Tag Archives: Holiday Decorations

Upcycled Christmas Tree and DIY Ribbon Garland

I really don’t like Christmas. I like the idea of it, or the “ideal” of it. Giving someone a thoughtful gift, something you put your heart into, something you worked for that was completely for someone else. Spending time together, actually having time to sit and relax, talk and play.

Unfortunately, that ideal has been slipping from my family for a little while. Since we already greened up and minimized Easter, we figured we could do the same to Christmas.

Starting with the tree. I had many ideas…

At first I wanted to build a wood tree, but our lack of resources, experience, and power tools, made me decide against it.

Next I thought a cardboard tree would work nicely. Though it would mean cutting over 260 strips of cardboard. The husband nixed this one.

Then there was lost of brainstorming as a family, we needed something large and possibly triangular, that we could rig up to be a Christmas tree for the month of December.

We came up with this…

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Our play tepee from the warmer seasons! This thing is awesome! My mom and I had made it for the snug a couple of years ago, we went to thrift shops for queen size sheets and used the Butterick pattern B4251. Be warned, it is huge, it has a diameter of 72 inches and has a center height of around 55 inches! The structure is super unfriendly PVC pipes, but they were lighter than wood. The pipes/frame is what we used for our tree.

IMG_6964TA-DA!!! IT’S A CHRISTMAS TREE-PEE!! (mind the blur). Without the fabric siding we had to drill extra holes in the middle and near the bottom of the pipes, to string ribbon and braided yarn through for support. We made it a little wider than it usually is due to the light fixture. Then we decorated.

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Tinsel, a ribbon garland, strings of ornaments and, later, a feather boa.

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What else do you need?

The best part. The few gifts we do give can go inside of the tree-pee and we can have tea parties in there until Christmas.

Also, it cost nothing. And we already had everything for it.

The ribbon garland we made, it took about 20 minutes max.

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Take a hot glue gun and a variety of ribbon cut into 7 inch strips. Any width and type will do for the ribbon, though you might want to avoid anything smaller than 1/4 inch, as it is hard to glue.

IMG_6954Then make a ribbon chain. Same way you make a paper chain, only with hot glue and ribbon, instead of a glue stick and paper.

The snug was thrilled with this project. I let her pick out the ribbon order, which adds to the fun and time.

I really have never, ever been this excited about a Christmas tree.

Happy Christmas!

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Natural Easter Egg Dye 2012

Last year, 2011, we dyed our eggs from scratch. Vinegar, water and either veges or herbs were used (see end of post for pictures)! I loved it! While I took a few pictures I kept records of the dyeing process. Then last May we moved. Everything got packed up, including my records. Jump to this April, 2012. It is almost Easter and we are moving again and I am not very willing to go on a hunt for my records or spend a ton or any time dyeing eggs, especially when my daughter no longer likes to eat eggs in any form. Enter my mom who loves holidays.

By the way, I forgot to mention, my mom crocheted Snug the cutest Easter basket. The pattern is from Country Woman and is pretty easily done with scrap fabric.

Anyway, on with the story…..

She definitely wants to dye eggs with Snug because this is basically their first Easter together. Enter me, again, who is against all artificial Easter Egg dyes. Enter Build-A-Bear who was handing out Easter egg dye kits, for free, the day we went to get our bear replaced. What a mess.

So while at whole foods one day with my mom, looking for things for Easter dinner, she brings up getting a dye set from there. Genius. I go and ask, after some hunting all around the store, the super helpful workers find one, ONE, last dye kit. Thank goodness!!! Whole Foods saves the day!!!!

Here is the dye kit we used this year.

Any idea what it might be called?? I believe it is nawara. Though I am not entirely sure. However it had directions in at least eight languages. Which is awesome.

There are five different colors. Red, orange, yellow, green and purple. Each color pack dyes 5-7 eggs. That is a lot of eggs, so we just decided to use two packets.

Snug decided on green and purple. So 10 eggs in total.

Take three cups of water. There is water in the measuring cup.

Pour the color granules in and stir.

By the way, here is what the color granules look like. Those small dots on the counter.

Once you are done stirring the granules in, drop in the eggs (uncooked), or place them. Placing is preferable. Snug did a big drop for a couple of them and broke one. No worries though.

Put the pot on the stove and let the water mixture boil and reduce.The directions say the exact time.

Do the same with the green.

This is how the purple looks after it is all done on the stove.

The green.

Here they are all done. One of our purple eggs broke and one of the meant to be purple eggs didn’t take the dye.

Green inside.

Green outside.

Purple inside.

Purple outside.

Here is the purple egg that didn’t take the dye. It did end up a little speckled though and the eggland’s best symbol boiled off. I never knew that happened.

This egg dye kit was okay. The colors aren’t too bad. Pretty dark in fact. It is a very easy kit and definitely a good option. Though, I do prefer the way we did it last year.

You boiled the eggs separately and the dye separately and then left them to soak together for a while. Here are some pictures from last year.

We used, vinegar, beets, Welch’s grape juice, cabbage and turmeric.

The cabbage, beets and grape juice all looked the same. (Did you notice the glasses in the background, Crystal week was taking place!!)

However, once they were all done they looked completely different. From left to right we have red cabbage (the eggs turned blue!), grape juice, turmeric and beets at the end on the right. Snug enjoyed the 2011 version of egg dying better than this year.

I think next year we will just do it our old way, it gives you more control over how much dye you want and how many eggs you want to dye and it is easier to do a nice variety and without having to use tons of eggs.

More experimenting is necessary though. I don’ think I will ever be able to find a natural dye that is as potent and quick as the artificial ones, but we will keep playing around and our eggs will get prettier every year!

Happy dyeing!

Felt Tree.

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Oh wait…that’s right the holiday season is over…hmm. Well so is this project, how convenient.

I wanted to try really hard and hold off posting this project until next November, but I can’t do that, I need to abolish as many free radicals as I can, this blog post being one of them. However, this tree can be modified and used in many different ways. It could be a thankful tree for Thanksgiving, a countdown to spring tree, a days of the month tree, a goal tree, anything really, options limitless.

This project is a lot of fun and a lot of work. Fair warning. Here is a picture of the completed project, I made it a little too big, I was making it up as I went, winging it, measuring for potential, going for…well you get the idea.

Here is what you will need for this project:

Lots and lots of felt in many different colors, lots of the small 8 x 11 rectangle sheets and one yard each of two different colors of big felt, (we got two yards each, but really you only need one), tacky glue, needle, sewing floss in any color, scissors, velcro (only the super stick side), sharpie and some patience.

1. Lay out the background color or big felt. The measurements should be around 70 inches by 36 inches. A big rectangle. Adjust and cut down to the size you prefer. (Mistake time! I really would have done half the above size. I just kept it at a yard, but I think a half yard by 36 inches would have been better.)

2. Lay out your tree color and cut it the same size or slightly smaller than the size of your background color.

This is a picture of our tree color uncut, so monstrous, I apologize for lack of measurements, but this is 2 yards of 70+ inch wide felt. We just cut it down that line in the center. Our ending size was around 72 inches by 36 inches.

3. Using your best drawing skills, free hand what you think a tree might look like. Unless you have any art talent, unlike me, I find it is best to just jump in the deep end and start swimming. In other words, even if you have absolutely no idea what you are doing, like me, it is okay to just do it. Have faith and confidence that it will look like a tree and it will.

4. Get your little helper and start cutting!

5. Lay out your tree on top of your background and adjust as needed. This may mean trimming some branches.

6. Start gluing down the tree. You may glue down more than I did, I only glued slightly because of the next, optional step.

7. Pin the tree. (optional).

8. Sew the tree down to the felt. (optional). (You can do this if you have a sewing machine, but more glue would work just fine too).

9. Once the tree is firmly set on the background, roll it up and set it aside.

10. Go to the internets! Hello internets!!! Tell it you need leaves. I would look for leaf coloring pages and cut and paste as needed and print them off, to a good size that would work for your tree. We used five different varieties.

11. Get your little snug bug and let her cut away! It is cowgirl cuttin’ time!

12. Lay out your leaves onto a piece of felt and trace over them. The tracing works best with a sharpie.

13. Take a second piece of felt and flip the leaves over and trace them. You want the leaves to be able to sandwich together with the sharpie part on the inside.

Of course try to fit as many leaves as you can onto the felt. We did a bunch of sheets with only five leaves and then I figured out how to put six on there. It made me happy. We had a lot of leaves to cut out.

14. Repeat steps 12 and 13 until you have as many leaves as you need. We needed 31, one for each day of November.

15. Cut out numbers, however many you need, again we needed 1-31 and glue them onto the leaves. You can trace or write or free hand cut the numbers. I did free hand and they turned out fine.

16. Take a small square of velcro and glue it on the back of the leaf. Glue should work just fine, I sewed mine, I have no idea why I sewed 31 little squares onto leaves. I confuse even myself on the best days.

17. Now you have a happy little leaf ready to be put together.

18. (optional) Take some colored floss, sewing not dental, and a needle and add some pretty stitches around the numbers. It in no way helps the function of the product, it just enhances it and makes it look pretty.

19. Adhere the two sides of the leaf together. You can use glue again, or a sewing machine, or if you have time and talent you can use more floss and stitch the sides.

19-2. Mistake Time!! When sewing the two sides together, you should double-check to make sure the velcro is on the outside of the leaf.

(side note: my nails are black and white striped because I had just read Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, it is amazing! I loved every minute of that book).

20. Once your leaf pocket is complete you can put a little note or treat or whatever into it. This is our first note of thanks, Snug had been thinking about it for days and this is what she came up with; “Snug is thankful for her skeleton pajamas and slippers.”

I worried for a couple of days about her placing so much importance on items, but her thankful notes got better or more significant as the leaves wore on. Not that skeleton pajamas aren’t pretty cool or something we shouldn’t be thankful for, I was just trying to get her to see a bigger picture.

21. Go ahead and stick that leaf on the tree!

It looks wonderful and stays very well, thanks to the velcro.

22. Repeat steps, 15 through 20 until you have all the leaves you need. If at one point your table looks like this, you are going great!

Or so you think. In you mass assembly of leaves don’t make my mistake, one of these is supposed to be 19. The one on the right to be exact. I have no idea how this happened and I didn’t even realize it until I was already done stitching another 6. Whoops. Let’s see if we can fix this.

Nope, there is no fixing that. Maybe next year.

Snug had a wonderful time putting the leaves on the tree.

You could do them in number order or by color, by leave shape, by even numbers, by thankful category. Again and as always the options are fairly limitless.

23. Once you are done categorizing your leaves, take a strip of felt any color. Snug chose bright green. You can glue this, but depending on the weight of your tree with all the leaves, I would/did sew it. We did three tag type hooks. However, you could do more and get a wooden dowel to hang the tags on. That would be nice.

Here is a view of the back.

24. Hang and admire!

The end.

Lightbulb Ornaments; Decoupage!

Recently, as in the past couple of months, I have been saving burnt out light bulbs, not the fancy LED swirl ones, but the older bulb ones. I had no idea what I was saving them for, but I knew I would figure it out.

Eventually, a couple of weeks ago, I did. I was stumbling around on the internet and came across decoupaging, again. I have wanted to decoupage about ten times, but never got the chance or the right surface. After going to a couple of craft fairs, buying a decoupaged tray and seeing lots of lightbulb ornaments, I figured I would try to mesh the idea for myself.

It worked great!!! I hope you can try it, they turn out really very neat.

Though they are only for decoration, given they are burnt out, I wouldn’t try doing this with ones that you would still light up.

Here are the things you will need… Lightbulbs that are burnt out and cleaned, water and a little soap on a dishcloth will do great, do not immerse them in water, just wipe clean. Scissors, some string, any kind will do…

You will need a decoupage medium and brushes, we used foam ones. We did Mod Podge for our medium and it worked great! On the left is the gloss kind, leaves a nice glossy look and on the right is the glitter infused sparkle.

Now you will need images to decoupage. This gets a little tricky, there are rules. The image of your choosing needs to be something printed. So Magazines, music, books, scrapbook paper, etc. It cannot be anything from a newspaper or inkjet printer, the ink will smear all over your surface.

Take some string and tie it around the top of the bulb. Just one little knot will hold it fine, leave lots of excess string so you can hang the bulbs up to dry.

Cut out your image with the scissors or an exacto knife to the shape and size you want them. My Mistake! The more images the better, so cut out a lot of them! I kept having to go back and cut some more out, which makes for a very long process.

Now start putting the images onto your surface, we used the regular gloss Mod Podge for this. You have two options for adhering your images onto the lightbulb or onto your surface. You can paint the medium on the back of the image OR

You can put the medium on the surface and then stick the pictures. For the Mickey Mouse we put the medium on the back, but for the music, we put it on the lightbulb. It just depends on the thickness of the paper and how well it will stay itself. If your image paper is thin, then put the medium on the surface of what you are decoupaging. If it is thicker paper, put it on the back of the image.

Now press the images on however you like. Overlapping is key.

If you can’t get the images to flatten on their own, you can use a popsicle stick or the blunt side of a butter knife.

Like so! Smooth them down. Also if the image is big, start from the center and press out.

Keep covering until the entire surface is covered, or about as much as you want is covered. We left lots of open spaces on the mickey mouse bulb, Snug didn’t want the pictures to overlap, she wanted to be able to see everyone.

Once you are all done covering the bulbs with images, let them hang to dry. I tied ours onto a hanger. You want the medium to dry completely before you put on anymore. This doesn’t take long, 15 minutes or less.

Now you have to seal and protect your images, so take the decoupaged bulb and the medium and cover the whole thing.

It should look like this, when wet, it will dry clear and hard. For the Mickey bulb we used the sparkle Mod Podge.

For the music we used the gloss.

Back on the hanger they go to dry! It will take a little longer for these to dry, probably around an hour or so. You will be able to tell when they are dry, by looking at them.

After they are dry, put another layer of the medium on them. You can put another layer after the second layer, if necessary, you want all your images covered and sealed. If you have corners or edges that are still sticking up, you will want to put more medium on them, press them down and seal them again.

Here is Mickey all nice and sealed.

And the music!

To make them into ornaments, we added some ribbon around the top. For this part, you will need ribbon and hot glue or strong glue.

We took a good length of ribbon and wrapped it around the ‘screw in part’ a couple of times. We tied a couple of knots in the back and hot glued the knots. With the strings from the knots we tied them up at the top to make the string for the ornament to hang. Then we got a separate piece of ribbon and tied a bow, which we hot glued onto the front of the ornament.

There is a picture of how we tied them off in the back.

We are giving the music ones away as gifts and the mickey one is for Snug.

This was a very fun project, Snug and I had a great time! I have gone on to decoupage other glass ornaments for a fundraiser. In fact I have two more to do today, though I am really anxious to try decoupaging on a flat surface. Last tip for decoupaging on something round, the smaller the picture the flatter it will be.

Happy Decoupaging!