Tag Archives: diy

Ditching the Tree for an Alternative

The first snow of the season was a beast. A snowplow busted the mailbox right off the post, a total of about 18 inches fell, and part of the lilac bush in the front yard of the house cracked away from the rest.

Solstice tree

When my dad was here for this past holiday weekend, I told him how I was thinking of bringing in the busted part of the lilac bush, a large branch indeed, and using it as a seasonal tree inside the house. Dad used the big snippers took the branch off the rest of the way, and upon closer inspection, there are buds on there.

Solstice tree

We’re forcing narcissus and amaryllis bulbs, the ones in the pictures below, and Colin thought maybe the branch would leaf out if treated the same way.

Solstice tree

Solstice tree

I collected some stones from the gravelly roadside. I’m lucky that the plow has uncovered a bunch of good stuff on that will work for this purpose. After carefully rinsing all of the rocks of any potential road salt, Colin and I used them to hold the lilac branch upright in a planting pot. The planting pot, inside of a bucket, is super stable and can hold water without making a mess. I can also see the level of the water, should it need refilling.

Solstice tree

It came out great. There are some advantages to having a tree like this in the house. No dried out needles all over the floor, completely free of cost (you could use a downed branch easily), and you can see the ornaments really well. Things work a little differently, like how the lights can be strung. In some ways, this branch is stronger and can hold larger ornaments in places, but instead of the structure going from wide to tall as it goes up, it’s the opposite. I went for wrapping the main sections of the branch only. Still plenty of lights.

Solstice tree

Solstice tree

Solstice tree

Solstice tree

I don’t have a lot of holiday stuff, as I’ve worked down a lot of my not-so-needed possessions. I hold myself to one storage bin worth of stuff for this holiday, ornaments, lights and all. I do have some knick knacky things, and I like to subtly have the same things as always in the space, but done up a little to brighten things up, like putting tiny fake lights on things, or having books around and about that are holiday themed.

Solstice tree

Solstice tree

Decorating isn’t that important to me, really. Marking the season with some kind of ritual is. I’m looking forward to the days getting longer and for some news from people via mail and holiday cards. That’s the important stuff. Don’t sweat trees or buying ornaments if you don’t have the means, the room, or the energy. You’re better off taking long walks in snowshoes, or making sure you feel the sun on your face if it gets warm one afternoon, know what I mean? It’s what you do, not the stuff, that helps you mark the year and welcome the season.

Elizabeth City has great lights.

Holy Carp, I Made Something

That’s right, I made a cushion cover. Our old one was beat, but we still had the foam part which floats just fine. I picked a couple of cheerful colors and BAM! Jaunty new cushion cover. Of course, these photos are like the “magic of television” type cooking shows from the 80s that would leave out all the bad trial runs and the mistakes and give you a beautiful reveal at the end that’ll leave you thinking it was real easy. It totally wasn’t. It took me the better part of two days’ class time, which is embarrassing to say, but only a little bit.

I made a cushion cover with piping and everything! The first thing I've ever sewn. #sewing #beginner #woodenboatschool #diy

I’m really new at all this, and I’m enjoying that squirming, uncomfortable feeling that you get when you’re learning something new. There’s danger in it. There’s wasted time and wasted material. There’s seam-ripping and surprise. There are multiple attempts. There are slow starts.

Some people who really hate learning don’t relish that discomfort, and that’s probably the only thing between them and that thing they’d really like to do. But think of the stuff that could hold you up from doing! (How to speak a new language, how to play a new instrument, how to bake that complicated cake, how to navigate a new city.)

If I have only a couple of talents, they are these two things: I enjoy the discomfort of newness and I enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy the place I’m trying to get to. Are those talents or attitudes? Well, I’d hate to think that anyone would willingly adopt an attitude that would make them miserable most of the time, so let’s call them talents. Talents that could be learned.

Here are some photos of the process and our great space, but just a few.

Working on my piping.

My zipper panel and the cushion top, ready to attach.

Oh man, that thin is ready to turn right side out so I can see the magic!

James working in "the pit" with the machine named "Robin." #sailing #sailloft #diy #woodenboatschool

John at his beautiful old machine, Ann in the background working on her beautiful flowery cushions.

Oh heck, it’s Woodenboat School. One more photo. Here’s a picture of a wooden boat on campus.

ELATER out of the water for the season. #woodenboat #beetlecat #catboat #sailing