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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 11/22/12

Thursday, November 22, 2012

DIY MATCHBOX TREE ADVENT CALENDAR!

CHRISTMAS TREE MOBILE HOW TO!


 This comes form www.notmartha.org .  This looks retro for someone who like a non traditional christmas tree.

Christmas tree ornament mobile, how-to



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile
Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


Here is how I made my Christmas tree ornament mobile, it was easier than it looks, promise.

The Supplies



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


  • a 17″ steamer rack from a restaurant supply store
  • about 5 feet of lightweight jack chain
  • a small carabiner
  • 100 basic ornament hooks
  • one roll, 500 feet, monofilament jewelry string (not the stretchy sort)
  • 200 jewelry crimp beads or tubes
  • jewelry crimping tool
  • 100 lanyard hooks
  • 100 ornaments


Note: In the photo above I show earring wire instead of ornament hooks. I changed that later as I found ornament hooks made it far easier to move ornaments around after they’d been hung. Also, my supplies are based on a 4 foot tall mobile using almost 100 ornaments, you’ll need to adjust amounts if you make one larger or smaller.


Creating the Mobile Frame

Creating the frame for my ornament tree mobile turned out to be fairly simple. I used a lot of hooks to allow for easy adjustment and additions as the mobile was being assembled. I gathered materials from a restaurant supply store, a hardware store and the jewelry section of a craft store.


Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile



For the top of the mobile I needed something that would allow me to easily secure a lot of hanging points without them sliding around too much. The perfect thing turned out to be a 17-inch steamer rack bought for about $6 from a restaurant supply store (I found mine at Encore Restaurant Equipment in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle). The rack comes with folding feet attached that were easy to pop out with a little bending.



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


Turn the rack upside down and the spots where the legs were secured neatly become four hanging points.



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


I bought some inexpensive jack chain to use for hanging. You can open and close the links in the chain with needle nose pliers so there isn’t any need for heavy duty wire cutters. I separated four lengths of chain, attached them to the points using lanyard hooks found in the jewelry supply section of a craft store.



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


I joined the chains using another lanyard hook, and put that on a little carabiner which hung from the hook in the ceiling.
Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


Notes: Why so many hooks and bits? Because it makes it is simple to adjust and shorten the chain and can later be disassembled and reassembled with very little effort and without needing tools. I kept the same thing in mind when creating the lines that the ornaments were suspended from. This added a bit of visual clutter but made the entire thing mobile easy to adjust and reuse in another year.

Suspending the Ornaments



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


I used jewelry monofilament secured with crimp tubes to hold the ornaments. I simply created loops at both ends. I made a bunch of different lengths (details on that below). I secured each line to points in the rack grid using lanyard hooks, and hung a basic wire ornament hook at the bottom ends. The lanyard hooks at the top are strong enough to hold heavier ornaments, and because they close they won’t fall off if the mobile is bumped. The basic ornament hooks allow one to easily move ornaments around from one spot to another. My tip to you: Keep the lines as separate as possible while you’re working with them. I spent more time untangling clear threads than doing anything else on this project. It was maddening. After I discovered just how maddening I started hanging them in groups by length from a curtain rod and weighing them down with an ornament to keep them separated, doing this made the hanging of the ornaments go quickly.
Notes: The use of ornament hooks allows for ornaments to easily be moved around. It does add visual clutter, though. If you want to create a mobile that would only be used once securing the monofilament line directly to the ornaments would look much tidier. I initially planned to use earring wire hooks that closed to hang the ornaments but quickly found that they were frustrating to fiddle with every time I wanted to move an ornament from one spot to another. They were prettier, though, and because those close as well would hold ornaments more securely if the mobile is moved around. (Which I don’t suggest as it tangles the lines horribly. So horribly.) Crimp tools come in three sizes Micro, Regular and Mighty (large). I used the regular size. I did try to use nylon sewing thread but found that the crimps didn’t secure it well enough. I did consider using nylon sewing thread with micro crimp beads and the micro crimping tool but think one would need a lot of patience and really great lighting to get all that done. The monofilament jewelry string is pretty stiff and easy to work with.

Determining Placement and Lengths


Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


Figuring out where to put the hanging points on the rack involved a bit of math, most all of which I abandoned. I’ll do my best to describe what I did.
I decided to create rings on the rack, with the longer threads hanging on the outside rings to create the cone tree shape. Actually it creates tiers, think a tall skinny wedding cake. I figured that my ornaments were usually about 2 or 3 inches in diameter so I needed to space the rings a little more than 1 inch apart so that the ornaments would have room to hang without being crowded by the longer threads around them. I spaced the rings about 1.5 inches apart. This gave me a center point and 6 rings to work with, with the last ring being the outer edge of the rack, like so:


Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile

I determined I wanted my tree to be about four feet in total height from the top ornament to the bottom. I made the first ornament, the center point, hang 3.5 inches, and added length from there. For my needs, each set of string needed to be 1.75 inches longer than the last. Each ring on the hanging rack held for different lengths of string. I added 2 inches to the length of string I actually cut to allow for the loops.
To figure out how many ornaments per ring I, well, completely made it up. I decided the first ring should hold seven ornaments and went up by four from there. So the number of ornaments went: 1, 7, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27. I divided the four lengths of string between those, giving the longest length more ornaments to help the triangle effect. Whew. So I cut this many at these lengths for these rings:


  • For the Center Point: 5.5″
  • For Ring 1: one at 7.25″, one at 9.0″, two at 10.75″, three at 12.5″
  • For Ring 2: two at 14.25″, two at 16.0″, three at 17.75″, four at 19.5″
  • For Ring 3: three at 21.25″, three at 23.0″, four at 24.75″, five at 26.5″
  • For Ring 4: four at 28.25″, four at 30.0″, five at 31.75″, six at 33.5″
  • For Ring 5: five at 35.25″, five at 37.0″, six at 38.75″, seven at 40.5″
  • For Ring 6: six at 42.25″, six at 44.0″, seven at 45.75″, eight at 47.5″


Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


In order to make the measuring a cutting go as quickly as possible I taped a cloth measuring tape to a tabletop and marked each length with the number I needed to cut with sticky notes. So all it took was to stretch some string out and clip at the needed point. Keep these in groups at this point forward, it will make it far easier later. I looped and crimped the ends, then hung them in groups on a curtain rod weighted down by an ornament.


Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


To figure out where my rings would fall on the rack I tied a cotton string to my center point and marked it at 1.5 inch intervals. Then I swung the string around and put as many hooks as I needed on each given ring. I usually put them on the X and Y axis first, then filled in the quadrants. It went faster than it sounds, promise. I spaced the hooks, aka the hanging points, like so:



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


Looking up at the mobile from below you can sort of see the rings emerging:



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile


And after this I attached a hook into my ceiling and hung the rack. I found the best way to hang everything is to work from the center out, hang each set of lengths of monofilament string spacing it around it’s designated ring as evenly as possible, then hang ornaments before moving on to the next set of lengths of string. By weighing the strings down as you go along it will help them from getting tangled as you work. You can add or move string, and move ornaments around if needed. I didn’t worry too much about getting everything just perfect and I think it worked to my advantage, the slightly controlled randomness gives it a nicely organic look. At least I hope so.



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile



If I were to do it again I would make my tree taller and more dramatic. I think I would try to squeeze in one more ring and stagger the ornaments with even more lengths of string, maybe in increments by the inch. As it was I found that there are lots of spots where two of the same length are side by side. If I had more money to devote I would buy glass ornaments that don’t have a metal cap, just a glass loop at the top, and would skip the ornament hooks to make it look tidier.



Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile



I’m growing more and more fond of the mobile with clear glass ornaments.


update:
Here is a photo of the mobile taken apart and ready for storage, the ornament hooks in a bag and each set of lengths of string committed to it’s own numbered envelope. The envelopes were orphans from previous years of Christmas cards that I had saved (reuse!). I left the hanging hooks on the rack so when I return to put it up again next year it will be very quick and easy.

DIY MERCURY GLASS ORNAMENTS!


 This diy comes from www.acaseofthemundays.com .  These look really cool and "old world".  Use them on your tree, in a wreath or hang them with some fancy ribbon in a window.


DIY: mercury glass ornaments

I am slightly obsessed w/ mercury glass this year!!!






{lovely globes from pb}






{pretty pretty candlesticks - also from pb}

which got me to thinking about mercury glass christmas ornaments.

... lovely, right? {and again pb}

okay okay. so apparently - based on my googling - mercury glass was sort of the thing last christmas. but this is one bandwagon i don't mind jumping on late.

the problem: i'm cut off on decor this year. {okay not true. but we did just get married a little over 2 months ago ... i have plenty of new decorations around the house w/out going overboard for christmas.}

the solution: i decided to make my own!






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supplies:
* clear glass ball ornaments. (hurry to michael's - they are 50% off!)

* can of metallic spray paint. i used 
krylon premium original chrome spray paint. if you can find it, pick up krylon's looking glass mirror-like spray paint. {the chrome will work ... however the real mercury glass is more mirror like - so the mirror-like paint is ideal.}
* a gold acrylic paint. i used decoart's dazzling metalic paint in glorious gold.
 i would consider a silvery gold ... like slightly tarnished silver.* spray bottle of water
* blow dryer




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directions:


step 1

) spray inside the first ornament ... then let excess water drain




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step 2)
 spray the chrome (or mirror-like) paint into the glass ornament. make sure to press lightly and rotate the ball until you have a couple light coats. {the lighter the coat the more iridescent the final product!}






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the moisture left in the ornament will cause the silver to separate.
continue to roll the ball in your hand until the entire inside has been reached by the silver paint.




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step 3)
  grab your blow dryer (and a pair of gloves)carefully blow into the opening of the ornament on medium high. continue to rotate as the paint dries. {emphasis on "carefully" because i might have dropped one!} occasionally ... empty out excess water once it separates from the silver paint.






 
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step 4)
though the silver paint is mostly dry, leave the ornaments to dry openings up overnight.







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step 5)
add the gold acrylic paint to each ornament and roll until they are coated in gold paint. then place upside down in a throw away tray to drain the extra paint. let them drain for several hours (or again overnight).








DSC_0182





step 6)
once again, blow dry until the paint is completely dry ... and shiny. {it will look a bit milky until it is completely dry.}

pop in the ornament tops ... and that's it!!!






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what do you think!?!

if i could change one thing - i would have ordered the mirror-like paint since i couldn't find it in town ... and practiced patience until it came in the mail. i think after the holiday, i'll order the paint and mercury-glass some hurricanes for the mantel. don't worry. i'll be sure to blog about it.

NEAPOLITAN 5-LAYER CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY FROSTING!!

   This recipe comes from www.sweetapolita.com .  This cake looks good as a birthday cake, but I think it would look good on any occasion!



Neapolitan 5-Layer An Occascion Cake with Strawberry Frosting



Well, hello! What an exciting few days it’s been. Lots going on, and as usual, no two days have been the same. As I mentioned in my last post, I was thrilled when Ree (The Pioneer Woman) chose two of my cake photos for her Food Photo Assignment–another one of her wildly popular photo contests. It meant so much to me, considering I’m pretty new at all of this, and there were, as usual, so many amazing entries. My blue birthday cake photo ended up winning as a finalist in the competition, so I could not be more pleased! Coincidentally, most of what I learned about photography was from Ree. I find her photography tutorials to be particularly helpful, down-to-earth, and as always with The Pioneer Woman, charming. If you’d like to take a peek at my blue birthday cake photo and more about the results of the Pioneer Woman Photography Food Photo Assignment, you can view it here, along with the gorgeous winning photo by Jennifer Glass.
Speaking of birthday cakes, I was in a layer-cake kind of mood this week, both making and eating, of course. One of my favourite layer cakes is Neapolitan Cake: layers of rich chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla cake, layered with homemade strawberry jam. The flavours really work so well together, and I personally find it really unique and quite appealing, if not striking, once sliced. What’s interesting, is that most people know of it, and I think really enjoy it, yet I don’t see it often. I made Neapolitan cake for the first time last year for Neve’s birthday, as part of her Girly Woodland Table (if you’d like to see more from that Neapolitan dessert table, you can view the post here.) I had the idea to make a Neapolitan Cake based on the colour-scheme of her party, but wasn’t sure what would work for filling. I noticed Martha Stewart had done a 3-layer version using jam as filling, which I thought was perfect. The guests seemed to really enjoy it, and I had a lot of fun making it. I love when a cake looks pretty traditional and simple on the outside, but has an unexpected appearance on the inside. No matter how many cakes I make, I’m always secretly (or not so secretly) excited and eager to slice it and see what it looks like inside–particularly when it’s a multi-flavoured cake, like this one. Such anticipation! It seems people can’t resist peeking over my shoulder with curiousity when I first slice into a cake, and this one usually earns an “oh, wow!”







Kind of crazy looking inside, right? I love the contrast, but most importantly (always), it is really, truly a delight to eat. I find you don’t really taste the jam filling, but it adds a great strawberry flavour and makes the cake even more moist and yummy. It tastes so very Neapolitan and, to me, very reminiscent of my childhood. I feel as though even the cake itself with its colour combination has a retro feel to it, which I really like!




This time, I went for a sugary pink Strawberry Frosting, for more of a fun birthday cake taste, and to carry through the strawberry flavour a bit more. The possibilities are endless, though, as you could opt for chocolate frosting, ganache filling, Swiss meringue buttercream and fondant, and more. Visually, I think I prefer it with a nice chocolate fondant over buttercream, but really, pink is never a bad idea (or rarely, at least!), and this Strawberry Frosting is so delicious.
I used simple homemade strawberry jam between the layers, which I prefer both for taste and look with the Neapolitan Cake. It’s also very quick and easy to fill that way. If you filled it with frosting, I feel it might be a bit much, since there’s already so much going on, but that is definitely personal preference, and the cake flavours lend to vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry fillings and frostings.
If you’d like to recreate this one, here’s what I did:
1. Baked my favourite Strawberry, Vanilla, and Chocolate cake recipes for 9″ round pans. You can layer any way you like, but I chose to torte my chocolate and strawberry 9″ round cakes into 2 each, and just used one vanilla. Each of the 5 layers are about 1″ high.
2. Using a thin 9″ round cake board, I placed the first layer down, filled with jam, and repeated until the cake was stacked. I then covered the whole cake in airtight container and placed in fridge for about an hour.
3. I made a batch of Strawberry Party Frosting, tinted it Strawberry pink, using a few drops of AmeriColor Electric Pink (I tend to use this brighter version of pink gel often, because with buttercream being a yellow tinge, it seems to cut right through the yellow, making the result a nice bright pink.). Once the cake was chilled, I frosted it, added my favourite white sprinkles, and then piped a classic birthday cake star tip border and shell border on the bottom, using a Wilton Open Star Tip #22 for both.
You can use your favourite Chocolate and Vanilla recipe, or you can use my favourites (links attached). I’ve included a recipe for Strawberry Cake, since it’s seemingly hard to find a good one. I really like this one that I found online last year and modified slightly. Keep in mind that with all of the white sugar in this Strawberry Cake recipe, the crust of the cake gets a bit more golden brown than the other flavours. This recipe makes two 9″ rounds, but I made cupcakes with the extra batter. You could divide the recipe in half.



Strawberry Cake {click here for printable recipe}


Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
1 (3oz) package of strawberry gelatin (JELL-O)
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree made from frozen sweetened strawberries (or you could use unsweetened and add a tablespoon of white sugar)



Method:

1. Prepare two 9″ round pans (butter and flour, or parchment lined).
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix vanilla and milk together. Combine and whisk dry ingredients, adding to creamed mixture and alternating with milk/vanilla until just combined. Blend in strawberry puree. Pour into prepared pans.
3. Bake in 350 F for about 25 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes, then inverting onto wire rack to finish cooling.



Recipe for Strawberry Cake adapted from allrecipes.com, submitted by GothicGirl.
Strawberry Party Frosting {click here for printable recipe}


Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 cups icing sugar (confectioners’)
120 ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
few drops of LorAnn Strawberry Flavor Oil (to taste)
few drops of AmeriColor Electric Pink Gel Color
Method:
Beat the butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer on low with the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, water, whipping cream, salt, and strawberry oil, and whip on high speed until fluffy and smooth–about 4 minutes. Add colour and mix until well blended. If consistency is too thick, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, then whip again for 30 seconds or so.
Makes enough to fill and frost a 3-layer (or 5-6 thin layers) 9″ cake.
For the Neapolitan Cake, you will also need chocolate and vanilla layers:
One 9″ round (sliced in 2 horizontally) Rich Chocolate Cake from Rich & Ruffled Chocolate Celebration Cake post, or click here for printable recipe.
One 9″ round Snow White Vanilla Cake (sliced in 2 horizontally) from Old-Fashioned Party Cake post, or click here for printable recipe.
I hope you love this cake as much as we do! Seeing as Grant rarely eats cake, and he’s had 3 pieces so far, I think it’s a hit!
Good luck & enjoy!