Christmas decorations

This year, I finally hit that magic point where I could no longer deny that my artificial Christmas tree was too big. I had no where to put it without doing some major furniture re-arrangement, which I’m not OK with. So, I got rid of it (thank you, Freecycle). Then I tried to just live without any Christmas decorations.

Less than I week later, I put up a wee string of lights. Next thing I knew, I had all kinds of odds and ends of ornaments around the room. It’s not much, but I haven’t had time to decide exactly what I want to do and I think I may wait until the post-Christmas sales before I buy too much (though, I did buy some red silk flowers and a pretty golden bird ornament this weekend).

This is the only time I ever put up with red in my apartment (I stick with pinky colours), so I want to eventually collect a whole bunch of red ornaments, decent faux greenery, and odds and ends of gold accents. But, in the meantime, I’ve at least got a few things out.

It's not much, but at least there's a bit of Christmas in my apartment
Not technically a tree, but close enough 🎄
Christmas decorations
No tree? No problem!
Christmas candle
Christmas decorations
Christmas stars

Christmas tree 2013

I love my Christmas tree. It’s fake, and I miss real ones, but it’s nice to have a worry free and relatively easy way to decorate for Christmas. And, even after doing a major sort and “purge”, I have a lot of really fantastic ornaments: ones from my childhood and newer ones I’ve purchased myself (I didn’t really get rid of them, I just put them away to be passed on to my niece and her soon-to-be sibling).

I tend to put up my tree pretty early (December 1st, if possible, though it was late getting decorated this year as I had a terrible cold) and leave it up until shortly after my birthday (early January). I don’t do many other decorations, though I want to find a few more things and put up some lights around my apartment next year, I just haven’t figured out exactly what I want, yet. All I know if that my Calgary friends put me to shame and inspire me with all their lovely decorating ideas.

This year, I continued my new-ish tradition of buying myself a cool new ornament, except that, like usual, I bought more than one thing.

I found this gorgeous glittery owl at the Royal Alberta Museum.

Owl

I also found this beautiful votive holder at the museum. It’s supposed to be a Christmas decoration, but I’m considering leaving it out year round. Except that maybe it might be nice keeping it for Christmas only. I’m undecided.

Bought this at the #RoyalAlbertaMuseum last week. I keep doing to admire it because it's so gorgeous.

Back in October, I bought this sweet ornament from a small store full of German imports in Kimberly, BC (during the “girl’s weekend” we had).

Christmas tree

Of course, I still don’t have a tree topper, but maybe I might actually get around to doing something about that this year by making something. Or, maybe not: I keep claiming I’m going to, but then get distracted!

Maybe I should finally get around to making a tree topper and tree skirt this year :/  #christmas

And, here are a few more pictures:

Definitely need a tree shirt and tree topper! #christmas
Finally decorated my tree with my very eclectic collection of ornaments #christmas
Untitled

Christmas Tree

I decorated my tree this weekend.

I don’t have a tree topper, yet, because I haven’t found one that I liked enough. I might break down and make one for myself, if I ever decide on what I want. I usually put on all my ornaments (I have a lot!), but this year, I only put on the ornaments I love the best. I think I prefer the sparse look. As you can see, I have one of my favourite ornaments front and centre.

20121202_151012

Another one of my favourite ornaments is this collection of whales shaped like a tree, which my brother gave me a few years ago. I used to keep it out all the time, but I’ve decided to leave it with my holiday decorations so it feels a little more special each time I pull it out.

Whale #Christmas tree #ornament - one of my favorites!

Last year, sometime between Boxing Day and New Year’s, I found a collection of small ornate ornaments (in green, red, gold, and blue) on sale. This is my favourite of them.

I bought a few new glass #ornaments after the holidays last year. This one's my favorite.

And, despite this being made of nothing more then a pill bottle and some cheap plastic beads, this is one of my favourites. It was bought at a craft fair for me when i was a kid.

IMG_0005

And, of course, I added my Christmas cones. They’re actually a little bit big for the tree, but I love them and I don’t have anywhere else to put them. Ideally, I’d prefer to have them hanging from the ceiling in the corner, but that’s not easy to do in an apartment with a stippled ceiling.

My #Christmas cone needs something in it. I'm thinking large, pretty beads, because I'd just eat any candy I put in them.

 

Christmas 2011

Just thought I’d share a few pictures. I hope you had a lovely holiday season :)

Wreath shadows

I love interesting shadows.

Wreath

My aunt has some very cute and sweet decorations, including this wreath.

Wee bird

Tweet, tweet, chirp.

Reindeer

I love the bright red colour (not easy to see in this picture) and simplicity of the design.

Tree

Their tree. My aunt (like me) prefers white lights, but it still looks really nice. Decorating the tree was one of the first things I did when I arrived – my cousin picked ornaments, my aunt supervised, and I did the labour.

Christmas cookies

It’s that time of year when I dust of my cobalt blue (or, as my cousin would assert “Purple!”) mixer and make some cookies for my peeps. Last year I had some help (sort of) from my cousin (mostly she argued with me about the exact colour of my mixer), but I also made a ridiculously large number of cookies. This year I decided on just filling small tins. The recipes I picked were:

Cookies

I picked the Pepernotens because I love a gently spiced cookie and these looked really interesting (they have, among other things, ground anise seed in them). The cookie was easy to make and the dough was delicious (!!!), but they started to smell funny half way through baking and they ended up being flat, too hard, and kind of yucky. I was really disappointed in them. I think they’re the first cookie I’ve had to throw away in years (yes, they were that bad). I don’t know why they failed, the recipe feedback seemed positive.

Because of the Pepernotens fail, I was hesitant to try another random recipe, but the Maple Shortbreads had good reviews and looked simple enough. I think they would have been more of a treat if I’d sprinkled some crystallized maple sugar on them, but they’re good.

All the rest were great successes (delicious and relatively easy, though some involved a lot of chilling time in the fridge). The Orange Cranberry (or Cranberry Orange) shortbreads are definitely my favourites and I think I might try the Snowquakes with mint chocolate chips in the New Year.

Being the artsy-fartsy person that I am, I started playing with the idea of making a decorative contents lists to put inside each tin. It took three pages of messing around with stamps and shapes, and designs, but I eventually settled on a simle circle with an evergreen bow frame and a few ornaments (based on a PapertreyInk stamp set I own). I scanned it, printed it in colour, cut it out, and taped it to the inside of the tin lid.

Decorative content list

Then, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to make a bonus batch of cookies using a recipe from one of my favourite food blog, Closet Cooking. Almond Crescent are ridiculously easy, but I was worried they might be a bit bring for the holidays, so I did half the batch as per the instructions, then I added some finely chopped craisins to the second half and made cranberry almond balls. Believe it or not, I haven’t tried these yet. It was pretty late by the time I finished and I was all cookied out the next day.

Almond Crescents

Christmas cards

I made my own Christmas cards this year. I’ve been meaning to do this for years, but I kept slacking off and/or waiting too late. I did leave things a bit late this time, so I didn’t have time to test a few ideas I had, but I managed to put together something fairly nice.

Cards

I used a combination of watercolour and stamping. The stamping is inspired from the amazing cards my sister-in-law makes and the watercolour is me just playing with techniques (some old, some new).

I started by doing watercolour backgrounds in white, blue, or various combinations of the two. I randomly painted on colour and then used salt or alcohol (a new-to-me technique; you use plain rubbing alcohol, like you find at the drugstore) to add a little je ne sais quoi (I did drops, paint strokes, and splatters from a tooth brush with the alcohol). Some of the backgrounds were a bit boring, and I would have revamped or replaced them if I’d had time. Other’s were gorgeous and I even had a few rather interesting ones that could only be described as “artsy”.

I used stamps from the Papertryink Holiday Tree stamp set to add trees or snow people and a few little snowflake or star embellishments. At the time, I wasn’t really thinking about the order that I needed to stamp the tree components, so I erred and did the trunks first (reasoning that it was bigger). It would have looked better if I’d done the leaves first. But, the only recipient who will notice this is my sister-in-law, so lesson learned and no need to stress about it.

The only really annoying thing was that some of the ink I used wasn’t great. The quality was fine … whe I first bought them. I’ve had a few colours for a while and it was pretty obvious that I need to go through my inks and test to see which ones have dried out (a project for another day).

So, there you have it. Homemade cards for a few people. Next year I want to start earlier so that I can test more ideas (I tested some in my sketch book, but would have liked to have done a few prototypes to see what they would really look like in the end) and have time to redo any screw-ups.

Cards in progress

I made my own cards this year (something I’d been “planning” on doing for a couple years). I decided to combine some random art and stamping. First I used watercolour (blue, white and mixes of the two), salt, and rubbing alcohol to make interesting backgrounds. Than I stamped either a tree (trunk plus foliage) or a snowperson (body plus face and arms). This is a picture from when I started the first step of stamping. There will be more pictures ro come, I just thought I’d share this for now as I’m mailing cards today.

Cards in progress

Meow-y Christmas

Cat
This ornament was given to me in the early 80’s. When the whole family where still living under one roof (i.e., not all grown up and living in different provinces), there were a couple of these (each kid got their own) and the tree looked fabulous as it was covered in lovely hand crafted ornaments. No tree topper, but plenty of tropical birds Now there’s just my own ornaments and I realized this year that I’m in serious need of some more. I have a disproportionately large number of felt critters (most of which are birds or fish). I need a bit more variety. So, over the next year, I need to implement Operation More Ornaments. I started yesterday during lunch by buying two Gnomes (and lady and a gent, cuz I’m apparently boring and heteronormative at heart). This weekend I’m going to look for some typical shiny round glass ornaments and for ribbon or beads (can’t decide which I prefer) to add a bit of bling. Or, maybe I’ll make my own garland (idea, idea and idea). Than I need to start looking for ideas to make some nice non-felt ornaments through out the year.

I think that I may also retire a few of my ornaments. Though they all have sentimental value (someone close to the family made them or bought them for us), there are a few that just aren’t on par with the others. I’ll keep them, but I won’t put them on the tree.