Sunday, December 10, 2017

Simple Christmas or Simply Me

Minimal decorating for Christmas was on tap for 2017.  I planned to do a tree and nothing more.  Let's face it, getting the tree from the basement is a pretty big deal.  Getting ornaments from the third floor is another big deal and requires more than one trip as did the tree itself.  So that's what I did.

I settled on black and gold as the theme for my silver tree this year.

That included the wrapping for presents too.

My grandsons got pretty excited when they saw all the wrapped presents until they were reminded that Grandma wraps empty boxes.

I felt good having my decorating finished early but then I realized I should probably take the bright orange and yellow leaves off the front door and replace them with something more seasonal. No big deal.

Reflections are always a problem when trying to photograph this door.

I tried one last time.  This time I got the radiator inside the house, the storm door I'm holding open, the mail carrier and the house across the street.  It will have to do. When I went out to take this picture, I noticed that this spot of color seemed a little lonely,

so I tossed a pink pillow on the swing and wrapped a little garland across the back of the swing. I have several strands of pink outdoor lights, but...that's where I draw the line.  Dealing with extension cords and getting the plugs inside the house for power is a pain.

Since I put the tree up before Thanksgiving, I had ample time to get re-energized.  Before I realized it I was thinking about what I could do to the mantel in the dining room.  I started pulling out more things tucked in that over sized closet on the third floor.

Empty boxes are always an economical start.

Some of these I had saved from previous years.

This is a tree I found at a yard sale some years ago.  I added lights to it this year.

I can't even remember how long I have had these poinsetta plants but I use them somewhere every year.

I did buy something new this year.  The votive light on the left came in a set of six.  I couldn't pass up the 20% off sale at Gringo Jones.  By mentioning them here, I am also included in a $50 gift certificate drawing.  Seemed like a win either way to me.

So there we have it.  The mantel is looking festive for the holidays.

I couldn't resist a little computer enhanced shot and one more package to balance things out.  Oops, I forgot to light the tree!

Because the buffet is on the opposite side of the dining room I wanted to add a little color there too.
I ripped these beautiful poinsettias from a $5 wreath I bought at St. Vincent de Paul. Can't beat the price.  You can't really tell here, but the ribbon is gold with the perfect shade of pink....a Hobby Lobby find this year at 50% off.

Because I kept finding things in that 3rd floor closet I just kept adding.  I stuck these ornaments into stemmed candlesticks.

OK, good enough.  I'm finished.

Except, I had pulled out some curly, silver sparkled spears for the mantel and then decided against them.  So instead of returning them to the closet, I stuck them into an arrangement I had in the kitchen window.

Then I knew I needed to add a couple touches around the kitchen to balance things out.

There are those votive lights from Gringo Jones again.

That's it.  Enough for the kitchen.  But what about the back porch.  I'm on a corner and almost everyone uses the side entrance to the back porch.

  I got the bright idea to do something I have been wanting to do for a few years.

Here is how it turned out and here is the process in a separate post.

Getting this done created some momentum and rather than slam on the brakes abruptly, I thought it best to do a little something to the mantel in the foyer as a way of slowing down gradually.

I wasn't thinking of Christmas when I purchased these hydrangeas earlier this year at JoAnn Fabrics.  I just liked them and knew they would come in handy sometime.

I wanted to attach them to the mirror for a wreath like effect, but making that happen seemed like a struggle I was willing to forego.

I'm showing this just so you know I restrained myself in this room.

I usually do a little something outside but I was beginning to run out of steam.

This niche on the side of the garage door just took a few minutes.

But then I needed to pull some color around the corner so I added a wreath to the side door. Remember that wreath I abused by pulling off the pink poinsettias?  It didn't sell at my last garage sale even though it was priced at $1.  So, I pulled it back into use and doctored it up for the door.

There are so many opportunities to decorate the exterior of the house and I do have some ideas.  There are still 15 days until Christmas but I better devote some time to shopping and wrapping real gifts.

Maybe next year I'll start a little earlier.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tree Skirt

Normally when you hear "tree skirt" you think of something that covers the base of the Christmas tree and offers a nice background for the presents,

something like this.  Another way to think of it is a project that has been on my back burner for a very long time.  It's one of those Pinterest ideas that caught my attention and actually hung in there.  Maybe because I have pinned a few pictures to a board dedicated to this very idea.

This is pretty glamorous, but the bodice on my form needs to be fully covered.

Love this one too and I might have been able to pull it off...but I didn't want to add the extra work of flocking the branches on my first try at this.

I'm a fan of bright colors but I ended up going for a more subdued look.

You can get more ideas from my Pinterest board labeled Dress Form.
  I have posted about my dress form before and you can see that post here.

This is how she has looked for way too long.  It was time to let the schoolmarm retire.

My plan was to use my old Christmas tree.  However, when I pulled it out of the box, I realized the aging process had continued while it was boxed and it went straight to the dumpster.  I thought this might be a good time to find one in the alley until it dawned on me that I had just put mine in the dumpster and digging in dumpsters in the hope of finding something better...well, probably not 
productive.  I checked St. Vincent de Paul, but theirs were still in working condition and priced accordingly.  Next I put out a call for a throwaway on the Community Facebook Page. Almost immediately I was offered one just a couple blocks from my house. (Thanks, Linda)

 At this point I had no idea how long it would take to convert this tree to a skirt.

Removing the branches from the trunk/pole was a bit of a job.  Two of the sections had branches held in by screws but the top had two branches connected by the twisted wire shown here.  They were held in by a piece of metal that had to be pried up enough to release the twisted wire.

Next came the hardest part of the job...removing the lights.  Even though they could be easily snipped with a scissors, they were wrapped, twisted, wrapped some more and then clipped twice to every little limb on each branch.  I thought a lot about how thorough, meticulous, and serious some Chinese worker was about his job.  Not once was there one clip instead of two!  

Not so bad, you say?  Consider this branch is only 15" long and has 12 lights with lots of wire between them. But, that's behind me now, and I will gratefully forget about it.

Here she is stripped down.  So what's it gonna be?  I like to make use of things I have on hand so I started there.

Using a tape measure to hold a few branches, I tried out some ideas.

It is already December so I don't have a ton of time to hit the resale shops and find something super cool.  I'll save that for next year.

For this year, the skirt will have to be the focal point.

Now, time to attach the chicken wire. FYI:  A tightly wrapped roll of wire tends to remain convinced it is meant to retain it's rolled shape, Pleading, threats, and cursing have very little effect on the wire.  

Two people would have made this part easier but that was not an option if I wanted to move this project along.

Thank goodness I did have a wire cutter and it worked beautifully.  Unfortunately I got a little overly enthusiastic and pinched the pad of my finger tip as I slammed them shut.  That resulted in an instant blood blister and a sensitive fingertip for the next couple hours.  (and probably a few more curse words)

Not the classiest job but it will all be covered.

Once the wire mesh was covered with greenery, I went back to the bodice.  I remembered a short fur cape I had seen at a shop close by and decided to splurge thinking the effect might be worth it.
I so wish I had taken a picture before I returned the fur piece, but just imagine a little shriveled up 90 year old still wearing the fur piece she wore in the 40's.  It was a lovely cape in a reddish brown that could have been great if it were made for this petite form.

I went back to trying a variety of decorative ornaments on the skirt and trying to decide just how many lights I should use.  As I mentioned, there is a deadline, so I'm pretty much committed to things I have on hand.

It still needed something in the area of the shoulders, but so far nothing is quite working.

I also wanted to add a touch of sparkly to the skirt but that had not presented itself either.

Overnight I got the bright idea to try a scarf and found this one at the bottom of the drawer.

Then I went looking for something coppery with a sparkle.  No luck at Hobby Lobby so I settled for some smaller ornaments in copper.

You know that feeling you get when things start to go downhill but you just can't put on the brakes?  I won't even show you what happened when I added a necklace to this mess.  I could feel the creativity draining out of me but I couldn't walk away from this.

There was a slight temptation to rip it all apart.

But, instead I started removing and stopped at this point.

I tried some computer effects on the photos....

...but that was not satisfying me either.

Because it was overcast and dreary, I decided to wait for a sunny day to decide what to do next.

One more trip to St. Vincent de Paul turned up absolutely nothing.  And then the obvious broke through just as the sun brightened up the skies.  (Maybe 10 hours sleep the night before cleared my brain.)

I took the few remaining pieces of greenery left from the disassembled Christmas tree and started arranging them over the shoulders of the dress form.

I had salvaged one string of working lights from the tree given to me by Linda, a neighbor who saw my request on Facebook.

Honestly this idea had flickered through my mind at the very beginning but I dismissed it as too predictable.  I thought for sure I could come up with something more dramatic.  Silly me!  Sometimes the best idea is the first one that comes to mind.

I published this post and then added one little thing so I just had to insert this picture.  The pearl clip  earring in the center of the corsage was the final detail.  I knew something was needed there but I had to take time to look through my "stuff."  And that's why I save things like one earring.  It's very satisfying, not to mention redeeming, to find just the thing needed for a project in my "It could come in handy someday."  stash.

This is a midday shot so I'll hold off for one taken at dusk before I post this.

At dusk.