Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nothing Scrooge About It

I am kind of odd about how I spend money. I haven't had any extra for quite some time now, but even when I did, I wrapped my gifts in kraft paper with gorgeous satin bows and greenery. This year, I am using newspaper. I can't seem to find newspaper that looks the way it should (when did big ugly ads come in and ruin all the wordy pages like the classifieds?) but it is still black and white. (If you can find the NY Times I hear that is a good one esthetically to use. Why do I know that? How odd the random things you pick up from reading blogs!) I am taking it a bit further though this year and making a lot of decorations out of that and bookpaper. I love the look of the text mixed up with the greens and golds... black, white and green have been a long time favourite colour combo.

I have to confess, I think the decision to go with the very intense green in the living room was based on how I thought it should look for Christmas. I could envision a beautiful tree in the corner with the lights reflected in the glossy paint. Not that "tame" is really an option. I love all white interiors, but I don't think I could realistically live in one. My last living room was chartreuse. To balance out the green though, there will have to be a good amount of otherness going on. For the moment, that means paper. So with the kids help, I am building an immense number of paper chains, "balls" and weaves to put on the tree and everywhere else. The newspaper is obviously the inexpensive way to go, but it also looks great. I always have remnants of ribbons around from the sewing I am supposed to be doing, and these particular green ones have been used as streamers at no fewer than three parties, hung from trees at a BBQ, used on other gifts and gathered up afterward and occasionally used in the world of dress up. I am sort of the Queen of Re-use.

I had so much fun making these little paper ball ornaments that I thought I should pass them on. I don't do tutorials often on here, and my pics came out all blurry because I was trying to hold the camera on my knee while holding scissors and push the button and couldn't get it to focus properly. They are not too bad though. You will get the idea. Anyone who can tell me how to push the button on the camera if you are the only one home, don't have a tripod with a clicker thingy (suppose I could use my teeth), or the patience to use the timer option, please feel free to enlighten me :)

You will need:

a book no one will ever read
embroidery floss or other string type material
hole punch

chop paper
I made strips that were about 3/4" x 6"
do a few pages at a time
I used eight strips per ball, so did
four at a time and cut the strip in half

hold the strips (four at a time if easier to punch)
punch hole in the center at the end

I used a pretty small hole so that the
knots in the floss could be smaller
but I also thought that putting a bead on each of the
top and bottom would work too
and would add some sparkle :)

gently spread the strips out until you have a ball

...and VOILA!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Love the Holidays

I am moving.

I started moving in the last few days of October, when a friend decided on a last minute move and needed out of her lease. Having lived in a one bedroom apartment with two growing boys for nearly five years, I was all over it. I loved the building I was in, right downtown and beautiful with a great landlord who actually fixed things when they broke... but did I mention the two growing boys... and the single bedroom? Right, so when an affordable place with a yard came up, I overlooked the single paned windows and the fact that winter would soon be upon us in favour of having my own space and an outside. If needed, I was willing to "rough it" till spring just to have space for the boys to move around and for me to sew and create. Finding a decent rental in this town is like panning for gold. I figured if my darling (although much more durable and self reliant friend) could live (and sew) on top of a mountain for years, I could do a winter.

Thankfully, I didn't have to. The house is cold, but lovely, and we have deer roaming through the yard almost daily. And my own bedroom. Although, it gets so cold at night that the boys are back to bunking with me till warmer weather. The electrical in the tiny top floor can only handle one space heater at a time before blowing the fuse. I am not sure who built this house, but it was very obviously meant to be a summer home. And while tiny by most people's standards, it actually is the perfect size for us.

The Martha in me, who has been desperate for a house to decorate for ages, immediately got on the phone and invited everyone for Christmas dinner. I did not inherit my need to decorate and entertain from my mother, and in fact, pretty much everyone else in the family thinks of the holidays as something to get through. So I thought that it would be really nice to switch it up a bit, shoulder the preparations, and do it here. That also gives me the right to inject as much greenery and sparkle into it as I can and they can't do a single thing about it :)

Then I bought paint. The kind of green that takes four coats. I have a newly painted, very shiny green living room. The part where I am still unpacking boxes and trying to make the last of the gifts (yes, I said make, because that is what I do) was kind of an afterthought. Also, the Martha in me does not cook. Nope, nada. I can cook, but I don't. I decided to put the dinner on solely so that I could set the table (that I don't have). With random vintage plates and napkins that I also didn't actually have, no less. I mean, I had it all set out in my mind, and I have been scouring for them every few days at the thrift store and I now have thirteen of the sixteen settings needed... so we're gold :)

I had my bestest friend come over and drop her kids off for a crafternoon extraordinaire with me and the boys, and then the living room looked like this. Which is actually a step up from the way it looked the day before which is covered in no fewer than twenty large boxes full of things I hadn't looked at in over five years. You know that part of the move where you have already opened the boxes that were meticulously packed and organized by a sane mind... the ones that are easily unpacked... and you are on to the ones that were packed at the end with no rhyme or reason just to get the rest of the crap out of your house? Or, say, were packed by the seven year old? That is the stage I am at now. I open a box, and it is either stuff that was in storage or stuff that doesn't actually make sense. While I can place artwork till the cows come home, and adore styling bookshelves with objets and colour coordinated tomes, I have no idea whatsoever one does with, say, the toolbox. Or the blender. Or the summer coats and hats. I understand what people with basements and storage closets and such do with them, but what if you don't have those?

Anyhow, I am quite happily puttering around and telling anyone and everyone not to worry, that there will definitely be room for sixteen people by Christmas Eve... and I know in my heart that the place will be twinkling and pretty... and most of all, that everyone will have a fabulous time. It might take a bit of mulled wine and a few cookies, but it will all work out just fine. For myself, I already got my gift. I cannot tell you how happy I am to be in a house with space for a garden (already got the seed list on the go) and... did I mention? My OWN bedroom!