Making a simple Christmas wreath

Christmas wreath 2013

Christmas wreath 2013

We finally hung our Christmas wreath outside!  The weather has continued to be rather mild in temperature, although there has been quite a lot of rain. Thankfully, the sun has also come to visit us even if for short visits.

Christmas wreath 2013

Christmas wreath 2013

I had one more straw wreath frame, and greens left over from my large outdoor wreath, so I decided to make another wreath to give away.  I really enjoy making them, especially when working with eucalyptus, pittosporum (Tom Thumb) and lovely evergreens.

Straw wreath form

Straw wreath form

It does take some time to cut the greens into a small(ish) size, and then pin them into the wreath form. But it isn’t difficult to do, especially when using floral pins.

Floral pins and garden sheers

Floral pins and garden sheers

Piece by piece you pin the greens on!

Filling in the greens to cover the straw.

Filling in the greens to cover the straw.

The evergreens are just my base. I wanted the color and different textures from the Tom Thumb Pittosporum and eucalyptus to be the main focus of the wreath.

Adding Tom Thumb Pittosporum for texture and color

Adding Tom Thumb Pittosporum for texture and color

Filling in with pittosporum

Filling in with pittosporum

The family were watching A Christmas Carol while I was finishing up the wreath. I could watch too, from where I was working.  It was an animated version, but still quite scary! We are finally on a break from all of our activities and able to relax together as a family.  I’m so glad we have taken the time to watch those Christmas movies (even if for the 100th time!).

Eucalyptus added with the pittosporum

Eucalyptus added with the pittosporum

Now I had to decide how to embellish it!  I decided to go with a very simple look.

A few gold balls

A few gold balls

A gold French horn

A gold French horn

A gold bow

A gold bow

Watching that video on how to make a bow on Youtube has come in handy this season!

A simple Christmas wreath

A simple Christmas wreath

I was really happy with the finished wreath.  Yeah, I was having second thoughts about giving it away!  🙂  But it was for some special people (my in-laws!) so I stuck to my original plan and gave it to them.

Photo with no flash

Photo with no flash

Christmas is almost here.  I have enjoyed getting ready by visiting with neighbors,  friends and family and sharing our baked goods.  Mostly, I’ve enjoyed our time together as a family.  I hope you are able to enjoy time with your friends and family, too.

Merry Christmas!
Dana

A handmade star

My friend Susan made this star for me!  Isn’t it fabulous?

Two more sleeps!

Two more sleeps!

Orange & Clove Pomander Wreath

How it all begins...

How it all begins…

Last week I went to a fabulous craft fair.  There were hundreds of very talented crafts people there.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I can’t wait to go again next year! So many wonderful ideas.  One item that I loved was a wreath made from dried limes, oranges and cinnamon sticks.  I tried drying fruit once before, unsuccessfully I might add. So I wasn’t interested in doing that, but I was interested in working with cinnamon.  Cinnamon, cloves, oranges; I was on a mission.  It has been years since I last made a pomander (something aromatic that used to be for scenting linens/clothes). They are quite easy to make.  A simple cooking thermometer can be used to poke small holes into an orange.  This is where you can be creative with different designs!  I did a fancy “S” on two sides, and then rows of three on the other sides.

Cooking thermometer used to make holes in an orange.

The cloves go in easily when using a cooking thermometer to make holes in an orange.

Rows of three on two sides, and a fancy "S" on the other sides.

Rows of three on two sides, and a fancy “S” on the other sides.

I used a ribbon just to break up the space, and I pinned it on the top and bottom to keep it in place.  Easy enough!  Now, what to do with the pomander?  I decided on making a table wreath arrangement.  I used a straw framed circle wreath, floral pins (or “u” pins), greens and my garden shears.

Straw frame circle wreath

Straw frame circle wreath

Garden shears, eucalyptus, holly, and evergreens.

Garden shears, eucalyptus, holly, and evergreens

I really enjoy working with my hands and getting a little creative time.  To me, this is the fun part of getting ready for Christmas!  Being given eucalyptus from my neighbor the other day really made me smile.  I’ve added eucalyptus to my “need to buy for the garden” list!  How awesome to have such different textures and colors right there in the back/front yard!  It smells lovely, too!

table wreath in process

table wreath in process. (You can see the plastic plate in the center)

clove & orange pomander with cinnamon sticks

clove & orange pomander with cinnamon sticks

I used a small rubber band to keep three cinnamon sticks in place, and then tied them with a ribbon.  I used three oranges, and paired them with three cinnamon sticks.  I had a large pretty white candle that fit in the center of the wreath nicely.  I was delighted that it all just came together.  The arrangement is sitting on a clear plastic plate.

aerial view - groups of threes!

aerial view – groups of threes!

We didn’t have any red berries last year, yet this year there are so many!  I just had to use them.  🙂

Clove & Orange Pomander Wreath

Clove & Orange Pomander Wreath

You can see the lights to our Christmas tree in the background.

Finished candle table arrangement made of clove & orange pomander with cinnamon.

Finished candle table arrangement made of clove & orange pomander with cinnamon.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well and that you are able to enjoy the process!  Slowing down is the hardest part for me.  I just need to speed things up for a couple more days and THEN, hopefully, I can slow the pace down!

Merry Christmas!
Dana

The Cake is baked and a Traditional Christmas Wreath is made.

Handmade (not by me) Santa

Handmade (not by me) Santa

It is December 16th and I am feeling a wee bit behind with my Christmas preparations.  The kids have been doing really well with their swimming and Irish dancing, which has kept me busy.  Yes, indeed, I am trying to make excuses/figure out why I am so behind this year!  I had been hoping for an extra week to somehow work its way into my schedule, but alas that has not happened.  So it is time to really get going!  Maybe it isn’t as bad as I think it is.  Sure, I have the Christmas cake baked!

baked Christmas cake (traditional fruit cake)

baked Christmas cake (traditional fruit cake)

The batter tasted delicious!

The batter tasted delicious!

Beer soaked fruit

Beer soaked fruit

Wrap that baking pan! 2 layers parchment on the bottom and insides, along with w layers of brown paper on the bottom and outside!

Wrap that baking pan! 2 layers parchment on the bottom and insides, along with 2 layers of brown paper on the bottom and outside!

I actually tried to get out of making the Christmas cake this year.  I asked the family if we could just skip it.  All but the littlest one said “no way!”.  I do like it when they enjoy what I make, so it was a nice affirmation that my time is not wasted.  But given that it takes 4 & 1/2 hours to bake, you kinda need time!

Today I finished making our outdoor wreath.  Never mind the fact that I usually have it hanging up the first or second week of December.  Between my friends Margaret & Fred, I was given the most fabulous greens to use:  eucalyptus, holly with loads of berries, and different evergreens.  I love making our wreath, especially when it smells so fresh!  Our kitty Hobbes had great fun attacking the greens which were obviously quite dangerous sitting in the black bag…

Hobbes helping with the greens.

Hobbes helping with the greens.

the greens

the greens sitting atop the iron wreath frame

loads of berries!

loads of berries!

This eucalyptus smells lovely!

This eucalyptus smells lovely!

I must get the name of this pretty plant.

These lovely dark leaves are from a Pittosporum  called “Tom Thumb”.

Our finished wreath.

Our finished wreath (waiting to be hung outside…)

I didn’t take pictures along the way.  I really just wanted to get it finished. I first placed everything on my cast iron wreath frame (which was graciously made for us by Fred!). This way I was able to make sure everything was evenly distributed. Then I used floral wire to tie on the bunches of greens.  I went with a simple red bow for garland.  My sister-in-law gave me some fabulous outdoor ribbon and it really worked well on the wreath. (Thank you Gail!)

Making my Christmas wreath 2013

Making my Christmas wreath 2013

I did a quick search on the internet for a video on making bows.  I thought the result wasn’t too bad!  I think it is best to have wire rimmed ribbon for making bows.

Lots of different textures in this wreath.

Lots of different textures in this wreath.

I love working with different greens!

I love working with different greens!

Finished Christmas wreath

Finished Christmas wreath

What do you think of this new item I bought?  It is a large red and white Christmas ball.  I like it (that is why I bought it!), but the family isn’t so sure about it.

New addition this year. (Huge) Red Christmas ball.

New addition this year. (Huge) Red Christmas ball.

Large Christmas ball.

Large Christmas ball.

But there is still so much more to do!  I have to run!  I hope all of your preparations are going well!

Merry Christmas 🙂
Dana

A new year is dawning (and a Christmas Wreath).

Early morning fog in Sheepwalk.

Early morning fog in Sheepwalk.

Hi there!  I’ve been enjoying a much needed break with my family. Our schedules are pretty hectic during the year, so it has been so nice to just sit back and relax together.  We’ve watched more family movies this past week than in the entire past year!  I think we all needed that time together, and it has been really nice.

I have to confess that I struggled with really getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  The Connecticut Killings tore at my heart.  As a mom, as an auntie with nephews & a niece in Connecticut, and as an American, it just completely knocked me down.  I continue to pray for all of the relatives and friends of the victims.  They are in my thoughts as I continue on with my day to day activities.  The tragedy has also made me (more) thankful for my family and our precious time together.

O.K., that is a tough topic to write about.  I just thought I’d share where my heart has been this holiday season.  I took to some of my creative therapy during this time.  It really did help me.  A friend of ours made me a cast iron wreath frame last year. Not only did he make the frame for me, but he has given me huge bags of holly to use in my wreath.  Thanks Fred!

Using my cast iron wreath frame.

Using my cast iron wreath frame.

It takes a bit of work to give the wreath some life. You can just see the frame on the bottom left side of this picture.  This year I also acquired (love that word instead of “took”!) some lovely evergreens from Margaret & James’ garden.  James had just trimmed the hedges on their property when I went to get some of their twisted willow for my flower arrangement.  I’m sure they think I’m crazy, as I was so excited to get their fabulous evergreens which they weren’t going to use!

Adding some life to the wreath.

Adding some life to the wreath.

A little bit of bling.

A little bit of bling.

I’m still a novice with my arranging. I just love trying, and hopefully improving in time.  I’ve learned that holly can be painful to work with!  My hands were filled with holes from the very sharp points of the holly!  So this year, after getting James’ evergreens, I decided to use mainly the greens and just add a bit of holly as contrast. My son thought that one red bow wasn’t enough, so we threw on a few more little ones.  I like having the kids’ input, and I try to incorporate it if I can.

Really, you should always take photos *before* a huge windstorm blows through!

Really, you should always take photos *before* a huge windstorm blows through!

Yes, some of the evergreens decided to go in a different direction after the storm.  My husband wasn’t keen on my idea of getting the ladder out again to fix a few greens, so it’ll have to do. 🙂

Christmas wreath 2012.

Christmas wreath 2012.

Because I hope that I am making progress, I’ll show you last year’s wreath (which looks a lot skinnier!).

Christmas wreath 2011.

Christmas wreath 2011.

Christmas wreath 2011-2And I thought it was beautiful last year!  Oh yes, it is much more filled out this year!  I love the holly and the berries, but I think I need to get a good pair of gloves to work with the holly next year.

I seem to have missed the “weekly view of the garden”  boat.  I think a monthly view is more my speed.  I haven’t completely neglected my garden, well, not if you count taking pictures!  Here’s a look:

The garden on a foggy morning in December.

The garden on a foggy morning in December.

I’ve been placing cardboard and newspapers down every chance I get! It is almost at the final shape. Almost!

The other side of the garden on a foggy morning in December.

The other side of the garden on a foggy morning in December.

A foggy start to the day in December.

A foggy start to the day in December.

So as the start of 2013 approaches, I share with you my new goal of being nice to myself.  I’m usually quite critical of myself, and I think I’d be better off not being that way.  So I’m going to try “lighten up”!  Life is precious.

Thanks so much for being a part of my gardening journey!  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have so far.  Here’s to a Happy, healthy, and lots of veggies & flowers in the garden New Year!
Dana

Holiday floral arrangements by Richard Haslam.

Christmas wreath by Richard Haslam.

Christmas wreath by Richard Haslam.

I love flowers.  All kinds, all colors, all seasons.  So I absolutely loved watching Richard Haslam creating his “contemporary floral arrangements with a twist” last week.  Back a few years ago when I wasn’t completely swamped with my three kids’ activities, I was a member of a garden club.  I had so much fun learning how to create floral arrangements! (Thank you Spade & Trowel Garden Club of Manlius, NY!)  I guess I haven’t created any arrangements in a very long time, because I miss it.  The local garden club in Ardee hosted Irishman Richard Haslam for their Christmas arrangements demonstration.  What an enjoyable evening!  He has won two gold medals at the Chelsea Flower show, among other honors.  What I really enjoyed was how he spoke to the audience, and how personable he seemed.  His arrangements were fabulous.  I was really hoping to win one in the raffle at the end of the night, but no luck.  I’ll have to make my own!

Richard Haslam's Christmas wreath.

Richard Haslam’s Christmas wreath.

I liked his idea of first putting silver garland around the wreath, and then adding baby’s breath (lots of it).  Who doesn’t like orchids?  I think it is a lovely alternative to the traditional Christmas wreath!  I’m afraid I don’t know the exact names of a lot of the flowers, he went too quickly for me to get that information.

Richard Haslam's pink Christmas arrangement.

Richard Haslam’s pink Christmas arrangement.

This pink arrangement had a few levels. I think it looks completely different depending on the angle.  Definitely not your standard Christmas arrangement.

Richard Haslam's pink Christmas arrangement.

Richard Haslam’s pink Christmas arrangement.

Richard Haslam's Christmas arrangement using cane.

Richard Haslam’s Christmas arrangement using cane.

I loved this black, red, and green arrangement!  He said the fanned material was cane.  He opened it up and tied it (perfectly, of course) in front of us.  I love the unusual look it gives!

Richard Haslam's floral demonstration with cane.

Richard Haslam’s floral demonstration with cane.

It doesn’t look like much in the picture above, does it?  But quick enough, he had it up and lovely! The flowers had their own tubes of water, which he had painted black.

Richard Haslam's creations.

Richard Haslam’s creations.

His table arrangement was surprisingly tall.  He explained that you usually only spoke to the people next to you anyway!

Richard Haslam's carnation table arrangement.

Richard Haslam’s carnation table arrangement.

That red stuff looks fabulous.  It is hiding his oasis.

Close-up of Richard Haslam's carnation table arrangement.

Close-up of Richard Haslam’s carnation table arrangement.

Yeah, a little different, right?  Even as he was creating them, I was wondering how they’d turn out.  But I think I like them more for being that bit different. (ok, maybe I’d have left out the red cane sticks here and just stuck with the carnations?)

Keeping with the red theme, here is a great way to display roses!

Richard Haslam's roses.

Richard Haslam’s roses.

I loved this one!  I’m allowed to say that more than once, right?  He lined the roses up on a table and then cut them accordingly.  It was such a “duh” moment for me, as I usually cut the flowers while holding them, put them in the vase, adjust, try again, and again!  How simple it really is once you learn the tricks.

Close-up of Richard Haslam's red rose arrangement.

Close-up of Richard Haslam’s red rose arrangement.

Hey, that’s the ivy I’m pulling off of my Hawthorne trees! It looks lovely here.

Roses by Richard Haslam.

Roses by Richard Haslam.

Behind the roses, you can see the next arrangement. It has white roses, silver painted leaves, and is massive!

White roses Christmas arrangement by Richard Haslam.

White roses Christmas arrangement by Richard Haslam.

Close-up of white roses arrangement by Richard Haslam.

Close-up of white roses arrangement by Richard Haslam.

Three arrangements by Richard Haslam.

Three arrangements by Richard Haslam.

Purple and pink mantel piece arrangement with candles.  All I can say is that it worked!  It is beautiful.

Mantel piece arrangement with candles.

Mantel piece arrangement with candles.

Pink & purple mantel piece arrangement with candles by Richard Haslam.

Pink & purple mantel piece arrangement with candles by Richard Haslam.

I love those colors!

Pink & purple mantel piece arrangement with candles (and ornaments).

Pink & purple mantel piece arrangement with candles (and ornaments).

Multi leveled Christmas arrangement by Richard Haslam.

Multi leveled Christmas arrangement by Richard Haslam.

This arrangement was really nice as individual arrangements.  The finished product was quite impressive, but I’d prefer just one level.

Close-up of Richard Haslam's arrangement.

Close-up of Richard Haslam’s arrangement.

Gorgeous Christmas flowers.

Gorgeous Christmas flowers.

Some of the final arrangements by Richard Haslam.

Some of the final arrangements by Richard Haslam.

It was nice to get out and see some creative arranging to get some new ideas!  My friend from book club invited me to go, and I’m so glad I did. Thanks Ciara!

Do you make your own Christmas arrangements? If so, happy creating!  🙂
Dana