Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pine Cone Topiary: Tutorial

When we were looking for rental houses last January and decided to move into the one where we now live, I knew it was going to be fun to bring out my decorations for Christmas. It had all the makings of a cozy, rustic Christmas....

The sealed brick floors....

The large stone fireplace....

Lots of wooden shelves perfect for displaying my Christmas decor....

And of course...

A large front window that faced the street (perfect for a Christmas tree!). I just love it when you go by someone's house and you can see their tree all lit up's like a cup of hot cider on a chilly day...warms you up inside. ;)

So I'm guessing you're expecting me to show you pictures of my holiday decor...actually no. I will (I promise!) in a day or so...but for now, I'm going to show you how to make a simple pine cone topiary using inexpensive craft store materials. Like me, you may already have these on hand. ;)


{ Pine Cone Topiary }

Things You'll Need:

  • Lots of miniature pine cones (I gathered these in Lynchburg, VA while on vacation)
  • Hot glue gun & sticks
  • Wooden rod measuring about 2 ft
  • Styrofoam to stick rod into + 2 3" Styrofoam balls
  • Bucket or pot
  • Gold craft paint
  • Moss (could use material, cranberries or pebbles)
  • Ribbon (optional)
Plug your glue gun in to get it heated up. You'll be using a lot of glue,
so make sure you have enough. (I used nearly a whole bag of mini sticks).
Start by wedging your Styrofoam (I used a ball that I had) into your pot.
Make sure it's not going anywhere, and if needed, glue the side to make sure
it's secure.

Stick your rod right in the middle of your Styrofoam, then paint it gold.
This will dry in minutes. Hot glue around the hole to make sure it's secure.

Skewer your Styrofoam balls and place evenly apart. Hot glue.

Paint the top 2 balls with the gold paint. This will
disguise the Styrofoam if the pine cones don't cover it completely.

Starting with the top ball, glue pine cones on beginning
at the top, then working your way down to the bottom, gluing cones
intermittently with the layer before it.

When you are finished gluing all the pine cones,
take your gold paint and gently brush all over the cones.
This will give it a little Christmas glam without taking away
from the natural pine cone texture and appeal.
Push your moss around the base and finish it off with a fun,
Christmas ribbon. :)

And there you have it!
Ain't she lovely?

Note: Cranberries, peppermints, or small Christmas ornaments would also look fabulous. Let your imagination run wild! ;)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This past week Alice, the dear lady I cared for, passed away.

She was a special lady. I'll miss her and will always cherish the memories I had with her.

She would make me laugh with her funny sayings, her New Orleans accent, and unique outlook on life. She used to always say, "laugh and the world laughs with you...cry and you cry alone."

I think Alice had a lot of sadness in her life. I think she felt very alone. I know she did. She didn't like to talk about her feelings that much, but occasionally I got a sneak peek into what she was dealing with........

She would talk to me......

...and I would listen.

I never felt like I had done enough for this lady. There was always something more I wanted or wished I could do for her, to make her life brighter...and her sadness go away. But at her funeral service I heard something that encouraged my heart....that made me think, "maybe I did make a difference"....

When her son got up to speak about his Mother, he spoke about the lady she had been, the people she had touched....and interestingly enough....the people who had touched her.

When people die we often ask, "did I do enough...did I tell them I loved them enough....hug them enough....listen to them."

I know I'll never feel like I did everything I could have ever done for her....but this past Monday made me realize that I did do something. Every flower arrangement, lunch or dinner outing, shopping trip, conversation, kind word, shower given, dry cleaning was something....and more importantly.....

It was consistent.

A few weeks ago I had decided I was going to leave my job with Alice at Caruth Haven Court to pursue my floral designing. I was only working 2 hours a day, 3 times a week...and I needed to be working a little more.

Then she passed away. And you know what? After being with her for two years....

I'm glad I never had to tell her I wasn't going to be seeing her on a weekly basis....

I'm glad I was a constant in her life and that she knew I was going to be there for her....

I'm glad I never got to say goodbye.

When her son stood up and spoke about how I had influenced his mother by my consistency, I felt humbled, and it made me realize how much we all need consistency. We need people in our lives that will always love and be there for us no matter what, we need people that are consistently prodding and pursuing us, digging deeper than the surface, and seeing our hearts. Consistency brings security, and although Jesus Christ is the One who brings true security, I firmly believe He uses believers to meet one another's needs.

We see what happens when there is a lack of consistency in a people's lives:

*Children whose parents leave them end up with lowers self esteem and insecurity as adults....

*People who move around a lot from place to place end up feeling restless and without having a sense of "home"....

*People whose friends come and go tend to feel disengaged, scared of closeness, and alone....

*Children (or adults) who get mixed messages from peers, parents or spouses (I love you, BUT...) may end up struggling with their identity and feel insecure....

*People who do not have somewhat of a daily schedule (children especially) will feel bewildered, chaotic, insecure, and inharmonious.

And on and on it goes.

We all need consistency. Yes, Jesus Christ is the Meeter of all needs....but how might he be wanting to use you (and live through you) in someone's life to meet this need?

How are YOU consistent?



Friday, December 4, 2009

Skitsofrenic Holiday?

Weird title? I know. I thought so too.

These words in conjunction passed from my lips the other day while I was pulling out the Christmas decorations. I was trying to reconcile why I was feeling so "blah" about decorating our house for the holidays. But I love Christmas! Why was I so down?

Maybe it's because I was doing it alone....

Maybe it's because I had hoped to be expecting this Christmas and it was settling in that I wasn't...

Maybe it's because I'm not a little girl anymore (I was last year, right? *wink*) and the magic was gone...

OR maybe....

Maybe it was something completely different. Okay, it was.

Do you ever feel like Christmas has a "split personality"? There's the festive side of Christmas tugging you one decorating, ice skating, baking, Christmas partying, gift-giving, tree-trimming, music listening, Christmas light viewing, Secret Santa-ing, shopping, cookie icing, the eggnog-ing...and on and on and on. What is this? Is this Christmas???

NO. Not exactly.

Then there's this entirely other side of Christmas that we as Believers all's the solemn side of Christmas that focuses on the birth of Christ. Around the holidays this shows it's face as singing Christmas carols in church, reading Luke 2 around the Christmas tree as a family, reaching out to someone in need, displaying a manger creche, reaching out to neighbors, or performing in a Christmas pageant. All good things. But is this Christmas?

NO. Not exactly either.

As I was decorating I was trying to bring both worlds together....trying to bring the JOY & MAGIC of the festive Christmas together with the solemn and peaceful Christmas, and it wasn't working for me. I wanted to feel magical and spiritual all in one...and I was failing. Key word: I. (remember that).

So what did I do? I went to the source I knew would bring immediate perspective and logic to the situation: MATTHEW. Isn't that what husbands are for? ;)

I told him what I was feeling, and within minutes I knew my problem. Thanks, Hun! He made me realize that yes, Christmas is a holiday where families get together and do fun things and yes...Christmas is a time to remember and celebrate the birth & LIFE of Christ our Saviour. But it's more than that. The only way to reconcile both "personalities" of Christmas was to go right to the One who brings all things together. (right after Matt in this case).

You see, I was trying to feel something or be something on my own. I was trying to conjure up magical "sugar plum" moments while at the same time being an adult and wanting to "bring Christ into Christmas"...after all, He's the Reason for the Season, right? I had forgotten that Christ in me could mean any number of things. Why is it so hard to remember that "bringing Christ into Christmas" doesn't mean ME DOING things? All it means is to let Christ live through me...and if HE wants to bake cookies, then let's bake cookies! Or if HE wants to decorate the house, then let's decorate the house! Or if HE wants to sing carols, trim the tree, have a party with friends, then that's what it shall be! We make it it so hard when really.....

It's sorta easy.

It's nice to read Luke 2 as a's kind to reach out to people in need....or do good deeds...or give to Salvation Army.....

But if this is YOUR're missing the out on the whole picture.....

Anybody can read, or give, or say the right things.....but their motive are all wrong. They may just be going through the motions cause it "feels right".

So what is Christmas???

It's like any other's Christ in YOU.....doing what He prods and leads you to do...

(with a little tinsel on top!) ;)



P.S._Matthew and I are going to pick out a tree today, and Christ in me is going to love it!