Thursday, December 29, 2016

Playing with Toys

Another Christmas has come and gone.  Can you believe it?  I suppose the key to getting the most out of the season is to remember to enjoy the process, the preparations, and to live in the moment as much as possible.  Otherwise it seems that it's gone in a flash, and sometimes there is a little sense of let-down when everything comes to a halt.  Hopefully at this time of year our hearts are full, although I realize that not every celebration is like those depicted in the movies.  Believe me, I am all too familiar with this truth.  And for some, it can be hard to watch everyone else's festivities on social media.  But I do hope that anyone reading this found at least some amount of love, joy, and hope during this holiday season.

Are you one of the people, like I am, who enjoys the week between Christmas and New Year's Day?  I find this week before a new year begins to be very therapeutic, in that I allow myself to rest from all the hubbub and take time to reflect on what I want the next year to look like. 

Also, for the past few years, I've started a new tradition.  I gift myself a toy (yes, you read that right.)  It started two years ago when I bought myself a paint-by-number set of the Eiffel Tower, which I intended to apply to a piece of furniture to use or sell.

As it turned out, though, I became really immersed in the restorative process of doing something that I loved to do as a child.  Not only was it tranquil and meditative, it also reminded me of my intrinsic love of creating.

As you can see, I have yet to turn this canvas into any kind of purposeful project...

What it did do, though, was to plant a seed in my head.  Instead of trying to project my desire for artsy/crafty gifts onto my friends and family in what I selected for them
(i.e. - giving Legos to my adult son) a tradition began, and last year I gifted Legos to myself!

Apparently, the Eiffel Tower holds some unrealized dreams for me.  I have already visited there, but I guess the romance and the idea of travel is still what entices me.

This year I consciously searched for the gift I would give myself, and here it is...

Have you seen these?  There are a couple that are geared to children, and this one is for older children and kids-at-heart, like me I guess, haha.  This activity combines the idea of paint-by-number with no-mess stickers, and fine art masterpieces to expand the noggin.  To be honest, I've had a hard time getting anything else done this week.  All I want to do is sip on holiday-flavored coffees and play with my sticker book!

You can see a few of the pictures that I have completed already.  There are 12 total, and I'm zipping through them pretty quickly because I'm enjoying it so much!  They each have a printed background and then spaces for the stickers to go.  Some are quite detailed with tiny stickers, so I'm telling myself that this particular book is meant for adults (wink, wink.)

My daughter has noticed my newfound love of "playing" and gave me a Spirograph set for Christmas.  This toy is especially cool for designer-types, as it combines art with engineering.  Of course, my intellectual son pointed out that it is made by Hasbro, which employs engineers as toy designers.  His comment did prompt us to look at the design book included in the set, where we discovered some really cool ways to create with Spirograph!

Am I the only adult who buys toys for myself?  If you are out there and reading this, let me know that I'm not alone in my silliness, OK?  Please!

On another topic, are you cracking open your new planners in anticipation of everything you want to get done in 2017?  I'm considering trying bullet journaling.  Does anyone have tips to share?  In a way, I guess I've been using a few of the techniques without even knowing it...color-coding, combining journaling into my planner, etc.  But I'm hoping to kind-of take it to the next level (if I can figure it out!)  I'm hoping it's not just another way I divert my attention as a form of procrastination.  I tend to use procrastination as a stall tactic because of perfectionism.  If I can't do something perfectly, I just don't start.  Ugh :(  This is one of my biggest battles, and obviously one reason I'm currently so preoccupied with stickers......

But one thing I've learned is that overthinking leads to more procrastination, and the way to overcome that is to "DO."  Just getting in there and working on something without the fear of failure is the only way to move forward.  I guess Nike knows best, huh?  ;)

Happy New Year, Friends.  And thank you so much for sharing 2016 with me!


Sharing with:  Vintage Charm, Between Naps on the Porch, Inspire Me Tuesday, The Scoop, Inspire Me Monday

Monday, December 12, 2016

'Tis the Craft Fair Season!

For "makers" and artists, this time of year is craft fair season. I've been participating in 1-2 shows each year for the past four years, which is another way for me to express my creativity, and I love it!

The photos in this post are from Craftacular in my hometown of Lincoln, NE. It's a great event for the 70-80 vendors who participate, with live music and plenty of variety for shopping at the juried show. Here are some shots of my "booth" from last week's show...


The tables are somewhat small, so displaying multiple items can get tricky (as can photographing said table, haha.) Unfortunately, the booth behind me, chairs, and carpet are distracting when looking at the photos.

My crafting aesthetic, up to this point, has been repurposing and upcycling items discovered at tag sales, flea markets, etc. I enjoy working with vintage jewelry when creating art and ornaments; and I also love making wreaths and floral arrangements.

Christmas tree jewelry pictures are always a favorite of my customers, and I wouldn't be satisfied if I didn't make some snowflake ornaments. (You all know how much I love snowflakes!)

The little "Animal Magnetism" vintage animal pin magnets were a hit, too. People love to pick up small items for gifts and stocking stuffers this time of year. 

There are also vintage art pieces embellished with trims and jewels, picture frames and boxes, and architectural plaques.

Some of these items are still available in my Etsy shop. And I'm having a sale through the end of the year! After that, my plans are to tweak my style and go in a slightly different direction (maybe a little less blingy) with new items for the shop.

We creative types are forever imagining the possibilities, aren't we, blogging friends? ;)


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Holiday Home Tour

I hope Thanksgiving left you with a full stomach and a full heart; I hope you shopped 'til you dropped and found some incredible weekend deals; and I hope that your hall-decking is in full swing by now.

It's been a few years since I've really pulled out all the stops with our Christmas decorating. We had a wedding in '14 and a family crisis in '15, so I had really only done the minimum with holiday décor for those years. Truthfully, it was just tree, few gifts...bah humbug.

But it's 2016, and this elf is back in the spirit! So, I'm inviting you to take a mini home tour with me. Let's get this party started :)

I may as well mention that I love snowflakes, so you're bound to see several of them on the tour. This arrow in the entry hall has become a fun place to hang pretty things. I discovered this last year when I attached a vintage ornament wreath to it for Valentine's Day. Now, one of my favorite snowflake ornaments dangles there and gives guests a little taste of what they'll see inside.

This garland above the kitchen sink has stood in for a window treatment for years. It has almost worn out its welcome, though, and will be replaced with a bamboo shade after the holidays. But, for now, it got a little holiday zhushing with evergreen branches and ornaments.

Heading into our hearth room, you see that this year's décor incorporates my new design color, teal, with the greens that have been staples here for awhile.

Simplicity meets glitz is the theme in here. I do enjoy a bit of glitter at Christmas, as displayed by this silver tinsel tree decorated with gold, teal, and green ball ornaments. A throw pillow adds to both the teal scheme and the snowflake motif.

I decided to keep the mantel clean this year. A simple garland of greenery and topiaries intertwined with tiny lights give just a touch of Christmas without going overboard. Often, my mantel décor is asymmetrical, which I like, although as soon as my paperwhites bloom, I'll place them behind the stocking holders to balance the height of the topiaries and to add a little more natural color.

On Christmas day, a fire will crackle in the fireplace, creating a warm, cozy atmosphere, and my (adult) children will find a few fun surprises in these stockings. I'm not sure who enjoys the tradition more - me or them, haha.

As we head into the living and dining rooms, you can see some of my favorite things. Again, greenery, snowflakes, and the same color scheme flow into these spaces. Each year I drape evergreen boughs through our pendant light above the dining table and hang more sparkly beaded snowflakes. This creates a magical holiday canopy over our family Christmas dinner.

Because there is a lot going on overhead, I chose to keep the centerpiece here less busy. A collection of teal, green, and gold mercury glass votive holders will cast a pretty glow when the candles are lit.

Of course, the star of the show is always the tree, right? I finally broke down this year and bought a pre-lit tree, and boy howdy, did it ever save me hours of light-stringing of the best investments ever! Our tree is decorated with loads of ball ornaments in gold, silver, champagne, and clear glass. Some are vintage and some are new. There are also icicles, stars, moons, and of course, snowflakes. My family considers this the "designer" tree, and the gifts always get wrapped in coordinating "designer" giftwrap.

We have also often put up the family memory tree in addition to this tree. It has always been a cherished treasure that showcases ornaments the kids made when they were young and others that we picked up on vacations. There are even a few from my husband's and my childhoods (true antiques!) I don't put that tree up every year, but when I do, we all enjoy our walk down memory lane.

Simple bits of greenery, baubles, and snowflakes carry the festive feel into our living room. The coffee table will be another good spot to add paperwhites in a couple of weeks when they (hopefully) bloom in time for Christmas. You may notice the coffee table book "Passage to Cuba." Our son-in-law is from Havana, and we'll be visiting there in January for a few days. We're so excited!

I hope you've enjoyed this little mini tour of our holiday home. It's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?


Sharing with: Share Your Cup, Vintage Charm, Shabby Art Boutique, French Country Cottage, Between Naps on the Porch, A Stroll Thru Life, The Scoop, Evolution of Style

Monday, November 21, 2016

Easy Holiday Place Setting

The holidays are upon us once again. Bloggers and designers everywhere are buzzing like bees preparing for the festivities - cooking, decorating, shopping, fa la la la la.

In that spirit I, too, am busy planning ahead for our Christmas dinner table. Because we only sit down to a meal with extended family once or twice a year, I like to personalize the table settings as much as possible. Often, I add quotes that reflect each family member's personality. In past years, we've read our quotes aloud as a blessing before the meal.

This year, I'm starting with these simple balsa wood words that I picked up at Michael's. With a quick coat of spray paint, they now coordinate with our décor. These words, alone, make a sweet statement, but I may still find quotes that relate to each of the words to personalize each place setting even more (stay tuned as we get closer to Christmas.)

Snowflakes are my favorite holiday theme. These napkin rings were plain when I bought them, but the embellisher in me just had to bling them up a little! Craft store adornments gave them just the sparkle they needed. I mean, can you have too much glitz at Christmas?

Here are the words for each of the seven of us. These could be taken along as favors after our gathering and reused as gift ties, bookmarks, inspirational desk accessories, etc. It's such a simple and inexpensive way to spread a little extra joy and love, don't you think?


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Turkey Day Tablescape

It's finally feeling like November here in the Midwest, although temps are still a bit above normal and I'm not complaining.  Today it's cool, damp, and overcast, and the leaves are tumbling off the trees, laying carpets of emblazoned color on the ground.

In just over two weeks, we'll be sitting down to that iconic November feast and counting our blessings. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year...I just love the tastes, smells, warmth, and festivity of the season.  And setting a beautiful table is part of creating memorable family traditions.

Turkeys are an obvious theme for the holiday, and I have a small (but growing) collection of them.  There is a large ceramic bird, a clear glass antique candy dish, and another antique ceramic bird with an opening, which I've filled with flowers from our yard.

And turkey votive holders add a personal touch and a little glow to each place setting.  Aren't these cute?  They were the first purchase that started this whole flock :)

I've grounded this vignette with an old European tapestry. It doesn't necessarily say "pilgrim" or "America," but it does add to the timeworn feel, and the colors work well here.  Nor is the capital pedestal a typical Thanksgiving decor piece, but it helps to elevate the larger turkey for visual interest.

Clear acrylic and iron candlesticks add height, and they also echo the clear glass of the turkey candy dish.  

A teal vase with faux olive branches was already part of the dining room decor.  Autumn Joy Sedum and dried hydrangeas tucked into the arrangement pull colors from the turkeys and give the tablescape texture and a natural element.  Foraging from the yard is an easy and inexpensive way to add color and foliage to your centerpieces this time of year.

These versatile drinking glasses in a teal tint have multi-colored hand-painted dots, which also pull from the harvest color scheme.  And plaid napkins in red, green, orange, and butter yellow bring in a masculine, geometric pattern to offset the more feminine china pattern.  Our glass tabletop certainly makes this whole setting sparkle, doesn't it?

If you'd like to see my Thanksgiving decor from previous years, you can find it here, here, here, here, and here.  Wow, is it obvious how much I enjoy this holiday? Haha!

We'll be having a very small group for Thanksgiving dinner this year, which will make for an intimate setting. Luckily, my hubby likes to do the cooking, so my main role is to fluff the house.  Since I have this much completed, it looks like all that's left to do is get my appetite ready!

Are you preparing your table and menu for the big day?


, The Charm of Home, French Country Cottage, Shabby Art Boutique, Dishing It and Digging It, Domestically Speaking, The Scoop, A Stroll Thru Life

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Book Club -The Things We Wish Were True

Note:  The theme for the book "The Things We Wish Were True" by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is in no way reflected in the food, decor, and wine I chose for the evening as host for this month's gathering.  One of our members had planned to be moving to Australia shortly after this meeting, so that's why you see boomerangs, Yellow Tail wine, etc.  Funny thing is, by the time the meeting was held, she had made the decision to move to Colorado instead, haha :)  But it was fun putting everything together, anyway.  Our son had actually traveled to Australia with People to People Student Ambassadors when he was in middle school, so it was easy for me to come up with items to decorate with!  Several boomerangs, a hand-painted leather canvas, and a didgeridoo (the painted, wooden black and red tube "thingy", which is a wind instrument used by indigenous Australian people) are just a few of the souvenirs that Sam brought back with him from that special trip.

The food I served was pretty typical for our very casual book club group.  We just love to get together to chat (often not about the book) and enjoy a little wine and some easy appetizers.  Of course, the wine had to be Australian!  Even though Yellow Tail isn't a high-end selection by any stretch of the imagination, most of our members thought it was at least drinkable ;)  

Veggies & hummus and crackers & cheese are always no-fail options for every taste. And have you ever tried Trader Joe's salted pecans?  Oh my word, if you like pecans, these are decadent and absolutely addictive!  I thought the napkins had a hint of Australian style to them.  

I love to serve these Spicy Pretzels from The Cookin' Chicks, which are simple to make and always a crowd-pleaser.  I also served ginger cookies with Pumpkin Dip from Carolina Charm but, unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a good picture of that.  It was delicious and super easy to make!  If you want to see more recipes for non-cooks like myself ;) head on over to my Pinterest boards, "Tasty," "Tasty Holiday," and "Clean Eating."   

Oh yeah, in case you were wondering about the book, it's a story that is set in North Carolina about several families who are intertwined by secrets.  There are old and dear friends, nosy neighbors, new lovers, children, and even a couple of deeply disturbed cast members.  This book is both easy to read and thought-provoking. The characters and setting are relatable and may remind you of long-ago parts of your life.  And a couple of twists and turns will keep you turning the pages.

Book Club is always the highlight of my month!  Here we are trying to capture years worth of friendship and love in a couple of quick iPhone photos before one of us moves on to her new adventure.  These ladies are so special to me.  Aren't girlfriends the best?  Do you belong to a book club?


, French Country Cottage, Shabby Art Boutique, Sweet Inspiration, Between Naps on the Porch, Amaze Me Monday, A Stroll Thru Life, The Scoop, Inspire Me Monday