Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Orlando's Festival Of Trees 2022, Part 2

Happy post-Thanksgiving work week, gang, how ya hanging in?

John and I just sat down to go through all our planned December activities and posts, so I already need a nap, heh. The month fills up fast when you want to do ALL THE THINGS, right?

First things first, though, let's get our holiday sparkle on with the rest of my favorites from Festival of Trees! (Click here if you missed Part 1.)

Beginning with the last thing I expected at this swanky Festival: a Dollar Tree DIY.

A really GOOD Dollar Tree DIY, though.

Look closely; those are all DT plastic bowls stacked and glued together, with fairy lights tucked inside.

SO COOL. They made different designs by switching up the combinations of bowls!

The only parts not from DT are the trees on top, but maybe we could make a cone from clear DT cutting mats? Hmmm. Or really, some of these would made great stands without the tree: you could put candles or greenery on top instead.

Moving on to the slightly more realistic trees with a deliciously over-the-top Elvis theme:

The action figure topper wouldn't be my choice (too small!) but the rest of this "Blue Christmas" is perfection:

Toy guitars, records, gold sunglasses, and even tiny blue suede shoes:

Yesss. I'm not the biggest Elvis fan, but I'm all about committing to a theme.

Which brings me to my favorite Festival tree this year. That's right, you're getting it early this post, no need to scroll to the end!

Now at first glance, this tree isn't the most spectacular... but wait for it.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Orlando's Festival Of Trees 2022, Part 1

Happy Twinkle Light Season, friends! It's time for the Festival of Trees, my annual tradition of taking WAY too many Christmas tree photos, and then foisting them all on you so we can nerd out over design trends together.

Our Festival is held in the Orlando Museum of Art, and for the first time in YEARS (even pre-Covid) I'm thrilled to report the Festival has actually grown. I've been bemoaning the dwindling tree numbers for a good 4-5 years now, but this year they turned it around and filled nearly the entire museum! YASSSS.

Needless to say I have lots to share, so let's dive in.

This year's entry tree had flying cherubs over top, and was filled with iced berries and fluffy white birds:

I love that the tree sits on a giant mirror; reflects all the sparkles! I bet we could get the same look with a little mirrored foil/mylar wrapped around a foam board base. Eh?

See, the brain-storming has already begun.

The main hub has a few larger room vignettes:

I like all the extras like the swagged garland with those firework lights - which I reeeelly want for our Hobbit party. (Plus they make a cool tree topper!)

Here's a pretty woodlands theme, although the top looks a little bare:

Heart eyes for this owl ornament!

This flocked tree would look amazing against a darker wall:

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Turning A Friend's Home Into A Giant Gingerbread House, Part 2

Our last-minute gingerbread house project got a little out of hand; now I want to make ALL the cute giant sweets!

We're nearly done, though, so let me show you some fun DIYs:

1) Giant Wrapped Candies:

These are cheap and easy to make, but pack a HUGE punch. I love them so much.

Everything you need is at Dollar Tree: foil wrapping paper (1 roll = 2 candies), small zip ties, and these plastic containers:

Put the lids aside, you won't need them.

Wrap your container lengthwise with the foil...

...then gather up each end and zip-tie them tightly for that wrapped candy look.

I also wrapped two Dollar Tree plastic punch bowls:

The foil won't reach all the way around, but that's ok; just tape it inside the bowl in back:

Then gather the ends and zip-tie.

 Each candy only costs about $2 each, so like I said, HUGE bang for your buck with this one.

Plus so fun! Dangerously so. I want to make moooore.

I used more zip-ties to hang our big candies in this tree:

The branches are rather bendy, but still, turned out pretty cute! These would also look great on exterior walls, trimming a doorway, in a giant garland, or even dangling down from taller trees.


2) Giant Gingerbread Man Cookie:

This sweetie is made with our trusty favorite, pink insulation foam. I found a cookie I liked online to project and trace, but really this is a simple enough shape that you could freehand it.

John cut out the cookie by hand with a craft blade, then routed the edges to round them. While the router is faster, you can easily sand pink foam to round the edges that way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Turning A Friend's Home Into A Giant Gingerbread House, Part 1

This never made it to the blog last year - think I had too many other festive things going on - but last November we surprised our friend Ken by decorating the outside of his house for Christmas. We conspired with his wife Sue, then designed, purchased, and installed a full yard makeover on Ken's birthday:

We had a snowflake projector, motion lights, and color-changing trim on the eaves and pathway. (Sue likes colored lights and Ken likes white, so we got these remote-controlled sets that do both!)

Ken & Sue love Christmas, and have lots of decor inside, but neither are physically able to decorate outside. The most they've ever had was a wreath on the door, so this was really a treat for both of them.

I made simple swags for the exterior lights by turning a Dollar Tree dollar tree (snerk) upside down, adding two plastic bells, and a mesh bow. Again, all from Dollar Tree:

Unfortunately the garage lights were the type that hang down, so the swags didn't work. After a little brainstorming we zip-tied them back-to-back and hung the swags from the porch light instead.

Which turned out pretty cute! Then Sue supplied the banners and door wreath.

To give the yard a focal point we made a light tree around this real tree:

We used zip ties around the trunk to hold the lights up, then plastic yard stakes to anchor them to the ground.

The deer is my favorite, because I it gave a serious glow-up.

Here's the Before:

Friday, November 11, 2022

What Do You Do With Fall Clearance? Make A Pumpkin Christmas Tree!

Last weekend John and I spent a fun afternoon shopping for our local homeless resource center. Walmart has better prices than Dollar Tree on things like individually packed toothbrushes, toothpaste, and certain shampoos, so while we were there stocking up we of course detoured through the Halloween Clearance. We are only human, after all. ;)

Y'all. Y'ALL. Not only was all the Halloween stuff 75% off, so was all the Fall decor.

We were like kids in a candy store, with John whisper-screaming "GET MORE PUMPKINS THEY'RE ONLY $2" and me shoving lanterns at him to scan and cackling gleefully at the prices. We definitely drew a few concerned looks, ha.  

Even exercising extreme constraint, we came home with 9 pumpkins, 6 lanterns of varying styles, 4 boxes of string lights, and a handful of cute woodland ornaments.

I don't want to torture you too much much with our good fortune, but this plastic lantern with a battery candle inside was only $4:


And this big wooden lantern was $6:

A can of silly string had exploded all over these - probably the reason they were still there - but that scraped off easily.

Now, want to see what we did with all this?

I think you're gonna liiiiike iiiiit.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

What The Art Teacher Wore & For Evermore

Me now that October is over:


::Immediately begins brain-storming while John stares wide-eyed at the stacks of Halloween bins we're still puting away::

Don't worry, this isn't a Christmas post. Yet. Even John and I need some down time, so we've been catching up with friends, cleaning house, and in John's case, practicing Low Fodmap stews. (Y'all have any favorite recipes? We have both fake onion & fake garlic, so I think we can modify most regular recipes. Help!)

We also started watching Rings of Power, and while I'm not usually a drama person and can't handle much violence or darkness, WOW IS IT GOOD. The visuals are so stunning they even surpass the movies(!!) and the cast is phenomenal.

It's definitely gotten more intense by episode 3, though, so we may have to start spacing these out with Disney movies for balance, ha. Can anyone tell me if the violence level gets worse from here?

Right, 'nuff chit chat, lemme bring you some genuine CONTENT.

 I bring you my latest two obsessions:

First, What the Art Teacher Wore.

Cassie is a jolt of joyful caffeine in my feed, and the moment I discovered her through a friend I spent over an hour watching every single one of her outfit posts. Cassie just finished an entire month of amazeballs Halloween outfits, but lemme start you off with a cheerful rainbow ensemble:

Friday, November 4, 2022


Now that the Halloween frenzy if over, I thought I'd show y'all a fun outing we had a few weeks ago. Our friend Karen luuuurves capybaras, so for her birthday we visited Amazing Animals Inc, a non-profit exotic animal preserve about an hour outside Orlando.

They do educational tours and have capys, sloths, and other fun creatures.

Our tour started in the reptile house, where John baby-talked a snake and I maintained a reasonable distance:

It's not that I don't like snakes, it's that... oh wait, yes, that's it exactly.

Big parrots also make me a little nervous, but these stayed in their house.

I won't bore you with a slideshow of animal pics, but suffice to say there are lots: from Fennec foxes to monkeys to fuzzy things whose names I don't remember. The grounds are lovely, everything looks beautifully lush and well-kept, and the animals clearly adore their caretaker.

In fact the adorable Geoffroy's cat spent our educational talk trying to wrap himself completely around his caregiver's legs:


My personal favorite were the lemurs, so it's a shame my best photo of one has it trying to pee on us:

We were told this matriarch is... kinda pissy.


The male lemur was a total sweetheart, though, and cooed at me through the fence and later reached out and touched my hand while I was taking a video:

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

We Haunted, We Flaunted, We're Ready To Follow You Home

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope your Halloween was a treat, and I can't wait to see any pics you care to share over on the Epbot FB page. (I want to see ALL the costumes, decor, & carved pumpkins, please!)

Look how gorgeous my friend Karen is as one of the Mansion ballroom dancers. LOOK AT HERRRRR

Our Haunted Mansion Halloween was a smashing success; we had steady waves of trick-or-treaters, but not so many that we were ever TOO overrun. (And still nowhere near our Ghostbusters year numbers, so John says we need another glowing beacon on the roof to draw them in, lol.) I'd guess we had 150-200 kids? And lots of big families.

My attempt at a crowd shot really captures the chaos of the moment.


It also helped that we had 6-10 friends there helping at all times, and three separate areas to keep the kids moving through the yard.

We set up an extra table between the candy distribution and the buggy (by the green lights) where two friends helped apply glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoos all night - or at least until we ran out. That really helped pull the kids toward the Buggy, which often had a line!

I'm also grateful for our friends being there and taking photos & video, since I'm terrible at remembering. Here's a compilation of some of them:

And an amazing Reel by Melissa: