30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 30

3 Day Weekends


Whew! Can I start by saying how happy I am that this is my last blog-a-day? It's been nice to reflect on all the good things happening in my life. It made me slow down and appreciate things, but putting it all into words has been rather time consuming.

Now, back to what I am thankful for.

Typically I spend one full day in the middle of the week at home writing, crafting, taking pictures and marketing. This week, things got switched up a little and today was my "day off."

I started the day by sleeping in, if you think 6 a.m. is sleeping in. That was nice considering someone called us at 1:20 a.m. Grrr... My husband made us a nice breakfast and then we cleaned the house. A good way to start a long weekend. I totally neglected all things crafting related today (unless you count buying supplies for a couple upcoming projects.) Instead, I decided to take advantage of being home on a weekday before Christmas and get a little holiday shopping done. I even had time to wrap everything up when I got home.

I guess, since the house is nice and clean and there are some presents wrapped, tomorrow will be devoted to putting up the tree and all the trimmings. Yipee! Sunday is for relaxing with friends.

Today I am thankful for three day weekends.


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Fun Find Friday

'Bon voyage' by AnaisMin

A Spotlight treasury featuring Michelle from www.etsy.com/shop/ReneeBershayDesigns and Lorraine from www.etsy.com/shop/runawaywombat for the Australian Wandarrah team

Aerodynamic. Origami, Paper Planes, Constellation Tshirt, Women in Natural, Organic Cotton Tee - milatree
Aerodynamic. Origami, P...
$39.00
Card - Bon Voyage - Hand screen printed card - linneaswedishdesign
Card - Bon Voyage - Han...
$4.95
Fabric Luggage Tag Black and White Gift Tag Stars and Stripes ID Holder Name Badge - BlueJacaranda
Fabric Luggage Tag Blac...
$5.00
Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart - size 4 - victoriabuckley
Wheresoever you go, go ...
$115.00
Paper Plane Stud Earrings - Made To Order - rareindeed
Paper Plane Stud Earrin...
$8.00
Recycled Book Page Printed Butterfly Blank Card - luciandjoe
Recycled Book Page Prin...
$5.00
Black Oval Puff Labradorite and White/Black Turkey Turquoise Gemstone Necklace - ReneeBershayDesigns
Black Oval Puff Labrado...
$25.00
Vintage Retro Airplane Brooch Pin 1980s - thebunnyshoppe
Vintage Retro Airplane ...
$15.00
2013-2014 2 Year Slimline Planner/Diary - Zienna Flower - oddsnblobs
2013-2014 2 Year Slimli...
$14.00
Not All Those Who Wander ...  a giclee print - Paper2Rock2Scissors
Not All Those Who Wande...
$14.00
Travel Poster - Wonderland (large) - cedarMyna
Travel Poster - Wonderl...
$30.00
Vintage red suede and leather wallet and document or travel folder 20% - Flyingduckvintage
Vintage red suede and l...
$10.00
Brush roll/Pencil roll/Travel accessory chevron zig zag print holds 14 brushes extra zipped pocket machine washable - runawaywombat
Brush roll/Pencil roll/...
$15.95
Pillow Cover - Every journey starts with a single step - Hand Screen Printed Pillow - linneaswedishdesign
Pillow Cover - Every jo...
$39.00
Travel Change Pad - MadeBYMcKinley
Travel Change Pad
$28.00
Passport & Money Belt holder/wallet/card holder - AlieJane
Passport & Money Belt h...
$55.00

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30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 29

Christmas Music


Fa-la-la-la-laa la-la la la!

I am a little bit behind. Typically the Christmas music book finds its place on the piano the day after Thanksgiving. But with Thanksgiving happening a little earlier than usual this year, the Christmas music didn't make it out until today.

One of my favorite holiday memories is of Christmas eve at my husband's Aunt Kathy's house. Her home was filled with extended family. There was a healthy amount of food, usually Italian, and plenty of presents. Sometime during the evening we gathered around her piano while she played Christmas songs and we all sang loudly poorly enthusiastically!

Although I can't play piano nearly as well as Aunt Kathy and my small family has never gathered around our piano to sing, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling when the Christmas music comes out and I can pound out a few holiday tunes.

Today I am thankful for Christmas music.


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30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 28

Vacations

EPCOT 2004

Creating our Walt Disney World photo book reminded me how much I love to travel. I enjoy crowded theme parks and quaint, exotic locales.

It all begins with some brainstorming about destinations. Next, my husband graciously takes care of the planning and reservations part. The excitement builds as the departure date grows near. Now I get to pack. I find a deep satisfaction packing each necessary item neatly into a suitcase, especially when I can squeeze a week's worth of stuff into one carry-on bag. Then, we are on our way to see the sights, eat different foods and meet new people. Finally, there's the comfort of returning home.



EPCOT 2012
We have experienced some extraordinary things through our travels. We rode the subway from Manhattan to Yankee Stadium to watch baseball. In Costa Rica we hiked through rainforests and saw Capuchin monkeys, sloths, poisonous frogs, and basilisk lizards running across the water. We fed breadcrumbs to the fish that swam below our bungalow every night when we were in Moorea. We have visited Irish castles and watched Spongebob Squarepants in Gaelic.  Our recent extraordinary experience was getting my mother-in-law to ride Soarin' at EPCOT.

I am so glad we have had the opportunity to see a lot of interesting places over the years and share some unique experiences with our daughter.

Today I am thankful for vacations.


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Shutterfly Rocks!


We recently took a magical family vacation to Walt Disney World. It was 8 people with awesome matching shirts, 5 days, and 3 parks that generated over 500 photos.

I used to be an avid scrapbooker until I discovered Shutterfly. Since then, instead of making scrapbooks I have made a photo book after every vacation. This trip was no different. I uploaded our pictures and started creating.








The nice thing about Shutterfly is it allows you to customize your photo book just the way you want. You can change the backgrounds, colors, fonts, and page layouts.

Another great feature is that you can add text, wherever you want, to help tell your story. I think journaling is an important part of preserving memories, so the ability to add text is critical to me.

I also like that you can use your pictures as page backgrounds. A number of our pictures were of things we saw but didn't include any of our family. I didn't want to use them in my page layouts, but it was handy to be able to still include them in the book. Overall, I was able to incorporate over half of the pictures we took in an 8x8, 67 page book.

Making a photo book is definitely faster than scrapbooking, but I still invested a decent amount of time (10-15 hours) in this project. It was worth every minute. I received my book on Tuesday and was absolutely thrilled with the results. I can hardly wait to give these as Christmas gifts to the rest of the family who went with us on the trip!


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30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 27

Good Health


Although it may sound a bit cliche, good health, both mine and my family's, is very high on my list of things I am grateful for.

Over the years I have seen others endure various, life-changing, physical and psychological injuries and ailments. These situations aren't just difficult for the people who are ill or hurt but also impact their spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends...

We have been very fortunate over the years to avoid any life-changing health issues. I'd like to think that some of it is because of our lifestyle choices like staying active, eating healthy, wearing our seat belts, etc. However, I am very aware that, while healthy choices have a positive impact on our well-being, sometimes bad stuff happens to good people.

My thoughts are with those who have fought a disease or suffered a debilitating injury and also those who have provided care and support to someone who is sick or hurt.

Today I am thankful for good health.


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30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 26

Silhouette Cameo


My birthday was earlier this month and my gift (from me to me) was a Silhouette Cameo. It's a nifty little machine that cuts paper, cardstock, vinyl... into just about any shape or letter you can imagine. I think it is a great die cut machine because it plugs into your computer and you can create your own designs or download shapes and designs from the Silhouette Online web site.

I have already used it to cut out vinyl clings of my blog address for my computer, letters for a poster at work, vinyl words for my studio, birthday cards, gift tags, gift boxes, stencils for etching glass candle holders and a personalized baking dish, and stencils for etching a set of drinking glasses. (Shh... the glasses are a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law.)

The reason I am thankful for my Cameo today is that I used it to cut out over 1600 adhesive Christmas ornament stickers for school. Our students are trying to read 1500 books by mid-December. To help them track their progress, they get to put their name on or decorate an ornament and stick it to our paper Christmas tree in the library every time they finish a book. It should be fun to watch the tree fill up with stickers.



Here's a sample of some of the things I have made with my Cameo so far:







Today I am thankful for my Silhouette Cameo.


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Christmas Ornament Wreath

Thanksgiving is over. All of the mashed potatoes and gravy have been consumed and I used the last bit of homemade cranberry sauce to smother my waffles this morning. In our house that means it is time to start putting out the Christmas decorations.

One easy to make decoration is a wreath of small glass ornaments. It looks lovely hung in your home and makes a great hostess gift if you are attending a gathering someplace else.

Materials


  • 40 inches of 12 gauge wire
  • 12 inches of 26 gauge wire
  • wire cutters
  • round nosed pliers
  • 150-160 round 1 inch red glass ornaments
  • perfect holiday bow (optional)

Directions



I have a couple quick notes about the ornaments before we begin. First, you shouldn't spend a fortune on the these. I found packages with 27 ornaments for $2.99 at the grocery store. Second, since these are inexpensive ornaments, take a few minutes before you begin to securely pinch the metal caps onto the ornaments so they don't slide off as you work with them. Finally, remember the ornaments are fragile and  can be quite sharp if they break, so just be careful.




Let's get started with the 12 gauge wire.









Use a pair of round nosed pliers to make a small loop on one end. Make sure the loop is closed tightly so that no ornaments will slip off as you begin to place them onto the wire.

Make a loose, small loop on the other end of the wire. You will have an easier time finish off the wreath later if this loop is partially formed now.




Begin putting ornaments onto the wire.









As you add more ornaments, you will want to make sure they are as close together as possible without crushing them.

Fill the entire length of wire with ornaments.







Once all of your ornaments are strung onto the wire, carefully use your pliers to tightly close the small loop at the end so no ornaments can slide off.








Now take the piece of 26 gauge wire and push it down through one of the small loops and then up through the other.








Use your pliers to twist the thin wire together, securing the ends of the wreath.

You can use the excess wire to form a loop to hang your wreath. If you will be using a wreath hanger to display your creation, just trim the excess wire.






Finally, if you would like to add even more flare to your ornament wreath, adorn it with a beautiful bow.

Happy holidays!

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30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 25

Free Stuff


I recently received a beautiful spool of holiday ribbon from Abakhan Fabrics, Hobby and Home. It was part of a the tutorial exchange program on Totally Tutorials. Thank you to both for providing me with a great material to work with.

I knew exactly what I wanted to make with my ribbon from Abakhan before I even received it, the perfect holiday bow. You can use it to adorn presents, wreaths and more.

Materials


  • 1 - spool of 2 1/2 inch (6.25 cm) wide wire edged holiday ribbon
  • wire cutters
  • 18 inches of 26 gauge wire
  • straight pins
  • ruler
  • pliers
  • scissors

Directions



Remove the entire length of ribbon from the spool.

Lay it flat on your work surface and use a ruler and straight pins to mark 8 inch (20 cm) intervals down the ribbon.






Next you will thread your piece of wire down the center of the length of ribbon. Do this by poking the wire down into the ribbon at the first pin then up at the next, removing the pins as you go. Continue until you reach the end of the ribbon.







At this point your ribbon will be folded back and forth with the wire running through the center of the folds.








Push the folds of ribbon together and use your pliers to twist the wire and secure the ribbon.








Now it's time to add some shape to your bow. Gently open up each loop and evenly arrange them into a bow.

Trim the two ends of the ribbon at an angle to form neat tails.

You can use the additional length of wire to attach your bow on whatever you decide to adorn with a little holiday cheer.

Finally, trim any excess wire.

You can use the same process to make bows with narrower lengths of ribbon. The only thing you have to adjust is the spacing of your pins. For example, if you use 1 inch wide ribbon, just place your pins about 6 inches apart instead of 8 inches.

Today I am thankful for free stuff.



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30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 24

Basketball


From Late October to mid-February and again from late May to mid-July our household revolves around basketball.

There's practice every weeknight, typically two or more games a week, and various tournaments that can consume entire weekends. It's the only time of year that we can go days without sitting down for dinner together as a family. Our team has already played four games since Tuesday with one more this afternoon. They are 3-1 so far. Not a bad way to start the season.

We have a really great group of girls playing this season. It's been amazing to watch them grow and develop their skills over the years. This morning, as the parents groggily gathered in the bleachers before our first game of the day, we were talking about how much we enjoy watching our kids play together and how fast the time goes. The girls have formed some strong relationships on the team and work well together. Although it can be a little tricky to squeeze the rest of our life in around basketball, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

We love you #15! GO RAVENS!

Today I am thankful for basketball.






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30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 23

Readers

Ninety-nine posts ago I had an idea. Write about what I love, designing and crafting great stuff. I truly believe that everyone can incorporate their own individual handmade and creative genius into life with a little bit of inspiration. Why couldn't I share that inspiration.

What was missing in the beginning? Readers. I got off to a slow start, partly because I was hesitant to share my blog  (I was afraid it would be a big flop) and partly because I was still learning the tricks to getting noticed in the blogging world (tagging, social networking, contact with other bloggers...)

Today I celebrate my 100th post and the people from around the world that are reading them. I hope you have been inspired to get out there and make something wonderful.

Today I am thankful for my readers.




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