful to use something in between the ribbon and your iron to protect the iron from becoming stained.

Muslin (I selected unbleached for this project)
Ink pad (permanent)
Rubber stamps


1. Determine how wide you want your ribbon to be.  Mark the width of your ribbon along the cut edge of your muslin with a pencil.  Then take your scissors and score those marks.  You only need to cut about 1/4 to a 1/2 and inch in.

2. Take your fabric and tear it at each scored spot.  The fabric is made in such a way that you should get a straight, fairly clean tear clear to the end of your piece.  You will notice that the fabric will pucker up in a few places...that's completely ok.

3. There will be some stray pieces of thread hanging from each strip.  Gently pull them away from the fabric.  This will cause the edges and ends to fray, giving you the primitive/handmade look.

4. Lay down a protective barrier to keep your surface safe while stamping.  Lay down a strip of your ribbon and begin stamping.  Technique and placement is completely up to you.  I chose a french script stamp for this particular ribbon.  I was careful to only make my fabric strip as wide as my stamp so that I had the option of being able to print across and fill the whole piece.  I staggered my stamping to add depth and variety.  I also knew I was planning to go in and fill with a second stamp.

5. I went back in with a second stamp onto my ribbon.  I used black but you could also choose to print with a different color if you know what colors will coordinate with the other items the ribbon will be paired with.

I plan to make this ribbon with a variety of different stamps.  I'm waiting for a stamp of music manuscript to arrive from eBay.  I'll be sure to post those pics once I've made it.

Krinkles by Patience Brewster

I typically always keep my holiday decor schemes fairly formal and cohesive.  You won't ever see me filling a tree full of snowmen or sock monkey ornaments.  I do however have a huge love for a line of seasonal decor called Krinkles.  They are my all time favorite and something that I'm always happy to splurge on.

The Krinkles collection by Patience Brewster is brimming with wit and imagination and filled with quirky and endearing characters. The collection includes stockings, ornaments, figures, table top, and more including the new nativity Collection. Krinkles are guaranteed to charm and delight all.

Patience Brewster got her start as a children's book illustrator.  She then branched out with her artwork with a line of greeting cards.  She was discovered by Department 56 who took her illustrations and created Krinkles by Patience Brewster.  This line included little people dressed as Christmas icons as well as animals dressed for the holiday.  A well known feature on all the pieces were their fancy little shoes.

I first discovered Christmas Krinkles when I was hired to work in the Trim-A-Home department for Bergners.  That year Department 56 had produced a full sized Krinkles display tree.  The base of that tree was supported by four red high heel shoes.  I was hooked from that moment and bought the tree.
The rest is history.  I've been decorating with Krinkles ever since.  I will randomly feature some of my favorite pieces from Patience Brewster.  I'll also show you how I incorporate them into my holiday decorating.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Featured CD - Joy by Avalon

Another one of my all time favorite Chrsitmas CD's is from a group called Avalon.  The album is titled JOY and has some pretty amazing music.  My favorite on the album is track #2 - Angels Medley. 

The CD can be purchased from several different outlets.  I've included the link to purchase at Amazon.  Go check out the samples.  You can purchase the actual CD or download all or part as MP3 files.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christmas Planning Schedule

Here's a basic layout of what it's like to plan Christmas...Donnie style.

Dece3mber 26th-31st
I like to go through and see what’s been clearanced right after Christmas but I’m very careful about what I buy.  I only buy the things that I really like…assuming that they won’t be on the shelf long once the discount goes higher than 50%.  I pass on anything that I can live without in hopes that it will still be laying around when the discount is really good.

January 1st- Mid February
I will randomly pop into stores around town and check out what’s left on the shelves.  I’m always amazed at some of the great things still left even after going 80% off or higher. I have purchased pieces and parts to whole collections at just $1.00 to $1.75 a box.  If you’re going to buy the ornaments then you might as well buy any coordinating ribbons, picks, wreaths, etc.  Even boxes of plain glass ball ornaments for $0.30 a piece will come in handy next year when you have a glass vase or bowl to fill.

August is the month that I start making trips up to the attic and dig through the boxes and bags of things I purchased on clearance.  I start sorting a little by color and seeing exactly what new things I have to work with.  This is usually when the wheels in my head start turning and I begin formulating a plan for each room.
Hobby Lobby begins putting out Christmas around this time.  It’s a great time to stroll through the isles and get inspired.  Their ornament isles are perfect for inspiration because they color coordinate their grids.  You can view things hanging there together while imagining them paired with things that you already own.  Or better yet…maybe it will inspire you to add a new color or go a whole new route with your color choices.

This is the month when I really start planning.  I will often grab random ornaments from storage and group them together to see how they look with one another.  I don’t ever do the exact same thing two years in a row so I often mix new colors together to give me something fresh and different.  Of course I’ve already cruised the isles of heaven (aka Hobby Lobby) and have made a list of the things I know that I have to buy to.
I start making lists for each room, outlining things such as color scheme, theme, which tree and where it will go.  I will even sketch out specific things that I want to be sure and remember.

I begin working on any handmade elements in October.  Unintentionally I usually have one basic item that I pick and make most of that year's things out of.  It can be anything like beads, scrapbooking paper, feathers, painted and glittered glass, etc..  This year I’m making lots out of pages from a vintage book and hymnal.

November – The real magic begins now…LOL
I always begin setting up Christmas on November 1st.  I know that this sounds horribly early to most but I have very good reason.  I host a yearly Christmas Open House so that friends and family can come view the holiday grandeur.  It is nearly always held on the first weekend in December so that it doesn’t cut into all of the other festivities that keep people occupied during the month. 

Thanksgiving weekend is usually pretty intense considering I put up at least six trees and decorate every bare surface in the house.  After every last inch has been decorated  it’s time to scrub the house down to remove all piles of glitter and artificial tree needles.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin Fluff

Some people may think of pumpkin desserts as being just a fall item.  Maybe I'm wrong but I associate it with the entire holiday season.  This is likely because my Aunt Devra always made pumpkin pie for the big family Chrsitmas at my grandma's every year.
That being said, I have found the most amazing receipe for Pumpkin Fluff.  This is sure to be a hit for any lover of pumpkin desserts at your holiday get togethers.

1 cool whip (16oz)
1 can of pumpkin (15oz)
1 box of instant vanilla pudding (5oz)
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.

Simply mix all the listed ingredients together and serve.  You can provide several things for dipping but the best would of course be graham crackers.

Get creative and use a real pumpkin as a serving bowl.  Cut off the top, clean out the inside and fill it with the fluff.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Use Words With Your Theme

Sometimes it's fun to tie a specific word into your decor plans.  One of my favorites to use is BELIEVE.  There are many ways to incorporate your word of choice into your design.  This particular example utilizes paper mache letters that can be purchased from a craft supply store.  This is a great item to use that allows you to personalize them however you'd like.  The pieces typcially come in a plain brown kraft paper finish.  You add the personal touch to it to make it fit the design scheme your after.

Most of the time I'll paint my paper mache pieces with a simple acrylic paint.  It usually takes me two coats to get a nice, even coverage. 

Of course most things I make aren't complete without having some glitter added to give it that Christmas sparkle.  This is one application when I use my simply glittering method.  Forget dragging out the messing glue and glitter.  I use the spray on hair glitter that I purchase on sale after Halloween and give each letter an even spray.  Let it dry and your letters are all set.

I've got plans to incorporate a few more words this year.  Here are a few other words to consider.

Joy  ~ Peace ~ Ho Ho Ho ~ Noel ~ Jolly ~ Merry ~ Yuletide ~ Comfort ~ Tidings ~ Wonderland

Friday, October 7, 2011

Simple Wreath Making

Making your own wreath is very simple but something so many never attempt on their own.  There are so many choices at your local craft store when it comes to picking out exactly what you'd like to have on your wreath. 

While shopping with a friend last night she mentioned that she wanted a fall wreath for her front door but really disliked the ones that were full of stuff like leaves and sunflowers.  I talked her into making her own (which turned into me taking it home and making it for her) so she could get exactly what she was looking for.  This is not a Christmas wreath but the steps to make it are similair to how I decorate my holiday wreaths.

This particular wreath was really easy to make, required very few pieces and best of all...cost about $14. 

Here's all that we purchased to make this great wreath.

1 grapevine wreath
2 fall berry sprays
1 wine colored bush of some feathered plant
1 plastic pumpkin pick

I also needed a little bit of wire along with a pair of needlenose pliers to cut wires and bend stems.


1. Start layering your pieces from bottom to top (what you want to appear on top of what), outside in to the center.  I wanted the berries in the background as filler and something that just extended out past the ends of the arrangments so I put one spray on each end where I wanted the arrangment to end.

2. Next I took the wine colored feathered bush and seperated each stem with wire cutters.  Then I begin layering them on top of the berries but still placing them in towards the center of the area I was decorating.  Be careful not to put your pieces in so that that each side is a mirrored image of the other.  Add some visual interest by throwing off the balance of things a little.

3. The final touch for this particular wreath was the pumpkin in the center of the arrangement.  I was careful at the beginning to lay out my pieces and eye exactly how much room I had to work with to fill the area adequately. 

I used a little wire here and there to anchor things down since I knew that this wreath was going to make it on to someone's front door.  I don't want any of these pieces blowing away in the wind.  Maybe I'll get a pic to share once Melissa's gets it hung.