holiday wrap-up: scrap happy

I finished the placemats! I may have been hand-stitching the two-inch hole I used to turn them right-side-out the night before our first holiday gathering, but that's done in plenty of time, right? I ended up not top-stitching them because I wasn't super careful about squaring them up prior to sewing them together, and a few are a tiny bit wonky. I thought top-stitching would only draw attention to the minor imperfections. So voila! I love how cheerful they are ... it'll be hard to put these away for next year!

holiday wrap-up: wreath crazy

Remember my original in-progress ornament wreath? Well, I ended up having to change course a little bit. Turns out that if you wait until approximately 2.5 weeks before Christmas, red glass ornaments are completely sold out in my town. (I honestly was shocked to make this discovery--especially considering red is one of the elemental Christmas colors!) I had previously purchased a bunch of red and green plastic ornaments from the dollar store, but the hole at the top of the plastic ornaments was too small to fit onto my plant-support form. So I ended up abandoning my half-finished wreath, packing those ornaments away to add to my collection for my Christmas tree. I wasn't too sad, since not long after starting that wreath I kept having visions of it falling from above the fireplace mantel and shattering to pieces in my family room. I would have been really really nervous to hang it in the spot it was intended for anyway!

While the plastic ornaments wouldn't fit on my plant-support form, they fit perfectly on wire hangers. So I scoured my closets for the few wire hangers I owned, and set to work making wreaths using them and my stash of ornaments from the dollar store. The verdict? Great success! I was so happy with how the first one turned out, I got a little obsessed and made two more. As I mentioned before, I followed Eddie Ross's instructions with a few exceptions:

  • I didn't hot glue gun the tops to the ornaments (I did do this for my real glass ornaments, but skipped it with the plastic. I have had a couple ornaments come off, but not enough to make me regret this decision).

  • Shaping the wire hanger into a circle was simple enough, but untwisting the top of the hanger to get it apart was difficult. Not impossible, but definitely a major pain. If you don't have some heavy duty pliers for leverage and/or hands and forearms of steel, you might want to grab your husband to get the task started. Human hands attempting to undo machine twisting of unflexible wire = difficulty. The hardest part is getting it started, after that it's not a big deal.

  • Similarly, re-twisting the top of the hanger together to make a complete circle was not so easy. You'll have a bunch of ornaments flopping around, and you're trying to twist together wire that is really inflexible and hard to work with.

  • One thing I noticed after hanging the first finished wreath was that if you leave the top of the wire hanger in its original position (pointed straight up, vertically), your wreath won't lay flat against the wall/window. So I started bending it back, not at a full 45-degree angle, but far enough so that my wreath hung flat against the wall when hung.

While there were a few points of annoyance along the way, I love love love the end results! The final cost of the red and green wreaths amounted to $7 each. You will need approximately 75 small ornaments, so hitting the dollar store is definitely the way to go. I also found that having some smaller ornaments was helpful to "fill in" along the way, so definitely look for a couple of different sizes.
I'm keeping this silver wreath up on the window of my kitchen door for the rest of the "snow" season (more like gray season here in Mississippi, since snow is a rarity here!) so I can enjoy it a little longer. My favorite part of these wreaths is that they are basically double-sided (see below). That makes them perfect for hanging on windows, as they look pretty on both sides (that way you can enjoy them inside and outside!).

I still needed a wreath/decor of some sort to spruce up the fireplace mantel, so luckily I found an old artificial one in our holiday stash and added some ornaments with floral wire to spruce it up a bit. Worked like a charm!



glass ornament wreath (no styrofoam!)

Here's the latest of my projects in progress ... a glass ornament wreath! I fully intended to finish this one when I started it, but ran out of shiny red ornaments (of course). I have lusted after ornament wreaths for years, but this is the first year I've gotten around to making one. I originally intended to use a styrofoam wreath form as my base, and use my hot glue gun to attach the ornaments ... but then a quick Google search introduced me to Eddie Ross's brilliant idea to use a wire hanger instead. Given my impatience to get started on the project, and given that acquiring a styrofoam wreath form would require a one-hour drive to my nearest Hobby Lobby, I decided to give Eddie's version a try (it actually is a lot simpler, really!). I started by scouring my house for wire hangers, but then realized that I wanted a larger wreath than a wire hanger would create (I want to hang this over our fireplace mantel). Then after doing some yard work outside, I realized that my wire plant supports would work perfectly. They are already in a circle shape, and had the scale/dimensions I was looking for. Bingo! I was skeptical when I first started (it looks pretty ugly at first), but eventually it takes shape. I can't wait to track down the remaining ornaments I need at my local discount stores!

advent book calendar

Old traditions ...

I always pounce on the $5 amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs at Walmart the minute they put the Christmas stuff out. Not sure if I planted them early enough to get blooms by Christmas, though!

This year I lucked out and got a bulb sending up two flower stalks (!!!). That's never happened for me before!

.... and new traditions! I first stumbled upon the idea of using books for an advent calendar at the cute craft/art/family blog, Jupiter Buttons (she discovered the idea on Ohdeedoh). I've always loved advent calendars, but wasn't into the idea of candy and presents everyday. Books? Now that's a tradition I can wholeheartedly support. I tried to keep them all holiday/winter themed, and have displayed them in descending order so you can always see how many days are left until Christmas by looking at the mantle. We started a few days late this year, but here are the books we're using:

So far, it's been a great success! We're keeping the books out in a basket in the main living room, and they're getting read over and over and over. I can see this tradition continuing for many years to come!

2021 year in review

  Who would have thought that the second year of a pandemic would be worst than the first, in terms of crafting mojo? Not I. But this chart ...