Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is there a Pickle in your tree?

There's one in my tree! In fact, there are two pickles in my tree................
I bought the glass pickle a couple years ago, at about the same time that I won the Santa Pickle in Mark Lipinski's Yahoo group. There is a legend that goes with this pickle ornament and if you'd like to read more about it just go here and you will find everything you ever wanted to know about putting a pickle in your Christmas tree.  I didn't know about the pickle legend until a few years ago so it's not something I did with my kids when they were small. Could be fun though, if you have little ones who could go in search of the pickle. :-)
My husband bought some more lights strings and I put them on the tree in the family room that's off our kitchen. I'll get that decorated in the morning and share a picture in my next post.
Sandi Claus

Monday, December 13, 2010

Underneath the tree.............

Can you find my wool tree skirt? 
I can't either!! Once I add a few gifts and set my manger scene in place, the wool tree skirt is no longer visible. Not all of these packages are real gifts. I am the "Queen of Fake Gifts"! LOL! Only a few are gifts in fact, but some hold the gift tags, ribbon, tape, etc. And another bag holds gifts to wrap. Yet another holds a craft project that I may or may not get finished before Christmas. Some of the bigger bags hold the knick knacks that were on the end tables and removed for Christmas candy dishes, etc. I think I already covered that aspect but when the tree comes down and the ornaments and decorations are packed away, the regular knick-knacks come out of the gift bags and go back to their year round places on the end tables. Clever, huh?

I've talked about my manger/creche scene before and it is placed where I have set it for a number of years.........under the boughs of the tree, with the glitter star my daughter made many years ago, propped against a branch. There is comfort in the familiar routine of favorite customs and traditions. :-)

Sandi Claus

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Decorating for a White Christmas!

While the snow fell outside, I was warm and cozy inside. My husband finally got to the light strings that needed some help and so I was able to decorate this little tree in a corner of our dining room. If you go over to my quilting blog, you can read all about this little tree. These ornaments are ones I set aside last year when I was thinking I'd do a tree that was all silver, white and gold. Now I'm thinking maybe that will be next year when I do that. Time will tell. :-) Anyway, this tree is sparkly and looks very sweet in the dining room. I'm going to be watching the after-Christmas clearance for a slightly bigger tree for the dining room. Some folks shop for great buys in clothes after Christmas. I am always shopping for next year's Christmas cards, gift wrap, trees, wreaths, etc. I love Christmas and quilting more than I do clothes shopping. :-)
And speaking of clothes............
can you guess what my tree skirt is made from?
It's a skirt!! Yep, it's a tree skirt made from an old wool skirt. I've had this one for years and just cut a slit in the back so that I could drape it around the base of the tree and cover up the plywood piece that keeps the tree solid. I was always going to make a fancy tree skirt but I figured why bother when I cover it up with gift boxes, bags, etc. You'll see what I mean when I post a picture tomorrow of what it looks like under the tree now.
It's been a long day. I mean, after all, this big snowstorm was pretty exciting! I'm writing this just after midnight so think it is time to get some sleep. No church in the morning as it's been cancelled along with most other things this Sunday. Once those plows are out, though, I'll bet there will be folks headed to the malls. At least that's what the shop owners will be hoping for so they can recoup some of the lost sales from today. I won't be one of them. Too cold for me. I'm going to be working on my Christmas letter and some Christmas gifts. Have a lovely Sunday!
Sandi Claus

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two of my favorites!

I have lots of favorites in my ornaments but these two are two ornaments that I really like.

There are two reasons that I like these ornaments. First reason is that they are unique. Second reason is that I bought them when I went to a craft show with my daughter several years ago. The minute we spotted these ornaments, we both had to buy one of each. They are cut from logs and then the maker cut out part of the log slice to make one a Snowman ornament and one a Santa ornament. I don't know the name of the maker but we bought them at farm craft sale north of Waseca, MN in September of 1996. It was called "A Touch of Country Class" and featured a barn full of craft items and other little outbuildings just loaded with fun crafts and gift items. We had a wonderful day together and enjoyed gorgeous fall weather and just an all-around good "mother/daughter" day together. :-)
I didn't do any decorating on Friday. I went grocery shopping in the morning and then home to unpack and then out the door again with my husband. We went furniture shopping for living room furniture. Our current furniture is stuff that we bought in 1985. It just seems to last forever and I am way tired of it. Amazingly, we found some things we liked and we were really fortunate that the sales associate we were working with really understood what style we were looking for. Someone had checked out the upholstery samples for the sofa we liked so we'll go back again after Christmas and check them out ourselves! We're in no hurry. The current sofa has lasted this long, so I'm sure it will last a little longer! Then we went to a party hosted by one of my husband's co-workers and got to drive home in blinding snow. You may have already read about that over on my regular blog. It was not fun. Snowplows were out in force and I am sure it will be that way even through the day Saturday.  While I was grocery shopping my husband was repairing light strings. Looks like I can get back to some more decorating on Saturday afternoon.
Later then.......
Sandi Claus

Friday, December 10, 2010

The oldest ornaments on my tree............

I got to wondering which ornaments are the oldest on my tree and I think these are it. They are all ornaments that were given to me by my husband's mother, Ora. They are pre-1968 because that's when I met my husband and she put them on her tree then. I suspect they are from the 1950's/1960's.

Ora and Steve's dad, Ed, co-owned an old-fashioned variety store in the town of Humboldt, Iowa.  Their partners were Ora's sister, Norma and her husband, Floyd, who was always called Tuffy, never Floyd. :-)  Anyway, the two "girls" basically grew up that old store, Clayton's Variety Store, because they bought it from their parents, William and Lulu Clayton. It's quite likely these ornaments came from Clayton's Variety Store. I have a couple of quilt tops made from fabric that came from Clayton's. I remember going into the store in the late 60's and early 70's and loved that feel of the old-fashioned variety store. We're fortunate to have one not far from us and whenever I go in there, I am remind of Clayton's and even more of the variety, and also what we called "The Dime Store" when I was a kid. I think I know why I like the Dollar Store so much. It reminds me of "The Dime Store"!!
Some of my decorating is "on hold" due to the need to get some light strings working. Lots going on around the household and my Mr. Claus has not had time to fix the light strings. I arranged some "fake gifts" under the tree this evening so that it looks like there are lots of goodies there. The "fake gifts" are just a couple gift-wrapped boxes that hold Christmas craft supplies so they are right where I can find them if I want to make up a gift ornament. And then there are gift bags that I fill with the regular knick-knacks that are on end tables and shelves that I remove to put up Christmas stuff. This way, I'm not tucking them in some cupboard and then can't find them. When I take down the tree, and pack away all the Christmas stuff, I just unpack those gift bags and put the regular knick-knacks back in place. I'm thinking that Ms. Martha hasn't even thought of that idea. LOL!
Snow is in the forecast for us on Saturday so Mr. Claus will be homebound and should be able to get those light strings working and I get to the finish line on my decorating. We shall see!
Sandi Claus

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Forty years ago.............

I made these little ornaments in a ceramics class. My husband was stationed overseas in Japan and we lived in a large military apartment complex. It was huge and in addition to six wings that held the apartments for military families, there was also a grocery store, base exchange (you could buy almost anything there), library, nursery (daycare as we call it now), theatre, flower shop, post office and a hobby area. There was also a base chapel and dining areas for both enlisted and officer personnel. I was just 21 and with a tiny baby and more miles from home than I really wanted to be at that time. My husband's job took him on temporary duty to places like Korea, Taiwan, the Phillipines, and Okinawa and so there were long stretches by myself. I remember that it cost just 35 cents an hour to take your child to the base nursery. I was able to use it and took a few ceramic classes during our time in Japan. These little ornaments are one of several items that I made during those classes...........
I vaguely remember that I rolled clay very thin and then cut out some craft patterns and traced around the edges, then cut the design from the clay. They were fired and then I just used craft paints on them and finished with a glaze. They have survived all these years, including a few moves, except that........if you look really closely at the snowman, you will see that he is cracked and has been repaired. Oh, well, at least he didn't melt. Ha! Ha! I just love these little ornaments and when I see them they remind me of days that are soooo long ago. How can it be that they were made forty years ago? Of the almost 600 ornaments that I have, almost 100 of them were made during the time we stationed in Japan. More on them in upcoming posts.
On the "decorating front", I started working on the little tree in the dining room that I am going to decorate in silver and gold but I didn't get it finished. I have a light issue again so I removed some older strings and will put on two new ones. So what did I accomplish? I made fudge!  Then I portioned it out into little cupcake liners, two each and wrapped in plastic so that they can go in the goodie bags that will be prepared at church. The filled bags will then be delivered to church and community members who are homebound. I remember doing this when I was a kid and love it that I found a church that does this. It's the women's group that coordinates the project and when the goodie bags are all filled everyone enjoys a potluck! I haven't figured out what I will bring for that yet. Something will come to me. ;-) I also did some cleaning, worked on Christmas cards and tried to get in some sewing but never found time. I'll try again today........or tomorrow. Still plenty of time til Christmas. :-)
Sandi Claus

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oops! too fragile!

One of the things I'm doing to inventory my ornaments is to take photos of "like items". I set out these ornaments that were all bought for just a dollar each at Dollar Tree about 2003. Many of them can still be found in their stores now.

Each one has it's own velvet box.
One of those boxes will be empty when I pack up the ornaments this year because unfortunately I clinked the Santa ornament to close to the Tree ornament and it shattered. :-(  I remember buying more than a dozen of these and giving them as gifts that year.
Some ornaments are special and I even wrote notes so I would remember why........
I remember buying this glass ball ornament at our Snyder Drug store one Sunday after church. It was a time when our church membership was dwindling and our congregation would eventually be disbanded but I wanted to remember that special Sunday. ;-)
With the tree all decorated, I took a day off from Christmas decorating and just enjoyed the afternoon with my friends in our Bible Study group. I thought about putting lights along the front porch railing and then thought better of it because it was so cold!  I never did get to the dining room tree so I can do that today and leave the outdoor stuff til this weekend. My husband said he'd do it so I may just let him!
Hope you are enjoying these days up to Christmas!
Sandi Claus

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ta Da! The tree is decorated!

Finally, I finished decorating the Christmas Tree. I think there are about 400 ornaments on the tree. And if you are wondering if I decorate the backside.....yep, I do because if someone was peeking in the window, I would want them to see the tree decorated from there, too.
I was doing some picture taking as I put on the ornaments so that I can do a really good inventory of them but I decided that it was taking too long. I decided, I will take pictures of sections of the tree each day and then can document where the ornaments came from or who made them. Here a few photos I took that I thought I'd share......
In the photo above is one of the oldest ornaments on my tree and is a felt Santa that my mother made for our daughter Collette in 1972. I made that snowman you see in both of these photos. If you'd like to know how to make that snowman, go here for a detailed photo tutorial.
Another favorite ornament is that clothespin pony that I remember buying at a craft sale sometime in the 1980's. I was with my friend, Sandy, and we often went to craft sales together so it reminds me of her every time I see it, plus I think it's just as cute as can be. Double-click on the photo and you can see how the clothespins were cut to make the pony.
This little vintage felt cottage reminds me of a felt wallhanging that my mother-in-law did many years ago. Sadly that disappeared from her room when she was at a care facility. This one was just a dollar at a local thrift shop and by the mushroom cottage look of it, I would guess it's from the 1970's.
In the photo above is a little German doll bought on a trip overseas and on another trip, I bought the little couple in the photo below when we visited the Black Forest in Germany. I only get them out at Christmas and love to just sit them in the branches so they can keep company with some of the other ornaments we bought in Germany.
That's all for today. Next up is to decorate the front porch. Then again, we may wait on that as it's to be pretty cold here in Minnesota. Maybe, I'll decorate a little tree in the dining room. :-)
Sandi Claus

Monday, December 6, 2010

Finally..........there are ornaments on the tree!

Today, I hung the three little wreaths on each lantern next to the garage doors...........
One task totally done!!!  We still don't have any lights along the front porch railing. My husband was away on business when the weather was nice and we could have put up the lights. Now it's cold and we keep putting it off. It's not going to get any warmer until the weekend. Our front porch could be dark til then unless we decide to bundle up and just get it done!!
Inside the house, it's plenty warm and I really dug into the boxes ornaments for the tree. I have four long boxes, kind of like those "under-the-bed plastic boxes, only they are red and green for Christmas storage. Each box contains a variety of boxes that are filled with the ornaments that I've made or collected since December of 1968.
In some boxes there are ornaments from trips we took, like these from Germany, England, Italy, and San Deigo - my favorite city to visit because that was where we lived when we celebrated our first Christmas. :-)
And in some boxes there are ornaments I made with our kids like the God's Eye made from popsicle sticks and the felt pony on a stick, some made by my mother and my daughter, aunts and cousins, too...........
And then there are the angels and the bells............
 And the bears and the snowmen!
There are fragile ornaments that are carefully packed in smaller boxes like these real egg ornaments. I made most of these in the 1970's. There will come a time when I'll do a tutorial on these ornaments. It may be at Easter time but that's just fine. Easter is a time for eggs anyway. :-)  These egg ornaments always go on the tree first............
Then come the glittered styrofoam snowflakes. I made these when we lived in Japan when my husband was in the Air Force. They are not hard styrofoam but are a soft foam type fiber. I stuck pretty beads on pins in the points of the snowflakes and then glittered each one. You can easily recreate a similar snowflake by cutting a paper snowflake and tracing it to a styrofoam luncheon plate. Cut out the design with an X-acto knife. This is not a project for a child and, even us adults need to be careful doing this one!! Add some decorative beads on pins and then the glitter, first one side and let dry, then the other side and you will have a pretty decoration for your tree! 
At the time I did these snowflakes, I also decorated oodles of styrofoam ball ornaments. You'll see those in a few days. :-)
After the snowflakes are hung in just the right places, I always hang the glass ornaments from Germany next. My husband's job used to take him to Europe a lot. When he would travel in December, I would always ask him to bring home a new Christmas ornament.
Next up on the tree are the angels. They come from a variety of family and friends. The little angel in the top row, far left is one from my mother-in-laws tree and is from the 1950's. The two angels below it were gifts from my sister. The little blue felt angel was made by my mother and the crocheted angel was made by Steve's Aunt Jean. A co-worker (from when I worked at a computer company years ago) crocheted the blue angel and the rest are ones I bought. Except for that large angel on the right. She was made by my friend Judy. She was the neatest gal. She passed away in 1994 and as I write that, it is hard to believe it's been that long ago. I'm going to share more on that angel and Judy when I post some other ornaments later this week.
All the angels are on the tree and so are all those teddy bears and snowmen from that first series of photos in this post. And this little ornament is also on the tree............
Do you remember these? They came in a little box like the one in the photo and the little plastic nativity scene was only about 1 1/2" tall. I have had this one for so long that I can't remember when I got it!  It is one of my very favorite ornaments. :-)
The tree decorating isn't finished so I can't share a photo of it. I've got all day Monday to finish it. Only other thing calling my name on Monday is some laundry. :-) I hope to get back to some sewing on Wednesday. Got some Christmas gifts to finish but the decorating comes first!
See you tomorrow!
Sandi Claus

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We have garland!

My tree decorating is moving along at "turtle speed". This is due in part to the fact that it took me almost an hour to untangle the red bead garland. Then I got it on the tree and could see that I was going to have six feet left-over at the bottom and it was not draped right at the top and so I started over again. LOL!

Finally, I finished but not before I took two phone breaks during this garland addition and then stopped to check e-mails, and then I took a break for a hot cocoa. If I had started earlier in the day, I might have at least added a few ornaments to the tree but I got busy with some laundry and other things so never got to the tree. Then in the afternoon I went to the Christmas Tea at the Library and that was well worth doing! Lovely goodies and very nice entertainment. :-)

This Sunday afternoon, I should finally be able to start adding ornaments! Maybe I should start a new feature........."What's on the branch?" and then each day I could share a new ornament. Nah, that's not quite as catchy as "What's on the line?" :-)

I played around with the camera again and here's what the tree looks like when you cover the flash with your hand.......... I really do need to read that camera manual!! 

Sandi Claus

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let there be light!

My husband stopped at Menard's and bought new lights for our Christmas tree. It was awesome to trim the tree with lights that all worked when I was all done hanging them. In years past, the red, white and green lights that he likes so much, would burn out by the time I got them on the tree. I decided to take a couple pictures with the lights brightly shining on the tree. I tried a couple different settings.............hmmmm...looks like little white bows or airplanes on the tree and a comet at the top of the tree.........
 This one was a little better but the comet is still there...........
I think I will need to get out the manual and figure out how to take a picture of the lighted tree like the ones I see in magazines.  This one is just taken with the flash and you can't really see the lights like I wanted.
You can at least see that there is no comet at the top of the tree. That's a star ornament that we nicknamed the "pizza light" years ago. My husband bought it and every light in it was a different color. I couldn't put it at the top of the tree. It was like a ferris wheel, it was so bright!! I removed every colored light and put in all white lights and that's the way it's been for the last fifteen years. So, next come the ornaments. It takes me two days to put all the ornaments on the tree. I look at each one and remember where I bought it or when I made it. I'll share a whole bunch of them here on this little blog. One of the reasons I started this new blog was to write the story of my Christmas decorating so I can give it to my daughter and the other reason is so that I can learn how to use the new blogger. I am not technical and it takes me a long time to figure things out. I blogged for almost a year and a half before I knew you could pre-schedule posts. Seems like every day, I learn something new about blogging.  Never imagined I'd be doing this and only wish I had not hesitated so much before I finally started blogging. It's fun, easy and you meet so many interesting people and learn so much!
See you next post with some ornament fun!
Sandi Claus

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pretty bows!

Photos of steps to make the wreath bows will be posted late Friday morning. :-) Make that Sunday afternoon......... :-)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lights out!

I had this plan that I would set up the tree one day and add the lights the next day. My plan was to add the lights to the tree last night, after I returned from the CrecheFest program. My plan was thwarted early yesterday when I went to check the light strings that go on the big tree. Everyone of them has a problem. In addition to the tree being fairly old, so are the lights. We bought them at the same time we bought the tree. My husband has "doctored" them along but I think they may be beyond "doctoring" now. It's time to buy new lights and that won't happen for a couple days and soooooooooooo....... I switched plans. :-) After I got home from the CrecheFest, I baked up the cookie dough that Collette mixed for me this past weekend. Those little cookie goodies will be going along with me to our Crazy Quilting potluck this evening. :-)
The cookie dough is basically a chocolate drop cookie recipe that has 1 teaspoon peppermint extract added to it. You roll the cookies into one inch balls and then bake them for about ten minutes. When they come out of the hot oven, you plop a peppermint candy kiss in the middle and let set til cool. Then get a glass of milk and gobble a couple because they are sooooo good. They are similar to the peanut butter blossom cookies that have milk chocolate kisses in the middle. They are also a yummy cookie. :-)

Since I couldn't add lights to the tree, I decided to decorate some wreaths for the outside of our house that will hang to each side of the garage doors. This pile of artificial greenery and pretty ribbon (bought at 90% off after Christmas last year!).................
became this after I "fluffed" the branches and made the bows.

I'll "fluff" the bows some more just before I hang them. I took a couple photos as I made the bows. Does anyone want to know how I did the bows? I can post photos if you are interested.
I am not sure what I will do today (Thursday). I think I'll just wait and see what I find when I go to the Christmas closet. :-)
Sandi Claus 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A tree grew in my living room!

I procrastinated most of the day yesterday about setting up "Ye Olde Artificial Christmas Tree" but I finally told myself about 4:00 in the afternoon that I better get to it. None of Santa's elves were around to help so it was just me and the dog. Funny thing is that it only took a couple hours to set it up and yet.......... I seem to remember in years past that it took longer and was more work. I'm not sure what changed, except maybe my attitude. :-)  Here is the tree, all put together............

The tree is about 8 feet high and has been with us since about 1994. We got it at a place called Seasonal Concepts. I wanted a bigger tree that would hold all the ornaments that I've made and collected. Plus I wanted a tree with firm branches. The tree that we had previous to the one was what I called a "bottle-brush tree". It came to us free and we had it for almost 20 years before it became obvious that it had to go.  You see, the poor tree had branches that flopped and so you'd get the garland on and then the ornaments and pretty soon a branch would turn and the garland would sag.........then you'd fix that and another branch would twist and no amount of garland could keep the branches linked in place. It was comical, and yes, you had to see it to know how comical it really was.
The tree in this photo is also nearing it's time to go. It doesn't look to bad in this photo but it sheds plastic pine needles as if it were a real tree. I put the branches that are the most bare to the back of the tree. :-)  Maybe next year we will get a new tree, although I've been saying that for three years now. LOL!
Someday, I'd like to have a real tree, but my other half is not in favor of it. I remember real trees from when I was a kid. There was a sweet smell to them that no artificial tree can match. Of course, no artificial tree can match the unique shape that some real trees have either. I remember one year when my dad almost forgot to buy the tree and so pickings were slim. It wasn't the best shaped tree that year but that didn't matter when it came to celebrating Christmas.
Tonight, I'll add lights to the tree and share some more thoughts. I love the Christmas season and just wanted to share the joy it brings.
See you again tomorrow........
Sandi Claus