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Decorative Handmade Christmas Tree

10 Dec

Well, the frigid temperatures continued this past weekend (I think our high on Saturday was only 2°F!), but that did not stop us from going out and getting our Christmas tree! Growing up I always remember having a live tree. My sister and I would get all bundled up in our snow pants, hats and gloves, ready for the adventure. We would drive out to a tree farm and run around in the snow while our mom and dad tried to pick out the perfect tree for the season. After Dad cut the tree down, we would go sit around an outdoor fire and have hot chocolate or apple cider while the people at the tree farm helped Dad put the tree in the car. It was a blast! As an adult I wanted to keep that tradition going, so the past few years, Jason has graciously (sometimes begrudgingly) ventured out with me to a local tree farm to cut down a Christmas tree.

This year I also had a grand idea to use fresh garland and lots of greenery to decorate our front porch. So we not only picked up a blue spruce tree, but 25 ft of fresh garland and a wreath from the tree farm. I also wanted to have a decorative Christmas tree/topiary on the front porch, but it was so cold out that morning we just wanted to go home and drink more hot apple cider and hot chocolate!

Pinterest actually gave me the idea to make the little tree using a tomato cage, green garland, white lights and bows. With the garden, I have plenty of tomato cages that sit in the garage over the winter, so I did not need to go buy too many supplies. After I figured out how to successfully wrap the garland around the tomato cage, the whole process was pretty easy and the end result looked really cute! Here’s what I did:

Tomato Cage Christmas Tree
Tomato cage
Green garland (real or fake, I used fake for this one)
Red bows
White lights (optional. You could always used colored lights too)

Supplies for the handmade Christmas Tree

Supplies for the handmade Christmas Tree

1. Turn the tomato cage upside down so it looks like a cone. Make sure it is fairly level on the bottom so the cage does not tip over. You might have to bend the metal a little bit to accomplish this.
2. Starting at the bottom, wrap the green garland around the cage, working toward the top. I looped the garland around each “spoke” as well to keep the garland in place.
3. Add your lights using the same process you did for the garland (bottom to top)

The finished tomato cage Christmas tree

The finished tomato cage Christmas tree

4. Add a red bow (or other decoration of your choosing) to the top of the tree.
5. Move the tree to it’s final location. You are done!

That’s all it took! It did take me a few times to figure out how I wanted the garland to sit on the tomato cage, and once I figured out that I had to loop the garland around the vertical spokes of the cage that eliminated a lot of frustration! Looping the garland helped keep it in place on tomato cage instead of falling toward the bottom. If I had more garland I probably would have wrapped the garland tighter so you couldn’t see the tomato cage or empty space but I like how it turned out! I plugged the tree in on our front porch and it was just what I was looking for to complete my decorating! Now we are all ready for holiday visitors. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

The front porch all decorated!

The front porch all decorated!

Vacation Memory Box

22 Aug

I love to travel. I think my parents gave me the “travel bug” when they started driving my younger sister and I to our grandparent’s house every summer. Eventually our trips turned into road trips to different places in the US, then flying to Mexico or the Caribbean. I’ve even been able to join my parents on a few trips to Europe! So far my favorite city is London and after being in Italy, I eventually want to buy an apartment in Riomaggiore. I’ve also learned to appreciate just walking around cities looking at the architecture and visiting little shops.

After the trip to London I decided I was going to try my hand at scrap-booking. I was so excited to put it all together with pictures, notes and stickers! I was pretty impressed at my first attempt, so I said would make a scrapbook of every trip over seas. Well, let’s just say I’m still working on my scrapbook from Zurich… and we went in December 2011. I didn’t realize how much time and work it took to put together a scrapbook!

Earlier this year I got invited to join Jason’s family on their trip to Aruba (no complaints here!) Since I love to take pictures, I of course took over 200 of our week-long trip. I wanted to find a way to display some of the pics but knowing I was still working on a scrapbook from 2011, I did not want to embark on starting another one!  I had seen some cute ideas on Pinterest, where you basically create a shadow box with mementos from the trip, and cut out letters to spell the name of your destination using photos that you took. This sounded much easier to put together and easier to display! (My London scrapbook is sitting in a cabinet, I honestly can’t remember the last time I pulled it out.)

A quick trip to Target to print the pictures I wanted, and Michael’s for the supplies, I was ready and armed with an x-acto knife (I think that scared Jason a little, I can be a little klutzy.) Editor(Jason)’s note: A lot klutzy… 

Supply List
Shadow box
Scrapbook paper to use as a mat
Alphabet Stencil
X-acto knife
Cute vacation stickers
Mementos we saved from the trip (boarding pass stubs, postcards, brochures)
Double sided photo tape
Super Glue
Glue Stick

I started by gluing the scrapbook paper to the back of the cardboard “mat” that came with the shadow box to help give it a little more strength. Jason and I went through some of the photos we printed and picked out different ones we thought would look good as letters. We ended up picking all scenery shots, something about having a part of a person in a letter just didn’t seem right to me. From there it was all trial and error. I just held up the stencil to different parts of the picture to see what I thought looked good. Then I flipped the picture over, turned the stencil backwards, and traced the stencil to the back of the photo. Somehow my mind knew to trace the letters backwards, which I was very grateful for! Knowing how spacey I can be, I’m surprised that I didn’t do this step wrong! The X-acto knife was perfect for cutting out the letters too. I went slowly so I had straight lines, and this way I didn’t slip and cut myself. (I’m happy to report, no injuries occurred in the making of this shadow box!)
Photo Aug 20, 8 38 29 PM

The next step was the layout. After I placed the letters, I arranged some other photos, stickers and coins we had saved, and just kept moving stuff around until I liked how it looked.  I probably annoyed Jason with the number of times I asked him to come look at the layout, but he did say he does stuff like this for a living so I wanted an “expert opinion.” The letters got glued down using the glue stick (it was too hard to try and get the photo tape on every part of the letter so I gave up), the other photos got placed using the photo tape, and I had to bust out the heavy duty super glue to glue the coins down.
The Final Layout

It took about an hour to do all of that actually, I was pretty happy with how quickly it went! The most time consuming part was tracing and cutting out the letters. I left it out overnight to dry and let the super glue set. I had to put it in the frame the next morning, I was too curious to see how it turned out that I didn’t want to wait until after work. I’m really happy with how it turned out! All the stickers represent some part of our trip, and the coins were fun shapes with cool printing so we had to include them.
Finished Product!

Now I just have to get Jason to hang it up! I still haven’t done anything with all my mementos from my Barcelona trip last November…I think I’ll be making another one of these soon! I’d love to fill the wall on the way upstairs with a bunch of these from all the trips we’ll go on, this way we can remember all the fun times we had whenever we walk by!