A Tree for Every Room: Gilded Dining Room Tree

In The Studio


Last year I had a goal to really do up the house for Christmas, including (as the title suggests) a decorated tree for each room. Between a convention in Mississippi in the middle the month and sheer end of the year exhaustion, it didn’t happen. I got 2 trees decorated and Todd put the lights on the big tree on the landing, but that’s as far as I got.

I did, however, order supplies for the dining room tree, so I was set to get started this year! Over on the Helmar blog I have step-by-step instructions of how I made the kitchen-themed garland for the centerpiece of my tablescape. Here’s the rest of the story, as it were.

I started with a simple artificial tree from Big Lots. It was the right size, but it was green, and the picture in my head was of a white and gold scene. So I used a tip from Jen over at EPBOT to flock our tree with spackling. Only thing was, all the spackle we could find was the heavier stuff, but there was spray spackle on the shelf and we decided to give that a shot. It worked perfectly and didn’t even take a full bottle to cover the little tree. If I find the second tree we bought (but is currently buried in the Christmas closet) it will be no problem to do it up as well.

Once flocked and the garland made, it was time to add a few more items. I didn’t want to overwhelm the tiny tree, so I added a single strand of white LED lights and a strand of small pearls to balance the heavier wood and gold garland. And it’s the dining room, it’s okay to dress up!


Finally, I made some ornaments from a set of metal chocolate molds. I used an awl to punch small holes in the top and bottom of each mold and wired a loop at the top with gold wire to attach a hook. From the bottom hangs a large faux pearl.

I still need more to really fill out the tablescape–one tree isn’t going to cut it–but for now this is a really good start. I love seeing the tree on our dining room table when I walk through the room and I’m really excited to go get our big tree for upstairs this weekend!


41 Arboriculture | Putting Down Roots

64 Arts

Let’s chat, shall we?

One of my goals when working through the 64 Arts, beyond exploring some new skill-sets, was to encourage (in myself as well as others) little bits of daily creativity that feed our souls. I truly believe that doing something creative–and that covers a whole host of possibilities–can improve our outlook and our emotional health, with can only help our physical health as well. (That’s what the whole “better living through creativity” tagline is all about, after all.)

While I think my project tutorials do that to an extent, the Arboriculture art got me thinking beyond the basics. Not everyone has a yard they can tend a tree in or even a porch or balcony that gets enough sun, so what other ways can tree inspire us creatively.

Exploring our Roots

Have you ever done a family tree? Maybe as a school assignment long ago or maybe you got bitten by the genealogy bug and spent some time on a site like Ancestry.com or trolling city archives. If you’ve never explored your family’s history, maybe this would be a good time to look into it, find out some stories from the generations that we still have around and then dig a little deeper. Maybe you have someone famous (or infamous!) in your lineage, or maybe you come from salt-of-the-earth hard-workers. Either way, knowing where you come from may help explain some of who you are, today.

Putting Down New Roots

A song I found for one of my old podcasts (man, I really want to get back to making those!) was called “Twisted Family Ties” and boy, oh boy, do I know all about those! Sometimes the people we’re born to make it hard to love them. Sometimes it’s just plain implausible and you might have to–for your own safety or sanity–distance yourself or completed cut ties. In this instance, why not create an imaginary family tree of the family you were “supposed” to be born into. Remember that a person’s flaws are just as important part of their character as the good things. Draw pictures or make collages of your new family portraits and give them interesting backstories.

Reach Out to the Forest

With us living in a very global society, it’s not uncommon to feel closer to someone 3,000 miles away than you do your own kin. Ages ago sociologists started to refer to these created family groups as tribes (urban or otherwise). They may not be part of your family tree (real or imagined), but they are part of your forest. Reach out a branch and write a letter (yes, a real, honest to goodness, paper and pen(cil), put a stamp on it letter) to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Or maybe to your best friend who you talk to every day–I don’t think they’d be any less thrilled to find something other than junk mails and bills in their mailbox, do you? And if you’re feeling a bit more of a lone cactus in the dessert vibe, why not reach out and make a new friend by joining a penpal group. (International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club comes highly recommended, by the way. I’m thinking of signing up for the next round, myself).

So, there you have it. Your creative mission, should you choose to accept it, is to use one of the prompts above and act on it. Add a little creativity into your life and enrich it in some way. Then, come back and share what you did–you never know what might spark an idea in another person.

41 Arboriculture | Banana Day Dreamin’

64 Arts

From metal to trees? Sure, whatever you say, gurus!

41 Arboriculture, the Care of Trees
For the house or garden

(and for those who are paying attention and think we skipped 40, we didn’t–I just forgot to mention it was being combined with #38, I’ve since fixed that)

Folks, I might have it going on with the crafty things, but I pretty much suck at growing things. Black thumb of Calcutta level of death and destruction to houseplants and herb gardens. Seriously, I’ve killed Rosemary. Three times! And those of you who garden know just how bad you have to be to do that.

Still, I have a hunch that if I put my mind to it (and, by that, I mean my obsessive streak that has me researching anything and everything to do with a subject  to the exclusion of a lot else) I could manage not to kill everything green within a half-mile radius. But since I don’t have that much space in my head to spare at the moment, hows about I start with just one thing for now?

Last fall, while chatting with our new neighbors about the very prolific lemon tree that came along with the home they’d purchased they mentioned we’d soon have to start trading lemons for bananas.


Well I’ll be! We actually had bananas on our tree! (and, yes, I first shared this over on Nibbles back in October)

See, I thought I’d read (or maybe heard on NPR or some such) that banana trees in the US didn’t do so hot and couldn’t be pollinated. Guess I was very wrong, huh?

So that was late-September or so and I took to watching the bananas to see when they’d be ready to harvest. A few quick searches hadn’t yielded much info on North Florida banana-growing, but I did find that once the bananas filled out and lightened in color a bit, they could be brought in and let ripen in a warmish, dry place. Like the garage (didn’t want to bring them inside in case of bugs) or some such.

But then things too a turn for the weird. We had an usually cold spell in mid-to-late October (for our Halloween party it didn’t even get into the 50s!) and then a freak heat wave in January.

Still, we took in a hand or two of bananas in November, I think, to see what would happen. Not much, as it turns out, since that cold snap stunted the bananas growth (I found out later that if temperatures drop below 30F the bananas will stall). That said, we sort of forgot about the bunch we’d brought in and left it hanging in the garage well after we’d written them off.



Apparently that heat wave in January that coincided with our outdoor engagement shoot was just what 2 of our bitty bananas needed to ripen! How nice that Mother Nature gave us one apiece to try. They were delicious, too, and makes me more determined to make sure this year’s crop (if we get one) yields even more.

We’ve got quite a copse of trees in our side yard so even though we had 5 flower this year (and they only flower once in their life), we stand a good chance of some of the newer shoots producing some fruit. If so, I plan to watch the weather a bit more carefully than before and make sure we bring in any likely bunches sooner rather than later. Maybe even bring them inside if it gets that cold.

Maybe even string them up in the shower of our spare bathroom!

How are you with growing things? Trees especially?