I like to do different mail swaps through the year.They are inexpensive and take little time.The Bonus of my bit of effort is getting beautiful snail mail in return.
One of my favorite activities is the Liberate your Art Swap. This is led by Kat Sloma.She is great about giving the very simple directions, reminding us as deadline approaches, and getting everything that we have mailed her circulated and sent out.
Basically this is how it works:
I send six postcards of my art to her and I get back six postcards o other people’s art.
My postcard is different every year.Now that I am doing this a while and because someone else mentioned it to me-I should keep a spreadsheet. I always get extra postcards made and I don’t want to send the same one each year.
Sometimes my postcards are a photo of a painting I did.Other times it is just a photo I think is cool.Depending what it is and what I want, I will often use PicMonkey to add words to my card.
I took a picture of my friends rocks and loved it.I asked her permission to use that as my postcard and I simply included her website on there.
It’s a lot of fun and the cards are beautiful.I also have people I side swap with!
Here are the cards I got this year.
Here are some of the cards I have sent in the past:
I hope you will consider doing a swap…very little time -very big rewards. When you order your cards-order a few extra. Postcard stamps are cheaper and you will have some quick snail mail to send out to those you are about. I sent one to my friend for her birthday and I was so happy to see that she was excited to get a “piece of my art”.
I tend to be a workaholic-thank goodness for wild and crazy art friends to remind me to have fun! My friendMychele is on a roll with her creativity and is inspiring me to make time for creativity as well.
Jaci and I drove over from my home and Mychele met us there.We all, for some reason, thought this was a small gallery but it was not! Not only were there many rooms of art but rooms where artists worked on site.Our hostess with the mostest, Bailey, told us how the gallery was laid out and got us going on our adventure.
I really enjoyed one couple we met-The Abbots. Debe had an eclectic collection of work as did her artist husband, Kevin. They have been doing art together for thirty years I think they said! I admit my favorites are the rooms she creates. You can see this process on her blog at Evolution of a Painting. Mychele and I agreed she had painted our dream room/house. We spent a lot of time talking to Debe and Kevin-great people!
Of course our main mission was to see Tracy’s work so we headed to that area and enjoyed seeing her Garden Girls and fabric creations.We took several photos and left her a love note at the comment area. Tracy’s fabric creations each have their own story. They are filled with images and details-each one takes time to see fully.
We were surprised to see a small collection of work by another friend Midge Beaudoin.
Midge and Tracy have both taught classes at Art More Place in Melbourne Florida. That is how I met these two artsy gals.
This not so little gallery is very impressive and I cannot wait to go back.
While shopping in the gift area, I was thrilled to find a fused glass bird pendant. I loved it immediately , bought it, and named her Sky.I have worn her every day since and get at least two comments a day . The artisan is Martin Cheek .
After all the fun at the gallery-we asked our hostess ,Bailey, about lunch suggestions.She and Debe gave us lots and we ended up next door at Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe. My stepdaughter-Katie, quite a connoisseur, had recently suggested this place when she heard I was going to Sanford.When she says you MUST go there, trust it.It was right next door and I had read on yelp that they were great at helping with gluten-free/vegetarian choices.Turns out they had a vegetarian menu! Our server Dalton was amazing! I was very hungry and therefore overwhelmed with the extensive menu.He helped me pick something out quickly which I great appreciated.He described the different sausages so I could make a choice.I admit, when selecting sides, etc I went with his favorites-and I am glad I did. Dalton helped me select a sausage plate and two sides. It was delicious! The decor in this place was German of course-loved everything about this place. Although I did not have any, it seems there were many great beers on hand.
After lunch we strolled just a bit more. We found a bookstore Maya Books and Music. Well of course I was going in! (for those of you that don’t know me personally,Maya is my poodle’s name) This bookstore was packed with stacks and stacks of books.
Then I found Magpies. I LOVED this place! Just a room full of unique treasures! I found soaps, gourmet cotton candy, jewelry, clothing, and small unique home decor pieces. Cannot wait to go back! I set up the place on yelp because it was not on there and it deserves to be seen! Don’t miss it if you are in Sanford.
Sanford was a beautiful town and I admit I plan to get back there as soon as I can. Even the walls of the buildings were unusual-encrusted with memorabilia. I did not have enough time that day to explore as much as I would have liked.
Sanford is now one of my favorite towns for a getaway. Who wants to go?
Mychele also wrote about our day. See her version here!
Why? This swap encourages me to make art and share. I am involved in many swaps and do a lot of artsy activities through online classes and through Art More Placein town. At Art More Place, I learned that anything creative is art and it has helped me accept my work-no matter what. I have learned because of the swaps, to take pictures of my art. While I am my worse critic, by stepping away from my piece for a while, and then taking a photo-the piece takes on a while new look.
After taking pictures of my art, I collect those photos and other photos(usually nature-and definitely art) I love in a folder and order postcards.Now I have art to share!
It is wonderful to see other people’s art and connect to people around the world.I often visit their blogs and/or write to them.
As luck would have it, I am staying at a home far from my own watching some pups and do not have the cards with me!
I had the husband send me pics of the four he could find. I will add them here and more information about the senders later.
I love the painting of the girl and the city. I can relate to them both. I love the Oregon postcard-we were in Washington several years ago but never made it to Oregon. Lastly, the bird is great. I am greatly attracted to birds and fascinated with them. I always am amazed how the postcards I get seem to be picked just for me!
I actually don’t remember all the cards I sent-but this is a favorite. This was actually the size of a playing card and created for the Inspirational Card Swap. I loved this little one so much I took a picture to save it forever.
As I have participated in swaps, I have encouraged others to as well. Many have found joy participating. Maybe you should give it a try? I am glad to help and/or answer questions I admit it may seem scary at first but once you jump in-it’s wonderful!
Do something creative for yourself today!
Visit the Blog Hop and meet others that participated in this swap.
The phrase “Just Do It” is famous. It is supposed to inspire us to get over all obstacles and get it done. Easy words to say-not so easy to put into practice.
I am a person of many interests and activities (those that know me will agree). To some, I have a lot of adventures and get a lot done.I do, but for me I am consistently frustrated with doing the things that I should do.Not the should dos like housework-the should dos that I WANT to do and are good for me but I am not consistent.
At the beginning of the year I took a great Vision Board Class atDecide DifferentlyI had to choose one word for the year.I chose Deliberate.I chose that word because I wanted to be deliberate on how I chose to spend my time/money/resources.I did not want time to get away from me-wasted in front of the television or rescuing pets on Facebook. I wanted to be mindful of financial resources-using the library first instead of just buying the book. Tithe on a regular basis (God has blessed me with so much), and to think about my resources.If I have things I do not need/use-give them to someone who does need them or can use them.
I realized at vision board class that things will not get done unless there is a plan to get it done. Thank youShakti Sutriasafor such a great class. At the bottom of my board I have dream it-plan it-do it. That made sense to me.I can say I want to walk weekly-but what’s the plan? I also realized that if I wanted to make more time for something, I had to take time from something else.So I made a more-less chart. It made so much sense. This list has helped me to see my time as something I CAN manipulate to some degree.Below are some things I struggled with and the plan I used to resolve it.
Writing: I love writing but was not getting it done. My excuse-my journal was too big and I never had it with me. So I switched to a Moleskin.Now it is with me all the time. I use it to write the plan for the day (rather than on scraps of paper) and as a diary. I saw a video called The Bullet Journal. While I have not adapted everything, some parts have been very useful to me-like the index. I now carry my journal everywhere and a lot is getting written-all because of a plan. The moleskin for Jan/Feb of this year has more than my whole journal last year. After I filled the moleskin I bought s set of three pretty little notebooks and am using them now. Thanks Mychele for telling me about the Bullet Journal Video!
Supplements: I love my doTERRAsupplements.When I take them, I have more energy, my body systems are more efficient and I eat less (Slim & Sassy). I KNOW this, yet days would go by when I was not taking them.I would put them in a little carrier to take on my days out (to take at lunch) and then I would not do it. A couple days in I would wonder why I was dragging, all clogged up, and eating junk food.My husband isamazing taking them-morning, lunch, dinner, bedtime. My friend Sandie Bowen finally told me her trick.She never packs them to take out for the day-she puts them in a bowl on the counter.Then they are there every time she walks by.If she doesn’t see it and act-her husband reminds her.This has helped a lot-a pretty bowl by my coffee maker. Thanks to Sandie & Marty for helping me get a plan in place.
Art/Creativity: I was not getting anything artistic/creative done.It made me sad-especially since I had a room filled with paint, beads, paper, and cloth. I would see my friend Mychele (who has two young children) getting all artsy and I wanted to be there! This is very much who I am and not to do it is like slow death. Every day I would intend too.Then I would start reading email, catch up on Facebook, start some wash, do some business and before I knew it-time to make dinner. This went on for months.Then after talking to my friend Mychele (I was talking out loud-she was listening) I came up with a motto-Mornings are Mine. I was always going to do those other things…so put my things first.This simple thing was LIFE CHANGING! I found when I spent the morning writing, sewing, painting etc..that when it came time for the other things-I was a JOYFUL person.Not only joyful but I seemed to be in super speed. I was not dragging through-I was efficient and I was getting things done for myself and for the family/business. I told Marty and as always, he was okay with my choice.I didn’t realize how much until we both visited Sandie.I said to her, “I don’t think Marty gets the ‘mornings are mine’ concept but it really has changed everything for me! Marty’s response, “Oh no honey, I get it.I WANT you to do your art first”. Thankful for a supportive husband and artsy sister Mychele. Mychele inspires me by posting what she is up hopefully I do the same for her!
Walking: They say the simplest exercise is walking.When I retired, Marty wanted me to make a goal for myself to walk three miles a day.My friends though he was mean.I knew he was caring-he knew I loved being outside, he knew I wanted to be healthy, he knew I wanted to stretch myself.A month into retirement, I was still not walking.Then I met my neighbor Cindy. I told her I recently retired and asked her if she was the one I saw walking all the time.I told her I need a plan to get walking.Her response, “I walk three miles a day.Want to walk with me?. Just one of God’s little blessings.Having someone to be accountable to really helps. So thankful for Cindy and what she has brought to my life.
Time Slipping: Did you ever go on the computer-intending to spend 15 minutes there and suddenly an hour hour passed? No…never! A timer is my new best friend. I will set the timer to spend so much time in an area and then move to the next.I also think backwards.If I have to leave the house at one, then I shower at noon, pack the to go bag 11:30, stop what I am doing at 11…etc.This really helped.I would often work on something till the last minute and then rush out of the house without the things I needed. Sound too regimented? You make think so-until you have that day when you cry out of joy for feeling successful!
Television: Yes I like television and I have favorite shows.I do tape them, have not seen a commercial in forever.Also I use television as my down time.I have the computer set to go off at ten. Then I try and make myself sit on the couch.I put on some serenity oil to calm me down and move towards sleep.One thing I love though is where my desk/television are.My desk is behind the couch where my husband sits to watch television.I have a direct view.Why is this important? I can sit at my desk, answer emails, write notes, or complete a project and watch a show at the same time.I know, we are supposed to live in the moment but I am not willing to give up television completely nor am I willing to spend hours watching it while doing nothing. My next project is to set up a little writing box near my seat on the couch-so I can easily write notes during my TV time.Real notes..instead of email. It’s a plan.
Out and About-It is amazing how a trip to the library can eat hours of my day and cost me money.I have to get dressed etc, to go there.More than likely I will stop somewhere else. Then I’ll get hungry and grab lunch. Next-go home and put everything away. By then-I am shot and find it difficult to be productive.I now stack my days.I choose days to not leave the house.On the days I do leave, I pack several appointments/errands into the day. WOW-this was a game changer.Sure I ‘m exhausted when I get home-but I would have been anyway.This Wednesday I’ll make Thirty-One deliveries, meet two friends at different times at Barnes & Noble.Thursday I will go to a class, see a friend and her new baby, meet another friend at dinner. In between I will pick up dog food and do other errands!.This plan works and has given me more time!
Resources: Besides your friends and family, there are books and other resources that can help you.I already mentioned The Bullet Journal.I must now mention Gretchen Rubin. She is one of my favorite authors.I have preordered every book she has written.I own every book she has written in hardcopy and on audible (so I can listen again and again).After I started writing this months ago, I received my preordered book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. I ordered it not knowing much about it.Come to find out-it’s about habits.I LOVE this book and truly need to blog a review about it. This book reinforced thoughts I was already having.It also gives a lot of great ideas on developing and or/breaking habits.As I write this, I think I will plug it in again for a listen while I work in the kitchen. To me, a lot of what we struggle for to “Just do it” has to do with either making or breaking a habit.I think you will find this book a great resource.
I could go on and on.I do want to note a recurring theme.I did not develop all these plans on my own.It started with the vision board, then different people/things (Sandie, Marty, Mychele, Cindy, Bullet Journal, Gretchen Rubin) that really helped me. Being vulnerable about what you struggle with will often get you the support you need. The funny thing is-if you tell me your struggles…I can probably come up with a plan for you.If I tell you mine, you can probably help me.Don’t be afraid to reach out.
I will still struggle at times and get off course.I know one thing though, using Gretchen Rubin’s Words….I am Better Than Before!
What struggles have you solved with a plan? Please share-it may help someone else.
What do you still struggle with? Someone may be able to help you!
God Bless you all in your endeavors.I would love to help if I can! Feeling powerful makes me want to help others feel the same way.
Ok I’m sorry, but I think being creative in the kitchen counts for a lot. If you are the one in your home that does the cooking and meal planning then you know it is one of the most creative things we have to do-every day. I like food to be fresh but it is a real balancing trying to keep food that is fresh in the house and using it before it spoils. I feel awful when food has to be thrown out (or given to my worms) because I did not get it prepared before it spoiled.
As much as I love to cook, some times I just don’t want to. I’ve exhausted myself with too many other tasks during the day. Not only that, but after I cook, then I’m going to have to clean up. My daughter got a good deal when she got married-Jake cooks and she cleans up. I should have gotten that in writing before I got married.
I was too tired to cook. It was too hot to eat. Garbage was going out the next day and there was the chicken with a lot of meat left on it. I knew I wanted that carcass in the garbage. The fridge was packed with food yet I did not think there was anything good to eat. I started to pull containers out of the refrigerator to see what I could make of it.
I deboned the chicken, added clery, onion, and mayo. My sister-in-law Mary served chicken salad once with a pinch of sugar…I have never left it out since. I shredded the last of the lettuce onto two plates and piled the chicken salad on top. I had four containers of hummus-one half empty. I split that into two mini bowls and grabbed the last of the tomato basil wheat thins. I sliced up the the lastof the tomato, celery, and cucmber that would not make it another two days.
I fixed it up pretty and served it to the husband. He was impressed! As for me, I added a few things to my plate that he would not like. Lots of black olives and some hearts of palm.
The dinner was great if I do say so myself. Lettuce, cucumber, celery, and tomato were consumed rather than thrown away (ok I admit the worms got a little bit). One empty container of hummus was thrown out as well as the chicken carcass and an empty box of crackers.
The refrigerator was cleaner, no food was thrown in the garbage, and I felt more creative than ever!
Next time I don’t want to cook I am going to go through the pantry!
I bought this kit many years ago, someplace, before I knew anything about beading. You can easily create a project like this yourself with supplies purchased at your local craft/beading store.
Wire Cutters (do not use your nice beading cutters)
Memory Wire (choose size by preference)
Round Nose PliersDirections:
Cut a length of wire that goes a couple times around your wrist. There is no right or wrong length-this is truly a preference. Do not use your beading wire cutters to cut memory wire. There is a reason for this! Memory wire is stainless steel and it is tough to cut. I bought a pair of cutters I use only for my memory wire and for cutting silk flower stems (I have a neat project to tell you with that later).
Once you have cut the wire to the desired length, use round nose pliers to make a loop at one end of the wire-this will keep beads from coming off.
Start putting on beads. Alternate colors, sizes, and types. If you have a specific pattern you want to follow, you may want to lay the pattern out first on a mat. This way you will not have to keep looking to see what comes next. I also have one made from pearls that I like very much!
When the wire length is covered, make a loop in the other end as well to keep the beads on.
This is a fast easy project that is great for people that have never done beading. It is a great activity for a party (like a girl’s birthday party or girl’s night out) because few tools/skills are needed. You can make it a bit of a memory project by having each person bring beads and everyone swap.
If you like this project, you may also like making beaded napkin rings. These make a wonderful gift and the process is the same. I have also seen memory wire in ring size!
I saw someone with an anklet that was different than the ones I had. As I love beads (especially Swarovski crystals and natural stones) I have several anklets made of each. I have had anklets made of chain in the past (before my beading days) but I must have broken them all.
This anklet was different because instead of simply circling the ankle, it had a chain section dangling with a charm on the end of it.
If you have some beading skills or get a little help-this is a pretty easy project.
sterling chain 2 inches longer than ankle width
3 or more split rings
split ring tool (if possible)
round nose pliers
chain nose pliers
I don’t know that I will ever claim to be an expert at anything but I am pretty quick and sensible on projects. I will tell you how I went about the process-it does mean it is the only way to do it.
First I connected my lobster class to a split ring. I connected the split ring* to one end of the chain. This is one end of my anklet.
Then I put the chain around my ankle as if I was going to wear it, and made note where I wanted to fasten the lobster claw. I attached a split ring to the chain at that spot. If you have a split ring tool it can be a great help. Now I had a chain with a clasp with loose chain dangling. I attached my heart charm at the end of the long dangling piece of chain.
I wanted to add a Swarovski crystal for a little sparkle. For this I needed a headpin and the crystal. I put the crystal on the headpin and bent the headpin over at the top of the crystal-leaving about 1/4″.
Headpin and crystal.
Crystal with bent and cut headpin.
Crystal with loop-ready to attach.
Taking the round nose pliers, I made a loop on the crystal so that I could attach it to the chain.
After that, it was just a matter of adjusting and I changed things many times: the length of the chain, placement of the bead, etc. In the end the dangling chain was about 1.5 inches. The bead was connected at the same link of the chain where the dangle started. That is where it looked best.
*If you are not familiar with split rings, they are a finding used to connect pieces in jewelry making. The best way to describe them is to say they look like a key ring-several loops. A jump ring would only be one loop. While you can buy soldered jump rings, most have an opening as you need to open them to attach. I prefer split rings as the several loops add more strenght. Also, if your chain/charm/jewelry gets snagged, it takes a lot to toally have your piece pulled apart. Usually I can feel it happening and am able to save the piece because the split ring takes a bit to completely uncoil.
My friend Mychele and I always try to get together at least once for a full day in the summer. Mychele lives two hours away. I know that doesn’t seem like much but we both have very active lifestyles and families that keep us busy.
When I heard about the 30 Days of Creativity challenge on facebook (I still need to write and thank that person), I challenged my friends to come on board with me. I was especially trying to pull in my friend Em (whom I have never met but love dearly) and Mychele as they both have young children which means they HAVE to be creative every day.
I guess it wasn’t planned that way, but it ends up Mychele and I had a whole day dedicated to creativity. We could not have done this without the infamous daddy Chuck taking the girls off for a day. I do not think we would have gotten much done with Sophia and Gwendolyn in on the act!
Packing for Mychele’s was a riot-it looked like I was moving out. I had to bring everything I wanted to talk to her about because I did not know when we would have this opportunity again! I knew Mychele wanted to learn Onestroke (I am a certified instructor). I also knew she wanted to play with aluminum wire after seeing a picture of my bookmarks. I had some things I wanted to show her and a mother’s bracelet I made her years ago that needed adjusting (we are adding Gwendolyn’s name).
Aluminum wire and tools-love this stuff.
Paint, apron, brushes, papers…
Beads, books, other secret stuff…
Mychele, smaller than the last time I saw her,greeted me with a beautiful lavender plant and a beautiful smile.
I had to leave at a certain time for my daughter’s birthday celebration so we discussed a schedule to make sure we got everything done. We started by playing with Onestroke first as that was the most involved. She took right too it and I left her with videos to keep practicing.
Then I showed her some new things I was getting ready to try. Of course I can’t tell you about those….yet.
Then she got really creative with lunch. I saw her spreading a thick layer of guacamole on bread and I knew all would be well. She added shreeded cheese and tomato and grilled it. Or salad was spinach and fruit with a poppyseed dressing, It was WONDERFUL and I have since created that lunch again twice and my guests loved it as well.
After lunch Mychele started playing with the aluminum wire. I could tell she loved it as much as I did.
We finished off the day with henna. Mychele is a henna artist that is very well known in the area. That is how I first met her-but that is another story. I love henna and can really get wild in the summer.
Mychele and I talked about our time together. She had made a comment that I was doing the teaching-that she wanted to teach me something. In discussion though we realized we need to accept that it is ok for people to “give” us things even though we may not feel we are giving back. I have often blessed someone with something only to be blessed by someone else the next day. I have had people share with me but it may be another that I share with. The great things about close friends is there is no keeping of tabs. We give/share for the love of it -without expecting anything in return. I have found however, that what goes around comes around. Everything I give away or share seems to come back in some way.
I felt totally blessed being with Mychele. Packing for the trip made me get organized a bit. It also made me get in my creative place where I love to be. I learned two new great recipes from lunch, got a wealth of ideas, and came home with henna. Mychele had also been through some of her other supplies and shared things with me. We both made out like bandits! I also have some ideas/projects in the works that I bounced off Mychele and her responses solidified my ideas.
It was a wonderful time! If only Ms. Em could have joined us…
An inexpensive easy gift to make for yourself or someone else.
Memory Wire (smaller size about 2.25in)
Round Nose Pliers
Cut a length of wire that goes at least once around (a full circle).
You can also make it longer so the napkin ring goes around more than once.
The great thing about memory wire is that it will keep its shape over time.
Using round nose pliers make a loop at one end of the wire-this will keep beads from coming off.
Start putting on beads. Alternate colors,sizes, and types. It is best not to follow a pattern.
When the wire length is covered, make a loop in the other end as well to keep the beads on.
Using an eclectic group of beads will make your napkin rings go with any season/color. While these are easy to make-it would cost a bit to make many sets so it is best to make one that you really love!
On the left the ring goes around more than once, on the right-just once. While I like it going around twice,it takes more beads and time to do a set this way. They are just a beautiful with one full loop around.
This is the set I made myself after making some for my daughter for her Christmas table setting.After making hers, I had to have a set. Using a variety of colors, they go with any occasion.