Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Decorate Hard: With a Vengence

Christmas is in full swing here on the acreage.  We are shopping, baking and wrapping, all while watching our favorite holiday movies including "The Ref", "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "Die Hard".  Our definition of what qualifies as a Christmas movie is a bit broad, meaning it must have a Christmas scene in it at some point.  We have visited Santa (E asked for a water tower... we have no idea where that came from) and had a family outing to see "Frozen" in the theater.  All while this is going on, I have been decorating our home.  Last year, we didn't delve too deeply into decorating with a 2 1/2 year old and 4 month old so this year I was excited to make our little farmhouse feel festive.

Our first task was to get our Christmas tree.  One of the traditions Andy and I started when we had our first house in Dekalb, Illinois was going to a tree farm to cut down our own tree.  Growing up, my family usually had an artificial tree and on the rare occasions we had a real tree, it would come from a grocery store parking lot where the YMCA was holding their annual tree fundraiser.  Once we moved to Dekalb, we had the opportunity to go to a tree farm and we were hooked!  Now that we are in an even more rural area, there are several tree farms to choose from.  We usually go to pick out our tree on the weekend right after Thanksgiving and this year was no different.  In the years we have gone to cut down our own tree, weather has ranged from sub-zero temps to snowy to raining.  This year we lucked out, picking a beautiful, sunny, 40 degree day.  Our destination was Holiday Pines- a family-run tree farm right outside of town with an abundance of trees to choose from.  We picked up our saw, we headed up the hill to find "our" tree.

As we came to the first patch of trees, we saw it.  Perfectly shaped, sturdy and the right height.  Similar to wedding dress shopping though, I felt like we couldn't just cut down the first one we saw. Not that I didn't think we would end up with it, I just thought we needed to do the "experience" a bit more, walking through the trees as a family, really the start of Christmas in my opinion.  So, much to Andy's frustration and confusion, we continued to search for a few minutes more. E was pointing at EVERY tree saying, "This is the one!"  We turned back to our first tree only to find a couple sniffing over it.  Keeping Andy posted close to the tree, waiting for their final decision, I walked around with the kids a bit more, getting nervous that "our" tree would be taken and I wasn't finding anything I liked as well.  Over the trees, I heard a familiar "Caw, Caw!" (the Peterson signal for finding another family member in crowded areas) and I went racing back to the original tree.  Thankfully, the couple had moved on so it was ours!

A few back and forths with the saw and we were on our way home with the tree.

E helping to carry the tree down the hill
Unfortunately, this house doesn't have a great spot to put a tree so we move our dining room table out of the dining alcove and put it there.  I spent the afternoon stringing lights and putting up ornaments we have collected over the years with help from E.
E putting the angel on supervised by F.

I love putting up ornaments because I can remember where each one came from. We always buy ornaments when we travel- the lederhosen man from Austria and the cotton angel from South Carolina- and I always get ornaments for Christmas from my sisters- the set of 12 spoons each with a verse of the Twelve Days of Christmas stamped on.  I even have a collection of red birds which were gifts from students during my years of teaching at Wredling Middle School (school mascot- red hawk).  I have never done a "theme" tree (colors, etc) and never plan to- I love my ornaments.
Sneak peak of our newly painted white window trim and door!  More to come later!

Throughout the house, I have several pockets of decorations.  A garland over the living room windows which is a piece of trim strung with hooks across the windows with paper trees, decorated with stickers by E several years ago, held on with clothespins.

On the desk in the living room (which I will be posting about soon!), I have a few of my favorite nativities and some various decorations picked up at Michaels or Hobby Lobby over the years.

Above the desk is a mirror that is there year round, but during the holidays houses all the Christmas cards we receive.

Attached to the light and fan in the living room are several vintage glass ornaments.

Outside, next to the front door, I placed a potted evergreen on top of a stool we found in a shed.

I also decorated a faux-evergreen wreath I have had for years with some flowers I picked up at Walmart.  I redecorate the wreath every year depending on the style I want by picking up flowers/ribbons at a local craft store and cutting apart, placing, etc.  I use picture wire to hold everything in place which is also easy to take apart the next year.

I used ribbon to hang the wreath to the door- tacking the top of the ribbon down over the door with a small nail.

I think the wreath looks fantastic on our newly-painted front door!  I would have really liked to add more greenery outside the house but I guess that will go on the list for next year!

Finally, our biggest DIY project was creating a faux fireplace to hang the kids' stockings on.  Unfortunately, this house doesn't have a fireplace, so no obvious place to put stockings.  Last year, I just put the stockings randomly on a wall, held in place by 3M hooks.  This year, I was determined to do something more special since E is really starting to get into Christmas.  Going along with our standard operating procedure, I told Andy to build a little mantle on a wood board that I could paint up.  Continuing with the SOP, Andy took these vague directions and planned out a fantastic design.  Oddly enough, that day when reading my favorite blog, Young House Love, they had created a faux fireplace in a similar design!  Taking our two designs, this is what we ended up with.

The terrible artist that I am, I pretty much copied the flames from the Young House Love design- which was much more artistic than my plan- using basic craft paints in grey and orange-red.  While Andy was out hunting, I sent him on a mission to bring home some good sticks and as usual, he didn't disappoint.  He cut the sticks in half so I was able to hot glue them to the board (update: they are not sticking very well so we are going back with wood glue so they don't fall off).  I painted the outside trim and mantle in beige and used small tacks to attach the kiddos' stockings to the mantle.

When E came down the next morning, she immediately saw the new feature and asked, "Will Santa come down there?"  "Yes baby, of course he will." ;)

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