Monday, December 31, 2012

Thank you, 2012!

It doesn't seem like it was that long ago when I was feeling the hope, excitement, and thoughts of a clean slate while ringing in 2012 as the new year.  Now it's the last day and I'm excited for 2013. 

This year was a true growing year for me:
At the end of 2011, I started an "experiment" of not eating meat.  I started by just doing it for one week, then two, then three, etc.  I didn't call myself vegetarian because I wasn't sure if I would stick to it.  Well, in 2012, I officially claimed myself as vegetarian and I haven't eaten even the slightest bit of meat since September 2011.  My eating habits have greatly improved, I understand my body's cravings much better now, and I am really happy with my decision both physically and mentally.  I have no plans to go back. 

I learned how to be a better wife.  Our marriage has always been great but there is always room for improvement.  In 2012, I truly made efforts to be a better listener, acknowledge his needs, and really try to be the best friend, wife, and partner I can be.  I love that man to pieces!

I learned how to be a better friend.  This year I realized that I needed to be a better friend to my oldest and dearest friends who live 500 miles away.  I also made some new friends this year and have learned the value of really prioritizing and making efforts to be a good friend, even if I am busy or tired or lazy.  It's definitely an effort that is easy to make and has a great return.  Hold tight to those true friends.

I have realized that I *need* to create every day.  It doesn't matter how little or big it is.  If I don't create on a regular basis, I become out of sorts and depressed.  I need that outlet and it makes me a better me.

Lastly, I've learned to hold on tight to my dreams.  Sometimes they have to be put on the back burner for a while and new dreams need to be created for the meantime.  However, I haven't lost sight of my dreams and am working hard to make them come true.  More to come in 2013!

So thanks, 2012, I've learned a lot and, while tough sometimes, you have helped me to grow and improve. 

My last photo to post in 2012 is of an acorn.  An acorn symbolizes many things to different cultures and people.  I personally like its symbol of strength and growth which definitely wraps up my year in one photo.  2012 gifted me with strength I didn't know I had and a lot of growth.  I hope you enjoy a safe New Year's Eve with the people you hold dearest.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I'm resting a lot this weekend to try and get myself and family over the flu that hit us this week.  I'm also resting because emotionally I'm pretty spent thinking and praying over many families in Connecticut.  My heart grieves with everyone else in this country.  It is impossible to make sense over a senseless act.  I don't think knowing the "why" behind it will do much good -- there is no explanation that would be enough to help our hearts and minds understand.

Last weekend I created a dreamcatcher.  It was something I had been creating in my mind for a couple of weeks and I was able to spend a good chunk of my weekend to see it to fruition.  My 6 year old definitely believes in the magic of a dreamcatcher.  He has one in his room and now wants me to make him one that he thinks will work even better.  I wish I could send dreamcatchers to the homes of many children and families in Connecticut right now.  If nothing more then to let them know that our hearts are with all of them and how we wish to catch the bad dreams that will come and hold them close to keep those people protected from any more horror.

I crocheted a traditional granny square out of cotton yarn and then stretched using a web like pattern onto an embroidery hoop.  Once on the hoop, I used fabric glue and glued a lace ribbon around the edges.  I added some "love" that I had bent and shaped a long time ago out of steel wire.  I also added a faux cinnabar bead and feather.  Originally dreamcatchers were made to resemble spiderwebs and a bead symbolized the spider.  The webs would catch the bad dreams and keep them from getting through.  They would also catch good dreams and trickle them down to the dreamer.

Most of my time was spent on what is called the "soft ladder" that the good dreams use to glide down and gently enter the dreamer's mind.  I used decorative trim, cotton yarn, acrylic yarn, twine, muslin, recycled t-shirt, glass pearl beads, felt, faux feathers, and some lucite beads.  I braided, crocheted, knotted, hung, cut, and assembled for hours.


The dreamcatcher now hangs in our family room for decorative purposes and in case someone takes a nap on the couch.  Just ignore the smudgey mirror on the wall. 

I have plans to make more as gifts.  I wish I could make enough for the whole state of Connecticut but, since I can't, just know that my heart is there.  Love your babies, your families, your friends, and thank a teacher who positively impacts your child's life.  I strongly believe that good can prevail over evil but, until it does, we might need a little magic to catch the bad and share the good to help us get through it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Some Sunday Color

I promise my next post will have more words.  Lately I have been consumed by life but drawn deeply into color and inspiration, as shown by my Pinterest boards titled Yellow , Green , White , and Multitudes of Color.  For now, I hope that this color will inspire you.  Enjoy your colorful Sunday!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Petal Ornaments

Just stopping in for a quick post to showcase some ornaments I've created this holiday season.  I love the layers of petals - they are really light weight and look great on a tree.  Hope you are enjoying your Monday!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Am

This time of year can be very busy but I try to keep it slow.  I like to take time off around Thanksgiving to unwind a bit from a hectic first part of the school year, busy work days, and very excited boys who are looking forward to holidays.  I use the time to rest, enjoy my family, center myself, and start to think about what handmade items I want to make this year.  Each year I've expanded the handmade gifts that I give to family and friends.  I love receiving handmade gifts as well. 

Giving handmade gifts is a way of saying, "Here I am.  A piece of me for you."  I think some people still think handmade is a cheap way out of buying a gift but I disagree.  My mom has made quilts for my boys and gave them as gifts.  They LOVE their quilts and are very put out when we have to take them away to clean them from time to time.  This year I am going to blend some handmade items into my boys' gifts.  Typically we just buy all of their gifts but I want to incorporate more handmade for them too.  They watch me make things with love and have put in requests here and there for things they might want.  One year they all wanted crocheted winter hats.  I took them to the store to pick out thick yarn in the colors they wanted.  They loved being part of the process and watching it come to completion.

I have learned over the years the people who really appreciate handmade and the people who don't appreciate it as much.  I know there are some who will throw the handmade gifts in the back of the closet because it's not as exciting as something purchased in a store.  That's ok too.  We're conditioned to want those things.  There is a growing movement towards more handmade, well made, artisan gifts though and I love being a part of it.

For me, handmade gifts means there is a tangible part of me that will be around for a long time.  I love to think about my boys passing down things I made for them to their own children and grandchildren one day.  The idea of them wrapping themselves up in a blanket I made or hanging one of my photographs on their wall to look at long after I'm gone gives me comfort. 

I am very thankful for my abilities to create things that I love.  During hard times, it helps me find my way back to my true self.  It helps me wind down after a long day.  When I feel like the corporate world stifles me, it helps me strike a balance so that I can be happy and successful at work and still know that I have an outlet for my creative side waiting after hours.  It gives me more patience to be a better wife and mother.  It makes me feel like me.

I think most artists and crafters feel this way.  This year, if you are given a handmade gift, just know you hold a little piece of an artist's heart.  Even if the person giving the gift didn't create it, they sought it out just for you.  They wanted to give you something that was part artist and part you.

I hope you have the opportunity to slow down during this time of year and just enjoy.  Just be.  I know I am.

Friday, November 23, 2012

DIY Button Flowers

As promised in a previous post, here is a tutorial for making colorful and easy button flowers.  They are a great addition to add a pop of color to any room AND they don't die!  I like making multi colored flowers but I also really like to make monochromatic flowers.  The monochromatic flowers are great to enhance accent colors in a room.

Things you'll need:
Floral Wire - I used 22 gauge
Wire Cutter

Cut a piece of floral wire in the desired length.  You will need to double the length because you have to fold it in half to string on the buttons.  Leave a little extra length at the bottom so you can twist the wire once the buttons are in place.

Here's the fun part -- design your button flower.  Place the buttons (and any other fun things you decide to play with - like a washer) in the order you want them displayed.

Now string the buttons onto the wire.  Start with the top button first and make sure to pull it all the way to the top of the wire so there is no gap between the wire and buttons.  Then add the other buttons.

Once all of the buttons are on the wire, pull them to the top so they are tight.  Then twist the wire to secure it under the bottom button.

Now keep twisting the wire all of the way to the bottom.  To make sure the buttons stay in place, hold the wire in place under the bottom button and then use your other hand to twist the wire pieces.

Once you have twisted the wire to the bottom, use your pliers to bend the sharp ends down.  Then wrap them around and cut off the ends.  This keeps the wire from unraveling and it also gets rid of the sharp points.

Now you have one flower finished!  You can make as many as you want to fill vases, Mason jars, tie with ribbon, or find other fun uses.

Enjoy your flowers!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Craft Show Lessons

It has been a while since I last posted.  Between work, my boys’ schedules, and preparing for the craft show, things have been hectic.  It has been a good hectic though.

The craft show was this past Saturday.  It was the first craft show I have done in several years and it was my first craft show selling non-jewelry items.  I chose to do this show to get my feet wet and maybe start selling at shows regularly.  I put a lot of eggs in this basket.  I wanted to make money but mostly, I wanted my work to be liked and appreciated.  Selling or displaying handmade work is like putting a piece of your heart (and your pride) out on a table.   It’s difficult not to take it personally when someone walks by without even a glance.  You want them to see the love, ideas, and work you put into each item.  I did my best not to give sad puppy dog eyes to everyone who walked by me. 

I learned a lot from this show and thought that I could share those lessons with other people who want to start selling at shows.  I did sell some items and I received some good feedback.  However, I did not sell much at all.  The first few hours of the show, it made me sad.  I doubted my talents and myself.  Then I started noticing some things.  No one was really selling much.  More than half of the show was independent consultants and not handmade items (candles, make up, kitchen items – the kind of items that people host parties at their house to sell).  That made it difficult for the handmade vendors to compete. 

LESSON NUMBER 1 – ALWAYS ask if the show is 100% handmade.  If it’s not, then reconsider if it’s the show for you.  There was some great talent at that show that was being overlooked because of the mass produced NON-handmade items.  One of the things I enjoy about shows is talking to other artists about their craft and their process.  I met a girl who had beautiful pottery and found out she set up a pottery studio in her backyard shed.  I bought a hand dyed silk scarf from a lady who had an interesting technique of dying silk using men’s ties for different textures and looks.  I also bought a fabric rug from a woman who uses a 100-year old loom to weave the rugs.  It has been in her family and the trade passed down over each generation.  I love that I have that history on my kitchen floor right now.  Can those mass produced items provide the same thing?  Nope.  The ladies at those tables were very nice and just trying to make money but I learned that I missed not having more artists to learn about and get to know.

LESSON NUMBER 2 – Figure out a way to accept credit cards.  I had decided not to accept credit cards because I wanted to see if it was something I needed to do.  I only lost one sale because of it but I need to figure out how I’m going to do that going forward.

LESSON NUMBER 3 – Be willing to take advice from seasoned sellers.  The lady at the table next to me was selling jewelry and has been doing shows for a number of years.  She was a wonderful resource.  She gave me some advice about credit cards and gave me the email address of a woman scheduling for an actual handmade show in December.  You would think that people selling would not be friendly due to the competitive nature of selling but it’s not typically like that.  There is a true community among artists and crafters and I love that.

LESSON NUMBER 4 – Just because you aren’t successful at one show does not mean that your work won’t be successful somewhere else.   I think part of my issue was that the show I did was at an older church in town.  The majority of the shoppers were much older people who were lovely and gave me good feedback, but I think my work would do better aimed at a younger demographic.  I just need to find the right shows for me.

LESSON NUMBER 5 – When all else fails, have your husband stop at the liquor store on the way home from the show.  It takes the edge off a bit.  Also, a date night right after the show is a beautiful thing for blowing off steam.

Was this show everything I’d hoped it would be?  No, but I decided to learn from it and move forward.  I have some ideas about some other things I want to do before I do another show.  I still love everything I put on that table so I know I’m doing what’s right for me.

I have a lot of things to share in future posts and some DIY posts to come.  I’m looking forward to a slow paced week and time with family.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Craft Show Progress and Procrastination

A little bit of panic set in this week when it dawned on me that I have a little over four weeks left until my craft show and one week of that (the week of the show, to be exact) I will be out of town for work for four days.  When I signed up for this show in August, I did not have any inventory.  I had a few things I worked on here and there but nothing substantial.  I have been creating every chance I get since then and piling things up in various stages of completion. 

Today, I decided to get a table (slightly smaller than the table I'll have at the show) and just move everything I've made (100% completed or not) over to that table and see where I stand.  I needed to create a schedule today of what I need to finish, start thinking about table displays I need to make, etc.  I procrastinated for quite a while this morning -- I even found myself googling quotes about procrastination while I was procrastinating.  Finally, I got it together.  I laid all of my items out (not neatly), took some photos to document my progress, and started penciling lists on a big desk calendar to get myself in order.

Once it was all in my face, I realized that I have quite a bit completed (or almost completed).  That was comforting.  However, I quickly realized how much MORE I have to do before the show.  Panic ensued a bit.

Jack was helping me get organized.  I told him that he needs to be at the show to sell my wares because he is much cuter than I am.

What did I do with that panic?  I started to get organized, which always makes me feel more in control.  Then I procrastinated a little --

"I absolutely need to research craft show displays - ooh, another blog to read!" 

"Today I should probably start setting up my photography Etsy store that I've been wanting to redo." 

"Mmm...a beer.." 

After that, I started typing up this blog post.  I don't feel like this is total procrastination though because it is focused on the craft show, right?

I am very excited about the bright colors and fun geometric shapes I have been using in multiple pieces.  I still have a lot of button flowers to make.  It will all be completed though, right? 

All in all, I'm in better shape than I thought.  I still have a lot of work to do but I know I'll get to it.  It helps that I enjoy what I'm doing.  I just need a game plan for these remaining weeks.  I'm also trying to be creative (and thrifty) with how I set up my table display.  As I figure it out, I'll share more.  I've gained a lot from other blogs with booth and table display ideas so want to share my ideas too.

Some close ups of my items.  I made some geometric table runners that I'm loving.  I'm working on some fun garland.  I also have some bags I've been making - the photos didn't come out great but I promise a blog post just for the bags.  I have some other fun things planned too.  My plan is to share a lot of these things on my blog individually so stay tuned!

I suppose I should stop blogging and get back to it.  I do have a plan, some lists, some calendar planning, and I connected a few granny squares for a scarf today.  Not too bad for a day of procrastination!

"Procrastinators are also great at beginnings and not as skilled at completions." - SARK

We'll see about that, SARK!  Happy Sunday!