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!