Thursday, January 27, 2011

Creativity Gone Wild * A very special birthday gift*

Presented to me on my 30th birthday were two bags full of gifts, each numbered 1 through 30. My instructions were to open one gift each day along with the corresponding note that goes along with it. The notes are written from my mother with advice, encouragement and just wise knowledge that she wanted to share with me.

The box above holds all 30 of my daily cards, each labeled with the appropriate day that I am supposed to read them.

Above are samples of the numbered gifts that correspond to the daily cards.

Day 2 reminded me about how much I love to create! The card spoke about how it is a gift that should be passed down and shared with my children.  Along with the daily card, I opened up a beautiful vintage notecard kit!

Day 4 (today) is all about eating healthy and cooking for my family! The lovely surprise that I opened up today was The Martha Stewart Cookbook!

I LOVE the passion, creativity and devotion that was put into this gift! This gift will keep on giving as I can look back at the treasure trove of written advice, encouragement and wisdom that my mom wanted to share with me.

Anyone would love this gift and it can be applied to any age by creating that specific number of gifts to match the daily cards!

Thank you, Mom (and Dad...I know you had your input in this too!)


Spun Cotton Ornaments

Recently, my mom and I gave in and indulged ourselves. We purchased a how-to kit on making spun cotton ornaments! The images seen above is my vintage spun cotton birthday girl! We started with a wire armature and then spun it with cotton. We used tea and walnut dye to give our dolls a vintage look and then hand sewed clothes and added embellishments! Looks like this is going to be my new hobby!

Another message - from Clare. We really did have a good day making these dolls. Here is one made by the Mom... me! She is my winter girl with her wooly scarf and her bouquet of flowers, waiting and hoping for Spring. Just like me! Hope you enjoy seeing what we have come up with. Clare

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Random Thoughts on Inspiration and Meal Planning

Inspired. Aroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something, by or as if by supernatural or divine influence: an inspired poet. (Taken from 

There is a certain rush that comes along with blogging, especially when I have been inspired to make a post that suits my fancy upon completion! I have missed this rush for a while now as I have recently learned that pigeon holing oneself to a specific topic during the blogging process abruptly stops my creative mind from branching out on a whim to finding other things to blog about. See, I am not a concrete thinker. I am very much an abstract thinker where my thoughts go this way and that, yet seem to all coincide eventually to one comprehensive thought process. 

I want to be able to share what ever inspires me on a day to day basis with you! I tried committing myself to blogging about birthday celebrations this month and only got so far. I was lead to find out that I have to blog about whatever is on my mind or animating me at the moment...that is what inspiration is all about, right? When it comes to blogging, I am throwing rigidity out the window! 

So, there have been a few things floating around in my head that I want to pull down and put on paper (or in this case, screen) for you that I thought you might enjoy! Mixed up in there are a few more thoughts on birthday celebrations, however, they are not solidified yet but hopefully will be in the near future! So, stay tuned for that....

Now, one random thought that I want to share with you that I hope will open up a door for more creativity and inspiration is weekly meal planning! With the burden of "what to make for dinner tonight?" taken care of, there is time for other, more enjoyable things during the day! 

When I first got married, there was the dreaded question at 4:00 pm in the afternoon...."What are we having for dinner tonight?" Ahhh...searching through the freezer with only 2 hours left before dinner time made for not enough time to defrost, let alone time to run to the store for what we were out of.

Now, I make life easier by spending a short amount of time, usually on a Sunday, planning the whole week of meals. This makes for such an easy dinner prep and most times, leaves my hubby with a full, happy belly! Just pull out what needs to be defrosted in the morning and by dinner time you are all set to go!

Here is an example of one week's dinner meals. I hope you enjoy it! After planning, go shopping and pick up all ingredients for that week and you are set!

Sun: Chicken Marsala
Mon: Israeli Couscous with feta and arrugula
Tues: Raviolis
Wed: BLT with avocado
Thurs: Homemade Pizza on tortillas
Fri: Tilapia with brown rice
Sat: Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

Please share any good meal ideas that you have by posting a comment!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

More on Party Hats!

Piggy-backing off of a recent Celebrations post regarding "Celebration Hats," we stumbled upon a wonderful website called Blumchen Crafts, where we discovered Crepe Paper Party Hats! Please feel free to click on the link to find out the details on how to make these wonderful creations and while you are visiting, search around this treasure trove of goodies!

With permission from the host of the site, we are able to showcase these most whimsical pieces on our blog!

Just browsing the Blumchen Crafts website has inspired me as their supplies are literally eye candy for every holiday! Tinsel pipe cleaners; vintage, paper Easter motifs; glitter,  mica and sparkles and so much more will make your hands tremble with the urge to create! With a recent purchase of spun cotton, I foresee a bunch of little spun cotton ornaments coming to life!

One more note on the Crepe Paper Party Hats...remember that you can embellish them however you wish. You are the artist!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Birthday Scavenger Hunt

For this "celebrations" post, I am very inspired to share with you! Last Monday morning at 5:30 am before my hubby went to work, he told me that he had a pre-birthday surprise for me and I could get up now and start the surprise or wait until 6 am. Being very intrigued, I woke up and he led me to his lap top, where I found a love-letter-type of note with directions on how to start my pre-birthday Scavenger Hunt!!!

Next to the love-note was my first post-it with directions on where to get my next clue! So I traveled through the house as he left me to my own devices and went to work! I found all five, sweet, handwritten clues, all related to our lives together and attached to each post-it was a little bit of money! What a great way to celebrate, right? Well, my last instruction was to call him for what I had to do with my bit of cash and notes.

Aren't you dying to find out?....I have to buy myself a dress for my surprise birthday outing!!!

Now, if this isn't a great way to celebrate a birthday, I don't know what is! What an amazing blessing it is to have such a wonderful person in my life that cares as much as my husband does! It's the little, fun things in life that make it all worth while.

Remember, life is not measured by the breaths we take but by all of the moments that take our breath away...and this was surely one of those moments and I will treasure it in my heart forever. Just thinking about how much thought was put into this act of love makes it that much better!

If you decide to have a birthday scavenger hunt for someone you love, they will surely be delighted! The end result can be to find their gift or find little ones along the way! Make it fun and make it yours!

Just another thought--if you have children, hide a few pieces of candy around the house for them on a snowy, house-bound day. Give them little clues as to where to find them around the house! That will surely brighten their day!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Celebration Hats!

In honor of January being my birthday month, I will be serving up some splendid celebration ideas starting with this one...Celebration Hats! What a fantastic way to dress up the guest of honor, not only for a birthday but for a bridal shower, baby shower, retirement dinner, or just because! 

No matter what your budget, skill or creativity level, you can create anything from a simple crown to a full-blown, glittered, bride-to-be tiara streaming with tulle! (Like the one seen below created by my mom for my bridal shower!)

To simplify the process of creating, think about the theme of the celebration or event. For example, my son's first birthday party was Elmo-themed and he donned a light-weight yellow party hat adorned with a beanie baby Elmo that was simply stitched onto the cap. The best part was that he got to take Elmo off and play with him later!

Try to focus the party hat on your theme and soon you will be spotting little things here and there to embellish your creation! Keep your eyes peeled at garage sales, thrift shops or even the dollar store for hat bases that could work for your guest of honor! Then, stitch, hot glue, glitter, and cut and paste your way to a finished product!

Making the Celebration Hat, is only a portion of the fun of this project...seeing it on the guest of honor is even better! Remember to get some photographs too!

The pic below is a photo of me two years ago at a Mexican Restaurant in Dallas, TX. I wanted to share it because we celebrated my birthday there and they gave me a fun sombrero to wear during the "Happy Birthday" song! How much fun is that? So, if you find that you don't have time to create a celebration hat of your own, look for a festive hat that you already have in your closet and dedicate its use as a birthday crown! This could be the beginning of a wonderful tradition!

I distinctly remember my Nanny using the same green, mug-shaped birthday candle over and over and over again and we always laughed at the fact of how old it was but we found comfort in knowing that each year we all blew out the same candle as we celebrated one more year together as a family!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Leading a purposeful life

Have you determined what the purpose of your life is? On the way to the art class I teach today I was thinking about my life and it's purpose. Now this is an age old question and there are many views on the answer to this question. I can tell you for sure, though, that I beleive that one of our purposes here on this earth is to encourage each other, help each other and inspire each other. I was thinking about some recent events in my life and I was trying to relate them to how they made me feel and think about my own life. What I determined was that the way we treat others affects them in ways we don't always realize(good and bad.) We have a tremendous amount of power in what we say and do. Of course, I wish I could say that I always do the right thing and treat others the way I would want to be treated. The reality is, unfortunately, that sometimes I blow it! I don't always behave the way I wish I would have and when I realize it, I find I am somewhat embarassed about my behavior. However, (and this is the good part!) sometimes I DO behave in a way that makes me proud of who I am! For that I am thankful! At least I don't blow it all the time. So I would like to encourage you to think about the way you are behaving and treating others. Do you have a servant's heart? Do you forgive others readily? Are you inclusive of others? Can you empathize with people in different situations than your own? These are some areas to work on and it does take a lot of work. Very often we are very interested in what is going on in our life and we don't really consider other people and what is going on in their life. Let's all try to change that. Let's consider others before ourselves. Here are some ideas that I hope inspire you this year:
*Can you invite a friend that lives alone to eat dinner with your family one night this week?

*Can you send over a cooked meal to a friend that has a lot going on with their family?

*Can you offer to take an elderly neighbor shopping or to pick up some groceries for someone that is infirm?

*Can you offer a ride to someone that doesn't have a car or that doesn't drive? Maybe you can help them get to the doctors or to the store.

*Can you teach something you know well to someone who wants to learn it?

*Can you babysit for someone that really needs a night out with their husband or with their friends?

*Can you pay for something for someone else and do it anonymously?

*Can you contribute food to a local food shelter or church/temple?

*Can you volunteer to do a job that an organization is having a hard time filling?

*Can you teach someone to use a computer?

*Can you teach someone to speak English?

*Can you share some of your belongings with others, ie. clothes, coats, food, etc.

*Can you buy a homeless person a meal from a local restaurant?

If you are able to read this you are probably able to do many of the above things and many more. Let's make this year a year of kindness to others. Teach your children to behave in a way that will make you and them proud. Of course, children learn what they see, so let your kids see you implementing things that will make them proud of who your are. We would love to hear some of your other ideas about how we can make this a year of kindness toward others. How good do you feel when someone goes out of their way for you? It makes you feel special!
Recently, we gave away a set of ornaments on our blog. As it turned out, the winner, Raychelle, was student of mine several years ago. She is now a beautiful, young woman. When I found out she won, I asked her if she wanted me to send her the gift or if she would like to come and make it and I could show her how. She opted to come and make it with me. I appreciated that she wanted to come and visit with me and learn something new that I could share with her. I loved seeing her again and spending time with her. She caught me up on her life and I caught her up on mine. We chatted, painted, laughed and just had a great time. I am thankful for this young woman in my life. I appreciate that she took her valuable time to spend with me. When she left I knew we had both spent our time in a positive way, encouraging and inspiring each other. That is what happens when you take the time to connect in a way that considers and helps others. What we give really comes back to us in a million different blessings. There is a saying that I really love, it is truly one of my favorite quotes of all time. I would like to share it with you:

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty and find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have suceeded. Ralph Waldo Emerson


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