Christmas tree decorating habits

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Lot’s of people have there Christmas tree already put up. In Germany maybe not als long as in the US. In my family the tree was brought to the house late on the 23rd or in the morning of Christmas Eve. For us it has always been a real tree. And those need to unfold a bit before being decorated.

When I grew up my mom used to decorate the tree. Usually after she was done with preparations in the kitchen and when my dad took over to prepare his part of the Christmas dinner. (but that is a story for another day.) We children didn’t get to see the tree until Christmas Eve after church. What was usually early evening.

Our tree was rather traditional with some silver balls, wooden toys, straw stars and some chocolate rings with sprinkles (who knows which ones I mean?!). Also there were some more wrapped chocolate figurines. And we had real candles. We had the tradition of undecorating the tree after New Years when we were allowed to pick one of the candies daily from the tree.

I do not know how long this practices lasted. There was a year when I had an idea for a different decorated tree and suggested it to my mom. That was the year when tradition changed and my mom and I started to decorate it together. The “new” tree was decorated mainly by natural things: dried fruits, pinecones, nuts, cinnamon sticks, star anise and such. What we kept was the real candles. Instead of the Christmas balls we used apples. My parents still do that and when I spent Christmas with them, that is the tree I am seeing. And often it is still my “chore” to decorate.

natural christmas treeTo be honest I can hardly remember the first version of the tree and I doubt my little sister knows we once had a different tree.

As you can see the concept of changing up the Christmas decoration yearly as some people do is rather foreign to me – not that I don’t admire that.

So it comes to no surprise that in my own home and with my own tree I also follow the same theme year in and year out. My tree now is always silver and white. Over all it is a rather simple version of a tree. It all starts with white and silver balls. (We received those as a wedding gift by my aunt to be always reminded of snow. I thought that was one great gift.) And then I add my real candles. I have never had a tree with electric lights and wouldn’t even know how to get them on there. In the first years I created one new ornament every year and added them to the tree. I am now at a point were I do have enough and can’t hang all. I do collect some cute little ornaments like my silver bells or my little pottery trees.

white silver christmas treeSince we are usually spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with family I decorated my tree on the 23rd. But I will not light candles before Christmas. It just doesn’t feel right.

I usually take down the tree around January 6th. Often I am a bit lazy though. Because one disadvantage of using real candles is that it will make a huge mess. I have to clean all my glass balls and the candle holders and often the floor. It’s not done in an hour. But it is worth all the trouble to me.

The whole tree decorating business is quite different with everyone. I know a lot of people who do it like I have done all my life and the tree is only being put up Christmas Eve. But I feel like in recent years the trees are being decorated earlier and earlier. Some beginning of Advent some when ever it suits.

I got a real cultural shock when I spent my year in the U.S. and was rather perplex when right after Thanksgiving Dinner a big box was open, a fake Christmas tree unfolded and ornaments put up. It was so weird seeing the tree 5 weeks leading to Christmas. What I really enjoyed though was all the presents being collected underneaths. I liked that tradition a lot and adopted that. What really blew my mind though was when Christmas Day right after everyone open the presents the big box was put out again and the tree put back in the attic. I was really dumbfounded with that. For me Christmas was just beginning and here my host family was done with it. If someone asks me I often say that I didn’t really had a Christmas in 1999.

It is so interesting how everyone is having so different traditions and rituals. So if you have a few minutes to spare please let me know how your tree looks like and when you are putting it up.

Wishing you a wonderful Merry Christmas and the best of times with all your loved ones,

Tobia

Little Beech Nut Bells in Red and White – Tutorial

creative DIY_beech nut bells decoration

Yes, I think the Holiday Season has started for me. Today I want to share another tutorial for this those cute beech nut bells in red and white with you.

I really don’t know how I came up with the idea. I think I was talking one of my walks through the park or my favorite cemetery and just saw those beech nuts lying all around on the ground. Don’t they look like little calyx or bells? And then weeks later I was shopping and came across those festive little red bells.

 

Suddenly a picture popped up in my mind and I just had to do it. But let me tell you. It is not that easy to find beech nuts early in November. They were hiding right under all the wet leaves. Of course I had to go hunting for them when it was drizzling and muddy.

Anyhow I did found some. I put them on the radiator to dry and to open them up a bit more. The rest was pretty simple.

creative DIY_beech nut bells tutorial

  1. I painted the beech nut white. I used regular acrylic paint.
  2. Got my little bell.
  3. I used silver wire and made an eyelet on one end (for the bell) and a knot on the other end.
  4. I painted the wire a hot red with nail polish as I think it looks better.
  5. I assembled the wire and the bell.
  6. I heated up the glue gun and gave a good amount of glue in the beech nut and stuck the wire knot in it. Sometimes I had to adjust the length a bit so it looked good. I just wrapped a bit more wire around the know until I liked it.
  7. I glued some ribbons on as well. If I do it again I might choose white and smaller ones but hey it is very festive and Holiday like.

creative DIY_beech nut bells detail

What do you think? Would you hang them on your tree? I would. Maybe not red and white but white and silver (who would have thought HAHA).

Happy crafting,

Tobia

linked to creadienstag | Dienstagsdinge | Handmade on Tuesday | MMI | Freutag | Weihnachtszauber

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Pine Needle Wreath – Advent Wreath 2017

pine needle advent wreath | adventskrank aus nadeln

Hey there,

Writing my advent wreath posts is the sole reason this blog exists. Yes, pretty sure it is true. This year I want to share a Pine Needle Wreath with you. Not a regular pine wreath but one made of needles.

You may wonder what the difference is? Oh there is one! Mainly time. But lets start from the beginning!

Remember my post about the Pine Needle Star? Ever since than I had the idea in my mind that those needles are meant for more. I knew I wanted to do something with them when they were still green and fresh and looked vibrant. Then I came across this idea on Pinterest. I was thinking about doing that but of course I didn’t get around.

Some things need time. So I thought about it a bit more. And then it hit me – somewhere, sometime. Use the single needles and glue them to a wreath form.

OK, so tutorial this year is pretty simple and all you need is:

♥ wreath form, preferably wrapped green
♥ glue gun
♥ pine needles, I used black pine needles but you could use other that are bit longer
♥ time, lots of time and a bit more time oh and don’t forget patience

1. I started out wrapping my wreath form with a white paper because I lacked fabric.

pine needle wreath | nadel adventskranz

If I could redo it I would use a dark green fabric. As the wreath will be see through at certain places depending on your viewing angle it really doesn’t look too great. I had to glue in more decorations than I originally intended to due to that.

2. Start glueing pine needles in little batches to the form. Layering them so that you cover the entire wreath form.

The smaller your wreath form the shorter your needles should be. Otherwise the wreath looks rather messy.

3. Once you are done you can seal the needles from loosing color with simple hairspray.

simple pine needle wreath | krank aus Tannennadeln

And that is about all you need to do. Unfortunately it does take forever. This advent wreath is by far the most work intense one I have done in the last 15 years. I think I worked a solid 8 hours on it. However I love the look of it and think it was worth all the time. This idea was in my head for so long it just need to be executed.

pine needle advent wreath | krank aus tannen nadeln

Now let me know, would you attempt it or is it just too much effort?

Happy advent prepping,

Tobia

pine needle wreath | nadel advent kranz

linked to MMI | Freutag | Kerstin & ichWeihnachtszauber

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Spicy Chai Cookies – My all Time Favorite

You know how much I love this season by now. And I might have mentioned here and there that I am totally baking crazy.

spicy chai cookies the best

I remember one year where I bought 12 kg of flour and baked it all in one weekend. It was insane. I am not doing that anymore but I am still baking way too much. I mean there are just so many fun recipes out there. But than there are the all time favorites. And the repertoire gets larger with every year…

baking spree
I have this unwritten rule with myself: For every known/proofed/favorite recipe I bake there must be an unknown one. This way it is not getting too boring but at least 50% of the cookies taste good.

One year I made 12 different cookies. So it was a surprise the other day when I realized there is not one Christmas Cookie Recipe on this blog. Time to change that and today I spill my most favorite recipe of recent years.

Spicy Chai Cookies

spicy chai cookies

While I love cookies and sugared goodies this time of year it just sometimes gets too much. And that is when those cookies com in. They change up the cookie jar with it’s spicyness and a bit savory taste.

What you need:
∗ 125 g butter, soft
∗ 75 g sugar – I usually use about 50 g
* 1 pinch of salt
* 1 egg
* 4 bags of Yogi tea / chai tea – I only use the ones based on black tea and found this one to be the best
* 1/2 tsp grounded pepper – sometimes I add more
* 100 g brittle
* 250 g flour
* 1 egg yolk
* 2 tbs milk
* 2 packs of vanilla sugar

Directions:

1. Whisk butter, sugar and salt until smooth. Add the egg.

2. Cut open tea bag and put into a bowl. Add half of the tea, pepper, 50g of brittles and flour to the butter mix. Knead until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Try not to eat too much dough.

3. Preheat oven to 160-180°C. Roll dough onto floured surface and either cut cookies with knife or use a cookie cutter. Put bookies on baking sheet lined with baking paper.

4. Mix egg yolk and milk and coat cookies. Add remaining brittles and vanilla sugar to the remaining tea and cover cookies. Bake for about 7-10 minutes until golden and crunchy.

spice cookies

This makes for approx. 100 cookies. And they usually don’t last long. Unfortunately! My supply this year is already gone. Maybe I make another batch.

What is your favorite cookie recipe? Please share I always want to try new recipes.

Happy baking

Tobia

10 Creative Book Ideas & a Give-Away

It’s about time to make a little list to sent to Santa Clause, right? I usually have a tough time telling people what I wish for when asked.

I love getting books. In my family it was common to get at least one book. In the last couple years however I missed my books. So maybe I have to conciously but them back on the list to get some. Because who can have enough books, right?!

The following lists are all books I own and like (click on the headlines). Maybe an inspiration if you need to be Santa Clause. So lets get started:

1. Der große humboldt Fotolehrgang

I have been looking for a while before I actually decided on this photo course book. And I still believe it is one of the best out there. This book focuses on the technical equipment and the workings of light, aperture, focus and speed rather then the artistic design and com positioning rules. I prepared with this book to take the wedding pictures of my sister and I hear no complains. I especially like that there is a whole chapter of exercises you can take to practice all the different options and get to know your camera.

2. Schmuckgestaltung heute – innovative Materialien und Techniken

This book is my discovery of the recent years. I found it when I signed up for the library after oh so many years. It’s a book talking about all the different materials and techniques of jewelry design. It’s not a real DIY book with step-by-step instructions. While they show the technique on one example its more an inspiration book. I love it because my mind starts going off with ideas. There is a sequel about” textile jewelry design” but I heard it’s not that great. Does anyone woe it?

3. Fang an mit Kork – 35 Einfache DIY-Projekte **

Now this is the third book by my blogging friends Jutta and Maike. And as the first two “Fotowohnsinn” and “Porzellanfieber” it’s another firework of DIY ideas. I specially like that first of all the materials are introduced. Did you know that there is cork fabric? Or cork paper? Now this opens up so many possibilities. The good thing is they have tested it all and give instructions on how to use which material and when. I like that.

My favorite project is probably the belt made of cork fabric with punched stars. But I also like the different boxes and baskets made of cork paper. It makes simple origami so much more sophisticated. And the star tea lights make such warm light I think I need to make some for Christmas. Well you see, lots to discover in this book.

4. P.S. – I made this… Ich mach das selbst

This book is the first blogger book I owned. Erica is blogging on PS. I made this… and I think this is her first book. After she explains the tools (she colored them all gold! it looks so cool) she shows projects for jewelry, accessories and fashion. Every project has six pages, one introduction page, one page with a  mood board and then 2-4 pages for instructions. In the end there is a link list for further reference and shopping. I like this inspiration book and for DIY beginners it’s a good start because of the step by step tutorials.

5. Tolle Taschen selbst genäht

This is a book I have probably used most. I think I’ve done 3 or 4 bags. And while I don’t like them all it’s a great way to sew together because most likely everyone will find a pattern. I had a craft afternoon with my godchild and we both made new ones and spent a great day together. I also like that there are a number of accessories and embellishments as well as instructions on how to turn plastic bags into fabric to sew with.

6. Schnittkonstruktion in der Mode – Band 1 Grundschnitt

Another really great basic book. I have taken two courses on pattern design and this was the basis for the course. I believe you can learn pattern design just by this book. While I haven’t done an entire pattern based on my measurements (lazy anyone?!) I have a much better understanding of how to alter things or see in if a bought pattern would fit. I say it’s definitely a win.

7. Natürlich schick gestickt – Deko, Accessoires und mehr

Finding this book in the list is actually funny because I wouldn’t say I am big on stitching. However this book shows some fun projects. Most of all I like that in the beginning of the book you have a section where materials and stitches you need to use are explained.  Every project comes with a little stencil so you can get going right away. Some projects are are easy (notebooks with stitched arrows) while others leave me totally awestruck (tiger on a sweater). One of my advent calendar ideas was inspired by this book.

8. Ein Guter Plan

What discovery this one is. And an adventure…

As always I was looking for a planner. Usually I get my moleskin one and I am happy. But lately I was thinking about starting a happiness diary for 2016. But then two books to carry… And of course blog planning, right? So when I came across this planner my heart took a beat. At first glance it seemed like a combination of all and then stories and articles about happiness and mindfulness and such. And it was a crowd funding project. Nothing I’ve ever done before. When they added a black version I jumped and secured me my very own. You can get yours until December 7, 2015 and they ship before Christmas. Yeahh!

9. Die Kunst, aufzuräumen

This is just one book of a series. I like the idea and I love how he takes simple everyday pictures or well known art pieces and “cleans them up”. It opens a whole new perspective on things. This is just an eye candy book for the end.

10. Persönlicher Kalender & a chance to win your own

First time I heard about “Persönliche Kalender” was in 2013. I loved the concept of getting your own personalized calendar. Back then it seemed a first.

I got mine in 2014 I. The materials and paper are great. I personally thought the design on the pages was a bit childish. I would have loved to be able to change colors in the modules. Since then the calendars have evolved and there are lots of fun covers if you don’t want to upload your own picture. There are continuously being new modules added and the possibilities are so much broader than two years ago. They now even offer wall planners.

Every year they cooperate with an artist who is then designing covers. This year it’s Sofie from Fia Lotta Jansson – a lettering artist. Just in October I had the chance to meet Paula and her team at a lettering workshop with Sofie here in a Berlin. Of course we were working with their notebooks. And I really really love them. The paper is great for lettering. And you can choose between a bunch of page designs like ruled, squared and square dotted or even sheets of music. The dotted is perfect for practicing lettering. And they also offer gadgets like pens, and rulers and such to go with your planner.

The Give-Away

cover persönliche Kalender

And the greatest thing is: I have a little gift for you! Leave a comment about your favorite DIY or creative book and have a chance of winning a 33,90€ voucher to get your own calendar or notebook. Now that’s something, right? And the best thing is: they ship worldwide! The winner will be drawn December 18 at 9pm and will be announced on instagram first so make sure to follow me there. And if you don’t want to wait that long or need to get a present beforehand use the code: L-ETTE-RING and save 10%.

Now please share your recommendations on fun and educating DIY books so I can add some to my list.

Happy gift shopping,

Tobia

 

*This post contains affiliate links when you click the headlines. If you buy a book through this link I get a few cents and can get another great book myself. So thank you!

**This book has been sent to me for a review by the Landwirtschaftsverlag. The enthusiasm is all mine.