Friday, December 21, 2012

Hardcore relaxing

O. M. G. The semester is finally done! It's weird...I only had 3 classes but they were all tough and I pushed myself to my limits. But I made it.

And now we relax!

First up, finish my mom's hat. Check. This is Simon - A Tam and it's fantastic! I have every hope that this will block wind and keep her warm on her walks.

And now I need one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


On Thanksgiving, we tried something new...canned pumpkin pie mix. It was in the cupboard so we figured what the hey, let's see what it does.


While it wasn't totally horrible, it was NOT what I'm used to...which is homemade crust and homemade filling. It has to be the Festal golden pumpkin pie recipe. Which this pie is.

End of story.

Oh wait, I make my pie with coconut milk because I'm allergic to dairy and I use all brown sugar. Because it's better.

Now that's the end :)

Snowball Icicles

I was thinking last night about the differences between when I grew up and now, when my children are growing up, particularly related to Christmas.  I realized that with the advent of mini lights and now LED lights, my kids never experienced the obligatory yearly lecture about not leaving the tree lights on too long or when you're not in the room or "you'll burn the house down."  So sad.

Those old lights were beautiful, especially the snowball lights.  My mother-in-law was a huge fan of Christmas and we kept the snowball bulbs from her old strings of lights and even used them interspersed among the regular lights until we switched to mini lights.  Now we use LED - and they're pretty, don't get me wrong - but just not the same as the warm glow of the incandescents.

So I've had these snowball bulbs sitting loose in a box for years trying to figure out what to do with them so we can still enjoy them even if they can't be used as lights.  With all the wire and beads that have been flying around here lately, the answer was obvious and I wish I'd thought of it sooner.

After a brief search for a needle-nose pliers, I was off.  Can't remember the gauge of the wire, but it should be easy enough to bend and twist without breaking and should be able to hold a hook shape securely.  I twisted the wire around the threads of each bulb a few times, then twisted it into a tight coil near the threads to secure.  All that's left is to string beads on the wire!  You could use a crimp bead at the end to keep the beads in place, but I just twisted the wire into a tight spiral and that should keep the beads on just fine.  Leave enough free wire at the end to make a hook and you're good to go!

I love these so much!  I wrapped the hook end of the wire around the cafe curtain rod over my sink and now we can enjoy seeing these bulbs every time we're in the kitchen.  It's terribly hard for me to get a good glittery picture of these so you'll have to trust me...they look great.  The colors glow through the frosty outside and the beads glitter.  I think this was the perfect treatment for these old light bulbs.  We have a new decoration and something special from my husband's childhood is restored for our kids.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More with the crafty

I made a couple small jingle bell wreaths a few years back, but all the wire and glue-gunning with the ornaments reminded me I still had a container full of bells tucked away in my closet.  Time to set them free.
I used the same 14 gauge wire as for the ornament wreath and started stringing the various sizes and colors of bells (silver and gold) until it could form a complete wreath.  It was difficult to get the wire to twist neatly - I had a piece of wire sticking out the back that I just couldn't get to turn in or lie flat.  I dabbed some hot glue to the end and threaded on a smooth oblong bead to cover the pointy end.  Problem solved.
As with the ornament wreath, you can turn the bells to help get the configuration of small/large silver/gold that looks best.  Even though the bells on their own are really cool, I could see some wire between them and that wouldn't do.  Out came the neglected bead stash.  The pearl beads looked the best so I added those in various sizes all over the place until it looked like enough.

I still need to find a final home for this one - I love it!  I will add another loop of a more flexible gauge of wire to serve as a hanger and see where it would like to live (although who wouldn't want to live next to Santa rowing a canoe?)

'Tis the season for crafts...

The hubs and I did a craft together - we made an ornament wreath!  I surprised me too, but it was fun and best of all, it worked and looks great! 

The materials: 14 gauge wire (from Home Depot), multitemp glue gun set to high temp, bunches and bunches of ornaments, wired ribbon for a bow at the end.

We used a bunch of old glass ornaments that I've had around here for about a year now.  They were my step-mom's and had been destined for the give-away truck but I have a thing for old glass ornaments - you just can't get that patina on the new "shatterproof" ornaments.  I don't dig the plastic.  We used several boxes of ornaments - more than I thought we'd use.  The extras are in the picture.  I probably should have counted them but my bulbs are about 2" in diameter and go all around the wire.

For the most part, I followed the instructions here at Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour, which were based off Eddie Ross's instructions here.  First step has to be securing the hanger on each bulb with hot glue.  You'll be sorry if you don't.  Beyond that, it's pretty self-explanatory.  String the bulbs on by the hanger until you have enough - you'll know because if it isn't big enough you won't be able to close the circle into a wreath shape.

At the end, twist your wire together and form a hanger. Use the wired ribbon to make a nice loopy bow to cover any visible wire and there you have it!

Words of advice.  Glass ornaments - even smallish ones like we used - are heavy when clumped together in one place.  Use strong wire and make sure your hanger and hang-ee are sturdy enough to hold the weight.  That said, the 14-gauge wire we used was rather difficult to twist.  Hubs took care of it just fine, but it was hard to make a nice neat hanger.  So you'll have to rationalize the weight of the wreath with your ability to twist thicker wire.  Or glue them onto a foam wreath form.  I wasn't quite sure how well that would work so we went with the wire.

While I personally don't care for the new plastic bulbs, I think they would be great as filler for your old extra ornaments or as an inexpensive way to make a really pretty lightweight wreath.  Also, when I think of the horror that would ensue should my totally glass wreath ever fall (knock on wood), I see the benefit of the "shatterproof" variety.

The picture below was an attempt at recreating the twinkle effect explained here.  It kind of worked (!) although I had to use a flash.  I'm looking forward to trying this technique with the tree...after I procure a new tripod.

So go forth and make an ornament wreath!  They're really pretty and a fantastic way to enjoy bulbs that you might not otherwise use :)