Saturday, December 19, 2009

This program was temporarily interrupted by finals...

I was in the throws of my annual series on a Handmade Christmas when BAM! it was finals week and all other activities came to a screeching halt. I had displays to make, polishing to do and the hardest thing EVER for an artist...editing. I won't go into it right now, but one of these days we are going to have to talk about the secret hell and blessings of editing. Until recently, I never really knew it existed beyond term papers and conversations.

Before we can return to our previously scheduled programming, I have to share with you the final critique for sculpture 1. You really have to see the diversity amongst the students and their work. I learned so much this semester from both our wonderful professor Annie, and my classmates who had a variety of backgrounds and experience. There were some of us that were totally new to 3-D expression, some who had already chosen it as their specialty and some who were expanding on their successful illustration or painting backgrounds. Some were 1st year students, some were graduating seniors. It was a hybrid of experience, age, interpretations and interests. It was probably the most significant course I have taken in art school and it has definitely inspired me to become a sculpture major. There is something about the conceptual experience in 3-D that is so much more consuming than 2-D. I learned to access different parts of my creative self and while it did not come naturally, I enjoyed every sweaty, stumbling step of the journey. I am a better artist for it.

We created four pieces during the semester. The first was a clay bust of either a self portrait or a morph between two or more things. The conceptual was as much a part of the grade as the execution.

Next we made sculptures out of wax which were then cast into bronze. Once returned to us, we had to painstakingly remove the excess metal, grind down the surface to a more refined piece and use a patina to add some contrast. This is a difficult process that involves a lot of heavy machinery, patience and determination.

Our third piece was again made of clay but this time we were free to express ourselves anyway we would like. And our forth piece was a plaster carving. We made large plaster molds in a bucket, then used a chisel and other tools to carve our blocks into a masterpiece. It was very physical and tedious but most of us enjoyed it.

So get some popcorn and a drink, sit back and enjoy this slide show of our final critique....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Homemade Christmas -Scrumptious Comfort Food

There was a time was cooking was a labor of love and I spent hours shopping for and preparing delicious home made meals. But with kids and schedules and dishes...dinner has become less about the flavors and aromas and more about serving something that everyone will eat that includes at least three of the four food groups, that doesn't take too long to prepare and even less time to clean up.

But there is something about December that brings out that culinary spirit in me. I feel this urge to make yummy meals to show my family how much I love them. With all the months in the year for this impulse to surface, why in the heck does it happen in December when time, cash and effort are scarce? What can you do - there is nothing more powerful than a mother's love...

This is my solution- I make those wonderful meals with savory comfort foods but I use recipes that are quick, easy and inexpensive. Here are a few of my favorites...

Chicken Tortilla soup:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium green pepper (I use a red or yellow bell pepper)
  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups frozen corn (I get Trader Joe's roasted corn)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water (I use more Chicken Broth)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional- to taste- go light if you are serving kids)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional- to taste- go light if you are serving kids)
  • 4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth (I use the organic free range broth in cartons)
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup non-fat tortilla chips (optional)
  • 2 chopped avocados
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Sauté onion, garlic, jalapeño and green pepper with olive oil in a large pot until soft.
  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the large pot and bring to a boil.
  3. After about 15 minutes, remove the chicken breasts and shred. (Two forks work well to pull the chicken apart!).
  4. Return shredded chicken to the pot and simmer an additional 45 minutes.
  5. Serve, topped with crushed tortilla chips, avocado and cheese

Cioppino over Pasta
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (28 oz) tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry red or white wine (or chicken broth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • ½ tsp dry oregano leaves
  • 1 package of Trader Joe's Seafood Medley
  • ½ cup butter
In 6-8 quart pan over medium heat, combine oil, onion, garlic and parsley; cook, stirring often, until onion is soft. Stir in tomato sauce, tomatoes (break up with spoon) and their liquid, wine or broth, bay leaf, basil, and oregano. Cover and simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
To broth, add defrosted seafood. Cover and simmer gently about 10 minutes. Ladle hot broth and some of each fish over pasta. Serve with warm sourdough bread.

  • 4 or 5 potatoes
  • 3 or 4 carrots
  • 1 pkg. frozen string beans (use 1/2 of package)
  • 1 pkg. frozen peas (use 1/2 of package)
  • 8 good sized mushrooms
  • 2 cans Campbell cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 pkg. Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
  1. Cook chicken breasts until tender or buy a Costco chicken and use the breast meat. Pull apart or cut into decent size chunks.
  2. Remove pie crust from wrapper to soften, while preparing other ingredients, or roll out 2 pie crusts.
  3. Peel cut up potatoes and carrots. Steam or par boil both in same pot or steamer until slightly tender. The veggies will continue to cook when baked in pie.
  4. Put crust in pan; prick with fork. Add mixture of chicken, potatoes, peas, carrots and string beans, mushrooms,; spread them around, so that everyone gets some chicken, veggies, etc.
  5. Add pepper (soup and crust has plenty of salt; don't add extra).
  6. Add can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup. Spread over top of ingredients. Add 1/3 cup milk to moisten, just pour around edges of pie (use your judgment, if you think you need more liquid, add part of other can of soup, or more milk.
  7. Put on top crust, sealing edges tightly to prevent dripping. Poke crust with fork or make design with toothpick to let steam escape.
  8. Set oven at 375 degrees. Bake approximately 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Put piece of tinfoil under pan to catch drippings.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hand Made Christmas Short Cut

So the seed has been planted and you are pondering "Hand Made Christmas whoop-t-doo." It "feels" like a dandy of an idea but you are not a trend tend to wait to make sure something is here to stay, has had a couple versions so the bugs are worked out and is priced right. You don't have to follow that song and dance with this big idea, There is a short cut; a loop hole; a cheat of sorts. Do some shopping on etsy - your place to buy & sell all things handmade.

What is Etsy? Etsy's mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. their vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice.

here are 20 shops that should have something for everyone on your list:

  1. Whimsy and Spice - delicious sweets -
  2. Sidewalk Sensations -sidewalk paint for kids -
  3. Finns and Flowers - wonderful toys -
  4. Create Beauty Daily - personalized sterling silver jewelry -
  5. Jennifer Stewart's Saturday Morning Vintage - amazing jewelry creations and craft kits -
  6. Plays with Mud - stunning ceramics -
  7. Fabulous Vixen Designs - original jewelry creations and Phone Leashes -
  8. small threads - children's clothing -
  9. allie beans shop - bags and purses -
  10. August Eve - Fine Art Prints -
  11. Handwerks - hand dyed yarns -
  12. Smells and Bells - perfumes and soaps made with organic ingredients -
  13. Alma Stoller - fabric, fiber and mixed media art -
  14. Zip Artist - darling Christmas ornaments and beautiful brooches -
  15. JS Glass Art - fused glass bowls, plates and platters -
  16. Looks Good from the Front - Sophisticated veils and hair accessories -
  17. Kelly Drive - clothing and accessories -
  18. giddyspinster - WOW - How do I describe her work other than totally cool plant art - you gotta check it out! -
  19. Etta Billie - Organic Bath and Body Products -
  20. ciucco - loveys, binkie bags and blankets -

Saturday, December 5, 2009

This is how its done at Jilliene Designs

I sent off a few orders today for customers who had me ship wrapped gifts to their friends and family. I always wrap my orders in vintage book pages and include a thank you card but I like to add a little holiday flare when I am wrapping presents for my clients... free of charge of course.

I just had to share a couple photos thinking it might get others inspired to wrap with recycled materials. Or better yet, pop into one of my shops (here and here) and do a little holiday shopping!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snap Out of IT!

It is easy to talk about giving and holiday cheer when you are feeling good and life is cruising along. And it is also easy to lose you perspective...super easy...especially in the month of December when it is cold out, the days are short, the nights are long, most TV series take a break, schedules are busy with parties, pageants and plays, semesters end with finals and due dates, and there is that whole new year thing at the end of the month. One or two bumps in the road can throw your life into chaos. And it seems there are more opportunities for bumps too because the weather can be disagreeable, its the heart of flu season, people tend to rush and be more tense, there are more demands on your pocket book and less business days to make money. So I thought I'd put together a list of 20 ways to "snap out of it!" as I try to do that very thing this morning...
  1. Stretch
  2. prioritize and skim the fat from your schedule for the day
  3. breath in 5 deep breaths holding them for a 4 count and release.
  4. overwhelmed? just do what is right in front of you
  5. work a few of your fat clothes into your wardrobe so you won't have one of those morning where nothing fits.
  6. try going to bed earlier and getting up earlier
  7. take your laundry to a service that washes and folds for you.
  8. make time to meet a friend for coffee in the middle of the day
  9. order a salad instead
  10. buy a box of those yummy tangerines to eat in place of all the holiday junk food surrounding you
  11. purge your closet - its like shedding your skin and you can donate all the clothes to a charity.
  12. don't drink caffeine after 3:00 pm - nothing good can come of it.
  13. give others a break when they mess up or fall short; your more likely to do the same for yourself if you have done it for someone else.
  14. jog in place while you brush your teeth - for some of us, it will be the only exercise we get all month
  15. meditate (or just sit still and focus on your breathing for 3 minutes)
  16. clean yourself up - pluck your brows, shave, style your hair - sometimes a little grooming goes a long way
  17. make your bed
  18. clean out your purse and/ or car...
  19. listen to some music
  20. remind yourself that the world will not explode if you don't get it all done.
OK - I think I'll start with 16... have a great day!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Collage Placemats Tutorial

Ok - enough of the philosophical. Time to move on to the fun stuff. I am starting out with a simple but thoughtful craft that you can do on your own or have your kids participate. It is inexpensive and it might just be the kind of project that gets you into the Creative Zone so that you will be willing to try some others.

Collage place mats can be simple or you can get elaborate. Totally up to you. You can make a set of generic looking ones or personalize them for a specific person.

Here is how you do it:
  1. Collect materials for your collage, and find inspiration in them.
    • Traditional collage materials include scraps of paper and other flat materials: newspaper and magazine clippings, shopping bags, photographs (or photocopies of photographs), wallpaper, and foil.
    • Objects such as string, beads, feathers, and fabric are OK but you don't want your collage to be bumpy so try to stick with items that lay flat..
    • Collage may encompass images, text, solid colors, or a mixture of these. You may want a recognizable image or word, or simply a suggestion, feel, color, or texture.
    • Use what you have. Start from available materials and work out from there.
    • Create what you don't have. Since collage is an assemblage or blend of elements, it lends itself well to mixed media. You could paint, draw, stamp, or stencil in between the elements you find, or cover over them.
    • Don't rule out unusual materials, like sandpaper, blurry photographs, etc. The place mat below is made from fabric scraps.

  2. Choose a base for your collage. The base is usually flat paper or poster board because these are easiest to work with.
    • The background does not have to be white, and it does not have to be plain. The background could include a page from a magazine or book, a large photograph, or a page of text. Paint or draw on it, or cover over it with anything that glue will stick to.
  3. Prepare the base by cutting the base to the desired size and shape. I usually go with 16x12" Add any decorations or embellishments you want to the background.
  4. Use scissors or an X-acto knife to cut out pieces for your collage. Try cutting your scraps into unusual shapes, cutting out words or letters from a variety of sources to make phrases on your collage, or cutting different pieces so that they fit together.
    • Pick images that reflect the recipients or make a set that are tied together with a theme. I make 4 for our family and each one has our name and a photo of us. I add silly hats, hair and animal bodies to our faces. I also include things that interest us. This year, Tim has a surf theme but last year it was all about mountain biking.
    • A cutting mat helps protect your table and helps make smooth cuts, or cut on top of a scrap of cardboard or an old magazine.
    • Cut out a whole picture, an identifiable part, or just enough to evoke texture, color, or feeling.
    • Cut different shapes for both words and images. Experiment with round and straight edges, regular and irregular shapes.
  5. Try tearing materials too. The rough, random edges give parts of your collage a different character than cutouts.
  6. Arrange the items on your background. You can arrange the whole thing, then glue, or you can arrange as you go if you prefer a more spontaneous approach.
    • Play with the juxtaposition of different elements and don't be afraid to make this part a messy process. Serendipity may hand you something interesting that you hadn't thought of.
  7. Apply glue to each item and carefully but firmly press it down. Then, use your finger to rub it flat from the inside to the edges. Continue this process with each piece, overlapping pieces if you wish, until you are finished.
    • Glue underneath pieces before pieces on top.
    • You don’t have to cover the whole surface if you don’t want to, You can fold or crumple pieces of paper to get interesting textures and reliefs.
  8. Let the finished collage dry completely. Depending on the glue(s) you used, you may need to let the collage dry for a few hours or more than a day.
  9. Add any finishing touches. Do you want to apply a thin layer of paint or write or stamp over parts of it? Do you want to add textures, such as scratches?
  10. Laminate the collage -I bring it to Kinkos. The do a great job and it only costs a couple bucks. I have an old Xyron with laminate that I bought solely for this purpose but it isn't firm enough and it peels over time. Kinko's laminate can be wipes with a sponge again and again without it affecting the laminate.
  11. Ta-Dah! - you are all done. Ok now for the wrapping because these are shaped weird. Wrap it in the funny papers, go to the thrift store and buy a couple old record albums, then use the 2 sleeves as a "box" Tape them together and give as is or wrap them up with newspaper, magazines, or tuck them in a reuseable grocery bag...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Obstacles and Objections to a Homemade Christmas

Lets face it...we live in America, a society of get it done, keep up with the Jones' and mega-consumption. It is hard enough to limit our kids sugar intake, monitor their television exposure and teach them how to be kind, productive, tolerant members of society. Even with the best of intentions, we find ourselves detoured into the Taco Bell drive-through instead of preparing a home cooked meal. We can't get away from the temptation to turn on Cartoon Network for just a few minutes of quiet time. A parent would have to make it a full time job to prevent their children from getting exposed to all kinds of unproductive behavior whether it be through the media, at school or on the playground. So, to try to impose yet another "healthier choice" can be a difficult undertaking. Especially when the media is showing all the cool STUFF you HAVE to get for Christmas. I imagine many a parent has been tempted to combat the commercialism but decided that it was too big of a fight to win. I get it. I'm right there with you. (Between you and me -sometimes I don't even bother serving vegetables because I know it will end up a battle of wills and I don't have the energy for it.

"And now you propose a Handmade Christmas?? Are you mad?" Oh please...let me clarify. What I suggest is that we do our part to counterbalance the insanity we call the holidays. Instead of giving into this emphasis of "buying", lets look at this season as a time to be kind to one another and to ourselves. To be generous without filling our closets and cupboards and landfill with unnecessary stuff. To be thoughtful in our shopping, to repurpose when possible and to keep our kids out of the chasm of want. That dark abyss that distracts us from being good people and that is destroying our planet. It can be a lot of work, but if you think strategically, you can make an impact.

The trick is to recognize that if our attitudes toward consumption don't change, they will be changed for us in the not-to-distant-future.

Now our family does not subscribe to an exclusively hand made Christmas. We do a hybrid. For example, I never buy new gift bags, but I do recycle the ones I have from last year. My kids like toys and I am not a toy maker so those items are store bought. Sometimes they are brand spankin new-straight from China and other times they are items I bought on Etsy, ebay or at the thrift store. If it is from Etsy it is usually something handmade but I always confirm that it has been tested for lead. If it is from ebay, I am careful that the seller has a good reputation and do my due diligence to make sure the item is in tact and clean (i.e. wooden train tracks and trains) and if its from the thrift store, it is usually something like kid videos or a cool chess set. I feel good about looking to ebay and the thrift store because it is recycling but I also have little kids who don't notice if something isn't brand new.

For those of you with teenagers, you face a much more difficult situation when you try to push handmade or recycled items onto your teen. Their entire culture is built upon their stuff... brand In this case, the best you may be able to do is wrap your gifts in recycled newspaper, magazines and grocery bags, skip sending store bought Christmas cards, do away with envelopes and give gift certificates. Maybe, if your lucky, you'll even make your own wreath? You are doing something and that is so much better than not doing something.

So here is a list of 20 ways you can change your Christmas/ Holiday practices without making your kids mad or adding more stress to your life:
  1. Give gift cards
  2. give experiences instead of stuff - dinner for two, tickets to the theater, tuition for an online class...
  3. Shop on Etsy - support artists and avoid wasting gas, time and releasing harmful ommissions by driving to the mall and hunting for a parking spot.
  4. Give a health package with vitamins, a colon cleanser, green food, medicinal teas and/ or immune system boosters
  5. wrap your gifts in paper bags turned inside out. Use rubber stamps and paint to decorate with holiday cheer.
  6. stop using ribbon and bows to decorate your packages. Instead, top your packages with useful items like mints, a spatula or socks
  7. ask for and give gifts that are practical - scratch the candy cane boxers and knick knacks - give them their favorite face mousterizer, hair conditioner or a new tool.
  8. buy American
  9. don't send store bought Christmas cards. Americans buy about 7 billion greeting cards each holiday season and most of these cards are made from paper from virgin forests and end up in landfills shortly after arriving at their destination. Instead send ecards or make your own from last years cards and supplies you have in your home.
  10. ask people if they have a big ticket item that you can contribute to and get one lined up for yourself. I have a sewing machine on lay away and when asked what I want for Christmas I suggust putting a little money down on it. I give them the store name and tel # so they can take care of it without actually handing over cash.
  11. give an herb garden or fruit tree. Its the gift that keeps on giving!
  12. give your time. What are you good at? computers, photography, organizing?? create a gift certificate on your computer and put it under the tree.
  13. replace your current Christmas lights with the new energy efficient ones.
  14. one word - itunes
  15. give a subscription to a vegetable co-op.
  16. don't stock up on extra gifts just in case you need one last minute. Buy a few starbucks cards if you must, but it is OK to downsize on your gift giving.
  17. give re-usable grocery bags instead of gift bags to wrap up presents. I do this every year and I feel really good that my friends and family may save a few trees because of it.
  18. give a photograph in a frame. That is an awesome gift!
  19. don't buy your stocking stuffers at the dollar store. We are all tempted to take advantage of those inexpensive, colorful goodies but most of it ends up in the land fill. Instead fill their stockings with fruit, nuts, lip balm, hand lotion, an eco-friendly water bottle, hand sanatizer and of course candy!
  20. give privledges -this is bound to be a hit with your teens! an afternoon off of school, a 1-hour extension on bedtime, pass on a chore for a week or movies on a school night.

10 sure fire ways to ignite the spirit of giving...

Many people struggle with getting into the Christmas spirit. The days are shorter; it is cold outside; and if you watch the news, one could easily conclude that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. For many of us, the holidays remind us of people we have lost or represent a lot of "to-do's" in a very short period of time.

The best way to combat the holiday blues and whip up some holiday spirit is to be in service to others. Yes, even if your well is dry, you feel you have nothing to give or you just don't have the time. There is always a way to bring light to another person. Always. And by doing so, you get a little light too. So here is a short list of ten sure-fire ways to get into the holiday spirit!
  1. make and send Christmas cards for our troops
  2. make and drop off cookies to the local fire dept.
  3. Buy extra food at the grocery store and drop it in the food donation can or better yet, start a can food drive at your work, school and/or association by contacting youror rescue organization.
  4. find out how you can be in service for a local shelter - whether it is donating, time, money or services. Every little bit helps make this world a better place.
  5. donate new toys to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. To find your local chapter, click here
  6. Organize a group to sing Christmas Carols at a local retirement home
  7. Buy the person behind you in line at Starbucks a coffee
  8. Vow to change one behavior for the good of the planet
  9. Make and give your neighbors, postal worker, hair stylist, and other support people a homemade card and/or gift like hot coco in a recycled jar with marshmellows on top or gingerbread cookies. You can always include a gift card if you have the money to give.
  10. Resist the urge to buy useless gifts just to cross someone off of your shopping list. You end up supporting a disposable economy and contributing to global warming. This is especially hard when you have a tight budget because we never want to be caught empty handed. Instead have a tree planted in this person's name. It only costs $4 and they will receive an e-certificate and GPS coordinates so you can visit the tree.
To find more ideas visit:

Let me know if you try any of these ideas or if you have another to add.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Introduction to a Handmade Christmas

Christmas has not always been a time of delight and joy for me. When I was younger and less able to appreciate my blessings in life, I thought Christmas was just a big fat reminder of everything I DID NOT have. I wallowed in my prediction that there would not be enough love, gifts, generosity, money, invitations, etc. and recruited others to do the same.

I worked hard to make "Bah Humbug" fashionable. My ridiculous self-centeredness made every flippin' Christmas carol feel like a giant raspberry from the universe.

Before the season was over, I would end up flush with all kind of gifts and blessings but I would be unable to enjoy them. I was pretty certain that the only reason I got what I got was because I sustained a level of prepared disappointment and experiencing any sort of joy or gratitude might jeopardize the possibility of getting more...

In other words, I was a spoiled young woman and no matter how much I got, it would never be enough.

But being a mom has totally changed this pattern of behavior for me- thank God! I work very hard each year to shelter my children from the commercialism and the emphasis on "getting" by doing a Handmade Christmas.

Last year baking Christmas Cookies

Last year, I was blessed to discover a whole like-minded movement which has made this tradition even more exciting. I have found so much inspiration from bloggers like One Crafty Mumma and Me and My Thoughts where there are tons of great ideas and dozens of tutorials.

This practice of a Homemade Christmas focuses on the joy of giving and encourages creativity. I can not tell you how much my kids thrive on making gifts for others. Maybe this story will... Aidan came home from school a week ago with a huge list of toys he wanted from Santa. There were well over $1,000 worth of gifts written in his cute 1st grade handwriting and he seemed pretty sure that if he sent the list to Santa, he would get each and every one of them. I explained that Santa might bring one item on his list but not all of it.

He said, "but lots of the kids at school get everything on their list and I get in less trouble than a lot of them."

Every year we make a homemade Chicken Pot Pie together

I told him that Santa brings gifts to match the traditions in each house and at our house we focus on the giving, not the receiving. He was not thrilled with that answer, but I went on to explain how in our family we may only get one or two big presents from Santa but we spend the whole month of December doing things to celebrate Christmas like decorating, making gifts, ornaments, cookies and most of all, spending time together. Other families may get lots of "stuff" but their Christmas is just a morning. They wait, wait, wait, until Christmas arrives; rip through the presents and then it is all over for another 365 days.

"Hmmmmmm" he replied. He was clearly analyzing the data.

The next day we started getting our Christmas groove on by drinking gingerbread tea, listening to Christmas carols and doing Christmas crafts. The kids made all kinds of ornaments and paper chains and not once did I hear someone say "I'm bored!"- (a Christmas miracle!) While we were cleaning up, Aidan said "I like the way we do Christmas mommy. I LOVE doing crafts with you. When can we do it again?"

"Next weekend, and every weekend after until Christmas" I replied. He smiled huge and yelled "Yeah!" while he jumped up and down. "I don't need all those toys mommy... just the Lego's"

So here are a few of the goodies I have started on for gifts this year (just to wet your whistle). Tutorials and more pictures will follow. Subscribe to my feed so you know when new articles are posted because I have a lot of fun and easy crafts that are earth friendly, easy to do and inexpensive too. Welcome to Homemade Christmas everyone!

The handles on this bag are made from an old scarf

Burlap and cotton reversible shopping bag

This is a ring

This is a pendant with a tiny spool of thread, pin and button

Sunday, November 29, 2009

So I’m included in a Treasury, now what?

I just got an Etsy "convo" letting me know that I have been included in another treasury. This is my 4th time being included in a treasury and it feels like a honor but is it? Well I did a little research and found this great article by posted by Diana Rajchel . I thought I pass on this fantastic information for those of you who are wondering "so what?"

Let’s say you wake up one morning and you find a convo in your Etsybox: you’re in a treasury! Of course you should go, click, and post a comment thanking the curator. It’s the gracious thing to do, after all. And you could just leave it at that. Treasuries are random, low-traffic things with a short lifespan. Why make a fuss?

Here’s why:

Etsy admin looks through treasuries for front page ideas. While we on Etsy are still subject to admin’s whims and limitations, it does at least give us a chance to present new ideas to them.

So when your item is included in a treasury, you are being nominated by someone as front-page worthy. It’s like receiving a neighborhood association award: it means something to the person who picked you, and it might mean something to you.

If you assume the attitude that you’ve essentially received a small award, you should proceed as you would with any other award: tell the world. You’re helping bring more attention to your item and the items of others and it gives you a little bit of content for your social networking sites. Just grab a screenshot – you can use the print screen function on your desktop or one of three or four add-ons available in mozilla – and you can upload the image to your respective accounts. I’ve even gone so far as to add my treasuries to Etsy-treasury specific groups on flickr.

Places to Go with your Treasury Screenshot and What to Do when You’re There:

Add it to your slideshow. Create a 500 pixel image with a link back to the treasury and post it in bulletins. Ask people to click.

Tweet it no more than twice. Add a link.

Your personal blog
Post the image. Say how it makes you feel.

Add it to your notes field.

Your Etsy shop
Include a link in your shop announcement, just be sure to take it down as soon as the treasury expires.

You can also talk about it in forums in the appropriate areas – Etsy pretty much keeps you to Promotions, but it still can get some play there if your treasury is attention-worthy. I’m not suggesting you drop everything when you get in a treasury, but doing one or two of these things can help inch you up that path of recognition.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gratitude project - Day 7

How is it day 7 already. Well I've got to hurry to catch my train so this will have to be a quickie but after reading so many other wonderful lists last night, I have plenty of things in mind.
  1. Nacho night at our house
  2. my car
  3. fresh starts
  4. Gingerbread coffee from Trader Joes
  5. the gal at Michael's who noticed I haven't been in yje store in a while -she refers to me as a "regular"
  6. Jennifer Stewart who introduced me to the world of vintage
  7. my husband likes me just the way I am
  8. Aidan's idea of a reward or treat for getting an "A" on his spelling test is getting to stay up past bed time and play SKIP BO with mom
  9. my sense of humor. I don't know where it comes from sometimes, but it cracks me up
  10. mineral makeup - it really is superior to liquid
  11. a stocked pantry
  12. Gary - our goldfish - he's just another member of our family
  13. sometimes I choose to be happy rather than right
  14. the incredible nature that exists all around me - God is the best landscaper
  15. love in all its forms
  16. for people who fight injustice
  17. I could lose some weight if I just stopped eating the way I eat
  18. salads - yummy
  19. Edit -->undo )
  20. the sunrise - I am not a morning person but if I am awake - I sure love the dawn of a new day
Ok I have to get going or I'm gonna be late so please forgive my typos and other boo boo's. I'll proof later. We have 2 more new Gratitude Project bloggers: Lori Delisle at The Style Girl and Cynthia at Technicolor Postcards Be sure to visit these amazing gratitude lists for more positive thinking and joy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 6 - Gatitude Project

Eva is still sick but doing better this morning - she held her high fever through the night so I slept with one eye open. That kind of worry is no fun. My imagination gets more of a voice than I'd like... I started worrying that if I drifted off to sleep, she would take a turn for the worst. There were lots of tears and I gave out a zillion hugs while pushing fluids but we made it without incident. I am dog tired this morning but she seems to feel a little better. Tim's taking her to the pediatrician this morning so I have the morning "off." I have so much work to catch up on that I do not see a nap fitting into my schedule. It's OK - I am at the point where I would rather not feel so behind then feel tired. This gratitude list will be geared to getting into the groove.
  1. The holidays are coming (and a month off of school to get my batteries recharged!)
  2. That the holidays do not stress me out because we keep it simple
  3. That I have a studio in my house to do my work and school
  4. Tim - I know I have written things about him in previous lists but I want to acknowledge that he's my lobster.
  5. caffeine and sugar - that I am not a slave to either, but I do love them both.
  6. Noggin - I love that if my kids are gonna watch TV, there is an educational, commercial-free option!
  7. My wonderful stash of art supplies - it took a long, long time to collect, but I almost never have to go to the Michaels's to get items for a project.
  8. our back yard - we have wonderful trees, a lawn, two raised garden beds and enough space for our kids to kick the ball and ride their bikes (in circles).
  9. tivo
  10. to do lists
  11. humanity at its best
  12. children and all their magic
  13. comfortable shoes
  14. books
  15. silliness
  16. goodness
  17. I am not in charge
  18. that I did not get the bug (so far) that is making Eva sick
  19. electricity - it sure is handy
  20. teachers
We have 2 new additions to the gratitude project from the SFEtsy team: Linda at Rue Paris and My Dear darling!
Check out these other gratitude lists too and then- post your own!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gratitude Project - Day 5

Had a long night with Miss Eva who spiked a fever in the middle of the night and developed a cough in a matter of minutes. I slept half heartedly as the mom in me worried that she might have swine flu. A gratitude list is just what I need this A.M.
  1. flea markets
  2. free cycle - in the last year, I have picked up my drafting table/chair, full spectrum over head lights and a gigantic box of unique rubber stamps
  3. the ability to check my email from my cell phone
  4. the feeling of "inspiration"
  5. all the awesome family traditions that Tim and I have invented together like our handmade Christmas and "no stress" Thanksgiving- our motto is "dude, its just a day..."
  6. that I have tools for living
  7. sea ranch - wish we could have a wassima retreat there.
  8. even though Eva has a fever and feels crummy, she just walked into my room with stickers all over her PJ's; then she pulled her pajama top up to reveal even more stickers all over her tummy.
  9. hot showers
  10. 70's music - all kinds
  11. that Maggie brings me somerset studio magazines
  12. that I'm OK with being one of many (most of the time)
  13. Vintage everything!!!
  14. the great times I have with my mom
  15. sushi
  16. red cross - what would the world be without it?
  17. the unknown -mystery is good
  18. that Tim and I still do sweet little things for each other on a daily basis
  19. that my kids tell me they love me all the time - just out of the blue.."i love you mommy"
  20. my aint't perfect but it works most of the time and I'm so grateful for everything it does!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 4 Gratitude Project

Think I better start my morning with a gratitude list so I can reap the benefits all day long...
  1. tolerance
  2. our dishwasher
  3. hiking
  4. alka seltzer
  5. indoor plumbing
  6. my Etsy customers and all people who support small businesses
  7. Craig's list
  8. California casual - I love that I never have to wear panty hose or high heels and that putting on makeup is considered getting dressed up.
  9. sharp cheddar cheese - you satisfy me in way that nothing else can.
  10. Steve Carell - he makes me belly laugh (especially in Bruce Almighty when he is doing the news)
  11. that I am free (I not only live in a free society but I am not incarcerated or institutionalized)
  12. that I have relatively good mental health - we don't realize how lucky we are that we don't have schizophrenia or other debilitating mental illness.
  13. that my kids are healthy
  14. that my husband does laundry, dishes and he cooks pretty good too.
  15. that there is a group of people making these lists with me so I can get grateful from theirs as much as my own!
  16. Michael's 40% off coupon - it has saved me a fortune (hmmm or maybe its cost me a fortune???)
  17. that I had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling when I was younger.
  18. the tool room at school - you can check out ANYTHING there - from power tools, to welding equipment. to dental instruments (not for your teeth - for carving)
  19. zip lock bags
  20. random acts of kindness

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Project Gratitude -Day 3

Dude! check out this awesome "logo" for the gratitude challenge now fondly know as "the gratitude project" (or "Hradtitude" if you are me) - I totally had to borrow it from Paula at plays with mud. Thanks Paula!
So we had such a nice time celebrating Arlina's birthday and eating her incredible homemade authentic Mexican food tonight. It was so great to see the kids playing together so nicely in one room while all us grown ups were having a great time together in another. Mark V. brought these amazing flour tortillas and Eddie made the best guacamole EVER! good times... and now that I'm full and relaxed here is my third list:
  1. Yesterday I had an entire day pain free - that's right -nothing, nada, zilch, and life was really, really good. Yeah!
  2. For the amazing shopping arena "Etsy" and that I have 2 shops there that are successfully selling!
  3. that my daughter still has a little kid accent...I love that she says "i love you to the 'oon' and back" and "those are 'mine' shoes".
  4. That I sleep well just about every night.
  5. I have a sufficient substitute - that and more...
  6. Laura's brownies...damn
  7. that I studied in Bath, England with the finest group of people you could ever meet. Friends I'll treasure until the day I die and memories that I'll take with me to the next life because they are so good.
  8. we can get fresh fruits and vegetables year round at any supermarket in our area.
  9. pause and rewind
  10. Obama
  11. That I get to go to Artfest next year! and I'm rooming with Lori - how fun is that??
  12. That my parents paid for braces when I was a child
  13. Alyssa and Aidan are in the same class.
  14. I have an education
  15. We don't have credit card debt.
  16. science fiction
  17. the color green - it is so beautiful
  18. facebook and reuniting with friends from another time in my life and for the ability to stay so well connected to people in my life now.
  19. the ozone layer
  20. that 40 is the new 30
here are the latest updates to our list...I feel like I'm forgetting some people...if I didn't add you will you remind me again. I drowned in my email today...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gratitude Lists You Don't Want To Miss! are the links I promised...some have already begun and some will be starting soon so be sure to pop in again if there isn't a list at this time! If I did not put you on this list, please send me an email or leave a comment as I'll be posting updates daily:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 2

OK I'm on the fly because I have to catch an early train to school so here is my day 2 list...
  1. being able to do what I love as a profession
  2. that I'm in a really great marriage
  3. camping
  4. weekends
  5. Maggie time (most Saturdays she comes over for a few hours to create, connect, giggle and affirm - there is just no smack talk, scheming or whining when we get together - its not in our nature...)
  6. Today is grandparents day at school and both of my kids have a grandparent in their class with them all day to watch their plays, go to chapel, hear them sing and eat a picnic lunch with
  7. that I lived in Africa
  8. that I don't have to drive to San Francisco...i take 2 different trains and end up a block from my classroom.
  9. That my school has provided me with 2 hours a week of free tutoring so I can find my voice.
  10. that I believe that there is a power greater than myself who is with me always
  11. the extraordinary generosity that has been shown to me and my family over these last few months.
  12. the amazing relationships I have with ppl ac cross the country that are almost exclusively maintained over the Internet.
  13. Heather for showing me another may seem silly but you changed the course of my life
  14. Kimmy and Jen - I love that over distance and time we have kept our friendships so strong. you are part of my family really and I treasure that.
  15. That the park is across the street, the farmers market is 1 block away every Sunday and I can see Michaels from the sidewalk in front of my house.
  16. That Emily and Dan live so close
  17. Lindsey - she is a gift in so many ways
  18. Glee- that show just makes me happy.
  19. pumpkin pie
  20. Our gardener Nate who offered to discount our bill when he heard Tim had lost his job and has given us several free months because he came into some money (none of this was requested...he just did it because he's an incredible man) Its the gesture not the money...he makes me want to be a better person
i know I also promised a list of participants and their blog addresses but I've got to get going so I'll compile tonight Off the top of my head I can tell you that Cameron, Heather, Aimee, Sooz, Lori, Katie, Zanne, MaryElla, Moi, Morningdove and...crude...forgive me I gotta jet....but these ladies are participating and most of their blog links are on my right side bar... happy day

Gratitude List - Day 1

Boy do I need this...Before I begin my list I'll share that I have been having a hell of a time with my TN pain. My whole life has been affected and I have had to make huge adjustments in my expectations. I try really hard to stay positive on my blog and on facebook but I don't feel very authentic. If I said what was really going on, all I'd do is complain so I have been doing a lot of isolating to avoid wearing people out. I reserve all my fun, good humor and positive energy to lavish on the kids and Tim so that their lives are not impacted more than necessary. The result is that when I can't do it any longer, I disappear into my room and try to manage the intense pain with relaxation techniques, surfing the web, TV, and anything else I can do to distract me or ease the discomfort. Yes that includes eating large quantities of my kid's Halloween candy. What can I helps for a few minutes.

I have had my share of dark moments but God is good and has graced me with more blessings than pain so no matter what escape plan I imagine in those stretches of 9 and 10 suffering, I have a smile for the joys in my life. Here are just a few in no particular order...
  1. my children's genuine happiness with their lives
  2. St. Timothy's school
  3. my friends, family and community - you know who you are
  4. my husband's wonderful sense of humor
  5. my mom
  6. Bill and Bob and everything that follows
  7. I get to go to art school
  8. our home
  9. willingness each and every morning
  10. health insurance
  11. Peggy Z
  12. to be an American
  13. for my sight, hearing and ability to walk
  14. our amazing planet and those that fight to save her
  15. my in laws who are so far away but so near in our hearts
  16. forgiveness
  17. our military, police and firefighters who protect us from harms way
  18. my computer...I'd be out of work and cut off from much of the world without it
  19. clean water - we don't realize how lucky we are
  20. that I live in Northern California - for the weather, the open mindedness, tolerance, diversity and opportunity
so that is my first list of 20...6 more days to follow. I already feel lighter. So happy to be doing this! Off to see what Aimee, Cameron, Lori and any others have written to feed off of their positive thinking too!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The attitude of gratitude...

It is November people and that means it is time to get our gratitude on. In just 2 weeks we are going to be enjoying turkey, loved ones and loads of Christmas commercials in observance of gratitude and all of the blessings we enjoy as Americans. Last year I did a week of gratitude lists on my blog and the practice took off like wildfire. Lets see if we can generate even more buzz this year my fellow bloggers by starting the second annual "Attitude of Gratitude." Here is an the introduction from last years kick off:
When I am feeling frustrated, short changed, insufficient or victomized, I have a wise friend who reminds me that you can't feel self pity and gratitude at the same time. She has suggested on many, many occasions that the best way to combat feelings of resentment, jealousy, disappointment, inadequacy and sadness is to make a gratitude list. Her Rx for a "spell" of bad feelings (lasting more than a few days) is to make a gratitude list of 20 things everyday for a week. You are not to duplicate things you are grateful for, and in my practice, I try not to make a list of specific people because it prevents me from digging deep. My WASSIMA gals and I decided we were going to do a week together. Some of us were feeling low, others just liked the idea of it and I think it is a great way to go into November, which holds Thanksgiving and to officially kick off the Holiday Season.
So starting tomorrow my week (and attitude) of Gratitude will begin. Start yours with me if you can and lets feed off of one another so that in a weeks time our gratitude has grown exponentially. If you decide to participate be sure to leave a comment here with a link to your blog so everyone can find you...and lets be sure to comment on one another's blogs and recruit others to do the same to keep up the momentum. Perhaps you'll want to copy and paste some of this message so your friends and family can join the fun! See you tomorrow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just Having Fun...

Even though we were sick, I really enjoyed all the quality time with my family these past couple of weeks. Aidan is now old enough that he is a serious competitor in Skip Bo so we have spent a lot of time on my bed playing cards. Eva is such a cuddlier and I've been savoring every minute of having her wrapped up in my arms. We've read stories, played with her babies and colored in her coloring books. And at night, once the kids are asleep, Tim and I have been chit-chatting more often. We are so lucky to have such aligned views and goofy senses of humor. I don't know how come I am so blessed... I just know that I am.

I am a little anxious because I missed so much school and work while the kids and I were sick though. Oddly in juxtaposition, I am swirling with excitement over the groovy things happening with my Etsy shops. Business has been going great and I have gotten a lot of great feedback from my customers. I posted dozens of wonderful new treasures over the weekend and I have a giant box of goodies on its way from this amazing estate sale. I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve waiting for the package to arrive. hee hee.

Tomorrow I have to buckle down and get caught up with some of my client work, finish my mid-term project and start on a new clay sculpture. Oops, let me re-phrase that... I GET to buckle down and get caught up with some of my client work, finish my mid-term project and start on a new clay sculpture. It is a privilege to have my clients and go to art is so important that I don't let being behind make my situation become stressful. I am committed to enjoy myself even if it feels a bit overwhelming. I'm thinking of tying a string around my finger because the hardest part in all of this activity is REMEMBERING to be happy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Hard Day at the Office

I'm still battling this nasty cold that has ripped through our house. I have no voice and I'm still super tired so when my mom came over to visit today, I was not the best company. Then the mail came and a large box filled with an assortment of vintage hats. We started modeling for one another, then we added jewelry and the next thing we knew we had configured an assortment of Vintage Accessory Kits. It was such fun pairing these unusual bonnets and caps with gorgeous brooches, earrings and necklaces. Then mom suggested I get dressed (yes, I was still in my PJ's) so we could snap a few photos of me with the hats and jewelry to post in my Etsy Shop.

I ran a brush through my hair, put on some lipstick and we had a fabulous photo shoot in the guest bathroom. The natural light was perfect and our pale shower curtain was a fantastic back drop. It must have been a sight to see my mom twisted around this bulky DSLR, smashed in the corner of the bathroom to get the right angle, while I sat on the edge of the tub posing in the most conspicuous ways so that the camera could capture the interesting accessories I had on. I laughed out loud as my mom started saying "yes...that's it...hold it...yes...turn...yes..." right out of an Austin Powers movie.

When I transferred the photos to my computer and got a look at them for the first time I was shocked. Holy cow - I felt like was it possible for me to look so darn cute... the saleswomen in me says "it was the accessories," the artist in me says "it was that incredible natural light" but the daughter in me knows that it was because I was hanging out with my mom.