"Art is my vehicle through life; may we share the ride together." Ron Wickersham

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Day 2008

We had a great Christmas day, albeit very different from any we have celebrated in the past. Above is our little tree. I had brought this small tree in my suitcase and we decorated it with found shells, a ribbon from a plate of cookies given us by the condo management, pop tabs from beer cans, a tin star I cut from a beer can, thin strips of tin from same beer can, and tiny candy canes I'd brought.

Here's the gang just before opening stockings (we had drawn names beforehand so everyone only only had one to do). From right to left is: Kim, my oldest; Sara, my youngest; Kelly; Dana and her fiance, John; my only son, Will; Josh, boyfriend of Kelly.
Here we are with our tree on the beach, just prior to going to Christmas dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Christmas dinner on the beach. Yes, we took off our sandals and sat with our feet in the sand throughout the meal! The restaurant's name was La Buena Vida - the good life - for sure!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mexico 2008

Mexico was fantastic! Since I was the one delegated to making the reservations, sight unseen and with no personal recommendations, I was a bit nervous to find out exactly what we would get. Luckily, our accomodations looked like the photos we had previewed and the condo was roomy, clean and, as I had hoped, really right on the beach! It's approximately in the middle of the photo above. Below you can see more of Half Moon Bay (Akumal) which had a beautiful, white sandy beach. I was disappointed not to find more shells but this particular bay has lots of coral and is the place where the sea turtles come to lay their eggs (unfortunately we missed the July-Sept timeframe).
Akumal is about an hour south of Cancun and is a small town - not like the mega resorts you see lined up along the highway from Cancun. It's very popular with divers. Our condo was within easy walking distance and was convenient to a few restaurants, handicraft shops and two small grocery stores. I snapped this cute guy outside one of the stores - I'm sure this is how many visitors may feel after drinking those Mexican beers!
More views from the condo balcony: - note there were two very comfy hammocks that were used often!

Part of the crew spent one day snorkeling at the Yal-Ku Lagoon which was less than a mile from us. The water was so beautiful and clear.

We also explored the ancient Mayan ruins at Ek Balam - here you can see some of us in mid-climb

and Coba. Despite my fear of heights, I actually managed to climb both with only minor aches the next day! I now wish I had counted those steps! Going down is far worse than going up as you can see from the second photo, but at least I didn't end up going down on my bottom like many people did.

And this lineup shot of several of my kids shows what we did most!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back to the Real World!

It's over! Our six days in paradise has come to an end. We returned last night and today has been spent catching up on all the stuff that accumulated while we were gone. Mexico was fantastic and we had a grand time! A wonderfully relaxing Christmas was had by all. I think I could get used to such holidays. I will report more on the trip when I've recuperated from the relaxation (hard to return to reality!) but I will leave you with these two photos taken from the sliding doors of our room. It was truly right on the beach and beautiful!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mexico here we come!

It's finally here - tomorrow we leave for our Christmas week in Mexico! Can you tell I'm excited? The family voted last Christmas to go somewhere special this year instead of presents and all the holiday hoopla. Since my five grown children live all over the US, they have to fly here anyway, so they didn't mind flying just a bit farther. It wasn't a hard decision to go "warm" - the Chicago and New York crowd outvoted everyone on that one! So, Mexico it is. We will be about an hour south of Cancun in a small town called Akumal in a condo and small hotel right on the beach. Now we just hope for good weather!

I'll be offline this entire week but will be back next weekend. I hope everyone has a very blessed and merry Christmas! Enjoy this special time with your families and loved ones!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where did the week go?

I posted on Monday and now, suddenly, it's Thursday! The days are just flying by! I've been getting Christmas gifts in the mail for out-of-town family, finishing up some handmade gifties for friends and teaching the last of the holiday classes today.

The mailman has been good to me this week. Received a cute little 4"x4" "Christmas card" from an online friend, Jeri. Isn't this the sweetest little image?

And this little snowman (about 4 1/2" high) came from another online friend, Joan. I love the simplicity of this ornament. Thanks girls!

Last night was our little Christmas get-together for Cre8Joy, the gals I teach with. Tracy (owner/designer/teacher), Jaclyn (designer/teacher), Lynn (all-around helper to all) and I gathered for a girls' dinner out. It was such fun to just sit back and relax and chat, rather than our usual rush-around-and-prepare-for-class routine. We also exchanged small gifts and I was so thrilled to get this beautiful canvas from Jaclyn, the huge scissors hanging from Lynn and a sheer album, new Ice Stickles and a very nice bonus check from Tracy packed in this darling felt bag (notice JOY on it!).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Girlfriend Goodies

We just finished a "Girlfriend Goodies Exchange" swap on one of my online groups. We were supposed to make a Christmas card for our "friend" and fill an 8" x 10" mailing envelope with stuff from our art room - odds and ends and we were not to buy anything. There was a Christmas theme, but not everything had to be Christmasy.

A few days ago, this is what I received from Jean in Florida! All I can say is WOW! It came in not one, but two packages. I can't even begin to tell you what all was included, but there were tons of fibers, all nicely separated in small ziploc baggies; a huge bag of brass charms; lots of cardstock and pretty patterned papers; a handmade nutcracker stocking, papercast nutcracker ornaments, a darling nutcracker paper border and a little wooden painted nutcracker (Jean collects nutcrackers!). She even sent some wedding stickers and miscellaneous as she knew my daughter will be getting married next fall.

There's even a handpainted and decorated Christmas tree paper mache box which was also full of more goodies!

And this was the card - simple, elegant and beautiful! Thanks Jean!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Playing catch up

I've spent the weekend resting from last week's busy schedule and cleaning house. (Not fun, but it had to be done...)
I finished a large Christmas gift/art project which I can't share right now and soldered six more ornaments left over from my 12 Days of Christmas project.
I also made this very quick project for my mom - it was a spur-of-the-moment idea which hit me when I saw these pretty blank notecards in the Michael's $1 bin while checking out. I bought the Just Right monogram stamper awhile ago but hadn't used it yet so I initiated it on this project. I stamped my mom's monogram on cream cardstock, punched it out and layered it on a black scalloped circle cut with the Nestabilities die. Simple, quick and pretty!

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

there was only one little gift left to open, presented in this cute fabric bag. Virginia Madsen gave me this lovely stitched flower pin. I love it's bright jewel tones and will be wearing this pretty flower on my coat this winter to bring some color to the dreary gray days!

I am so disappointed that this swap is now finished. It has been such fun to anticipate each day and opening wonderful art from very talented women, most of whom I have never met! But, I won't be idle long, as several of us will continue this idea after the holidays with a "14 Days of Valentines" Swap. Can't wait to see one of my favorite symbols - the heart - interpreted by different artists!

Day 11 (yesterday)

I didn't get around to posting yesterday - had a very long teaching day and wasn't good for much afterwards!

But here is the wonderful handmade necklace I received for the "eleventh day of Christmas" from Jean Bennett. Isn't it lovely? I don't think Jean has a blog, but she is in another group with me and does beautiful work.

This is the sweet box Jean made from printed paper. I love the non-traditional holiday colors.
Only one more gift to open...I will open it later today to try to extend the fun just a bit longer! I am going to miss these daily gifts!

And here are some photos of several tags I've been making using different techniques.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the tenth day of Christmas,

no one gave me anything! Not really...actually I was assigned number 10, so my gift was opened by everyone today. Now that most everyone has opened the gift, I can share what I made for the swap - a soldered double-sided glass ornament. The front has this sweet little child (image from Kris Hurst) which I cut out and layered on torn patterned papers. I didn't take photos of the backs but they were a dark red music-patterned paper gold-embossed with a Merry, Merry, Merry...Christmas stamp. After soldering, I added red or green ribbons for hanging.

Here are all twelve prior to mailing.And this is how I wrapped them. I saw something similar made by Jenny Doh of Stampington and, of course, I loved the idea of recycling toilet paper cardboard tubes. This was also the perfect size for the ornaments and provided an extra layer of protection in mailing. I painted the cardboard with white gesso, painted on the polka dots with red paint and a new pencil eraser, stapled the ends closed and tied with red-and-white baker's twine. The little tags were stamped with a $1 stamp from JoAnn's. Simple!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On the ninth day of Christmas

Shelly Rae Wood gave me this pretty necklace made with a bamboo tile. I believe it's a transfer on the tile, covered with a smooth glossy glaze. Click on her name to go to her blog and find out more about how she made these.

And look at the "cool" package she sent it in. She ironed freezer paper to a snowman napkin to make the "paper." And, have you ever seen a blue candy cane? I like the hanging snowflake and number too. It has been really fun to see how each participant in this swap managed to add the number to their packages - so many creative ideas!Tomorrow (day 10) is when everyone will be opening my gift and after that I will be able to post a picture here.

Day 8

I'm a day late - no, I didn't forget to open my eighth Day of Christmas goodie, I just didn't have time to post it. So, here is what I received from my good friend, Jeri Aaron, who also happened to be the hostess of this awesome swap. She sent a darling pincushion stuffed into a china tea cup. So sweet! I can tell you this will be staying out year round. Be sure to visit her blog at: www.artfulgathering.typepad.com to see her artwork and, right now, she's posting a different decorated Christmas cake each day.

On another note, I received a comment here on my blog last week from Lorri Lennox from Western Australia (wow, people from all over are actually reading this!) and she gave me this award. I'm not sure what it says exactly, but I'm thinking it's something like "good job."

Be sure to click on her link to visit her blog and read some great posts. I am also going to pass this award on to a few blogs that always inspire me:

Bety at www.iralamija.blogspot.com whose cards are awesome

Roni at www.inkstainswithroni.blogspot.com who posts inumerable tutorials and great techiques

and Kari at www.artsymama.blogspot.com whose blog is pure eye candy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On the seventh day of Christmas

Gwynn Thoma gave me this beautiful dress ornament. The bodice is stamped and embellished paper, laced up the front with tiny pale yellow ribbon. The top skirt is a scalloped fabric (possibly a hankie?) with snowflake trim and crystal beaded fringe. The underskirt is the prettiest snowflake sheer fabric - in fact, I think it's the same fabric that a previous gift was wrapped in. This is so feminine and pretty - I love it. The package was just as pretty -white star printed cotton fabric tied with tinsel and creamy rayon ribbon with a silvery, glittery snowflake and no. 7. Thank you, Gwynn!

As promised, here are the 25 stockings I received in the recent Christmas Stocking Swap (the 26th is mine which I posted earlier). I love how each is so unique and different. The only paramaters for this swap were that the stockings should be between 6-7" high and 2-3" wide. The variety is amazing! These would be so cute strung on a banner. But, I might also bind them into a little "fat" book with a big ring. Decisions, decisions...

And, look at this sweet little RAK I received from Cher a few days ago - the cutest little red mitten ornament ever! (Sorry for the blurry photo.) I love how she personalized the little mirror hanging on the front and added a hanger by twisting red, white and blue wires together to match the cuffs. Thank you Cher!!