Friday, December 30, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Old man winter has finally made his way to my neck of the woods (or so I thought! A look at the window and I see rain now, not snow!)  I don't particularly care to be cold, but to look out the window and see the snow always brings a smile to my face.  Seeing the sun sparkle on the snow and snow-covered branches is quite picturesque.

These scenes always reminds me of Currier & Ives winter prints.  I have a collection of Currier & Ives Christmas villages that bring their lovely prints to life.  Though - I failed to display them this year!

American Winter Scene

For those of you unfamiliar with the works of Currier & Ives, they were the Thomas Kinkade of the 19th century.  The partnership was founded by Nathaniel Currier and James Ives in 1857.  The company specialized in lithographs and employed artists, lithographers and colorists.  Currier & Ives described their business as "publishers of cheap and popular prints".  By 1907. the firm created over 7500 titles and over one million prints in a wide range of categories, including sentimental images, sports, humor, religion, city and rural scenes.

A Ride to School
A Ride to School

American Homestead Winter
Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Re-Purposed Christmas Decor

My goal for the craft show this year was to re-purpose as much as possible.  This seemed quite impossible at first because I had no inspiration whatsoever!   I headed down to the basement to dig through my craft bins to see what could inspire me and possibly be turned into a masterpiece. First round I came back up with some old Christmas wreaths and a set of decorative boxes a gift came in a few years back.

Apparently that was all I needed to get the creative juices flowing!  I cut apart the wreaths and made each decorative box into an arrangement.  Second trip to the basement and I found some Christmas flowers and small decor I had purchased at a garage sale earlier this year.  Voila!  I had 3 cute arrangements ready to go without having to buy any new materials.  Perfect!

Since the muse was now at work, I headed back to the basement to see what other treasures I could find.  On a shelf was an angel candle holder that has been collecting dust over the years.  I tried to sell the candle holder in several garage sales with no luck.  Maybe it will serve a better purpose as a beautiful winter centerpiece!  The old Christmas wreaths were cut up some more and added to the candle holder, along with some pinecones and red hydrangea.  So far, this is my favorite piece I made and is sitting on my living room end table. 

Overall I created 12 repurposed arrangements from random material found in my basement.  I sold about half of them at the craft show, kept 2 for myself, donated one to a church and will give some as gifts!  Not a bad start to frugal crafting.

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December - month of the Poinsettia

Here we are in December already!  Christmas lights, family traditions and the exchange of gifts abound.  Poinsettia's are one of the most common plants used during this season.  These beautiful plants have been associated with the Christmas holiday for centuries.

During the 16th century in Mexico, a legand began of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for Jesus' birthday celebration.  An angel inspired the young girl to make a bouquet of weeds found on the side of the road and place them in front of the church altar.  Beautiful dark red blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became poinsettias - causing the congregation to believe they witnessed a Christmas miracle.  Today in Mexico the poinsettia is known as "Noche Buena", meaning Christmas Eve.  The star-shaped pattern of the leaves is symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem and the crimson color represents the blood sacrifice through Jesus' crucifixion.

This cheerful plant is available in a variety of colors, with red being the most popular.  Blooms can also be found in cream, lemon, peach, pink and white.  Being native to Mexico and Central America, this plant is really a tree.  Over the years it was cultivated into smaller plants for more commerical and home purposes. 

The ancient Aztecs also prized this wonderful plant and considered it to be a symbol of purity.  They utilized the sap to control fevers and the leaves were used to make a red dye.  The Aztec king, Montezuma, had hundreds of poinsettias brought to the highlands since they did not grow there naturally. 

May the Peace of Christmas
Fill your heart from day to day
May the Love of Christmas
Show in all you do and say
May the Hope of Christmas
Now and always light your way

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finding Art Ministry - Norman Rockwell

While continuing my journey towards art ministry, I was drawn towards representations of Thanksgiving.  Historically this autumn harvest feast was celebrated to signify religious freedom.  Over centuries this holiday has lost some of it's religious intent and was replaced by a focus on family and home. During this time of the year many of us look back at all we have to be thankful for.  I feel absolutely blessed to have my two girls and loving husband and am extremely thankful for that.  My goals for my children is to teach them truly what it means to be thankful for what they have. 

During my research, I came across a quote that intrigued me:

"The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."  - H.U. Westermayer

What a powerful message!  Those early Americans, possibly your ancestors, had none of our modern conveniences.  They buried more of their own than we can even imagine.  Yet, they still were grateful to God for providing food, shelter and the ability to worship the way they wanted.  Today a lot of us might consider these to be very simple basic needs and often times take them for granted. Reading this quote really had the wheels in my mind turning.  Too many of us (I will admit, myself included) have become focused on being the best and having the best. I really started to think about this and realized that when your time comes to take your place in Heaven - it will not matter one bit that you owned a Louis Vuitton or drove a BMW.  It's crazy to think how materialistic we have actually become.

Now - while these thoughts were going through my head, I was still searching for my Thanksgiving art ministry reference.  An image of a Norman Rockwell painting came to mind and turned out to be perfect!
Norman Rockwell is such an iconic artist who simply painted what he saw.  He enjoyed showing the America that he knew and observed.  Most of us are familiar with his Saturday Evening Post covers.  I love that the majority of his art showcases "down home" America and ordinary people in everyday life.  His paintings depict such a vivid narrative one almost feels as if they are a part of the scene. 

I am completely encouraged by his work and am inspired to take my first step in art ministry.  My plan is to create some paintings that display my interpretation of God's glory and donate them to local shelters and hospitals.  I feel this will be my way to share God's love to those less fortunate. 

Please enjoy the following Norman Rockwell paintings which show his interpretation of Thanksgiving.
Norman Rockwell Saying Grace Saturday Evening Post November 24, 1951
Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving: Girl Praying Saturday Evening Post November 27, 1943    Enjoy your day!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Thrifty Thursday Meal!

Recently I decided that I really need to budget and adhere to it.  My husband and I have been married for 9 years and I think I only actually stuck to a budget during our first year. As time went on and we steadily increased our income, my budgeting went out the window!

        With two small children and the economy in it's current state, I am 100% dedicated to get back on a budget and live a bit more frugal than we have  :)

Meal planning was the first step I took on this journey. Thursdays have been dubbed my Thrifty Thursdays.  Today I made a simple, yet inexpensive, chicken dinner that I like to call Garlic Chicken Noodles. 
       5 ingredients are the only requirement:

Chicken ( I use fryer chicken strips )
Egg Noodles
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder
Grated Parmesian Cheese

Boil the chicken and egg noodles in separate pots.  Drain the egg noodles.  Cut chicken into small pieces and add to the drained egg noodles.  Mix in olive oil, garlic powder and parmesian cheese to your liking.  Voila!  Very simple, inexpensive and very yummy thrify dinner. I usually add some bread and butter and a side of veggies.

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crafting Time - Doll Tutu's

It's that time of year again - craft show time!!  Dilemma - I am having some serious crafty / artist block right now.  On top of that, I can't seem to find any extra time to work on anything!

The craft show is next weekend, November 12 and 13.  To date, I only have 7 doll tutu's, 5 child size tutu's and a handful of doll outfits and embroidered washcloths left over from last year.  AAAHHHH! What to do, what to do?!  My goal for this year was to create princess costumes for the dolls, tutu's for both children and dolls, and some quilts.  Needless to say I did not quite meet this goal!

So - for the next week I am going to set small goals and try to accomplish as much for the craft show that I can.  Tonight and for most of the day tomorrow I am going to make as many doll tutu's that I can ( or until I run out of material! )  These are actually quite simple, so I am hoping to make a good number of these.

I started by tying elastic around the doll's waist.  The first tutu that I made came out very full, so I decided to use slip knots on the rest of the tutu's. This resulted in using less tulle and the skirt's were not as full as my original - but they still look adorable!  I plan on embellishing the tutu's with some ribbon and small flowers. Now I just hope they sell at the craft show!  If not, they will be the first items on my Etsy page.   :)

Happy crafting and enjoy the day!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Elmo Birthday Outfit

Time is going so fast!  I can't believe my little Caitlyn is almost one.  *Tear!* 

We decided to do an Elmo themed birthday party for her since she absolutely loves Elmo and Sesame Street.  Of course - I had to make her the perfect outfit to go with this theme.  Since I take every opportunity to make my girls look as girly as possible, I made her a birthday tutu.  I made this tutu the same way I made her black tutu a few months back for Mother's Day.  This time, I alternated red and yellow tulle, then added a few strands of blue tulle and some ribbon.  I'm very happy with the way it turned out, it is so happy and cheerful looking - which mirrors her little personality perfectly!

For her shirt, I thought I would experiment with making a felt applique of Elmo and the number one.  I am very much a procrastinator, so I left myself very little time to get this part done.  I was rushing to make it the morning of her pictures!  I bought various colors of felt and pieced together Elmo's face.  Had I spent more time on it, I know I could have captured the image of Elmo better.  However, considering I threw it together in less than fifteen minutes I was ok with it!!  I also threw together a simple four loop bow on an alligator clip.   :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hoo Are You?!


Here are this week's questions!
1. What are your favorite 3 things about fall?
2. Are you a football fan and if so who is your favorite team?
3. What is your favorite fall scent?
4. So you have seasonal allergies?
5. Have you started Christmas shopping yet?

My answers!
1.  My absolute favorite things about fall are the changing of the leaves, being outside in the cool crisp air with only a sweater and decorating the house for fall and Halloween!
2.  I am not much of a football fan, but I do watch it with my husband.  Since my family is from Michigan, my favorite college team is U of M - my husband is an Ohio State fan, lol! 
3. My favorite fall scent is pumpkin pie - yum!
4.  I do have seasonal allergies, I can feel them coming on now  :(
5.  I have not started Christmas shopping.  I have not even gone birthday shopping, and my baby turns one is just a few weeks!  I will probably start Christmas shopping in early November.

Come play along at Night Owl Crafting!!



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finding Art Ministry - Vincent Van Gogh

As time goes by and I'm evolving in my blogging, I find myself drawn to art ministry.  My husband and I recently started attending a new church that we are incredibly comfortable with and we are excited to be taking this journey together.  Looking at the wonderful programs available at church, I began to wonder if there were any type of art ministries, and if so, how to get one started.  Being extremely new to this, I wasn't sure where to start.  I love to do research, so I decided my first step was to see if any historical artists were involved in a form of art ministry.

To my surprise, I discovered that Vincent Van Gogh had a strong desire to enter the ministry.  Vincent Van Gogh had a tortured soul and was described to have been sad, yet cheerful.  He often turned to scripture and secretly wanted to be a clergyman like his father.  At one point in his career, Van Gogh became a preacher's assistant and was exposed to the extreme poverty of the parishioners.  This exposure inspired him to live in destitute as well. His plan was to study theology and he spent much of his time translating biblical passages into English, French and German.  He was able to fulfill this plan for a short time and attended University Theology for fifteen months. Unfortunately he failed the courses and made the choice to return to poverty.

Van Gogh made a move to Belgium to live among the mining community.  He taught them the Bible and, at his own expense, cared for them. He would also frequently sleep on the floor and give his bed to a poor person.  Eventually he became a preacher in this community.  What I find interesting and unfortunate is that the church forced his resignation because of his acts of charity.  I can't even imagine how dejected this made him feel.

In a letter to his brother, Van Gogh said:
" Even in that deep misery, I felt my energy revive, and I said to myself, in spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I had forsaken in my discouragement,and I will go on with my drawing.  From that moment, everything has seemed transformed for me." 
He is also known to have said:
" But I always think the best way to know God is to love many things."

Art then became his way of religious expression.  Instead of the usual religious paintings of Mary, Jesus and churches - Van Gogh painted what he saw in front of him to be symbolic of religion.  He frequently painted sowers in a field, impoverished people sharing food and beautiful landscapes to showcase God's grace.  As an art major, I took numerous art history and art appreciation courses.  I pride myself on the ability to retain a large amount of knowledge - and I do not recall ever learning this portion of Van Gogh's history in any of my classes.  How interesting that as art major's we focused strictly on the work of the artist and none of the background history that clearly held significant importance to what the artist chose to represent.

As a painter, I have always found myself drawn to painting landscapes.  I absolutely love to paint the sky and trees - as they are forever changing in color and appearance. Below are some of my favorite works by Van Gogh; the paintings say so much about the beauty that surrounds us daily.

Buy Van Gogh Print   Almond Branches in Bloom

 Wheatfield Under a Cloudy Sky

The Sower

Enjoy the day! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Whoo's Got A Cute Room?!

Finally I have been able to work on my daughter's owl inspired bedroom!!  This room has been 3 years in the making - and she is only four years old!  When my daughter was about 1 1/2, I came across an adorable bedroom set with owls, birds and trees from Pottery Barn Kids and I knew I wanted to do Madailein's "big girl room" in that theme.  Once we moved into our new house and started to set her room up, Target happened to come out with a owl bedroom set as well. So, I combined pieces from both Target and PB Kids to come up with the perfect room for her. 

Since time is not something I have a lot of, I decided to use some of the wall decals that Target had to coordinate with the theme.  I always knew that I wanted to paint some trees on her wall and do a monogram above her headboard.  This summer I finally was able to put some time aside to get her room painted the way I envisioned.  I have to say, that both of my girl's rooms are my favorite rooms in the house!  I could spend all my time there.  There's still some details I want to do in Madailein's room, but at least it's about done!  I would like to paint at least one more tree on the other side of her bed and maybe one more on the opposite wall - but all in all, I am soo happy with the way her room turned out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Wedding of the Summer!

A few weekends ago I delivered the flowers for my first wedding of this summer!  I am very pleased with the way the bouquets turned out - and so was the bride, which is most important of all.  The bridesmaids wore Tiffany blue dresses and carried elegant simple hand-tied bouquets of white calla lilies.  The bride's bouquet was white roses and white calla lilies; both of which are just perfect for weddings.  White calla lilies can signify beauty and innocence and bring the feeling of modern and elegance to the ceremony and reception.  Hopefully this will help get my business started and more weddings coming my way!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fancy Nancy Time!!

What a crazy busy summer this has been so far!!  I feel like I have hardly had any time to breath, let alone do anything crafty. Two weeks ago was my eldest's 4th birthday - and I'm not sure who was more excited about it; her or me!!  She wanted to have a Fancy Nancy themed party and I have been planning this for months. 

I wanted the decorations to be as fancy as possible to stick with the whole idea of the stories.  I found a Fancy Nancy book about butterflies and decided we would do all flowers and butterflies. It was so fun to hang butterflies from the ceiling and decorate the table in tulle and flowers!!

The weekend of her birthday we had a party with a couple of friends from preschool.  This was the first party that we invited school friends to and Madailein was beyond excited to have some girls over.  I made the girls tulle tutu's to wear so they could feel fancy too.  They had a great time being girly and twirling around to make the tutu's flair out around them.  To make Madailein feel extra fancy and special for her birthday we put some butterflies in her hair just like Fancy Nancy would! Now she wants to have fancy hair all the time! All in all, I would say this birthday was a success.  :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What happened to June?!

4th of July already?!!  What happened to June?!  Last month was so busy I feel like I hardly had time to relax.  June was full of my 3 year old's ballet recital, 2 out of state trips, the baby got tubes in her ears, my hubby and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary and I had the flu - geez!  Hopefully this month is not so chaotic, we need a break so we can enjoy the weather.

Well, I completely missed out on June's flower - which was the rose.  I think the rose is very appropriate for June since it is a common time for weddings. Interestingly, having a June wedding dates back 2000 years to ancient Roman times!  The Romans would honor the diety Juno; the goddess of marriage and childbirth, on June first. Roses are among the top ten most common flowers used in a wedding. They are quite simply elegant and romantic - the perfect mix for wedding flowers. Roses are also extremely versatile.  You can have a single delicate pink rose or make a statement with an abundance of bright orange roses. 

I am currently working on wedding flowers for a July wedding and I am very pleased with how they are looking.  The bridesmaids will carry a small hand tied bouquet of white calla lilies - another common flower used in weddings.  The bride's bouquet is an elegant hand tied arrangement of white roses and white calla lilies.  Below is one of the bridesmaid's bouquets; all that is missing is the ribbon around the flower stems. The wedding color is Tiffany blue; I can't wait to see how beautiful these bouquet's are against such a brilliant color.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Puppy Dog Tails!

Time for another project!!  I love creating new baby gifts just as much as I love designing wedding flowers.  These are two of the most joyous occasions in a person's life and I am always thrilled to be a part of it!!  Recently I had the honor of creating this adorable blanket for a friend who is expecting a baby boy.  It was so refreshing to make a baby boy gift after being constantly surrounded by pink!  My little ones are very girly and it's very rare that we have any crafty projects that don't involve pink and purple and princesses.  :)

I have to admit though, I had a rough time deciding what type of fabric was cute enough for a baby boy!  Thank goodness I came across this puppy dog flannel at Jo Ann's.  The puppy print is a soft Snuggle flannel and the white is Alpine fleece.  In three corners I embroidered the cutest puppies I could find!  In the last corner I embroidered the baby's nickname "Geno".  What's better than a personalized gift?! 

These one of a kind embroidered baby blankets are such a joy to create.  My very first one was a Classic Pooh for my first baby.  I still have it - even though I didn't cut the fabric evenly and it is very lop-sided!  Now I'm trying to find a cute owl embroidery design to make a blanket for my newest edition.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roses Are Red!

It's that time of the year again for the age old tradition of prom!  Styles in prom attire have changed drastically over the years; and the corsage was certainly not exempt from this evolution.  Originally the corsage referred to a small bunch of flowers worn on the bodice of a ladies dress.  Eventually the corsage became a small bunch of flowers pinned to the shoulder or waist of a dress, or pinned on a handbag.  Ancient Greeks wore corsages at weddings to ward off evil spirits. In our modern times corsages are given to the mother's and grandmother's of the bride to distinguish them from the rest of the wedding guests.  The tradition of giving a prom date a corsage came to be in the early twentieth century.  These corsages were typically pinned to the dress and have only recently become more popular as wrist corsages.

The first silk flower corsage I made was for my brother's prom date about 10 years ago. She wore a beautiful dark purple dress, so I decided to make her corsage bright and colorful.  I used bright magenta pink roses and purple ribbon.  I was so happy with how it looked on her - just stunning! 

I decided to make some corsages to start building my portfolio of silk flowers.  This wrist corsage features red sweetheart roses, white tulle, white accent flowers and silver ribbon.  Silk corsages are more lightweight than fresh flower corsages. They will also withstand all day / evening wear without getting wilted and limp.  Just as gorgeous in pictures as the real deal!!