Handmade Christmas Trees

December 8, 2016

“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree . . .”

Watercolor painting of Christmas tree

Watercolor painting of Christmas tree

In lieu of a real Christmas tree this year, I’ve created a couple of hand-crafted, scrappy trees from materials at hand.  I used a broken, misshapen garden trellis as the base for a rustic tree.  One string of lights and a few favorite ornaments, and it transformed into a magical spot of holiday cheer.


I’ve always loved paper crafts, so I created a tree of paper snowflakes.  Just cut a bunch of snowflakes of assorted sizes, stack them from large to small on a wooden dowel (I used a pencil), and top with an old earring.

Cut paper snowflakes

Cut paper snowflakes

Roughly sort by size

Roughly sort by size

Stack on a dowel, large to small

Stack on a dowel, large to small

Voila!  A snowflake tree!

Voila! A snowflake tree!



Cherish Peace and Goodwill

December 25, 2013

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.  To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
— Calvin Coolidge

Small ball ornaments on vintage Ball jars

Small ball ornaments on vintage Ball jars

Woolen stocking garland

Woolen stocking garland

Nutcracker from Germany

Nutcracker from Germany

Cross-stitched jungle bell

Cross-stitched jungle bell

Just a few holiday touches at my house.  Merry Christmas!






My Trellis Christmas Tree

December 13, 2013

Christmas tree, a rustic wooden trellis

Christmas tree, a rustic wooden trellis

“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!”
— Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

Trellis tree

Vintage Santa ornament



This year instead of a live tree, I decorated a rustic, weathered wooden trellis.  Strung with lights, a paper star garland, and a few favorite ornaments, its A-shape resembles a real evergreen tree, don’t you think?

Humble Keepsakes and Customs

December 17, 2012

“It comes every year and will go on forever.  And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs.  Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart.”
— Marjorie Holmes

Handmade paper ornament

Handmade paper ornament

“To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”
— E. B. White

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more.”
— Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The largest part of my Christmas doesn’t come from a store.  My keepsakes are handmade, for the most part.  And yes, they are humble, like this paper cut Scandinavian horse ornament I made this year from instructions I found in Mollie Makes Christmas:  Living and Loving a Handmade Holiday.

Or my traditional holiday wreath, made from rosemary sprigs from my garden.  For me, simple is best.

Homemade rosemary wreath

Homemade rosemary wreath

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
— Charles Dickens

Wreath made of colorful ball ornaments

“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why, this is Christmas Day!'”
— David Grayson

I like the idea of parceling out the special treats of the Christmas season over the entire year, but especially during these final days leading up to Christmas Day itself.  I will take each Christmas-y moment as it comes, and try to attend to its unique colors, sounds, and scents.

Here are a few moments I captured with my camera at Swansons Nursery in Seattle, still early in this year’s holiday season.

Young shopper at Swansons Nursery

Amaryllis in bloom

Pine cone and squirrel ornaments for sale

Luminous pear ornaments for sale

One of the reindeer at Swansons Nursery

A garland of bells

Decisions, decisions

Red bows

Radio Flyer shopping “cart”



Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . .

Merry Christmas from my house to yours!

Favorite monkey sock ornament

We use the same ornaments year after year, adding a few new ones now and then.

Vintage Santa ornament from my childhood on the farm

Watercolor sketch of Santa ornament

Another watercolor sketch of the Santa ornament

Folded paper star ornament

I found the instructions for making these folded paper star ornaments on the December 8th post of the Craftynest blog (www.craftynest.com).  I love how they look and plan to make many more.  Here’s how I made mine:

Cutting out stars from paper

Using the pattern I downloaded from the Craftynest blog, I cut out 10 stars from some pretty red speckled paper I had on hand.

Folding the stars

Then I folded each paper star in half.  (After I folded them, I realized that the Craftynest instructions said to fold in half on the points.  Ooops.  It turned out that my mistake didn’t really matter.)

Sewing the paper stars together

Next I stacked all 10 paper stars together and sewed down the center fold line.

Attaching ribbon

Because my folds were in the gutter rather than point-to-point, I was able to just tie ribbon around my stars, covering the sewing.  (At Craftynest, they sewed the ribbon on.)

Finished star ornament

When you open up the leaves of the star, it makes a beautiful symmetrical ornament.

Detail of finished star

Vintage Ornaments

December 11, 2010

Here are a few vintage glass Christmas ornaments from the ones we used on the farm during my childhood:

Watercolor sketch of vintage Christmas tree ornaments

Watercolor sketch of vintage ornaments from my childhood

The local nurseries are especially festive this time of year.  Here are some photos taken at Swanson’s Nursery in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle:

Shopping for a wreath

Live reindeer at Swanson's Nursery

Camel at Swanson's Nursery

Pink poinsettias

White poinsettias

Red poinsettia

Santa ornaments

Red ribbon

Young shopper at Swanson's Nursery

Season's greeting sign

“Mark ye well the song we sing,
Gladsome tidings now we bring . . .”
   — Wihla Hutson, “Caroling, Caroling”

Carolers ornaments

“Our richest gifts are loving hearts,
So hearts of love we bring.
With deeds and gifts we voice our love
And Christmas carols sing.”
     — Oliver Murray Edwards, “Christmas”

Few things put me in the holiday spirit like Christmas carols.  Yesterday afternoon my friend Carol (yes, her name fit the occasion!) and I attended the annual holiday concert presented by the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle.  We enjoyed some unfamiliar songs, hymns, and carols sung in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.  We were also treated to songs on accordion by guest artist Richard Svennson.  It was a delightful concert.

The Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle in concert

Voice lifted in song

The Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle performing at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church

Intricately embroidered Scandinavian dress and purse