The Sweeter Side of Mommyhood

The Ornament Chronicles {and some holiday diy’s}

Christmas ornaments are kind of a big deal in my family.  And by kind of, I mean quite possibly the most valued collection of any material item that we own.  We wait all year long to pull out the plastic tubs full of treasures we’ve collected from all over the world, oohing and aahing and story telling the heck out of every single one. Who gifted each one, where it came from, why it’s important- all the details matter to us when we hang each little item on the tree.


I’ve been trying to figure out a way to photograph all of the ornaments so we can remember them forever.  We’re careful, and we teach the girls to be careful, and we’ve even taught the gosh darn dog to be careful, but accidents happen.  And ornaments break.


Like when our tree fell over (more like came crashing down) one year when I was in high school.  Probably the worst sound I have ever heard was that 13 foot tree toppling over with a horrifying crash of broken glass and shattered ceramic.  So many ornaments were lost that morning.  My Mom and Dad saved as many as they managed to find, gluing a few favorites back together as best they could.  But many others were gone forever.  And the worst part about that is that I can’t even remember which ones broke.  Whatever they looked like, and whatever the story was, we can’t get them back.


On a side note, that was NOT the worst Nalbone Christmas Tree Disaster that has ever occurred in our house… once upon a Christmas we had something quite different and quite possibly worse happen to our tree.


Eric, Michael, Nick and I were all sitting at the kitchen table one morning over holiday break.  My parents were at work, and I think we were just eating breakfast, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper- that kind of thing.  Sammy came wandering in from the family room and said, “Hey guys there’s a spider on my castle.”  We brushed him away mumbling some sort of thing about not bothering us over a harmless spider etc. etc.  A few minutes later he came back in and said, “Hey guys there are a lot of spiders on my castle.” And once again, with a little more force, we told him to beat it and forget about the damn spiders.  Another short while passed and he came in again almost shouting, “Guys! Come in here and look at the spiders!”


And oh-my-holy-Lord, there were spiders covering the carpet, coating the baseboards, and smooshed into tiny green lines all over Sammy’s legs who gleefully informed us that that was what he had been trying to tell us all morning.  Upon further investigation my brother’s and I discovered that the entire tree (and all the ornaments) were in fact COVERED in spiders.  Literally covered.  I was horrified. I’m pretty sure I started yelling at Eric to call Mom or Dad- I couldn’t handle being that close to spiders.  So Eric got on the phone and Michael or Nick got on the computer.  And Sammy jumped around excitedly all over the couch. Collectively, the boys and I figured out that the “spiders” were actually cedara aphids that live on evergreen trees and HATCH when the weather gets warm- or when a stupid tree that God intended to stay outside throughout winter gets schlepped INSIDE by crazy people who celebrate Christmas. Ugh, really?  The tree farm told us it was happening to all the trees that year and that, thankfully, the bugs only survive by hatching and finding another tree to live on- no trees in site meant the bugs would vacate and die.  But there were still all the bugs ON the tree to deal with and all the dead bugs off the tree to clean up.  We (and by we I mean Eric) spent the day vacuuming up dead bugs, spraying the tree with dish detergent and water, and removing and cleaning every. single. ornament. one by one. It was painful and disgusting and not what you want to do over Christmas break.


Of thinking about all that chaos was finally born a good idea.  Daunted by the thought of photographing every single ornament before or after decorating the actual tree, I thought why not photograph the ornaments while they are already on the tree?

Oh.  Simple.

Ornament ChroniclesI drag and dropped these photos into an adobe illustrator document and resized accordingly.  My document was 30 inches by 55 inches, I think, and obviously I arranged the pictures in rows of 5.  There are 65 total ornaments depicted here (not nearly an exhaustive list for us) but I had to draw the line somewhere.  Disclaimer: I am not a graphic designer and I sort of cheat my way through making anything in illustrator.  My pictures definitely aren’t gridded perfectly but that’s ok with me.  This image would make a cute poster to hang at Christmastime but I also think this whole set would make an adorable coffee table book, especially if I took the time to caption each ornament with it’s giver or story or significance.  It would make a great gift too from parent to child or from children to their parents.  Sorry for ruining the surprise, but Mom and Dad, there will definitely be an ornament book in your future!


Have you busted our your hot cocoa mugs yet?  These little snowmen are the cutest addition to your holiday cup of whatever and are seriously so easy to make. This idea comes to you all courtesy of Sugar Belle but the person I have to most thank is my own Momma for helping me get them all done!  I plan on using them as favors for a Christmas PJ Party that I’m hosting in a few weeks.  But I can’t stop adding them to my own cup because they are so dang cute!



  1. Cut marshmallows in half with kitchen scissors.
  2. Dip sticky side of cut marshmallows into a mixture of cornstarch and powdered sugar (Sugarbelle uses a ratio of 1/2 cup powdered sugar to 3/4 cups cornstarch.  This makes ALOT of marshmallow coating so you could cut it in half.)  Shake off as much excess coating as humanly possible and lay marshmallows on a tray to decorate.
  3. The faces are made using royal icing.  We made our icing by beating together 1 egg white, 1/2 tsp. lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.  It had a good consistency that wasn’t too runny.
  4. Color half of the icing orange and half black.
  5. Prepare two piping bags with tiny round-holed tips and fill with icing.
  6. Carefully pipe the nose, then the faces onto each marshmallow. The icing will not stick to powdered sugar so be sure your marshmallows are shaken off really, really, really well. Let dry then pop into ziplock bags to keep fresh (remember that marshmallows dry out quickly so don’t leave these on your counter overnight!).

That’s it! Easy as, well, marshmallows ;)


And finally, perhaps my favorite project of the moment:

_MG_3443DIY Sharpie mugs!

These are all the rage on pinterest lately.

I made a set for my cousins for Christmas.  They love mustache’s (and so do I!) so I had to make them a mustache pair.

“Behind every great man is a really great mustache.” Too good not to use.  Not sure who coined that quote but I’ve seen it all over pinterest and I think on a t-shirt and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. And “start each day laughing” was perfect for my cousin who’s a wellness coach and lover of choosing happiness.


  1. Draw a design on your mugs with a sharpie (colored sharpies would work too!)
  2. Set your mugs on a sturdy baking dish (I used a square glass baker) with sides so you can easily maneuver the mugs into and out of the oven.  You don’t want to touch the actual mugs for awhile so you don’t smear the ink.
  3. Place your mugs into a cold oven THEN put the oven on 35o.  Set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer rings, turn off the oven and crack the door a few inches (make sure toddlers are out of the way for this one- I wouldn’t ever recommend leaving a hot oven door partially open with little hands around!)

Let the mugs cool completely then remove from the oven. At this point, the mugs are ready to use, or ready to gift!  I’ve read that they are dishwasher safe but I haven’t tested the theory and would probably go with hand washing just to be sure the designs didn’t wear away.  I finished this project and instantly instagramed that someone better hide all my white dish ware because I was about to draw on everything in sight! Don’t worry, I refrained.

Happy making!!

P.S. if you are an instagram junkie, like me, show me what you make @sweetersidemom.  I’d love to see what you come up with! Hashtag #sweetersideholiday and add them to the mix.

This entry was published on December 4, 2012 at 11:28 am. It’s filed under Baking, Blog, Family, Gifts, How-To and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “The Ornament Chronicles {and some holiday diy’s}

  1. I love this post! Love the ornament list! That is such a great idea! Thank you! I had just blogged about our tree and the different ornaments from each year the other day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 598 other followers

%d bloggers like this: