Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Horse Ribbon Tree and DIY Magazine Garland

Christmas makes me weird. Er.

Every year I feel a little wonkiness coming on and it usually takes me by surprise, but this year, I'm on to it. It's the Most! Haphazard time! Of the year!

The thing is this: there's been a lot of heavy stuff going down over the past month. It's been a doozy. A head-scratcher. A heart-breaker.

So just imagine combining a pile-up of regular life grit with an intense desire for merrymaking and you'll find me right there in the epicenter of the mess. I'll be the one in the sweatpants and glitter make-up.

I was extra excited and motivated to get my bling on this year because 1) I wanted to inaugurate our new house and 2) I had my wreath party to consider. No one wants a wreath party devoid of festivity. So, I got to work. There was very little planning involved, per usual.

Just like Edie, I never decorate the tree the same from year to year. It's an illness. An affliction. And it's actually a bit strange to me, because I'm not a super seasonal kind of girl. I don't enjoy switching things out by the season. I do not rearrange my furniture - to a fault. There it is, my biggest fault: I'm lackadaisical with regard to the placement of home furnishings. (I'll have to remember that should I ever interview for a job again.)

When we were first married I was sure I'd have the Martha Stewart Live! producers banging down my ghetto apartment door over my tree. Picture it: Wired ribbon bows (in an unfortunate shade of green that rendered them nearly invisible) and individual ivory silk flower petals, dismembered and strung by hand.

Then I discovered ebay and Shiny Brites.

There was the pom pom fringe garland year.

The bird year.

And let us not forget the legendary Newspaper Tree year(s).

This year I wanted color in droves. I wanted to overdo it. It's an "anything goes" kind of year.

The most fundamentally important thing is to string it the heck up with lots of lights. I'm talking like 500 lights. Is that a lot? Too much? Maybe not, but it always feels a bit high-maintenance right out of the gate.

I'm a big, fat believer in garland. This year it's a simple blue grosgrain faux-pick-stitched ribbon found for $1 a spool at Michaels.

We threw on loads of the vintage ornaments, the glitter initials, the stencils and house numbers circa Newspaper Tree and the surviving twig stars.

It didn't make my heart race.

So I added the birds.

Blood pressure still stable. What the heck?

Days later it hit me: vintage fair ribbons! Totally duh. I bought them years ago and had never even taken them out of the package. Game changer alert!

My heart raced.

So this is it: My ribbon tree. I wanted color and whimsy and sparkle and she delivered. Did she ever. I might honor charm her with some crack bark. Right this very second.

Is this post too long?

Do I have pretzels in my teeth?

I feel like I should split this up into two posts, but right now, I'm feeling it, baby. I haven't said a word since Monday. You had your break! So go get re-hydrated and meet me back here in five because I need to tell you about my garlands.


So, the garlands. I totally thought I invented them. All I knew was that the tapestry curtains + Christmas = a migraine headache. I needed a little serenity to work with. Not too much. I'm no serenity hog. Just enough.

So I flung the tapestries down. Just for a season.

Silas was scandalized. Then intrigued. Then too busy jousting with the curtain rods to give a rip.

I strung more dollar ribbon across the existing curtain rod brackets then used the twisty ties from the Christmas lights to string up some faux greenery, also from Michaels.

I knew the ribbon wouldn't be enough, so I did what any sane girl would do and I bought an extra-large scalloped square paper punch.

My heart punch has served me so well over the years. (See here, here, and here.) So well, in fact, that I am now addicted to seasonal magazine punching. It just has to be done. It's recycling at its finest, people! It's therapeutic!

I daresay a paper punch of almost any shape will be the most utilitarian tool you'll ever own. Spoon? Very funny. Hammer? You can't be serious. Paper punch. Say it with me: "Paper Punch!"

I punched a gazillion squares. Garnet Hill and Fossil were particularly pleasant to work with.

Then I pulled out my sewing machine and stitched a line right down their middles.

The bobbin ran out and I filled it like the pro that I certainly am not. The magazine garland was meant to be.

It's so happy on my windows.  So very happy with my horse ribbon tree. It's also random, because while I took care in punching "pretty" squares, I didn't take into account that they would shift around, often exposing their bad side. As it turns out, it works for me. I like the surprise factor.

A solid week after the whole arrangement was completed I opened the Better Homes and Gardens mag I had been hoarding for a quiet evening only to find that Maria actually invented the idea. Her ribbon garlands are meticulous and sophisticated and utterly gorgeous in that perfectly Maria way. We even used similar color schemes. Cory and I cracked up. One more grand-slam invention down the tubes. Now I know how Al Gore feels. It hurts, man.

 There you have it. All my ribbons, exposed for all the world.

Or at least for you.

Tomorrow I might start wrapping some gifts. Raise your hand if you think Silas will tear them open immediately.

(And the crowd goes wild...)

I hope your Christmas season is off to a cozy start. I hope your teeth are already sugary and you find yourself contemplating "God with us" while you're blow-drying your hair.

'Tis the season, friends.