Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

In the past few days, events have caused me to feel even more deeply that material possessions and status mean little while relationships mean a great deal.

I want to make the most of the new, freshly minted year! What are YOUR plans to make 2009 a year well lived? I'm still working on a short list.

So far...

1) Not let my studio get the the point where it was most of December. Embarrassingly, on a lark I posted photos on an online forum (Messy Studio) and got far more comments than on the photos of when my studio was pristine (well, pristine for me~Clean Studio).

But, December was a deliciously creative month due to the commitment to do a little each day, so I need to working on...

2)Seeking balance. In everything. How do I accomplish that? I really dislike lists, but they work. Need to find ways to make lists more palatable...

3)While eating less. Eat less. The past few months of holidays have been a whirlwind of yummy food and how do I bring in the New Year? By making sticky buns. My jeans are tighter and my body is tired because it needs to...

4)Move more. Without fail, while each holiday season is a cause for celebration, it also gives me the convenient excuse that I have no time for exercise. I'm so happy that last year I ran a 5K. Huge for me. HUGE! I completed another very tough 90 day program. But, cold weather brought a near halt to the running and then our television broke, so I couldn't just pop in a dvd then fall came around with the first of the holidays and along with the activities, I became a temporary couch potato, so this year...

5)No more excuses. In exercise, in eating less (and eating well), in seeking balance and in keeping not only the studio, but my home a haven against chaos.

This past weekend, I did some shuffling around in the studio. Moved a small table in, organized the Christmas chaos, rearranged and hubby finally put a light in that has been waiting on the sidelines for almost two years! Love this light!

We also finished a little project for the back porch that was, at the least, 5 years in the making. Oh, the best of intentions, but in the end, hubby and I did get it done! Photos soon...

Ohh, big P.S.~ArtsyMama has started a year long blog subscription that will feature many talented artists. Each week will have a different focus, but each month will center on a certain color. Sound like fun? It's only $12 for the entire year. That's less than 3 trips to Starbucks for a year of art-filled living!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I'll be back tomorrow!

And hope to catch up my pretty, vintage blogging friends. Hope all had a lovely Christmas! Until then,I'll leave this to keep you warm!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Joy of the Unexpected

I know, I know, it was wrong to tease and to hint about this most amazing of gifts I received. And then not to post for several days! But then, the Christmas activity kicked into 5th gear. My son came home from college and the girls are officially on their winter holiday.

To explain this gift, we have to suspend all adult disbelief and selfishness and open our hearts up to the unexpected. I've come to know this family through working with youth, through their daughters and through our church. I've told Carol that I'd be happy to travel with her anywhere after she was the GREATEST of help and most fun of companions on a recent all girl trip (a recipe for possible drama and mayhem. Nowhere in sight on this trip!) and Kevin is a brother to me most assuredly (and he has a heart for working with hurting kids. and he cooks. Good cooking!). Their daughters are always good for the best hugs. Something this mom needs at times after a difficult day with my own teen and tween.

Last Thursday evening, our youth group was having their Christmas party when Kevin hands me a box and tells me to open it right then. He wants to see my reaction. I'm sure it's something silly since we all share a lot of goofy laughs, so I'm game and open it.

Oh. My. Gosh. I'm almost blinded by the sparkle! The box is full of vintage costume jewelry! Rhinestones, pendants, earrings, pins, a cameo, bracelets, necklaces; the box is full of a vintage, artsy lovers dream.

Understand that I could wax eloquent and never fully explain what a perfectly perfect and unexpected gift this was. They know my heart and my heart nearly burst with joy. I don't know whether to wear it all or play with it all! How to properly thank them and Momma Anderson, the original owner of the jewelry, I'll never know.
People can surprise us and they take joy in doing so. I had been so very caught up in the 'doing' of Christmas that I didn't expect to be given to in a such a wonderful way. I can now remember what it feels like to be a child on Christmas morning and find that Santa brought me something that, even in my endless circling of the Sears Wish Book, could not have expected and could not have been more perfect for me. The best gift of all though, is this family, not their jewelry; that they are a part of my family's life.

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 19, 2008

We need a little Christmas, right this very minute!

And Kath is giving away some goodies tomorrow evening. For details...Kath's Blog: Blog Candy Fest Give-Away No 2 (I could really use some new scissors!)

My camera and my Christmas journal have a hard time meeting for coffee and photos. The journal usually comes out for play late in the evening. The camera functions best during the daylight hours. They were able to pass like ships in the night the other day and this is what I had done at that point:

This one above was on wrapping. I have a gift wrap fetish. It's a disease I tell you. If a dodgy guy on a street corner whispered "flocked papers from Paris" to me as I walked by, I'd follow him into the back of a windowless van to buy whatever he had to sell. It's that bad. I kind of felt bad about gluing an old honeycomb bell in here and then further defacing it with a rub-on. Then I opened it and smiled. It was worth it. A few years ago, I taught a class making a book with these little cardboard cd holders. I had bought several for more projects and well, you know how that goes. I made a Christmas 'Mix Tape' cd and put it in here as a snapshot of our favorite holiday songs. This will tie into the album with vintage seam binding once it's all bound.

Everything is pretty darn simple and I have to admit it's a challenge not to do a little here or a little there and keep tweaking it, but even simple looks quite nice when you stack them all together and get a vision of how the finished project will turn out.

Remind me to show you the BEST Christmas gift ever! It's so amazing, I don't even know if I should accept it. I'm at a loss for words (a very rare occurence). Vintage, sparkly lovers will drool. It's prettiness squared. It's the PI of pretty. It's, well, make me show you later!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Operation Mistletoe, off the rails!

Shopping done. Check.

Gifts for out of town relatives wrapped. Check

Packages sent. Check. (bless hubby and his willingness to stand on line)

Cards send. Um, some, but not all. Not check. Not even hat check. (the small eensie weensie check I have are these very few cards I made for a very few fellow artsy types; I even sacrificed some vintage lace and sheet music. a painful, but satisfying creative process)

All handcrafted gifts done, wrapped and delivered. Not. Even. Close. (cue Twilight Zone music cause this is where I'm at right now)

Am I worried, frazzled, freaked? Not yet. But I'm out of Cadbury Mini Ornaments, so if you see me at 2 a.m. at the gas station buying up all of their overpriced Christmas candy, you know the melt down is near. But hey, why are YOU at the gas station at 2 a.m. in the morning young lady? Hmmmm?

(I'm not finished decorating either, bwahahahaha)

But, I did make a bit of time for some vintage loveliness....

I love old glass refrigerator dishes. Not only do we actually use them as refrigerator dishes in this house, they are perfect in my studio to hold cards, embellishments, piles of lace and all manner of whatnot. I snagged this one for so cheap, it'd make you want to slap your 7th grade science teacher.

My love affair with Putz houses began a few years ago when I won one in an auction and decided to read up on them. This little pink one joined the vintage village last week. (I also brake for brush trees, num, num, yum)

I saw 2 tiny blue suitcases perfect for a weekend at Nana's. Opened them up and nearly fainted with delight at the lining. Squeals of joy! Then hastily shutting them in an attempt to deflect interest or attention from other shoppers.

Can't get to Nana's for Christmas, but I can use them in the meantime to show off some pretty little boxes of Shiny Brites!
And because I can breath a sigh of relief that all the packages are in the mail, I giggle to myself when I think about how I taped those suckers shut. I wish I could buy a case of TINSEL TAPE. It is fun on a roll. And think of the possible uses for art projects. Oooooh! Good stuff!

For a bazillion gift ideas, art projects and freebie downloads, check out: One Pretty Thing I love the Procrastinate Now, Panic Later spoof card download!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let's All Do The Peppermint Twist!

As promised, here is the 'recipe' for the Peppermint Twist Bath Salts....

There is a secret to this. Have you ever bought the bath bombs from LUSH? They fizz and foam and are fantastic!
These Peppermint Twist salts do the same thing. They fizz and foam and are fantastic for your feet. Super tingly fun. When your feet feel good, the rest of the body relaxes and your entire mood changes. It's a proven fact. My Grandmother told me so.

If you want to do other fragrances, you can use them in the bath. (I don't recommend a straight peppermint twist bath because, um, well, 'tingly' might not be appreciated everywhere)

You might have also seen something similar offered at juried craft shows and if you ask about them, some lady might've raised her eyebrow at you and hissed that it was a top secret family recipe or some similar whatnot?

That was my mother. I gave her the recipe. teehee

I'm not going to go all Pioneer Woman on you with detailed photos and instructions. This is truly easy peasy to do.

This is what you need:

For each 'batch':

1 Cup Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Cornstarch (it got left out of the photo, poor cornstarch's feelings are hurt now)
1/2 Cup Citric Acid
Peppermint Essential Oil (6 droppers full)~Use a disposable dropper unless your looking to go into business with this
The Almond Oil is there for a variation, I'll tell you about that in a minute.

This is where it gets technical: Dump first 3 ingredients in a food processor. Turn it on. It will kick up a little dust (I didn't say this was a clean recipe, just an easy one). Put Peppermint Essential Oil in one dropper at a time giving the oil time to mix in. Turn processor off. And there you have it, Peppermint Twist Bath Salts! You'll get a nice batch of 2 Cups.

I usually package these up with directions to fill a basin with hot water and pour about 1/2 cup of salts into the water then slip your tootsies in. I try to make it sound relaxing, poetic and basically as though it would cure the common cold. That's how good these are!

Sue asked a great question: Can you use your mint from the garden in this? Why yes you can! Just make sure it's dried and process it along with the other ingredients to add more fragrance to the salts. Chocolate mint would add an even deeper fragrance note. Very cool.

Like I said, you can use other oils and turn them into salts appropriate for the bath. Maybe these?
Packaging is half the fun for me! You could decorate a papier mache box to nestle a bag of the salts in. Or wrap a bag of salts up in a vintage Christmas handkerchief perhaps? I'm putting small bags in little candy boxes. This one is vintage, but you can find some great reproductions at Silvercrow Creations.
I've put a few 'Bath Kisses" (the variation) in a bag that will go nicely in this little snowman's empty noggin:
To do this variation, you follow the same directions with this change: Before adding the essential or fragrance oil, blend 2 1/2 Tablespoons of a light oil such as almond oil into the dry ingredients as well as 1 Tablespoon of water. Then add your essential or fragrance oil.

You'll also need a plastic candy mold. I think the kind Wilton makes works great. Mine is OLD. As in crackly old, but I'm not making candy, so it works.

Now pack the wells of that candy mold with your mixture as though you were packing brown sugar into a measuring cup for cookies. Really pack those suckers. Now, gently turn them out onto wax paper and let them 'cure' at least overnight. Now you'll have foaming bath kisses!

Depending upon your humidity level, you may have to play with this variation to find great success. My first batch this year was crumbly, but they'll still work just fine.

Where can you find things like citric acid (not a real 'acid') and Peppermint Essential Oil or other fragrance oils?

Any good organic health market that sells in bulk will likely have essential oils and maybe even citric acid. Call ahead to check before you make the trip. A herb store or farm, will likely carry small amounts of essential oils. Atlantic Spice Company has citric acid, disposable droppers, essential oils and fragrance oils with a low minimum order of $25. If you like to cook, they have all the herbs and spices you might need, plus vanilla beans at a steal of a price. Sweetcakes has a seriously fabulous offering of fragrance oils that will make your head spin. She also carries essential oils and a host of other goodies that may send you off on a whole new hobbie trajectory. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Let me know if you have questions and I'll try to pull my feet out of the peppermint bath and over to the computer to answer!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We have a winner!

Actually, two winners! Rosemary at Free Advice Worth Every Penny has won the Cool Yule Vintage Christmas Box and Cora at Clearly Vintage has won the Peppermint Twist bath salts. Ladies, send me an email with your snail mail address info and you'll be getting an early Christmas gift!

I promised the recipe for the Peppermint Twist bath salts and I'll be posting those tomorrow along with a few ideas on packaging and sources for supplies. I tried to take some suitable photos this afternoon, but with our dark, rainy day, it was truly, truly bad. Bad, creepy photos with no Christmas cheer whatsoever, bah hum bug!

But never fear, Christmas fun is abounding everywhere this year!
Melissa at Creating from the Heart,. is giving away a gorgeous Christmas Wish Box. While you're there, be sure to check out her birthday box too!

Priscila at Casa Bella Chic has a Christmas Challenge with some adorable vintage images. If you're up for a little creative therapy, head on over.

Do you drool over pretty Christmas homes all aglow with vintage loveliness? Pretty Petals is having a Pretty Little Christmas Blog Party on the 15th!
Scrap In Style is having a 12 Days of Christmas Workshop hosted by Jeanette Herdman with projects, recipes, ideas and loads more.

Holly Doodle Designs has a couple of dear projects to work on with your children, but they are just as sweet for us big kids!

And can you believe the swap that Glitz Design is giving away? I haven't had a stocking like that since, well, never!

Remember this?
Well, this Fall it held a couple of Baby Boo pumpkins and finds yet another life for Christmas...
I wired it to an evergreen wreath after filling it with a few vintage Shiny Brite ornaments, vintage tinsel that was stuck in the old ornament box and a frilly, frothy blue bird that I found at the craft store. After the holidays, I'll take it off the wreath and save it for next year and hope against hope, that a wee little mother robin decides to make her home in our rose bushes again next year!

Oooh, I love to give presents!

And other people seem to share that inclination as well! Life As Lou is having a fabulous giveaway later today, so run over there and check her out as well as her adorable tutorial! Lots of other links and giveaways to point you to later as well as the drawing for the 2 little prizes I'm sending out later today, but Lou's giveaway ends today, so check it out post haste.

I'm headed off for a field trip today. All day with Middle School children at an art gallery. The whole day. Most definitely will be needing some paper therapy and maybe a little drinkie this eve, don't you think?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Operation Mistletoe continues...

more packages wrapped, more ornaments hung, the wreath is on the door! I'd say it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Just a quick aside, aren't they cute?One a full fledge teen and the other one a month away, these kinds of scenes are rare. Usually there is at least a fuss over who gets the quilt. Even with the remote muddling up the sweetness, ya gotta make the decision to recognize these little gems.

I am having a ball, a ball I tell you, playing with this Christmas journal. I stress easily. I freak out at the drop of a $.71 cent tea cup from the thrift store. Christmas rolls around and I'm am completely susceptible to the Fa La La Freak Outs. And there have been some legendary freak outs.

Most of the time, I can be calmed with a bag of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses or Cadbury Mini Ball Ornament chocolates, but those other times? Well, let's just recall Buddy the Elf when he informs a height challenged author that he is an angry elf. Remember the response to that? Shivers....

15 Minutes a day to commit to work on a little project for me and only me is a nice dose of creative therapy. I can put on some holiday tunes, mellow out and zone in on the moments that make the holidays meaninful. Here are a few of my pages I've been working on:

Just tonight, my college kid came home and fretted that he wasn't getting his share of Advent candy. I had to fill his pockets with sweets and send him back to school. After Christmas, I'll show him the page from the 5th and he'll laugh. I have proof that he counts on these traditions!
Just a day or two more before the drawing. If you're interested in a little giftie (and who isn't?), comment on the giveaway post below!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I have never in my life...

seen flocked screws.~My hubbie as he assembles a small chandelier (yep, a flocked one) for me.

P.S. Don't forget to comment on the post below to win one of my little giveaways! HoHoHo, nearly Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Fun and a giveaway!

This week, I enjoyed NOT getting all the Christmas decorating done, NOT fretting that the Christmas cards aren't sent, NOT joining the crowds of shoppers at the malls. This week, I enjoyed watching my youngest daughter pull her ornaments out of her special box and exclaim "It's like seeing old friends again!" I enjoyed playing in my Christmas journal and perusing the journals of others. I enjoyed making a little something special for a special couple. And I enjoyed the freedom of listening to carols day, night and in-between! Nothing like a little Harry Connick Jr. to snuggle into....

Little holiday treats:
Tim Holtz is doing his 12 Tags of Christmas again with lots of giveaways!
Teresa McFayden has a Comfort and Joy blog with 12 all new projects and a special guest designer. has has the cutest FREE holiday tags available for download.
This will make you cry, but it's a "Thankful" cry: Simplify the Holidays A Christmas Story
Pink Paislee has a gifted design team who are posting amazing ornaments each day on their blog. Check it out!
Clearly Vintage will be posting a new Christmas image each day until the 25th (and has loads of other images to enjoy).

Like other freebies? Especially if they smell good? Or are fun to play with in the studio? How about 2 freebies?
Leave a comment on this post and you'll have the chance for either a Cool Yule Vintage Christmas box filled with fun things to decorate with or use in an art project. You'll also have the chance to win a gift bag of Peppermint Twist salts! What is this you say? Imagine your feet are tired, worn and swollen from a day of holiday shopping. You come home. Take off your sad Chucks. Pour a bit of Peppermint Twist salts into a hot basin. Light a candle. Put on some music. Lock the door. Slip those tootsies into the Peppermint Twist salt bath and ahhhhh, heaven!

You have until December 10th to leave a comment and my youngest elf will draw names. I'll also post the recipe for Peppermint Twist salts that evening because this is a secret that is too good to keep!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On the 2nd Day of Christmas, the Flea Market brought to me...

a sick daughter. Actually this is her 2nd sick day and I'm feeling the cabin fever, especially when my holiday list that is about a mile long isn't getting any shorter due to the fact that I'm stuck indoors with a coughing, sneezy, snuffling, can't get to sleep chickie. And now I'm officially registering a fever.

On the other hand, involuntary sequestering can be good for the soul, the pocketbook and the crafty type. No excuses or reason why I can't play in my tiny, closet-like studio! (really, it's smaller than my in-laws closet, but I'd kill for her shoe collection)

Before I forget, last week before the Thanksgiving gluttony marathon, my hubby and I were able to meet up with Kim for a couple of hours of junking at the Old Lucketts Store and On A Whim. Lucketts had their design showhouse open and it was a Christmas feast for the eyes. I could've packed an overnight case and a bag of chocolate and moved in on the spot. I love quirky old homes with nooks, crannies, moulding, painted floors and I die for claw foot tubs filled with giant ornaments. Just. Die.

Our time was cut short to run home and pick up the youngest rug rat from a weekend youth trip, but I did manage to score a few little yummies...

A long strand of sparkling chandelier crystals which will be perfect for crafty projects, a tiny bunch of vintage package toppers, a vintage printed tablecloth that fell exactly at my $18 limit mark and a dangly fun bracelet that I am wearing as often as possible. The hubby actually found the tablecloth. Long ago and far away (well, our previous and first home) when I started collecting them, I set an arbitrary amount of $18 being the highest I would ever pay for a vintage cloth. I've stuck to the rule fairly well breaking it perhaps twice. It keeps my tablecloth avarice under control.

I had to work to pass up the Christmas tablecloths at Lucketts. I have to keep telling myself I have enough already. I just pulled them out of the linen closet today and am ready to drape them on every available table. If I can keep the kitty from snuggling up on them! Being sequestered at home, I've had time to wrap presents (I gave in to the lure of MORE wrapping paper, so flog me with a roll of French ribbon), do some cyber shopping and the most fun~work on my Journal Your Christmas book!

I made a decision not to buy anything for this project, but to work with supplies I already have. Already having a massive collection of Basic Grey Christmas paper on hand took care of the paper needs. Most of the other items I've put in the project basket aren't Christmas related, but will lend themselves well to the effort. Going out on a limb, I didn't buy a journal or album either. I hope it's not a mistake, but I cut cardboard sheets into 4x12in lengths and plan to get the complete project bound at Staples once I'm done.
Another decision I made was a quick one: to be brief. This month is busy enough as it is without me agonizing and spending hours trying to create the perfect project. This entire class is all about enjoying the process and the holiday. What fun would it be to start with good intentions, then wig out because one day didn't cause me to exclaim with joy over my inherent cleverness (ha, me clever?!?)?

Here is my cover and first 2 days. I've also been enjoying checking out the journals of others in the class. What talent and heartfelt journaling to peruse! Truly love how we can all take the same prompt and interpret it so individually!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Journaling the Season

For the past few years, I've read and viewed with envy the phenomenon that is Shimelle's "Journal Your Christmas" class on scores of other blogs. With a season that promises to be busier than ever this year, I've decided that perhaps making the commitment to quiet, to live in the Christmas moment, for at least a few minutes each day this season is in order.

Journal Your Christmas

My hope is that I will rediscover the value and meaning behind what my family does during this season of wonder, to recapture the wonder and to wind down the hysteria that fills every retail establishment with dread. Meaning? Why, if some moments drive me to stress eating, do I continue to repeat the same patterns every year?

I know one thing. Many of the small, endless tasks that befall me DO mean something to my children. We just arrived home this evening from a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday at my sister's home in Michigan when my children realized that our Advent calendar isn't out yet. They are in a panic. What will they do if they cannot probe the tiny pocket for their traditional chocolate mint that signals the countdown to the magic hour?

As soon as I post this, I'll be pulling down the attic stairs to bring the Advent calendar down to its rightful place in the first of many small Christmas traditions that will, hopefully, be journaled about this month during Shimelle's class.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

The First Gift of Christmas

Or Operation Mistletoe continues...

I have in my possession perhaps 40 rolls of giftwrap, various gift bags and boxes. What is the first gift of Christmas? A plain paper package tied up with string (or vintage seam binding as the case may be). When possible, I like to wrap the present to suit the receiver; maybe their decor, favorite colors, hobbies. This would explain why I have a dusty roll of John Deere tractor paper among my collection. I'm hurrying to finish the wrapping for my sister's family before we head off to Michigan for Thanksgiving!
I hope she and her hubbie like it.
I think she'll like these too since they're foodies. Gorgeous, rich vanilla beans!
Danielle tagged me for 6 random facts a while ago and it seems appropriate to share 6 facts or 'traditions' about my Thanksgiving (don't wig out on me if I have a weird quirk or two!):

1. My sister and I rotate homes for Thanksgiving each year. This year is her turn to host. We haven't decided what's worse; the expense & stress of buying all that food or the expense & stress of travelling between Maryland and Michigan. It's all worth it. Most years, our parents or my younger sister may join us. This year, our parents are moving on Thanksgiving weekend. We'll miss them!

2. We plan at least a month ahead of time what our menu will be. It usually begins when the November issue of Bon Appetit lands on our doorsteps. She makes up a spiffy spreadsheet when it's her year. I usually have the menu jotted down on sticky notes. Can we guess who the has the gift of administration?

3. I'm a big kid when it's comes to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Super huge highlight of the day for me. This is where I will let the turkey burn and the potatoes boil over while I sit on the floor and watch random numbers of current Broadway shows. Isn't it sad that I generally choose what I want to go see in the next year by a 2 minute number performed on Herald Square?:)

4. My son has a tradition to stay out overnight at Best Buy for the Black Friday sales. Some call this crazy. Some call it savvy. He thinks it's fun and is in mourning that he will not be able to have friends to join him this Thursday night. He has no shopping list. He didn't last year either, but he did come home with a new flat screen monitor for my computer.

5. Last year we started a new tradition of the Family Talent Show. After watching Dan In Real Life and seeing their talent show, we thought we'd give it a try. We had magic, singing, displays of physical strength and more. I've been informed that this year, my nieces have been working hard and plan to thrash the rest of us thoroughly. Guess I better stock up on age appropriate prizes!

6. We also have a Thankful journal to write our menu, draw pictures, journal what we're thankful for this year, etc. I added a few new touches to bring it into this Thanksgiving season.

I got all teary eyed looking through it today. I'm looking forward to filling the pages with more written expressions of gratitude this Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Do you see what I see? Christmas already!

It's not even December, but Christmas is hurtling at us faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive, able to leap tall build.....oh, that's Superman. Well, Christmas IS next month, that's for darn sure.

There are detractors who feel that Thanksgiving is lost in the holiday mix. They scoff when the Christmas trees go up before the last Jack-O-Lantern is put on clearance in the stores. They grump at Christmas music piped into elevators and get fussy upon the endless emails offering early bird deals to wrap up their holiday shopping needs.

I'm a big fan of Thanksgiving. It's the only meal of the year where I give myself permission to carb load guilt-free. I can take or leave the turkey. Breads, stuffing and pies are my vices. And I'm the only one in my family who gets really put out if I am interrupted during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. But, I'm of the firm belief that the Christmas detractors are either men who have no earthly idea that Christmas doesn't just 'show up and happen' mysteriously in their homes; presents wrapped, food served, children all wearing matching red sweaters. Or they're women who didn't get the Barbie Dream House or saw Mommie kissing Santa Claus when they were 6, thus having their Christmas hopes and dreams dashed for all eternity. I'll address the message of Christmas getting lost in commercialism argument at another time.

I kid! I kid!

In any case, Christmas is a PRODUCTION (where are the flashing blinky lights for this?). No doubt about it. If I don't have the majority of shopping and planning done by Thanksgiving, I know my stress level will fly through the roof along with Rudolph and 8 other tiny reindeer.

We live a bazillion, er, several hundred miles away from any family. This means I get to join the lovely people at the post office who, frankly, are killing me with the postage rates these days and every time I go, I get a asked a littany of other upsell questions that barely stops short of "Would you like fries with that?" If I don't have all my pressies bought or made, wrapped, packed with Christmas cards in the boxes and shlepped to the post office before the second week of December, I might as well have fruitcake shipped to my family for New Years Eve because that's about the 'kind of relative' they'll feel I am when their box doens't arrive until Groundhog Day.

That's just one example of why while my husband isn't yet on board with the Christmas 'plans' I have laid out for us, I am already full steam ahead on Project Mistletoe. Breathe Casii.... Breathe

Truth is, for many, many women and not a few men, we love to give, to serve, to pamper others and to open our homes in the spirit of hospitality. This is why we get caught up in the Christmas production. We are victims of our own giving nature; helpless to the urge to show our love for others in the way we best accept love.

I fell victim to the Christmas crafting elf by burning my thumb the other day. Sadly, after being so careful while handling a soldering iron, I turn around and scorch myself while taking dinner out of the oven. Lesson here? Not sure, but it did make handling anything requiring fine motor skills impossible for the rest of the night. Soldering had to wait for finishing the next day.

Last year we had a soldering class at Creative Escape. I bought the whole kit and kaboodle, brought it home and pretty much put it away never to be seen again. Not long ago, I dusted the stuff off and decided to try my hand at it. These are the beginning efforts. Little charm/ornaments/pendants/whatevers. Perfectly imperfect. Fun to do. Most of the images are from ARTchix Studio. If you don't have a lot of ephemera or images in your supply, The Graphics Fairy (Thanks Kim!) posts a free image every day. I got most of my supplies from Simply Swank.

Act One of Project Mistletoe?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pretty is as Thrifty does

Okay. Okay, okay, okay, so you know how when you get really excited when you get a great deal? Or you find something so unbelievably cool and you just can't wait to share it with someone? Cool! Then this is how I feel when on the 9th visit to a thrift shop I find something I actually want to buy instead of donate.

So, let's share, shall we?

Yes, I saw something on the shelves we donated, but we also found these beauties which we left the store with for less than a 10-spot:Lots of gloriously simple, but infinitely functional milk glass goodies for the kitchen; mixing bowls (which in my house double as serving bowls), a sturdy diner mug, a couple of bowls, a ramekin and a neato little vase. Plus a rosey, posey print.

Hubby doesn't know it yet, but I'm soon coming to a point where I'll box up all the newlywed Corelle to give one of our children when they get their first place. I'm ready to switch the kitch completely over to MY tastes.

And really it pains me that this is probably the stuff that my Nana sold at a garage sale for a nickle when I was a little girl. People are donating these classics. Sure they don't have the media love that Jadite gets or pink depression glass, but milk glass is an all inclusive glass. It doesn't discriminate. You can pair it with Jadite, depression glass in all shades, ruby glass. Heck, even new Fiesta and it will complement nicely. If you have milk glass and you don't want it, send it to moi!

I know the print isn't for everyone, but it was sitting there looking so lush and lonely that we brought it home. It does have a place in the grand scheme of our new living room plans, but for now, it will have to be happy perched on a ledge in the dining room. Kind of reminds me of these flowers that are still blooming in our garden.

If you haven't overheard the Christmas music playing in the background while you shop the past week, you probably haven't actually gone shopping. The season is here; especially if you make any of your decorations or gifts. There is a cool little blog happening this month. You can click on it if you look on the right sidebar here. Joli Paquet is offering tips, tutorials and recipes all month long by some of my favorite bloggers. The best part of Joli Paquet is that they also have kits of lots of various holiday projects that are A-Maze-Ing. If you love to get a little glue under the fingernails or glitter in your hair and want a creative jumpstart, check them out! I already came, saw and shopped!

I really feel that even in this economy, we should seek out unique, personal gift ideas like the ones Joli Paquet offers rather than defaulting to only shopping the big box stores. If we don't, next year there might not be a Joli Paquet or Christmas show at your fairgrounds or even a fundraising church bazaar. We'll find ourselves buying keychains and travel mugs in plain black boxes by the register when we pick up our deodorant. I really don't want that. I'd much rather buy Reeses when I pick up my deodorant.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

David vs David, the Idol Wars

First, let me say that I am so glad that a new season of American Idol hasn't started. Yet. Hubby hates that the rest of us watch it and ascertains that a talented person should be able to make it without a pre-fab television show. Lurve hubby to death, but phooey, raspberries on him for muttering, sighing and grunting while we have our fun.

All in good natured fun, we were a house divided this past season. My daughters crushed on David Archuletta with his earnest power ballads. I thought I would reach through the screen if I saw him lick his lips one more time and forcibly apply Carmex to his pucker. He drove me crazy (you know, in a way that someone you don't even know can get on your very last nerve, the tv reality show star way and why do we invest ourselves in this stuff kind of nerve?)

They thought he was the cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutest thing ever.

Gag. Me. With. A. Spoon.

I, on the other hand, was reasonable in my polite and appropriate admiration for David Cook. If, on the very occasional show, I hopped up on the sofa and whooped like a crazed warrior (or Cruisazy), please attribute it to too much caffeine rather than a mistaken assumption that I had a mini (major) thing for David Cook. I'm sorry daughters, he's just more gifted, versatile and marketable than Archie boy. It's simply good business sense, right? Dang, I should be a talent scout.

So the past couple of weeks, the rivalry has been renewed as my daughters replay David A's "Crush" whatever song until my ears bleed while I blast David C's "Light On" at every opportunity.

And today, they are IN FOR IT! This site is streaming the superior David's album for free right now: David Cook's New Album There are a few songs I'm having mad love for like "Declaration". And remember, if you ever see me on a sofa, it was the Starbucks, not the rock star. So there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Whuh happnd?

Proof that living out of a suitcase messes with your brain: your grammar and spelling get thrown right out the window.

Elections came, elections went. The signs are still up as are most of my Halloween decorations. My decorations are getting put away today as I hope the election signs get tossed soon as well.

Where have I been the past couple of weeks? Here: National Youth Workers Convention 2008 and here: The Revolve Tour - THE EVENT FOR TEEN GIRLS By education, I have a psychology degree which, due to my tendency to emphatically bring my work home and thus be a completely miserable person to live with, I don't use. I am still brought to my knees on a regular basis though by the pain that others suffer. Especially with teens.

Even though my own children think their parents are controlling nerds, other teens have long sought us out in times of trouble or as a place to unleash into silliness. We work with a fabulous team who also have hearts for young people, but wow, do we ever feel unequipped to help at times. I won't name all the problems among our group, but the list is long and the pain is deep.

The bright spots? We do see hope and progress. It IS there.

A couple of weeks ago, six youth leaders attended a conference that offered that hope. You can't help but feel it when hundreds of people are assembled together who have a burning desire to help our youth. When we talked to other youth leaders and were reassured that our problems weren't unique, we didn't feel so overwhelmed. We came home armed with information and a renewed sense of urgency to reach out not only to teens, but their families and our community as well. (I have a whole soapbox about community for another time, but maybe not. I feel pretty strongly about the global village. So strongly that I know my thoughts will probably blow some people out of the water, especially in this economy.)

Last weekend, I took girls to a weekend that was JUST FOR THEM. How often do girls get the chance to go wild, act crazy and listen to great speakers and music without the distractions of guys. I love guys (well, most of 'em), but they add a dynamic when mixed with teen girls that throws most girls into a wholly different personality. This weekend they could just be real; without the masks. I hope they feel they could bring some of that reality home with them.

This weekend, I'm home. Glorious home! I even get to completely unpack my bag. Until Thanksgiving week.

Until then, hug a teen. Give them a card of encouragement. If you don't know a teen, smile at one in the mall or behind the counter of your fast food restaurant. You might just make their day. They're usually great kids even if some of their quirks drive you crazy (like we don't all have our own quirks). By communicating that you care, you're becoming a part of their community. The one that believes in them.