Handmade Christmas Wreath from Christmas Cards Past

I have a problem throwing away things, especially paper remembrances – ticket stubs, cards, programs. There is no logical reason to hold onto the Phantom of the Opera program from my high school orchestra trip or the autographed Penn & Teller program from their performance at Duke, but I still have them. I have quite a stack of holiday cards, and I was trying to brainstorm a way to incorporate the cards into a new wreath. (Our previous wreath was nice, but a very plain wreath of greenery with a simple red bow.)

Interior Shot of Wreath

I can’t say that I thought of this idea all alone; my inspiration was a DIY Clock from Junk Mail that I saw on Apartment Therapy. To make the wreath, my only materials were items from the dollar store, old holiday cards, and a few Christmas catalogs to fill in the spaces. (I only had cards for about half of the spokes.) I made a 3″ wide base for the wreath by cutting it out of foamcore with my x-acto. The interior circle was large enough to feature the star ornament; the outer circle was just 3″ larger than the interior. I used my handy compasses from grad school drafting to get the circles right, but a piece of string could also be used to measure the radii. After I had the wreath shape, I stacked foam to about 1.5″ and hot-glued that to the back of the wreath shape in 4 places to give the wreath some depth. Then I covered the whole frame with ribbon. You can see the back here:
Back View of Wreath

The next step was to roll up the holiday cards. I used the entire card for each spoke and started rolling from the plain side, so the end product would have the most color. And I used a dowel to get the initial shape and help keep the rolling even. In my wreath there are 58 spokes; 29 of these spokes are from Christmas cards. The remaining spokes are pages from the West Elm and Blissliving holiday catalogs cut down to a similar size. I wasn’t worried about the spokes being the same length, but it could be easily controlled if precision spokes are your thing.

The last steps were to hot glue the spokes to the base in a radial pattern, add gold ribbon for hanging, add a gold bow, hang the gold dollar store ornament in the middle, and finally I added some bells to up the holiday-ness of the wreath. I thought it was important to keep the wreath accents in the same color (gold), because the rest of the wreath could be pretty busy.
Wreath Hanging on the Door

Now we have a wreath that is inexpensive AND is made from the love and kindness of our friends and family. It’s perfect. As we get more holiday cards over the years. I will probably just replace the catalog pages with real cards.

Flower-Shaped Paper Ornaments

Variety of Ornaments
In preparation for the holiday season, I’ve been making paper ornaments. These ornaments are perfect for wreaths, trees, garlands, or as my favorite use — a gorgeous substitution for a traditional bow when you wrap a gift. It’s amazing how pretty folded & cut paper can be!

Variety of Packages

Today, I’m going to just post some pictures of the ornaments I’ve made (along with a link to my Etsy shop where these ornaments can be purchased). AND tomorrow, I’m going to post a tutorial where you can learn to make these ornaments yourself. The ornaments are infinitely customizable — like snowflakes, but they remind me more of flowers in their execution.

I’ve made the paper ornaments out of patterned & solid colored papers,
Star Shaped Ornament

Cream Colored Ornament

but my favorite ornaments are made from catalog paper! (In this case West Elm & Free People; such pretty colors!)
Recycled Paper Star Ornament

Recycled Paper Heart Ornament

They’re a lot of fun to make; they’re pretty easy to make; and they can be used for so many things! If you’d like to purchase a set of these, just check out my Etsy shop here: JulepStyle.com on Etsy!

Tinseled Pompom Garland

There have been a lot of really cute garlands around this holiday season. I’ve been especially drawn to the felted ball garlands, like this one at Anthropologie:
Anthropologie Garland

or this one at Branch:Branch Garland

And, I think this Christmas ornament garland from Crate & Barrel is also pretty cute:
Crate and Barrel Garland

I set about doing some research investigating what kind of garland cost would fit into our budget. (I already suspected a DIY solution would be required.) Using the garlands previously mentioned, their prices per linear foot are $11.66, $8.00, and $1.55 (in the order in which they appear). Using ribbon twirled around our tree, I calculated that we need approximately 50 feet of garland. This would make the cost $583, $400, and $77.50, respectively. The Crate and Barrel garland cost isn’t too bad, but the Anthropologie and Branch garlands were way out of our price range. But I still preferred the felted wool balls (especially the continuous ring of balls like the one from Branch).

A visit to Walmart’s craft department gave me an idea–a garland from Tinseled Pompoms. Tinseled pompoms are not the same as the felted wool balls, but they’re still pretty cute. (And they sparkle!) I figured an experiment was in order to check out the cost. I assembled my materials: 1 Bag of Tinseled Pompoms (75 per bag), Clear Fishing Line, and a Needle.
The Materials

I used a pretty big needle and just pushed it through the center of each of the pompoms.
Needle through the Pompom

When I was through with the bag (about 15 minutes), I had 3 feet of garland.

The pompoms are $2.97 per bag; one linear foot of garland costs about $1.00. To finish up the entire garland, it will cost $50.00 (give or take). This is the most affordable garland! And I’m really pleased with the end result. I love the size variation and the tinsel.
On the tree

I will post a better picture when we’re through decorating the tree. Making this garland can be a bit time-consuming, but it’s an easy activity to do when you’re chilling out watching a movie; the whole family can get involved. And the end product can be used again and again!

Semi-Homemade Christmas Stockings

When it came time to make some Christmas stockings for my husband and me, I was limited by the fact that I can’t sew. (I know this is a severe character flaw that I will begin to remedy in the new year via sewing classes from my mother.) I had no idea what I wanted our stockings to look like, but I love patterns and texture. And I can embroider.

Christmas Stockings 1
I purchased some ready-made, extra large (we love things in our stockings and the nuts, candies, and fruit take up a lot of space) stockings for cheap. I went to my fabric craft reserve and picked out some vintage fabrics and a set of green striped sheets. The stockings had white furry cuffs at the top, so I removed the cuffs and used the size as a general guide for the new green-striped cuffs I added.

Embellishment was a difficult choice, but I decided to use a winter/Christmas theme–snowflakes for me, Christmas trees for Rob. If we ever need to make some more stockings in the future (ie – if we ever have kids), I’ll probably do one with presents, or stars, or gingerbread men shapes; the possibilities are endless! I cut snowflakes and trees out of the vintage fabrics and tacked them on with some glue and embroidery – french knots and running stitches. I used my laptop to lay out our names in a script font and then traced the names through the green-striped sheet using a fabric pen and relying on the light of my laptop for the tracing. I embroidered our names with a crewel yarn to give them some oomph.

Detail Shot 1

Detail Shot 2

The last step was sewing the new cuffs on to the stockings. I did it all with very simple stitches (by hand), but they are surprisingly sturdy. The overall product is pretty rustic, but I’m really pleased with them. The fabrics are so pretty, and I love the green striped cuffs with the red stockings. I’ve saved the sheets & vintage fabrics in a special box, so if we do ever have kids I can use the same method to make new ones! (Or if I ever feel like doing stockings for all the animals!)

Christmas Stockings 2

Chocolate Kahlua Pecan Pie

For Thanksgiving festivities this year, I made/created a Chocolate Kahlua Pecan Pie. I know some pecan pie lovers are purists and against adding other ingredients to their traditional pecan pie, but I am not. And I love chocolate…and liquor! There’s nothing better to add to a pecan pie to make it even better!
Read more

2007 Sputnik Tree Topper Competition

Inspired by the sundry Sputnik-style tree toppers on Ebay, Erin and I decided to hold a sputnik tree topper competition.

View the Results

First Christmas Tree

My First Big Christmas Tree

I’ve put up my first ever full-size Christmas tree. It’s a retro aluminum tree with a color wheel light. It’s so pretty (even if I do say so myself)! Look for the sputnik tree topper competition later on Julepstyle.

Fat Cracker

The perfect hors d’oeuvre for any Champagne Thursday is Fat Cracker. I don’t know the original names for these divine little appetizers, but they really should just be called Fat Crackers. Bacon fat baked into club crackers with melted, bubbly Parmesan cheese. Yummy. I’m lucky–because my metabolism is so high, I can eat a million Fat Crackers and still not gain any weight! (haha, I wish.)

The Recipe

Cheesy Pineapple Casserole

Now that the post-Thanksgiving Rush has settled down, and I’m looking at the home stretch for my exam studying (12/5 & 12/6), It’s time to post some new recipes.

The Recipe