Merry Christmas from North Carolina!
I hope you all had a peaceful Christmas Day full of happy smiles and the love of family and friends. We had a nice, relaxing, quiet time this Christmas - which was just perfect for us this year.
As you can see, I've been busy getting our house all decked out for the Holiday Season - it's my favorite time of year and I can't seem to help going all out for Christmas. Since it's warmer down here than it was up in DC, my kids have been complaining that it doesn't feel like Christmas because of the weather (they have, apparently, forgotten the 80+ degree winters in Hawaii that we experienced for 5 years)....so I've been trying to make the house extra Christmas-y to help us all get in the mood.
It's always a bit harder to do on the years that we move, but I've been working diligently this past month to get the house ready to be Christmasified. I do believe that's not an official word, but it works. :-)
We've been enjoying all the Christmas decorations and the get-togethers with our new friends here in NC. So many wonderful, friendly, and kind people down here - it's been great getting to know everybody.
I feel like I have to give a disclaimer/apology for all the crazy lighting in these pictures...they were taken on different days and nights and the light varied immensely. I don't have the skills (or the time to develop the skills right now) to properly edit the lighting in my pictures, so they are what they are this year.
I'm just glad to get them posted at all...I've been working on all this stuff for the entire month, and have spent many, many hours photographing, editing, and uploading them. Glad to see them all together in one post at last!
Despite the crazy rush of the Holidays, coupled with trying to get our house presentable, my Craigslist vintage furniture redone, and making gifts for family and friends, I've been trying hard to remember the true Reason for the Season.
After all, "Christmas begins with Christ" and it all started with the babe in the manger, despite society's tendency to commercialize and secularize this sacred holiday.
That being said, I must admit I'm a fan of Santa Claus and the joy and wonderment that ol' St. Nick brings to Christmas. I just don't want my kids to forget that celebrating the birth of the Savior is the real cause for Joy - not just what's under the tree Christmas morning.
Santa Claus conveys the spirit of giving and of being good and kind, so I'm not one to cut him out of Christmas in our household traditions, as you can see from the Santa collection in my dining hutch.
Good ol' Calvin and Hobbes made their way into my display as well...I made that little ornament back in the days before Sculpey clay. It's made of bread/glue dough, so it has faded and degenerated a bit over the years, but I still love it. I was so sad when Watterson retired from making Calvin and Hobbes cartoons - I dearly miss Calvin's precocious wittiness and mischievous antics.
Thank goodness for Phineas and Ferb - whenever my kids watch that on Netflix I'm always drawn in...I love those 2 little genius kids and the creative messes they inadvertantly draw their sister into. Always good for a laugh, that show. But I digress.
You remember my dressers that I gave a major facelift to earlier this month?
This year I discovered the beauty of German glass glitter, and I've been coating loads of things with it! The silver glitter balls above were styrofoam balls that I spray painted silver, then coated with the silver glass glitter. The photo simply does not do them justice - they gleam and sparkle brilliantly in real life.
I did the same thing with this small Nativity arrangement I bought at the Dollar Tree and then painted and coated with glitter.
The silver Nativity figurines on the dresser were inexpensive plastic painted ones from Walmart that I spraypainted a satin nickel finish, which classed them up quite a bit.
I've also been playing around a lot with Krylon mirror spray paint, which I used to coat the inside of a bunch of inexpensive glassware to create the glimmery candle arrangements on my mantle. I used masking tape to isolate the rim of some of the glassware, which I coated with glue and then glitter.
The big silver ball was not something that I made or altered - I found it at Marshall's and had to take it home. :-)
These plastic snowflakes were from the Dollar Tree, but some were blue and some were shiny white. I spraypainted all of them a satin white and coated them with clear German glass glitter, and now they look much better!
You'll recognize these ornaments from previous years - you can find the tutorials for them in my sidebar.
I just finished making a slipcover for the ottoman that currently serves as our "coffee table" until I can finish the real furniture that's still awaiting a makeover. I also made improvisational fabric "artwork" to provide some color and interest above my dressers until after the remodel (we'll be adding a room above and moving the fireplace to the center of that wall). I'll eventually paint large panels with real artwork to hang above the dressers, and the walls will no longer be a cream color, but for now this will do the trick.
I couldn't resist the snappy red and white chevron fabric!
My Wall o' Plates display is smaller in this house, but still fun. I still need to make valances for the kitchen breakfast nook windows, but that will have to wait until after the holidays.
Here's a better picture of the table I just finished redoing.
These were very cheap ornaments from Walmart that I spraypainted and then coated with silver German glass glitter.
It might be hard to tell from the photos, but the "before" version (in photo below) was definitely upgraded with the fancy glass glitter.
They sparkle brilliantly now, especially in the sunlight.
I didn't make the Hawaiian quilt on the wall, I bought it when we were stationed there. I think it's safe to say I will never make an applique quilt as involved as that one is!
This is Eliza's little tree in her room, appropriately decked out with horse ornaments!
I spray painted a bunch of cheap plastic horses white, then coated them in the clear glass glitter. To turn them into ornaments, I spraypainted tiny eye hooks white, drilled a tiny hole into the horses, and screwed the eye hooks into the holes. (I should have inserted the eye hooks prior to painting to save myself some work, but I hadn't bought the eye hooks yet) What a transformation, eh? I think that's my favorite tree in the house this year.
When Hurricane Sandy struck about a month ago, I started piecing this Christmas quilt. I've been wanting to do a pinwheel Christmas quilt for a few years now, and I finally determined to design and sew it.
I obviously haven't quilted it yet - things just got way too busy and I had to set it aside because I didn't want to rush through the quilting process and potentially ruin it. Now that it's all pieced, I'm regretting all the different shades of green in the quilt. I was going for a more classic look, and this one has a much more retro/vintage look due to the riotous colors and patterns. I think I may piece another one that's just red and white next year.
This version is still a lot of fun, and I'm sure it will be something my kids will remember pulling out each Christmas season as they grow up.
To create the blocks, I sewed strips of fabric together and then cut them into triangles to create the pinwheels. This resulted in blocks that had vastly different looks to them, even when using identical fabric strips. These 2 blocks (above and below), for example, were made from the same fabric strip combinations but look completely different because of the positioning of the triangles. Can you see the same fabric combos in both blocks? Such fun, such fun.
I really enjoyed the creative process involved in making this quilt - no 2 blocks are the same (except the tiny, 4" ones) and each block was a new design challenge. Not the fastest or easiest quilt to make, by any means, but definitely more interesting than doing monotonous assembly-line style piecing.
Here's another sewing project I did this Christmas...handstitched lettering on velvet pillows! These were sent off to family members, but I must admit I kept a couple of them for myself...I really like how they turned out.
I discovered that velvet is extremely hard to sew with because of the nap. Even with the special walking foot I have on my sewing machine, the 2 squares of velvet would shift and push off eachother like crazy when I was sewing them together. If anyone has any tips on how to sew velvet together, I'm all ears!
The green one was made with antique-style velvet, which was much easier to work with because the fabric had a stiff backing and the nap was less thick = less push and pull as it was going through the feed dogs.
Hazel liked the pillows too - or at least she liked getting her picture taken next to them! She always loves to get into the pictures I'm taking around the house.
I bought some lovely wool felt from the Heather Bailey store, which I used to make some sweet little personalized ornaments for my young nieces and nephew. I must admit I was surprised at how long it took me to make those little things - I may as well have made all the girls a skirt! Ah, well, hopefully the kids will enjoy their ornaments for years to come.
After the handstitched ornaments were all sent off, I got smart and made simple clay ornaments for my local friends. I used plain white clay and then, after they were baked, I coated them with a silver glaze and blotted most of it off so that only a pearlized sheen remained everywhere except for the lettering.
Much faster and easier, and yet they're still quite lovely. I got the idea for stamping the words into the Sculpey clay from an online tutorial . Her birds were more 3-dimensional and looked quite a bit different, and I used a cut-off paper clip embedded in the clay as my hanger, but the stamped lettering is about the same.
I didn't have time to make handstitched felt birdies for my kids, so I made them clay versions instead and coated the birds with different colored glazes, which they really liked.
These are the three that I kept. They have a metallic aqua glaze on them.
Here we all are in our Christmas Sunday attire! The kids only tolerated posing for 3 or 4 episodes of the self timer on the camera+tripod, so this was the best we could come up with. At least we now have something to put on our Christmas cards...the ones I haven't made yet. :-) That's one of this week's projects.
Have you noticed we have a new member in our family? We rescued her from a local shelter a few weeks ago, and we're so glad we did.
Hazel has aptly named her Princess Velvet (her fur is SO incredibly SOFT!), but most of the time we dispense with formality and just call her Velvet or, simply, Kitty.
The kids have been begging for a pet for so long, but I just couldn't bring myself to get a dog. The thought of having to bathe, groom, pick up poop, wipe its paws every time it went in and out of the house, etc etc just made me cringe. I have a hard time getting my own kids to bathe, brush their hair and teeth, and flush the toilet - the last thing I needed was to look after a doggie for all the same reasons!
Cats, on the other hand, are more independent. And they don't slobber all over your face. And they clean themselves, and there isn't cat poop all over the yard. I can handle a cat, provided it doesn't claw my furniture to shreds. :-)
We all love our Velvet! She is a remarkable kitty because she is incredibly tolerant and mellow, especially considering her young age (8 months). Hazel carts her around all day long and Velvet quietly endures without a scratch or a frantic dash under the furniture. She is already housetrained and, so far, has not done any major damage to furniture with her claws (knock on wood). Plus she is such a sweetie!
Velvet loves to snuggle on laps (I love the way she tucks her front paws under herself) but can be playful with her kitty toys too, which provides lots of entertainment for the family. She is perfect for us, and hopefully she thinks we're okay too. Definitely my favorite Christmas present this year.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!