February 13, 2022:

Hola! A new year is here and with it I am finally taking steps to get some of the projects done that I've let pile up around me. I am tackling the bathroom refresh for starters. Winter thus far has been very untypical for southeast Wisconsin. We've hardly had anything close to what we usually get in snowfall in December through February, with more in March and sometimes in April, too. I don't want to jinx anything so I'll leave it at that. I'll also take the relatively "mild" temperatures we've had, with many days above freezing, a lot more sunshine than I am used to during this time of year, which sure helps the pep level, and seriously, hardly any 20 below zero or colder days. It's like living on another planet or in a different state further south. I'm good with this "new normal" - but that may mean a long extremely hot, humid and drought-prone summer. Hmmm... Take care!

Jan

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy 2022 Everyone! Last Christmas Decor Photos for 2021

 Hola!  I hope everyone had a lovely New Year's Eve - but a safe and sound one!

Today dawned cold and extremely dark in Milwaukee.  At 7:15 a.m. I was still waiting to see any hint of daylight outside.  I kept peeking through the curtains in the dining area where I set up my computer during the day for the holiday season, as I like to be in the living room in the evening with a fire going in the fireplace and the Christmas tree on display.  It's much easier to move a relatively few steps from the dining area to the living room with my laptop.

It finally got "light" enough by about 7:30 a.m.  We are expecting possible snow later on.  A forecast I looked at this morning said we could get as much as 7.4" if we also get lake effect snow.  EGAD!  But thus far, it hasn't started snowing.  It is looking very very dark, though, to the west/southwest - that's the direction the storm is blowing from toward the east/northeast.

The squirrels are really busy today eating me out of house and home.  Right now, because of the population explosion that occurred beginning last winter - and yes, I admit it's probably my fault for feeding the animals in the first place, I have more squirrels than ever visiting daily, and ALL day long, from dawn until dusk.  The squirrels are really fat and waddle, but they're eating me out of about 20 to 25 pounds of nuts a week right now.

But I love them anyway, they're such fun to have around, even though they are busy tearing up the backyard lawn trying to bury some of those nuts.

I have some final photos of the Christmas decorations, such as they are.  I never did get around to taking a photo of the outside of the house at just the right time when the lights on the tree are on, the wreath is lit up, and the two little Christmas tree flanking my front door are lit up too, and make sure it isn't blurry.  I seem to be a pro at taking blurry photos.  So, without further ado (and no picture of the outside of the house decorated for Christmas), here are the final photos for 2021 Christmas:

The tree as finalized, with no gifts underneath.


The tree as finalized, with my haul of gifts under it.  My family bombarded
me with goodies this year!

A close-up of some of the ornaments on the tree - looking at the side of the tree toward the front door.

This is a close-up of part of the lower front of the tree.


There was one other close-up, but it turned out blurry - my signature mark as a taker of photographs!  I did try to take several photos of my and Mr. Don's ornaments on the tree this year, but they just came out to blurry to use.  Perhaps I need a new set of hands that don't shake so much.  

Not sure when I'll be back with a new post.  I have a backlog of projects that I'd planned and still have not gotten around to do and here it is, 2022, going into my eighth year of living here.  Time flies these years, whether I'm having fun or not!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Two Sisters' Beautiful 2021 Christmas Trees

 Here is Sister 2's beautiful tree, she decorates in an elegant style.  I love how she doubled her ribbon to overlap, I will have to try that next year.


Here is my youngest Sister's beautiful tree - she likes a rustic more "woodsy" style.  She used old-fashioned silver tinsel, silver colored beaded garland and lots of glass and acrylic icicles to add glitter.

It's hard to keep up with my talented sisters!  Their trees get better each year. 

Finished, Done, Kaput! 2021 Christmas Tree and Mantel

 Hola everyone!  The tree is done - finally.  I've been tweaking for what seems like forever. The tree is fully loaded.  Next year, I'm going to take extra time to place more large ornaments inside the center of the tree so I don't notice as many "holes" and hollow spots.  The mantel is done and was finished rather quickly.  Didn't tweak it much at all.  Here they are, in all their "glory:"


This year I added a dream catcher oriented toward the southwest to catch good dreams and repel evil spirits (so the legend of the dream catcher says it works):


Here's several different photos of the mantel.  I haven't been able to get a really good photo of the mantel when it's all lit up at night, I probably should take the time to read through the manual for my camera and find out how the different settings work.








The sun lights up the tree during certain times of the day and the ornaments and ribbons sparkle:




Thursday, December 16, 2021

Christmas Tree Burn-Out, and a Couple More Youtube Videos I Liked

 Hola!

Here it is, December 16th, and I'm (maybe) finished fussing with the decorations on the tree. It's been a saga, for sure!  I need to take new photos.  I thought I had, but it turned out the batteries in my camera were going wonky or something and none of the photos "recorded" on the memory card.  So - will be taking photos later.  Stay tuned.  

This is it, the tree IS finished.  The mantel is what it is, I'm happy with it but I want to have a fire going when I take the photos, so I'll do that this evening.

While I've been fretting about the tree and the mantel, I've been binge watching Youtube videos on "how to decorate a Christmas tree" and "how to decorate a mantel."  Yeah, I'm a real glutton for punishment.

Anyway, I came across "Creative Christeen" and I really enjoyed her approach to decorating both her mantel and her Christmas tree this year, and love what sounds like an "East coast" accent.  

"Neutral Palette Christmas Tree: Budget Friendly Decorating Ideas," December 1, 2021

"2021 Christmas Mantel Decorating Ideas," November 13, 2021 

She decorated with a farmhouse vibe this year.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Final Round of Christmas Tree Decorating (With Fingers Crossed Behind My Back) - And the Tree's Revenge

Hola! 

Yes, I confess, I've been fussing with the Christmas tree.  I added still more ornaments, but the tree still looks pretty naked to me. I know this may sound a little cray cray (okay, maybe a lot cray cray) but maybe the tree is eating some of the ornaments at night...

I swear, if I lived in a warm climate I'd strip the tree down, haul it outside and spray paint it with a light layer of white paint.  Maybe that would make the rose gold/pink ornaments show up more.  As it is, there are not enough of them to show up on the tree.  I though about but fought off the urge of ordering yet MORE ornaments and decided I am not going to order more rose gold or blush pink ornaments until Christmas clearance sales are on (after Christmas).  Thus, the tree has way more gold and clear glass ornaments on it from my prior years' stash and it's not anything like the rose gold inspiration trees I published photos of earlier.  

Beyond frustrated and extremely disappointed.  The 2021 tree is an okay looking tree, but it's not what I wanted, it's not what I'd envisioned.  Nobody likes a "fail," but this year, my tree is a fail.

This is the FINAL tree -- so I say, but don't believe me.  This is actually Attempt 3 or maybe it's Attempt 13, which yes, I admit, doesn't look much different than Attempt 2 or Attempt 1 (except for the too large and gaudy gold pointsettias that were removed), but it is different.  OY!!!

It's Final (Round 13???)

After sitting here a few nights looking at the aftermath of Attempt 2, I decided that part of the problem was with the bottom row of branches that I was not able to adequately fill in the gaps with the materials/decorations I had on hand.  So, I got down on my hands and knees on Friday morning (12/3/21) and got a good workout bending the ends of the very strong branches upwards between one and two inches (some were much harder to force upwards than others).  I also pulled the tips on each of that bottom row of branches more upward.  Some of the gaps between the branches and between the bottom row of branches and the next row of branches above it were filled or somewhat filled more by this process.  Not so noticeable during the day when the lights aren't on, but very noticeable when the lights are on - the lowest level of the tree has been "tightened up."  

You probably can't tell from the photo either but I did some "rearranging" of the ribbons to fill in some of the gaps/holes I kept (and still keep) seeing.  And yes, I added even more ornaments.  I find it hard to believe, but there are only a couple boxes of ornaments left in basement storage, and I SWORE that they are not going on this tree this year.  I'm DONE.  Every time I think about putzing with the tree further, I think about the Band Perry song and that stops me, LOL!   

In the photo above I can see the white "frosted" effect that I found so pretty and led to me ordering this particular tree in the first place.  That "frosted" look hasn't really shown up too much in prior photos.  

This year it's been Jan versus the Christmas tree, a continual struggle over several rounds for more than a week.  I thought I had won (finally), but last night (12/4/21) the tree got a TKO when, right after I'd plugged in the extension cord that has the lights plugged into it for the top half of the tree, I stood up only to see a light that appeared to be sputtering and then blinked a few times and out it went.  And with it, about half of the top third of the lights on the tree.  A PARTIAL BLACK OUT!  

WHAT THE (BLEEP)!  This is only the second and third season for ALL of those lights.  They're LED lights, they aren't supposed to "burn" out after a couple seasons of Christmas use, for pete's sake!  I don't leave my tree lit 24/7.  So now - how on earth can I fix it?  The tree is fully decorated.  I am NOT going to un-decorate the top half of the tree, take down the ribbons and attempt to fish out the bad light string and replace it. 

Soooooo, I may end up resorting to what I did in 2019 with my 10 years-old wired pre-lit tree where more lights were burning out seemingly daily:  I inserted battery operated LED lights.  The "warm white" didn't exactly match the color of the other lights, but they added light nonetheless and I could string them where I wanted the lights to be (more or less).

ARRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!  

The Tree Is Finished - Yes It Is, For Real. I Ain't Adding One More Ornament To It. I Swear.

After the failure of Ribbon Application on Christmas Tree 101, I ended up taking it ALL off and started over.  That was after once again binge-watching several "Ramon at Home" Youtube videos and other designer videos on how to put ribbon on trees.  This is how the second attempt at ribboning (is that a word?) the tree turned out:

Before:  Ribbon Failure
 
After:  Ribbon Will Do

I also added some more picks to the tree topper decorations and am satisfied with it.  It's about the only thing that turned out relatively well on the tree.

It's Finished! (Round 1)

I had to get down on my tummy and wiggle around the tree like a giant worm to get the tree skirt under it and covering the tree stand.  The branches were very close to the floor, leaving maybe a foot of space.  I tried to work the tree skirt around on my knees but I wasn't able to get really under the tree that way to get the tree skirt properly tucked around the tree stand.  Maybe my arms are too short???

I determined on Sunday night (11/28/21) that I was done decorating the tree, and sat back that evening with only battery-operated candles and the lights on the Christmas tree (plus the light my lap top puts out), lighting the living room.  

The longer I sat on my sofa last Sunday night with my handiwork staring me in the face, I came to the conclusion that the decorations just didn't look right.  I kept focusing on the giant (and rather gaudy) pointsettias.  They were too much, or I had not decorated the rest of the tree enough to compensate for their large and gaudy glory.  I knew I'd have to do something, probably remove the pointsettias.  But I really didn't want to redecorate the entire tree.  I'd already spent hours first assembling it and fluffing the 928 tree tips, and then weaving six strands of LED warm white lights in and out of all the branches.

Monday was dedicated to running errands and taking a 43 minute bus ride downtown to visit my dentist.  By the time I got back home, the only thing I wanted to do was get into my warm slippers, wrap an afghan around my shoulders and drink a couple of glasses of wine while catching up with my emails and the news on MSNBC online.

Which brings me to Tuesday, 11/30/21.  The day dawned sunny and hit a high of 46!  The bird bath unfroze and those intrepid sparrows of mine were taking baths at the height of the day, LOL!  I spent my time switching between working outside to rake/sweep up yet more leaves, pine needles, pine cones and peanut shells left by my squirrels - working without a jacket or hat on, and hauling up a couple boxes of additional Christmas tree decorations from the basement. I ended up not using the second smaller box of decorations.  I stripped off the offending pointsettias.  The tree looked naked but also more balanced, I think the flowers were out of proportion to the rest of the decorations and ornaments I'd put on the tree.  But I needed to add more ornaments anyway to fill in the blank spaces where the pointsettias had been.

I added 34 additional ornaments (yes, I counted them) from the second box, many of which are larger (4 to 5 inches) decorated glass balls and finials.  I have more ornaments I thought about adding, but I decided to just go full stop.  I SWEAR.  Here is the finished, completely done 2021 Christmas tree:

It's Finished! (Round 2)

Well, we'll see.  When it comes to my Christmas trees, one of the givens is that I never stop putzing around with it.  I am going to try and break myself of that bad habit this year.

Friday, November 26, 2021

The Never Ending Saga of the 2021 Christmas Tree - Decorating 101

 Hola!  Today I did epic duty and individually applied and then twisted, twined and tweaked 590 lights on my Christmas tree.  I did not buy a pre-lit tree, after experiencing the slow death of lights on my previous 6.5' tree that served me well for 10-11 years.  Each year for the last 3 years of her life, she lost more lights and I was helpless and clueless on how to fix them.  I couldn't wrap my head around lights on half the tree still working after 10 years, and half the lights on the tree just deciding to die after 8, 9 and 10 years.

So - today was suck it up Jan, get the lights on the tree!  I got the box filled with lights from basement storage and spent about 3 hours doing my best to weave the strands of lights in and out of all the branches.  I started at the bottom of the tree as a decorator on Youtube told me I should do, and with one last string of 120 lights to work up to the top of the tree thinking I'd have more than enough, I see it looks a bit sparse of lights at the top 15 inches or so.  DRAT!  I will pick up one more box of lights if I can find something in LED "warm white" at the supermarket tomorrow.  Sigh.

Then I wanted to put the ribbon on. I pretty much ran out of steam, but no excuses.  There is ribbon on the tree.  Am I happy with how that ribbon looks?  Nope.  It is a far far cry from Ramon at Home's gorgeous trees with perfect ribbon that he makes it look so easy to do - and I can't do it!  Right now I'm thinking I'll take it off tomorrow, but maybe I just need to tweak it some. 

I am feeling rather inadequate right now.  As punishment for failing Christmas Tree Ribbon Application 101, I'm going to spend the evening re-watching every Ramon at Home video on how to decorate a Christmas tree. For your viewing "pleasure," below are two shots of the tree with the lights (and the ribbon) on it.  I have started on the tree topper as well, and discovered a box of picks and florals that I ordered at the end of last season that I totally forgot about.  I'll be using some of them on 2021's tree. Right now I'm not happy with the status of the tree topper either, it needs more pizzzaaaazzzz!



I definitely need to do something about that ribbon, OY!  I really need to rev up my "decorating the Christmas tree" MOJO.