Thursday, December 18, 2014

PEICD (PROJECTS EVEN I CAN DO): PAINTED TREES


Dip dyed bottle trees are all over the place, and I fell head over heels for the colored sisal trees at Anthropologie.  I love the look of them and wanted to mix in some fun nontraditional colors to my Christmas decor, but wanted to see if I could make something similar at a fraction of the cost.

However, having to bleach green bottle brush trees and then dip them in Rit dye seems like a recipe for disaster for me, evidenced by the way Wade noticeably cringed when I told him how easy it would be.



So I decided to take a different approach.  There may be a few gaps in the coloring, but it kind of looks like white snow on the branches.

Also, I didn't give my husband a heart attack or permanently ruin anything (paint can be fairly easy to wipe up).


Want to make your own super easy colored trees to add a bit of pop to your home?  The steps are so easy that I'm not even going to show "how-to" photos.  The most difficult thing is finding the white bottle brush trees.

Here's what you'll need:

--Package of white bottle brush trees (I found mine at Joanns and the Dollar Store, but I'm sure they're around this time of year.  If you can't find white ones, you can get green trees and bleach them, but again, I would have probably spilled the bleach over everything and caused a huge mess.)

--Acrylic paint in whatever colors you want the trees

--Craft paint brush (any size, but I found the bigger/thicker ones were easier to glob on the paint)




Directions:

Mash the paint onto the trees.

Seriously, it's that easy.  A few things to keep in mind:

--Don't try to squeeze the paint from the bottle directly onto the tree.  It will be too difficult to spread around.  Instead, put some paint onto a paper plate and take a glob onto your paintbrush and start dabbing it over the tree.

--Let them dry overnight.  I got too excited and started trying to decorate with them only after a few hours, which was a little messy.



The hardest part is deciding how you're going to decorate with them!  Have fun and let me know if you try this super easy project!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

MY BIRTHDAY: A TIME TO REFLECT AND CELEBRATE


It's not usually January 1st that causes me to stop a moment and reflect on the past year, it's December 11th, my birthday.

Last night I was looking for some Christmas decorations and stumbled upon a notebook that I had written in for a little while before sticking it "somewhere safe".  I opened it and found an entry from my birthday four years ago.

It didn't make me cringe like a lot of my writing from my younger days does.  It was insightful and made me remember that version of myself.

I was so concerned with figuring everything out and knowing definitive answers to things.  I still remember sitting in my sun room on my couch writing that day and thinking to myself that four years, or even two years, down the road I would really have everything figured out.

Well, that's not quite the case.

On the plus side, though, I feel like I've used these past four years to explore sides of myself that I didn't know existed and push myself to try out those little ideas constantly running through my head.

Underneath the journal was my old video recorder.  I got it before I had a phone that could take pictures and record video. I had pretty much forgotten about it.  Scrolling through all the pictures, though, it started coming back to me how much I carried this thing everywhere.  The videos weren't that interesting and are low quality, but they captured moments that had floated away in my mind.

I'm still having a hard time remembering when I got the video recorder.  I think it was 2010 or 2011.  At any rate, it was a year or two before I got up the courage to start my blog.  I was taking these steps at following my whims and passions, but didn't even know yet where I was going.

Starting the blog was a huge jumping off the cliff moment for me.  I had already been selling things through my handmade shop for a year, but putting yourself out there for others to read my innermost thoughts was jarring.  I was embarrassed, but finally just hit the publish button.

It's difficult to see how far you've come until you finally stop for a moment and let the changes wash over you.

I feel older.  I feel more confident and comfortable with myself (most of the time).  I don't feel like I have it all figured out, but now I realize no one else does either.  Getting to be on the other side of the blog instead of just in front of the beautiful after pictures has taught me that.  I needed to learn that to be able to let go of jealousies and insecurities.  Not that I don't feel like that now, though.  It's just a bit lessened, at least in my rational moments.

I couldn't have told you four years ago where I thought I would be.  I just had a vague notion that I would have it "figured out".  I thought there would be a finite point when it was like, "Oh, that makes sense.  Now that I have it all figured out, I'll be happy."

The best lesson I've come to realize is that this point will never happen.  The best I can do is learn to be comfortable in my own skin, come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like me or what I make, and feel immense gratitude for the people in my life.

It's not earth shattering, and maybe that's what makes these lessons so hard to learn.  You feel that it can't be as simple as that, but you always have the sense that it is.  

I don't want to get older, but I also don't want to go back to those angsty younger years.  I only romanticize them now since I've survived them and came out stronger on the other side.  

What's strange about getting older is that I now want time to slow down.  Before I couldn't wait to get older.  To turn 16 and drive, turn 21 and see what I've been missing at the bars, etc.  I was in such a hurry to get to the other side of a number.  Now I wish that time would stop.  No one would age.  We would all be together and blissfully happy.

Now, though, I'm able to enjoy the scenery and want to stop and smell the roses.  It's not that I'm not excited about things in the future, it's just that I'm wiser and know that I will miss this moment when it's gone.

I can't tell you where I'll be in another four years.  I'm too old to pretend life can be planned that easily.

All I know is that I'm going to keep chasing happiness.  To keep finding the courage to do what makes me smile, as well as the strength to stop fighting for the things that are too exhausting.  This will constantly be a moving target.  No finite point, just a walk along a winding path and feeling thankful for family and friends.




Monday, December 8, 2014

A TALE OF TWO THANKSGIVINGS


This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving two times.  That means two times the delicious food, so that was a-ok with me. 

Wade and I had a quiet day on actual Thanksgiving.  We slept in, spent the day in our pjs, and ate a leisurely meal. 


We got to use my mom's gold flatware that she had kept in its original packaging, unused for the past 30 years.  Has anyone else noticed the switch from silver colored utensils to gold colored all over blog land?  I was telling my mom how shiny, bright gold was back in as we sat in my parent's living room surround by shiny brass, and she disappeared for a moment and returned with a four place setting of gold flatware.  Who needs to scour the depths of antique stores?  I just head to my parents' basement.  It just goes to show that all things are cyclical and seemingly "new" ideas are just "new" for that generation.


It was nice.  We had never spent a holiday by ourselves in our home.  But then we looked at each other and realized that we really missed celebrating with family.  Luckily, we would be seeing my family the next day and celebrating Thanksgiving with everyone.

We did end our night with a trip to get doughnuts and a viewing of "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles".  Top notch, indeed.


Our second round of Thanksgiving was wonderful and filled with the shrieks of kids and lots of laughing and hugs. 


Since we won't all be together for Christmas, we decided to celebrate multiple holidays at once.  Sure makes for a fun weekend!  We put up the Christmas tree, sang Christmas carols, and my brother made his directorial debut in the first annual kids' Christmas pageant.  He took it pretty seriously.  There were storyboards, costume changes, and a visit from a purple haired David Bowie in a particularly lively rendition of "Dance Magic Dance" from the acclaimed movie "Labyrinth". 


And now the Christmas pageant...


My mom made all the grandkids superhero capes.  Maisy Mae even got one:)


At the end of the night, my mom had all the adults go around and share what they were thankful for.  It couldn't be family or friends, though, since we knew we were all thankful for each other. 

It made us all go a bit deeper. 

I liked my mom's answer the best.  She said she was thankful for the desire we all had to get together. 

My sister and her family had to pack the kids up in the car and drive a full day to see us, and my brother was working on Thanksgiving, so we all agreed to delay the celebration to a few days later. 

It proved how deep our desire is to all be together and share these experiences. 

There's a lot of effort that goes into getting everyone under one roof, and it would be easier not to try, but it's what adds meaning to the day. 

Instead of letting these moments slip through our fingers, we are choosing to fight for these special memories that will last forever.  And I'm thankful for that, too.



I'm linking up with Meg's Mingle Monday link-up.  Stop by to find some great new blogs!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

GIVING THANKS + BLACK FRIDAY COUPON CODE


While I try to keep in mind things I am thankful for all year, it's nice to have Thanksgiving as a day to really focus on our blessings and what is good in our lives.

It's so easy to get bogged down with negative thoughts and worries that we sometimes take for granted the things that we have worked so hard for.  I never write down what I'm grateful for, so I thought this would be as good as time as any to give it a try.

I'm thankful for Wade, my family, and my friends who fill my life with such meaning and joy. 
 
I'm thankful for kind strangers who I may never see again but who touched my life in some way that I will never get to thank them for.
 
I'm thankful for our jobs.  While no one really loves going to work every day, I feel fortunate to have  a place to go to earn money.
 
I'm thankful for a house that has turned into our home with our laughter, failures, and triumphs. 
 
I'm thankful for our little bunny that hops up to me and makes me smile.
 
I'm thankful for the existence of a future.  While we must enjoy the now, it's a blessing to be able to look forward to good things to come.
 
I'm thankful to be living in a place that allows me to daydream and follow passions and whims.  I am really thankful for this.
 
And I'm thankful for you reading this and saying hello.  You make the world feel a bit smaller and make me feel heard.  I can't fully express how thankful I am for that.

Happy Thanksgiving (and happy lovely Thursday), friends!  May your day be filled with wonder and love.



What are you thankful for?



As a little thank you, use coupon code BLACKFRIDAY15 to get 15% off your entire order in my shop from Friday, November 28th to Sunday, November 30th.  I've got some fun new hand beaded headbands in the shop and have also listed a few new "Buddy Bling" necklaces, a perfect combination of friendship and bling. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

THE BOOKERIE: THE FAVORING BRAVE STORE


Today I'm so excited to introduce you to Jill, owner of The Bookerie: The Favoring Brave store.  I've been smitten with her creations and her ability to turn old, unused books into beautiful prints and jewelry for a few years, so when we were in Tulsa, OK the other week, I knew I had to check out one of her brick and mortar shops.


So how did I first meet Jill?

Well, a few years ago, I was a vendor at a craft show in Kansas City (see here).  My mom was my trusty sidekick, per usual, and meandered around during a slow period to check out the other vendors.  It wasn't going great for me in terms of sales, so my mom did what any mother would do for her daughter who is feeling a bit deflated.  She bought her a present.  And we all know that's a sure fire way to perk up the spirits, am I right?


And it sure did.  I opened up the small brown paper sack and pulled out the most beautiful quote on top of an old book page.  Swoon.  I hurried to find the booth to see what other treasures there were and was quickly enchanted with everything else, as well as Jill herself.  Jill was so sweet and helped me pick out the perfect pendant.  I chose a small round one with the word "make" from an old book.  Being an avid lover of books and crafting, this was such a perfect combination.


At the time, Jill was just about to open her first store location in downtown Tulsa, OK.  Now, she has TWO lovely locations.  Sadly, we were only able to visit her location in downtown Tulsa that weekend, but I know that I'll be back there soon to check out her shop in Sapulpa, OK and get to see Jill again in person.

Her store is absolutely lovely, full of one of a kind pieces and special meanings. 


I'm always fascinated how people turn their passions into businesses, so I asked Jill to share a bit more about herself and her business.

You started your creative endeavors selling beaded jewelry at farmer’s markets.  How did that morph into you making jewelry and other crafts out of old books?

Jill: You know I was always a little bit bored with the fact that I made something so common when I was making beaded jewelry, and so when I quit my first big girl job out of college because I needed to do something more creative, I looked for other areas to branch out into. I had wanted to make hardback books into journals since I was in middle school, so I finally took the plunge and did it and the rest just kind of naturally came after within the next year. 

I loved visiting one of your shops in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma and you recently opened your 2nd shop (yay!) in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.  How did you make the transition to a brick and mortar store and what have been some of the highs from having a location people can come see your product first hand?
Jill: Well my primary sales method had always been craft shows and events, so I was used to having people see my work in person, but in a much more short and intense way. My stuff has always done better with in person sales because I have always been limited in online sales by the one of a kind nature of recycled work. In the shops I have maybe 700 styles of word charms, but I can't even imagine how much work it would be to photograph, upload and manage 700 one of a kind charms online. People love the shopping experience of coming to the shop and going on a treasure hunt for the perfect word. It is the best thing when my work perfectly lines up with someone's needs. I made a pair of earrings once with a line drawing of a flutist on one and violinist on the other and a few weeks later a member of a traveling orchestra came in and bought them because she was a flutist and her husband was a violinist. You can't plan these things, but they happen. And I love all the people, especially in Downtown Tulsa where we are just a few blocks from the Performing Arts Center- in the shop I have sold work to New York magazine reporters, Blue Man group members, casts of traveling Broadway shows, opera singers, and so many others. It's so fun. 

 
What is your all-time favorite book?
Jill:  My favorite book is "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson. She studied at the Iowa Writer's Workshop just about 20 miles from where I grew up. Her book is so lovely - quiet, reflective, and so meaningful. Love it. 

What advice do you have for other handmakers looking to sell their wares?
Jill: I would say that finding your niche is so important. Your work has to have it's own thing going on if you're going to differentiate yourself from the sea of handmade businesses out there. And network. Meet other handmade artists and get to know them. Get pointers from them, share your knowledge, and build each other up. Don't treat other artists like your competition, because that can seriously hurt you in the long run. I love to get to know my neighbors and craft shows, etc. and we help each other out.


I love your book pages with quotes printed on them (in fact I have one hanging up in my house).  What is your favorite quote from a book and why?
Jill: Oh, definitely the first and last lines of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston: " Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." and "Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see." Hurston was amazing and sadly gets overshadowed a lot of the time. The whole book has this lovely contrast between the gorgeous, deep thoughts in Janie's head and the colloquial way she actually speaks. 



If you could travel anywhere (real or only in the pages of a book), where would that be?
Jill: I think I'm going to show my true colors and say that I wish I could go to Narnia. Because who wouldn't want to go to Narnia?!

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I would love to go to Narnia, too!  I hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Jill and her wonderful story.  This post wasn't sponsored.  I just love sharing people with you who I find inspiring and know you will, too.  I love the community we build by supporting one another.  You can find more of Jill here and her shop here.  



I'm linking up with Meg's Mingle Monday.  Stop by and say hi!