christmas tree countdown ~ the “glass” tree

My favorite tree in the house is the one we call the Glass Tree. It is a seven and a half foot tree, sitting on a two foot tall box. It is decorated with glass ornaments. Spun glass, blown glass, crystal, prisms, glass icicles, and glass bead chains from old chandeliers. Most of the ornaments are clear glass, but there are a few softly colored ornaments, as well, such as the pink flamingo, the green garden bench, and the pink flying pig.

Glass Christmas tree

I made a video of the tree a few months ago while the grands were enjoying it. It does it more justice than pictures do, but it is still much more beautiful in person. The video can be expanded to “full screen” for a closer look at the ornaments.

The topper is made of bows attached to skewers and stuck into the top of the tree. More of the same ribbon falls down the tree and is tucked into the branches here and there.

decorating the "glass tree"

the "glass" tree

This picture shows an ornament made of three Christmas trees. To the left is a vintage glass ornament of a bird. A friend brought that to me after she found it and a glass bird bath ornament in her mother-in-law’s garage sale items. Love both those ornaments! Thanks, Sherry! In the lower left corner of the picture, you can make out my lovely mermaid.

Glass Christmas tree

Three birds…

bird times three

My first glass ornament was a hand blown hummingbird from a vacation to Colorado in 1982. After I found that, I began seeing glass ornaments in other places we visited. The collection grew over time.

hummingbird

This rocking horse is one of my favorites. In the baby / childhood theme, I also have a pacifer, baby shoes, and a carriage.

decorating the "glass tree"

baby carriage

A dragon…

dragon

When pigs fly…

when pigs fly

A lovely lizard…

lizard

Noah’s Ark with a porpoise swimming by…

Noah's Ark

Candlestick and crystal…

decorating the "glass tree"

Joy…and more than 250 prisms decorate the tree.

Glass Christmas tree

A birdbath…

bird bath

Some of the ornaments have gold on them, and I do like those, but I prefer clear spun glass.

Christmas Open House

Reindeer are a recurring theme.

glass reindeer

And here’s one I found on Etsy. I thought it was hilarious! I don’t know if the Santa came with Dino or if someone glued him on some time in the past. He’s an exception to my “It has to be ALL glass” rule, but I love him! Youngest Daughter loves him, too, and has already claimed dibs on him.

found it on etsy.com

I wish you could see the tree in person. It is too pretty for pictures.

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ upstairs hall

The upstairs hall has two trees. One slender six foot tall tree sits in a crock in the corner of the hall. It is decorated with pictures from Christmas past…both of our children and of our grandchildren.

Christmas Past tree

Many of the pictures are ones we used in our Christmas cards when our children were young. Many have the dates included on the front of the pictures.

Christmas Past tree

The other tree in the upstairs hall is a half tree. It was originally used in a small store as a display for ornaments they were selling. When the store was going out of business years ago, I bought the tree from them for $30, and have used it every year since then. I think I was with my Home Extension group at the time…not sure what we were doing… This tree was used in my Mother-in-Law’s room when she lived with us. She didn’t want a tree in her room, but was happy to have this half tree on her wall. At that time, we decorated it with cardinals and white doves.

wall tree

The wall tree is just outside the guest room door upstairs. This picture was taken from that doorway, looking into the hall, with the wall tree to the left and the Christmas Past tree in the corner just ahead. The kitty is Zilli. She was following Middle Daughter around as she took pictures for me. The closed door is the door to Youngest Daughter’s bedroom. Those lovely shiny floors are original to the house (built in 1867). Downstairs they are oak and walnut. Upstairs, we were told, they are heart pine.

Zilli and the upstairs hall trees

Standing in front of the half tree and looking over the staircase to the other end of the hall, you can see the cupboard a dear friend gave to us when she remodeled her home. This cupboard displays many of my Putz house creations. to the left is a peek into the craft room.

upstairs hall cupboard

And down on the floor to the right of the cupboard is the Mouse House. It usually sits on top the quarter round trim for Christmas, but didn’t get there this year. The woodwork is twelve inches high. The Mouse House is about six inches high. The two trees that decorate the front door of Mr. and Mrs. Mouse are lit by the battery pack wrapped as a gift.

The mouse house.

A tree, of sorts, hangs in the upstairs bathroom. It’s a tree mobile and hangs in front of the stained glass window in the bathroom.

Christmas tree mobile

My thanks to my friend Dana who took this picture of the ornaments on the mobile tree. I love this picture with the stained glass window in the background.

tree mobile

In the bathroom window sill, below the mobile, there is a small tree decorated with iridescent ornaments, to resemble soap bubbles. Personally, I don’t count these little trees that are barely decorated when I count how many Christmas trees we have, but I do want to show you a picture of it.

tree mobile

More trees to come.

Only 362 days until Christmas!

~~Rhonda :)

Christmas Day

When I walked into the kitchen for breakfast, the twins had already changed the chalkboard.

0 days until Christmas.

Our older son made the crust and our daughter-in-law made the quiche. That and apple cake with caramel rum sauce for breakfast. Delicious!

image

image

Our older son read the Biblical account of Christ’s birth from Luke 2:1-20, which we do each year before opening presents.

Luke 2:1-20

Picture time, then stocking time! Our three daughters on the left and our three grands on the right.

the stockings were hung on the staircase with care

stocking time

Years ago, I had made stocking for the four older kids, using double-sided quilted fabric. This year, I made one to match for our youngest daughter, who had been using a store-bought stocking all this time. I used that stocking for the cuff and the toe and also used the cord from the old stocking on the new one. Now her stocking finally matches her siblings’ stockings.

a new stocking

stocking toys included a little kaleidoscope.

My stocking stash…

stocking stuffings

Rose Red’s favorite crafting tool…tape! Lots of tape!

tape! lots of tape!

Both girls received piggy banks and Pa supplied them with a fistful of coins to put in their banks.

piggy banks for the twins

Snow White plans to be the first person on Mars.

astronaut

Twirling’s Rose Red’s favorite thing. Middle daughter found a couple of dress-ups for her after Halloween. She wore this one all day, breaking into impromptu dances and twirls.

twirling's my favorite

And back to the astronaut…such different personalities in the twins.

Space Encyclopedia

And Pa, history buff and trivia guru that he is, recieved a set of Presidential blocks. One side has the President’s picture, one side his term of office, one side has interesting facts and nickname, another side is part of a flag puzzle…how many sides is that?…

Presidential blocks for Pa

Pa gave Ma a roomba! He readied it for service and it works great!

roomba

Our younger son and his wife called while we were opening gifts. So good to hear from them! After exchanging gifts and watching the girls enjoy each and every moment, we had a late lunch. Our older son’s family left soon after cleaning up lunch and the rest of us enjoyed naps or explored our gifts. Thanks to my family for making the day so special!

My favorite gift, Ski, is becoming more relaxed and playful. He is still confined to the bedroom. When anyone visits him, he waits at the door, eager for company.

Ski is becoming more relaxed and playful.

We hope your day was merry and bright, and above all, lit with the light of Christ’s love!

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas! ~~Rhonda

my new kitty, Ski

DH brought home a new kitty for me. His name is Ski. He has been raised at the Humane Shelter and is about six months old. He has been home for about an hour. I am still waiting for him to feel free to approach me, but I am having fun watching him play with his toys. Like a good Christmas kitty, the first things he checked out were the ornaments on the tree.

My  new kitty, Ski.

Before he arrived, Snow White and Rose Red helped me take the tinsel off the bottom part of the tree and we removed the tree skirt. If Ski finds the ornaments too much fun to bat around, we’ll take the tree down this evening, as the downstairs bedroom is his safe place for now. We’ll let him get comfortable in here before we introduce him to his house mates. Zilli is keeping an eye on him through the door, though. Ski has ignored her so far.

Zilli...checking out the new kitty.

He is busy exploring his new surroundings.

Ski

Watching you watching me…

Ski

Here’s to many more Christmases together.

~~Rhonda and Ski

menu plan monday ~ december 22, 2014

I have been resting after the concert last Thursay and the party on Saturday. Took it easy on Sunday and Monday. I am looking forward to Christmas Day. Our grands are coming Tuesday afternoon and their parents will come Wednesday and stay the night with us. Christmas morning will be fun, I am sure!

We’ve already had fun with them this past week. DH received a package that required dry ice, so he put together a little science fun for the grands and for our great-nephew who was visiting from South Africa. Fun with dry ice! He showed them how to hold their fingers on the straw hole of a plastic cup until the lid popped off.

fun with dry ice

And each time it popped was as exciting as the first time!

fun with dry ice

Monday evening our middle daughter stuffed the stockings. She is our official stocking liaison. She has been stocking up on stocking stuffers all year. I am grateful she has taken over this part of Christmas prep for me. She does a wonderful job of finding great items that fit each person’s life and personality. I can’t wait to see what’s in my own stocking! Mine is the green one on the far right…in case you have something to put in it…

stuffing the stockings

On Christmas Day, Rose Red will be allowed to choose a candy ornament from the little tree on the guest book table. She has been eyeing them for a week.

Rose Red is wanting one of those chocolate ornaments...so much!

We will have finger foods and appetizers on Christmas Day. Breakfast, read Luke 2:1-20, open stockings and gifts, stop for some lunchables, then back to enjoying what was unwrapped during the morning. We have a tradition of not opening gifts until 9:00 a.m. on Christmas, established when we were sharing Christmas morning with DH’s parents. Still our protocol. Nice to know we can stay in bed for a little while…not so easy for the littles, but they adjust.

This is the current menu plan.

Monday
Carry Out

Tuesday
Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce
Garlic Bread with Cheese
Green Salad

Wednesday
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Chicken Taco Chili

Thursday
Breakfast
Apple Cake

Lunch
Fried Oysters
Cream Cheese Sausage Balls
Marinated Shrimp
Three Cheese Spread / Wasa Crackers
Veggies and Cucumber Party Dip
Grapes and Cuties

Friday
Garlic Lemon Shrimp Tortellini
Homemade Rolls
Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Pork Chops
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
Garden Salad
Birthday Cake and Homemade Ice Cream for DH…happy birthday, my Sweet!

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Only two days left until Christmas!

~~Rhonda

my side of the family

Saturday, my family arrived for our annual Christmas party. I have two brothers and four sisters. All were here, along with my Dad and many of the associated spouses, children, and children’s children.

All the grands and greats get a stocking. Each contains candy, a candy cane, an ornament or a small toy, and a gift from my Dad.

2014 family Christmas

The stockings increase in number year by year. This year, I made three new ones for the three great-grandchildren (my Dad’s greats, not mine) born this year. The youngest, being only ten days old, didn’t come this year. Hopefully, she will be toddling around the Christmas tree next year. The stockings have finally reached the top of the twenty-two steps and now go around the bend in the railing and preceed down the upstairs hall.

2014 family Christmas

Of my Dad’s grands and greats, there were twelve of the twenty-one grand-children here and thirteen of the thirty great-grands in attendance.

2014 family Christmas

My niece and her son are visiting from South Africa this month. They stayed over the night before the party and she helped in the kitchen while we were getting ready for the party.

2014 family Christmas

This year, instead of a big meal, we decided to serve appetizers and finger foods. Everyone brought something and added it to the table.

2014 family Christmas

The kitchen always seems to be a favorite gathering spot.

2014 family Christmas

My brother-in-law, my Dad, my nephew…not sure what they’re discussing.

2014 family Christmas

My sweet great-niece. We found a piece of holly for her lovely red hat.

2014 family Christmas

My sister Genny’s family, with the exception of her older daughter’s husband, who was not able to make the trip to the States this year.

2014 family Christmas

We managed to gather all the grands and great-grands at the party for a picture.

2014 family Christmas

It’s nice to have littles running around again. Seems we had a few years where they were scarce. Now the great-grands are beginning to count up.

2014 family Christmas

We have a $10 limit on gifts. Everyone who brings one, recieves one. This year, we had the children pass them all out. Then I read instructions before each person opened a gift. They could follow the instructions or open the gift they had. Instructions were things like: Trade your gift with someone younger than you are; Trade with someone wearing a sweater; Trade with someone who has a birthday in December. It was a lot of fun!

2014 family Christmas

2014 family Christmas

As a surprise for my Dad, we all went together and had his antique clock repaired. His paternal grandparents bought this clock when they were married in 1902.

2014 family Christmas

The 1902 wedding picture of my Great-grandfather William Otis Ashby and my Great-grandmother Ollie Sims Ashby.

William Otis and Ollie Sims Ashby 1902

The clock as it was displayed in my grandparents’ home.

Grandma Ruth

We had a great time together, at our family Christmas party. I’m thankful for my family, and especially for my Dad, who loves us all and believes in each one of us. Marry Christmas, Dad!

~~Rhonda

house concert 2014

Another wonderful evening of Christmas music, friends and good food, featuring our musicians: Nathan George, Mark Stoffel, and Henry Haffner.

house concert

Henry, and Mark warm up before the concert in front of the Nativity Tree.

house concert

Our guests enjoyed hot punch, coffee and/or cold punch before the music began.

house concert

Company lined the hall and filled the living room and the dining room.

house concert

house concert

After the concert, everyone stayed for a buffet of goodies.

buffet of snacks

This concert is a highlight of the season for me and for many of our guests. Thank you, Nathan, Mark and Henry for another beautiful holiday performance!

house concert

Only six days until a Merry Christmas!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ garden tree

The tree in the downstairs bath is decorated with a garden theme. Artificial flowers are tucked in around the ornaments and ivy winds around the tree.

garden tree in downstairs bath

If you follow the green ribbon up, you find another cardinal helping decorate the tree.

Garden tree

This tree started with a simple spiral of red and white flowers. This picture was taken in 2005.

bath tree

It slowly gained more ornaments and more flowers. Here it is in 2010.

bathroom tree

I used pictures of our garden to decoupage ornaments for this tree.

swallowtail

fountain

The bathroom counter gets Christmas handtowels and a bubble-light night light.

bathroom counter

And the bench gets a few silver painted flower pots and a little garden bench for decoration.

impromptu vignette

Nine days until Christmas!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ december 15, 2014

It took me a while to get back up to gear after the open house. DH took that Monday off work, which was nice. Our son and his wife were here until Wednesday afternoon, which was also nice. We enjoyed our visit with them.

Our son and his wife

In a few days, we will host a house concert with Nathan George, Mark Stoffel, and Henry Haffner. One of my favorite holiday events! I am so excited that they are able to return this year. The weather service is forcasting snow showers for Thursday morning, but otherwise, it looks pretty good.

house concert

On Saturday, my side of the family will gather here for our family Christmas party. Everyone’s bringing finger food. Should be a fun day!

family Christmas party

Here’s the menu for the week.

Monday
Turkey Sandwiches
Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Tuesday
Chicken and Dumplings (For dumplings, I drop the dough into the soup by small spoonfuls, instead of rolling and cutting it.)
Biscuits

chicken and dumpling soup

Wednesday
Hamburgers
Homemade Buns
Veggies and Dip

hamburger buns

Thursday ~ House Concert
Veggie Tray with Dip
Cheese Tray with Red and Green Grapes
Bacon Cheese Spread with Bagel Chips
Antipasto Platter
Spicy Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce
Cream Cheese Sausage Balls
Bacon Wrapped Smokies
Marinated Shrimp
Spinach Balls
Chex Mix
Candied Pecans
Assorted Truffles

Friday
Chicken Taco Soup
Cornbread

Chicken Taco Chili

Saturday ~ my side of the family’s Christmas Party
I plan to make:
Cream Cheese Sausage Balls
Chex Mix
Christmas Cookies and Truffles

Sunday
Fridge Food

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Ten days until Christmas!

~~Rhonda

tutorial: attaching putz fence and fence posts to the base

This post supplements a tutorial I wrote March 8,2012, about making fences for Putz houses, and a post I wrote March 16, 2012, about making fence posts for Putz houses. I had promised to write a tutorial about attaching fence posts and fences to bases, and started it, but didn’t finish it till now. I hope you find this information helpful!

When making bases and fences for Putz houses, I prefer to paint and glitter the base and the posts before the posts are attached to the base. That’s a personal call. Do it the way that makes the most sense to you. No right or wrong at this point.

When painting my own Putz houses, I mix acrylic paint half and half with white glue and add a little fine sand to the mix for texture. I glitter the piece while the paint is still wet, but it’s easy to touch up glitter later. Just brush on some white glue or Mod Podge over the spot that needs glitter and sprinkle the glitter on while it is still wet. I paint the bottom of the base, but do not glitter it. That’s a good place to sign your name and the date you crafted your little glitter house. Who knows? Someone may find that very interesting in fifty or sixty years.

Click here for the tutorial for making bases for Putz houses.

Click here for the Tutorial for Making Fence Posts.

The base has been painted and glittered. Now the posts are ready to paint. I’ve already put a base coat of white acrylic paint on them and let it dry.

Putz posts

If needed, sand the base coat for a smoother finish, though vintage houses do have a lot of texture so this step may be skipped, if you’re good with that. A nail file works well for sanding small pieces.

Putz posts

I love the very fine point on these needle-nosed tweezers for working with the small parts of Putz houses. They work well for holding the posts while they are painted.

Putz posts

The light texture comes from the sand in the paint.

Putz posts

Glitter while the paint is wet. Allow the posts to dry before attaching them to the base. A hair dryer or an embossing gun can speed the drying time if you are in a hurry. Just remember that a hair dryer puts out a lot of air movement. Don’t point it at your dish of glitter! An embossing gun is not quite so forceful and is a better choice, in my opinion. But it can still blow glitter all over the counter. Be mindful of where you’re pointing the breeze.

Putz posts

With fence posts completed and dried, it’s time to attach them to the dry base and construct the fence. The base can be as simple as a piece of cardboard or it can be a box that elevates the house just a bit. Some Putz houses are adhered to gift boxes or jars. Use what ever makes you happy.

Be mindful of what the house looks like that you plan to set on the base. Is the door in the middle, or to the right or left? You may want to place the entrance in your fence accordingly.

small fence with posts building a Putz house base

Glue a post to the spot where you want it. I find a hot glue gun to be the best tool for this step.

Putz posts

Cut a fence section to the length you want it. Using a hot glue gun, attach it to the post, holding it in place until the glue cools. Take care to keep the fences straight.

Putz fence

Add more posts and more fence sections until you have constructed as much fencing as you like. Vintage houses often have fencing along the front and/or the sides. I like to put my fences all the way around the house. Again, make yourself happy!

Putz fence

Putz fence

Putz base and fence

If the fence is painted after it is glued to the base, the cardboard will absorb moisture from the paint, and may warp or bow. If this happens, place a few pins to hold the fence in a straight line. With the pins in place, the cardboard will dry straight and the fence will look great. If the pins have been placed into wet paint, twist them as they are removed rather than pulling them straight out. If pulled straight out, they may pull up a chunk of paint that will require a touch up.

painting the fence

Globs of glue are fine. They make great snowdrifts after they are painted and glittered.

Putz posts

The tutorial “Making fences for Putz houses,” explains how to attach fences that use no posts to the Putz bases.

Here are links to some of my other tutorials for making Putz houses.

Making bases for Putz houses

Making fences for Putz houses

Making Putz house ornaments from Christmas cards