DIY Sarah

Craft, Decor, Art, Garden, and Dessert

Christmas House Tour 2014

I LOOOVE Christmas decorations. It’s in the blood. We used to tease my mom that she didn’t have a Christmas tree more like a Christmas Forest. I went with lighted garland on the porch which, frankly, is the proper way to decorate a porch.

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I’ve done the lighted garland every year and this year I added the Candles in the windows.  The 3rd floor definitely needs one as well.  Eventually, I’d like to also add a large wreath and some lighting up top. I’m thinking perhaps a gutter-clip light to illuminate the top half of the house. I’m a big fan of landscape lighting and I think illuminating the top of the house would be a good year-round touch.

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I’m not super pleased with how the garland fell around that center post.  I kept meaning to fix it but time.  Always time.

I have a small wreath on the front door but the porch light is on and you can see the glimmer of the Christmas tree through the window.  You can see I have some extension cords hanging.  Again with the time.  I want to get some clips permanently installed for the extension cords.  Next year I’d also like to get some festive pillows etc. on the swing.  And one day, we will get rid of that awful siding.

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The Front Entry

Inside the front door we see tree number 1.  I made that tree topper which I’m super proud of.  I wrote a blog post on it I’m so proud of it: here.
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The tree is covered in ornaments from our wedding. In addition to a traditional guest book, we had our guests sign ornaments.  This ornament guest book was the whole reason we had a December wedding.  I had this brilliant idea and we designed the wedding around it.  Sometimes I get ideas like that: buy a house with a hole in the roof and design our lifestyle around it.

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From the stairs you can see the tree in the entry as well as a peek of the tree in the piano room. I also don’t believe I’ve showcased the light in the entry. We got it from this guy on craigslist, cleaned it up and voila. It’s a great light and is just the right size for the space.  Also a good shot of those parquet floors I LOVE.

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The Piano Room

Ah yes, the playing with light exposure Christmas tree picture.  Well, here it is.  I like the stack of Christmas music on the piano seat.  I also like the paint swatches on the walls.  Some things just haven’t changed since last Christmas.
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One thing that has changed, the tree.  I used all of my childhood ornaments on this tree last year but this year I went with vintage gold ornaments and all of my pinecone ornaments.  I really like pinecones.  I also used my new Tree Skirt and put the tree on a box to make it about 6 inches taller.  I highly recommend this little trick.  It makes it very easy to scale a tree to the room.

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I put the Ball Wreath over the mantle this year.  I supported it on a vintage mirror since there isn’t a good hook in the wall yet.  I also left this cool old playbill I found for the Capital Theater which is the local movie theater just down the street.  I kept meanig to take the playbill upstairs but I kind of like how kitchy it makes everything look.

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I channeled my mother with this little tree with vintage pink ornaments.  I don’t think I quite have the forest my mother has but I’m getting there.

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Here’s another Mom-ism for you.  The Nutcrackers.  My mother started collecting nutcrackers when she was a girl.  For my entire childhood they lined the steps from largest to smallest and I have fond memories of fighting with my sister about rather or not feathers counted for height.   When my parent’s moved to a ranch style house with no stairs, my sister and I split the nutcrackers.  I had them on the stairs last year and Stefan HATED them.  To be fair, our stairs are a bit narrower than the ones I grew up with…ok, they are alot narrower.
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The Dining Room

I must apologize for the mess.  I had half the serving-ware out for the party and I decided it was a good time to paint the back of the china cabinet.  But, I didn’t want to delay the post that long so messy picture it is.  The dining room hasn’t changed much.  We have the start of some crown-molding, a soon to be not-white china cabinet backing, and a new dining room table. 
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We picked this table up on Craigslist and refinished the top.  It really is a beautiful table.  I’ve switched from Minwax Polyurethane to Varathane and I am never, ever, going back.  It is that much better to use.
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The Den

Since the new half bath (post coming soon) is functional and the Den is clean and ready to be occupied, I tried to extend the party to the second floor.  I put the desserts on that far table with the green tablecloth.  It worked OK.  I ended up going through much more food and much less dessert this way.  I should have added some desserts to the downstairs display as the night progressed.

After the Christmas Party the heat went back down to 64 from the toasty 70 that we keep it for guests.  It wasn’t 24 hours before the big, gray,  down TV watching blanket came out.  I didn’t even sneak in a picture first!  Also note the “light fixture” on the far side of the room.  We have a real light fixture and it will be installed…sometime before the next Christmas Party!  On the close side of the den we have a black ceiling fan that is infinitely practical and has a vintage industrial vibe that works in the space even if it is a ceiling fan.  The downside of the black ceiling fan: Vector is terrified of it!
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I said it was in the blood.  Well, my mother used to sell “Nostalgia Wreaths” at craft fairs.  This one was made by 10 year old Sarah.  I remember getting chastised for using all the “good” stuff but I really like this little wreath.  Before I was into pine-cones I was into deer and the deer in the center of this one makes me smile.  I hung this wreath from a piece of satin ribbon and a tension rod.  Worked great.  I wouldn’t use it for my Ornament Wreath but for these lighter, less fragile wreaths, worked like a charm.

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Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year from the Wolperts
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Christmas Tree Topper

So I saw this thing on pinterest. I was skeptical, I was intrigued.

I clicked on the link and headed over to HappinessIsHomemade and read the excellent tutorial and decided to give it a try.

After gathering the supplies, and trying it out, I was astounded to find….

That it looked AWESOME.

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This is a super quick and super easy DIY. I highly recommend. I’ve also seen where they have made them out of book pages folded into strips (The strips definitely need to be sturdy so several layers thick). I still need to make a topper for the tree in the Piano Room. I’m thinking pink glitter paper!

What Christmas projects have you been working on?

Sarah

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Vintage Lace Christmas Tree Skirt

Stefan and I went down to Houston for Thanksgiving to visit my parents and sister. Here is the required “on our way” selfie from the Airport. I think the “on our way” selfie is the only real reason my parents have iphones. Here we are on our way!

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While we were in Houston, we got to meet my parent’s darling kitten Lucy. Don’t mind the blury Stefan, the photo is about Lucy.
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Fun Fact: Lucy is named after Lucille Ball. She must be called with a Spanish accent a-la-Ricky Ricardo “Luuuuuucy!!”

My parents also have a goofy little Beagle named Bella. She helped us with the Vintage Lace Christmas Tree Skirt that I’m going to tell you about.

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First we cut out a circle in the backing fabric. The Christmas Tree Skirts were just about 55″ in diameter. We cut out circles from Damask tablecloths that my mom had lying around…you know, cause everyone has damask tablecloths lying around.

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Just look at that cute craft room!

We also had lying around, this box full of lace squares….

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Now, who exactly has squares of lace and damask tablecloths just lying around. Well, we do. This was an unfinished project from about 20 years ago. My mom and Grammy would plan these fun projects. These lace squares were one of their projects. The idea was to make a tablecloth out of squares of damask tablecloths with antique lace tacked on. Now there are a few problems with this grand plan,

1. The sheer amount of time needed to tack lace onto squares of fabric is astounding. And, of course, Mom and Gram weren’t going to go half-way with it. Oh no, no checkerboard pattern with blank squares, no 3 pieces of lace per square, and certainly no 42 inch round tablecloth for them. It had to be huge, like 100″ x 100″ I’m sure so it would have a nice drape on Gram’s 52″ round table. Which brings us to the next problem.

2. Who would eat on a tablecloth that took 20 years to make? Who would let anyone eat on a tablecloth of that intensity? Let alone, who would think it was a good idea to start a project to make an impossibly fussy, non-washable tablecloth anyways? Mom and Gram that’s who. That’s not to say 6 year old Sarah didn’t have some part of this saga. There is, in a jar in my house squares with copious amounts of glue and little scraps of lace that 6 year old me made. But guess what, 6 year old Sarah got farther than Mom and Gram did!

So 20 years ago, Mom and Gram started this project. It was a multi-trip project that they worked on off and on for a couple years. Eventually it got waylaid by other projects but it did come out again when Grammy was in the hospital and when Mom was spending a bunch of time with her at the end of her life. It was the unfinished project that they worked on together for years. You could say I inherited this multi-decade, multi-generational project. Gram was a starter and I’m a finisher so there have been a good number of multi-generational projects!

Back to the Christmas Tree skirt. We decided on a Christmas Tree skirt because Christmas is the time of year for something this ridiculous. Christmas Tree skirts also tend not to get dirty (fake trees, of course). It was also a project of manageable size… I can just imagine how this conversation would go with Gram if she was still around. I’d give her a hard time about taking on overly-ambitions projects and she would say “Well…” just like my Mom says now.

So we took these squares of damask tablecloth with lace on them and laid them out for optimum effect in our Christmas Tree Skirts.
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We sewed them together and spent a lot of time ironing…Mom sewed and I ironed…. blach.

All that lace is so pretty!
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Mom and I each got a square with a G on it. A bunch of the lace came from my Mom’s Dad’s Mother’s Aunts…so my Great Great Great Aunts, Ruth and Rose. The G stands for Griffith…I should figure out who that is. Uncle John? Fill me in..

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Bella the beagle helped us out while we worked. That dog is a sleeper. She does nothing but sleep so we put her bed in there and she was content to watch instead of walking all over everything with dirty paws. If only Vector was that easy to out-wit!
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The finished product:

Mom and I each made one. I can’t wait to get it out under the tree this year. It is such a big piece of what I remember about Grammy. It’s so nice to have something that so wholly reminds me of my Grandmother and Christmas is the perfect time to get it out.

I’ll be posting pictures of all the Christmas Decor so you’ll get to see the final product in place!

Sarah

    2 comments already | Leave your own comment

  1. 12/2/2014 | 10:18 pm Permalink

    Loved your post. I laughed and cried. You said it all perfectly. Thanks for a great fun week

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  2. 12/12/2014 | 2:44 pm Permalink

    Enjoyed reading your post. Loved how Bella helped. :)

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Vintage Ornament Wreath Tutorial

My mother made one of these years ago and I have always loved it.  I made my own after Christmas last year and documented the process for you.

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Materials –

18 in foam wreath form
about 10 feet of 4″ wide ribbon or strips of fabric
50 large ornaments
30 medium ornaments
50 small ornaments
15 “ornate” ornaments
Hot glue gun and hot glue
sheet of poster board

Step 1:

Cover your wreath form.
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Step 2:

Set form on top of posterboard and mark approximately where you should cut it based on the size of your ornaments.

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You want to be about a half inch outside the center-line if your ornament

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Sketch your circles and cut out the poster-board in a donut shape. Dont’ worry too much about the even-ness or size. You’ll have a chance to touch it up later.
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Step 3:

Glue the wreath to the poster board and arrange your first row of balls.

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Step 4:

Start glueing the balls down using the hot glue gun. Put dabs of glue on the posterboard and on the wreath form.
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I put the hanger sides of the ornaments facing in towards the form since I didn’t want them showing.

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Step 5:

Once they are all glued down, you can adjust the cardboard. I don’t want to see any cardboard so I carefully flipped over the wreath and cut out the cardboard between the ornaments.

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Then I repeated steps 4 and 5 on the inside of the wreath. I used smaller balls but use what you have.

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Step 6:

Now that you have a nice secure base, it’s time to get glueing. I built up another row on the inside of the wreath and then started working my “ornate” ornaments into the top layers. There is no real direction here, just a few tips.

Tips:

  • Work all over the wreath at once instead of just concentrating on one spot. You will get a more even wreath shape that way.
  • Cover up your glue mistakes with small ornaments
  • Use the little ornaments to cover up as much of the wreath form as possible.
  • Use little ornaments to prop up your “ornate” ornaments to make them pop a bit more.
  • Don’t try to force the ornaments into nooks…it’s a good way to break the ornaments.
  • If you do break an ornament, try to cover up the breakage rather than trying to remove and replace it.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your best ornaments. This is a spectacular piece and your best ornaments deserve the most attention.
  • Don’t be afraid to sneak plastic ornaments into the mix. I’ve got a few and you wouldn’t even know.
  • Buy yourself a decent glue-gun for Christmas. This One is great.

 
There are a few more questions you should ask yourself before you start this project.

Where can I hang this baby?

I wouldn’t hang this on a door. Too much banging and bumping. It really shouldn’t be touched so over a mantle or somewhere over a piece of furniture is best. You can also line the back with felt or a bit of batting to help pad it if you have a lot of banging doors or if it vibrates when the laundry is going.

How do you store it?

Best question ever. The answer is – with difficulty. It needs to be covered. I use a dry cleaning bag which is nice and see through so I know what it is. It really needs to be stored hanging or you’re going to have to find some kind of box to keep it in. Good luck with that but if you do find the perfect box, please please please leave a link in comments! Keeping the wreath hanging in a closet is good. You could keep it with the “fancy” clothes like your wedding dress and Tux since you’re usually clean and careful when you get those out. Hanging in a safe place in the attic is great as well. I’ve got spare closets in the guest rooms that are going to be my super fragile wreath storage area for now and I’m hoping to eventually get Stefan to build me a dedicated Ball Wreath Cabinet in the basement.

Where do you get all those ornaments?

Well, mine are leftover from my wedding but that’s not the normal scenario. Thrift stores are good but in all honesty, you’re probably best off scouring after-Christmas sales at all the normal ornament places: Home Depot, Michaels, Target, etc. If you can do all the solid ornaments new then you can try to get some neat vintage ones for the “ornate” ones. Antique shops usually have them for a few dollars a piece before Christmas but they are getting harder and harder to find. You should also ask your parents/grandparents. They kind of went out of vogue for a while since they are so much more fragile than the new ones and there is no way to get the years and years of dust off them which brings me to my next question…

How do you clean it?

Don’t. The vintage ornaments can NOT get wet or they will lose their pigment. Hit it with a cool blow dryer to get rid of dust, a feather duster might work, but don’t use any cleaners or even hit it too hard with a swiffer. It’s going to be a little dusty. Call it Christmas Fairy Dust and get over it.

I can’t wait to see all your renditions. Please leave links in the comments! I think I’m going to make another this year with all plastic ornaments. Dollar Tree sells those tubes of them and I think I can make it happen.

Merry Christmas!
Sarah

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