Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Revealing beauty

 I'm in the process of removing my cupboard doors.
(Do you say cabinet or cupboard?)
I still have some painting to do, and I plan to paint or paper the back panels. 
And, yes, like my books and clothes, I arrange dishes by color.
 Even the most run-down and beat-up people, places, and things contain beauty.
I love the little old cream pitcher, below, with fading paint and chipped handle.
It's so unique, bright, beautiful.
 “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
― Confucius

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
-William Morris
Sometimes all we need to do is open a cupboard to reveal the beauty inside.
Keep this in mind with people, too! Beauty is there, whether or not it's immediately visible.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Evolving Family

These holidays have been different. Good, but very different.
We celebrated with my "sister" October, the day before Thanksgiving. She came, and spent the day with our family, eating and playing games. I've known October and her twin sister November for nearly as long as I've been married. Tob has no family in the area, and my family has adopted her in. :)
We took turns having kids for several years (until my husband finally said, "now one of you has to stop it!") so there's a whole gaggle of stair-step munchkins.
Our neighbor girls decided to join the fun, too.
Whenever we start up a fire in the backyard, kids appear from nowhere!

These two were so sweet, with their artwork, and team-game-playin'.

 It was relaxed, sweet, just like having my sister and her kids over.
On Thanksgiving, we went to my Dad's house.
This was our first Thanksgiving to celebrate separately with my parents, which was strange.
It was good. Just different.
My Mom left right after Thanksgiving last year, and the divorce was finalized a few months later.
 The family evolves. Things change.

We had a wonderful time, eating and playing games, and generally just having a goofy good time!
(My Dad with his three daughters, two sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren)

 The next day, we were off to Fred's dad and stepmom's house.
Yes, divorce always changes things. His parents divorced when he was 13, and it was a real mess. Very rough on him, and still seems to cause more pain than my parents' recent divorce.

Sometimes divorce makes things better (yes, I believe this)
and sometimes it simply makes them harder.  

We celebrated with his Dad (right), two of his sisters, cousins & aunt and uncles, nieces and nephews, and even a random guy I didn't know (center.) It was relaxing, delicious, less dramatic than it's been in the past.
All good things.

Fred and I spent some time winding down in the guest/playroom with the little ones.

 I love this Spanish alphabet puzzle!
They've had it for years...I think she said they got it from a yard sale?
Such a neat treasure!

 We saw Fred's Mom the following day, but I was too distracted to take pictures. My bad.
(...but she doesn't like having her picture taken, so it's probably for the best!)

On Sunday (yes, we were going 5 for 5!!) we drove to my Mom's house, about an hour away. I've only been there twice, and actually had to mapquest the address.
It's a beautiful home, and she's done so much with it.

There were new traditions, to establish the new family situation.
My Mom served pork rather than turkey. She's always been a fan of bucking custom. ;)
We played cards rather than board games.
Relaxed, drank wine, watched movies, played outside.

 Me, my Mom, sister Julie, sister Amy

Celebrating with four sets of parents isn't easy.
We tried to plan as early as possible to avoid overlaps. 
We made a schedule and let everyone know what we would be doing. Every home had a day.
We made it a holiday weekend, rather than one insane day to zip around celebrating.

 We tried to see everyone, but it's simply not always possible.
Fred isn't close to his stepbrothers and sisters, and they don't live around us,
so we rarely see them, even around the holidays.

We made it a priority to see parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers.

We made time for fun and relaxing.

 Isn't my niece gorgeous? She's like a little fairy child!

 And this precious little nephew of mine is so happy, so hilarious!

Ahh, and here's my girl. My teenager.
The amazing kid who studied geography when she was finished with her meal!

It's different now, but good. We saw this coming. We knew it was over.
And, honestly, I'm thankful.
It was less stressful this year than it's been in the past.
Both of my parents are happy.
Sometimes things fall apart so they can be put back together differently...better... healthier.
And I'm thankful for that. For the lives they have now, apart.
I'm thankful that Thanksgiving was truly full of thanks, on all sides. 
I'm thankful that no one pulled us around; everyone was flexible.
I'm thankful that my children saw smiling, truly joyful grandparents, not underlying stress and drama.
I'm also thankful for all of my childhood memories of Thanksgiving, which were full of happiness.  

Yes, this was a busy, very different Thanksgiving for us, but good. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fast sugar cookies!

I recently came across this recipe from AllRecipes, and decided to make it right then and there.
Original recipe makes 5 dozen and, really, who doesn't want 5 DOZEN cookies, right?
Just have a party, or pass them out in the neighborhood! 

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1.In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.

2.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter (this time I just used a glass.) Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3.Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

4. Ice those babies (I use powdered sugar, vanilla, and a teeny bit of milk), sprinkle generously, and EAT!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nearly Turkey Day!

 What do you do the week of Thanksgiving? Turkey crafts, of course!
And lots of talking of thankfulness, while crafting. :)
You have your pinecone & leaf crafts.
 Then there's the family handprint turkey craft....

 I didn't realize just how huge my Man's hands are until we did this.
And My Girl's hand is now about the size of mine. {sigh}
The days may pass slow, but the years pass so fast.

  (Cutting is such a great fine motor skill activity for the kindergartner, too!)

Next you have your pinecone and scrapbook paper craft...
 Hard-working little guy,
cutting, pasting, choosing colors...
 Coming along quite nicely. Good thing I have a crazy amount of googly eyes in my stash!

Someday I'll have a resource room {dreamysigh} and a big 'ol drawer will be dedicated to googly eyes!
 Bright, happy, dotty turkeys!!
Enjoy your Turkey Day,
and remember all you have to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Starting an Art Journal

Art journaling is one of the best, healthiest, creative habits that I've found.
It can be as elaborate or simple as you want.
In this journal, I've used simply ink.

(I branch out, using a lot more color and layering, in some of my other journals.)

I write, doodle, sketch things out, while I'm waiting in lines, riding in the van with my Man, or watching the kids play outside.

First, simply get something to draw/write in. Don't have the money for Smashbooks or scrapbook sets? Not a problem. My absolute favorite art journal is one that is heavy enough to add paint or sharpies to, but not so thick that it's bulky. The spiral bound is a big perk, too, as the journal will lay flat while in use. Plus, this enables you to work easier across 2-page spreads. (That link goes to the exact journals I buy, from Amazon.) It's a mere $9-ish and will last you quite a while....BUT if you don't have the money for that, start with printer paper, a notebook, or even an old used journal. Or, heck, use a napkin.

I also prefer to use Micron pens or Copic markers,
but sharpie pens...or just about anything else, will work fine, too.

There's really no excuse to delay starting!  

Remember-- there are no rules. Doodle quickly, or sketch for hours at a time.
Draw a salt shaker, or a lake. Record your memories, thoughts, dreams, goals.
Nothing is too small, or too big.

 Using nothing more than my hands and my imagination, I can create.

When I'm stuck-- which doesn't seem to happen often these days--I try one of these prompts:
Write out and/or illustrate your Bucket List
Sketch family members or pets
Trace your hand, and fill it in with facts and information about yourself
Take a personality test and record the results
Try to recall the dreams or nightmares you've had recently
Write and illustrate a list of ways to bring happiness to others
Illustrate some of your favorite quotes, sayings, or verses

Work through emotions.
Art journals are an amazing mixture of words and images that can convey raw emotion
much more effectively than one or the other alone.

Don't forget to capture the lighthearted, goofy moods as well....

I have a thing for maps so, about a year or so, I began illustrating my home state, places we've vacationed, and places as I lived as a child.

My family lived, for a few years when I was a teenager, in a small town called Goose Creek, near Charleston, SC. We went to the Charleston Marketplace on the weekends, swam often at Kiawah Island, played tennis, drank sweet tea.
I recalled so many good memories, while adding doodly pictures to the state!

Words can only express so much.
When I combine drawings with words, I come to a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me in ways that writing alone can't touch.

Think of the art journal as a way of illuminating your words and in turn illuminating yourself.

Just like any journaling, art journaling gets easier and more effective when you make it a daily habit. I often work in the evening, when I'm tired and have a whole day's worth of thoughts tumbling around in my mind. I kick back with my art journal and a glass of wine, like a meditative treat, working through my joys and frustrations.
I believe all "artsy-type people" need to create. It's a longing, a pull that can't be satisfied until we're producing something. By simply letting my pen move, releasing my thoughts and ideas, that deep need is satiated, and I can joyfully carry on.