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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Recipes

Here are recipes for a couple of yummy treats that I made for the holidays. They are both very good - but I guess you'd better like peanut butter! If you're in the mood to make something sweet, give one or both of them a try. The recipes are from my favorite series of Christmas books, the Gooseberry Patch Christmas books, which have crafts and decorating ideas for Christmas, along with lots of great recipes. These are from the newest book, Gooseberry Patch Christmas, Book 10.


18-oz. jar creamy peanut butter
7-oz. jar marshmallow creme
3 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1 c. salted peanuts, finely chopped
1 t. vanilla extract

Place peanut butter and marshmallow creme in a large bowl. Bring sugar, butter and milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour hot sugar mixture over peanut butter mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in peanuts and vanilla. Working quickly, pour mixture into an ungreased 13X9 pan. Chill one hour or until set. Cut into squares. Makes 3 1/2 pounds.


2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. margarine, divided
1 t. vanilla extract
6-oz pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine sugars, peanut butter, 1/2 cup margarine and vanilla; press into an ungreased 13X9 baking pan. Melt together chocolate chips and remaining 1/4 cup margarine; pour over peanut butter mixture and refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares. Makes 2 dozen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Newest Blog Layout, Ornaments and Family Tree

I've finished the hardest part of my blog layout redesign - changing the HTML and CSS to produce the look I want. Took a little longer than I thought, but I learned a lot in doing this. I've got the layout the way I want it. Think I'll leave it like this for a little while and figure out what I like and what I don't like. I'm still trying to decide which font colors look best and are easiest to read. And I'm still trying to decide what quilt block background I want to use and what size it should be. So there still might be a few more changes. But, like I said, the hardest part is done!

I have added a footer to my page acknowledging where I got the digital scrapbook elements I used in my blog header. They are part of a beautiful kit I found that was available for free download for a couple days around Christmas. The kit was created by A-liya for Debbie. You can see more of A-liya's beautiful work in her blog.

In addition to more work on my blog today, my husband and I took at trip to an antique mall and another shop made up of various dealers in Greenwood, MO, about a half hour from where we live. I bought lots more vintage Christmas ornaments for more wreaths. I stuck to my guidelines of all plain ornaments less than a dollar and all multi-colored or different shape ornaments $2 or less. Many of the dealers had their Christmas items on sale, some as much as 50% off. Now is the time to go looking for vintage ornaments if you want to buy some and make a wreath of your own!

The other thing I did today was load my Family Tree Maker 2009 software that I got for Christmas. I have a version that is 10 years old on our old pc, which we still have around until all data and files get moved to the new pc. Considering I have hundreds of people in my family list on that pc, I was very happy to discover that I could import a file from that old version into my new version of the software. And the features that are available in this new version are great. Now I need to make more time to keep digging into our family trees! I get quite addicted to this when I work on it, but I haven't done it in a while.

Let me know if you have any ideas or feedback for my new blog layout! I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Blog Layout

Well, I'm getting there. I like my new Prized Possessions heading. I'm still playing around with the text colors. Black text didn't show up all that well against the lace background. And I have a larger version of my quilt block I want to add to the sides. I thought that would be easier to do...I guess that will give me something to do on Sunday!

I had been looking online for lace to use as my background. I probably started a couple weeks ago. When I never found anything I liked, I headed to my craft room, found eyelet and lace to use and decided I would try scanning it to make my own digital scrapbooking elements. I like the way both the lace and the eyelet turned out. It took me quite a while to play with the eyelet and remove the sections next to the edges. But I'm sure learning a lot about my Adobe Photoshop Elements! It's a very powerful tool. Now I just need to learn to use it better!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I hope you had a nice Christmas, Hannukah or whatever you might celebrate at this time of year! We had a very nice Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my mom. Ate a lot of good food and just relaxed. I'll share some of the good recipes I found. It was a nice Christmas! I haven't been doing many blog posts lately, but hopefully that will change.

Since we had to spread out the vacation time in my office, I worked on 12/24 and 12/26. But now I'm off until January 2nd. Six days at home to do mostly just whatever I want! And I'm already accumulating quite a list of things I want to do. I plan to go to the fitness center three times while I'm off (went once this morning) to make up for the few pounds I've gained. I love to bake and make sweets around the holidays. It's really about the only time I do it. But it's been taking its toll on me!

And I stayed up way too late last night working on a new background and header for my blog. I just discovered digital scrapbooking and I've been having fun creating my blog layout that way. I'm pretty obsessed with that so I'll be working on that today. Check back soon to see if I've been successful with the change yet or not.

Here's my list of things to do. I doubt I'll do all this in 6 days, but we'll see how far I get.

1. Go to the fitness center 3 times
2. Update my blog layout
3. Finish the 1000-piece Christmas jigsaw puzzle I started on Christmas Day
4. Wrap gifts for two local friends that I wasn't able to get together with before Christmas
5. Clean up wrapping paper and ribbon mess in my craft room, which became Wrapping Central.
6. Hang the clock I got for Christmas in my craft room
7. Frame and hang the prints I got for Christmas (from my Etsy wish list) in my craft room
8. Make earrings for a girl I work with to match the necklace I made for her
9. Make a pink bracelet to list on Etsy for breast cancer awareness ($10 of each breast cancer bracelet sale goes to Susan G. Komen)
10. Install my new Family Tree Maker software I got for Christmas (I have a VERY old release of it - should have been keeping up with the new releases as they came out)
11. List new items on Etsy that I've made but not yet listed
12. Start my scrapbook from our 2007 vacation (I have all the prints, scrapbook paper, album. My husband started having terrible back problems at the end of this vacation. A month later, he had back surgery. While he was recovering and I was doing much more around the house, I never had time to actually start the scrapbook, although right after vacation I had accumulated all the things I needed to get started.)
13. Look for frames for a couple prints I bought at a benefit auction in November to go in our basement
14. Mat and frame an old wedding picture of my in-laws. I have the frame and the mat board. I bought a mat cutter two or three years ago and have matted a few things. Just need to get this done now.
15. I never completed all the posts I had intended to do on my basement craft room. I wanted to do one on my furniture and my storage. Hopefully, I'll get at least one of those done.
16. And I still have more red yarn for scarves if there's time to do anything else in 6 days! (See HeartScarves post)

Putting this in writing will help me to get it done! And I'm a list person, so I like checking things off lists. I'll publish my list the night of January 1st with the completed items checked off.

Well, I'd better go look into my HTML and learn more about Cascading Style Sheets so I can get my blog updated. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Blog Layout

After my introduction to digital scrapbooking last night and my decision to use digital scrapbooking to update the look of my blog, I couldn't wait to get started. I created this quilt block today to use as my new background. I obviously need to work on the header, add some embellishments and pretty this up. Please bear with me as I update a piece at a time. It might be kind of funny looking for a while until all the pieces come together!

Digital Scrapbooking

Pretty much all my life I have had more crafts to do than time to do them. For this reason, I have tried to avoid starting new crafts as long as possible. When rubber stamping first became popular, I avoided it as long as possible. I didn't want to know anything about it because I didn't want to become interested and find a new craft to do. But eventually, the stamps won and I began making greeting cards. Which, of course, eventually led to scrapbooking.

Then I heard about digital scrapbooking. I thought that sounded kind of silly. Why would anyone want to do scrapbooking using a computer when you could play with paper and real embellishments and have a much more hands-on experience? But then I realized I could use it for my annual family calendar and have a much more exciting calendar than I've ever had before. Someone reviewed my blog on LinkReferral.com and said they thought for a blog about crafts, my blog design was pretty plain. I realized I had to agree with them. When I started seeing blogs with digital scrapbooking backgrounds, that became one of my blogger goals - to have a really crafty and creative background of my own. And having been in IT as long as I have, I still love finding things I like to play with on the computer. That's why I have fun with my blog and want to learn more HTML. (That's why my blog on Vox lasted about two days and I moved to Blogger - Vox won't let you write your own HTML, but it took me two days to discover that.) And that's why I think I could really get into digital scrapbooking.

So tonight I took the plunge. Since I have a day off work tomorrow, my husband is out of town and my son finished finals today and is spending the night with a friend, I spent hours tonight trying my first digital scrapbooking page. I printed this tutorial for beginners, downloaded the beginner kit, picked a few Thanksgiving photos to work with and created my very first page. I mainly just wanted to play with the basics and learn how to add embellishments. I would want a real page to be more balanced than this one, but it served its purpose. I knew how to do the few things I've needed to know to edit photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements for my etsy shop and for adding photos to my blog but that's about it. Tonight I learned a lot more about layers, but I still have a lot to learn about this powerful software. Here is my very first page! Then someday, on to my blog background!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Vintage Christmas Ornament Wreaths

Have you been as busy as I've been these last few days? Or maybe (hopefully) you're a lot more organized than I am and get your Christmas shopping done early. One of these years I will strive to have all my shopping done the first week of December! I spent hours on Sunday doing some shopping, Monday I finished my out-of-town shopping, wrapped gifts and got the out of town ones ready to mail, and tonight I finished wrapping some straggler out-of-town gifts and have the last ones ready to mail. All my shopping is done except for finishing what I need to do for my husband and son. Oh, and I get to buy some new clothes for Christmas. Since I lost 25 pounds over the last 3 years, I'm still updating my wardrobe to include more clothes that fit rather than hang (nice problem to have) and my Coldwater Creek coupon expires 12/18! So I still have some shopping to do for myself!

Another vintage ornament wreath #1

I had a day off work last Friday so I decided to go to a nearby antique mall and see what kinds of vintage ornaments I could find. Although it started out slowly (due to the more expensive booths at the front of the mall charging higher prices - I'm not going to pay $4 or more for one solid colored glass ball!), I ended up buying a lot of ornaments. My starting rule of thumb was to spend as much under $1 per ornament as possible. I came across a booth that had whole boxes of solid color ornaments for $3/box. I bought five boxes, four having a dozen balls and one box with six larger balls. These were a great deal! All my solid ornaments were under $1. Then I bought some "pretty" ornaments, the ones with designs or patterns or multi-color or different shapes, for $2 each or less.

Another vintage ornament wreath #2

Saturday night, I went to work on two more wreaths, whose photos appear above. (Click on the photo if you'd like to see an enlarged image and more detail.) I got all the ornaments glued on. I'm getting much more comfortable with how ugly the wreaths look at the start. I'm no longer worried and it's easy to just zip along and put them together. I followed the same steps as I did for my previous vintage ornament wreath, as well as my practice wreath. Sunday morning, I glued on the bells, garland and beads.

One tip to point out if you want to try this...once I got the outside and inner rings of ornaments glued on, when I worked on the top layer, I would find a combination of 2 or 3 ornaments that worked well together, then go back and glue them down. I never just picked up an ornament and glued it on. I wanted to know how an ornament was going to fit in with others around it first.

These two wreaths used 57 and 59 ornaments. So while you need about 60 ornaments to make a 12-inch wreath like one of these, it does depend on the size of the ornaments. And I would recommend having more than 60 ornaments available to choose from. You would have to have 60 ornaments that fit together perfectly to start with only 60 ornaments. Because I would try out various combinations of 2-3 ornaments before gluing down, it was very helpful to have a variety of shapes and sizes to choose from to see what fit together best in the next space I had to fill.

One more tip when looking for ornaments...if you find one with a crack or even a broken side, if it's not a terribly large problem, you can always glue that bad side down...it won't be seen anyway.

If you decide to make one of these wreaths, I'd love to see it! Post a photo on Flickr or your blog and leave a comment with the link here. And if I can answer any questions about making a wreath, please don't hesitate to ask. Again, just put it in a comment. Have fun!

Friday, December 12, 2008

HeartScarves Knitted Red Scarf Project

I didn't go looking for another project to do and I certainly didn't need another project, but this one just kind of found me and I couldn't resist doing it.

A friend of mine showed me the red scarves she had knitted for HeartScarves. These scarves are donated to women who have heart disease. They must be primarily red and can be knitted or crocheted. See the web site for more information and to find out if there is a chapter near you or how to donate scarves.

My first knitted scarf - about 10 by 48 inches Since I found out about these scarves not long before Thanksgiving, I decided this would be a good project for me to do in the car while travelling to and from Oklahoma for Thanksgiving and in the motel room at night. I was a little over ambitious and bought four different kinds of yarn, two skeins each of most of them. But they were on sale at JoAnn's and Michael's and I will always be able to use yarn.

I started the first scarf above on that trip. I ended up making it a little wider than I would have liked, which took a lot longer to knit 33 stitches for each row. A narrower scarf would have been finished sooner. I just finished it a couple days ago. Once I got home, I never really had a lot of time for knitting.

Bernat Soft Boucle yarn used in first scarf I used Bernat Soft Boucle yarn for this first scarf. It's kind of nubby and interesting, but because of the nubbiness and little pieces of yarn sticking out all over, my 33-stitch rows somehow managed to grow to 35 stitches by the end of the scarf! I knitted every row and used one skein. This scarf ended up being about 10 inches wide and 48 inches long. Oh, I forgot to say I used size 10.5 needles.

My second scarf in progress Last night, I started my second scarf. This is Lion Brand Fancy Fur. I decided to make it much narrower. It turned out to be about 4.5 inches wide with 15 stitches in a row. Click to enlarge the photo and you'll get a better view of what the yarn looks like.

So if you're looking for something to do, or even if you're not, think about knitting or crocheting a red scarf. There are some very touching stories of the women who have received some of these scarves. Wouldn't you like to be able to help one more person add their story to this list?

HeartScarves is affiliated with WomenHeart, the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. Since education is one of their goals, take a look at their web site and learn more about heart disease.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More Handmade Christmas Ornaments

Click to see larger image Here are more of my handmade ornaments, some made by me, some made by others.

These first two are ones that my mom made. The one on the left is made from felt, beads and sequins. The gold one is a sea shell that she painted and decorated with glitter.

Click to see larger image These two were made by my friend Leona. The one on the left is a cute pine cone. The Grinch started with a wooden egg that she painted then added a Santa cap.

Click to see larger image These three ornaments are ones that Leona and I, along with another friend, Donna, made several years ago. We had a fun craft day where we got together, split up the tasks to make various ornaments and produced a lot of them before the day was over. I knitted the hats for our gingerbread men.

Click to see larger image This was my version of Leona's pine cone. I used a larger styrofoam form than she did.

Click to see larger image All the rest of the ornaments shown are ones that I made. Some were from patterns or craft books and some from kits. The sleigh was in a plastice canvas needlepoint book I have. I bought the beaded angel pattern. The wreath was a kit and the bird was in a book I came across quite some time ago.

Click to see larger image The Santa (a jingle bell all dressed up) and the beaded angel were kits. The gingerbread house was in the same book as the sleigh above. The tree is made of little spools with fabric strips glued around them for color. And the cute reindeer started with a light bulb.

Click to see larger image The reindeer on the left is a big jingle bell with legs and head attached. The reindeer on the right is made from felt. His legs are rolled up pieces of felt. The angel started with a doily. And the Golden Retriever puppy is counted cross stitch. I used to be active in our local Golden Retriever club and we sold these kits quite some time ago.

Click to see larger image
All of these are patterns that I found in books at one time or another.

Some of the ornaments I showed here were cousin gifts (back when I needed 35 of each cousin gift), like the the three ornaments to the left, the spool tree and the light bulb reindeer. Others were "pilot" versions of possible cousin gifts. I would make one or two, see how it went and determine if I wanted to make 35. The doily angel and the two reindeer in the same photo were pilot projects. I did NOT want to make 35 of those once I knew what it was like to make one!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Click to see larger image Today I hit a major milestone in my preparation for Christmas - my tree is decorated! I started earlier this week and did a little each day. But I spent most of the day today putting all my ornaments on the tree.

We always got a live tree for years, but 2006 was the last year we had one. It was getting harder and harder to find tree farms with good trees. We have an 11-foot ceiling in our family room and have always gotten a big tree. In 2006, we took our tape measure with us and got a tree that looked like it should fit just fine. But the tree farm we went to had many HUGE trees. The tree we picked, while it looked much smaller than the surrounding trees, was very wide. It was so wide, they couldn't put it through that machine that puts the net around it. They just wrapped rope around it to contain the branches so that we could tie it on top of our van. But when we got it home, we discovered how large it was. My husband and then 15-year-old son were bringing the tree in the house and it got STUCK in the front door! It took the two of them a very long time, but they finally got it inside. (We used to go to a very nice tree farm, not too far from home, for many years. But they finally built a subdivision there and the tree lot was gone. We had a hard time finding a replacement - best one was this one with the GIANT trees.)

Click to see larger imageAnd taking these large trees down after Christmas became a pain, too. Those bags they give you for your Christmas tree do not hold a large tree. We had trouble getting the tree out of the house in the past, so we started cutting it up into pieces with a chain saw in the family room just to get it out of the house.

So I never thought I'd really do it, but after Christmas 2006, we bought an artificial tree on sale after Christmas. Last year was the first year we put it up. It's pre-lit with white lights. I LOVE it! I never thought I'd be glad to get an artificial tree, but it has made life SO MUCH easier! So here is the 2008 version of our artificial tree, completely decorated!

Click to see larger image A couple years ago, I decided to count the ornaments I had as I was taking the tree down. At that time, it was well over 600 ornaments. It takes a long time to put all these ornaments on a tree, but I have fun unpacking and unwrapping all my ornaments each year. Many of them have memories associated with them and I enjoy reliving those memories each year.

Click to see larger image This post describes a cousin gift. Many of my ornaments are cousin gifts. And many of those are handmade. I decided to show you some of my cousin gift ornaments. We no longer do cousin gifts for every cousin. We now bring one gift and have a gift exchange. But over the years, I accumulated a lot of ornaments due to cousin gifts! Tomorrow I will show you some of the ornaments I have made and some that non-cousins have made and given to me. Perhaps they will give you some ideas of ornaments you can still make this year or sometime in the future.

Click to see larger image
The little angel in the middle is made with various types of pasta, then painted white.

Click to see larger image The ornament on the left is a cinnamon stick. The rocking horse in the center is made from applesauce and cinnamon and cut out with a cookie cutter.

Click to see larger image Santa in the middle is felt. The ornaments on either side are made from wood.

Click to see larger imageThe bear on the far left is made from pine cones. The cute drum is some sort of can.

Click to see larger imageThe gold ornament on the right is one of those clear ornaments with paint swirled inside.

Click to see larger image
My Christmast ornaments are some of my most Prized Possessions! Do you have any ornaments that you just love? I'd really enjoy your comments describing your favorite ornaments or links to photos of your favorites!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I decided to share some of my earrings in a post. Here's the latest pair I just listed on etsy. They are my Blue Floral Bell Earrings.

And here are my Light Green Floral Bells.

I recently started making earrings with these longer ear wires. They give a very different look to very simple beads. Here are my Turquiose Leafy Earrings.

For a bright and bold look, here are my Color Me Blue Earrings.

My Red Glass Dangle Earrings are a mix of red and white seed beads and various other shapes of red, white and clear beads.

And for a fun look for a teen or tween, Blue and Green Ladybug Earrings would be a perfect fit!

If you've got earring lovers on your Christmas list to shop for, please take a look at my etsy shop, Prized Possessions!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Beaded Christmas Ornaments

Berry Merry Christmas Ornament

Well, Thanksgiving is over. It's time to start thinking about putting up the Christmas tree. Do you have your tree up yet? And do you need any new ornaments for it this year? Or any gifts for people who love Christmas items?

Blue Swag Christmas Ornament
Here are some ornaments I made this year. They are currently for sale in my etsy shop, Prized Possessions. Please take a look and see if one of them just might be the one to fill that last spot on your tree!
Red with Green Beaded Netting Ornament
Red, White and Blue Ornament

Candy Cane Colors Christmas Ornament

Golden Snowfall Christmas Ornament

Deck the Halls Christmas Ornament

Gift Certificate Giveaway Winners

I had a lot of fun doing my first online giveaway. As a newer etsy shop owner, it really helped me to find out what sorts of items people would consider buying. This was a fun way to do market research! Because I enjoyed it so much, I decided to add two $10 gift certificates in addition to the original $25 gift certificate.

I used an online random number generator to pick the winners for me. And here they are.

$25 gift certificate goes to AmandaSue
$10 gift certificates to go fkhan247 and Stacey Moore

Winners have been sent emails notifying them that they won. I would really appreciate it if the winners will either reply to the email or add a comment here, just to confirm they know they won.

A sincere thank you to all who entered. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and that you will enjoy the upcoming holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate.

And come back for more info in January - I've decided to do another giveaway before Valentine's Day!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

2009 Family Calendar - My Other Thanksgiving Project

Every year my mom's side of the family gets together at Thanksgiving at my aunt's house in Oklahoma. My mom is the oldest of 10 kids and I am one of 36 cousins. Now that some of my cousins are grandparents, our family is up to 165 people. (We just counted, with the help of the project I am about to tell you about.) Thanksgiving is when the aunts exchange Christmas gifts and when the cousins, wives of male cousins, cousins' daughters, etc. do our gift exchange. (It's a girl thing. The boys don't come anywhere near.) Thanksgiving is also the best time to distribute calendars.

In addition to my vintage ornament Christmas wreath, the other project that I had to complete before Thanksgiving was my 2009 family calendar. I created my first calendar in 2003 for the 2004 calendar year. Since I had already been accumulating names and birthdates for a family tree, I had most of what I needed to make a calendar that had birthdays of all the family members. Each month has some sort of family photo on the page, as does the calendar cover.

I use Calendar Creator software. I entered the birthdays the first year and now each year I only need to add new babies, new spouses, etc. The one problem with the software is that it doesn't handle having more than two events on the same date. Since I also show holidays on the calendar, June usually creates some problems for me. There are a couple birthdays on the same date in June that often fall on Father's Day or the beginning of summer. When there are three events on a single date, I need to manually add some text boxes to show the birthdays and holidays. I can control the spacing of text boxes, but I can't control the spacing of the events that the software shows automatically. But that's really the worst part of the process. Everything else is pretty easy to use.

Here is my calendar for 2009. This is a wedding picture of my Grandma and Grandpa, who are no longer living, on the cover.

Here is a sample page of my calendar. Every year, we take a cousin picture. This is the cousin picture we took on Thanksgiving in 2007. The other pages of the calendar show other shots I took at Thanksgiving 2007. One year, I accumulated photos from all families and tried to get every person in the family on the calendar. One year, I used only old photos of great-grandparents, photos of the farm where my grandparents used to live, old cars...all old pictures. One year I collected as many pictures I could of family members when they were either babies or very young and made the calendar into a guessing game of name that baby. That was a fun year's calendar, too.

I used to do my calendars in black and white. I started having them printed by Kinko's, then found a printing shop that was very reasonably priced. I have 35 calendars made every year and in black and white, they used to cost just under $5 apiece. I couldn't find anywhere I could have a color calendar done for less than about $20. But last year, I discovered that the UPS Store near me had a sale on color copies every October for 35 cents each. With the binding, printing and assembly, I could have the calendars done for just under $10 each. I put out my box of calendars at my aunt's house along with an envelope for money and the calendars just kind of sell themselves now. Last year, no one minded the price going up from $5 to $10 because the color calendars look much nicer than the b&w ones did.

And I just started a family blog, open to family members only. I'm hoping to accumulate photos from people via the blog for next year's calendar and try to do another one that has as many family members pictured as possible. Since only 93 of the 165 were present at Thanksgiving this year, hopefully we can round up photos that will include more than 93 people! Check back next year for an update on the 2010 calendar!

Last Day to Enter Giveaway for $25 Gift Certificate!

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway to win a $25 gift certificate to my etsy shop, Prized Possessions. See my November 9 post to get the details. Drawing will be held the morning of Sunday, November 30 and winner will be notified by email and announced in a post, also. Thanks to all who have entered so far!

I'm considering giving away one or two $5 or $10 gift certificates, too. I haven't quite decided yet, but the more entries I receive, the more I will decide to give away!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vintage Christmas Ornament Wreath

My post of November 7 is about how I made my “practice” Christmas ornament wreath. Now it was time to make my real wreath. I had to have this finished before Thanksgiving. Once my open house was over, this was my next project.

Several years ago, I saw this picture in a Mary Englebreit book that I have, Christmas with Mary Englebreit Let the Merrymaking Begin Volume 1. It was also in the December 2000 issue of Mary Englebreit’s Home Companion magazine. I knew some year I would have to make one of these wreaths because I liked this so much. Last year, around the holiday season, I went to some flea markets and antique shops looking for vintage Christmas ornaments. They ranged in price from 25 cents to $3 or more. Since I knew I needed quite a few, I stuck to the less expensive ones. I splurged and bought a handful of fancier ornaments for a couple dollars each.

 Styrofoam wreath form
 Hanger made from florist wire
I started with a 12 inch Styrofoam wreath form. I used green florist wire to make a hanger on the back. I didn’t attach the hanger firmly yet; it could still move around on the form. I wanted to wait until the wreath was completed to decide on the exact placement of the hanger.

 Ornaments sorted by color
 Closeup of my prettier ornaments
I got all my ornaments out, laid them on the table and sorted them by color so I would know which colors to use more of and which to use less of. Here is a closeup photo of some of my prettier ornaments. I had about 108 ornaments when I had gotten them all out and counted.

 First step
I started by arranging some of the larger plain ornaments around the inside and outside edges of the wreath. Then I put various combinations of ornaments with those and on top of the wreath form to see how they might best fit together.

 Starting to glue
Once I had several ornaments that seemed to fit together well, I started the scariest part of the project – actually hot gluing my vintage ornaments to the wreath! This was the scary part when I made my practice wreath, too. Once you get past those first few ornaments being glued down, it’s not too bad!

 Gluing more ornaments
I did this wreath differently from my practice wreath. On my practice wreath I glued ornaments rather randomly around the wreath. Because of that, I had holes on the sides where you could see the wreath, more toward the back of the wreath. On this wreath, I glued ornaments all around the edges first. Since everything was flat on the table, the sides were more thoroughly covered all the way back to where the wreath would lean against the wall.
 More ornaments attached
Once I had ornaments along the inside and outside edges, I worked on covering the top of the wreath. I started using my less plain ornaments on top. One thing I would do differently if I could do this again would be to use some of the different ornaments around the outside edges. They are seen pretty well from the sides, so it would have been nice not to have all plain ornaments on the outside edge.
 Most ornaments attached
It would have been good if I could have had more small ornaments to fill in some of the gaps, but I wasn't able to find many very small ones. However, it worked out just fine with the ornaments that I did have.

 Ornaments on wreath
Once I had the wreath completely covered with ornaments, there were still some pretty big gaps where I could see the wreath form. Having had to figure out how to fill in these gaps on my practice wreath, this was easy to fix. I still had five large jingle bells left from my gold collection, so I tied colored ribbons onto them and glued the bells on next. I also had more of my star garland, so I tucked it into the largest gaps and just worked my way around until all the gaps were filled. Lastly, I draped the plastic beaded rope over the wreath, gluing it wherever it was needed.

 Finished wreath
Once I was able to hold up the completed wreath, I determined exactly where I wanted the hanger. I used a rounded piece of wire which I also glued in to tack down the hanger so it wouldn't more around. I only used about 60 of my ornaments for this wreath. If I can find another 20 or so, I think I'll make another one!

 Vintage Christmas Ornament Wreath

Here's a picture of my wreath hanging. The last two photos are closeups showing the bells, garland and beads.

This was a fun project to make. Looking for the ornaments was a big part of the fun, too. It was while looking for ornaments that I found two of the storage items in my craft room. The biggest thing to remember while making one of these wreaths is that it's going to look pretty ugly with only a small number of ornaments attached. The looks definitely improve as time goes on. Even when halfway complete or more, it really doesn't look too nice. But just keep gluing and then find creative ways to plug gaps at the end and it will turn out just fine!