Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

So it's been quite a year, eh? The last few weeks have just flown by us. It did include a lot of knitting...
And painting...
And baking...

Within the next few weeks I'll cover several DIY gift ideas and recipes, but today I wanted to share a story of beauty and danger.

So as many of you know, several people predicted some catastrophic event to happen December 21st of 2012. This is mostly thanks to the Mayan calendar ending on that day. That is until archeologist found a new Mayan calendar this past summer that goes far past that date. Either way, my darling husband wanted to celebrate his birthday (December 20th) and Yule/Winter Solstice (December 21st) by camping at a near by lake. That's right. Camping. In a tent. In the middle of December.
We packed a lot, but nothing could fully prepare us.
About a week or so before this trip, we were looking ok. The weather was hovering around 40-50 degrees. There was a little wind here or there, but nothing extreme. That is until the day before our trip. There was a large cold front that brought rain and bitter wind. That wind lasted through the next day. Thankfully, two of our friends were crazy enough to join us that night.
Key word for that night: LAYERS
Ashley & I joined our husbands a little late. We both worked that day and eventually found the camp site around 8 p.m. By that time, the wind took down one tent and was in the process of taking down another tent and a tarp that sheltered our fire. Thankfully that blaze lasted throughout the night even without the tarp. We had hoped to have a delicious dinner, s'mores for dessert, and late night of fun. But the cold reality was ramen that took forever to cook, taking turns warming in my car, and a early bedtime.
My husband keeping our dog warm
I have no idea how cold it got for us that night, but I do know the wind chill in the city was 21 degrees with wind gust at 30 + miles an hour. So with that being said, we decided that the four of us (and the dog) needed to stay in one tent.
This held all five of us!
Needless to say no one slept well that night. It was frigid and the wind often woke many of us up. I was just waiting for dawn to break. For the longest night of the year to be over. And after what felt like a lifetime, we began to see the sun's rays. We then witnessed a beauty that made the whole trip worth while.
A new dawn on Lake Barkley
The world may not of ended. Nothing different even happened that day. But there's something to be said about seeing the sunrise after such a dark evening. We were able to have an early New Year's Day and speak about our hopes and dreams for the new time ahead. But with a still frigid wind in the air, we quickly packed up and headed back to our warm homes.

So why share this story? I think it's a good example on the end of one year and looking forward to a new. That night was hideous; but sometimes we have to go through awful times to move on to a beautiful morning. 2013 is the new dawn. And I greatly look forward to what adventures lie ahead of us. Here's at least a peek of what I do know that will happen in the new year:
Projects to make our home more efficient!
Journeys to enjoy nature!
Holistic projects!
And I'm so happy to share all of these adventures with you. Thanks for sticking with me this year. 2012 was good to us. But I'm over it. I'm ready for 2013. Bring it!

Monday, December 17, 2012

DIY Festivus: Homemade Wreath

So what would you say if I told you that you could get a fabulous holiday wreath that matches your decorations, is the perfect dimension, and is free. That's right. A wreath that cost nothing.
My mantle isn't so bare anymore!
So the beautiful wreath above didn't cost me a dime. It's mostly thanks to the fact I made it myself. And even that only took about an hour. Here's how you can make a wreath of your own.

What you need:
- About 8 branches that you probably cut off from your live tree to make room for the base. One time an employee from the tree store gave me extra branches from previous trimmings!
- About 5 branches of other winter plants: holly, mistletoe, etc. This one is optional.
- Zip ties of all shapes & sizes
- Extra gift-wrapping ribbon
- Extra holiday ornaments

You will first need to decide how large you want your wreath to be. After you determine that, lay the tree branches in the wreath shape you desire. It maybe easier getting a metal wreath form, but I have never used one.
Once the branches are laid out, you then have the hard work of using zip ties to connect the branches. As I said, you may want to use a wreath form, but I've always just tied the main parts of the branches together. You will need to be discrete, but don't worry too much. You can always cover up some of the zip ties with the optional holiday plants/ ribbon/ ornaments. And don't forget to snip the ends after you get it locked.
Also a warning: you may want to use gloves. I broke out after making my wreath.
After you get the wreath secure enough, you can then embellish it with it anything you want. You can even use some finer zip ties. Basically work the garnish into any of the empty spaces between the branches. Ribbon is normally the last part I add that way I can cover up anything left that needs to be covered up.
And there you have it: a beautiful wreath that's ready to be hung up on a door or wall. You can also take in some pride that you made it yourself. And it's thrifty! What could be better?
A wreath from two years ago. It's a little more messy, but I wanted to show a more ribbon/ornament look
If you're getting tired of DIY holiday ideas, don't worry. It's almost over. But until January 2nd, I'm going to milk Festivus as much as I can. Love this time of year!

Monday, December 10, 2012

DIY Festivus: Gift For Newly Weds

So there was a gift I made for one of our favorite couples last year. It was their first Christmas as a married couple. So I searched for a great gift to commemorate it. Thanks to this thrifty blogger, I found the perfect present: an ornament made from their wedding announcement.
The photo I took last year only to realize I couldn't post it until AFTER I gave it to them.
So here's all you need for this beautiful ornament:
- A plastic ornament bulb (it's like 2 bucks at Hobby Lobby)
- The couple's wedding announcement/invitation/or program
- Scissors
- A pencil or dowel rod
- Glue

Making the ornament literately takes no time. First you slice up the wedding announcement horizontally. Try to keep some of the important details within the lines, especially the names, time, and address.

After that, take each strip and use the pencil/doll rod to roll up strips of paper. That will give you the rolled banner affect. After each strip is rolled, you can finagle the paper so the name or date is straight.

Then you need to get out the halved ornament. Gently place the rolls where you'd like them to be. This will take a bit of patience and work. I was able to build what I wanted in one half. On the other half, lay a little glue here and there on the lip that connects the halves. Then you simply place the top half and hold until the glue is secure... and voilĂ ! You have a beautiful ornament for your friend.
The ornament one year later...
I plan to try more of these through out the years. Maybe even attempt baby announcements! So for about $2, you can provide your loved on a one-of-a-kind gift. Not even Hallmark can do that!

Monday, December 3, 2012

DIY Festivus: Mantle Sign

So it's finally December. Can you smell it in the air? Christmas lights are up, everyone is rushing to the mall, and coffee stores are featuring holiday-themed flavors. It's Festivus!
Some of the delicious brews at our favorite coffee shop
As you can guess from my lack of posts, we've been busy. Outside of our normal duties, we're also busy decorating our home in a full holiday fashion. This is the first time we get to decorate our new home for Festivus. I'm so excited!

But I  also wanted to share one decoration I made this year that literally cost just $4 and 20 minutes for me to make.

So here's what you need:
4 Frames (bought at the Dollar Store)
Holiday-themed background (I used scrap booking paper I had from a 2011 project)
A Pencil
A Permanent Marker

It doesn't get much simpler my friends. Cut the background paper the proper size to fit in the frame. Then I drew the letters with a pencil at first followed by the permanent marker. Added some lines where needed. You can use paint, but I feel the marker is easier to control. And it practically dries instantly.
Not my most flattering photo but you get the point.
If you are not comfortable enough to do this free hand, you have a few options. There are a lot of stencils out there for the letters. And a ruler can be easily applied to sketch guidelines so it all matches.

For years I've been trying to find a good way to draw a snowflake. And if you are in the same dilemia & would like to know how I drew mine, here's a quick step by step tutorial. The design is open enough to make imperfections lovely.

After you draw out what you like & it dries, it's ready to go back into the frame then be placed in the desirable spot. For our mantel, I did intentionally pick one "odd" frame and overlapped the frames to give a 3D effect.
So there you have it! A quick, easy, and cheap way to add a new decoration to your home this season. I hope to share a few more ideas throughout the month when it comes to either decorations or gifts. I'm also pleased to share a photo of this year's Christmas tree! Are all your decorations up yet?
Happy Festivus!