Thursday, July 23, 2009

Christmas in July

Somewhere around the mid ‘80’s I began having Christmas in July celebrations. My motivation was two-fold—first, I have always loved any excuse to play Christmas music, haul out some decorations, and read the second chapter of Luke. And secondly, I was trying to find a way to celebrate Christmas with friends and family that became too spread out around December 25th.

During the past seven years that Sir Henry and I have been together we have greatly relaxed our Christmas visitation standards. We make efforts to visit more during the year, we seem to have less vacation time to travel around the holidays, and after moving 1000+ miles away from everyone, we don’t feel as much pressure to visit at a specific time either.

Elf Duties
Christmas is so grand for me, no matter where I spend it, and I have not let go of my desire to show friends and family that they are treasured during that special season. So these days I still have Christmas in July by getting to work on my “elf duties” such as making handmade gifts, cards, and preparations for the annual, “Home for the Holidays—Trailer Park Style” event right here in West Palm Beach. Seriously, you don’t think all those flamingos are going to make their own hats do you?

As I’ve mentioned previously, Facebook™ has become a real jolt of delight in my world since it is allowing me to reconnect with people that I didn’t think I’d ever hear from again. It’s also brought me closer to the “everyday lives” of other friends and family members that I do see more frequently. One of my favorite things to do with Facebook connections is share some memories I have from that person’s impact in my life and I love it when they do the same. In the past few months four different people from four different decades in my life have commented on owning a Christmas ornament I made for them. They still hang them on the tree every year and were thinking of me every time they did so. Talk about feeling cherished, those sentiments are so very dear to me.

Thus inspired, this year’s elf duties have begun with making Christmas ornaments to give as gifts. Still embarking upon my journey to clear the studio before I bring in new items, I rummaged around recently for ornament ideas within the framework of my current inventory.

Ornaments from Crystals
I’m starting with beaded crystal ornaments. These can be tree ornaments or they can hang from a window sill or be wired into planters and other decorations too. My sweet sister-in-law Kim gave me a great bag full of chandelier crystals about three years ago and I’m using them as the ornament base. Fortunately for me, she gave me a ton of these jewels so I’ve used them for wedding decorations and home d├ęcor for a while now and still haven’t run out.

Pictured here are the first three ornaments I’ve finished. The crystals were strung with E-beads, metal beads, and other shiny baubles. There is no pattern or reason to the designs, I’m just sitting in the living room near my darling husband and stringing away. Hint: The metal beads come from charm bracelets I bought at the dollar store and opened to re-use the beads and charms on other projects.

I plan on adding some silk ribbons and perhaps even some curled wire embellishments before these are ready as gifts. If I manage my time wisely, I’ll also make a little tag or gift card to complement each one.

Also pictured are a couple of the chandelier crystals already hanging on windows in my home. You can get a peek at my handmade tie dye fabric curtains too. Aren’t they fun? I love my life.

This year, Christmas in July is extra special for two other reasons:
1. My delightful niece Katie is expecting the delivery of her “first-born child” any day now.
2. My amazing Mother has invited me to participate in her Christmas in July charity sale going on this weekend in her Richmond, VA community.

Enjoy the season, no matter what the season and create something to give away today.

Regular Features

Surf stops—web sites I’ve visited recently:
The Swell Life Blog-I ended up here on a link from her latest entry is a list of other cool links that are fun to surf around but I went there to check out some Christmas ornaments she made with photos last year which can be seen here

The CHA Craft Super Show site- CHA show in Orlando this summer is offering lots of opportunities for consumer crafters to get involved including a world record attempt for the largest scrapbook crop ever…Wish I could go, but it’s the weekend of my first wedding anniversary and I’d rather be with my dear Sir Henry.

Touch of color—what color(s) influenced me— Brown and red. I worked on a gift bag for my Mom and Daddy that was printed in those colors and I had fun creating a matching tag. I had forgotten how comfortable I am with brown and red.

Most played song- “Santa Claus is coming to town” performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street band.

Studio progress: I spent about 20 minutes clearing and reviewing this week. It’s something.

In the kitchen— Sir Henry’s grilled Bison Burgers made from some meat given to us by neighbors. He hand pressed patties from the meat seasoned with McCormick’s streak grill seasoning and Tastefully Simple’s Onion seasoning.

Austerity Plan progress ($15.00 per month for art supplies and tools): My sweet God-daughter Brittany accompanied me on a trip to Michael’s special 20% off entire purchase sale. I hadn’t spent any money from the craft budget for three months so I allowed myself the entire $45.00 for adhesives, inks and refills, and some fun sale items like rub-ons for my grandson album and a Love rubber stamp. My big extravagance was one of those swirly things marketed toward kids. It works great for making alcohol ink backgrounds too and it was reduced and then discounted again so I got a $16.00 item for $8.00.

My opinion and where it may lead: Stop fretting over misplaced items and release them to your higher power.

I can get very frustrated when my clutter seems to swallow up random items like my wrist brace, my sun glasses, my black Staz-on™ ink refill, etc. I read somewhere to just start an “MIA list” and post each item that is missing on the list. Look at it once a day, say a prayer for it, and let go. It’s amazing what will resurface, just this week I found a diamond ring that I thought was lost forever. Guess where I found it? It was in the box with my Christmas jewelry that I got out to wear for Christmas in July!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Have a little faith...

there’s magic in the night. You ain’t a beauty but hey, you’re alright….and that’s alright with me.”
--Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road

This has to be one of my all time favorite quotes. It’s like permission for all the “not media perfect” girls to feel as desirable as Mary who “like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays.”

Today, I don’t just apply those words to myself but I apply them to my creative endeavors too. Not everything has to be absolutely “media perfect.” If you get a photo you’re not crazy about you can adjust it in your software or layer a sheer covering like vellum over it or make it small as an accent or make it large as a blurry background or crop out a tiny area that you like…and that’s just with photos. Celebrate the moment with your creativity. Celebrate all the human imperfections that make the world interesting and transfer that celebration to your art.

My camera’s battery was on its last leg when we went downtown for the July 4th celebration this year. It might snap one picture and then it needed to rest for 5-8 minutes before another photo could be attempted. Just trying to turn the flash off for fireworks shots sent it into a blinking nothingness that wouldn’t allow the view screen to work.

I didn’t ever try to download those July 4th photos until today and even then, it was just to empty the camera before taking it out again. But just tooling around in PhotoShop™ for a few moments and I had a fun little photo. I finished it off with another favorite quote from one of my favorite movies.

Enjoy, relax and have a little faith.

Regular Features-----------------

Surf stops—web sites I’ve visited recently:
Embellished Dreams-Heidi Blankenship’s blog—This was one of the launch preview blogs for Spellbinder’s newest line of dies. They are called pendants and are really intracite dies that layer and layer and well, they’re almost too cool to describe…. Heidi is a member of Spellbinders’ Design Team and the team for Just Rite Stamps. All her blog entries are well photographed with lots of details.

Shameless Plug —I added a new digital gallery to my web site recently. I hadn’t realized how many digital designs I had completed until I started adding them to the site. I still consider myself quite a novice, but I’m enjoying the process.

Touch of color—what color(s) influenced me— Navy blue and lime green. I went thrift store shopping with Sir Henry last weekend and I kept being drawn to these colors.

Most played song- That would be Thunder Road by Bruuuuuuce Springsteen-- weren’t you paying attention earlier?

Studio progress: Zip, nada, nothing, sigh…..I

In the kitchenParty in Your Pasta Salad meal—great idea for busy day dinners and hot summer nights:
1 box Kraft bacon ranch pasta salad mix prepared as directed
Add about ½ to 2/3 pound of pre-grilled or cooked chicken tenders, cut veggies in bright colors like sweet red and yellow peppers, carrots, peas, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes.
Supplement with more mayonnaise and ranch seasoning or dressing as needed.
Add additional flavor with McCormick’s salad seasoning, more bacon bits, salt, pepper, and sprinkles of flax seeds.
Serve on a salad plate over a bed of mixed greens alongside slices of sharp cheddar cheese, wheat crackers, and seedless grapes.
Yields 6-8 servings

Austerity Plan progress ($15.00 per month for art supplies and tools): Once again, I have been too busy to shop for supplies and I haven’t started any projects this week either. I do have a list now so I’ll probably report some spending soon.

My opinion and where it may lead: When you have heart concerns, it’s heart disease. When you have kidney issues, it’s kidney disease. When you have a mental imbalance—it should be brain disease. Regardless of what you call it, health insurance coverage should be just that—coverage.
And while I’m at it—things like periodontal disease and eye sight that has to be corrected for the purposes of functioning every day should also be a health issue covered by fair and equitable health coverage for everyone in this country. Hey, the topic does say opinon….