How To Makeover Christmas Tree Angel Topper
I love Christmas. It’s a time when I get to be with most of my family, celebrate our faith, and enjoy the festivities together. The Crow’s Nest is usually the gathering place for our east coast family, everyone comes and goes as their schedules allow and it’s a wonderful time of laughter, games, lots of good food, crafts and projects all going on at the same time for about a week. I love how everyone pitches in and reconnects after a busy year apart. Last year my angel tree topper had finally fallen apart, she was given to me many years ago by a dear friend. It was time to repair her and give her an updated look. I’m a country gal at heart and happen to have four pairs of cowgirl boots in my closet in various stages of worn and worn out. Naturally when the farmhouse style became popular, I was thrilled. This year my angel was going country! I remade her frame and sewed up a gray plaid skirt my momma would be proud of. My niece helped my find the perfect cowgirl boots to complete her new look.
I loved how my country angel so much I even added cowgirl boots! I had extra gray plaid fabric so I traced the shape of our existing tree skirt and sewed the edges. Cute!! I then decorated the tree with gray buffalo check ribbon and added the ornaments. Love it!
Let me know if you make or remake one, I'd love to see it. Merry Christmas!
A Good Day Fishing
I’ve introduced you to Camp Breac back in January with our “Leaping Trout” chainsaw sculpture project. Now I’d like to share with you a bit more about Camp Breac’s mission and how we made a boot rack into art. Camp Breac is a historical site and is a fly fishing community for our military, veterans, and their families with the mission of conservation of natural resources, the arts, & education conveniently located on Spring Creek in Bellefonte, PA.
It all began in September with a phone call from Jim Lanning. If you ever met Jim, you know you are going to spend some time…as you enjoy an Irish Coffee or a cold beer from the tap while you are brought up to speed about the latest happenings within the camp. Jim relies on many volunteers to help with projects ranging from stream improvements, land and facility upgrades and maintenance. Always with conservation, community involvement, and recycling in mind.
During one of these chats, Jim shared a problem, a wet stinky problem. As part of the camp’s mission to educate they offer fly fishing education, hands-on training, and even supply the equipment needed. The problem was lots of wet smelly fishing waders and boots. After a great day on the stream fisherman and women hang their boots and waders up on hooks in an upright position indoors. The result is they don’t get completely dry. Jim’s needed was a growing concern and he desired to have an outdoor boot rack conveniently located allowing the boots and waters to dry out in the fresh air before being stored indoors. As easy as this may sound to do, Jim had some pretty interesting requirements…
First it had to hold at least twelve pairs of boot and tall waders. Next, it had to be constructed of recycled materials, materials sourced from the camp itself or locally. It also had to fit within the camp’s theme and mission. The location had to be easy for the fisherman and women to get to and close enough to the indoor storage area. Jim, Ed, and I scouted the landscape and agreed upon the location. With such a visible location Ed and I knew a board and some pegs just wouldn’t do. We truly wanted to show our appreciation to the many veterans and service members visiting the camp. We left the camp with a 14’ board laying on the passenger side mirror and tied to the side of our pickup truck.
Ed and I were excited about the project and discussed ideas all the way home. After tossing around several ideas, we landed upon one we both had passion to build. It started out as a simple and relatively easy project and grew into a very large and detailed project. We took great care to use recycled materials, selecting materials sourced or manufactured in Pennsylvania. Thanks to the Penn State students who unknowingly suppling us with wine bottles, and Yuengling beer cans as we pilfered through their recycle bins. And a big shout out to the staff at Champs on North Atherton as they collected bottle caps and shared in our enthusiasm.
The Crow’s Nest was buzzing with activity. Ed started his chainsaw and chips were flying everywhere. When the saw stopped, I hardly recognized the plain flat board we brought home. After large holes were drilled into the textured wood, I began painting. Using colors native to the creek at the camp the board was no longer a board, it had been transformed into a flowing stream that 2 large 4’ trout were going to be leaping out of to catch a tasty handtied fly.
With the vision of the art piece was clear in our minds, it was time to prepare the site, the location where the art in boot rack form would like. I was very grateful to be accompanied by Jim, and two volunteer veterans Chuck and Godfrey. They made quick work of pruning and weeding. Chuck being skilled at building rock walls took on the task constructing rock tiers within garden area and Jim filled in the platform with pea gravel.
It was a large project and admittedly I felt overwhelmed, not just by the size, but I had underestimated how much more difficult it would be to turn recycled materials into usable pieces and how many hundreds of pieces I needed for just one 4 foot fish. I truly understood the saying “Nothing is ever as easy as it looks!” Thankfully my mother, Sandy stepped in to lend a hand with cutting hundreds of rows of scales out of aluminum cans.
The rest of the story is better told in pictures. Click here to view the album of our visual story making the fish boot rack.
On Veteran’s Day, November 11th, 2020 we honorably dedicated “A Good Day Fishing” aka Art in Boot Rack Form with everyone wearing masks due to the Covid 19 pandemic, to all veterans and service members who were there and will visit Camp Breac. We thank you.
A pair of empty military and a pair of fishing boots in honor of those who served and did not return home will be bronzed and place under the rack on pedestals as soon as possible.
I encourage you to visit Camp Breac, meet Jim Lanning, and see if he has time for a tour and a beverage. Tell him “The Crows sent you”.
Comment back to me and tell me all about your experience at Camp Breac and how you like our art work.
"It is with great respect and appreciation to our family, friends, and community who have served in the armed forces, we say thank you. May the one that got away, be as large as our Yuengling Trout." Janise & Ed Crow
This is an evolving photo story about creating fishing themed art that serves as an outdoor wader and boot drying rack out of recycled materials for our veteran community at Camp Breac.
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This week I want to show you how you can easily freshen up your front porch to be welcoming & bright with odds and ends around your house or with a small budget.
Here I chose a rustic, light, and airy decor theme to blend with the current landscape of the area.
The goal: low cost, no maintenance (watering plants etc.), and easy to change for every season. A bit of creative recycling and repurposing will crucial to this update.
A fresh coat of beige/tan paint on the door, brightens and lightens the brick wall.
Spring is tree trimming time, we salvaged several large pieces of birch tree logs and cut them in a trio of sizes. I recycled a couple of old pine Christmas trees, spruced them up a bit and drilled holes in the logs to hold the artificial pine trees. To ensure stability in the wind, and a decorative finish, I used old rope to tie the three logs together.
The door wreath: A fun and memorable project. We recycled scrap wood to create a square frame, cut letter C, stained them and applied a white wash technique to give them that old barn board look. Lastly, I repurposed silk flowers from a recent wedding, made geometric shapes out of straws to add a bit of modern to the swag and was a key theme in the wedding. Repurposing these items from the wedding really gives this home a very special welcome to all who enter.
I welcome the opportunity to work with you to update or makeover your porch into a welcoming version of your style and personality.
Design: size built to hide the air conditioning units, visually pleasing, colorful
Bottles: collect used bottles, sanitize, remove labels, drill holes, and rewash
Spacers: collect items to use as spacers in between bottles, we used gears on this project
Build Frame: purchase pressure treated lumber, cut lumber, assemble with screws and bolts, drill holes, stain and seal, and then mount in location.
Bottle Rods: cut rods to length, string on bottles & gears in desired patterns.
Final Assembly: place rods with bottles through holes in frames, add top bottles.
This is part of a bigger custom garden re-landscaping project using recycled materials. Yes, Ed did have to hold on to my feet a few times as I had to dig pretty deep in those recycling bins! Haha! The gears were left over from Sarah Etchells and Will’s wedding decor.
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Design: height with visually pleasing, colors, playfulness, and holes for plants
Concrete Blocks: collect used blocks from around the house, clean, prime the blocks
Color & Design: researched the web for design ideas, and rummaged through paint stashes to come up with a color pallet
Hand painted each block, some needed several coats, then sealed with block sealer, and allow to dry for several days.
Want to work with Janise on your own DIY projects? contact Janise
On to the next items needed. I will keep you posted on the progress of the larger garden makeover.
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Leaping Trout Chainsaw Carving
After a tour of Camp Breac and one of Jim’s famous Irish Coffees made with local spirits from Big Spring Spirits the place begins to feel like home. You quickly settle in and the many faces you meet are new family members that you share a common connection to. For Ed and I, we are children of veterans with many family members that were part of the armed forces. I particularly felt at home. As I sipped my coffee, surrounded by veterans listening to their stories, my mind drifted to images of my childhood surrounded by military and civil servants and the feelings of comfort and a sense of belonging came over me. Memories of my father, an Army veteran, came to mind as I sat chatting with and observing several more veterans. I wondered if they realized how simply being in their presence brought me joy. We left that day honored to be a part of Camp Breac’s mission and became part of the family.
Jim had a dream to turn that ugly stump into something special for everyone to enjoy. As family members do, we help each other out with time and talents, it was not different to Ed and I. We agreed to take on the project and understood why Ed was recommended for the task. Ed is known for his giant leaping fish carvings and this tree stump was perfect for one.
It was winter when Ed began cutting into massive stump with his chainsaw. It took him two weekends to carve the “Leaping Trout” that stands about 9 feet tall and faces Spring Creek. After the color was added to the base to resemble the creek, Jim and veterans painted on the clear sealant coat. Another avid fisherman tied the large fly that hangs above the trout.
Art in the outdoors is part of our mission and teaming up with Camp Breac is a natural fit. We look forward to meeting more of our community and working on projects together in the future.
It is our hope that many conversations and connections are made around the old spruce, now a brown trout that serves as welcome to everyone visiting Camp Breac.
When you meet Jim, tell him "The Crows sent you". :)
You can find these necklaces and bracelets here
Style: owner's chosen style is retro / eclectic vintage
- Created 2 different spaces in one room 1) crafting work area and 2) sitting lounge area
- Craft working area:
- open work space for multiple people with seating
- up-cycled vintage kitchen table top, added vintage manual sewing base as legs -
- re-purposed cube storage drawers
- custom made cushions to create seating over cube storage drawers
- re-purposed retro chairs
- vintage dress form holds craft tools near working table
- vintage tins, tray, baskets decorative organizer containers
- vintage fur accents from old coats
- refurbished vintage fan for cross ventilation
- standing work bench: created several stations: hot torch area, grinding & polishing, sawing and shaping
- mounted movable lights, magnifiers, and tools
- recycled lazy Susan under workbench for easy access to organizers
- recycled jars, plastic containers, baskets, and trays for organizers
- table top tools organizer
- re-purposed plastic chair mat as carpet protector
- storage cabinets
- up-cycled and vintage writing desk: added custom shelving, and made door handles from deer antlers
- recycled jars, plastic containers for organizers
- converted boat shelf into cleaver storage for beads & findings
- recycled old beer crate into book storage cabinet
- re-purposed lamps for extra movable lighting
- re-purposed deer antlers, fur, deer head for decorations
- open space behind the boat shelf to store in process projects (windows were the current projects when photos were taken)
- up-cycled old suitcases into a stacking side table with storage
- re-purposed an old couch
- re-purposed pillows
- up-cycled old vintage wig box into retro style side table
- re-purposed vintage lamps
- refurbished vintage accessories, decor, & props that are functional and ascetic
- dress forms that are used to design and display
- working fans for ventilation
- deer heads
- fur accents from vintage coat
- pull down shades for filtered lighting
- white cotton curtains - serves as sun control and photography backdrop
- open work space for multiple people with seating
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Hi, I'm Janise Crow a jewelry designer and mixed-media artist. Here you will find our latest projects, experiments, and even how to's.
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