Tis the season for trimming, and if you are me that means trimming pretty much everything in sight. In my forty-five years on this planet I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of trimmers; random trimmers and theme trimmers and never the two shall meet!
Random trimmers have no rhyme or reason to what they put up all that matters is that it came out of a box labeled Christmas. Colors may clash, there may be five different sets of lights on the tree and the tinsel may contain asbestos because it is from the 1960’s. My parents are random trimmers and I totally understand why. First of all my mother and father produced four children who were constantly bringing home decorations and ornaments made at school and of course we wanted to hang them on the tree of the fridge or wherever we decided was appropriate for said work of art. Also because of the four children my parents saved where they could which meant not investing in the latest and greatest when the bulbs and tinsel we had still worked well. I can remember yearly trimming the tree and it felt like opening a Christmas album full of wonderful memories, and it still feels that way every time I go over to my parents place and walk around the tree. The trimmings continue to grow because now there are holiday pieces of art from grandkids that have to be factored in, and often being given the star spaces.
The second type of trimmer is the theme trimmer. This one is pretty self-explanatory. These are the folks are why Hobby Lobby starts pulling out the ornaments and trees around August. They love order and consistency in all factors of Christmas trimming. They make sure that the colors in the wrapping paper doesn’t clash with the colors on the tree. They will spend an entire day making sure every ornament is in the correct place and then spend the rest of the season moving things around to get it right. Like if you get the ornaments on just right it opens a magic dorrway to Perfect Christmas Land. Perfection is all they want for Christmas and all year-long they will work towards making this a reality I am a theme trimmer, and I know I have a sickness. I have three different tree themes which I rotate yearly.
My first themed tree was a classic red, green and gold tree with old fashion glass ornaments and bows and ribbons a tree that Irving Berlin would have approved of. My second tree is themed for my favorite city New Orleans full of feather masks, fleur de Lis, and beads and bobbles all in greens golds and purples. These two themes I had before I married my husband, who is a self-proclaimed Grinch. I was trying to think of way to boost his holiday spirit when I came upon a set of ornaments while my husband and I were at Menard’s that gave me an idea. It was a set of round Lionel train ornaments. My husband is a big train fan, has been his whole life and he introduced me to rail-fanning and I was hooked. So I ask him what he thought about doing a train themed tree. He said and I quote, “Well it would be better than the crap you put out now.” That was all the encouragement I needed, I was off looking for train ornaments and trying to visualize how I was going to pull this theme together. The only problem was that the type of decorations I was looking for where nonexistent, I wanted specific trains and streetcars and a variety not just the Polar Express. So with head hung low I told my husband I did not think this was going to work, but then he had an idea. He had plenty of pictures of the trains and streetcars all I need to do was turn them in to ornaments. Challenge excepted!
I went to the Michael’s and found some lightweight paper mache ornaments in three different shapes. I also picked up some thin ribbon and some decoupage glue. By the time I got home my husband had the pictures printed off and I was able to knock out the main portion of our themed tree here are a few examples of the finished products.
I was very pleased with how they turned out, as was my husband the Grinch. So thanks to this tree and my theme obsession we had our own Christmas miracle my husband liked something having to do with the season, and I’ll take that! Even though I am a themed trimmer until the day I die, the older I get the more I appreciate the beauty in the disorganized chaos of the random trimmers. So no matter how you decorate for the holidays embrace who you are and remember if it makes you happy and spreads Christmas cheer you have won and maybe, just maybe, we can warm the hears of a few Grinches along the way!
Yeas the Season is upon us, and I’m not sure if there is a bigger crafty season than Christmas, and I freakin’ love it! I mean I have always love the Christmas season and it might be that it is one of the first times we are taught to really express ourselves through crafting. Think about it how many ornaments did you create for your family members. I can still count them because my mother still pulls them out and hangs them on the tree. So perhaps this is how I learned that crafting a gift with love is often better than buying something from a store.
One of the easiest gifts to create is a wreath, I have made so made so many over the years both seasonal and everyday. So when my work place gave me the opportunity to craft for a cause by making a wreath for a silent auction I jumped at the chance. They provide a basic green wreath and you do the rest and one hundred percent of the proceeds go to the Stroke camp put on by the local Franciscan hospital.
So I picked up my basic green wreath and set out the make it amazing, I mean the whole idea is the raise funds so I’m going to do my best to get bids. Last year I went super classy with blues and silvers and a couple of shiny ornaments to complete the theme, I called it Believe and it did very well coming in second or maybe third place. I was happy with that finish since it was my first year making one for this event.
This year I wanted to go with a bit more whimsy, and if you are a follower of this blog you might have guessed wheat my theme would be; Gnome for the Holidays! So made a quick trip to Hobby Lobby for some fabric and bits and bobbles and away I went.
First and foremost when making any synthetic wreath you must start with a good fluffing. My wreath looked sad and skinny and frankly cheap, seeing that the hospital gives them to you I’m guessing they are. Sometimes when you look at these wreathes it is hard to see the hidden potential but trust me it is there I mean if I can take this sad guy to glory anything is possible.
So after a good fluffing and I can’t stress enough that you need to spend time and just keep spreading out the wreath you’ll get more room to work with and create a better shape if you take your time. I sat the wreath aside to make my holiday gnome and he was constructed much as the others only he got the wonderful red green and white gear that is so festive this time of year. Once he was created I was ready to begin assembly of the wreath. I like to start with any garland first, I was fortunate enough to find the cutest fuzzy ball garland that just made me smile. So I loosely placed it throughout the wreath, I never place anything permanently until I am happy with the look of the whole wreath. I might use some wire to keep it where I want it but that can always be removed and objects placed elsewhere if I decide the look needs changing. Next I decide where my focal pieces will be, I’m a big fan of one to two focal pieces to tie the wreath together much like a rug does for a room. After this it’s adding any other small bits to wreath to fill in other spaces you feel need filling. I had some battery operated stare lights I thought would add a nice touch also I had a sparkly spray of swirls in the right color scheme so I tossed them behind the gnome. Lastly I sprinkled on a few star peppermints to tie in with the fabric I used on the gnome. Once I was happy with all the spacing on the wreath I either tied items down with florist wire or hot glued them in place, and I stepped back to look it over I must say I am a fame of the outcome.
So if you are interested in bidding on this wreath it is on display at the Lafayette Franciscan East hospital, formerly St. Elizabeth, and the bidding goes from November 30 to December 12 at 3 pm, also there will be many other offerings which might catch your eye if my wreath is not your cup of tea. Either way just a reminder one hundred percent of the proceeds go to the Stroke Camp.
So I had another awesome Halloween, due in most part by my latest Halloween costume. So if you have been following along you know I have a standard Halloween costume, however in the last few years I have found delight in creating new and amusing costumes. I work in the medical field as a front desk gal, and as you might have guessed it is not always a place of levity. For the clinical staff it can often be stressful, for the front desk it can be tedious and in both cases often a thankless job. I believe that whenever you can bring laughter and a smile into this environment you should. So I strive to do just this, last year showed up as a lost Spring fairy, which was fairly simple just a flowered dress rainbow wings, flower wand and headband, finished off with shoes covered in leaves. I fluttered around the office singing, “Happy Spring!” to all I saw. It was a big hit. So I knew this year I had to go bigger, I looked all over the internet and finally I found what I wanted to be: fantasy football!
The examples I saw were pretty basic, fairy wings with a football jersey or a wizard hat and before mentioned jersey. I was going to g much larger. I started with a trip to Party City and their back wall of color coordinated fan gear. I knew I would be wearing my husband’s Carson Wentz Eagles jersey because that is the only jersey in my house so the color scheme is green. I bought two foam fingers and a headband that matched, also I picked up a couple little footballs and a football necklace. Next I went to JoAnn’s to get some ribbon and netting so I could create a tutu for my outfit. I got lucky they had tiara’s on clearance so I picked one up to attach to my headgear. Spent an afternoon cutting and attaching netting to my ribbon, and then went to the hot glue craft corner to create the head gear, wings, and wand and the end product brought smiles to all who saw it…with the exception of one Steelers’ fan, but that can’t be helped.
I love Halloween it’s my second favorite holiday, Christmas has the coveted top spot but by a slim margin, thinner than a whisker on that jolly old elf’s face! Still Halloween with its costumes and candy makes this girl super happy. A holiday that rewards my creativity with candy, sign me up! I grew up in a household that believes in creativity and Halloween was a great time to show it off. We always made my costume, many times it was just old clothes and a painted face but it was the gateway to a world I could create in my mind, and most often that gateway was open by a witch costume.
The best thing about the witch is it is a super versatile option, with a wide range of options. You can go classic witch or old crone look where you go make up heavy and embrace the ugly, obviously little Janice was all about this look. Not gonna lie I feel like I look more like a demented Hamburglar in one of the above pics, but it did not matter in my mind I was a witch.. Alternatively there is the sexy witch with a cute black dress some tights and a sexy strappy shoe. Also I am a fan of the quirky witch like the candy witch or winter witch where you theme out the witch you are going to be. No matter which witch you go with there is one piece you must lock down; the hat this is the pivotal ensemble piece for the witch .
Once I was on a work trip and had some down time to kill so myself and a coworker decided to go to one of those designer malls that used to be so popular. We were in the Sac’s store being blown away by what people with money will pay for a crisp white shirt, I mean it’s just a white shirt! When my eye spied some fancy witches hats and I was intrigued. A closer look and I discovered these where just your basic run of the mill black witch hat that they had attached feather boas and jeweled spiders and the like and now they were charging fifty plus dollars for these, and I was like I can spend less and make a better product for sure!
So when I got home I went to Joann Fabric and began my quest for items for my hat. I found some fancy black lace with rhinestones sown in and I decided that was the fabric I would use it. This was the most expensive part of my project since the fabric was twenty-five dollars a yard, however it was on sale for sixty percent off so I got two yards for less than the original price of one! Found some other great deals on some fuzzy black yarn. My next stop was Pier One, and found some cool floral branches with orange and black shoots and little black cats all over. I know when it was produced they probably never thought it would show up on a witch hat, but hey not everyone’s brain works like mine. Again it was on sale, I very rarely buy anything that is not on sale in my craft projects, I think I spent maybe three of four bucks. Lastly I made a Dollar tree stop got some plastic spiders and other plastic Halloween chotchkies knowing whatever I did not use could go it my pumpkin bucket. What is my pumpkin buck, you might ask? All in good time my dear reader, this blog is about my witch’s hat.
So now that I had all of the goodies for my project back home I flew to get my crafting on! First I needs to decide on the shape of my hat, was I going to leave it straight or give it a scrunch, I decided I liked the scrunch look so I put in a stitch and gave it a little stuffing to keep the shape. Next I attached the material to the brim and then bent the floral sprig around the cone of the hat lastly I attached a few spiders. I have used this had for many years and with many different witch versions. I love knowing that no matter how many witches show up and the party none of them will be wearing a hat quite like mine!
So if you have been following along, you know I am into crafting gnomes and I am a craft tweaker. So after my second gnome I felt like I was for sure on the right path, but I was still not completely happy with the beards of my gnomes. The first one has a beard made of faux fur, which I like but is not as fluffy as I was looking for in my gnomes beards. Second one is made from yarn and I liked that one a lot, but the fluff factor was still not where I wanted it. When this second gnome I separated the yarn threads from four strands to two, and I liked that look. I wondered what the yarn would look like if I separated all four strands. So that was my next tweak and it is a time consuming process but the end product is awesome and my favorite gnome yet!
So this is labor intensive, but the more I do it the easier it gets. I really like this one wuth his crescent shaped hat, though I feel it could have been a little bigger. Again I used the same colors and materials since they will be part of a work display for the upcoming Christmas season. This is my last gnome post for a while, not because I am done making them, in truth I have a few my family has requested so I will still be making more if I create one I am especially excited about expect another post. But for now we will have to move on to my next fixation…Halloween!!!!
So I was down the dark hole time suck that is Pinterest, because let’s be honest that is exactly what it is! I mean I know I’m not the only one that has gone there and lost hours of your life, it’s pretty much like an alien abduction. Anyway back to gnomes, I don’t know why the Pinterest gods decided to grace my home page with one little cute gnome
I thought he was super cute, and did not look to hard to make, with the exception of the sewing, because that is a no go for this cow girl! But I felt like I could do something just as cut with my hot glue gun, and for less than twenty-five dollars for sure. So I started scouting out materials.
So I am a huge fan of the Dollar Tree, I get so much stuff for my crafting mostly, because I am not sure about those cans of Jersey clams….yuck. But when it comes to cheap shit for crafting this place is a gold mine. So I got Styrofoam cones there for the body, I got green circular florist foam to extend the size so I could make them a little taller. Next stop was Hobby Lobby, another common stomping ground for me. This is where I discovered where the money pit of this project lived; fabrics. Holy hell you can spend a ton on the fuzzy fabrics used to make the beards! They ranged from $12.99 to $24.99 and up for you wanted real wool and such, well thankfully I needed very little and I used the famous forty percent off coupon so I ended up spending around five dollars on beard material. Next it was off the wooden crap, I don’t know what you would call this area of the store but it has all the wood findings one would need. This is where I found a bag of four round wooden balls with one flat side, which I’m sure have other uses since they were not labeled gnome noses but that is what I saw and they were only $3.99. So now I was headed home with my gnome building supplies ready to conquer a new craft!
Shit! I realized as I got home I was so worried about what I was going to buy for beard material I forgot to get any other material for the project. Well I was not going back out I was ready to craft I could feel the craft juices flowing through me, and you do not waste those juices! So it was time to look in my craft hoard to see what I might use and eureka I found just what I needed…Basmati rice bags! These are the twenty-five pound burlap bags that I have been holding on to because I just knew I could use them for something, and now is that moment. So I sit down, plug in my trusty hot glue gun, grab my scissors and supplies and let the craft juices flow through me and this is what I made:
So one thing you should know about me is I am a craft tweaker. Which means I like to take a craft I have done or one I see done and change it for, what I believe is, the better. I also love rules and I have many, like the Three Tweak Rule. This rule states that I make no more than three major tweaks to a craft otherwise I believe the craft deviates too far from the original intent, plus you just have to stop at some point. Otherwise you become the craft equivalent of Jack from the Shining, “All craft and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”. This said I took a good long look at my first gnome, with whom I was good and happy, and wondered what could I tweak.
I came up with two things his beard and the material I used for the base and hat. So this time I went to another craft Mecca, JoAnn’s. I found that the beard like fabric was still expensive there but I did pick up some nice flannel for sixty percent off which was awesome! So I am wandering around the store trying to come up with something for the beard when I realize I am surrounded by yard! That is what I will use for the second gnome. So I bought a couple cheap skeins of yarn and headed home.
So I also decided to add a little height to the second gnome, but I had already planned for that when I bought the florist rounds from the Dollar Tree. I dressed the cone and pre-made the hat then I began the work on the beard. A look online for some ideas for yarn beards yielded a plan which had me separating yarn strands from four to two strains. It gave the beard more fuzz and curl. I decided to add a braided mustache because why not! Lastly, added some white fuzz to keep a continuity with the first gnome since they are all going to be on display at work.
I am pretty happy with gnome version 2.0, but as I was finishing him up my mind was already on to the next tweak, but that is a gnome for another blog! Stay crafty my friends!