The Tree is Inside

Charlie brought a Christmas tree home a few days ago then he organized the lights.

A stable base for the tree stand is essential to protect the rug and furniture in the room.

We use a 1/2 inch piece of engineered wood next to the living room carpet to level the tree area. Then we slide another larger piece as a stable base. On that we add a waterproof piece of plastic.

This year Charlie snugged the tree into the tree stand before he brought it into the house.

Next he lugged the tree into the living room.

The tree goes floor to ceiling.

I’m no help in this instance except to determine the best side of the tree to face into the room.

We have never had a perfectly straight tree.

Starting at the top of the tree Charlie starts to to tuck lights into the top of the tree.  The top third of the tree takes about 200 lights so we’ll eventually use 3 strands of 200 lights.

What color is your holiday decor? Traditional red/green? Something else?

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Crafty Gifts

Charlie and I had success at the craft show.

Hand-dyed wool in front of weavings.

It actually was a very private show in a private farmhouse up a remote half-mile-long driveway .

Pottery, knit hat, felted pillow, sheepskin, basket of wool, handmade cutting board (L to R).

There was quite a variety of items with a heavy emphasis on sheep-related articles: sheepskins, skeins of dyed wool, felted pillows, knitted items, etc.

We bought a variety of Pysanky eggs for some favorite relatives.

We felt one of the deals of show was a dish of decorated Pysanky eggs of which we purchased 4.  Pysanky eggs are decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a wax-resist method.  These have chains so they can be used as ornaments.

A unique collection of iron hooks.

The shepherd whose farm housed the craft show is also a blacksmith. We had a nice choice of wrought-iron hooks one of which we purchased to replace the mermaid hook in our conservatory bathroom. We bought a few more things but I can’t put them on the blog yet.

Do you have a favorite craft?

Go To Gift

I need a go-to gift that I could give to one or ten without breaking the bank. I usually give a consumable gift like food, soap, or candles. (My note on candles: “If you don’t like this gift, burn it.”)

I use Mrs. Myer’s liquid soap, too.

Last year I gave everyone a pump container of Mrs. Myer’s liquid soap. One year I gave everyone (at work and other friends) high-end popcorn covered with white chocolate. The popcorn in particular was a hit.

Looking for something unique.

This year I’m waiting until tomorrow to see if I can come up with something at a local craft fair.  The event is at a sheep farm.  I am familiar with the head shepherd and so got wind of the this annual gathering which is not well-publicized.

A young shepherd is a part of one of my collections of crèches.

I’m hoping to find something I’ve never before considered.

Do you have a go-to gift?

The Lights

The first order of business for setting up a Christmas tree is to get the lights sorted out.

A shopping bag full and two 200 light strands that don’t fully illuminate.

Last year I recycled many strings of lights that were not reliable.

Charlie is all about the lights.

This year I’m leaving all things lighting to Charlie because he has the patience to go through strands of 200 lights and wiggle each one to find the culprit causing blinking.

He works on a strand until all lights are bright.

He came up with 3 strands of 200 white lights to be tucked into the branches of our tree. And 3 strands of 10-lights each of icicles.

I like my icicles — Charlie is not a fan.

Hoping to get lights, twigs, and polar bears on the tree soon.

What are you trying to accomplish?

I Wasn’t Sure about a Christmas Tree This Year

Yesterday evening Charlie drove up to the house with a Christmas tree on top of his car.

The top of the tree is at the bottom of the photo.

He had stopped by Home Depot and picked out just the right balsam fir. He’s much more selective than I am.  I get tired of looking and I’ll take the next one. Charlie will look at every tree for form, height, and proportion.

Sawing the bottom of the tree.

He cut a small slab from the bottom of the trunk to allow the tree to soak up more water.

A tall, slender tree.

Then we propped it up in a bucket of water on the porch.  I’m hoping Charlie will set up the tree in the living room while I’m at work.

Do you have a tree? Real or artificial? Cut it yourself of choose it from a tree lot?

She Can’t Eat It

Our friend Sug, short for Sugar, doesn’t eat candy but every year one of her vendors gives her a large Godiva gift.

I’ve already tucked into my chocolate extravaganza.

I do eat candy so Sug passes it on to me.

Charlie especially likes cherry cordials, and I don’t.

And I share it with Charlie.

Do you prefer dark, white, or milk chocolate?

I Shop at Trader Joe’s

Years ago we started shopping at Trader Joe’s.

Honey, vinegar, and olive oil – we get them all from TJ’s.

At first we only bought olive oil.

Raw vegetables and hummus — all from TJ’s.

Now we do most of our grocery shopping there.

Nine-inch tapers come in white or ivory.

Recently I found 8 candles for $3.

Kisses for everyone.

This time of year TJ’s has all sorts of great gifts.  One of my favorite to give is a box of Baci, kisses in Italian.

A great bargain at $5.

I always get my boss’ wife a couple loaves of panettone.  One of our cooks at work asked me how to serve panettone which I thought was strange because she is Italian.  Apparently in Italy they pour milk or cream over a wedge.  I suggested cutting the loaf in slices, toasting it and serving it with butter. It was a hit!

I especially love white roses.

Recently I have purchased 20 roses for $10.  Enough to spread around.

Do you have a convenient Trader Joe’s? What’s your favorite TJ product?