Friday, December 2, 2016

Pinecone Garland Tutorial

Welcome December! I started decorating our home for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving and will continue to add little touches here and there throughout the month.  Each year I find myself opening a few less storage bins and looking for ways to make our house feel festive without feeling fussy.  If you have been a long time reader you might recall me mentioning last year that I didn't quite get into the holiday preparations with the same enthusiasm as I typically do, I felt myself going through the motions rather than enjoying the process.  I think some years are just like that and it's ok to give yourself a little grace and take it easy if you aren't feeling it.  This year, however, my Christmas mojo is back! :)

I felt myself being pulled in a more classical, less whimsical direction and it's been fun to change things up ever so slightly.  I do think, as an instagram friend mentioned, that as your children get older you feel a shift in how you create a cozy holiday home.  At least that was the case for me this year.  I also took a little break from the traditional red (which I  LOVE) and went with a more coppery, gold, green and brown scheme.  I will post more photos later in the month, but I thought this pinecone garland was such a fun and easy project, I didn't want to wait too long to share how we made it.

Another change I've made as I grow older and wiser, is less fresh greenery (unless it's in water or outside) and adding other natural elements that have staying power - pinecones. cranberries, acorns, etc.  I like to start decorating early and keep it up till New Year's day (or later), so using fresh greenery that needs daily spritzing (a mess that doesn't really work and soaks my woodwork and frames and art...) and requires eventual replacing, isn't practical.  I have little bunches in pitchers and planters that I can water, but when it comes to garlands and indoor wreaths, I find good quality faux to be a game changer even if it isn't the bloggerly thing to say.  For our dining room I will add fresh greens to the chandelier a couple days before Christmas but till then it will be bare.

Speaking of garlands with staying power, I have always loved the idea of incorporating a pinecone garland.  Like here with magnolia and pine:

I shared this Carolina cottage a few years ago back from Southern Accents. It still remains one of my all time favorite Christmas homes.  When I made the first garland for my mantle, my plan had been to copy this and use it to frame my ship painting, but the garland started to get pretty heavy and I was afraid it might come tumbling down.  I'm guessing they used nails here to secure it.  I'd be worried Command Hooks might not hold up.

I also love it here just simple along the banister. From an old Martha Stewart Living magazine.

It is so easy and fun to make your own. I wish I had done this years ago!  It gives you a good excuse for a long hike to gather pinecones too, which makes it fun to have a memory attached to the garland.  For the garland on the mantle I did supplement with some store bought pinecones to add some variety in shape (I bought the rounder, very open, pinecones from Save on Crafts (dot) com. I think there is a new google policy about not using direct links to products in posts unless it is a sponsored or incentivized link.  I need to look into it, but in the meantime, I will just list sources.  Sorry, a bit annoying for all of us, but I've had to go back and remove old links from one company already and it wasn't fun).  I used about 100 pinecones, give or take, to make a 5 foot garland.  

Here's the 3 step process:


You'll need:
Pinecones in different shapes and sizes.  About 100 for a 5 ft garland.
Jute twine (any craft store or Walmart sells this)
Wire cutters
Thin craft wire or brown pipe cleaners (I used a thin wire on the mantle garland and grabbed the pipe cleaners so you could see how they attach, but they worked just as well and might be gentler if you  have little hands helping you!)
Optional: greenery (fresh or faux to weave in after the garland is in place)

Step 1: Cut string to the desired garland length.  Tie off the ends in loops, this helps if you want to hang it, but it also makes it much easier to carry around.

Step 2: Wrap a small section of wire or pipe cleaner around the base of the pinecone, tucking it so you can't see it.

Step 3: Twist the ends of the wire or pipe cleaner around the twine and keep going, layering more pinecones as you go.  It's best to weave in the smaller (filler) pinecones in at the end.


In process... you can make it as full as you like.  I did clip the pipe cleaners after twisting them on the twine to hide them a bit better.  The pinecones are very flexible and easy to position and move around even after they are attached.

Here is the garland I made above, over a frame with greenery tucked in.  I just draped it over and it stays fine.  Longer garland will be heavier and require hooks or nails it you want to hang over mirrors or artwork.




Please let me know if you give it a try!  I'd love to see pictures if you post on instagram too.  This is my kind of holiday craft, simple with quick gratification and the whole family can help out in the process.  





Monday, November 28, 2016

thanksgiving table in pictures


I know we've all moved on to Christmas decor (myself included!)  however since I enjoy the process of creating a pretty table to entertain and celebrate with family, I wanted to share a few pictures I took of ours on Thanksgiving morning long before our guests arrived.  I also promised to share my Mum's stuffing recipe  (our favorite!) that I made for the first time this year.  In typical fashion though,  now that I've prepared it, I would like to make just a few adjustments to the recipe before I blog it, so you might have to wait until next November (sorry!) before I share it.  Why can't I just leave well enough alone?!  Ha.  Usually it is steps to simplify the recipe and that's the case this time too.

We had a nice Thanksgiving with my parents and my brother and his family.    There was a lot of cousin time over their stay too.  I made waaaaay too much food and we didn't even eat all our left overs. My favorite new recipe was one for pumpkin pie that was actually made by a friend.  It's another recipe I need to try make myself before I share - it was the best pumpkin pie I've ever eaten.  I believe the secret is in using homemade pumpkin puree!  And molasses!  :)  Here are a few pics of the adult (plus Andrew) table.  The flowers still look perfect today - 6 days after making the arrangement!  Hope each of you had much to be thankful for this year and were able to enjoy the holiday with people you love.







Saturday, November 12, 2016

Photobooks

One of my goals for 2016 was to get  current on our family photo books.  I'd fallen behind by a couple years and as you know, the further behind you get with these things, the more daunting the task becomes.

I have always been a book lover. We have stacks in every room of our home and our bookcases are over flowing.  Just like art, books are such an important part of what makes a home personal.  You could tell a lot about all of us just based on looking at our library.  But my very favorite books are those of our family, the ones chronically our life together and the memories we've shared.  A few years ago, I switched from printing 4x6 photos to fill albums to creating photobooks.  I really love the quality of the books and the variety of sizes, so you can feature favorite pictures with much more detail than in a traditional album.  The photo above was taken after celebrating Charlie's birthday, everyone wanted to look back through some past celebrations, which lead to bringing out all our photos and going year by year.  It was a moment I'm grateful my Dad captured on film, because it reminds me what a treasure these books are and will be for years to come.  It is the only way I know to travel back in time and they are worth every bit of effort it takes to create them,

I used Mpix again for my 2014 and 2015 books.  (This is not a sponsored post) I used the Panoramic Photobook, Premium Hardcover in Tundra 11 x 8.5.  I take more horizontal oriented photos than I do vertical, so this book lends itself better to those pictures.  You now have the flexibility to add many more pages than when I made them a couple years ago, so each book is just shy of 100 pages.  I'm just as happy with the quality this time as with the other books.  I've also heard great things about Blurb books.  I used that software once many years ago for a gift photobook and I really liked it as well.  Both have technology that is easy and user friendly once you get going, and each book you make will be a little better than the last.  Here are a few favorite pages from my new ones...


 ^^ Using singe page, pre-made templates for these layouts^^

 ^^I love the double page templates so much.  This is one HUGE benefit of a photobook over a traditional album, favorite photos really stand out.^^

 ^^Here I used what was a 9 square photo, single page, template and deleted some so I could make both portrait and landscape oriented pictures work together.^^

 ^^ Example of a double page, full bleed, template for a single photo.  The process to this in Mpix is much easier than in Blurb.^^

 ^^ Pre-made double page template without any adjustments.  See how some pictures cross the spine.  Love. ^^

 ^^Trying to show the print quality here - colors are perfect. And the pages are thick paper.^^

 ^^Example of a completely custom template to make these photos & caption work. ^^



 ^^Above and below.  I like these pages when introducing a new section where I will have a number of pages dedicated to that event, like holidays or vacations.^^