Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Craftastic

Still no camera, so I have resorted to my less than ideal camera phone. We are on the fence about repairing the old, or getting an entry level SLR (anyone know a good one?). Decisions, decisions...

I had grand plans this year. Last year was all about keeping me pregnant, and the threat of spending Christmas on the L&D floor of the hospital, so we settled on a Christmas bush and made up for feeling sorry for ourselves with the gobs of family who ended up treking down to spend the holiday with us (and unfortunately left just before Felix was born!). I did manage to crank out 3 stockings while watching loads of E! and making friends with the Northside Hospital cleaning staff last year if you remember, so those have been strung up on the fireplace, while itching for a fourth to complete the set. I'm working on it...

After the holidays last year, Eric went on a shopping spree at CB2 and got a bunch of holiday decorations on the cheap.

The man likes pink.  And I love that he loves pink. So, in true "Ali and Eric don't do anything quite traditional" fashion, we have our theme of Jem and the Holograms flourescent pink (I am going to approach Crayola about adding to to their color palatte) and lime green.

We also upgraded from the "kri-mus" bush of last year, to a Herculean 5 foot tall Douglas Fir! I grew up with real X-mas trees, and despite the pine needle pick up game every night, just don't feel like it is Christmas without the smell of pine saturating the air. Of course, my memories of picking out a tree aren't marked by the happiest family of 5 singing carols through lightly fallen snow, finding the perfect tree, cutting it down without a problem, and then getting some hot cider and cinnamon graham crackers in the lodge before shuttling it home. It was usually riddled with arguments about who was going to cut it down, which tree to get, and then my Dad getting angry at us for being indecisive or unable to chop the darn thing down. Thankfully, there was usually hot cider and cinnamon grahams at the base lodge.

I do know that one of my favorite memories was decorating the house and tree...and WITHOUT FAIL, every year my brothers rearranging the little wooden blocks that spelled out N-O-E-L on our mantel to L-E-O-N. I'm pretty sure they still do that.

This year, although I wanted go to a farm and cut a tree down, we opted for a 5 minute drive to Lowe's. True to form, there was fussing. Miles wanted to stay inside and play with the display train, while Eric didn't know how to decide--Fraser or Douglas. "You're the one who has done this before!" I had a tantruming toddler, and a wriggly baby in my arms, so I said, "whatever is cheapest." So we went with the smallest Douglas Fir we could find.

We pulled out ornaments, strung up some LED lights, and voila!

It's cute. It's small. It smells delicious. But we realized we didn't have 2 important components: a tree topper or a tree skirt. Thanks to a red towel and Felix allowing us to borrow his sock monkey, we remedied the situation.
 So, I've been getting all cocky thinking "I got this Christmas thing made." Kind of like the female holiday McGiver. Next up? Door wreath! I went to Michaels Craft store (shudder) and purchased a rectangular piece of styrofoam, red fake "berries" on twine, and glue. I wanted to cut out a square "wreath" and glue on berries to make a modern looking wreath.

First problem. Styrofoam bites. In so many ways. I didn't even open the package, but knew I was a fool for buying it.
Second problem. The berries were cheap. Not in price, but quality. They kept popping off of the twine, and I realized, I couldn't get them close enough together so you couldn't see the toxic white foam underneath. I contemplated real cranberries. But then knew I was pushing it.
Third problem. It was just going to look, well, ugly. This is what I wanted to create, but in square form (And without the bow):

I am no Martha. And I know there are many who love them some craft stores, but my supplies were expensive, cheap quality, and I am just thankful I quit before I started. I hustled back to Michaels for a return, and bought a $3 wire wreath form to make a new style: Rag Wreath!
I purchased a roll of fabric called a "honey bun" from Etsy that contained holiday fabric, cut the strips into 5 inch pieces, and tied them to the ring.

I got the tutorial from AS who sent me this blog. I loved the idea. And I felt like the aesthetic could appeal to both the traditional and the modern. AND it was rugged enough to last year to year. AND I didn't need a sewing machine. AND it only took a day! I bought another modern roll of a honey bun to make a smaller wreath for every day after the holidays. I will be looking for a square wire form, though. 
I purchased the only wire form left at Michaels, which was 18 inches, and the instructions called for a 12 incher. Dang. So, it is not as "full" as I would like, but I'm pretty psyched with the results.  

That leaves knitting. 1 stocking, 2 gifts, 2 hats, and Eric's Christmas and birthday present, a scarf. Now, this scarf will take me years. Not due to complexity, but because he wanted it thick. So, I found a pattern on some Harry Potter site and just increased the length of each bar as well as the # of stitches in each round. I will be done in a year in my estimation. Because it is doubled (using circular needles), it takes twice as long to get the length. It's almost like a sweater at this point. We'll see how far we have come in January...(my phone doesn't show it well but the colors are dark red and dark blue.)
All that is left is for my brother and sister-in-law to arrive, and then it will really feel like Christmas!

And luckily, Miles's Christmas list is composed of 2 things according to him:

1. A Christmas Tree (done!)
2. Santa (not sure he really wants him, if you'll remember last year...)


  1. Ali, I just love your posts!

    Our tree skirt is a green tablecloth and, no, this is not the first time I have used it as a tree skirt.

    I did buy a tree topper at Ikea for $.99. It was an impulse purchase. They were at the register and I knew I didn't have anything else. I went with silver, but now wish I had gotten the red. Oh, well.

    And that picture of Miles. Ten bucks that will be Tilden this year.

  2. Wow! You've done a lot! I remember our first tree, not having ornaments and making stuffed gingham ones that I thought looked swell at the time... You will remember the paper towel tube and gingham angel tree topper, too.
    Yeah, tree hunting could be fraught with angst. One of the most peaceful years was the year you and I went by ourselves and cut one. Douglas Fir is the best one if you don't have a lot of ornaments because it's really full. Othereise Frasier Firs are nice. Being related, both are fragrant.
    I love the wreath you made, and I can't believe it only took a day (with young children, a job and housework to do). It's great looking on your door.
    I will be interested to hear how Santa goes over this year. You kids were scared of Santa for years, and we finally stopped trying. It's a common phenomenon!
    I am making crafting and sewing 4 two sided stockings my full time job for now. Good luck with the scarf and all. Wish me luck, too! I'll be seeing sequins in my sleep!

  3. A photographer friend recently made these suggestions for a camera:
    Good: Canon Digital Rebel XSi, Nikon D60, Nikon D3000
    Better: Canon Digital Rebel T1i, Canon 50D , Nikon D90, Nikon D5000
    Best: Canon 7D, Canon 5D MarkII (professional body), Nikon D300, Nikon D7000 (this is a new one, not sure if it’s available yet) and Nikon D700 (professional body).

    Love the decorations. We are in need of a tree topper, as well. If you see one on the modern (and inexpensive) side, please post! We didn't have great luck with Santa this year - maybe next year!