Frosted Alliums for Holiday Decor

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that in September I urged you to save any allium seed heads that might be growing in your garden.  And now I’m going to show you why.

The Inspiration

Last holiday season, my talented friend Loralee gave me this adorable gift, which she made herself using an allium seed head.

It got me thinking about all the ways we can use allium seed heads in holiday decor.  So I’ve been doing a little experimenting.

Finding Seed Heads

Allium plants are grown from bulbs.  In my area, they bloom spring to summer, and then the flowers turn into seed heads that are highly ornamental.  They come in many sizes, heights, and shapes.  Some are huge, some are tiny.

I found only one seed head in my own garden, but it was pretty spectacular.

And in early fall, a neighbor offered me all of her allium seed heads.  She had a nice variety.

Some still had seeds so I left those outside for the birds until the weather turned.

And I let them all dry indoors completely before I began using them.

The Experiment

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

 

I used matte white spray paint that I had on hand.  I wanted the seed heads to look frosted, not flocked, so I used the paint sparingly.

While the paint was still wet, I dusted each seed head with Buffalo Snow Flakes iridescent sprinkles (which I also had on hand) for a subtle sparkle.  Then I carefully shook off the excess.

Even though I shook off the excess, little bits of the Buffalo Snow Flakes continued to shed.  So in this case I probably would have been better off with a spray-on sparkle.

Working with the alliums took a little patience because some of them were still shedding seeds.

And the seed heads got tangled together very easily.  They were brittle and fragile, and I had to be careful not to damage them.

Still I am happy with the results.  Here is what I’ve done with them so far.

Frozen Forest

I like to keep things simple.  By securing allium stems of varying heights to spike frogs,

I made a frozen forest to go behind the vintage putz church that once belonged to my husband’s parents.

 

Nutcracker’s Adventure

The smallest allium seed head is secured to a tiny spike frog.  It towers over a three-inch German nutcracker as he wanders through a miniature forest.

Holiday Drama

The seed heads were on long stems.  Some of them were almost as tall as me.  I had fantasies of making a full-sized allium forest with them.  But getting them to stand securely on such tall stems would have taken some doing.

Still I had one dramatically curving stem that was almost three feet tall, and I wanted to do something special with it.  I was able to secure it, and a few other stems of varying heights, by inserting stem wire into the bottom of the stems and leaving a couple of inches of floral wire out of the stem.   I used wire cutters to cut the stem wire to size where needed.

Then I secured them to a piece of styrofoam set in a shallow clay bowl.

I covered the styrofoam with preserved moss and added a some small vintage ornaments.  I chose one good example of each type of seed head to make this crazy thing.

What Mom Did

Of course I frosted way too many seed heads so I gave some to Mom.  Her first career was in floral design, so I was curious to see how she would use them.

She mixed them with materials she had on hand to make this lovely piece for her entryway.

 

Mom is amazing with all things floral.  She could have made five of these in her sleep in the time it took me to put together my “Holiday Drama” creation.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


About Putz Houses and Churches

Putz means different things to different people, but really any piece of a holiday-themed  miniature village can be considered putz.

Want to make your own?  Check out the DIY putz house kits and other putz on Etsy.

AgedWithThyme’s tiny putz saltbox house kit is especially cute.  I love that colonial look.


Holiday Reading

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

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A Busy Mom’s Guide to Creating Birth Annoucements

This post was sponsored by minted.com.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Recently my brother and sister-in-law welcomed a sweet little baby girl into the world.  Everyone is over the moon, and Daisie’s arrival feels like the start of a new era.

Bringing a new baby home is such a happy event.  Every little task is a milestone.  I wanted to join in the fun, so I offered to help my sister-in-law, Maura, create birth announcements.

We used minted.com to design them, and in this post I share a few tips based on what we learned.

Start by Browsing the Designs

This helps you get an overview of what is available and a sense of what you like – be it classic, simple, sweet, fun.

a handwritten hello
“A Handwritten Hello” birth announcement. Image courtesy of minted.com.

The search filters help narrow down your options.

Browsing the designs can also help you:

1.  Test Your Photo

If you already have a photo you would like to use, you can plug that photo into the “find it fast” feature to see how it looks in multiple card designs and with various text placements.  This is a quick way to pinpoint your options.

And if you have not chosen a photo yet, browsing the designs will help you decide which photos would work best in the designs that you like.

2.  Decide on Wording

Writers block?  Not sure what tradition dictates? Not to worry, the card designs all have wording samples that serve as a starting point.

Wording for baby announcements can be fairly simple – as in this example.

Chic Baby Birth Annoucements
“Chic Baby” birth announcement. Image courtesy of minted.com.

3.  Become Familiar With Time-Saving Options

Maura was happy to discover that the birth announcement she chose offered a coordinating thank you card.

Thank you card and announcement
Daisie’s thank you card and birth announcement

This provided a unified look and saved time over having to browse for a thank you card as a separate step.

Photographing Baby Yourself

Shortly after Daisie came home, Auntie Heidi (that’s me!) brought over her nice DSLR camera and tripod to take photos of Daisie to use in the birth announcements.

And that is when Auntie Heidi learned that some things are best left to a professional photographer.

But one of my photographs was chosen for the thank you card.

Daisie's thank you card

And I did learn a few things:

1.  The Basics

Use your best camera – a DSLR if you have one – and a tripod if you can.  Use natural or deflected light, not a flash.  For good natural light, try taking the photos near a large window.  Save your photos in high resolution, large file sizes.

2.  The Background

I didn’t notice until after the photo shoot that most of my backgrounds were too strong.  To feature a baby properly, the background should be as neutral as possible – like in this example.

Organic Newborn Birth Announcements
“Organic Newborn” birth announcement. Image courtesy of minted.com

3.  Just for Fun: Try Using Continuous Shooting

It seemed to me that Daisie’s expression was constantly changing, even when she was asleep.  I tried to capture her cutest expressions – only to miss them by a nanosecond.

So as an experiment, I set my camera (which was on a tripod) on “self-timer: continuous.” This worked well since the delay of the self-timer eliminated any camera shake after pressing the shutter.  Then the camera automatically took ten shots in quick succession.

Even though the shots weren’t used in the announcement, the variety was fun. I especially like this one, which I call “talk to the fist.”

Talk to the hand

(I hate to state the obvious, but Daisie is quite advanced for a newborn.)

4.  The Power of Black and White

We wound up choosing a sweet black and white photo taken by a talented photographer at the hospital.  There is just something timeless about black and white photos.

Announcement photo

Customizing the Design

Once we had chosen a photo and an announcement design, the fun really started.  We could choose from a variety of shapes.  We could also choose the font type, size, and color, and the format (flat or folded).

Here is an example of the birth announcement design we chose, which is called “Editor.”

Editor Birth Annoucement
“Editor” birth announcement. Image courtesy of minted.com.

And here it is after we customized it.

announcement

I think the pink photo border looks beautiful around the black and white photo.  You can see that we customized the font color, size, and type, and chose a scalloped frame.  We made the same font choices for the thank you card to keep the look cohesive.

The back of the birth announcement provided more choices: A pattern for a finished look, or blank for a place to hand-write individual messages.  But Maura went with the third option of adding another photo and a printed message. This was also a time-saving feature since it eliminated the need for handwritten messages while still adding a personal touch.

The envelopes were also customizable with color and liner options. We took advantage of the free recipient addressing for the envelopes, and they look beautiful.

It’s always a pleasant surprise when I find something like this in my mailbox.

envelope

I enjoy social media but I feel that, for marking life’s milestones, nothing will ever compare to the tangible satisfaction of holding a fine-quality announcement in my hand.  The text might not say it, but the message is clear:  “It’s official – you now have a beautiful niece!”


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