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.



  1. Silas opening gift immediately makes me laugh. Can you believe I've managed to raise a materialistic dog?!? Yep. He regulary inspects the presents under the tree. He thinks they're all his. Any random tissue that lands on the floor is his for the tearing. Once someone had a gift in their hands, he's right there to help open it. Sad, but very cute at the same time.

  2. Love this all! I loved the garland and the tree! You go on with your wonky self!

  3. Clink! And I did notice you had not posted since Monday. Missed ya.

  4. you are my soul sister, you ribbon-draping girl with the deep heart. can i come over for tea? we really need to be neighbors. i might just have to tell trent we're moving.

  5. That is one gorgeous, fun, happy and unique tree!

  6. The TREE is Fantabulous! I LOVE Trees that are fun and unique and not all uniformed.Great for lil ones.Happy Holidays! ~Cheers & Blessings Kim

  7. Gosh I love you. Is it awkward to profess my love here? So be it.

  8. Oh Shannan, you make me giggle. I love the randomness. And the ribbon tree. Never once occurred to me to use all of those ribbons my children have won at horse shows to decorate. I see how I was so wrong.

    Your Silas is like my Seamus. Seamus is now 14 and no longer rips the gifts open before given the go ahead. But we did have several years where the gifts did NOT go under the tree before Christmas morning. I don't enjoy wrapping that much. He has however shaken every gift (even the ones to others) and made his prediction as to what the package contains. I'm on to his tricks though--everything possible was placed in ridiculous sized boxes with tissue and stuff to throw him off. He's still remarkably accurate.

    Nice garland btw :)

  9. Rare form, this morning, Shannan. I like it. :)

  10. I love reading here. Just love it.
    Yay for the horse ribbon tree and the magazine garland! Oh, and jousting with curtain rods.

  11. You are absolutely crazy!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!! I'm not sure I could do it, but hey I'm not you and you're not me, so I'm guessing it works out! But I sure do love a glimpse into your wild and wacky world!!! I've missed you since Monday - I check back daily, is that weird? I kinda hope it is :)

  12. Love, love, love it! And no way 500 lights is too many - I have 1200 on mine! xo

  13. I love you! Hubby and I are still laughing at the, I think we're related to you.

  14. *clink* (with some refreshing bubbly)

    love the artful swagging!

  15. Loving all the festive decor- especially the horse ribbons! Was that you bidding against me on ebay for them a month or so back?!

    Merry Christmas!!!

  16. You crack me up. So wish we were neighbors. You'd fit right in with my kooky, fun-loving friends.

  17. Fun. FUn. FuN.

    The *** represented bites of bark, right?

    Good luck keeping those presents wrapped. This is our first year wrapping kid (two teens and a twenty)
    presents and putting them out BEFORE Christmas. Not working well, since I can't remember what is in those boxes...





  18. GIRL! the horse ribbons?!?!! you have just given me my junking purpose for the next year. you are brilliant...brilliant! i love it all!

  19. I just love you my soul sister :-) although I'm just lucky my Christmas tree even has ornaments on it, let alone pretty ones like yours :-)

  20. You crack me the heck up. I can barfly contain my giggles sitting at my desk here at work... For. Real.

    Merry Merry!

  21. I love your creative handmade/make do attitude. And your totally YOU style which makes me smile every time. No fail. The ribbons are just a little piece of pleated perfection. I didn't even plan that alliteration but there it is.

  22. Al Gore - *spittake*

    You know you've got it bad when your husband sees something in a store (like West Elm) and says,

    "Didn't that "Bird's Nest person" (The Nester, *bows* "I'm not worthy) do something like this? Only better?"

    Yes, sweetheart, yes she did.

    I can completely picture you and Cory laughing over the simultaneous invention of the garland :)

    Oh, and you posts could never be too long.
    Well, maybe.
    Try us.

  23. Oh, I love it! I sat on the edge of my seat and read it as rapidly as I imagined you doing it...

    I was good on water. Got mah coffee...

    Your yellow ribbon reminds me of that song, "Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree". If you've never heard it, it's a sweet song about a young man that goes off to war. While fighting, he wrote back to his sweetheart, "I'm coming home. I know it's been four long years. If you don't want to be with me anymore, I understand. If you do want to be together. Tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree where we used to hang out." When he comes home, he finds the tree PLASTERED in yellow ribbons.

    I heard a story that this song is the reason we use yellow ribbons as a sign to support our troops. I'm not sure if that's true, or if it's the other way around, but I like to believe it.

    1. On a side makes me cry a little. I just read my comment back a little and realized it didn't convey my emotion about it. So, I'll just tell you, I cry a little. (Also, I see a period in there where it shouldn't be...)

      See? Your crazy, frantic post made want to join in! :)

  24. I love your crazy, busy tree. Isn't that what Christmas tree decorating should be about? Not perfection and matchy, matchy. Though I do have a matchy, matchy tree but it's not our "real" tree and it's in the corner of the dining room. Anyway, crazy is fun and you definitely pulled it off, even with the ribbon garland. You're awesome! My decorating hero!

  25. I'm a Thanksgiving Girl.
    Somehow, it seems as if Christmas turns into some sort of stressful mayhem every stinkin' year. No matter how many carols I sing, cookies I bake, advent calendars I open, candles I burn, something ridiculous always happens in large quantities.

    THIS year, Christmas festivities have been befouled by crazy, angry school sports coaches... ER visits for sickly, aging parents... broken hand for one kid... raging hormones for another... and a teacher who might lose her job for attempting to be inappropriate with my son... and all while waiting for my breast and liver cancer test to come back just three days before Christmas Eve.

    I think I'm going to try Hanukkah next year to see if that makes any difference. I'll have to google Hanukkah Bush to see how to decorate one of those... is it really a bush?

    I love your tree, by the way. And the box it sits in is fabulous ~ I'm guessing it's a live tree?

  26. Your tree is begging for this story: When I was in 3rd grade, I had a teacher who showed horses. This was like, really a huge hobby for her I think. Whenever we had class spelling bees do you know what she rewarded the winner with? Horse ribbons. We totally thought those horse ribbons were GOLD. They were my prized possessions for years, pinned to my bedroom walls alongside Esprit ads and Benetton tags. {Oddly, the horse ribbons did not seem at all odd way back when.} But that's not all. Apparently I was a better than average speller and I won the spelling bee for the whole grade which got me...a trophy! With a giant horse on the top. I have a memorabilia box in my attic to prove it. Yep, 31 years later and I still have my spelling-bee horsey swag. And this is why horse ribbons will forever hold a wonderful and quirky place in my heart. : ) Of course I love your tree.

    1. Okay, favorite comment EVER. This is TOO much! And maybe we've discussed this before, but I wall-papered the inside of my closet with magazine cut-outs and clothing tags. AND...(drumroll)...I was the Jr. High spelling bee champ! Alas, no second-hand horse trophy for me. Dangit.

  27. I just started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago. I think someone pinned your dining room (which I LOVE) or something. Clearly, I was sent to you by some higher power. I need another person in glitter eyeshadow and sweatpants who gets crazy. So happy I found your little patch of the internet. :)

  28. Love you, shannan! just caught up and as always you make me happy! praying for Calvin and you and Robert and it all. Thank you for coming and writing here, it means so much to so many of us.


  29. Love your ribbon tree and your ribbon garland and I so love your last statement ~ "I hope your teeth are already sugary and you find yourself contemplating 'God with us' while you're blow-drying your hair." It made me smile : )

  30. Lady you are the BOMB!!!!!
    Allison x

  31. it's safe to say that if there were a trophy for most unique, your tree would take it home.
    loving the color!

  32. I can very much so identify with this statement: "There it is, my biggest fault: I'm lackadaisical with regard to the placement of home furnishings." Spot on sister! ;) As always, your tree looks great...and your brand spankin' new idea garland is fantastic.

  33. Actually when someone doesn't understand after that its up to other visitors that they will help, so here it happens.
    my site - erinmore balkan mixture

  34. that is such a fun take on the tree- love it! love the topper! :)

  35. "I'll be the one in the sweatpants and glitter make-up." --> I LOVED that. I have a newborn this year, so I'm definitely feeling that sentiment.

  36. I love your fearlessness in decorating, and it always seems to work! Thanks for the sweet comment on my Christmas-y home post. Your place here on the web is one of my top favs. Love to you and yours and have a blessed Christmas!

  37. VERY FUN!!!

    forgive me if you've already addressed this, i've kind of been out of the loop off & on (we have internet at the new place now. woo hoo!), but those plank board walls....faux? or real??? you've had me wondering for awhile now. either way they look great!

    1. In the words of Elaine Benes, "They're real...and they're SPECTACULAR!"


      Cory and a couple of his buddies installed the planks. I LOVE 'em!

  38. A horse ribbon tree! Of course. Unexpected and fun with a side of quirk. I like it!

  39. Okay, how did I miss this?!? I swoon! I always love your quirky and ridiculous creations (those are two of my biggest compliments) but this is the bomb. Would it be less rad because we DO show horses/ponies? Would it even out if you saw my quirky tree with Barnums Animal Cracker and Sunmaid mini raisin boxes w/red n yellow ribbons n rick rack n polka dot ribbon streamers? NOBODY here gets me! ;-) Yes, I too have Shiny Briites packed away, and glittery pretties and "fancy" horse ornaments, but now I *must* have random ribbons below my Beagle tree topper. Thanks soul sister! MeRrY cRaZy CHRISTmas! xoxo