Craft · Holiday · How To

Wine Bottle Christmas Tree

For Christmas in July, I thought I’d share how I made my wine bottle Christmas tree. It’s a quick craft (well, it takes me less time now that I have done a few) and is a great way to have a tree out during this time of the year without having to dig one out from the attic or wherever you store your holiday decorations.

Supplies:

  • Green Wine bottle
  • 651 Vinyl: White for tree and various colors for ornaments, and gold for star
  • Wine bottle lights (multi-color)

6026FC46-0F69-4073-A89D-4732D26A1FA1The first step is finding the perfect wine bottle. I have been known to choose a wine based on the color and shape of the bottle. Sometimes it’s been good tasting wine, other times not so much because of course one of the steps is emptying the bottle and I do that by drinking it. This shape is perfect for the project as it’s the right size for the Christmas tree decal, a lovely shade of green for a tree, and it’s wide enough for the lights to settle into bottle.

The next step is finding a Christmas tree design. I use an SVG that is available on Design Space. The design I picked is easy to weed, place on the bottle, and has enough space between the branches to add some ornaments (which are also on Design Space).E7B9D547-1988-4D78-A385-79B932C3B81A

Now that I have all the pieces cut, I use transfer tape to get the tree from the backing sheet onto the bottle. For the star and ornaments, I just peel those off the backing sheet and place them on the bottle without using transfer tape. This works because of how small the pieces are. The decal size for the tree is 4 inches wide by 6 inches long, and the ornaments were 1 inch long (based on the tallest one as the design is with three), and the star was 1 1/2 inches long.

For those not familar with using vinyl, weeding is when the area of the vinyl that isn’t needed for the design is pulled away from the backing sheet. After that, transfer tape is placed on the design, and you rub the transfer tape down so the vinyl sticks to the tape. Most of the time, crafters will use a vinyl scraper tool to rub over the design and make it stick to the tape.

Now that decal is on the trasfer tape, I place the top of the tree onto the bottle and keep the remainder off the decal off the bottle by curling the tape up. I smooth/press the decal onto the bottle and work my way down, pressing and peeling the decal from the tape one set of branches at a time. One time I tried going from the bottom to the top to place the decal and found it didn’t work as well for me and the vinyl crinkled a bit when I was applying it. It’s also helpful with curved designs to make cuts on the tape (without cutting the design) so the tape can “bend/curve” more easily over a round surface. Once your tree is on the bottle, decorate it however you like or just leave it unadorned.

Last step is placing the wine bottle lights into the tree. You can use a solid color but I prefer multi-colored lights. The hardest part of the lights can be unwrapping them as they are usually wrapped pretty tight in the box they come in. When I’m putting the lights into the bottle, sometimes I’ll bunch some of the wire together so the lights are closer together. I also use the wooden handle of a skewer to arrange the lights in the bottle if I don’t like how they’ve “settled”. Just be careful not to poke the wire with anything sharp. Then I place the top on the bottle and turn on the switch. A lighted Christmas tree!

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Everyday Life · Holiday

The Holidays in December

joySince I’m doing a Christmas in July celebration on my blog and author Facebook page this year, I decided it would be nice to list all the holidays in December.

Chanukah (Hanukkah), this year is December 10. I checked a couple of resources online to find the correct spelling and found that both spellings are correct. Hanukkah is the spelling used the most, while Chanukah is the more traditional spelling. Chanukah is the celebration of the Jewish people fighting for freedom and to reclaim their holy temple. It lasts for eight days and is celebrated with a menorah lighting each night.

https://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/102911/jewish/What-Is-Hanukkah.htm

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/hanukkah

Winter Solstice, this year is December 21.  The winter solstice is the beginning of winter and also the shortest day of the year. After the solstice, days become longer as spring is coming and it is celebrated in many places. It happens twice a year, June in the Southern Hemisphere and December in the Northern Hemisphere.

https://www.britannica.com/list/7-winter-solstice-celebrations-from-around-the-world

https://www.history.com/topics/natural-disasters-and-environment/winter-solstice

Christmas, December 25. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and has also become a cultural and secular celebration for people throughout the world.

https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zkc86sg/revision/2

Kwanzaa, December 26. Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture held from December 26 to January 1, with gift-giving and a feast of faith, called Karamu Ya Imani. It was created by Maulana Karenga and first celebrated in 1966.

http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/kwanzaa-history

 

 

Books · Holiday · mystery

Release Day – Dash Away All

DashAwayAll coverToday is the release day for Dash Away All, the third book in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series. I was excited to combine Christmas in July and Christmas movies in this story.

Here’s a little bit about Dash Away All

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…Merry Winters is excited for her dream-come-true moment: being an on-site crafter for a Christmas movie. The tidings of joy are short-lived as she finds herself becoming a referee, dealing with a raging Ebenezer, participating in a bucket brigade, and finding evidence in a “murder.”

Is someone trying to stop the production or is it tied to a secret someone has on Luna Carmichael, the star of the movie and the queen of Christmas?

When Marie, Luna’s assistant, stumbles away from a car accident and dies, Merry believes the accident wasn’t quite so accidental. Was Luna or Marie the target? Merry finds more questions than answers, but one thing is certain: Everyone has an ulterior motive for being part of the production—including Marie.

After another murder, Merry wonders if the deaths are tied to a baby born long ago and abandoned. And more importantly, will Merry live long enough to find out?

notacreaturewasstirringTo celebrate the release of the third book in the series, the ebook version of the first book in the series, Not A Creature Was Stirring, is on sale for $0.99.  Better Watch Out (book 2) and Dash Away All (book 3) are $4.99.

Amazon Link

Nook Link 

 

cozy corner

And if you’d like to hear more about Dash Away All and me, please head on over for a listen to The Cozy Corner with Alexia Gordon.

Books · mystery

Cover Reveal: Dash Away All

DashAwayAll coverHere it is…the cover for Dash Away All, the third book in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series, and my ninth book with Henery Press.

In Dash Away All, Merry Winters is taking a break from her hometown of Season’s Greetings–and all her problems there–and heading to Indiana to become the on-site crafter for a Christmas movie. The tidings of joy are short-lived as she finds herself becoming a referee, dealing with a raging Ebenezer, participating in a bucket brigade, and finding evidence in a “murder.” Is someone trying to stop the production or is it tied to a secret someone has on Luna Carmichael, the queen of Christmas?

When Marie, Luna’s assistant, stumbles away from a car accident and dies, Merry believes the accident wasn’t quite so accidental. Was Luna or Marie the target? Merry finds more questions than answer and one thing is certain: everyone has an ulterior motive for being part of the production—including Marie. After another murder, Merry wonders if the deaths are tied to a baby born long ago and then abandoned. And more importantly, will Merry live long enough to find out?

I had a love-hate relationship with writing Dash Away All. I loved the story: the plot, taking Merry out of hometown and away from her family and friends, Christmas movie setting, some of the scenes (which caused some of my problems). It was a new challenge to write Merry without using the other characters I had grown to love in Not A Creature Was Stirring and Better Watch Out. I found I missed them a lot and Merry’s reasoning for getting involved just wasn’t strong enough without her having a personal tie as her love for her friends and family is her strongest driving force. In the fourth draft, I brought in a personal connection for her: Marie is Paul McCormick’s cousin.

And then there were the scenes I loved. Capital L.O.V.E.D. That made it really hard to get the right flow for the book as I wanted to use these chapters so badly I was forcing them into the story…which is probably why writing scenes as they come to me isn’t the method of writing for me. My love of a scene even had me starting the book at the wrong point. I wanted this scene so much but it made no sense at the beginning. If that scene took place there was no reason for the production to continue so it couldn’t be the reason for Merry’s investigation, so back to the typewriter. I rewrote the first quarter of the book four times before I finally found the right start for the book. And, I evidently had to concede that one scene I adored had no place in the book anymore. It was so hard to pull it out.

There was also another part of the story I struggled with and even when I turned in the book I still wasn’t quite happy with the ending but it was time for me to stop fighting with the manuscript (I had my deadline extended while I wrestled with it). The main problem was I have a few will-not-ever-do/write rules in my head. There are just some things I like steering clear of but these self-imposed rules placed restrictions on the story and didn’t allow it to flow naturally. By forcing the direction too much, it took out the emotion in the book. Everything was just happening because I wanted/needed it. (I’m keeping this part vague as I don’t want to give away a big part of the story.)

Fortunately, I have a wonderful editor who is patient and understanding of my angst and helped me get over the hurdle I created for myself and encouraged me to see that there was nothing wrong with “breaking” one of my rules. I’m now very happy and excited with this story, and I love it. It’s more authentic to itself–and all because in the end I said screw it and broke a rule.