Let the Fa La La-ing begin!

I think I may be responsible for the killing of an elf, today. Our son told his wife that Santa has to kill an elf for every day that we start putting up our Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Sounds to me like a slacker trying to get out of putting up lights, but I’m not sure.

I usually do wait until after Christmas because I like to give Thanksgiving its due, but I’m not cooking or hosting this year, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close together, I decided it was the right thing to do. I’ll stop short of Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day, but I saw this cute idea that begged me to try it, and then that led to something else and another something, and, well, you know!

It started with an ordinary strand of twinkle lights. And ended like this:

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There is no way to capture the ambiance this little garland has created. I tried different lightings and flash settings, tried my phone camera, and my BFF even tried with hers. You just have to take my word for it.

It was a very simple, but somewhat time consuming project. It’s one you can start, put down for a bit and come back to…unless you are impatient like I am. Here’s the step-by-step DIY.

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1. Decide the tone or colors you want to use, gather fabric odds and ends and/or ribbon.

2. Cut fabric into strips. Mine were 5 to 6 inches. You do not need to measure, especially if you are going for the shabby look. The number of strips depends upon the length of your light strand and your personal preference about how you want it to look. This fabric is the only thing I purchased. I liked the color combo to go with the green tones in my dining room. To that I added some green ribbon I had already purchased for another project, some white I had cut off an old sheer curtain, some off white rayon scraps, and a few odds and ends.

3. Stretch the string of lights out on the floor and begin tying the strands of fabric between the lights. I tied all the fabric pictured first, spacing out the color

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Next, I added the ribbon ties, and finally, I added the other tones of white and off white in between those.

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4. Drape your garland any way you wish. I tied mine to the curtain rod using some of the fabric strands.

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These shabby lighted garlands would look great on a mantel, over a door, mixed with greenery, or even on your Christmas tree.

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I’m sorry about the elf, but I sure am enjoying these lights. And, no, I did not put up the tree, but I got a good start on the mantel. When I finish, I’ll share a few tricks you may or may not know about putting together your mantel decor…but I’ll wait until AFTER Thanksgiving Day. Be thankful!

 

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Upcycled

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I know. You are wondering what this bright yellow-green tennis ball is doing in the middle of all these pumpkins, right? Well, at an antique shop the other day, I saw some pumpkins made from an old chenille bedspread. I thought an old sweater would work just as well, and I was pondering what to use as a form. I walked to the garage, and lo and behold, there was a tennis ball hanging down on a piece of fishing line. Saint put it there so I’d Know when to stop my car…to keep from running into the house, I suppose. No, it lets me know when my car has cleared the electric eye on the garage door, actually. Anyway, I asked if he had any more old tennis balls. I knew they’d be old since we haven’t played in months years a while. He found ONE! I also spotted some quilt batting, or pillow stuffing, depending upon the project. I cut out a circle that would completely encompass the tennis ball. I used both Tacky Glue and hot glue for this project, starting with Tacky, which I squeezed onto the tennis ball, pulling up the batting around it and patting it all down smoothly.

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Next, I cut a slightly larger circle from the sweater and followed the same procedure.

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This time, I pressed all the fabric in at the top, pushing down really hard, and hot glued the top shut. Next, I used jute twine to wrap around the form in places to create the pumpkin “creases” and tied a bow at the top. I added some bittersweet, and, voila! A pumpkin from an old tennis ball.

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On the hardness scale from 1-10, this was definitely an easy 1. This is a fun thing to do with your kids. If it is too late for the Thanksgiving table, you could play around with making them into Christmas ornaments. They would add warmth and texture to your tree decor.

Holidays Stressing You Out? Get Plastered!

Wait, my friends who know that, aside from the celebratory glass of wine, I’m pretty much a teetotaler; before you judge me, this post has nothing to do with forbidden fruit. Or beverage, although fruit would probably work well in this project. In fact, the only similarity to that getting plastered and this getting plastered is that it gets messy.

I came across this technique blog hopping at http://www.songbirdblog.com  and thought…hmmm. This should work on all sorts of fake stuff. I meant to get Dollar Tree plastic pumpkins, but they sold out at Halloween. I already had lots of fake leaves, but I finally found the pumpkins at an antique shop on clearance for cheap. Here’s what I started with:

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And this is how it ended:

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I do love orange, but it doesn’t go with much my decor, and whites are trending right now, so…not bad for pennies, huh?

Here is the tutorial for the technique:

Mix Plaster of Paris with water until you have a mixture similar to ranch dressing. If you get gravy, throw it out and start over.

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I moved outside to do this because I thought I needed my clothesline to hang the leaves. I spread a plastic sheet under the clothesline and started dipping.

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I dipped once and hung them on the line. MAJOR MISTAKE!

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What a mess! See how one hangs down like it is supposed to and the other one does not? The process of it going from hanging down to sticking up showered me with wet plaster and just made a mess of my clothes pins and clothes line. No problem, because, you know, clothes lines and clothes pins need to be cleaned often occasionally at least once in their lives, right? But I found that laying the items down on the plastic to dry worked fine.

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I gave the pumpkins (and the hanging leaves) two coats. How easy is that?!

In fact, I tried some old cheap roses and other small silk flowers and greenery. I found that the small ones turn out great…the larger ones droop!

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These will be pretty for Christmas!

 

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There you have it! Quite a transformation, I think. An easy holiday centerpiece or added decor for your Thanksgiving celebration. I think these plastered items would look elegant on a white ironstone platter, or in a ceramic turkey. Best of all…no hangover.   :))

 

Finishing Fall Fun and All Things Pumpkin

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Oh, the joy of jumping into a big pile of leaves!

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And soft landings!

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And finishing projects.

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And baking and making…

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Saint and I grew a ton of mini pumpkins, and, well…what do you do with a ton of mini pumpkins?

Have a pumpkin Day with Elle! I planned it before Halloween and gathered ideas for all kinds of pumpkin projects, but, just as well that we didn’t have time for it before Halloween because we didn’t even have time to finish the “not Halloween” pumpkins. What we did have time for were pumpkin painting, pumpkin popcorn, pumpkin spice cookies, and chili with a secret ingredient. Any guesses? Yep. Pumpkin! Neither Saint nor Elle were fans of it, but I kind of liked it. I had made pumpkin chili before for a Super Bowl Party when the kids were teenagers, and it was a much better recipe. I liked the idea of adding another healthy ingredient, but Saint thought tomatoes, onions, beans were healthy enough already. Since this recipe failed to pass the Saint/Elle test, I won’t post it here.

The cookies, on the other hand, were easy, good, and the recipe made a LOT of cookies. I found the recipe at myhoneysplace.com, and I only made a tiny change. I used white chocolate chips for half the dough, and I preferred them to the chocolate chips in the other half. Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
Ingredients
  • 3 c. all purpose flour*
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 (3.4-3.56 oz) box of pumpkin spice pudding (dry)
  • 1½ stick of butter, softened
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1½ c. of chocolate chunks
DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and pumpkin spice pudding mix- set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) butter and both sugars until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Then add eggs, one at time, followed by vanilla and honey. Scrape down sides. Then reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients. Combine until just incorporated. Finally fold in chocolate chips .

Line baking sheet with baking mat, aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. Scoop out 1 1/2-2 inch, cookie dough balls onto sheet (roll between the palm of your hands for a nice round shape). Space the cookies 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the cookies using the palm of your hand. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

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Sometimes you need a break from pumpkins and cooking. This has been one of my favorite teacher projects; one I have used throughout the years with a variety of literature selections and science units. It is extremely simple, yet provides a beautiful display for classroom windows. Elle let me keep this one to display in the dining room, and I think I need to share it with teachers everywhere. Here’s what you will need:
Tissue paper-orange, yellow, brown, red, green-cut into small irregular squares and rectangles
Waxed paper-cut in the shape of a tree crown
Glue
Black construction paper
Directions: Give each student a waxed paper tree shape and a handful of multi-colored tissue squares. Students should glue tissue onto the shape, covering it completely. Glue down all edges, and trim off as needed. Cut tree trunk and branches out of black construction paper and glue onto the crown.
Note: I had parent volunteers cut a variety of trunks and branches for younger students. Older students may prefer to free cut their own.
I assure you these will brighten up your room as the sun magnifies the stained glass effect, but I can’t guarantee the trees will look as lovely as Elle’s. 🙂  She is very talented, you know.