Friday, November 30, 2018

The Best of Orlando's Festival of Tree 2018, Part 2


I've got a full course of antibiotics in my veins, a song in my heart, and a raging case of insomnia.

Who wants to look at more Christmas trees?! (And wreaths.)

Let's start with a fun one, which I will present in the form of a riddle:

Q: What do you do when you're stumped for a tree topper? 

A: You take a cue from Captain Picard:


(Hoo boy, you're getting 4:30-in-the-morning Jen right now, gang. Sorry/YOU'RE WELCOME.)

This tree was sponsored by a local fabric store - so genius theming - and was covered in hundreds of pretty trims and fabric scraps:

Check out the garland; this would be a fun way to use leftover fabric:

I also like the idea of covering ornaments in fabric, like little wrapped presents!

Next, another bright green and bronze beauty:

That ribbon placement... I think I like it?

This tree had rotating ornaments - super fancy - but my favorites were the mini terrariums:

It doesn't show well in photos, but those terrarium balls were gorgeous in person. Like little hidden worlds tucked inside the branches!

The best part of this next tree was introducing John to the term "Putz House," which he 100% thought I was making up, and even looked mildly scandalized when I said it again - loudly - as a group of elderly ladies walked by.

Putz Houses are little paper Christmas houses like this, though, promise. :D

This tree was FULL of pretty Putzes (hee), but the best is that church topper with the tissue paper windows:

The snowy shelves at the base of each house are clever, too; really helps the houses stand out.

There were TWO Nightmare Before Christmas trees this year, here's the second:

Obviously I'm a big fan of the colors - all that orange! - and I'm pretty sure the designer used actual Halloween ornaments, since some are painted like eye balls. :D

Not sure what all the Jack topper is made from, but it's perfect. Great spriggy bits.

If you like peppermint and/or candy canes, then hold on to your pointy elf socks:


The off-set hat topper is clever; I'd never think to place it like this:
The red fabric poinsettias and swirly canes are my favorites, pure whimsy, very Suessical.

Plus notice the tree base:

It's just a wrapped box! So hey, if you find a wrapping paper you absolutely adore, why not make a tree base out of it?

I don't think I edited this next photo at all; the tree was just THIS bright:

The lights were an intense blue-white, very glowy, but hard to see much ON the tree. That makes it kind of cool, though, right? (Pun intended. Always.) I'd love to play with a design of suuuper bright lights in the middle and darker elements and colors on the outside - like a super nova tree. Oooh, or a galaxy tree! YAAAS. (Purple & blue lights on the outside, with a smattering of white twinkles? And planet ornaments? Someone make this happen.)


The base looks like a little foot ottoman with the top taken off:


Now, THIS feels like a time for...


At least we think it's a cow. It was funny listening to other people guess as they walked by; the best runner-up was "giraffe." 

I'm all about checker board patterns, though; it's just so Wonderland, right? So of course these two had me... [sunglasses]... losing my head:

The urge to tuck a few playing cards in these - and a half-painted rose - is darn near overwhelming.

I love the door mount, too!

I've never been one for the Farmhouse Chic style (I like rustic, just not chickens?), but with that said, this wreath is friggin' fantastic:

The use of chicken wire is inspired, and whatever that rusty fan thing is on the bottom, I like it.

Back to trees with this whooooole mess o' white:
It's.. a lot.

I studied this topper from all angles. The bunch of balls is fascinating, which is why I'm including it:

Still, it either needs something or a whole lot LESS somethings, right? This would be a fun bubble effect if you had a big glass or champagne bottle up there, though.

Speaking of tree toppers with big balls [WINK] :

I think this one may have dropped a little [WINK], but I'm digging that gumball-on-top silhouette.

The ornaments were mega sparkly with an Art Deco vibe, lots of crystal and glittery chains:

Here comes a mini tree with another Putz House in the middle:

Again using the tree like a frame with an inner shelf - so good!

(If I have time this week [cue hysterical laughter] I'm hoping to make something fun to tuck inside our Huffle Tree like this. Where's that time turner when you need one?)

Ah! And here's a Putz House wreath:

Really appreciating how this wreath is more berries than greenery.

This Japanese mini-tree is stunning, you guys:
Relatively simple, but it just WORKS - the proportions, the bold colors, the extra flowers. So good.

You don't see much dusky pink on trees these days, but I'll allow it if it comes with butterflies:

Also the lime green - again, so popular this year! - really makes it zing.  The silhouette is more modern, too; look how those branches break out from the sides and top.

Inside there are lime orchids & funky seed pod things:

Another great offset topper:
I like the lower bow with the butterfly off to the side.

This one has a glamorous retro vibe, with it's Sputnik topper and capiz shell poinsettia:

Consider this a foreshadowing of John's favorite tree, still to come. [eyebrow waggle]

And here's my favorite wreath of the Festival:

Those colors! All the brown branches with the bright red berries and that cool contrast of the aluminum poinsettia in the middle? Mmmmm. Took me a minute to spot the kissing birds in the corner, they're the feathery cherries on top.

I don't know what to call this next "tree"; it's more like a garden trellis? But so magical:

Look at that mossy base! Like a cross between a Christmas tree and a fairy house.

OK, a fairy with big feet.

Another decor piece that defies description:

 It's like a rock garden made of pine cones. I like it.

Btw, as a Floridian who grew up with a yard full of pine cones, it's pretty galling to shell out big bucks for them now to craft with. I mean, have you priced out pine cones lately? They're expensive! Who knew??

And finally, here comes John's favorite tree of the Festival: a classic 1950s style in dramatic black and gold:

Photos don't do it justice, because this tree was covered in vintage style bubble lights:

Bubble lights live up to their name, and have constant "boiling" bubbles inside their little glass candles, which is mesmerizing to watch. Here's a quick video snippet of them in action:



 (Sorry, I forgot to take out the background noise - hope it's not too loud.)

In addition to the bubble lights, black velvet garland, and that old fashioned gold tinsel that makes every cat owner quake inside (NOOOO), there were matte black ornaments of vintage TV sets and telephones:

This whole tree makes me think of I Love Lucy and old-school Hollywood glamour. Love it.

K gang, that does it for my Festival favorites this year! If you'd like to see ALL of my Festival photos I've got them over on Flickr, so go see those if you're curious.

John and I are down to the final week before the big Potter party, so I'll try to get a big update posted soon: just have to clear enough of the disaster zone to take some photos for you guys!

Oh, and final health update, since so many of you have been messaging lovely words of concern & encouragement: I'm mostly up and about now, but the ear/sinus infection is clinging on like Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow. (I had no idea my CHEEK could hurt this long, whaaa?) I worry I may need another course of antibiotics, so if you could send some good juju, vibes, prayers, and virtual snuggly hugs my way, I'd dearly appreciate it.

I love you guys, and yeah, I get pretty sappy about it sometimes, but PROUDLY SO. Y'all make me want to be a better me - the one too many of you already think I am, if that tortured string of grammar makes any sense. So thanks, hugs, and watch this space for incoming MAGIC.


  1. "make it sew" hahahahahahahahahahahaha
    I was trying to think of an episode where Picard used a sewing machine and then I scrolled down and saw that line and laughed and laughed and laughed. I thought it was hilarious.

  2. Oh my gosh! My mom has a ton of those houses that her mom had! I had no idea there was a name for them! I think I even have a few, pullin out all the Christmas stuff tonight if I find them I’ll share some pics! Thanks for making me excited to pull out the stuff! Yay! (I mean... I was excited but I’m exhausted.... and this is like the only night I have to do it.... so. I WILL! CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE!)
    ~Katy Millay

  3. Seeing that "whole mess o'white" tree reminded me of the tree at my aunt's reirement village. Teal and white, with a sea theme, including glass jellyfish ornaments with beaded tentacles. The topper was a spray of white sea grass. It was beautiful. I wish I had taken a photo to share with you!

    1. That sounds gorgeous! John and I were just saying we need a sea-themed tree soon, since I have a small collection of seahorse & octopus ornaments.

  4. Many thanks for the earworm...😉😄

  5. Oh I loveeeeee the dusky pink one! Very unexpected but it totally works.

  6. Oh it's a cow alright! It's a Mackenzie-Childs cow. The checkerboard pattern is their Courtly Check design. I know this because M-C's home is in Aurora, NY, which is a 20 minute drive from me. M-C is stupid expensive and popular with celebrities and a lot of my friends are obsessed with it. Here's proof of my story!

  7. I have a friend who makes Putz houses and sells that you assemble. Check out his blog
    Glad you are both feeling better. Maybe by Christmas you will be back to 100%.

  8. Whoever termed the tiny houses "Putz" houses knew no one that spoke Yiddish. "Putz" is one of the many euphemisms the language has for "penis," and also "idiot." Sometimes they're one and the same. Probably why those old ladies at the exhibit were shocked. Speaking of Yiddish and other things Jewish: Did you see anything Hanukkah related? Have you ever encountered a geeky menorah or dreidel? Just curious.

    1. Well, putzen in German means "to clean", and Putzfrau is a cleaning woman. Doesn't really relate to houses either, though!

    2. We use the term "putz" to mean idiot all the time - but oops, didn't know it meant dong, too, ha!

      I saw someone claim that "putz" in German meant "to put" - which honestly still makes zero sense for the houses. I bet they DID know Yiddish and were just trolling all of us. :p

      Nothing Hanukkah related, sadly, though I think I have seen one or two geeky menorahs online before. It's definitely a wide open market, retailers should get on that!

    3. In this case Putz means "a decoration or ornament in the Nativity tradition usually placed under a Christmas tree" and is from Pennsylvania Dutch/Deutsch Putz, meaning "anything adding to outer comeliness, especially 1. groomed appearance of a human body; 2. plaster, render applied to buildings (mixture for coating walls and ceilings)". This is from the German Putz, meaning "ornament, decoration, finery", from the verb putzen, meaning "to clean; to groom oneself, to beautify; to decorate". The "fool; idiot" and "penis" meanings in Yiddish are ironic/joking -- someone who thinks too well of himself [i.e. thinks he looks fancy when he doesn't], and… an "adornment", lol. [There's also a theory that the Yiddish word was borrowed from the German as a replacement for a similar-sounding Romanian word with the same vulgar meaning/s.]

    4. Oh, and it has nothing to do with the English word "put" -- that translates to German as stellen, legen, or setzen. Some sites about Putz houses like to claim this etymology, but it's simply incorrect.

  9. I can see why John liked that last tree - Hufflepuff colours and "magicky" bubble lights! I've never heard of bubble lights but they are mesmerizing!

    I love the fairy/moss tree - so different. My cats would have a great time hiding out in between the trellises.

  10. The "weird fan thing" is supposed to be the top of a windmill. My mom would absolutely love that wreath I'm with John, I like the black and gold tree with bubble lights :)

  11. This was worth the wait. Your festival of trees post is my very favorite of the year. I sit down with a cup of coffee while the little ones nap and just savor it.

  12. This was SO inspiring and gave me some WONDERFUL ideas for my tree next year as we have a local FOT which raises money for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates help children navigate the foster system.) This year I did a Chesapeake inspired tree I called 'Come Sail Away'... I don't know how to include a pic but I'm pretty proud of it as I made all the sailboats by hand using driftwood for hulls, kabob sticks for masts and fabric for sails.

  13. I was curious about the putz houses, this had interesting info on them

  14. I love the trees!!! And Wreaths!!! Glad you're feeling better, and wishing you all the good productive vibes before your Potter Party! And sending all those good vibes, juju, hugs, etc AND virtual antibiotics (had strep, still on amoxicillin) so you're fully better in less than a jiffy!

  15. I also love "John's" tree! That is fantastic! Glad you're feeling better, sending all the good vibes your way...

  16. Ooooh, I love the fabric tree. That gives me some great ideas for fabric-wrapped ornaments!

  17. Speaking of "Make it sew" - the following priceless little clip popped up on my FB feed ...:

    Thx for the laughs and sharing all the pretties ...

  18. I've held off on this one to be able to see everything on a monitor and it sis not disappoint! My Mom is down that way for the winter and she doesn't get to go to our local Festival of Trees anymore. Is this anywhere near(ish) to New Smyrna/Port Orange? I'd love to tell her about it.


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