Friday, November 30, 2012

Mini Winter Berry Wreaths

I made these Tiny Winter Berry Wreaths to use as decorations, ornaments and gifts.
They were so easy to make and well worth making in multiples to keep on hand for gift giving.
Created with simple supplies that you might already have on hand, or that can be purchased at your local craft section, they are very inexpensive and versatile.
Coated with glitter, they sparkle and shine in the light.
Or they can be left natural for a rustic look.
They would also look lovely hanging from pretty ribbon.
And given as gifts.
Or hung in a tree.
The possibilities are endless.
I had so much fun crafting these! They would look lovely in soft pastel colors, or with red berries.
To create these little lovelies, all you need are:
4 small Grapevine Wreaths
 Craft Paint, (I used some latex wall paint I had on hand)
Spray Paint
 1/2 inch paint brush
1 spray Artificial 'Winter Berries' with stems that can be cut apart
Glitter Glue or Spray Glitter
Hot glue gun
Ribbon for hanging
Paint the wreaths and set aside to dry.
Once dry, add the glitter glue wherever you want some sparkle. 
Leave to dry. Overnight is good.
Alternately, if you want this process to go quick, use spray paint and spray glitter!
Separate Winter Berry Clusters and hot glue to wreath.
I added a few tiny leaves to each wreath. These were part of the Winter Berry Spray.
I then dabbed everything with glitter glue, spreading it out on the leaves.
This gives it that 'touched by frost' look.
Allow these to dry and then have fun thinking of ways to use your creations!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nature's Reflections

The skies are nearly a continuous shade of gray now, here in my little world.

 But within the seemingly dull expanse there are subtle colorations that become apparent when you take the time to really 'see'.

There are shades of lavender and blue,
  rose and pale yellow,
with soft hues of salmon, tangerine and magenta if you know when to look,
moments before the sun sets when the light escapes from under the perpetual blanket of clouds.
The bold colors of summer and fall give way to the gently diffused shades of mist and fog,

 and the glimmering silver of rain.
Time gradually moves through the mist in quiet introspection as Autumn gives way to Winter's deep solitude.
While nature falls into quiet slumber, we naturally feel the urge to slow down, to move inward for our own time of quiet introspection.
As the season draws to a close, we pause to reflect on the time that has passed.
We gather our harvest of memories, like nature's fallen leaves, transforming the growth of this year's lessons into nourishment for our soul.
We shine the light of gratitude for all that we have learned, for all that we have loved.
While gracefully embracing all that we've lost, retaining the lessons and saving the love, while letting the rest fall away to be transformed into next year's growth.
For even in the cold, harsh Winter of life, there is the sparkling promise of Spring's renewal to fortify us against the raging storms.
For it is Love that remains no matter how bleak the landscape.
It is found in the sunset, the whispering wind, the gentle murmuring of falling rain.
And with Autumn's rain the trickles of wisdom and compassion grow, fed by the lessons we've learned and the love that we've shared.
Until it overflows, into streams of shimmering thoughts, creating our world.
Nature reminds us that we all contribute to the flow of life, gradually building upon itself to form mighty rivers that flow
The Sea of Humanity
So, as we stand on this shore of reflection, we understand that we move forward not as islands alone, but rather as the very sea itself.
With the depth of compassion, the clarity of insight, the force of the love of all those who surround us, who came here before us, who will follow us yet, we all join in the river of life, always moving forward with the same goal in mind.
Life, Love and Joy.
So as we renew and reflect during this quiet season, saying goodbye to the old and preparing for the new, let us remember that it is up to each and every one of us how we would like our world to unfold.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wreath Making for Christmas

If you are blessed with an abundance of evergreens, or if you have access to a woodlands it is a very easy task to create your own fragrant wreath.
First, I must note that you should never, ever cut branches off these beautiful trees just to make a wreath.
Instead, simply wait for windy weather and when the skies calm, go out and you will find what you are looking for right on the ground! A true 'windfall'!
Or, if you have put off trimming your own trees, now is an excellent time and you can put to good use all of the trimmings.
Gather your materials.
For this large wreath, I gathered a large laundry basket full of Douglas Fir branches from our recent storm, a 20 inch grapevine wreath, a spool of green florist wire, wire clippers (or an old pair of scissors), and a small basket of fir cones.
Also, (not shown here) a pair of pruners or gardening shears or use that old pair of scissors.
First, create a hanging loop by folding a 24 inch length of wire in half and twisting to form a loop. Wrap ends around wreath several times and tuck the sharp ends in or clip.
Finding this hanging loop once you are done creating your wreath might be difficult, so I recommend tying a brightly colored ribbon to the loop that you can remove later.
To begin, trim 3 or 4 sprigs to a length of approximately 8 inches. I used a pair of gardening shears, but clippers or an old pair of scissors will work fine. You will not want to use your good pair, as this process will dull the blades!
To begin, wrap the end of your spool of wire around the wreath once and twist the end around the strand of wire to secure tightly. Tuck or snip the sharp end.
Gather your handful of 3-4 trimmed sprigs and position them pointing upwards along the front of your grapevine wreath.
Wrap the wire tightly around the wreath, capturing the bundle near the ends, leaving about 3 inches to form a base. Wrap around wreath, capturing this bundle 2-3 times, pulling to tighten. (Not too hard, you don't want to break your wire)
Trim any excessively long ends.
Continue this process, angling your next bunch slightly outward and a little lower than the first. Your third bunch should be angled slightly inward, always moving a little lower for each bunch.
As you proceed, turn the wreath so that the first bunch of each layer of three is always pointing upwards.
Trim any long ends as you go along.
Just keep adding bundles in this manner until you cover the whole wreath, carefully tucking the last few into the beginning bundles to hide the ends.  
Once you are done, create bundles of cones by cutting lengths of wire approximately 12 inches, and starting at middle of wire, slide it into the base of the first cone about 2 or 3 scales up, twisting wire together to secure. Add the other two cones in the same manner, using the ends of the same wire to twist around each base. Trim off or tuck in any loose ends.
Next, cut another length of wire about 12 inches long and fold this around the middle of the bundle, catching the previous wire in the fold, twist the two ends to secure and then wrap each end around the wreath, carefully lifting the greenery out of the way and nestling your pine cone cluster snugly. Twist the wire ends together on the underside of wreath securely and clip or tuck in.
You can space each cluster evenly as I have done, or create a grouping in one area.
Now the best part! Hang your creation and trim lightly if needed.
Fresh evergreen wreaths are best kept outdoors, as they dry out quickly inside heated homes.
But, bringing them inside for a special event is a lovely and fragrant way to decorate. Just be sure to replace your creation outdoors as soon as possible to keep it fresh.
Using this technique of wreath making, you are free to experiment with many different types of evergreens and embellishments.
The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!
Happy Wreath Making!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunshine and Shadow

I woke up to bright skies today, after a very stormy Thanksgiving week that took down a 100 ft. Hemlock tree and knocked out our Internet for nearly a week. (Not because of the tree)
Our electricity kept flickering in and out and that caused a power surge which 'fried' our modem.
Many calls to tech support and two trips to buy two different modems (the first one wasn't compatible, but the second one was - after a 40 mile journey- each way, to the Century Link outlet) and finally success.

So here I am after my little hiatus, with Champ the Border Collie by my side. Can you see his floppy ear?
Today we are hanging out together, along with our best pal, Whitey.
My Dear Husband, Dennis, has hired my son's childhood friend, Ryan, to spend some quality time together with the chainsaw. The back fence line has been down since last winter's ice storm. So many trees and limbs fell in our little forest. The land descends into a steep ravine at the back and all the trees fell downward, right across the fence, taking it down.
 Today is a good day for doing this hard work. There is no wind to create hazardous conditions. We have quite a few 'widow makers' as they call those large trees that don't fall completely. These are dangerous and unpredictable and any wind at all can make them fall.

Ryan is a professional logger.

Logging is one of the main industries in Washington State, but the collapse of the housing market has put these brave, hardworking men out of work.

So stormy weather is a logger's best friend, as it brings down trees that need removing.

Our very dry summer and fall prevented any logging activity due to the danger of sparks from chainsaws setting fires. So this calm but damp weather is ideal.
Meanwhile, I am enjoying this rare sunny day to relax and renew after a busy Thanksgiving holiday.
I cooked for 8, including two pies.
It was a wonderful day, and now I get to relax with plenty of leftovers and happy memories.
The sun is streaming in, illuminating everything in it's path. I particularly love how it lights up these Chinese Lanterns, sent to me all the way from New Hampshire, grown in my Dear Sister-in-Law's garden.
She sent me a package full of treasures for my birthday, recently.
This little cast bronze candle stand was one such treasure. The little mouse is reading a book. I love his big ears. I painted and decorated the wooden tray with decoupaged oak leaves and acorns, cut from a paper napkin, for fall.
Here are my two best friends basking in the morning sun. Whitey just stole Champ's chewy bone and is guarding it jealously. These two have bonded quite nicely and play with each other all day. One game they love is 'Who has the bone?' Usually it is Whitey who steals them all and hoards them on his bed. But Champ is sneaky and as soon as Whitey is distracted, he steals them back.
They have to stay with me today because they are afraid of the chainsaw and they don't know Ryan.
These are my protectors. 
'Strangers' are not greeted kindly.  
Everyone needs to be formally introduced.
The birds are loving this beautiful day, too.
My little collection of concrete birds sits on my deck rail.
The bird feeder with 5 little birds was given to me by my youngest son Dustin on the day of my Father's funeral. He told me the 5 birds represent my Father's 5 daughters.
He is thoughtful that way.
He also gave me the two separate little birds as gifts for various occasions. He knows I love birds.
I put special treats in this tiny feeder. Yesterday I put squash seeds out and they are already gone.
The birds reward me with feathers.
 Some say that if you find a feather it means a departed loved one is thinking of you.
I find lots of feathers.
I like to think this is true.
These are from wild pigeons and mourning doves.
 Keeping colored glassware in the window is my way of celebrating the sunshine. Seeing the beautiful jewel- like colors glow in the sunlight is a wonderful sight.
But even with direct sunshine hitting the temperature gauge, the needle still hovers at barely 40 degrees. This vine wrapped bird house sits on a stand and was made by my Dear Father before he became 'lost' due to Alzheimer's. He loved to tinker in his workshop, creating so many wonderful hand made gifts. They mean more to me than any store bought gift, knowing they were formed by his own two hands with a loving heart.
I have one tiny coral hued flower still blooming in a summer flower basket. Every sunny day a hummingbird still comes to visit this one little flower.
I also have a hummingbird feeder.
But as beautiful and peaceful as this sunny day is, I always remember there are also shadows.
Photo taken from the Web
On Thanksgiving, this is what was lurking beyond my driveway gate, in the pasture across the little country lane.
We always remember that we live in a vast forest, surrounded by nature.
Nature is truly awe inspiring.
And we always respect her.
Weekly Top Shot

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