Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Snowy Snowman Man Scene

Last night, I finished the snowman scene in the living room. It's next to the cardinal topiaries. Here's the shot looking down from the ladder. Here's the shot looking down at last year's village scene.

After I finished this scene, I found a few more Annalee snowmen and a giant melting snowman I got last year. The scene is now finished. I really like it.
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The Tropical Pantry Scene is Half Done

I have been looking forward to this scene for months now. Each of them has been painted with a family member or friend's name. For example, the ship is Matthew of the Caribbean, after my little brother. The tiki hit is named after John in honor of his new full-size backyard tiki hut. We even have a Swamp bar which is blue/orange and is an ode to Ben Hill Griffen Stadium in Gainesville where John went to college.
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The Gold/White Kitchen Cabinet Scene

My friend and neighbor came over last night and today to help put together the pantry scene an the kitchen gold/white scene. Here is the gold scene almost done.

I think it took us 3 hours to get this done. I had to string the lights behind the fridge, then burry a few hundred white lights under snow blankets. Then, we got some old Grisham book to put under the 4 letters NOEL to prop them up. No jello boxes or soup can this year. We hung angel Annalees from the ceiling with fishing line. Then, we propped up two angels and a white Santa.

We want to do gold angel motionettes on the fridge like last year. They are still at storage, so I can get them tomorrow. I think I'm much more advanced this year than I was last year at this time. Tomorrow, the gator tree will be redone, the living room village will go up, the gold scene will be finished, and maybe the track lighting box will get done. It's such a pleasure to have someone help. Even though Halloween is a few days away, I'm already in the Christmas spirit.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Programmed Some More Today

I spent 3-4 hours today programming Carol of the Bells. I've added fades to beginning and end of each blink. I added the strobe lights. I mellowed out the north poles. I did some neat sweeps with the mega tree at the end of the song. I began The Chipmunk Song a few days ago and am having a hard time getting the beat tapped out in the software. I'm one of those that claps off beat.

I'm also monitoring a spider bite that I got at storage yesterday. John's at storage now with a trailer he borrowed from a friend. He's bringing back Annalees and village pieces for the decorating party we're hosting on Thrusday. I can't wait.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The 2007 Wine Table Village Scene

I was trying to find this photo earlier. Here is the 2007 wine table village scene. I was satisfied with the blue under the glass top, but I went back and put green garland around the edge. I need to figure out a better solution this year.
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A New Nose

Just a follow up to my earlier post about painting Sata's nose. Here he is. All painted up.
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The Peacock Tree in the Garage

I put together the peacock tree today. It's all jewel tones and has the two peacocks from my Aunt Cindy, the green nutcracker from my inlaws, and the green balls from my Mother. I put a pretty lame bow on the top of the tree...I need to find something else to put on top.

You can see the three toy soldiers and the beginnings of a 6' x 8' snowy mountain with a train. John's been working hard designing a mountain structure. It's very cool and he has done a fantastic job. The train track is about 24 inches off the ground. He's used plywood, 2x4s, newspaper, spray foam, cinder blocks, and PVC pipe. The backdrop is once again plastic sheeting that will have white and blue lights peaking through, so it will look like a starry, starry night backdrop. Jim developed this backdrop and it works like a charm. In the way back, you can see our new workbench, peg board, and shelving. This has been a lifesaver this year.
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A Cardinal and Snowman Scene

I have decided to do a cardinal scene under the Sunfest poster. I can picture cardinals landing on open hands of the snowmen and fluttering all around them.

The topiaries are 5 ft tall and fit nicely on the left and right of the wine table we have in the living room. I grabbed 8 cardinal glass ornaments last year on sale. I hung them on the topiaries and they look cute. The topiaries came from HD after-Christmas sales. I've done a village scene here the past two years. I put blue lights under the glass table top with a snow blanket.
From 2007 11 Christmas Set up

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Silly Explorer, Santa is Not in the South Pole

My brother is in Antartica...where the South Pole is located!
He's not really in search of Santa, and Antartica is so big, he's like 800 miles away from the South Pole. He's at McMurdo Station which is due south of New Zealand. It's the largest collony in Antartica, supporting fewer than 2,000 residents.

A Wizard of Oz Themed Tree

I put up a half-finished a Wizard of Oz themed Tree yesterday. John surprised me with some of the Oz Collection last month. It's my favorite movie. He said the rest of the collection is on back order and will arrive in November.

A friend suggested to use raffia for the bow at the top because it is made of the same stuff as the scarecrow. She also suggested I get blue/white gingham for bows and a tree skirt. It looks adorable!

I think I have emerald green mirrored ball ornaments and heart ornaments. I'll skip the brain (if I only had a...) ornament because that's a bit wierd.

John said I should have used a yellow or green tree (yellow brick road or emerald city). I thought the red tree for red ruby slippers is cute. Plus, I didn't have an extra green or yelow tree, but I did have an extra red one.
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Minor Rhinoplasty on Santa Claus

The paint chipped off this Santa last year. I think he's had touch ups before.

I had to find a rosey colored matching paint to fix him up. After a nose job this year and a shampoo last year, he's good for at least another decade. The only thing he may need is an oil change in his arm next year. He's about 4.5 ft tall and has a motor that moves his arms.
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The Ladybug Themed Tree

I've been excited about this tree for a while now. Here it is...almost complete.

I have another half dozen ornaments in storage that I haven't been able to get to yet. It's in a corner of the kitchen. I have two of the large poinsettias flanking the sink (which is just barely out of view). The trees are cute. They are 4 ft, prelit, and were purchased from HD last year the day after Christmas...I got them for a few dollars.

My friend Vicki has a young daughter who likes ladybugs also, so she helped me throw this tree together.

I've been collecting ladybugs since I was a kid. Infact, I remember playing with that wooden ladybug when I was 5 years old.
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Got a Song Half Way Sequenced

I've been working on getting the songs for this year's display sequenced. Recently, I have been working on Carol of the Bells by Monique Danielle. I have about 10 hours into it and it's about half done. I actually began working on this one for last year's dispaly, but never had the chance to complete it.

I have to go back into the sequencing program and fade back the intensity of the north poles by 50%. They are too bright at 100% intensity. I also need to make the peaks and valleys of the song more dramatic by having tweaking the builds. (In my head, that makes sense).

Our Friend's Halloween Decorations

What a beautiful Halloween display!

Our friends down here in S. Florida. tranform the inside of their house each Halloween. Most of the little houses are from Lemax or Dept 56.

On Thursday, she had us over to enjoy all her little decorations. Everywhere you looked, you saw something new.

Lastnight, we did another Friday in the Run. This was a special FITR though. It was a Halloween costume party. It was pretty fun and gave John a good pracctive run for this Friday.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

A New Tree Skirt

I made a gator tree skirt for the gator tree. I've only had the fringe sitting in the sewing box for a year, so I thought it was about time to get it done. The fabric was $10/yd. at Walmart.

I bought the fringe at a thrift store last year with the intention of making this tree skirt. I have leftover fringe and the remaining half yard of fabric still. I'll make another tree skirt because I made the center hole way too big. It's nothing a little fake snow can't cover up, but I might as well make another one because I have the fabric and it only took me an hour.

Given that I don't know how to sew, I think it turned out pretty good. The fabric is pretty forgiving because it's thick and fleece-like. I wish I had orange thread. The blue worked just fine though.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Got Some Song Programming Done Today

I spent a good 4 hours today on programming a song for this year's display. It's John Lennon's So This is Christmas.

I was able to get the north poles done. The red rope light between the north poles is done only when the jingle bells hit all 4 beats in the middle of the song. The roof stripes mirror the north poles. Now that I did the base beat for the roof stripes and north poles, I can go back next time and tweak.

The biggest pain is that I can analyze the beats per minute (BPM) with a program, but the BPM changes throughout the song. So, it's almost faster (and definitely more precise) if I just manually click for every beat.
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More Fixing Broken Christmas Stuff

I fixed these guys back in January. The Christmas Buzz Lightyear was a pain to fix. He's a favorite for little kids part because they can touch him.

We don't allow kids to touch most of the display items (for safety), and we found that most little kids are absolutely dying to touch something...anything...please let me get my hands on something. So, we found that little 2, 3, 4 years old remember him from year to year and ask, " where is Christmas Buzz."

Last year, we made the mistake of leaving him in storage. After the third kid asked about him, we went over and got him.

These poor guys didn't see what was coming to them. They took a one story fall to the wood floors. They're ok now.
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Santa Likes to Have Fun Too

We have a small multi level glass-top bar on our porch and have been trying to figure out how to decorate it. Here's what we'll do. We have everything we need. How cute!

(note: If this is your photo, please contact me).
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More fixed Christmas stuff

In January, before I finished putting everything away, I tried to fix a bunch of broken decorations. I'm not electrically inclined, but I figured these things couldn't be that complex. They are.
Here was my journey earlier this year (in January).

Here's the marrionette. He needed a new string to hold up his poor head.

Here's the broken snowman

Here's the motor of the broken snowman

Here's the working snowman

How to Fix Broken Christmas Decorations

The manufacturers said I need to try replacing the AC adapters. The only problem is that the AC adapters are soooo specific to each product that you cannot find them at any local stores.

For example, the Reindeer Corral below requires a 4.5 Volt adapter. No problem. But it has to be 930 miliamps. I don't quite understand the whole miliamp thing, but I do know that if I don't get the correct miliamp adapter, I run the risk of burning up the motor. Nice, huh? I have about six of these type of items. Oh, and these are not the cheapy one-season use type items. They should last several years. Oh well. I guess I'm off to buy new AC adapters.

So, I guess I'm a bit more frustrated than I might normally be because I sent a very pleasant email to the largest manufacturer of these type of decorations. I asked them what I should do about a few items which have stopped working (ie the motor burned out and the motor compartment is sonically welded shut). Keep in mind, we take very good care of our Christmas stuff. Here's the response:

Dear Danielle,

Thank you for your interest in the __ Collection. The scenario regarding your ___ items is very unfortunate. Unfortunately, there is no implied warranty on novelty items. Generally speaking, products cannot be fixed. ___ products are manufactured in China and there is no one in the USA that has the expertise to fix the products. ___ company policy regarding unsatisfactory merchandise is to have that merchandise returned to the place of purchase for a refund or exchange. In cases where retailers cannot accommodate the consumer, ___ attempts to assist as much as possible. If the item cannot be returned to the place of purchase for a refund of exchange, we would suggest you send the defective items back to ___ for replacement. ___ does not sell on a retail basis and as a result we do not stock merchandise.

Any replacement is based on the availability of the item. ___ must receive the defective item back. Shipping costs both ways and successful delivery of the defective item to __ is the responsibility of the consumer. The return replacement process may take 90-110 days from the date the item is received at __. Finally, there is a required check or money order for shipping and handling in the amount of $10.00 if the item was purchased over a year ago, was a display item or there is more than one item being returned. If you are interested in the return process, please contact ___.

Customer Service Team

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