Hey Hey! It’s Friday!

How was your week?? While last week was a super productive week, this week was a study on lazy… ’tis the season!

But here is what’s been going on, in the midst of all the lazy!

1. Another weekend, another birthday party! 🙂 That’s so much fun when you have kids – there’s always a birthday to go to. I love it!

Last weekend we had a party at the Durham Life & Science Museum. I love that place, and so does Elizabeth! While we were there we practiced walking. The stinker knows how to walk – she’ll take a couple steps, wait for the applause, then sit. But she does love holding hands and walking. And when she does that I just can’t believe how big she’s gotten!

Recapping the week on the Cup of Tea blog


2. My mom was so sweet to send 4 gifts for Elizabeth to open on each Advent evening. We missed the last weekend, so Elizabeth had to open two in one night. I made the mistake of letting her open the play nativity set, so she could have cared less about the second gift. Recapping the week on the Cup of Tea blog


3. It was a bad week for Katie and the body quirks. Not only do I currently have 3 zits on my face, but I found 3 grey hairs on my head…. grr…. Bad things come in 3, right? So there’s still one more to come.

Recapping the week on the Cup of Tea blog


4. And because of the grey hairs, I was “forced” to color my hair this week 🙂 Just a shade darker. Plus, I whacked about 6 inches off. I don’t know what got into me! I’ve always been a long hair girl, but medium length just felt right.

Recapping the week on the Cup of Tea blog


5. Last night, we went to Wake Forest with some friends for a sleigh ride and Santa visit! Elizabeth had to get on her warm weather gear, and she was pretty pleased.

Recapping the week on the Cup of Tea blog

The sleigh ride was delightful! And short. The horse drawn carriage literally went around the block! But it was fun, and a great way to get in the spirit!!  There was no Santa visit. The line was atrociously long… plus Elizabeth came without a hair bow, and her red shirt, while festive, was stained with her first try of ketchup. A perfect picture that does not make.Recapping the week on the Cup of Tea blog

Hope you have a delightful weekend!! Let me know what you were up to down below! (ooo that sounded so formal!)

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DIY Tomato Cage Christmas Tree

DIY Tomato Cage Christmas Tree for your front porch - from the Cup of Tea blog

Ta da! A seasonal DIY!

This doesn’t happen very often, folks.

I was flipping through a magazine (don’t remember which one!) and stumbled across a really neat idea for transforming a boring wire tomato cage into a cute tree to hang your Christmas cards from. It was embelished with pom pom trim, ribbon, and fairy lights.

Ye ol’ wheels started turning, and I thought why not wire on some greenery from the yard and make a tree to “plant” in my front door urn! Genius!

Turns out, after a quick Pinterest search, I wasn’t so genius.

It’s been done.

But still, I attempted it, and you know what? It wasn’t that bad! It was easy, in fact!

Let me show you how it’s done.

First, you’ll need to gather greenery. Lots of it! And a variety of stuff. But just wander around your yard (or your neighbor’s) and snip away! I grabbed basic pine, boxwood, holly (some with and without berries), and a few other green bushes that I can’t identify.

It helps if you have a great helper!

Collecting greenery for our DIY Christmas Tree

Stick it in some buckets as you go.  And gather the rest of your supplies.

You’ll need:

What You'll Need for your own DIY Christmas Tree

Buckets of greenery, but especially pine branches of varying thickness and width. Snip some that are long and a single branch, and then others that have several smaller branches on one main branch. Pine will provide a base for all your other greenery to lay on. I needed about 25-30 pine branches of varying sizes.

Wire cutters

Garden Pruning Shears

Wire Tomato Cage, 42″ diameter

Floral Wire

Christmas/Fairy lights (if needed)

Any other embellishments, like ribbon

A container to put it in, whether it’s an urn, a basket, or even a terracotta dish!

The only thing I bought for this project was the tomato cage (cages, actually. I made one for the front porch and one for the back deck). I found floral wire in my craft bin, as well as those mini wire cutters. But the heavier duty wire cutters were found in my husband’s tool box.

To get started, I cut the bottom, largest ring off the tomato cage, so it wouldn’t be too tall. I was concerned about wind knocking it over. You don’t have to do this if the height works for your space.

Step One: Cut the lowest level off the tomato cage for your DIY Christmas Tree

One tomato cage was thicker than the other. I worked at cutting that thicker wire cage for about 20 minutes.

Next up, bend the three legs of the tomato cage (which will be our top!) and wire the legs together with your floral wire. You’ll now have a tree/cone shape, ready for greenerizing!

Join the legs of the tomato cage together to form the cone for your DIY Christmas Tree

And then, “plant” your tomato cage in whatever container you’ll be using for display. I used a footed urn for one and a terracotta dish for the other. This way you can see how it looks in that finished location, as you go.

Next up, begin layering your large pine sections by laying a branch on one of the three legs, with the cut branch at the top of the cone. Wrap wire around the branch to hold it in place. Then keep wrapping wire around the rest of the pine branch (loosely!). As you wrap, add another pine branch, tucking the cut branch part under the above branch. And keep wrapping! Basically, do one continuous wrap until you have enough pine branches to touch the bottom of your cage.

Honestly, this was the hardest part, and my second one had better technique that the first. I found that attacking each leg separately, with that continuous wrapping, was the best method.

Wrap floral wire around your pine branches to create a base for your DIY Christmas Tree

If you’ve ever made your own pine wreath before, it’s like that! Except vertical.

Continue on with the other two legs!

Finished wrapping for my DIY Christmas Tree

You’ll see some gaps between the pine “legs” now, so wire on some more pine to the hoop parts to cover those sections in.

And finally, just start jabbing in to the pine and twisted wire your other greenery snips. You can go for a uniformed look, or a more natural “wild” look.

And for the top, you might want to consider some branches, with or without leaves. Or wire on a Christmas ornament!

You can also finish off your DIY tree with some lights. Don’t forget to tuck in extra greenery around the base to close any gaps between your tree and the container.

Here it is!

A DIY Christmas Tree using a wire tomato cage

A DIY Christmas Tree using a wire tomato cage

A DIY Christmas Tree using a wire tomato cage

I was on such a roll that I did that second tree really fast! This one sits on our back deck.

A DIY Christmas Tree using a wire tomato cage

I had some greenery left over, so I thought, since I was in crafting mode, I should make a door swag for our deck door!

A simple door swag with pine for Christmas

I’ve never been so handy with pine before! I took one wreath making class, many years ago, and that was my one and only time making something like this. Don’t know what got into me this year!

This project looks complicated, but it’s actually really simple! Collecting the greenery and then getting that first layer of pine is the hardest part, but truely isn’t that hard.

While searching for others that were also geniuses with their tomato cages (even though I was sure I was the only one!), I came across a video from P. Allen Smith, explaining the process with his delightful Arkansas accent! There’s also a blog post with written instructions, if mine weren’t sufficient. I’m sure they were not!

Are you doing any DIYs this year for Christmas? Maybe gifts? Any fun decor ideas? Let me know!!

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Hey Hey! It’s Friday!

I’m not ready for Friday…. I’m still mentally on Wednesday! But it has been an action packed few weeks! Can we catch up a little?

1. Since I neglected to say hi last Friday (still in a Thanksgiving food coma), I’ll just quickly say we had a lovely, but fast Thanksgiving. We drove up to my in laws on Wednesday, and drove back home Friday night. We all had obligations over the weekend, so Thanksgiving was cut short. But it was a delightful time!

I taught Elizabeth how to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade!

Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Cup of Tea

And she managed to see Santa – he waved at her.

Santa says hi on the Cup of Tea blog

We also went to the aquarium, which Elizabeth loves!

Visiting the Aquarium on Cup of Tea

2. My big goal Sunday was to get the outdoor lights done. So I picked up some new lights (do you know how hard it is to find plain, white lights?) and got to work during nap time. I got one half of the house done when I ran out of lights. I used up 260 feet! So I quickly rearranged.

Dusk fell, and the lights kicked on. And I hated them. I don’t even have a picture to show you… they were LED cool white lights, so they looked blue.

So Monday I spent the day taken the LED lights down and putting regular white lights up instead. I was so glad to get it done, and it looks spiffy!

3. I mentioned Wednesday that I wasn’t feeling particularly festive or ready for Christmas… I tried to help that with two things. First, I wrote a post about my favorite Christmas Traditions! Head on over there and let me know what your favorite traditions are.

Second, Elizabeth and I headed out to the yard to snip various greenery. I had a little DIY decorating project I wanted to tackle. We had a nice time rolling her car through the yard!

Cruising the yard for greenery on the Cup of Tea blog

4. Wednesday evening was so nice that we decided to head out on a neighborhood walk to look at the lights. We had a great time! And Elizabeth had fun pointing out the moon every step of the way.

5. Yesterday my goal was to get the tree up, and I managed to do that! Elizabeth just loves sitting at the base of the tree and staring up at the lights. Thankfully, I have a healthy supply of plastic ornaments, which I placed within her grasp. 🙂

*I just noticed that in every picture, Elizabeth looks bored… ha! Hope that doesn’t sum up her week!

So this weekend I’m pushing to get all the rest of the house decorated, and then get those storage bins and boxes put away. I can do it!!!

Hope you had a nice week, and have fun or relaxing plans for the weekend. Let me know what you’ll be up to down in the comments below!

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Christmas Traditions – Cup of Tea style

Christmas Traditions with the Cup of Tea blog

So yesterday I admitted I wasn’t really feeling all that festive… Christmas just zipped up on me so fast. We barely finished Halloween, people.

I thought I would give myself a kick in the pants and have a chat about my favorite Christmas Traditions!

You’re welcome to join in too! Leave your answers to the questions in the comments below, or, if you’re a fellow blogger, feel free to write your own post. Seriously, if we were face to face, drinking a hot drink, I’d ask you all of these. I love hearing what traditions others have!

1. Favorite Christmas movie?



I watch the same Christmas movies every. single. year. (Including 2 versions of A Christmas Carol) But my favorite is Christmas Vacation (you know you start giggling when you know Cousin Eddie is about to appear).

That’s followed closely by A Christmas Story. A Christmas Story was filmed just a few blocks away from my Grandparents in Cleveland, and it’s always been a running gag in my family that Ralphie and Randy are the spitting image, in looks and personality, to my dad and his younger brother when they were kids.

2. Favorite Christmas song?

All of them. (Is that acceptable?) I love all the old classics sung by Bing, Perry, or Frank. But my favorites are traditional carols and hymns. Favorite carol is the “Coventry Carol”. Favorite Christmas hymns are “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (if the whole congregation is singing) and “In the Bleak Midwinter”.

So, like 3 songs… totally not an excessive answer.

And I know basically all of Handel’s Messiah, and regularly sing all parts. I’m pretty awesome here in my house. Elizabeth claps.

3. When do you open presents?

Always Christmas day, and always first thing in the morning. And always listening to Mannheim Steamroller.

Although in recent years, I’ve learned to be flexible, in case husband is working, which is just a fact of life when you’re married to someone that owns a white coat.

4. What do you normally eat on Christmas day?

We don’t have a traditional meal right now. But when I was growing up with was basically a repeat of Thanksgiving – turkey and all.  Breakfast was always a buffet of quick breads and cookies. Breakfast of champions.

5. What do you normally eat on Christmas eve? (you know it’s different than Christmas day!)

Nothing traditional for our tiny family (although maybe we’ve had Mexican the last few years). But again, growing up it alternated each year between cabbage rolls or hominy pie. Bleh. Hated it! My mom finally wised up and started doing enchiladas about 6 years ago.

During the day on Christmas Eve, my sister and I started a tradition when we were in High School of eating clementines and playing video games. Even now, I still eat the clementines.

6. Christmas PJs?

Duh. Unwrapped on Christmas eve.

7. Do you own a Christmas sweater?

No, actually. And for the first time in my adult life, I wish I did. It would be kind of fun!

8. When do you set up your Christmas tree?

Growing up, we had two trees. A real one, which wasn’t set up until a few weeks before Christmas. And a fake one, which was always set up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. My sister and I cranked up the Neil Diamond Christmas album, and slowly put it up. We loved sliding under the tree to attach the bottom branches. We were even proud of the scratches the artificial branches gave us.

Now, it’s whenever I can do it. But Neil Diamond is still involved. I mean, come on. He does mean renditions.

9. When is it appropriate to begin listening to Christmas music?

Technically, after Thanksgiving. But sometimes I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas just seems appropriate in August, especially when you’re sweating in the South.

10. Favorite childhood Christmas tradition?

My dad had my sister and I put together a Christmas Eve concert when we were little. We were taking piano lessons, and he wanted us to play a few Christmas duets and read the Christmas Story from the Bible. We moaned and complained, but did it anyway.

That Christmas Eve concert happened every year after that, and got even more sophisticated as time went on. We planned all day for it (in between eating clementines and racing cars), and even printed up programs. I even flew with my flute, across country from California to Michigan, just to contribute to that year’s concert. I definitely plan on incorporating that tradition in our little family!

Don’t forget – leave your own favorite answers in comments, or write your own blog post! Can’t wait to read what y’all do!

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Go Away Christmas. I’m Not Ready…..

Keep Calm and Merry On



I’m not ready. I’ll be honest.

I am normally the girl who’s so excited for Christmas that I start listening to Christmas music early. I usually sneak the Christmas tree up right at Thanksgiving. I typically have a head start on Christmas baking because I just want to!

But not this year.

I’m not a Scrooge! It’s just I wish I was more prepared for Christmas!

Anyone else feel like this year just went WAY too fast? I’m still, mentally, thinking it’s October. I wasn’t ready for Thanksgiving yet, and then it just zoomed by!

And I SHOULD be in a better mood! This time last year, we had a newborn. And felt like this.

Christmas 2013 for Cup of Tea

Sleepy Elizabeth on Christmas 2013 Cup of Tea

I basically got the tree up, and that was it. But I knew that Elizabeth wouldn’t really care about Christmas, since she was only 6 weeks old.

This year, she’ll love it!

So I really need to get my act in gear.

What do you do when you need to get in a festive mood? Am I the only one that needs at least another month before Christmas rolls up?

Stay tuned tomorrow for a fun Christmas Q&A! I’ll be asking y’all questions about your Christmas traditions! If I met you in person, these are the things I would be interrogating you with right now. I love to know these things about people!

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