Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And you were expecting what? Something besides Christmas decoration photos? Silly you!!

So here they are!!

This is a tree with paper ma'che animals. They're five little animals that Nigel's Mom, Valerie, found inside a drawer of a piece of furniture she'd purchased for her antique shop.  She didn't realize they were there until she got the piece home and started to inspect it.  She gave the animals to my girls, who didn't appreciate their significance or age (mostly because the animals didn't "do" anything!  They were very "low tech" - thank Heaven!!).  Anyway, I loved them and eventually decided to honor them by creating an "old fashioned" tree with real candles and little gold twig stars on which to display them.  To add the candles, I put a drop of hot glue onto the end of the limb, then I held a birthday candle in the hot glue till the glue melted, along with the end of the candle.  Once cooled, the candle stayed in place!!

Close-Up of the little animals!  Lovely!!

The Jewelry Tree!!  One of my all time favorites!  I created this years ago, and actually started with a small green-limbed tree.  However, a few years after that, I saw this heavily glittered silver tree and changed it out.  On this tree resides vintage jewelry from three very important ladies in my life - my Grandma Hoffman (Dad's Mom), my Gran (Mom's Mom) and my Great Aunt Arlie (my Dad's Aunt).  Nothing else is allowed!  I LOVE this tree and it's always a BIG favorite of women who come to our annual Christmas party! So many lovely memories, it includes not only "fancy" jewelry, but also a couple of old watches and a few plain rings.  In other words, it holds what I call their "everyday" jewelry, which I remember them wearing all the time!

Another favorite - I created what I call my Nostalgia Tree some time in the summer of last year.  It's similar to the Jewelry Tree, but also includes items from other people, or just vintage items that remind me of days gone by.  I got the idea from a book called "Vintage Christmas Crafts" by Sara Toliver (a beautiful Christmas book chock FULL of great ideas and beautiful imagery I highly recommend!).  A few close-ups follow.

The topper is a vintage corsage that I've known about for years.  I asked Gran once where it was from, but I don't think she could remember.  She thought it was probably from one of her 3 girls' proms or something special like that.  I always loved it despite it's "less than perfect" condition.  When Gran passed, I asked for it without any idea what to do with it.  I just knew it would be a part of something special one day.  And here it is!!  The thin, faded cloth tape measure belonged to Gran, as did the thimble.  The pearl necklace was my Mom's, given to her by a dear family friend at her high school graduation.

Another thimble, and Gran's pair of embroidery scissors with the gold bird motif.  The little flower was also Gran's; it's missing one of its petals, but Gran had saved it nevertheless.  Obviously it was meant for this tree, which doesn't consider what others would call the obvious flaws of a piece, but rather at its beauty overall.  The vintage card of buttons was a thrift store find.

This photo includes Gran's crochet needles (far left, but rather difficult to see), as well as a small perfume bottle she'd found somewhere (probably a thrift shop).  Gran always loved little bits and pieces; it's a lovely gift she's passed on to me.  By the way, the tree was once pale green, but I wanted a creamy vintage look, so I spray painted it.  Not bad for a first try!

One last close-up; this photo includes a flower "broach" that I bought from one of Gran's rummage sales when I was in my early teens.  Gran LOVED having rummage sales.  She'd buy items from other rummage sales that were affordable and which appealed to her.  After awhile, if she grew tired of anything, she'd sell them in her own rummage sale.  A great and inexpensive way to have things you love around you.  I innocently thought the piece was real ivory, but I think it was a piece of Bakelite.  Regardless, it was one of those things Gran bought from someone else's sale.  I've had it ever since then and wore it for a number of years (after adding a pin back to it).  Now it finally rests on this very special tree.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of Lucy the Camel, from Afghanistan!  Laura sent it home to Isabel (knowing her daughter - like her mother - would LOVE anything PINK!!).  When Isabel was trying to name it, she asked what my middle name was.  I told her it was Lucille, and suggested calling the camel Lucy for short.  And Lucy it was!

The Margaritaville Tree!!  After Nigel built a gazebo (his own design, no plan or anything like that) for his new hot tub/spa, he wanted to have a funny decorating scheme inside!  No problem there!  So we bought funny parrot signs, wacky fish wall art, etc.  So for Christmas, it was a "no brainer"!  Hence the Margaritaville Christmas Tree!  However, we were so behind, I didn't decorate it this year.  But at least I pulled the tree out so everyone could see how silly it was!  LOTS of fun this one was!!

When is the last time you saw a pink flamingo in blue tennis shoes and a green bikini, out shopping and eating an ice cream cone?  I thought not! So naturally I just had to include her on this tree!!

What can I say?  It makes for a great conversation piece!! Ha Ha

Nigel's Military Tree!!  Yet another favorite, made with all my love and respect for Nigel's military career and as a bow to his love for this great country of ours, the United States of America!!  On this tree is everything from his 20-year career, from medals he earned to the sewing kit he used in the first Gulf War (Desert Storm).  It includes patches from the various units he's served in, a fully operational P38 (no good soldier is ever caught without one!), his ear protection case, and even a large shell casing!!  To add to the fun, I bought toy plastic soldiers and tanks, as well as many planes (Army and also Air Force ones, since both girls joined the Air Force!)  This was another fun one to create! 

The large patch in the top center is one Nigel has had for as long as I've known him.  It's a replica of a patch from Britain, circa 1918 (World War I).  Notice his "dog tags" toward the top left?

This is what I call my "Accident Tree".  One year, I had the bright idea of washing all my vintage, circa 1940s and 1950s glass Christmas balls, so I ran a sink of nice hot soapy water and put in quite a few without thinking anything might go wrong.  That is until I picked up one to hand wash and I realized the various colors had all come off!!!  Fortunately, I didn't have nearly as large a collection at that time as I do now!!  You've never seen anyone work so fast to get those little darlings out of that water!  But too late!  So.......not one to be easily stumped by minor disturbances, I created this theme tree of my "accident", to include chandelier crystals I'd bought at one of my many thrift store visits! 

Just when you think I can't have any more trees, here you find another!!  This is what I call my Nature Tree!!  It's kept on the outside screened-in front porch and only those ornaments with a "natural" or "nature" theme can reside here!

A favorite ornament that Hallmark put out one year, by Marjolein Bastin!  I love her beautiful watercolor paintings and ornaments and I have quite a few of them!

Another Marjolein Bastin ornament; so beautiful!! And I found the little house years ago, but can't even remember where now.

This last close-up includes one of the dozen or so birds I've added in the past couple of years, as well as a good shot of the red berry garlands I've added.  On the far left is what looks like a white ball of fluff; this is an actual bowl of cotton I got off the side of the road here in Madison, beside a field that had been picked earlier that morning.  When Nigel's cousin Marian and her family came for their first visit to the United States some years back, they were AMAZED to see a field of cotton growing! They'd never seen how it actually grew!! The next Christmas, we sent them an angel ornament, made out of an actual bowl of cotton!!  But this one above is in it's "all naturale" state!!

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