DIY Topiary Trees with Tiered Boxwood

What is it about spring that makes everything seem right in the world?  Dull hues of winter are quickly replaced by bright blooms and new green growth.  No matter the length of my to-do list, this season always gives me a sense of refreshment and renewal. 

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Whether it is the sight of beautiful flowers, the sound of baby birds or the cool breeze, I have decided that spring is without a doubt my favorite season.  I love to reflect this season in our home to bring inside the same fresh feeling of newness and restoration

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One of my favorite ways to decorate for Spring is with boxwood balls and topiaries.  The bright green gives such a crisp contrast against spring flowers.  Boxwood is perfect to use throughout the year as they complement every season’s décor.  

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My favorite boxwood décor would have to be the two topiaries on my front porch that I included in my post 10 Steps to Affordable Curb Appeal.  They were such an easy DIY project and they make such an inviting statement.

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I made them at a fraction of the cost of those sold in stores and was able to make them exactly the size I wanted.  I have gotten many compliments on these topiaries and they have held up well over the past two years, even in the hot Texas sun.

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What You Will Need:

  • Faux Boxwood balls
  • Long Branches
  • ¾ inch dowel rod
  • Wire
  • Stain
  • Decorative Pot or Urn
  • Aluminum pot – Small enough to fit in the pot/urn upside down
  • Hammer and large nail
  • Gorilla Glue
  • Scissors
  • Brush

Step 1:  Go online to find some faux boxwood balls.  The dried boxwood is very expensive and not the best option for outside.  You can find several faux options online that look very realistic.  I purchased mine at Joann’s.com when they had a 40% off sale.  I have also seem them at Hobby Lobby and consumercrafts.com.

To make a topiary that is configured like mine, you will need two 8-inch balls and one 10-inch ball but really any sizes will do.  This your opportunity to customize your topiaries to the size and style you want!

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Step 2:  Pick out a decorative pot or urn.  Ideally, you will want one that is heavy so that it is not easily blown over.

Step 3:  Find some very long straight branches and a ¾” dowel rod.  Combined together they will look just like a real boxwood stem.  If you can’t find branches, you can also use ¼ inch dowel rods at found at Home Depot.  I used branch trimmers to the larger dowel rod to …inches.  You can cut your branches about 8 inches shorter than the dowel rod.  You don’t want the branches to extend down into the aluminum pot, just the main dowel rod.

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I then fastened several of branches to the dowel rod with wire to make a large “stem”.  This is way more realistic looking than using one big dowel rod.  I tied wire around the stem branches underneath where each ball would go so the wire won’t be visible when it is all together.  The below picture is a side-view of the stained stem.

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Step 4 :  Once you have your dowel rods or branches tied together, it is now time to stain.  I used a sample can ($2.30) of Behr’s semi-transparent deck stain in chocolate, because it is what I had on hand.  You could really use any stain or gel stain.  Ideally, you want to paint the stain on and let it be kind of streaky.  I let that dry for a couple of days.

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Step 5 :  In the meantime, take your aluminum bucket and put it upside down in your decorative pot.  Use gorilla glue to glue the edges in the pot and let it dry 24 hours.

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Step 6 :  After the stain has dried, it’s time to make a hole for the trunk of the topiary.  I used a large nail and hammer and kept hammering holes until I had one big hole just the size of the set of sticks.  You want it to be a tight fit.

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Step 7 :  When the hole is the right size, squeeze some gorilla glue into the hole so it goes to the bottom of your pot or urn.  Stick in the trunk and make sure it is straight.  Let that dry 24 hours.  The gorilla glue expands and will hold everything in place.

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Step 8:  Take your boxwood balls and cut some of the net-like interior, just enough so the balls can fit tightly on the step

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One of my topiary balls was sliding down the step, so I wired some of that interior netting to the sticks.  (You’ll find most of these faux boxwood balls are hollow with an interior plastic netting that all the leaves attach to.)

You are done!

twin topiaries

Like I mentioned, boxwood topiaries are great to have around the house because they work for all seasons.  I love that they are the one decoration in the house I never have to change out.

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Spring reminds me of new life but also consistency.  God tells us in Revelation 21:5 that He will make all things new one day.  Until then, we have spring’s reminder of the renewal and restoration that comes from only Him.

As God’s all about making things new, He offers us rejuvenation from life’s hardships and worries today.  Just as God cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, He personally cares about your every care and concern.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7  Although seasons of life change and our lives never seem to calm down, His love never changes.  He is our true constant, the one thing we can cling to as a calm in the midst of a storm. 

What do you feel is weighing you down?  Where are you in need of renewal and a fresh start?  Know that He cares for you more than you can possibly fathom and He waits for you to bear all your worries and fears.

 

Join us for Renovated Faith’s first giveaway!

Renovated Faith is giving away TWO of these three tiered trays – one for you and one for a friend!  Check back to see how to enter!

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‘Til Next Time,

 

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God’s Reaction When We “Just Show Up”

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Hardly Pinterest-worthy is the picture above.  In my meager attempts to live a shiny, compartmentalized, ‘I’ve got it under control’ kind of life, I often forget what’s most important.

This post was going to include a recipe for Stove-top Potpourri and explain ways to get to know your neighbors during the holiday season, and it still is…sort of.   When trying out the recipe, God showed me in greater depths how he wants me to engage with Him and others.

After realizing I cut the orange “wrong”, and that my lemons were too moldy to use, I noticed a sad, crusty French fry from last night’s gourmet dinner on the stove.   Although some might see this picture as a Pinterest-fail, I was reminded that this is still a beautiful picture in God’s eyes.

In 1 John, the apostle starts out by saying, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest and we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.”

The word manifest means “clear, obvious.”  With every sense, God wanted us to recognize the truth of who He is – that He sent His son out of His great love from us to deliver us from sin.  God made clear the truth of Christ by engaging us on every level.  He made his truth evident by sight, sound and even touch. 

When the disciples saw that Jesus filled their nets with fish, when the woman was healed after touching His robe and when a little girl was brought back from death upon Jesus only hearing her story, Jesus made it clear that He wants to engage with us on every level possible.  Notice that He didn’t wait until these people had their act together or got well, He engaged with them at the time of their greatest need.  God wants us to come to Him as we are.  He doesn’t care that we don’t have it all together (and no one does), He just wants us to show up and to seek to engage with Him.

The picture of my Stovetop Potpourri will never make it on the pages of a magazine, but it still counts.  I still “showed up.”  It brings glory to God in that He knows my heart’s intent to build relationships with my neighbors to hopefully be a vehicle for His love.   He doesn’t care that the process wasn’t perfect.  Your Heavenly Father doesn’t want you “clean yourself up” before presenting your requests to Him.  He wants to engage you in your greatest time of need and come as you are.  He is delighted when His children “just show up”!

The same can be said in how we engage with others.  A couple months ago, I didn’t take a rare opportunity to talk to my neighbor because my hair wasn’t done and I wasn’t wearing makeup.  Ironically, sometimes the things that we try to hide from others are the things that can form a bridge to connect on an interpersonal level.  Often when others see that we care more about them instead of maintaining appearances, it makes us more approachable and so much more real.  In making an effort to be transparent, perhaps our next conversation won’t be just be a quick exchange of pleasantries, but an opportunity to engage in real conversation.

God wants us to be transparent about the depths from which He has saved us.  Thankfully, He doesn’t want us to engage with him as a sterile, June Cleaver, ‘my lipstick is always on’ version of ourselves and neither do our neighbors.

God longs to engage your every sense in such a way that we are no longer focused on how we are perceived but only on how HE is perceived by others through us.  God does not require us to be perfect but He simply wants us to be presence.  He wants us to be real with others about the difficult and pain that life brings, knowing that God can heal our every wound and alleviate every fear.

As in 2 Corinthians 2:15, may we be the “pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”  The reality of ourselves might not always be pretty but there is an opportunity for others to see His love when the abundance of His all-sufficient love meets our insufficiency.  Don’t forget the power in just showing up.

 

Stove Top Potpourri Recipe

  • 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 T. whole cloves
  • ¼ c. cranberries

Use this download to make your own labels for your neighbors.  I tied them with baker’s twine and my daughter and I had fun putting them in each neighbor’s mailbox!

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JOY Wreath Tutorial

Our women’s ministry at church had an event that included Christmas cookies, a hot cocoa bar and also some craft projects.  Guess who volunteered to be in charge of said crafts!?

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Every lady had the option to make a JOY wreath and customize it with various decor including berries, glitter feathers, snowflakes and polka dots!  The wreaths were a big hit and were a quick and easy project for a large group.

What You Need:

  • “Wood” Letters  – The cheapest I found were the 9″composite letters at Hobby Lobby at $2.38 each.  They go on sale every four few months so you can get them even cheaper.
  • 10″ Grapevine Wreath – I found them at Consumercrafts.com at $1.47 each.
  • Hot Glue Gun and several hot glue sticks
  • Fishing line
  • Spray Paint
  • Decorative Sprigs, Snowflakes, etc.
  • Optional: Vinyl stick-on polka dots – I got mine at amazon.com

The total cost was $7.00 and we just asked women pay $5.00 to offset the costs.

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After gathering my supplies, I spray painted the letters with flat white spray paint and sanded when needed.  After they dried for 48 hours, I started gluing the letters to the wreath.

Put your J face down and put a large amount of hot glue at the bottom. Place your wreath on top and press down firmly.

 

Do the same with the top of the Y. Add hot glue again and press the wreath down.  Make sure the J,O and Y are in a straight line before the glue cools completely.  It will take a few minutes for that much glue to cool.  Add more glue if needed to make sure the letters are attached well to the wreath.

 

While the glue continues to cool, put a big glob of  glue at the top back of the J on the X that is marked  Stick the knotted end of a small piece of fishing line into the glue.  Let it cool completely before you turn your wreath over.

 

Trim the end of your picks with the wire cutter and hot glue them into the wreath.

 

All 30 women had a great time making their wreaths and were able to each add their personal touch.  It was such a versatile and easy craft that anyone can do and we still managed to stay on budget.

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Another craft option at the event was the Nativity Ornaments from last week’s post.  Next week I’ll post a neighbor gift idea and some things God showed me about how to better engage with my neighbors.

‘Til Next Time,

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DIY Nativity Christmas Ornament

As I turn a sharp corner from the tasks of Thanksgiving, I’m met head-on by another rapidly growing to-do list.  My focus on Christmas cards, gift ideas, decorations, and teacher gifts so easily clouds my intention to focus on Christ this holiday season.

Why do I struggle most with finding time to spend with God during the holidays?   How ironic that the word “holiday” actually means “Holy Day” – a time set a side to remember and meditate on the gift of His Love that came in an unlikely manner to an unlovable people.

This year, my prayer is to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and to do away with anything that takes the spotlight off of Christ and His birth.  Maybe that means not doing Christmas cards this year or that many the people on my gift list get gift cards.  Maybe I buy my desserts this year (gasp!).  It’s ok to let some things go if it means having time to relish the joy  this season brings.

What are your biggest distractions?  What tasks do you need to distance yourself from this Christmas in order to grow closer to Him?  What items on your to-do list are life-draining and which are life-giving?  Ask the Holy Spirit to increase your awareness of God’s promised presence this Christmas season.

I like to surround myself with decor that reminds me of the true focus of this time of year – that over 2,000 years ago a baby was born to be a messenger of salvation and love to a lost world.  One such item is this Nativity Ornament.  It is such an easy craft to make with your kids but also a classy addition to your tree.

Here is what you need from any craft store:

4″ grapevine wreath

3/4 inch wood ball

White card stock

Silver glitter scrapbook paper

Gauze

1 inch piece of a dowel rod (1/2 inch diameter)

Silver glitter (optional)

twine or yarn (optional)

Hot Glue Gun

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First,  print and cut out the “Adore Him” banner on white card stock with this download.  Be careful to cut just inside the gray line of the banner

Next, use the same file to print the star stencil.  Cut out the star on card stock and use it as a stencil by tracing it on the back of the silver glitter scrapbook paper.  Cut out your star.

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Adhere your star to the top of the wreath with hot glue.  Then, add a small amount of hot glue to the back of the banner and attach it to the star.

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Now, take the round ball and hot glue it to the dowel rod piece like so.  (I cut off a small piece of dowel rod with a trim saw.)  Use plenty of hot glue and don’t worry if it is visible because we will cover that part with the gauze.

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Cut two four-inch squares of gauze and fold them over to make a rectangle.  Hot glue the baby in the middle, positioned so the gauze just covers the glue on the neck.  Wrap the gauze around Baby Jesus and secure it with more hot glue.

At this point you can sprinkle some glitter over the outside of the swaddle.  The glitter will get stuck in the gauze well enough that you don’t need glue.

Use a generous amount of hot glue to secure it to the wreath.  Finally, add a piece of twine at the top or just a hook and it’s ready for the tree!

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Now, you have a cute nativity ornament to help you to remember the present of His presence this holiday season.

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Be sure to subscribe to the blog as next week we will make the JOY wreath below!

 

‘Til Next Time,

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