Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Care for Your Christmas Ornaments

Those wonderful ornaments that you've accumulated over the years are rich in memories and reminders of your traditions, so take a moment or two to take the best possible care of them.  Here are some pointers:
  • When you unpack your treasures, keep the wrappings in the same box for easy repacking.  Check the bottom of the box for loose parts that may have detached from the ornament.
  • The small scratches and wear on ornaments give the character and vintage look we love so much, so don't worry about cleaning or 'touching up.'
  • Trying to clean or wipe off an ornament is tricky, as even water may change the finish or shimmer of glossy surfaces.  If necessary, just use a small feather duster and a light touch to clean your ornaments, or perhaps a baby toothbrush.  Don't use cleaners or stiff brushes, etc. 
  • Think of the safety of wee ones and pets.  Place breakable items out of reach of children and pets. Consider using florist wire (thin, flexible green wire, very easy to use) to wire the ornaments to the tree to prevent inquiring paws or little fingers from plucking off the tree.  Florist wire is more stable and secure than conventional ornament hooks.
  • Generally, place the larger ornaments at the bottom and smaller ornaments toward the top to keep a balanced look.
  • If an ornament keeps turning, twist the wire or hook around the branch to stabilize it.
  • To store, remove the hook or wire from the ornament and loosely wrap it in soft tissue paper or scraps of cloth (how about that year's outgrown children's flannel pajamas?).  You can reuse the wrapping from year to year, too.
  • That said, for fabric, yarn or soft ornaments, I sometimes leave the hook in place, wrap the ornament in tissue with the hook extending out of the top of the tissue paper.   Just be sure to not let the wire scratch the ornaments or get tangled.
  • To pack, I roll one ornament in tissue paper, place another one next to it and roll those two together and continue in this way, depending on the size of pieces. When I unwrap them the next year, the unwrapping step goes nice and quick!
  • I once made the mistake of wrapping some ornaments in bubble wrap; the plastic adhered to the vintage paint and came right off when I unwrapped it.  
  • Be sure to pad the bottom, sides and  top of your ornament boxes with bubble wrap or newspaper in case the boxes are moved, dropped, or stacked.
  • Store the boxes in a cool, dry place.  When we moved to Texas, I was used to storing them in our dry Colorado basement.  Without a basement in Texas, I stored them in the garage, not considering the differences in the heat and humidity.  Oops.  Storing them in the spare bedroom would've been a better choice.
  • Be sure to label each side of each box; that way, if the box is turned, you'll always know what's inside.  
  • Store your tree lights and tree topper on top of the ornaments (wrap separately, and don't let the cords scratch the ornaments, etc.).  That way, you'll unpack the lights first, ready to put on the tree before the ornaments.

Lastly, you can use a marker to write the year you received new ornaments, so you'll always know which darling son or daughter made which treasure!  You may also enjoy keeping an "ornament journal", similar to a travel journal, noting the story associated with your ornaments.

I'm sure you'll have some ideas to contribute -- so let us all know of helpful hints that have worked for you and yours.

For now, enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend with all its blessings!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Little Things

This morning, I received a note from someone I've never 'met' who said she liked my work (I'm always happy to hear that!) and also mentioned that roses are very spiritual creations.  Her name is Cindy, and she probably has little idea of how her note touched me.   She took a little time to send a little note to someone whom she didn't know.   Yet, it truly IS the little things that sometimes matter most.

You may remember my sharing this before on my old blog.  Someone somewhere needs to read it today, so here it is again.

While I was trying to find my way toward recovery from the brain dents, I began to paint. Roses had some connection to 'somewhere' that I couldn't really identify and thus began my spiritual journey. Someone gave me a little note card with St. Theresa's prayer and that prayer gave words to many of my feelings: bad things may happen but God gave us the tools to handle them -- if we quiet our minds to listen and find the path offered to us.

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that
has been given to you....
May you be content knowing you are a child of God....
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

I cannot tell you how many times the words and feelings in St. Theresa's prayer calmed me!

The hardest lesson of all -- for me -- has been learning to accept a different Life and capabilities than what I anticipated, and to accept that I wouldn't, couldn't and won't know all the answers I've sought.  The phrase ". . .allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love" is very powerful because it reassures that we still CAN sing and dance in the face of challenges. 

So, I offer up a prayer -- a song of thanksgiving -- for the person who sent me St. Theresa's prayer, and for Cindy for reminding me of the power of reaching out and doing the "little things" that remind us we are all connected and not alone.  And, that is the power in each of us.

May today be your day to discover "the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love."