Monday, July 23, 2012

No. 5 - Snake in the Grass

I've heard it said that the best way to get over a fear is to face that fear head on.  I don't think I'm so afraid of something that I am immobilized by it.  Take snakes for instance. I'm not terrified of them, but they aren't my favorite creatures.  I just don't care to be near them.  The thought of them slithering around makes me shudder.  So when Sarah from Star Jewels challenged me to make a set of beads that when strung together looked like a snake, well let's just say I was not overjoyed.  I thought, aaagh, really? A snake? But I faced this challenge head on.  I took a deep breath and told myself, okay, I can do this!  And once I made up my mind I dove right in. Patience is NOT my strongest virtue!

So here they are. The beads that I made to resemble a snake.  Now, did they turn out exactly like I had envisioned? No.  Are they perfect? Hardly. But was this challenge a failure? Not at all!!  I learned what works and what doesn't.  So now I know to take a different approach next time.  Did I say next time? Yeah, I think I'll make more similar to these.  I have to admit, even a cold blooded snake can inspire me. I mean, have you ever really noticed the beautiful patterns and colors of some.  So maybe it's true what they say, face you fears head on!  Something beautiful may emerge from the experience.

I would like to encourage you to take on a challenge. You just might surprise yourself with the outcome. And don't let the thought of failure scare you.  Just dive right in!  I would love to hear your thoughts or comments.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Fruit of My Labor

I just wanted to share with you what I think is really cool.  I don't know how many people do this. I only personally know of 2 others.  I grow pineapple!

It's really not hard at all.  I decided to give it a try a few years ago.  I bought a pineapple at the grocery store, cut off the green top , stuck it in a pot of dirt and kept it watered.  Before I knew it, it had taken root and started to grow!  I was so excited when it actually produced a pineapple!

It takes a plant 2 -3 years to mature before it will produce fruit.  And since it is a tropical plant, I have to bring them inside around November, before the first frost.  It takes two people to pick them up and then I have to rearrange the furniture to make room for them.  Yes, they are that large.  Then sometime in April they will be moved back outside.  This is the third pineapple my plants have produced and it is the sweetest I've ever eaten.  I can't wait for the next one, if only it didn't take so darn long!

February 2012, about 3 weeks after I first noticed it.

June 2012

Fresh picked July 15, 2012

A bowl of yummy deliciousness!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies. And that is my favorite song from the movie. What about you? What are some of your favorite things? I bet you have a favorite book, a favorite color, or a favorite restaurant.  Sometimes there are so many choices that it is hard to pick just one favorite.  Well, over on Etsy, the Handmade Circle Team is celebrating Christmas in July and so I asked the members this question, "What is your favorite Christmas ornament?"  If someone had asked me this question, this would be my answer:

My favorite Christmas ornament is at least 60 years old and it is showing it's age.  It is not as shiny as it was when new but the memories that come to mind are all I see when I look at this little ornament. It was my favorite when I was a child and I always wanted to be the one that hung it on our tree.  It is a small clear glass bell shaped ornament with stripes of pink, white and gold glitter.  Well, it used to have glitter, but it has lost most of it's luster now.  This little bell is still in it's original box along with all the others that came with it.  It was once a part of my Mom's collection of Christmas decorations, bought at Woolworth's after she and my Dad got married. It was made by Shiny Bright.  Maybe you have heard of the company before, you may even have some in your own collection.   My Mom no longer decorates a Christmas tree and I am so glad to have some of these special ornaments of hers.

Now read what some of the other members shared with me.

Ashley from Brenny's Bibbies says, My favorite ornament is a little angel boy sitting on cloud holding a bird.  The ornament was purchased in memory of a child we lost due to miscarriage. The little boy has a sweet angelic face and is one of the ornaments you place a light in so his face absolutely glows. It brings comfort to us to have our lost baby remembered in such a way and I always make sure it's placed front and center of our tree.

Kate from Pieces of Home Mosaics told me this:  My favorite is all of the Christmas ornaments that my Mom left me.  She passed 8 years ago. And when I see her ornaments on my Tree..It puts a smile on my face.

Here is Holly's from Holly's Homemade Goodies.  When I was born forty years ago, my grandmother gave my mother a red-headed angle Christmas ornament to represent my first Christmas. The ornament is about 3 inches tall, dressed in white, gold wings and red painted plastic hair. The angel hung on my mother's tree every year until about twenty years ago when my mother gave the ornament to me.  The angel has hung front and center every year on my Christmas tree along side my boy's first Christmas ornaments.

Jayne from Twiggy and Opal says, My favorite ornament is one my mother gave me 20+ years ago. Its a little mouse sitting upon a cherry pie! My tree ornaments and color themes may change over the years, but that little mouse is always front and center at the top of the tree!

It seems like handmade runs in Marsha's, from Bags By Hags, family. Here's her favorite: A little white handmade angel, my husband's grandmother made and attached it to my daughter's Christmas present when she was little.  The present? A Handmade doll that my daughter still has and calls it her Memaw doll.

Michelle from Monday's Child Primitives says, My favorite ornament is a gold ceramic angel that was given to me 43 years ago by my great-aunt for my first Christmas. She also gave my cousin that I've been close to the same ornament. Even after all these years we both always have our angels on our trees.

Sharon, from Artist Soul Designs told me, I love snowmen...I mean L-O-V-E them! Our whole tree is decorated with all the snowmen ornaments I've collected over the last ten years. My favorite is a ceramic snowman my son painted in pre-school. All the kids took a field trip to a paint your own pottery studio and painted stars to give to their families. My son refused and when his teacher asked why he didn't want to paint, he replied, "My mommy loves snowmen and that's what I have to paint. NOT a STAR!" Luckily, his teacher was understanding and let him do it "his" way. Lucky for me as well!

Shannon from A Moment in Paradise doesn't have just one.  I have a few. They are the ones my boys made when they were growing up. They are 29 and 19 now but every time I hang them back on the tree it takes me back to when they just little boys :)

Here's what Rhonda, from Tipsy Glows said. I LOVE my mother-in-law's PICKLES! LOL! She has 4 pickle ornaments that are a longtime family tradition. Basically, there's a pickle for each grandkid and they are hidden deep inside the the branches of their Christmas tree. Right after dinner and before any gifts are exchanged, each grandkid (ages ranging from 24 years down to 3) get to search for a pickle and once they find one, my mother-in-law (aka Grammy) has a special present ready and waiting for them. You would not believe the excitement and commotion that ensues when it's time to find the pickle! I'm surprised tree hasn't been tipped over yet! LOL! My 8 year old and 3 year old girls LOVE the pickle and yes, even my older nephew and niece now in their 20's still do!! 

Donna from AstraBella Sinsations says My favorite ornament is an elf who looks like he is repairing a light. He has a little wrench and you can attach him to a working string of lights. His jacket says North Pole Power and Light, I think. It is a Hallmark Keepsake ornament that came out in the 80's. I used to joke with my parents that he was going to disappear, because I like it so much. Finally found one on eBay and now I have my own!

Janet, from Creations by Janet, told me; I have an ornament that was given to me by my mom many years ago. She is 88 now & stopped decorating several years back, so as she was cleaning out her Christmas decorations I chose a large purple glass ornament. Some of the paint is coming off of it now but it is so precious to me that it is the first ornament I hang on my tree each year. Even the few years that I didn't have a tree, I hung that purple bulb on the clock that my dad made for me. He has since passed away. As you can see, this holiday tradition is very special to me.

Tricia from Jewels by Trish, says: I have an ornament that was handmade by my grandmother! It is a little bear wearing a top hat in red & he has a sequined vest on. He also has little googly eyes. It was always the first ornament I hung at her house when we decorated & when she passed away, the ornament was given to me. I still cherish it every year!!

And Sarah from Star Jewels said, My favorite is now the photo star ornament I had made for my baby girl's first Christmas (she'll be 2 in August). Love it so much I leave that ornament hanging on the mantle all year round! 

Here's what JoAnn, from I Sew Much Time, told me; We collect Christmas ornaments from places we travel to. One of my favorites is from St. Thomas - Santa resting in a hammock!

Jenni, from Hannah Mia collects ornaments from her travels too. She says; I don't think I have just one favorite ornament. Since my husband and I got married, we would buy them everywhere we traveled to together.  Every Christmas season, we get to look at them all again and remember all of the wonderful places we have been. 

This is what Marie from Marees Treasures said; Hard to pick just one ornament or even two ornaments since we, like so many other folks, collect ornaments when we travel and when putting them on the tree, memories come flowing through. There is a few, though, that my grandfather made of plaster, while in the nursing home and he was in his late 80's. These take front and center on our tree.

Margaret from Art for Comfort had a hard time picking just one. She says, I have been collecting mine since the 70's and have received so many ornament gifts over the years and also bring one home from almost every place we have visited. I guess I would have to say that the Baby's First Christmas rocking horse which was for my one and only daughter, and has been hanging on our trees for 23 years.

Bridgit from Grandma's Crochet Cottage said; My favorites are the handmade ornaments my daughters made when they were little. They aren't the prettiest, but they certainly have the most meaning!

And what did Karalee from iFrogCrafts say? I love ornaments! But i have to say that the most favorite one of mine is a little tiny nativity scene. I have had it as long as i can remember, but i'm not telling you how long that is.=) It's plastic & is about 1 1/2" tall & 1 " wide. We had 3 of them when i was growing up. It's amazing that it is still around, plus it still has some glitter on it. 

Lucinda of This Art of Mine answered my question. My favorite ornament is the one our son made in 1977 when he was in second grade. It's a red paper ball and has beads glued all over it. It hangs by the original black thread! Of all the things he's given me over the years, this is the most precious.

So you can see, everyone's favorite ornament is as unique as the individual themselves, but they all have one thing in common.  They bring fond memories of days gone by.  And if you would like to learn a little more about these members, just take a look inside their shops. Their personality shines through in all of the items they create. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

No. 4

It's been 5 weeks now and bead challenge number 4 is done!

Lulu, from Divine Lulu Creations, wanted to see what I could come up with using dolphins as my theme! This is what she said, and I quote, "How about dolphins? It's almost summer and they're so happy and beautiful!"

Well Lulu, how did I do?  Looking at this little guy makes me happy!  But you know what they say about beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder.  It's hard to capture the true colors and depth of these beads in pictures. They look much better in person, all glittery and shiny!

I'm picturing these made into a ceiling fan pull.  How cute would that be in a little girls bedroom?  Add a few sparkly crystals.... hmmm. Maybe.  I won't do anything else with these for now because I have to focus on my next project.  Snake beads.  I'm really going to have to switch gears for that. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Never Enough Time

Do you know what day it is? Yes, it's Friday the thirteenth of July, but do you know what that means? No, I'm not talking about superstitions.  I mean there's only 165 days before Christmas!  Oh my word, will there be enough time? Please, don't think I've lost my mind (although it may be slipping). Just let me explain.

I love making Christmas gifts.  If you are a family member of mine you have received more than your share of handmade gifts from me over the years.  From painted tee shirts and jewelry to cookies and beef jerky, I love to make things for the people I love.  And I love receiving handmade gifts too.  They have so much more meaning to me.  To think of the time involved makes it all the more special.

Not everyone has the time these days though.  Between working full time, volunteer work, children and  family commitments there just isn't enough hours in the day.  So where does that leave one?  Hurriedly running out to the local mall, looking for a parking space, waiting in lines.  And for what?  A store gift card?  Sure that is a great present but wouldn't it be nice to give a gift that is really appreciated? Something thoughtful and as unique as the person receiving it?  Well I have the answer.

Handmade.  But don't worry if you don't have the time or the talent.  Because the Handmade Circle Team on Etsy is having a Christmas in July Sale.  And remember what I said about having enough time? Well, the sale only lasts another 18 days, so don't let the time slip by.  Check out some of these shops. Heck, take a look at all of them.  You will be sure to find that perfect handmade gift at a very special price.  No long lines to wait in, no wasting gas and time at the mall.  Shop from home and help support the handmade movement.  Your friends and family will be glad you did.

And to top it all off, we are having a giveaway and it's nothing to be suspicious about. Just click here to enter for your chance to win a fabulous prize.  Really, it's that easy. Good Luck!

This is just a sample of the wide variety of items you will find in some of the shops. Something for everyone!

Origami Earrings by BlueRidgeOrigami

Natural Nut Wreath by Hickowreaths

Raggedy Ann & Andy by GranniesRaggedyBags

Makeup Clutch Bag by GoGreenWithRed

Sweat Shirt by ChinquapinRidge

Wool Crochet Hat by SophiesHatsAndMore
Fingerless Gloves by ToppyToppy

Please be sure to check out all of the fabulous shops and don't forget to use the coupon code - HMCJULY- during checkout to receive your discount.  Happy shopping!

Abundant Earth Works

Artistic Funk – Lisa Marzian

Augie and Lola Baby Boutique

Grandma's Crochet Cottage

Monday's Child Primitaves

Sophies Hats & More

Friday, July 6, 2012

No. 3

Here's an update on how things are going with my bead challenge. It's been a couple of weeks but I am happy to say, challenge #3 is done!!!

Karalee from iFrogCrafts suggested  "frogs".  No problem. I happen to like frogs. And toads.  Now, I know some people don't.  I have a neighbor who avoids them at any cost.  But not me.  It's not unusual to see me outside trying to catch them with my kids.  Especially the green tree frogs that stick to my windows, attracted to the bugs flying around the lights.

Now I have a little experience in making frogs out of polymer clay.  You see, my brother-in-law likes tree frogs.  A few years ago he asked me to make a necklace for him to give to my Mom.  Well, I did. It had about 5 little colorful frogs on it, I think.  She wore that necklace one day to a chiropractor appointment and the doctor bought it right off of her neck!  Which reminds me, I owe her a new necklace because she gave me the money!  And something else I did involving frogs was a vase.  Here's the link to take you to that picture.  This vase now sits in said brother-in-law's home.

So, back to my new frog project.  I decided to make just one frog and I wanted to make it as realistic as I could.   It turned out bigger than the ones I made for my Mom, but I think it turned out better.  I guess the old saying is true, practice makes perfect.  Not that my frog is perfect, far from it,but it is pretty darn cute!  So what do you think? I know, this is a bead challenge and this isn't exactly a bead.  But he can be hung on a necklace and I did make coordinating beads to go with it.  So I think this qualifies. Right?

This baby tree frog, along with 100s more, emerged from my defunct backyard pool.
And yes, that is me holding him!

My next challenge is dolphins.  I have no idea where this may lead.  So be on the look out.  I'm sure it will be fun.  Hmmm.......dolphins......