Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Christmas Village Video 2007

A Peak into the Christmas Village

Here's one of the first shots of what's going on inside this year's Christmas village. It looks lilke Mom is cooking dinner for the boys who just got back from sledding.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Christmas Garage Wooden Table

John, Jim, Caitlin, and Kendon built this wooden table last year so we could get some height in the back of the garage. It was easy to break down and store. This year, I was able to put it back together by myself.
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The Christmas Garage

We started the garage last week. We got up half of the plastic sheeting. We used a staple gun. Then, we hung the white and blue net lights on cup hooks that we screwed into the ceiling. We looked everywhere for the black sheers, but didn't find them until a few days ago. We built the wooden table and finished the train track (seen on the floor). It took a few days, but we're in good shape for some serious work this weekend.

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Copeland Christmas Sign

John decided to redo the Copeland Christmas sign this year. Last year, we did it very quickly and we had a few problems. First, we used Gorilla glue, which is a great product, but it exapands a lot as it dries, so it kind of seeped out and looked yucky. Second, the sign was bumped before it dried completely, so the letter dried on crooked. Photos of the sign from last year can be found here.

Here's a photo of the wooden letters right after we scraped them off the plank. We had to sand them down before repainting with walmart spray paint.

Christmas Village base

I know this in backwards order, but here is a quick shot of the village backdrop. John insisted that his tv speakers were incorported into the village this year. I think I ended up doing a pretty good job of disguiding them. Wait till the final shot!
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Christmas Village

Here's a close up of the Christmas village after one whole day of work. I can't believe how long it took to get to this point!
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How to Set up a Christmas Village

So, this is my fist blog post with my new laptop. A lot of Christmas-related stuff has gone on around the house in the last week. I'm bummed I haven't been able to post about it.

So, the village under the TV is complete. Here's a photo after the first day. The village was about a third done after the first day.

I had no idea where to start, so I decided to begin by bringing all the village pieces inside and stacking them against the wall. Then, I put all the accessories (trees, figures, snow, etc.) in another pile. I decided to begin with a new piece that John and I bought on Dec 26th last year. I chose this piece because it's pretty tall and I thought it would make a great anchor piece. It's the one in the back right. A pillowcase-covered empty village box was used underneath to give it height.

A huge cardboard box was placed on top of the table, then the blue icicles were taped to the cardboard. Then, a snow blanket was layered on top, then a sheet of styrofoam, then another sbnow blanket was placed on top of the styrofoam. The styrofoam is from Home Depot and is meant to be used as insulation.
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

How we Power Our Display

We met with our electrician the other day. This is a photo of our breaker box in the garage. It's from 1989 when the house was built. I have posted a schematic of the plan that he will execute next week. The link is on the "2007 display" page of I'll post the schematic on this blog as soon as I have time. We're basically adding another 220 dryer outlet for our cheater cord and several regular outlets under this breaker box. On the side of the house, we're adding another six 20amp outlets, four of which will be partially dedicated to the four LOR controllers we purchased. The rest will be dedicated to static lights on the palm trees, fence, manger, etc.
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Adopted another little boy

I found this lonely little guy at the SPCA thrift store the other day. He was $7.
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Loading dock

Remember all that stuff we brought from storage? It had to go somewhere. Right now, it's on the side of the yard. I just bought another lock to put on the wooden fence door. Notivce how nice the passion flower vine on the side of the house looks.

Caution: Test Site

The porch is command center for the time being. Joseph's manger is working double duty as a work bench right now. This is where we test the lights to see how fast we can get the mega tree to spin!
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How to keep your christmas stuff organized

This stuff sits in a large ziploc bag all season and it's a pain to fumble through it when you need something as small as a light fuse. Here's the solution for the 07 decorating frenzy that has just commenced.

Brought storage unti stuff home

We have made three or four trips to storage and brought home about a third of its contents. We're getting there.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Today's progress

Today I bought some more lights from Walmart. I got solid blues with green wires. Last year all the solid colors sold out, so this year, I'm taking no risks. I talked to the seasonal department guy at Walmart today (it's always good to get to know them). Anyway, he said those big, ugly sequenced trees have not sold...not even one...and they've been out for two weeks. He said a lot of people look at them, but then comment about the $200 price tag.

I got a motion detector, two flood lights on clearance for $2 ea., some triple taps, and a new locking latch for the side fence. The locking latch is because we have some rubbermaid bins on the side yard right now.

I went to 4 metal shops in the industrial part of town today looking for a flagpole. No one carries them. I was tempted to stop into a car dealership and ask where they get their poles. Anyway, I also hit Sports luck...but there happened to be a sign shop next door so I gave it a shot. They can order one for $'s it must be a sunsetter or topflight. I didn't order, but instead drove by the flea market (which is closed during the week). There is a vendor with a 10 x 10 shed that sells flagpoles. I'll stop by on Saturday to inquire. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. $220 seems too expensive. If the flea market guy doesn't work out, we may have to resort to eBay.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Met Some New Friends

So, yesterday was the 2007 MiniPLUS. I have to say it exceeded my expectations in many ways.

First, the group of people that I've come to know online is a TOP NOTCH group of people. I wish I could emphasize this more, but I hate using call caps and lots of punctuation. So, enough said. John and I both really believe we gained some true friends yesterday.

Next, the combined talent of everyone in the room was circuit blowing. Some people are artists in every sense of the word. Some seem to be true inventors. We had several engineers who invent new ways of building/using microchips. We had builders, carpenters, welders, writers, entrepeneurs, retirees, etc, etc. Our common goal is our hobby of decorating for Christmas. I really enjoyed hearing everyone say why they do this crazy stuff. Everyone does it for someone else's benefit...mostly for the kids...or family. You could tell this is why they are passionate about it.

Next, I learned SOOOOOO much. I witnessed more than a few people say, "oh my gosh that is such an easy solution to a tough problem. Why didn't I think of that!?" John and I had so many "ah ha!" moments. We wrote them down so we wouldn't forget. I'll be sure to share in future posts.

More to come. John's pyched after yesterday, so we're headed over to storage to get more stuff to do the garage.
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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Today's Update

October 13, 2007As you can imagine, we are hard at work getting the house ready for the 2007 Copeland Christmas Display. Here are a few sneak peaks at new items for the '07 display.

15 North Poles ("How To" can be found here)
64 channels of computer-controlled, musically-sequenced lights
Two 72" wooden nutcrackers
A 20 ft. mega Christmas tree w/ strobe lights
Giant candy cane lights
blue LED icicle lights
14 new motionettes
37,000 new lights
4 new themed Christmas trees
Reindeer corral
2 snowmen that blow fake snow
New blowmold nativity set
New manger
Outdoor lighted Disney decorations
Countdown to Christmas clock
10 new village pieces
87 Annalee dolls (wow!)
More Santas

Friday, October 12, 2007

Received FM transmitter Today

So, we received the FM transmitter today! Everything is happening so quickly. Every couple weeks, we're getting stuff in the mail. I wonder when that sunsetter flagpole will be arriving (oh, that's right, I need to order and pay first). Well, if I get time, I'll be setting this bad boy up tonight.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What's Been Going On

Okay, so I mustered up the nerve to plug in a LOR controller and it worked great. I'm totally embarrassed to say, but it was pretty emotional for me (I didn't cry though).

I've still been getting ready for the Mini this Saturday, so not much progress on the display recently with the exception of finally getting a song sequenced. It's Carol of the Bells by Monique Danielle. I would post a video of the screen animation, but I don't feel like burdening my computer another buggy freeware app. Besides, I'm not too happy with how it turned out. On the positive side, I am optimistic and anxious about doing more sequencing because I feel like I'll become very good at it. I have been a bit reluctant to dedicate dozens of hours to learning all the shortcuts, etc because LOR11 is supposed to be coming out any day. We'll see. I don't think I'm going to continue to wait.

I just decorated a bit for Halloween. I've never relly decorated for Halloween. Last year, I bypassed it completely and began the garage display in mid-October.

I paid Marty Slack for the FM transmitter today via PayPal. It's expensive. Lots of people buy them on eBay for cheaper. I feel lie his customer svc will be better (should I need it) than some random eBay guy though. Plus, I'm supporting the community.

We've been scoping out all the department store's stuff. JC Penney has all their stuff 50% off. Wow. John wants a little chek santa with a chalkboard from JC Penney. This year, their nutcrackers are half the size of last years and not as cute. Yeah!

Lowes, Wal-Mart, and Biglots have their stuff out, but it's not that impressive. The "big thing" this year is the animated stuff (Mr. Christmas controller and ugly lighted trees). There's no big price cut in lights (led or regula), nor is there any huge advancement. There are new blowups, but I'm NOT fond of blowups. There's a new ferris wheel, but it's cheesy is my opinion. I'm not trying to be a downer...just reporting my initial findings.

The PC (planetchristmas) boards are getting very busy again. The new big thing this year is leaping arches. A lot of people are building north poles too.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Back in Business

We were out of town from Sep 15-30th. We've finally settled back in, unpacked, did the laundry, and opened the mail. Guess what was in the mail pile?!

..."and she rejoiced greatly! For in front of her stood two of the most glorious brown UPS boxes her eyes had ever gazed. She ravaged the tape, opened the flaps, and beheld four CTB16D Controlled Triac Cards encased in a waterproof electrical box..."

Believe it or not, the controllers have been sitting on the living room floor since we got back. I'm kind of scared to plug one in and try it. Almost a year of obsessing, researching, and debating has led up to this one point and now I freeze.

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