Let’s Make a Hat

As a little girl I loved playing “dress up”. So did my daughter, and now her own two daughters. And of course that included hats! 

I particularly liked playing with my mom’s hats, thinking those hats made me look so fashionable! Mom had a lot of them, because in the 50’s almost all women wore hats to church, and she was no exception.

And of course, as little girls, we always had to have new hats for Easter Sunday, to match our new dresses and shoes. We all looked so great, or we sure thought we did.

Back then the department stores even had separate hat departments with tables and tables of ladies hats to select from. After finding the perfect one it would be lovingly boxed in a square or round hat box which was also used to store those special hats in bedroom closets.

But wearing hats sort of gradually went out of style in the 60’s, but my mom still kept those hats in the attic, and I found several of them when I cleaned out her house 15 years ago. 

Sure wish I’d kept them! Because we could’ve used them for our latest project.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with all of the fancy hats that are regularly sported in England at royal formal events, and other special occasions.

And then there’s the Kentucky Derby. Famous for the spectacular horse race itself, the first jewel in the Triple Crown, but also famous for the magnificent if not often outlandish hats worn by the ladies, and some of the men as well.

Now it’s become increasingly popular around the country to have Derby Day festivities at local restaurants, wineries, and breweries, featuring televised races, various contests, and now…hat making!

A few years ago my best friend and I had a Mother’s Day hat-making tea party which was a lot of fun. Of course mine was a work of art featuring a flamingo. What else!?

This year was even better! My best friend Karen Gould has her own marketing and event company, Main Stream Events, and on occasion I help her out for certain events.

This year we held a Kentucky Derby hat making event at New Realm Brewery in Virginia Beach. And we had a great time! I had made several hats for the event to use as displays. It’s really not hard. All you need is a hat, a glue gun, and ribbon and flowers. Or anything else you’d like to add!

To say the event was a big success is an understatement! Not only did we have a great time helping our participants, but the hat designers had a great time as well! They were all very creative, and put together their own personal masterpieces with very little help from Karen and me.

We even had men as well as children decorating hats! 

I think we may even have some new fashion designers! What do you think?

Each Tree Has a Story, Part 10

Yes, this is the last installment. A short one, at that.

Yes, we’ve basically run out of room for more Christmas trees. Big ones, that is.

But there are tabletop trees. Which fit conveniently in small places. And a few other decorating ideas as well.

I’d been given a little 2 foot tabletop tree a couple of years ago from a coworker to use in my office. I loved it, and I even made my own garland to go on it. It was a perfect addition for Christmas, and I also added some Santa Claus flamingo ornaments (of course) to the little tree skirt. Everyone loved it.

Because of Covid, last March my department started working remotely, and we have been ever since. So this year I brought that little tree home and set it up in my craft studio. And it fit perfectly! I can work on my jewelry and have a Christmas tree with me.

That gave me an idea though, of course, and I decided to do a little tabletop gingerbread man tree in the desk area of our kitchen. After all, I bake Christmas cookies in there every year, so it was only appropriate. The size was perfect. Plus there was no room in the kitchen for another tree. I love these ornaments with the cookies holding the spoons and such, and so did the grandkids! And yes, the wine cork snowman sitting beside it is also my creation.

Then there are the wine cork trees I made for the dining room bar. They actually aren’t quite as easy as I thought they’d be, but since I had several bags of corks just waiting to be used, who was I to just let them sit around and do nothing?

And since I had a few of those Styrofoam cones left over from the wine cork trees, I decided to try making the yarn wrapped decorative trees, which were a lot easier to do. My husband says I’m done now for this year, because we’re running out of room again!

And as a surprise for our granddaughters, in their mermaid bedroom we‘d decorated for them at our house, I set up another little white tabletop tree with mermaid and seahorse ornaments. They were so excited! They may not spend the night here often, but it doesn’t mean their room has to go undecorated for the season.

Last, but certainly not least, there’s our Christmas ledge, decorated by my husband. When we built our home some 20+ years ago we had the builder add this feature we’d seen in another model house. We thought it gave a finishing touch to the two story foyer, and it absolutely did.

Although usually decorated with a generic theme most of the year, Ben also loves to decorate it for Christmas. Over the years we’ve had small Christmas trees up there, several wrapped packages, Christmas angels, lighted poinsettias, and for the last couple of years two fancy Santa Clauses we just couldn’t resist. All set up on lighted Buffalo snow. 

It’s something he really enjoys doing, and he changes it up just a bit every year.  Of course I sort of assist by helping him take the current decor down and handing him the lights, snow, and whatever else he wants to add, but this is his creation, and lots of our neighbors have told us how much they enjoy seeing the lights from our ledge every year.

Yes, all of this is a lot of work, but it’s worth it to see the house just filled with Christmas every year. It puts us all in such a happy holiday spirit.

And just about every room now has its own Christmas tree, so I guess there may not be any new ones for next year. But….I saw this really pretty little blue Christmas tree decorated with teal ornaments on the December issue of Southern Living just a few nights ago, and I’d sure like to figure out a way to add that one next year, but please don’t tell my husband yet….

So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Spend time with your family. Love each other. 

And remember the reason for the season. It’s not all about Christmas trees, you know. They’re just a nice accent!

Christmas Cork Crafting

Since I have a large collection of wine corks I decided to do something more with them this year  than the garland and ornaments I’d already made a few years ago.

So I got the brilliant idea to make some of those wine cork Christmas trees I’d seen all over Pinterest. How hard could they be, I asked myself? They really look fairly easy.

Sort of. But what you don’t realize is that wine corks aren’t all the same size. Some are longer than others. Some are thinner. And try as you might, they don’t always fit on that styrofoam cone the way you want them to. It was a bit of a challenge at first.

But I was determined to make it work, and I finally did. They aren’t perfect, but then again, that’s part of the fun of crafting. Each piece I make is unique, my own creation. And I’m probably my own worst critic, not always happy with what I make, even though most people don’t notice the imperfections I see.

It was also a bit of a challenge decorating them, because I wanted to do something different. I’ve had a collection of large metal beads for several years that I’d originally bought for wine cork bottle jewelry, and while those turned out well, they just weren’t that popular. So what to do with the leftover beads has been a challenge. They weren’t quite right for most of my bracelets, but I couldn’t bear to get rid of them.

However they were just right for my wine cork trees. Their slightly curved shape fit perfectly around the corks in strategic places that needed a fill-in or a pop of color. So I ended up designing the trees around the beads.

And no, I’m not going to sell any of them this year. I’d have to charge too much for my time! But they are fun to make, except when I get the hot glue all over my fingers. That hurts!

I’ve also just completed my first wine cork snowman, based on more photos on Pinterest. He was a lot easier than the trees, and I think the plaid Christmas ornament hat (from the dollar store of course) really makes him festive! And even better, my husband painted the corks white for me. And if you try it, be sure to paint it after your snowman is assembled and glued together. Much easier and it saves on paint.

What next? Well I do have some styrofoam cones left, so you never know….

Or I may find another hat and make another snowman. Or I could just make my own hat for him. You can still use snowmen after Christmas!

Have you done any special crafts this season? Or maybe some wine cork trees? Feel free to post pictures in the comments section. We’d sure love to see them!

Making a Gingerbread House

All the pictures make it look so easy. Right?

Mom and the kids sitting around the table, maybe even with Grandmom, and happily frosting/gluing the pieces together, adding the candy, and then a perfect gingerbread house is completed.

May I ask you, have you ever really tried doing one? With or without kids? It’s really not as easy as those pictures show. And it definitely doesn’t always turn out like it looks like on the box. Even for those of us who are usually quite crafty.

How do I know? Well, last year my daughter and I decided to make one with the grandkids. At the time Rachel was 4 and a half; Ryleigh a year and a half. 

I guess I should’ve said my daughter and I decided to make one. While the kids watched. Or played something else. Or waited to eat the candy that went on it.

We’d actually done one the year before. That didn’t turn out well at all. Besides Rachel being a little too young to really be a lot of help, actually putting these together isn’t that easy. The sides and roof pieces that have to be assembled are “glued” with white frosting. The frosting doesn’t work like my hot glue gun! And getting them to stay upright and in place isn’t a piece of cake, or gingerbread, either! 

Trust me, our finished product from that year certainly isn’t worthy of being seen on here!

Last year though, was a bit easier. But only just a bit.  It may be because we used a different brand gingerbread house kit. Maybe because the grandkids were a year older. Or maybe we’d just learned from last year what NOT to do.

Our daughter learned what not to do. She learned that she had no patience in putting the sides and roof together. So guess who got the job? The same person who did it the year before. As you can see from the pictures.

And getting the roof on and actually getting it stay is almost an engineering project. But I did it. And when the frosting “glue” dried, it actually stayed together. That was an improvement over last year!

Next was the part our daughter and Rachel were looking forward to. Decorating the house. The kits contain all the candy needed for the houses, and there’s usually some left over. Which makes all the kids, big and little, quite happy.

And our daughter and older granddaughter really enjoyed putting the candy on, even though not all of it went on the house. What did little Ryleigh do? She watched for a few minute, grabbed a bit of the candy, and went back to playing and watching cartoons.

Fortunately the house turned out fairly well. We were all proud of our accomplishment. 

So proud, in fact I actually got another kit for them, and we all put together a gingerbread camper. Which wasn’t quite as difficult. Or else we’d learned a little more about how to do it.

So what do you think about our collection? Are you ready to try and do your own? You don’t even need to have kids or grandkids to try it. But that makes it more fun. 

Or you can do what our daughter did and order an acrylic one to put together. Much easier. And lasts a lot longer. Isn’t it cute? And you knew it had to have a flamingo with it!

Here are the finished products. What do you think?

To show how brave we’ve become after this, we now have four gingerbread kits to make this year. We may or may not write about those, depending on the finished products. But you never know!

And why not send your own gingerbread house pictures in a comment. We’d love to see them!

Happy holiday creating! The fun is just beginning!