Friday, November 29, 2013

O, Christmas Tree!

We have a new house (which I love), but it's a new kind of Christmas shock when I had to change up my decorating scheme.  Our former home had all manner of shelves and ledges and after seven year I had decorating down to a science... I even took picture so I could make sure it was similar year-to-year.  The new house is wonderful, even without the ledges, but it has it's challenges.  

Challenge 1:  Where to put the tree?  Let me rephrase... where to put the treeS? 
Several years ago, Scott accidentally allowed me to get two 5' porch trees to decorate inside.  The first was easy - in our bedroom like always - but the other (the Aggie - Elephant tree) needed a home, as well as our traditional tree.  After much discussion, the big tree will reside in our front office/"library" and the Aggie tree will light up the dining room.

Challenge 2:  After assembling the big tree in the front room I realized it was the ONLY Christmas decoration in the office.  Scott built me two beautiful 7' bookshelves for my birthday, but I didn't have any decoration for them.  Personally I like to buy my Christmas decorations after Christmas to get the clearance prices, but I'm also impatient and this year I didn't want to wait.  I also have a Holiday board on Pinterest and found this:

12 Days of DIY Christmas Trees {Diamonds and Burlap}

I also found some similar trees at Target and Hobby Lobby... for $20+ each, which isn't going to work on my budget since I would like 3-5 of these...
After looking over her tutorial I went to price supplies at JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby.  I'm not sure where she got the spectacular, bedazzled ruffles, but it wasn't at JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby.  I did find Styrofoam cones (at 30% off!), 15 foot roll of burlap ribbon, and floral pins.  

 Styrofoam cone, 6" burlap ribbon, and floral pins

If you get 6" ribbon you're going to want to cut it half down the middle to make two long pieces.  You can either cut slowly and carefully OR find the middle string and snip the end then pull it through to give yourself a clear path to cut. 

  Burlap ribbon cut in half

Start and the bottom of the cone and create pleats by folding the ribbon back and pinning it in place (on the pleat) with a floral pin.  Keep working your way up the cone by wrapping and pleating.

  Try to put a pin on each pleat to hold it in place.  Floral pins work best because they are U-shaped and can hold the burlap well.

Keep working your way up the cone by wrapping and pleating.  At some point you will come to the end of the first piece of ribbon.  Make sure you pin it well and then overlap the second piece of ribbon with a pleat to hide the ends.

  It took almost the whole two pieces of 15' ribbon to pleat-wrap the whole cone.

At the top you will need to cut off the ribbon, but leave a few extra inches to fold and wrap and pin in place so you don't have frayed burlap hanging out.

The top of this cone is flat, which worked out nice for pinning the end in place. 

You can also put any finishing touches on.  I had this plastic star ornament as part of our entertainment center decorations. I used two floral pins to put it on top of the tree.

  Sine the tree is very light-weight, try not to use anything too heavy on top of the tree.

And here is the final product.  Currently it's on my mantle, out of reach from curious children and playful pets, but as soon as I finish the other and get the top of the bookshelves cleared it will take it's permanent holiday placement in the office!

I also like how the burlap hides the white cone So I didn't have to paint anything!

Overall, this only took me about 10 minute to do, no hot glue, no sewing, and no paint!

What to do with the leftovers?

We returned home from a nice time out gathering supplies for some upcoming projects (to be posted later) and decided dinner was next up for this evening's events.  

I'm sure the rest of you share the same feelings when it comes to the leftovers from yesterday's Thanksgiving feast... more turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc. reheated in the microwave.  Well, I'm not that fond of leftovers, so this afternoon I spent some quality time perusing Pinterest looking for something to spice things up.  I found just the thing!

Only I had to make some modifications...
  • 2 lbs of any squash,cut into pieces - I used acorn squash because that's what I had from Thanksgiving (mine was baked with butter, brown sugar, honey, salt, and cinnamon)
  • 3 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 2 thumb size pieces of ginger, sliced
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Your favorite herbs - I used crushed bay leaves and thyme (and would have used sage if I had it)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  •  Honey
In a large pot place 1 tablespoon of butter, garlic, ginger, orange zest, and EVOO.  Let simmer on low heat (you don't want it to burn).
While that is simmering (and making your whole house smell delicious!), cut up your squash into cubes/smaller, cookable piece.  When your done cutting up the squash add it to the pot.  Pour in enough water to cover the ingredients and adjust your heat up to high.  While that cooks add a dash of sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, crushed bay leaves, and thyme.  (I say "dash" because I don't usually measure, but if I did I would say it would be about 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of each, EXCEPT THE CAYENNE which really is just a dash.) Let cook (it will boil) for about 15 minutes, stirring so the bottom doesn't burn.  You'll know it's done because your squash will be soft and your whole house will smell amazing.  You will also hear your family asking when dinner will be ready.
Carefully (CAREFULLY!!!) pour your mixture into a blender and puree' until smooth.  Add in some more salt and black pepper (as much as you like), the lemon juice, and a spoonful of honey and blend some more.
Pour into bowls and serve with a little sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. Makes about 2-4 serving depending on your serving size.  

Scott (my very handsome husband), didn't really eat the acorn squash from Thanksgiving dinner, but was all about this "leftover" soup.  I hope you enjoy!  

(Sorry, no pictures of the actual soup.  I didn't think about doing this until we were cleaning out the bowls.  I'll do better next time.)