Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not Missing Out

I hope my readers had a Very Merry Christmas! And now New Year's Eve is coming! I have been enjoying all kinds of tasty treats-- and drinks. With all the delicious, sweet, and sparkly juices on the market, I wonder why people think they have to have alcohol to make an occasion special. With good company, good conversation, and some delicious food, one cannot fail to have a good time-- no drunkenness required. 

It disturbs me to see Christians partaking of alcohol socially, just because they say they can, when it is not in the least bit necessary. We live in the 21st century-- there are so many more beverages to choose from. Why would a Christian want to dump such stuff down their throat and dull their brain, when they could keep their mind extra sharp so they can enjoy and edify others? If you take one drink of that junk, you are one drink drunk. Best not to get in the habit of taking any.

If you feel that you are missing out, that is no excuse. One can find fancy glasses to serve juice in to make the dinner table sparkle; and any juice is delicious well chilled. A plus of keeping your table sober is that the whole family can be present at a party where no alcohol is served. Children can benefit from seeing that adults can have a good time in their right mind, and that glasses of juice, pop, or mugs of cocoa are for keeping your throat from going hoarse when you are having so much fun talking with one another. Life can be enjoyed without spirits or substances.

If certain kinds of beverages are kept for special occasions, they will be special to your family. Sparkling grape juices and apple juices are abundant at holiday times, and fancy cocoas will do as well. If your family does not regularly drink soda pop, that can be a treat in a fancy glass over ice.

If you feel like you need to serve something different and rare, why not serve guests ultra-fresh juices? When did you last enjoy the sweetness of fresh squeezed and clarified orange juice (I mean the kind you make yourself)? Or gourmet juices and waters from the fancy food markets? I knew a fellow who was taken to a fancy restaurant as a company trip. While everyone else from the office was busy getting drunk, he ordered a tall glass of very, very expensive and gourmet fresh-squeezed orange juice (probably hand-squeezed by some famous international chef). He thought he had the best drink of anyone there!

Those with a craze for coffee can find fancy coffees and coffee makers, and that brew is a strong enough one for anybody.

But let's not forget tea!

If you are going to stay up to see the New Year in, you need a good strong cup of tea. Drinking from a thin bone china teacup, exquisitely painted, which contains perfectly brewed tea (made with boiling water), served by a gracious hostess in her right mind (not drunken) is a superb pleasure in life.

And remember--Tea cheers and invigorates, but does not inebriate.

Perhaps, if people feel the need to serve or take alcohol at parties and special occasions, they need to examine the company they are keeping. If you think you need a drink to relax, then maybe your company is too stressful. If you think you can't have a good time with your friends unless you are all drinking together, or if the guests are so dull or insipid that you have to get drunk in order to talk to them, enjoy them, or endure them, you need to find new friends. 

Update 2023: some good advice from others. (Advice from an MD. Many other articles on the site will enlighten you as to what alcohol does to you)
The graphic looks kinda -- well anyway the advice in this video is good:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Paper Birdhouse Tutorial

Here is a tutorial for the shed-roof birdhouse on the Christmas tree. 
I've drawn out the pattern and you may print it if you like, and use it as a guide:

From one piece of card stock you can get two birdhouses-- a tall and a small.
The + on the template marks the spot for the hole. I ran mine through the Cuttlebug with a die, but you can see if a punch would work, or trace something round to get a round hole, and cut it out by hand. Or you can cut a Christmas tree shaped hole, a square hole, a star shape, a snowflake... or you don't have to cut a hole at all, but just draw one and color it in.

 Fold along the lines, and then connect the little narrow fold with glue or tape to the other side, to make it like a box. 

The one on the right has also been run through a device to make it corrugated before being put together. 
These birdhouses do not have a bottom. That way you set them over LED tea light, or in my case let the lights from the tree illuminate them.

If you wish, you can put some bird clip-art on the back wall. Put a bit of glitter on your clip art bird, too!

Now you can see who lives there. Glitter around the entrance of the birdhouse.

For the roof, just cut a rectangle about the size you want. You may want less of an overhang than I had. I don't remember this measurement but I'm guessing mine was 5" x 8" or thereabouts. I used glitter paper and also corrugated this piece to make it look like a tin roof. If you use regular card stock, you can glitter it after you assemble the birdhouse. The glitter paper I was using was not stiff; for a birdhouse roof that doesn't look like an old warped tin roof, use a heavier weight card stock or glittered card stock. 

Leave enough to fold up and connect to the back:

Glue the roof to the back of the birdhouse.

Here comes the hard part: you have to reach in and tape that roof down, from the inside of the birdhouse. Here I have put tape on the inside, and am folding it down as I'm folding the roof down. It still needs adjusting from the inside. If you want to try and glue it, use a tacky glue and put some on the top edges of the birdhouse, then press the roof down and let dry thoroughly. 

Here is one of my finished houses, with its old tin roof! I noticed I had cut the heart-shaped hole slightly crooked, so I was pleased to find a sticker that was just right to cover up the mistake.

Here I've put a bird behind the sticker, to show you another way to decorate it. However, I like the hole that you can see through to the inside. 

I hope you all have fun making a sparkly birdhouse!

Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Christmas Tree Inspiration and What It Did

After our trips to the hardware store to see their Christmas trees, I was eager to try out some things on my own. 
My mother said I could decorate her tree, so some of our Interns and I gave it a try. 
She had all the ornaments sorted by color, in boxes, and gave us permission to do it up how we liked it, and then left to run some errands. 
That may or may not have been a wise idea. 

As I looked over the choices of ornaments. I realized that, silly as it sounds, I needed more ideas! 
So, after all these posts I had done on Christmas trees on my own blog, I ended up on the Internet looking for yet another tree to inspire me. 

And this is what I found. I liked the way this lady had colors in her house decor that were the same as the tree--either the tree pulled the house colors together, or vice-versa. Well, there was something candy-jar exciting about the whole thing.

My Interns were a bit skeptical.

I looked around at the light pink walls, the white trim and furniture, the sea-foam green cushions on the couch, the coral pink throw, the bird cage collection and the silver accessories, and decided I would do ALL the colors. 

Fortunately, I remembered once in a while to take pictures of the decorating process:
First I added globe-lights to the already pre-lit tree. They gave an extra dimension to the lights. Then I put on iridescent white garlands. Then the interns started loading the tree with Christmas balls. Here, we have dark pink, sparkly white and really light sea-foam green balls. If we left the tree at this point, it would have been fine. 
I wanted to really cram it full of ornaments, though. 

After more balls, we put in little white sleds, sparkly white poinsettias, and birds. Some single ornaments went on too, including a glittery pine cone. 
If we had left it alone here it would have been fine.

Then I really went to town and started adding giant candy. One of my helpers started to get nervous and to object strongly-- it was too over-the-top! It was getting  a bit cluttered, so I edited it. We retained the blue birds, the pink birds, the words, and the pink and white icicles, though.

And here is the final result. My mother really was surprised, but it turns out, she likes it!

I noticed that we ended up with a bird theme going on, which wasn't planned, but it was too hard to resist all those sparkly cute birds. (Interestingly, the lady whose tree I used for inspiration recently posted another tree, which also has a bird theme!) 

I really wanted to try putting something large and unexpected in the tree, though. Just to see what it was like.  I looked around wondering what to do.  I was still nervous about putting heavy things in the tree, wired or not. 

 I remembered the little birdhouses in one of the hardware store trees. Maybe we needed some houses for all those little birds to live in.
So far, the only new items purchased for this tree were the poinsettias for the top. I thought instead of buying more items, I would make my own light-weight birdhouses out of card stock. 

And here they are. Quite unexpected.

I'm not sure I like it. 
But it was fun to make all those birdhouses!

Here are some close-ups of the other ornaments:

One of the birds

One of the poinsettias

One of the birdhouses. I did several different shapes, just freehand. This was the easiest one to do. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 Christmas Tree Inspiration part 8: Starry Night

Now I do remember the name of this tree-- Starry Night. 

It was hard to decide between the Sage tree, the Gold tree, and this tree, but I think this one was my favorite. 
It is simply full of snowflakes, stars, and ice. It does remind one of a very cold winter night! But a cold winter night with the Christmas lights reflecting in the snow from a nice, warm house. 

Here is "Starry Night" during the day. A silver mesh ribbon runs through the tree behind the ornaments. The tree seems simply to be one color theme-- but is it white, silver, clear, or iridescent? All of it combined makes for an interesting display! In the day you see more white, but at night the tree glows almost golden and has purple-blue reflections through the snowflakes. 

I don't know what to call these picks-- but they stick quite a ways out from the tree and had cascading jewels on them. Kind of strange, but it added to the winter-icy feeling of the tree. 

Hanging up next to the tree were these huge paper stars. 

I like to pull out some ideas from these trees, which I know are being used as fancy store shelves to sell the ornaments, that can be used at home. 
One is the wide ribbon garlands with bows here and there,
another idea is the use of stuffed animals in the tree, 
another is the idea that you can wire in big items for unexpected tree decor. 
The ornaments are of all shapes, 
some round, some long, some cascading, 
and lots of snowflakes and flowers in the mix. 
Add different shades of golds and silvers to whatever the theme color is. 
I haven't ever used picks before in a tree, but I am willing to try it this year. The hardware store guy showed me how long the picks they used were, quite a bit longer than the ones I have seen in the craft store. 
A tree can have a theme, even if not all the decorations on it are exactly of the theme. Ornaments that are family favorites can still be used, along with the other theme items. A color can tie everything together, or the addition of "fillers" such as stars, snowflakes, candy, snowmen, or flowers. 

And that concludes this year's tree tour!  I hope you all enjoyed it!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2013 Christmas Tree Inspiration Part 7: Elegant Trees

This bejeweled tree was named something like "Holy Night." The theme was the nativity, and the colors were royal. 

Hydrangeas appeared in this tree, as in the Sage tree I posted about earlier. The garland was a gold mesh ribbon. The colors of purples, oranges, blues, pinks and greens all looked great together among the golds, as the ornaments all had touches of gold and silver in common. The ornaments included small nativity scenes, crowns, and huge purple poinsettias with silver glitter outlining. 

If memory serves me right, the tree below was named "Golden Memories."

The gold mesh ribbon was put on vertically, cascading from the huge golden poinsettias made from sheer and gold fabric. And of course the ornaments were all shades of gold and glitter, with some whites and silvers here and there.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2013 Christmas Tree Inspiration Part 6: Fun Trees

"Let it Snow Somewhere Else"
I, of course, do not agree. 
This has to be the "Bah Humbug" of Christmas signs!  

This tree is chock-full of snowmen-- wood, metal, glass, and plush!

 There were bells that looked like snowmen,  sleds as snowmen and of course snowballs as snowmen-- and lots of snowmen heads. 

And of course word signs-- this one was chunky wood.

Soft skate with a candy cane blade.

I liked the little snow-birds and soft Christmas balls. 

This tree was all Santa and Reindeer night-before-Christmas themed, with a sub-theme of Grandparents (the real Santa Claus, as we all know). 

I especially liked the plush reindeer all over the tree. 

I'm envisioning a tree full of hand-made wee stockings, each one different from the other... if I had nothing else to do this season, I might attempt that.

I didn't get many photos of the travel themed tree, but I liked all the snowflakes more than the travel ornaments!

The toy-themed tree had an old-fashioned top and radio flyer sled as the tree topper! I didn't get a good picture of that, but I did get some of the ornaments. Of course they are all delicate and shiny and sparkly, but you can see raiding the children's toy box and attacking the toys with glitter could yield your own sort of toy tree! Sailboats, cars, dump trucks, airplanes, and lots of candy adorned this tree. The garland was of beads instead of ribbon. 

The viewfinder ornaments were so funny looking! Who ever thought to recast them as Christmas ornaments?

Really yummy looking cupcakes hanging from the lower branches of the toy tree. No, they aren't real.

Neither is this ribbon candy, but it sure was sparkly.