Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm Still Here


I know, I know...I've been a horrible blogger recently. I thought I'd rectify the situation with a beautifully inspirational post with lovely pictures and drool-worthy ideas but when I sat down to write, my mind was elsewhere. You see, we have an exciting opportunity happening right now that has me completely preoccupied. My free time has been spent researching, practicing, prepping, and preparing for some meetings. I'm too excited to focus on anything other than the importance of this opportunity and ensuring I don't screw it up. So I'm very sorry. Don't worry, the big day is tomorrow so after that I'll be able to refocus on the holiday season, gift planning and everything I've put on hold (including you).

Until then, can I give you just one lovely picture that represents my love of using nature in holiday decorations? Will that suffice?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Cards

As a child, I loved staring at our card display every year and reading the various letters people wrote updating us on their year. Never did I ever expect to be "grown-up" enough to send cards of my own. That was something families and old people did.

Well, last year John and I sent out our very first round of Christmas cards. It was fun to go through a list of people we loved, some we spoke to regularly, some we hadn't spoken to since our wedding. It was a way to tell them we are thinking of you. I greatly appreciate the cards I get from friends and family and I know they do, too.

This year, to further embrace our snowflake Christmas theme, I made homemade cards.  With my newly developed awesome snowflake making skills (seriously, after cutting hundreds for our non-tree Christmas tree and other various decorations, I'm a pro.) I whipped out some teeny snowflakes.  They were adorable and looked simple yet festive glued onto colorful cardstock.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Other Creative Trees

We have been greatly enjoying our Non-Tree Christmas Tree. (You can check out what a Non-Tree Christmas Tree is here and see our very own right here)  It's beautiful and wintery during the day and romantic at night.  I just love how the illumination on the snowflakes reminds me of watching snow fall beneath a street light.

I was curious to see what other creative Christmas Non-Trees have been assembled after finishing ours and enjoying it for a few nights.  Check out these awesome non-trees:




Have you ever had a non-traditional tree? If not, maybe you've known someone who opted for a non-tree? Thinking back, I've only ever known people who went the traditional route - Christmas trees, menorahs, etc.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Non Tree Christmas Tree

Note: This is the final post in a series of posts. You can read the following here:
Post 1: What is a Christmas Non-Tree?
Post 2: Snowflake Blizzard

We decided not to cut down a tree this year because we'll be heading to New Mexico to spend the holiday with my family for a week. It seemed like a waste to get a fresh tree and only enjoy it for a couple weeks before we head out and leave it all alone to die on Christmas Day. Instead, we decided to use the money we would have put towards the tree towards airline tickets.

Don't get me wrong, though. I love all things Christmas and that includes a Christmas tree. In an effort to save money, I decided to upcycle some things I had at home to create a Christmas Non-Tree. After picturing many different ways of creating a Christmas Non-Tree, I decided to use our tomato cage. It was the perfect shape and would be the easiest method.

After scrubbing it down and sanding some rust off, I got to work draping it with Christmas lights.

The easiest way for me to do that was draping them vertically and weaving them in and out of the metal rungs.

I then gathered my billion snowflakes and threaded them with fishing line. I made about 14 strands of snowflakes. After tying them together, I draped them over the tomato cage, arranged them carefully, and voila. A Christmas Non-Tree!

It looks beautiful lit up and reminds me of watching snowflakes drift around in front of a street light.

Now that we have a Christmas (non) Tree, I can finally start to get in the Christmas spirit. I still have some other minor ways I plan on transforming our home but until then I think I need to light a candle. One drawback to a Christmas Non-Tree is that it doesn't smell like evergreens. I guess you can't win them all!

Have you ever made a creative non-tree instead of going the tradition route? I'd love to hear all about yours!

A Snowflake Blizzard

Note: This is the second post in a series of the unveiling of our first ever Christmas Non-Tree.
To see the first post, go here.

I love snowflakes. Real snowflakes, paper snowflakes, glass snowflakes. They are a great way for me to enjoy the snow and winter wonder while staying warm and dry. It's also a great way to bring the winter wonderland into your home.

When I began formulating my plan for our very first Christmas Non-Tree, I knew I wanted to incorporate snowflakes. If I was going to throw tradition (ours and practically everyone's) to the wind, I wanted to embrace the non-tree idea and make it completely different from any of our previous trees. Enter snowflakes. They were my life for the past week. Every spare moment was spent cutting tiny geometric shapes out of folded paper. At one point my thumb was swollen and purple from the scissors and my finger tips bruised from folding. Still, though, I persevered.

Naive me thought about 75-100 snowflakes would be enough. Nope. I ended up cutting 193 snowflakes (yes, I counted).  I think I may be a snowflake aficionado now.

If you've ever wanted to know how to fold a snowflake, here you go!

1. Start with a square:

2. Fold in half diagonally:

3. Fold in half diagonally again:

4. You will have a smaller triangle:

5. Take one side of the triangle and bring in to the middle:

6. Bring the other side over so that the outer length lines up wiith the opposite outer length: *
*hint: sometimes you have to play around with steps 5 and 6 to get them to meet perfectly.

7. Cut the top and a bit of the point:

8. Cut random shapes out of one or both sides. Play around and experiment!

9. Unfold and check out your unique paper snowflake:

Stay tuned to see how I used these snowflakes to make our very first Christmas Non-Tree!
Part one - What is a Christmas Non-Tree?

Christmas Tree Day

Note: This is the first post in a series that will lead to the unveiling of our first ever Christmas Non-Tree.
For part two, go here.

Can you believe that today is the first day of December? I feel like September was just a few days ago!  Growing up, I always loved the month of December. The sparkling lights around the city, glowing Christmas trees glimpsed through windows, Christmas music playing in the stores. Such a hopeful, optimistic month filled with love and goodwill.

My family has created many many Christmas traditions and I hold each one of them dear. However, once I got married I knew I needed to create new traditions with my new little family. John and I were unable to fly home to New Mexico for our first two Christmas' which was sad and lonely, but I think it was also a way to drive home the point we are each other's family and we created amazing holiday traditions that we look forward to now.

One of the first things we did together for our first Christmas was chop down our own tree and decorate it together. That tradition, however, is going on the back burner this year. We are visiting New Mexico for Christmas and that has forced us to make some sacrifices both financially and with our traditions. We decided to use the money we'd typically spend on a tree towards our airline tickets.

Don't worry, though! That doesn't mean we aren't going to have a Christmas tree! We are simply creating a non-tree Christmas tree!  What is a non-tree Christmas tree, you ask? Well, it's a tree that is constructed from upcycled things you have at home. It's a way to enjoy the lights and ornaments and other decorations without having a tree (real or fake).

For the past week I've been cutting hundreds of snowflakes in preparation for the first ever Holt Christmas Non-Tree.  Our house is covered in little paper flakes and my fingers are bruised and sore. Our computer paper has been diminished and all I can see are tiny triangles and circles and folded paper.

By the end of the day, though, the Holt Christmas Non-Tree will be displayed for all to see. So, stay tuned for periodic updates on the snowflakes, the Christmas lights, the non-tree, and the holiday spirit!

Part two - Snowflake Blizzards

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

John and I are hitting the road this afternoon. To prepare we downloaded The Hunger Games audiobook (if you haven't read this, READ IT!! I plan to force John to love it as much as me by making him listen during the 8 hour drive), packed peanut butter sandwiches and a water bottle, and double-checked the directions.  To Maryland we go!

Are you traveling this week? Do you plan on driving or flying? What do you do to ensure no one goes crazy on long trips?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Place Cards

John and I are getting excited about traveling up to Maryland for his family's wonderful Thanksgiving blow out. When I say blow out you may think I'm exaggerating but, really, I'm not. I think the last number I heard of family members expected was around 60. We'll have every bed filled, every couch claimed and every dark corner filled with an air mattress. John's as giddy as a little kid on Christmas Eve.

Every year our little cousins are in charge of making the place cards and with our numbers that's quite a responsibility. The cards they whip up every year are always creative and fun (although we do switch around the seating arrangements right up until the meal starts...shhh).  I've been thinking about what they'll do this year and started brainstorming some beautiful but simple ideas for Thanksgiving tables that will be crowded with family members on Thursday.

 With a simple swipe of the hacksaw these pinecones are ready to hold seating cards. What a great way to entertain the kids - send them out to gather pinecones while everyone else is busy in the kitchen. Of course, an adult would have to use the hacksaw, but what a simple and rustic addition to the dining room table.

 This just makes me smile every time I see the picture. There are no words for this playful name card.

 Another way to keep the kids occupied is sending them out to collect twigs. As with all things nature, I love bringing in the rustic simplicity of this easy place card.

 These may be my favorite yet. The elegance and simplicity.

 You know me and my love for upcycling. What a beautiful way to recycle cardboard while creating a simple but fun pumpkin place card. I love it...although to be perfectly honest, my fingers hurt just thinking of all the cardboard that would have to be cut for our 60 family members. Perhaps for my side of the family, though, where about 12 will gather to enjoy family and food it would be more reasonable.
I think the kids would love to paint the rocks and they bring some color and whimsy to the Thanksgiving table.

What are your family table decorations? Do you have any traditions when it comes to decorating or cooking? When I was a kid, I'd spend the night at my grandparent's house and help decorate the table for Thanksgiving. Of course, I didn't have 60 place cards to make, just a simple centerpiece and table settings to set for 12-15 of us.


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