Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Nature Journal and Art Notebook

Therapy comes in many ways.  For me, this is mine right now.  Dark days lend themselves to dark thoughts, but with this, everything is a little less dark.  For Christmas, I got an incredible huge set of watercolor pencils that I have played with hours each day.

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I also got a new multi-media notebook.  One that can handle water better than the regular sketchbooks I normally get.  I couldn’t be happier with it! 

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I can get tons of color on the page and it doesn’t bleed into the next pages of the notebook.  Magic, I tell you!

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The sky and the trees have been my muse lately.  A clear winter day is a whole different creature than a clear summer day.  The wind is cutting and the sky is so clear you can see both mountain ranges that are usually obscured by clouds or fog or pollen (in the spring, you really cant see through the pollen.  We live in a very fertile space.).   The sky was so clear for the transition from 2014 to 2015 that the cutting 22* weather was worth the view (from a car with heated seats, of course).  Not enough words to describe how incredible I find the simple lines and yet complicated textures of our world.

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A few other artsy moments from this last couple weeks:

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And my one actual nature journal entry:

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We saw this incredible duck in a pond as we drove to the dog park.  I glanced over at a huge pond and in a pond filled with mallards and dully colored female ducks was this striking black and white guy.  In his full tailed tuxedo, this gentleman watched over his flock.  I was struck as I drove by, and although I wasn’t able to sit there and watch him, I got a good enough look to draw him later that afternoon.  What a beautiful creature!

Friday, January 02, 2015

Happy New Year!!

My nature notebook has turned into an art notebook.  I turn to it all the time.  It is a confidant that knows my deepest thoughts, and also somewhere that I share my new techniques and newest artsy toys (like a pen that holds water for my watercolors!).  It’s become therapy of sorts.  Where I am able to focus my energy onto something fruitful during the darkest moments of the year.  I am very grateful for this outlet. 

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My art for tonight focused on everything that has happened this year and all of the dreams for the New Year.  A lot is happening this year!  2015 is filled with promise. 

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Our New Year’s celebration was simple.  Smores, apple cider, fire side board games and a movie.  We toasted with the East Coast live at 9pm and then everyone went to bed. 

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Don had to work a double shift, so I didn’t get to see him until the next morning:

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The first day of this New Year was a vision of this year… sunlight coming through the windows and setting the tone for the day, and for the year.  Lets hope it’s a really good one for all!

Happy New Year, all!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

DIY Burned Wood Christmas Tree ornaments

We really got into wood burning this year.  I can’t tell you how fun this was! 

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We used a Dremel Wood Burning Tool (this tool) which I ordered from Amazon (you can get them at craft stores as well, but use your coupons!  Because they are far more expensive.) and I got a set of extra tips like this one.  To work with, at first I used branch pieces I sawed off a fallen branch from the yard.  But soon I bought wooden rounds 2-4 inches like these or these.  They are far cleaner cut and I really enjoyed how they didn’t get my table dirty. 

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I was addicted pretty quickly. 

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Some of my designs were complex…

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Some were super simple:

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To look for inspiration, I searched ‘simple line drawings’ in my search engine and spent quite a bit of time copying that.  Then ‘simple snowflakes’ and after a while, I searched for other wood burned inspiration from all kinds of art. 

When I had enough, I took a tiny drill bit and drilled a hole in the top of each round and placed a small eyelet hook into them. 

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I put a ribbon through the eyelet and they were all set to hang on the tree!

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The kids started wanting to do it too.  It seemed a little complicated to draw with something so hot for the kids, so I had them draw their ideas first and then they used the burner to burn their designs into the rounds. 

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I even spent some time burning tiny hearts into large acorns I dried from this fall.  Addictive.  I’m telling you.  And so much fun!

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I even drilled a tiny hole in the acorns and put a tiny eyelet hook in them so I could hang them on the tree too.  By the time we put our tree up, we had an entire tree of homemade, handcrafted, incredibly beautiful ornaments.  

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(The heart is made from shrunken sweaters that my daughter loved as a little kid.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Décor 2014

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This year I spent very little time on our decorations.  More than anything, my favorite décor element right now is ‘clean’.  But the day before our one and only Christmas party I did cut a few boughs, add in some holly and had my oldest help me clean up the front porch.

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My Christmas tree this year was decorated with handmade ornaments that my daughter and I made and silver and red jingle bells.  It was very simple, very clean, and very lovely. 

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Here are a few of the ornaments that we made over the years.  The burned wooden rounds and scrabble tiles were this year.  I also made and gave many as gifts.  I have started adding the years on each of these ornaments so I know when we made which ones.

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The mantel was equally simple with the same burlap banner that I used for fall, but instead of pressed leaves into it, I did a garland of blinking star lights.  Sugar Pine cones and a greenery garland draped on top of the mantel finished it off with some red candles.

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I have seen so many design blogs that create these whole new spaces for the holidays.  I can’t help but think, what a chore!  Yes, they are beautiful, but I really like ‘simple’ and ‘clean’ best of all.  Always.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A moment of clarity

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This time of year, it is easy to be sucked in by the extravagance. To buy the idea that if we spend more, we get more. The fancier a thing is, the better it must be. But in truth, the simpler the desires, the happier we are. Always.

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A day of spontaneous gratitude.  <3

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Creating a new tradition: Advent Wreath–Waldorf Style

Here it is.  The last Sunday in advent.  Isn’t that crazy?  It feels as though this autumn has just flown by, and now it’s the first day of winter, just days before Christmas and soon the light will be returning and a new year beginning.  This season is full, as it always is, but there has been a lightness in this years darkest days this year.  Maybe it’s the supplements I am taking.  Maybe it’s the fact that I am really learning how to not be so mean to myself about missing traditions or going on rabbit trails for a week because we are enjoying a craft we are doing.  Either way, we have really enjoyed this season, even with its chaos and bustle.

For the past few years we have had an advent wreath, just like we had at my Lutheran church when I was little.  Each year I get three purple candles, one pink candle and one white pillar candle.  This year, inspired by this post, I added a few other things to our advent wreath traditions.  I made up cards for each Sunday printed on cardstock and added them to my wreath so I didn’t stumble over looking up each verse when my kids were waiting.  I also gathered all the items I would need to put on the wreath this season into a bag that was in my junk drawer.  Once again, I was just trying to streamline this process so it would be as smooth as possible after Church each Sunday.

I set up the advent wreath Thanksgiving weekend.  It went up before any other Christmas décor and in fact!  Our fall decorations were still on the table as I took this picture:

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The first week, we added shells, crystals, and a stone to our wreath for the Light of Stones.

The first light of Advent is the light of stones.  The light that shines in seashells, in crystals, and our bones.

Once it was set up, it was easy to maintain:

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Second week of advent we added pressed leaves for the Light of Plants.

The second light of Advent is the Light of Plants.  Plants that reach up to the sun, and in the breezes dance. 

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We added some of our chickens feathers for the third week in advent.

The third week of Advent, it is the Light of Beasts.  The light of faith that we may see the greatest I the least.

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We added a roving angel for the fourth week in advent.

The fourth Light of Advent; it is the Light of Humankind.  The Light of Hope, of thoughts and dreams.  The Light of hands, heart, and mind.

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I did it a tiny bit different than any of my other traditions, this time we lit the Christ candle every week. 

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It is so easy this time of year to shift our focus from the light that Jesus was in the world to something more earthly.  I wanted to always have that light shining.  So every week, for the few hours these other candles were burning, that center candle stood bright and happy.  A great reminder of the His greatest love for us.

One last note about all family traditions…  Traditions are lovely, but sometimes they do not work the way you want them to.  These beautiful family moments, especially with toddlers or young children, have to have room for climbing on tables and jumping off chairs and fights over who is going to blow out the candle when we are done with lunch.  They must continue, even though there may be holiday decorations on the floor, or it’s technically Monday, or you only have 2 of the kids home out of 4.   

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And the glory of traditions is that kids don’t notice!  They do not care if you had that weeks advent lighting a day late because you were sick, or if the breakfast dishes are not put away, or if you have to keep stealing the gloves back from the dog while reading the card.  Any of that they remember, they will remember with laughter and it will add to the charm of the tradition, not deter from it.  Tradition is like a budget… if there is no wiggle room, there is almost no chance of success.

Friday, December 12, 2014

First week of Advent 2014

 

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Day 1: We watched Elf and I made this amazing caramel corn with no corn syrup!

  • Preheat oven to 300
  • Melt 2 sticks of butter in a sauce pan
  • Add in 1 cup honey, 1 cup organic brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  • Mix constantly as you bring it to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and add in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
  • Mix well. 
  • Pour over 12 cups popped popcorn. 
  • Place on parchment covered cookie sheets.
  • Shake a bit of kosher salt of fresh ground salt over each cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 25 minutes stirring (carefully) halfway through. 
  • Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before eating to avoid burns. 

 

Day 2: Make peg nativity.

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Day 3: Special chocolate.

Day 4: Making giant paper snowflakes

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Day 5: Journey to Bethlehem

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Day 6: Breakfast with Santa and Gingerbread Houses

 

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We are almost done with week 2 so there will be another installment I a few days!  Smile