Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bottle-Brush Trees: Failure and Success

The Christmas season is in full-swing, and I love it! I think this may be our busiest one yet, but I'm bound and determined to love every single minute of it, and so far, so good! I put a lot of thought into how I wanted December to be. I knew we had things scheduled every single night for the first two weeks, and many of the others beyond that. I knew that we had not been able to get much done before December hit, so we'd be scurrying around, playing "catch up" almost the whole time. I knew that my husband would be exhausted from his many, many hours spent in his church calling at this time of the year. And I knew that the first of our five grand babies that are currently expected, would be making her appearance the week after Christmas. Lots to do, and truly not enough time to get it all done. I came up with a plan:

1. Plan ahead, and be organized.
2. Don't be afraid to say no.
3. Live in the moment. Enjoy it all!
4. Play Christmas music around the house all the live-long day.
5. Be aware of those around me. Serve even in the smallest of ways.
6. Spend a few minutes every day pondering The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Click on the title to read it. It's beautiful, poignant, and speaks to my heart) and read from good Christmas books.
7. Cross things off the "to-do" list that are just fluff, and don't need to be done.
8. When I'm busily running around, remind myself what that trip to Costco, or the grocery run, or the stop in at the mall has to do with Christmas. Most of those errands have everything to do with buying/making gifts or preparing food and our home for family gatherings, and thinking about that just helps me keep my head in the right place. It's all good.

At this time of year, especially, it takes real effort to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas. So many things to do, events to be at, gifts to buy, things to make. But what a gift it is to know and feel that at the heart of all of our celebrating and hustle and bustle, is our love for family, friends, and Jesus Christ. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year!

Moving on to one of the crafts I had planned to make for Christmas. I found these donut cutters at a antique shop in Logan, Utah. 

I love the look of them, and as soon as I saw them, I knew they would make a perfect base for the bottle brush trees I had wanted to try. I had seen a few different pins about bleaching and dying bottle brush trees, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Oh boy.

I soaked the trees in a bleach/water mixture, and when that didn't do anything, I went for straight bleach. I left the trees soaking for 48 hours, and all they did was change to a dingy color of green. I had thrown 2 smaller trees, that were made of a different material, and to my surprise, they actually bleached beautifully. BUT, when they were drying, and I gently fluffed the little piney spikes back out, they all fell out. Bleh. At that point, I threw the whole kit-and-caboodle out in the trash can, and went to WalMart and bought some while bottle brush trees with very little decor on them. They were cheap and already white. I knew I could work with those.

I got to work taking the bows off, and many of the little peg-shaped ornaments. They weren't glued in well, and most of them were cockeyed so that you could see the peg. Not the look I was going for.

Then, I took the bases of of each of the trees. Easy. Just unscrew and gently pull as you do so, and the bases come off. I then ran a bead of hot glue around the top inside of the donut cutter, and held the trees in place until they dried.

The decorating was so much fun. I don't have any pics of the process, because my hands were covered in white snow fluff and hot glue. I had bought a box of odds and ends from vintage glass garlands, so I used those pieces on the trees. I pretty much used up all that I had, but I would have kept on going if I had had more tiny ornaments to work with. As it was, I was making them for my mom and sisters for an event the next day, so I didn't have time to find more ornaments online.

Notice the "snow" all over the table. These trees did shed a bit of their snow, but it was easy to clean up, so it's all good. I tied a tiny card with a teeny tiny candy cane around each one with baker's twine, and Done! A fun and really quick project.

I had enough of the white trees for my sisters and mom, but I ran out of the white, and made a green tree for myself. 

Which is actually okay, because I have a lot of white/off-white bottle brush trees.

And there is my newest addition. Sitting as proud as a peacock in a donut cutter. Love it!

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