One of my favorite things is to have a studio full of friends, whether it is at Birdsong, a craft day, or a kid's holiday party.
I don't always get to host a bash for every holiday, but love it when the timing works out to have everyone over.
Sugarwings and Dewdrop went to Michaels with me to fill a cart with pink and red heart supplies, I nabbed a few Dollar Store tablecloths and balloons, and we were set to go.
We made faux cupcakes by gluing a styrofoam ball into a cupcake paper, smearing it with modelling compound icing, and glitter.
Lots of glitter.
Besides that, the projects weren't organized, it was every artist on their own.
Valentine cards for loved ones were a popular choice.
Dewdrop completed this one for her mommy.
Lizele made lots of colorful hearts. She is a prolific crafter.
Besides the cart full of stickers from Michaels, I had vintagey goods out too. And had saved empty valentine candy boxes to be redone.
Sugarwings and her mommy made a mail box for her upcoming class party.
The littlest workers got a bit burned out and turned to coloring books full of ponies, then decided to work with playdough. That is always a hit with Dewdrop.
The older kids had already headed out to the creek and woods behind the house when I got my camera out. They usually make a few nice things, then head outside, not caring that it was horridly cold out there. Of course, someone always slips into the creek and needs dry clothes, but it never stops them.
I really should plan more summer time craft days, where they can get out there and enjoy the woods when the weather is better.
Before the party, Sugarwings and I made chocolate dipped strawberries to serve, and I saved the plastic containers that the berries came in. Those were ideal for sending wet modelling compound cupcakes home in. Cars might have been muddy from the creek on the way home, but at least they didn't have any pink, fake icing all over them.
I can't say there wasn't any glitter drizzled into the seats, though...
My new water jug from Victorian Trading was ideal! I filled it with ice, poured cold water over it, and it was still chilly the next day.
The pottery really keeps the water cold.
For punch in the cut glass dispenser, I mixed white cranberry/strawberry juice with a couple cans of Sierra Mist. The night before, I froze cranberries in juice to make a giant, floating ice cube to slip into the punch. Very pretty, and tasty, but so easy to make.
I'm already looking forward to the next party.
Way, way back, before the cold snap hit here in November, my son built us a new fence.
I had some very specific needs for it:
*The gate had to be on a spring, and swing closed so the grand fairies didn't let the dorkies out.*
*The gate had to be very lightweight, and it had to open easily, so those fairies could get in and out by themselves.*
*IT HAD TO BE PRETTY!!!!!!!!!! And if it looked like it belonged on a fairy tale cottage, that would be a big plus.*
The gate is under the deck off my husband's office, right outside my studio door. Here is a photo in process, where my son started wrapping vines around the posts. The top photo shows all the vines twisted into place. I plan on planting Clematis at the base of it, to fill in even more.
The metal filigree panel at the very top, under the deck, is a vintage one I had hanging around. The ones built into the fence and gate are from Hobby Lobby, and were on sale for 50% off. I love my son's idea for building them in.
The area outside of my studio is where the girls play most of the time. So, their Daddy made the fence feel like a play area instead of a barrier. He cut hearts into the wood so they could peek through.
And he drilled holes to pound marbles into, to give the space some sparkle. There are plans to add a lot more marbles later on, but while finishing up the fence, we were hit by a huge wave of cold air.
It was the weirdest thing, one minute, it was a beautiful fall day.... the next, a huge whirlwind of leaves blew over us, bringing temperatures about 10 degrees lower. From one minute to the next, the temps dropped. And then kept dropping. So, we were done working outdoors for a while.
At first, I was worried about the kitties, and wondered if a new fence would pen them in. Nope, they love it and spend a good part of the day running around on the top of it.
And now, our entire courtyard is fenced in. The place looks like a maze, with so many partitions and gates, but the dogs and chickens love it. There is a fence in the front yard, with a doggie door for the little fuzzballs. Then, there is a huge chicken run. And the side yard is fenced. Now the courtyard. All the gates can be opened to connect them, or only select areas can be left closed off. And then, there are extra gates big enough to drive a truck or 4 wheeler through if jobs need to be done in that part of the yard. And a gate that can connect our yard to the neighbor's yard so their dogs can come and play with our dogs.
It's kind of weird. But that is how my whole house is built too. All customized just to fit our needs. We will never be able to sell this odd conglomeration of mazes, doors, hallways, gates, fences. We are stuck here forever.
We don't mind though. We all kind of like it here.
Do you do New Year's Resolutions? I did a whole list last year. And maybe over promised myself...
Some were accomplished. I've tightened up control on the pupeesh. Dorothy (or Derffy, as Dewdrop calls her) is a leash dog. She has favored pee spots, but if she is leashed while in the house, she won't go to them. It's not a perfect solution, but it works when I pay attention.
SO-SO, NOT REALLY A FAIL, BUT NOT A SUCCESS EITHER
I had a miserable fail with the resolve to repair my handwriting skills.
BIG TIME FAIL
Another resolution was to host little workshops. Romantic White Christmas was a result of that one, and it was so fun, that I left my tables full of supplies up til, well.... they are still not put away.... and had friendly little gatherings with buddies and family to make more ornaments. I think this year, I'll have multiple dates of ornie workshops, maybe a few weekends in a row.
I really love doing that.
Small, intimate groups, where you can just sit and chat while making pretty things is so relaxing and rewarding.
But maybe I should resolve to not let the mess pile up into January? Nah, I've learned to stick with resolutions I can reasonably manage. Nothing hard like correcting illegible hand writing or keeping a tidy studio.
Along the lines of doing more workshops, I'm happy to have got this online one launched too.
When I list things, I sell pretty good and am happy with it. Sugarwings and I sold a ton of dyed trees (she and I work on them together every fall and I pay her for her help) and kits always zoom out of the shops (there are a few left, since I made lots of extras this season), but did I work at it consistently and add things on a regular basis?
Nope, and there were months that I paid that $12 fee for the Boutique that I didn't make the money to cover it.
The 5th goal for 2014 was to host a swap. So, I made about 100 book covers and had artists mail in pages to put together "Nature's Blessings" journals. That goal was another happy spot in my year and gave me a major sense of accomplishment.
(you can click on this image, open in a larger window, save it to your computer)
On a more personal side for the year, I learned to let it go. (I heard that song enough from the grand fairies, I had no choice but to focus on that).
To walk away from negativity. I heard a quote that stuck with me, and has really worked for me. It was "What you focus on gets bigger". So focus on the positive, not let worries pile up. Because if I think about the bad things, those just grow and grow.
I'm not saying that I don't face my problems, because problems do need solving. But I decided to not let the ones I couldn't fix take over my head. When something is out of your control, you have to accept it, cope and do your best.
And I am truly blessed with enough positive aspects of my life that I have plenty of wonderful things to use as a focus point!
I'm thinking I'll make this an official resolution this year. I'll make it #1 of the 5 I decided on for 2015.
#1- Focus on the right things, don't let the bad ones grow into boogie men in my head. Deal with what I can and accept that is all I can do.
I notice myself getting impatient and easily irritated as I grow older and I DO NOT want to become a crotchety, old geezette. I embarrassed myself three times this year by being a grouch. My poor sisses heard it on the last day of our Florida trip, and I had a behind the scenes snit fit at Birdsong, (that hopefully, only good friends saw), and the other was just too embarrassing to say out loud. What a Bi**%%#$tch.
#2- Be nice, stop, take a breath, and smile before snapping. Maybe even a sip of wine, then think about it. By then, if I still am feeling impatient, irritated, or pissy, I can feel free to show it, it must be justified.
Or else I'll become a wino...
#3- Stop letting Diet Coke sneak back into my life after I worked so hard to give it up a few years ago.
#4- Keep Derffy Rosebud on a leash or train her better. I'm not giving up. And along those lines, I'll say that I'm going to still work on those 2014 resolutions, even though the one about the handwriting is as doomed as it can be.
#5- Maybe a double dose of #2. I really wasn't very nice a couple times this year.
Our trip to Texas wasn't exactly what we had hoped it would be. But it was filled with moments like this, and that is exactly what we wanted.
We packed up with excitement, hoping for 60 degree days. Knowing it would be too cold to swim, but planning on long afternoons reading on the beach while the girls played in the sand. And we were thrilled to be getting away from the deep freeze of Kansas.
But it was soooo cold in Texas, we were barely able to skiddaddle over a pier to get out to a restaurant on the water. We also had booked hotels with no indoor pools, so didn't have a sub for the sand.
Til we discovered that Schliterbahn water park was covered! We love the Schliterbahn in Kansas City and go every summer, so we thought that would be the perfect solution to battling the cold and it could save our vacation.
Once again, not exactly what we had expected. The place was draped in plastic sheeting and had heaters, but I wouldn't call it an indoor pool. And it was freezing that day, with winds coming through the gaps in the plastic. And with condensation from the heated pool that made big drips fall unexpectedly from the visqueen roof right down the back of your neck. Or into your drink. Or your iPad.
But there was a huge table of holiday crafts set up. The girls and I probably used enough glitter glue and pipe cleaners to make up for the ticket price to get in to the park that day. The grand fairies spent half their time crafting, and the rest in the heated kiddie pool. We were all too frozen to go elsewhere and ride the slides.
It ended up being a very fun day. I bundled up in a jacket, the littles stayed under water and kept warm, my husband and I sat in lounge chairs and watched them play. I heard that the raging river ride had artificial snow and was a lot of fun once you got used to the chill of the water temps, but I stayed bundled in three towels and a jacket and had my fun watching my little sprites enjoy themselves and make friends in the pool.
The park was decorated cute for the holidays, and they did their best, with themed activities and lots of space heaters. But the temps were about 20 degrees below average for that area for that time of year and I don't think the water park was meant to be used on days that cold. On a 55-60 degree day with sunshine heating up the plastic walls, it would probably be very nice. But I can't recommend it on a day in the 30s.
On our way home (all dry and warm thanks to "family dryers" that you all climb into and pay $3 to be blown dry together, pretty fun and the perfect end to a cold afternoon), we simply had to stop by the Gulf of Mexico for Dewdrop, who had never seen the ocean.
We ran as fast as we could, because it was about 40 and windy.
Because everyone knows that the happiness of being at the ocean, and plenty of giggling will keep you warm enough, temporarily at least, to visit the water.
And yes, the happiness and giggling worked.
At least for these two. They ignored the icy feelings and waded right in. Notice that there are no pics of ME doing that??? Nope, I didn't take off shoes or coat, or get too close. But I'm so happy that Dewdrop got to experience the waves.
And the sand.
Because it was too cold to stay at the beach, we took them to the Rainforest Cafe, thinking that would be a real treat, but Dewdrop saw the flames shoot from the volcano on top of the building as I walked in to check on seating, and she thought for sure I'd met a certain death. So, a fun treat, became a torturous threat to her. Poor kiddo.
To make up for the lack of sunshine or warm weather in Galveston, we headed up to Grapevine and checked into Great Wolf Lodge.
Where Dewdrop fell in love with the "marshmallow bears."
And story time in the lobby.
Not to mention the constantly warm, 84 degree swimming area. Now THAT is an indoor pool! Not a space heater and plastic wrap sham of an outdoor pool pretending to be an indoor complex.
If we'd had any idea how well run, clean, friendly and wonderfully warm that place was, we'd have spent all of our vacation there. (and probably all of our money, it was not cheap for one night during the week between Christmas and New Years)
Sugarwings and I agreed that it was a lot like going to Disney. I thought it was interesting that she picked up on that. Great Wolf in Grapevine shares the same attention to detail and themes, plus caters to families and has the same welcoming service that Disney offers. It's of course, on a much smaller scale, but they sure do it right.
The lifeguards are attentive, the staff is constantly cleaning, picking up wet towels, smiling, and working hard. I can't recommend it enough.
Over the years, we've had plenty of vacation mishaps. Record cold in the Bahamas, a back thrown out in Florida, the flu on a cruise ship, and other small issues that could ruin a trip.
And of course, on every trip, there are always these moments too.
But it is the special, sweet moments on a trip that stay in your heart. While the mishaps just become funny stories that your family tells and retells over the years. Vacations aren't much different than every day life, just in a different location (and cost a bit more)
And when you have hugs like this, life is pretty good, no matter where you are.
Thank you so much to Christee, Caike, and Adam for letting us have this time with their tiny fairies. It was so nice of them to let us take them along.
Was Santa good to you this year? I think I was pretty good to Santa, myself.
I found this guy at a charity thrift shop for 75 cents. He wasn't brand new, but not quite into the category of vintage yet.
I gave Santa a makeover with some lux velvet, a rhinestone buckle, wool roving and goat hair.
I was trying to keep it a no sew project, and I like the effect of the two toned coat, with the dark, rich velvet bottom that I added and the velvet belt. The material that made up his jacket seems to be just fine with just the top showing.
I couldn't get his sack of toys to work as a no sew piece, though, I had to get out the dreaded needle and thread to stitch up a sack made of felted wool.
Then, I stuffed it and added some presents wrapped in vintage papers, a tiny gold horn torn from a 50s Christmas corsage, and candy canes made from twisted chenille stems from mini Shiny Brites.
The velvet I used for Mr. Claus was a unique piece. It was lined with felted wool. I used it to make these stockings too. (please avert your eyes from the awful sewing job I did on these stockings! I should NOT have used fancy gold thread that really stands out and shows my lack of skill, I should have gone with the color of the material instead)
One, complete, for Guncle Kevin. And one in a kit for Guncle Randy who loves to craft.
Along with the stockings, I sent them a clear ball with them inside all decked out as elves. It is a picture I took of them at their wedding and I added a tag at the top with the date. On the back, it says, "Finally!" (They waited almost 20 years to be legal)
These guys always appreciate a hand made gift. Randy is a crafter too, and understands the love that goes into something created just for someone special. I hope he will enjoy making his own present....
This year's Christmas cards featured the angel I made for the Nature's Blessings journal swap. I had a few extras left over and thought they would be appropriate. I didn't have quite enough to do many cards, but was able to whip up a few. I'm not all that good about mailing cards anyway.
A couple of other angels got makeovers this year too. When I saw seashell angles at Kohls, I knew that I needed to get them for my sisters, in remembrance of our Florida trip in October.
But of course, they needed a foofing.
Crowns, lots of ribbons, sea shells from the trip, sparkling doodads... and more. This is the back view. That poor little angel has so much stuff goobered onto her wings, she'll be lucky to ever lift off again.
The one for Bobbie got a necklace and a scattering of hearts on her skirt (Bobbie's last name is Valentine).
Sugarwings and her mommy spent the night with us on Christmas Eve, so we had her here when she woke up to find what Santa had brought to her.
And to check and see if he'd found the cookies she'd made for him the day before. (Yes, and speaking for the jolly, old guy, I have to say, they were YUMMY!)
We do our family party on Christmas Eve. It's a day of hanging out, baking, dinner, and then opening gifts together.
Mid-afternoon, we realized that we had no cookies to leave out that night! Oh my! So, we all chipped in to mix, roll, cut, bake and decorate a giant batch of sugar cookies and a small batch of gluten/dairy free ones too.
I discovered that almond meal is perfect for dusting the table to roll out the gluten free ones. I'm not a fan of most of the flours used in that kind of baking, and if you dust with them, the cookies aren't very good. Almond flour was ideal, plus it gave a nutty flavor to the goodies.
Making cookies at the last minute set us behind a little on our dinner. So, the prime rib got into the oven a bit late, then just would NOT cook. It was taking forever, we started in on gifts and decided to open a few before we ate.
So we had some back and forth, checking on dinner and opening pressies. Till we realized that the hunk of meat was going to be in the oven way, way too late, and we might still be waiting to eat, with Santa sitting up on the roof waiting for us to get tucked in so he could come on down.
We went into high gear, slicing up the giant slab of prime rib, and turned it into rib eye steaks, while my husband fired up the grill (in the dark, on a 30 degree night).
I was glad he did because, man, were those good, and grilled to perfection!
My son sauteed a few pounds of mushrooms with eggplant and golden beets, and I'd baked a layered red beet, asparagus, and rainbow carrot casserole. Along with that, we had smashed potatoes with garlic aoli sauce and panko crumbs. Plus fresh, homemade rolls, and canned green beans from Aunt Jenny's garden.
No one minded waiting, it was delicious, and a big group effort.
And soon, we were right back into the fray. Leftovers were popped in the fridge, the table was cleared, and dishes were piled up to do later, getting those packages open was much more important.
We like to open one gift at a time, with everyone getting to watch and enjoy seeing what the other person got. That way, there is time for modelling and admiring the presents too.
And plenty of time for hugs and thank yous.
We are all about the hugs around here.
See what I mean?
I hope there was lots of love in your day too.
For the rest of the week, my husband and I are loading up these two fairies and driving south till we find some sunshine. It's an impromptu trip and who knows what we will find on our "maventure" as Dewdrop calls it.
Our adventures have been nonstop for the holiday, and it is very exciting that they are still ongoing.
Last week, we saw "Mary Poppins" at the local theater the same day that we attended a "Santa Splash" at the indoor aquatic center. Along with all of the other parties and plans, it has been one fun event after another for about a month of Christmassing. A little vacation is just what I need to rest up from all of the celebrating that I've been whooping it up with since Thanksgiving.
Between being on the go all of the time with holiday happenings, buying and wrapping gifts, shipping packages like crazy (by the way, thank you for all the shopping at my Boutique and Etsy store!!), being sick for months, (I'm finally done coughing, it was a Christmas miracle), redoing the bedroom (pictures to come of the new look) and everyday life, the beach is sounding pretty good right now. I hear it will be too chilly to swim in the Gulf, but I'm happy with playing in the sand.
There are new pre-posted blogs upcoming, so please do check back. And have a great new year!
I've been going full speed into Christmas this year. I always love the season, and this year even more. I've arranged one activity, party, or gathering one after another.
It has been glorious! (that word should always be spoken the way Will Farrell says it in "Old School")
Last weekend was Breakfast with Santa at Lion's Gate country club. They have the BEST Santy Claus.
Sadly, Dewdrop was ill and couldn't make it. So, we will be taking her to see the jolly old elf at the community pool for a Santa Swim party.
I've bought tickets to plays, gone to craft parties, thrown craft days, arranged luncheons, attended gatherings, hosted gatherings, and have had so much going on that there has been something exciting almost every single day.
If there wasn't a special activity going on, Sugarwings and I would make one up. We'd turn an ordinary day into an event. We'd dye trees (our Christmas version of doing eggs at Easter), set up a fancy table with good dishes in front of the Christmas tree and have a cocoa party, draw up a list of holiday lit homes in town and go on an adventure hunt to follow a map and find all the brightly lit up neighborhoods, or just snuggle up and watch some holiday specials on TV.
I've thrown a few parties this season. I like to have my friends over for an annual ornament making party with their kids, and this year, with my husband's travel schedule for work, it didn't look like we were going to be able to have our big bash.
So, instead of my usual weekend dinner party with a bonfire and beers for guys and crafting for anyone who wanted to hang out in the studio, I switched it to a luncheon for some of my friends and ornament making afterwards.
I wanted to try making these tarts, they are thinly sliced veggies, rolled into spirals and baked in a pie crust lined with ricotta cheese. And I also wanted my friends to know that they are special to me and I wanted to create a treat for them, so I set the table pretty and had them over.
But we didn't stop there. After school, their kids joined us for more crafting and a few other friends were able to come by to make ornaments too.
We turned it into a whole evening, ordered some pizzas, drank some wine, and had a cocoa party for the kiddos.
I set out thermoses of hot milk, a big bowl of marshmallows, organic candy canes, chocolate syrup, and some cocoa powder and let them serve themselves from the treat cabinet.
We also broke up candy canes and put those in the cotton candy maker and that was a hit too. Although, at times, the cotton candy maker was left on unattended, and big fluffs of spun sugar would float across the room.
I was ready to chase those puffs down and try to catch them with my tongue like snowflakes.
(and was glad that I'd covered up my vintage wallpaper with a curtain before setting the cotton candy maker next to it)
It is always fun to see what everyone comes up with, when presented with a table full of supplies and left on their own.
Lots of different styles of crafts get churned out.
But the best part is the laughing. It was a fun evening.
I've not finished my shopping or wrapped any gifts yet. I'll make that work out somehow. Gift cards for the big kids and a few toys under the tree for kids, probably. This year, I've tried to make the season about the people, not the presents.
And to have the holiday spirit of sharing and togetherness for the whole month.
And of course, soak up the joy every single day!
We have the sweetest, most forgiving, grand fairies. I let them down, big time, by forgetting an important item on our Holiday To Do List.
We have BIG plans for the holiday season this year. I want to do something special every week of December with them. (these gold flecked sugarplum dresses will be getting a workout for this month)
Between holiday crafts, gingerbread house building, and cocoa parties, we are also going to Breakfast with Santa at Lionsgate Country Club, to the Lawrence Community Theater's showing of Mary Poppins, and to see Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer at the Coterie Theater in Crown Center, plus the Festive of Trees, and some other fun outings.
One item on the list that I'm really looking forward to is following a map of holiday lights around town.
But, do to a major effing-up on my part, our schedule of fun events didn't get off to a smooth start. The girls and I talked all week about going to see Rudolf. Then the night before we planned to go, I discovered that my tickets were for that day,not the next.
Yep, missed it.
But see Dewdrop's sad face? That isn't about the play. She simply gets tired of too many hugs sometimes... and Sugarwings is a full on, heavy duty, non stop hugger.
Those girls were soooooooo sweet when I explained that I'd made a huge mistake on the date and we missed the show we were looking forward to. I didn't hear one single complaint, and no tears fell down cheeks. I was so pleased and proud to know how understanding and appreciative they are. We do a lot of fun activities together, but if I thought they were acting like spoiled brats over these outings, we sure wouldn't be doing them.
It is good to see that my grands are big hearted and that they felt bad for me because I was sad about mixing up the dates. Neither of them felt bad for themselves. (So of course, I felt even worse about my major mistake!)
So, we decided to find some fun out there some where and headed to Kansas City, even though we were not visiting with our favorite ruby nosed deer.
Those little fairy girls didn't care where we went, they were thrilled to wear their new gowns (from Ross Dress for Less for only $18 each) and hang with the old folks for the day. Especially hanging with ole Mr. Claus.
He is set up at Crown Center in Crayola''s Santaland, with lots of giant crayons to climb on.
And a little crayon house to twirl in.
We went out to lunch, walked around the mall, (where neither one even asked for a toy) and did crafts at the Crayola store. Then, later a movie. All in all, a fantastic day.
( this is the photo before doctoring on picmonkey, where I used bokah stars to lighten it, wrinkle remover to take out the background, eye tint to remove the last bit of fuscia from Sugarwings' hair, eye tint to soften the banner and the red lights, plus some snow.)