Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Two Last Projects

Sometime last fall, I was inspired to create the "BeYou-tiful" sign, above.  It's not a completely original idea, as I saw the word spelled this way and being sold as a wall plaque in a catalog, but it was all written in plain black text.  Around the same time, I saw a birthday card with the word YOU on the cover, decorated and adorned with other descriptive words as it is here.  I decided to combine the two into an inspirational message for my daughters.  I think the bathroom might be a good place to hang it, but I'll have to find a place where it will stay dry!  I originally used colored fabric markers to write the words inside the word YOU, but then went back and stitched them all by hand.  It took a little longer, but I think it was worth the trouble.  Here is a close up so you can see a little more detail:

It turns out that exploring the use of text in my art was one of my goals for 2013, so I managed to achieve that one just in time!

Continuing along those lines, I also made the wooden plaque, below.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that this summer, we reclaimed some wasted space in the backyard and created a lovely shade garden.  I've seen plaques like this on the web and in catalogs, but when I wanted to buy one, I couldn't find one I liked.  Since I'd been thinking about getting a wood-burning tool, I decided to pick one up and make my own garden sign.  This tool is made by Walnut Hollow and comes with many different tips for creating all kinds of burned wood art.  Of course, it takes practice, and practice takes time (which I never seem to have enough of) so I don't know if I'll ever get good at it, but at least I can do rudimentary projects like this.  I need to coat it with some kind of preservative before I place it somewhere in the new garden, probably where it can be seen from one of the seats.

As we end the old year and begin the new, it's time to think about the direction we're headed.  Among my Christmas gifts this year were some books on art journaling.  In the first one, Art Journaling for Beginners by Rachel Ramey, she defines an art journal as "a journal that incorporates both words (journaling, writing) and images."  Since that's something I've been wanting to do more of, maybe practicing in a personal journal is the way to start.  I can make all the mistakes I want, and I don't have to share it with anyone!  For the last two days, I've doodled a little in the journal in the photo, using my new Inkjoy pens.  I'm not used to having a journal with me all the time and one of my excuses for not journaling has been that it's downstairs while I'm upstairs or vice versa.  Maybe I'll have two or three of them - upstairs, downstairs, and one in the car for waiting at appointments!  Now I just have to work it into my schedule somewhere (first thing in the morning?  last thing before bed?).  After I get warmed up bit and begin making it a habit, I hope to try some of the ideas in Pam Carriker's Creating Art at the Speed of Life, the other book I got.

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thankful Thursday, Christmas Edition

This is a good time of year to stop and recognize the abundance we live with on a daily basis.  Today I am most particularly thankful for the leisure time I've been spending at home the last couple of days.  In the mad race to get everything done before the big day, it's been almost hard for me to slow down and savor quiet moments alone or with the immediate family (or the dog!).  And now that I've had some quiet and rest, I hope I can get my momentum going again when I'll need to (tomorrow!).  I'm also grateful for my husband, his job and salary which enables us to have this lifestyle, and the vacaton time he's been able to take this week.   He's been a huge help driving the girls around, shopping, wrapping, helping with cooking and clean up.  And he's always in a merry mood too!  Finally, I'm grateful for the gift of faith which is reborn at Christmas.  I pray that I'm passing it on to my children and they will find it of value throughout their lives.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Contentment

The busyness of the Christmas season is winding down.  Most of the planning, shopping, baking, decorating, and wrapping is done.  We went to an early vigil mass this evening and sang all the old familiar Christmas carols, then came home to a decadent seafood dinner with shrimp cocktail, crab legs, and lobster tails.  After dinner, we glanced outside and were surprised to see a picturesque dusting of powdery snow.  How perfect!

After I finish this post, I'll probably settle down to finish one of my all-time favorite Christmas books, How Far to Bethlehem by Nora Lofts.  I began rereading it last week, when I began to feel the stress and pressure so common at this time of year.  I was definitely in a bah-humbug mood, and not getting more than a fleeting glimpse of that Christmas cheer we all try to feel.  But this book has gotten me back on track and truly reliving the birth of Christ and the real reason for the season.

It is the Christmas story, retold from the points of view of many of the people involved, beginning with Mary and including Joseph, Elizabeth, Melchior, Gaspar, Balthazar, the innkeeper and his wife, Herod, and a shepherd.  Each character is portrayed in such a realistic way that it's easy to grasp the true human difficulties and challenges they faced.  Joseph finds his faith tested again and again, as he realizes that God is giving him spiritual guidance, but it is up to him to take action and follow that guidance.  The story of Balthazar, who is portrayed here as a runaway slave, is particularly moving, as is the story of a shepherd, Josodad, who is struggling to get over the death of his own son on a cross and is about to commit suicide, when he sees the angels singing of God's glory, and his son among them.  The book was published in 1965 but has been recently reprinted.  I have always wondered if anyone else has ever read this book and found it as moving as I have.  I was pleased to see many people felt the same way about it, according to the reviews on  

I am looking forward to my long winter's nap (after I stuff the stockings) and a sleepy, quiet, happy Christmas day tomorrow.  Hope yours is happy too!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Quickie Cards

Last week I needed a few more Christmas cards, so I whipped these up from some fabric, paper and ribbon scraps I had in my stash.  Every year I have so much fun doing Christmas crafts that I plan to continue making things into January to save for next year.  But then Christmas comes and goes, and January arrives, and it's out with the old, in with the new, and I never get around to it.  Maybe this year...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...well, you know how the song goes!  We got a nice blanket of snow this week, so it's looking like Christmas outside, and we finally got to some of the decorating indoors too.  We put up the tree, and, for the first time, we put up this miniature Christmas village.  I inherited all these lovely houses and accessories from my parents.  It came complete with the snowy blanket, houses, lights, mirrored ice skating pond, and little figurines, so it was fun and easy to put together.  Here are a few close-ups:

The "downtown" area, with some stores, a central park, and gazebo...

...the skating pond with a bridge,

...and beyond the bridge, some victorian homes near the church on the hill.

Here is another shot of some of the stores and the gazebo.  I actually remember buying several of the buildings (the toy store & other shops here as well as some of the victorian homes) unpainted at a local craft store and painting them myself a long time ago, I think before I was married.  They don't look too shabby, even next to the store-bought models.

Hope it's looking like Christmas by you too!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Craft Sale Pix

I finally made it down to the Putnam Arts Council holiday craft sale this afternoon to see all the beautiful artsy gifts available this year.  There's always a great assortment and this year is no different - as you can see above, handmade wire jewelry, hand thrown ceramics, even handmade journal books this year!  Notice at the top the basket with the antler handle.

There were some beautiful art cloth pillows and some wooden signs with cute quips and quotes like "Simplify" and "To thine own self be true."

 My bracelets were along this wall with some ceramic bowls, dog biscuit ornaments, and blown glass baubles.

Here is a closer shot of the display.  Look - two of the eight bracelets sold!  Maybe I'll bring over a couple more, and a few more necklaces and earrings too!

 Here are a few more shots of some of the beautiful gifts for sale - if you're local, check it out Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 pm!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holiday Sale

I'm happy to announce that some of my charm bracelets will be included at the Putnam Arts Council's annual holiday craft sale!  If you're local, stop by to see all the beautiful gifts and support local artists!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mindful on Monday

Last week I brought eight mixed-media charm bracelets over to the Putnam Arts Council for their annual holiday sale.  I'm thrilled that I'm able to participate, and hoping many of them sell.  The bracelets I brought over had various themes, including Christmas, winter, and what I call my "Bohemian Blue," one of my favorites (see them all by clicking here).  I pretty much sent over my entire inventory (I do have a few still at home) but it's in the back of my mind that they'll call me in a couple of weeks asking if I have anything else (wishful thinking, I know, but I want to be prepared!).  So I've been back in my craft space again, trying to knock out some additional bracelets of various themes, and hence the mess pictured above!  I also have a sewing project not quite completed, and some presents that need to be wrapped and shipped, so I feel a bit like one of Santa's elves at this time of year:  busy, busy, busy!

Even so, I took advantage of the milder weather yestereday and hung the pine garland and lights around our door and down the wrought iron railing.  I was glad to have that much accomplished, and felt pretty chilled afterwards (even though temps were in the 40s rather than the 20s)...

,,, so I rewarded myself and warmed up by finishing off the last piece of cheesecake left over from Thanksgiving!

I used my mother-in-law's "killer cheesecake" recipe, which was scrumptious - creamy and rich!  The springform pan I have is 13", so it takes a lot of cream cheese to fill, and this recipe didn't let me down (it calls for 16 oz of sour cream and a cup of heavy cream as well - no wonder she calls it "killer"!).

So on this "cyber Monday," I'm mindful once again of balance - keeping busy but not overdoing it, enjoying guilty pleasures after some outdoor activity, taking things one day at a time and trying to stay in the moment...

What are you mindful of today?