Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tree Time

I already filled you in on some of the post-decoration Christmas tree drama around here this year.  So far,  the wire and Jenga blocks are continuing to keep it upright, and my glue gun is keeping up with the L.-associated breakage.  Here's a photo essay of the choosing and decorating the tree this year. 

Animals!  L. making his standard growling noise for all creatures.

L., sick of being manhandled by his siblings.

Anxious to get in the straw maze.

Three of my favorite men.

Lights on!

First ornament on the tree.  N. has been playing with this angel for two months now,
 and talking about putting it on the tree.

Is this one considered fragile, Mom?




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Zooful of Cheer

Last week we continued one of our favorite Christmastime traditions: visiting the Cincinnati Zoo for the Festival of Lights.  
The kids and I visited the zoo back in early November, when they were already getting ready by stringing lights in all the trees.  
O. has been asking when we will get to go back and see Santa's reindeer ever since. The mild weather this year meant we got to enjoy everything without dealing with too much whining about how very "chiw-y" N. was, at least until the end, when it was time to head home anyway.

O. was literally bouncing with excitement the whole walk in from the parking lot, 
so I'm amazed that we got him to stand next to the 
gigantic Christmas tree long enough for this shot.

Once we started seeing the animal shaped light creations, O. kept asking to get a picture with them.  I was surprised, because he lately does not like to cooperate with posed pictures.

Then I figured out that he had a plan for a whole series.  
N. is not in on the act quite yet.
Ah, now she's got it.

What fun we had together!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Should have been our Christmas card this year...

We already sent out our cards, a montage with some semi-professional pictures of the kids throughout the year.  I wasn't up for trying for a group shot where all three were both smiling and had eyes open.  I found myself a little sad I didn't have a Christmas-y shot of them yet this season, so I tried getting them to don Santa hats the other night.  

Yep.  These are my kids. 

Clowning princess, my mostly sweet Cub Scout, and the happiest baby on earth. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

RWOP: Ballsy Attempt

This week's RWOP installment was inspired by this tutorial for making a wreath out of Christmas balls.
Since the smallest Small is obsessed with balls, and likes to pull all spherical objects he can reach off the Christmas tree, we had a lot leftover when we finished decorating this year.  

I really thought this looked easy.  Just requires a wire hanger and some ball ornaments. You unfold the hanger, shape it into a circle, then string the balls on by their loops.  Twist the wire back together, and hang!

As usual, I thought I could somehow rig my own version of this craft, and that I wouldn't necessarily need the EIGHTY balls that were recommended.  Seriously. Who has eighty balls just lying around, or is going to buy eighty balls for a wreath?  When will I learn though, that crafting is not cooking?  I really can't always just improvise with what I have, unless I'm willing for the end result to look a little forlorn.  

Anyway, here is where the initial magic happened, on my kitchen counter.  You are supposed to hot glue the top onto each ball so that they don't fly off when you start stringing them on the hanger.  Again, I thought maybe this was overkill.  But then I strung a few on, and the minute I tried to touch any of them:  Yes.  They fell off.  So hot glue it was.  A little tedious, but not too bad.  

O. helping me with the stringing of the balls.  

I did try to pay attention to the pattern of color and size when stringing them on, as I would do when making a bead necklace.

Okay, I don't have any of the in between shots of this project, where I ran out of balls, tried to hang it up anyway with the top third of it basically bare.  The problem with trying to use less balls and reshape is that the balls are not very flexible, and tend to burst into a billion smithereens if you mess with them too much.  Also, the weight tends to fall towards the bottom, making it impossible to spread them out just how you'd like.

Sooo.  I went and bought some new balls.  Target had some in the dollar spot, luckily.  But, it meant I had to unstring all of my old work, so as to redistribute the new color palette.  J. helped me twist the wire more securely than I could do with my fingers.

You use the original hook from the hanger as your wreath hanger.  You'll see here that I have covered up the remaining bare wire with a very cheap looking bow.  All the ribbon I had was too translucent when I made my own bow, so I went with the pre-made 99 cent bow from Michaels.  Kind of fits with the retro/dime store feel that the whole thing ended up having.  Here it is hanging on the inside of my front door  Might look better on a solid door than my glass one, for contrast.

So, here's a poor quality closer-up view on my living room chair.
Not awesome, but not too bad.  I miss the extra sparkle all of these ornaments gave our tree, but I'm sure J. is glad we may not have an entire box devoted to "Ornaments: Balls" to put away this January!

This is my weekly Real Women of Pinterest post.  What are you pondering producing on Pinterest lately?  Would you like to share?  Email me your photos, or if you're a blogger, link up below!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

RWOP: Trying to Keep Christmas Together This Year

This seems to be the Christmas of broken things.  Looking back, my dustpan first started getting use before Thanksgiving, when I dropped a friend's casserole dish in my front hallway.  I was trying to help her juggle her potluck dish, her toddler, and baby on her hip, and the casserole dropped right through the bag she had been carrying it in, and smashed to bits all over the floor, with children who had just taken shoes off everywhere.
Since then, I have broken a couple of glasses, which is relatively unusual for me.  I wasn't even holding L. at the time, so mostly it's just distraction.
Sometime before Christmas,  I found this image of a square vase turned into a Christmas decoration on Pinterest.  I thought it was lovely, but wasn't sure I could forgo my usual dining room centerpiece -- our enormous brandy snifter filled with jewel colored balls.  In January, I swap out the balls for snowflake napkin rings.
Well, there must have been a larger plan, because when I went to the basement to get the glass snifter, and began to unload the snowflakes and candle holders that had been stored in them, one of the candle holders slipped out of my fingers and smashed right through the glass, shattering the whole object.  All the times I'd been so careful washing that glass vase by hand, all the way back in the tiny house J. and I first lived in together flashed through my mind.  I'm not beating myself up over a decoration, but still, a stupid way for it to be broken.
So, new format to display glass balls it is:

I like it -- maybe more than my good old giant brandy glass.

And then there was our Christmas tree.  I'm not sure if you've heard the story of ours falling over two years ago, but it did.  We lost a good number of ornaments.  I've never really gotten over how completely quiet it was, just a little ringing on the way down, and some tinkling of broken glass as it landed.  Amazing.  Well, we have made sure to wire the tree to the wall since then.  This year, our tree is a big improvement on last years', mostly because we didn't buy the first one we saw so that we could get the heck out of Lowes.  However, just like last year, the buying, lighting, and hanging of ornaments on our tree this year was quite a marathon of a day.  Just keeping L. away from ornaments was a full time job, and only the top two thirds of the tree are actually decorated.  

Guess who has his first word?  "Ball!  Ball!"  And he's only broken one so far!!

J. didn't get the tree wired to the wall.  My parents showed up the next morning, and were admiring the tree.  Just as my mom was observing "It does lean a little to the left, though," I saw it go.  Holding L. on my hip with my left arm, I caught the falling tree with my right.  No chance for ringing or tinkling, but this tree was not having any part of standing up straight, and the tree stand was not working quite as it should.   

An hour later, using an combination of wire and Jenga blocks (yeah, don't ask.), the tree is stable again.  And thanks to an idea I found either via Family Fun or Pinterest (can't remember which one at this point, we'll always remember the tree that almost fell down.  

If your family is of the "real tree" variety, you can check out the instructions for creating your own keepsake ornament from a cross section of your tree here.  It's not too late to do so -- you can always cut a slice off when you throw it out.  I decided to decorate ours using another idea from Pinterest, a thumbprint string of lights.  Not sure if mine ended up looking like lights, but it's colorful and festive anyhow.

Up next week: my semi-successful ornament wreath project!

I'm a little late on my Real Women of Pinterest post this week, but I'd love it if you'd link up your own projects.  Bloggers, link to your site below.  Other readers, send me your photos and I'll share, or just tell us about it in the comments!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

All Dolled Up

Ask N. what she wants for Christmas this year, and she will immediately reply:  A Camerican Goyl.  (American Girl).  
Ask me what she's getting, and I'll admit, I'd love to get her an American Girl, but I have my doubts as to whether she's ready.  So, she's getting a fake.  And I'm conflicted about that.  Feels a little like giving The Sunshine Family instead of Barbies.  Okay, not exactly like that.  
Truth be told, what N. really wants is the zebra print dress in the American Girl catalog.  The one she can wear, and the one the doll can wear.  It does not come in her size, so she will definitely not be getting this dress.  I haven't decided if her Target doll will be getting the real dress, or if she'll be settling for the one I ordered on Zulily.  Are you sensing a theme here?  It's not the money, necessarily, though I really don't want to spend thirty dollars on a dress for doll.  It's that N. is more focused on the zebra print than which historical time period might be her favorite.  She can't even decide whether she'd rather have a doll that looks like her or one that looks like her cousin.  Because she's FOUR.
Clearly, not ready for the American Girl.  But she thinks she is, so it could make for an interesting Christmas morning.  
Anyhow, she has been enjoying dressing up her baby dolls and stuffed animals lately.  So this week, we decided to make them some diapers out of felt, using a pattern I found on Pinterest.  Super cute, and just as easy as it looked on the tutorial.  
We found the patterned felt at Jo-Ann.  A little pricier than I had imagined, at $1.33 a sheet for the patterned, but not too too terrible.  We only bought a couple, just in case it didn't work, and really, two are enough to trade around on the dolls and animals.  
We folded the felt in half, traced around the pattern, and cut it out.  

I had some Velcro squares left over from my framed handprint project, so we used those instead of a whole line of velcro.  Since mine were sticky backed, I didn't bother sewing them on.  If they come off, I can always sew them then.

And there you have it.  Fancy diapers for my fancy girl's fancy animals.  Now that they are finished, I'm afraid they look a little more like fancy panties, but oh well.  I just hope this is enough zebra print to keep her satisfied for a while.  

That's what this Real Woman of Pinterest has found Pinteresting this week.  How about you?  Link up below and let me know!