Happy New Year!

As we open the door to 2013, I thought I might look back on some of the final moments of 2012.

I photographed my mantle the Friday before Christmas - as promised - but never posted them because I was busy doing last minute holiday preparations. Better late than never, eh?

On the left side of the mantle I have a vintage(?) tree candle that I've used in years past, two cone trees I made this year, and a crystal jar full of Andes mints. It's not Christmas without those little chocolates. For a tree-making how-to, check out the bottom of the post!

On the right side of the mantle I have an all-white nutcracker I picked up at Home Goods, a gray sweater cone tree from Target (though I think you could easily DIY this with a craft cone, an old sweater and some sewing know-how), another vintage christmas candle and a folded paper Christmas tree I made. I was so excited thinking I had stumbled on a new craft idea until my mom told me my great-grandmother used to make these a looooong time ago. I was a little bummed she burst my bubble, but I'm glad to have something else in common with my late Granny. Again, see the tutorial at the bottom. Several of the mantle trees are elevated by Blomster candle sticks from Ikea. They're designed to hold pillar candles, but if you turn them upside down the flared bases make perfect little display platforms. I only recently added them to the mantle, but they're going to stick around even after the holidays.

The center of the mantle has some little tea lights and a rolled paper wall hanging - have I showed this to you yet? I'm thinking not - that both live there year round, with the addition of all the incoming Christmas cards and the brown paper wreath I made last year. Admittedly it was too small for the space when I made it, but I was making do with what I could get on the cheap. This year I like the idea of floating it in front of the wall hanging to fill up space but still add a bit of holiday cheer. I'm not a slave to the idea that Christmas has to be an explosion of red and green, so I'm just fine with a neutral mantle with a hint of color on the wall.

The last home item we added in preparation for Christmas was Luke's new tire swing! We installed it the day before Christmas - thank goodness for oblivious toddlers because you could clearly see this through the kitchen windows - and unveiled in Christmas morning as a gift from Santa. I would have loved to taken the credit on this one, but it's hard to wrap a whole tree so all the glory goes to the big guy in red. Here you can see the hubby testing it out to make sure the tree branch would hold the weight. So far, so good.

After the chaos of gift-opening had settled some of the "grown-ups" borrowed Luke's new remote controlled robot cars and created our own version of battle bots, with a taped off arena and everything. We called it Robot Slap Fight. It was awesome.

On New Year's Eve Luke's shaggy hair was getting to me so I gave him a haircut. I intended to just give him a trim, but things got a little tricky on the crown of his head so I gave up and buzzed it all. He always looks so grown up with short hair! After I was finished he said "Thank you Mommy. My hair's all better now!" Could he get any cuter?

Shortly after his haircut (and post-haircut bath) hubby and I left him in the capable hands of our family and headed to Greensboro to ring in the New Year with the Avett Brothers - my favorite band and the namesake of this blog. Here are some (terrible) photos as proof:

Since it was New Year's the coliseum was prepared with nets of balloons and confetti cannons to go off at midnight!

As if confetti and balloons weren't enough, those of us in the back of the arena got a special treat. Halfway through the show the band came over to a small stage right in front of us and played a mini-set for us. It was like I was back in college, seeing them in a tiny venue again!

Also, after all these years, I FINALLY bought an Avett Brothers t-shirt. I typically don't buy concert/band shirts when I'm at shows but then I always regret it once I get home. Not this time! Plus, I now have a new shirt-buying strategy for concerts: go to the merch booth as soon as the band leaves the stage after the regular set. While everyone else is clapping and screaming for the encore, you can rush right over to the merchandise and walk right up, no wait! Then you're back in your seat in time for the encore. Alas I can't take any credit for this, the idea was all my hubby's.

image source

So that's how I finished off 2012. I still have lots of Christmas goodies to eat so the holidays are going to last me well into the new year. How did you ring in 2013?

Without further ado, here are the tree tutorials...


Brown Cone Tree
time: 1-2 hours, depending on how thoroughly you glue
cost: $10 or less
- craft cone
- jute, or other thick twine
- hot glue gun, several glue sticks
- scissors
- starting at the bottom, wrap cone with jute and glue as often as needed - I glued pretty much the whole thing
- that's it, you're done

White Cone Tree:
time: 2-3 hours
cost: $10 or less
- craft cone (or make your own out of cardstock)
- crepe paper streamer
- silver sharpie, or whatever accent color you choose
- tape/glue
- scissors
- based on the height of your cone and the width of your streamer, mark where you want each layer to "sit" on the cone
- color a 1/2 inch accent band along the bottom of the streamer - the sloppier the better
- starting at the bottom, wrap the streamer (loosely) until it goes around the cone 3 times - cut streamer
- cut slits in the streamer, starting from the bottom, roughly 2/3 the way up - again, sloppy is fine
- wrap the streamer around the cone 3 times and tape/glue to secure
- repeat steps 2-5 for each layer until the cone is covered
- NOTE: be sure to line up streamer seams in the back of the cone - no one will see that part, so keep the front looking neat

Folded Paper Tree
time: 2-3 hours
cost: free, unless you have to buy a magazine
- magazine (I used an issue of Architectural Record, but something hefty like Cosmo or National Geographic is perfect - People or US Weekly would be too puny)
- bone folder (optional)
- I used this post by Homemade Mamas and it's pretty simple. They link to a separate video tutorial, but I didn't feel the need to watch it.
- just fold, fold, fold!

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