Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From the HEART . . . . ..

Well, although I didn't meet my original crafting goal today, i.e., getting started on making some Valentine's Day cards, I still did make SOME progress!

I'm well on my way of sifting and sorting all my Christmas and Holiday-themed patterned papers and embellishments, getting them organized, and safely filed away for the next few months so I can FIND what I need when I'm ready to use them again!

And, I've begun to pull out my Valentine's Day and Love-themed papers and embellishments.

As a cardmaker, I think the two MOST FAVORITE themes around which I enjoy designing cards are 1) the Christmas/Holiday Season, and 2) Valentine's Day/Love themed cards.

There are SO many wonderful quotes and song lyrics written around the theme of LOVE, and although I have quite a collection already, I'm always on the lookout for more.

Much of the inspiration for my Love-themed and Valentine's Day cards comes from wonderful quotes, as well as beautiful embellishments and papers.

I don't yet have any new Valentine's Day card designs in mind for 2009. But, in hopes of getting my creative "juices" flowing, I've been reviewing some of my previous card designs. I keep photos of all of my completed card designs on my computer, and tend to draw from previous card designs from year to year, in addition to developing totally new designs.

The following photos are from my card design "archives". I suppose, like many artisans, I tend to like some of my old designs better than others.

And, as I look at my cards from year to year, I see that my style is continually evolving. . . . I think that's a GOOD thing, yes?

Although I made this card (above) a few years ago, it's one of my favs. I was in a phase of using tiny beads and threading them over spiral clips for an unusual embellishment. The outside text was pulled from a commercial card my hubby gave me one year . . . . . . .I know, I know, some might consider it a little sappy!

Here's another of my favs, done, I think a bit more recently. Yes, all the hearts are hand cut. I especially liked the metal and enamel purchased embellishment.

Here's another card with layers of handcut hearts . . . . except for the center one with the "Be Mine" on it, which was a purchased cardstock embellishment. The tiny flowers on each corner are punchies, but I hand outlined each with a fine point red pen and added a tiny acrylic rhinestone to each center.

Here's yet another variation of a handcut, layered heart. I loved the black, white and red heart patterned paper . . . I think I still may have some of that.

I'm not big on the color pink, BUT for Valentine's Day, I make an exception. And I actually loved this patterned paper. Once again, the card features a handcut and layered heart. (Guess I didn't get enough time as a child cutting out paper dolls!)

This was one of the FIRST Valentine's Cards that I sold a number of years ago. The saying is a famous line from the movie, "Jerry Maguire," which I loved! I'm not as fond of Tom Cruise as I was back then, but I still love the line!

Here's another of my first Valentine's Day cards that I sold (on eBay, I think) . . . .and yet another of my very favorite pieces of script . . . .I remember that song from when I was growing up. The lyrics are absolutely timeless!

And here's a bit more recently designed card, also with one of my favorite lines.

None of my fellow cardmakers (or my card buyers) would say that I'm into "vintage" designs. But, a client asked if I could do a vintage Valentine Day's card last year, and this was my best shot. She liked it, so I guess I did OK.

Now . . . .for a whimsical touch (maybe more aptly termed a "hoaky" touch!) . . . . .I can't remember if this dolphin card actually SOLD as a Valentine's Day card, or if I changed the text block to another occasion!

And, here's yet another of my favorites. . . . . This card was not designed specifically as a Valentine's Day card, but I definitely see possibilities for one.

OK, now that I've reviewed some previous designs, I definitely think I'm ready to start some Valentine's Day card designs for 2009 . . . . .

Do you have any favorites from among these that you think I might adapt for this year's designs?

As always, I appreciate your comments and suggestions!

Wishing You the Best that 2009 has to offer . . . . from the HEART.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What's new, you ask? I Joined ART FIRE!

I've been hearing some chatter about this new marketplace for handmade items, ART FIRE, so a couple of weeks ago, I went to the website to check it out.

I have to admit, I was a bit intrigued by the idea of a marketplace that allowed artisans to offer and sell their product without fees. As it turns out, there are paid memberships too, which charge a monthly set fee . . .but I gather there are still no final value fees when an item sells.

Discouraged by my low sales (and views) of my paper creations on Etsy of late, I decided to go ahead and sign up for a free membership on ART FIRE. I thought I'd check it out for a while and see how things go, before I decide if I want to upgrade to a "Verified Member" status (i.e., paid membership with an upfront monthly fee of $7).

There are indeed more benefits with the Verified Member status than with the free membership that I have right now. But, I'm still waiting a while before I make any more changes.

So far, I've been stocking my new ART FIRE Shop with a few items that I've transferred over from Etsy. With the free membership, I'm limited to 10 listings at one time.

If you'd like to take a peek at my ART FIRE Shop, you can click on my ART FIRE Shop window that I've added to my Blog side bar.

I can't say that the views to my ART FIRE listings are notable as yet, and I've had no sales since I opened my shop on December 19th, but I'm still hopeful!

I'd love to hear from any of you, as to any experiences you've had with ART FIRE yourselves. (And if you have a minute, please do pop on over to the CARD CHRONICLES Blog, read my other article about ART FIRE, and feel free to post any observations or comments there too!)

Hope your week is starting off well . . . . . As for me, I'm gearing up for some Valentine cardmaking!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

All in a Day's Work . . . .OK, SEVERAL Days' Work!

Now that Christmas is over, I've been trying to get back into the cardmaking "groove."

And since I still have all my Christmas and Holiday patterned papers strewn about in my crafting area, I had the idea of making some holiday-themed blank note cards and thank you cards before I put all these colorful papers away for another year.

So, today and yesterday, I worked up a few designs, some blank notecards with a winter or holiday theme, and some with a specific "thank you" message on the outside.

I'm hopeful that there are some folks like me, who still like to send special Thank You notes via snail mail after the holidays!

At any rate, I've put several of these cards up on Etsy, so we'll see what happens.

Tomorrow is another day . . . .and I'm thinking that I'm just about ready to file away my holiday paper and embellishments, at least until next July, when I might do a "Christmas in July" promotion in my Etsy shop.

Even though I hate to see the holiday season come to an end, I guess it's time to start working on Valentine's Day cards . . . . . Who knows? I might even start on some tomorrow.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Yet Another SNOW Day!

Well, some of the excitement of the holidays is now over, and Lee and I are spending a quiet day here at home with our greyhounds.

I had toyed with the idea of hitting the local Hallmark Shop early today for some half-price specials on Christmas wrapping paper and ribbon . . . . . . .It's almost become one of my annual traditions to do that.

BUT, when I woke up this morning and looked out to see the driveway covered with around 8 inches of snow and more snow steadily falling, any enthusiasm I might have had for shopping quickly disappeared!

At this point, I'm content to stay home relaxing by our gas log fireplace and watch the wintery scene unfold through the windows.

I took the above photo of our front yard a few minutes ago, standing on our front porch. I think even our local birds are laying low today, staying dry in the shelter of our neighborhood spruce trees.

I'm gearing up to design some new handmade cards to put up in my Etsy Shop, although I haven't had any "inspiration" hit me quite yet. At this point, I'm not sure what kinds of cards I'll focus on. I may just pull out some of my patterned papers and see if I'm inspired by any of those. . . .sometimes that helps get me going.

OR, I might do a winter themed note card or two . . . . .This weather certainly could put me in the mood for that!

The winter scene right outside my window as I'm typing this Blog entry, looks very similar to this little notecard I created last year . . . . minus the polar bear, of course!

Well, I guess I'd better go get started on some cardmaking if I'm going to be able to take daylight photos before we lose the sun today.

Until we meet again . . . . .I hope you have a lovely day and weekend, spending time with those you love and doing the things you most enjoy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday Musings . . . . . .

When Lee and I first met years ago, both of us had been single for a while, and neither of us had more than one or two Christmas tree decorations among our household "stuff".

So for the first few years that we were together, we decorated our Christmas tree with red and green "glitter balls" that I'd made by rolling styrofoam balls first in Elmer's Glue, and then in red or green glitter.

Even after we were married, those styrofoam glitter balls served us well for several years as our main Christmas tree decor, but eventually we yearned for some decorations with a little more "class".

So, we began making a conscious effort to build a unique and special collection of Christmas ornaments, year by year, and piece by piece.

Whenever we would travel to a new place or see a new Christmas shop, we kept our eyes peeled for new ornaments for our Christmas tree.
And every year, we would add two or three new ornaments to our collection, each one carefully selected.

Now, after nearly 25 years of marriage, we have more Christmas ornaments than we can fit on our medium sized Christmas tree (yes, we eventually bought an "artificial" tree)!

Some of our Christmas tree ornaments were chosen because they represent a place we'd visited or something that we especially love (nature, animals, birds, whimsy, greyhounds!). Others were added to our collection because we simply fell in love with the artist's design or creativity.

And then there's that special group of our Christmas tree ornaments that were gifts from friends or family, or that just remind us of "home."

Now that we have so many ornaments, we don't necessarily put them ALL on the tree every year. Even so, we cherish each and every one, and each one holds a special place in our hearts. Over the years, all these special ornaments have become our "old friends".

I can't say that Lee and I remember specifically what year or from what place every one of our Christmas tree ornaments was obtained, but many of them do indeed bring back special memories of cherished times and moments in our lives.

We're not actively adding to our Christmas tree ornament collection any more, although there are times that I see something during my annual Christmas shopping (or those tempting After-Christmas sales) that I just can't pass up!

On this, my last post of this Christmas season, I wanted to share with you some photos of Lee's and my favorite ornaments from our collection. . . . . . .

We found this little resin greyhound ornament during one of our twice-a-year trips to see my family in Abilene, Kansas.

We always stop into the National Greyhound Hall of Fame to visit the ex-racing greyhound mascots there, and found this little ornament in the gift shop. (As greyhound lovers, we simply had to have a little greyhound ornament for our Christmas tree!)

Back in the mid 80's, I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Philadelphia. Lee joined me and we both saw the Liberty Bell for the first time!

In 1997, Lee and I discovered Sedona, Arizona. We'd never been there before, but we had a chance to trade an unused time-share week there. And now we're hooked on the area!

We go back twice a year . . . .this little southwest style ornament was purchased in Sedona. It reminds us of the warm weather, while we're freezing here in Utah during the winter!

Being a lover of whimsy, I have two of these little "mouse on the moon" ornaments. I actually can't recall where or when I got them, but they've been part of our collection now for quite a number of years.

Yes, I actually did make this little Rudolph counted cross-stitch ornament. I haven't done cross-stitch in years, so this little guy is now around 15 years old, I would guess!

Lee loves just about anything to do with airplanes, and this little wooden airplane ornament was a gift from me to him a couple of years ago. The little propeller and wheels actually move!

This sweet Precious Moments Christmas ornament was a gift a number of years ago from one of my very special long-term friends.

You guessed it! Lee and I purchased this commemorative ornament in 2002 during the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games.

That was, for us, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We didn't attend any of the ticketed events, but we did walk around downtown several times just to experience the ambience and see the street displays. It was SO much fun!

This delicate glass Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is about 6 inches tall, and it was one of our very first ornaments purchased after Lee's and my "glitter ball" era. I remember paying $15.00 (!!!) for this little guy, in the early 80's, in Keystone, Colorado. Yes, it WAS love at first sight . . . . .but I would never pay that much for an ornament again!

I'm particularly fond of folk Santas and whimsical Santas . . . .and this one is a purchase from last September, during one of our trips to Sedona.

This little straw-hat Santa is another newer addition to our collection . . . .can't quite recall where we got him. But he reminds me of the Southwest, so he's on the tree pretty much every year.

And this little ceramic jester/clown struck my fancy many years ago. I think I found him in a local gift shop, and he wasn't intended to be a Christmas tree ornament, but his life's work has been decorating our Christmas tree for at least 15 years.

I believe this ornament might have been one of two or three ornaments that Lee had when we met!

This beautiful brass rocking horse was a gift to Lee and I from my dear sister a number of years ago. The photo doesn't do "him" justice, but there are several layers of embossed metal, for a 3-D effect. I LOVE horses!

And this moose, although I truly have no recollection of where or when we bought him, remains one of our favorite "old friends" from among our Christmas tree ornament collection.

This Christmas ornament holds special meaning for both Lee and me, in that his mother (whom we lost to cancer a year ago) made it herself many years ago, from a kit. She and I shared a love of all kinds of crafting.

This bell (that really rings) is one of my more recent purchases from a local gift store, while I was shopping for other Christmas gifts. I couldn't resist the sparkle!

And here's yet another of my recent purchases (last year or the year before), at an After-Christmas sale in one of my very favorite local novelty and paper shops.

No, this is NOT an ornament . . . . .although I sure do wish I could capture this wonderful greyhound face (of our very special greyhound, Ride) on an ornament!

This photo was taken by Lee in 2005, during the 3 or so minutes that Ride allowed us to leave that Santa hat on her!

I wanted to end my Holiday Musings post with a photo of Ride, who, at age 12 years, will always hold a very special place in Lee's and my hearts.

(Next year, I'll try to include a photo of our other greyhound Harley too, but thus far, we haven't been able to get him to keep either a Santa hat OR reindeer antlers on!)

So, this will be my last Blog entry during the Christmas Season. Tomorrow is another day, and we'll all be looking toward the New Year.

But before the day ends, I want to share with you a lovely quote that I first saw a number of years ago, on a Christmas card. The message particularly resonates for me on Christmas Day.

"Never a Christmas morning,
Never the old year ends,
But someone thinks of someone,
Old days, old times, old friends."
~ Author Unknown ~

Until we meet again . . . . .Wishing you fond thoughts of old days, old friends and old times.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Tour of a Historic Mansion

When Lee and I went to my childhood home of Abilene, Kansas recently to visit my family over Thanksgiving, we took the opportunity to tour a local historic landmark, the Seelye Mansion.

From my childhood memories, I have only a vague recollection of the old Seelye Mansion. What I do recall in my mind's eye is a huge, rather gray and slightly run down looking house on one of the main streets, Buckeye, that runs north and south through Abilene.

Now, many years later, and thanks to a local entrepreneur, this wonderful Georgian styled mansion built in 1905 has been restored to its original beauty, and is now open for tours all throughout the year. You can read more about the Seelye Mansion here.

Lee and I make a trip back to Kansas twice a year, usually in the Spring and in the Fall. Our trips are typically by car, so we try to schdule our road trips from Salt Lake City to Abilene, KS (1,000 miles one way!) when the weather and road conditions are fairly good. Hence, we don't usually travel home during the winter.

This year, however, we'd decided to make a trip to see my family over Thanksgiving, so we flew.

And since we were there later in the year than usual, we were lucky enough to be in town when the Seelye Mansion opened their first round of annual Christmas tours, right after Thanksgiving.

The mansion was all decked out for Christmas, with red bows and wreaths on the front porch, and Christmas decorations and lights scattered throughout the inside of the home.

I wish now that I had taken photos of EVERY room inside this house . . . it truly is amazing.

Lee and I, my sister and our niece took the tour, and it was such fun to see this lovely and unique home in all its splendor, restored so beautifully.

But, despite the fact that I don't have photos of the entire inside of the house, I think you can get a feeling for its ambience!

Here's the main foyer of the mansion, looking from the inside out toward the front yard.

This is the "library" off to the right of the foyer as you enter the house.

To the left of the front entry, here's what I would call the "music room".

This lovely tiled fireplace is in the large central foyer/parlour/sitting room of the home.

The inside of the mansion was decorated with poinsettias and Christmas trees in just about every room

AND, there were also literally HUNDREDS of decorative nutcrackers placed all throughout the mansion, also in honor of Christmas.

(We were told by the woman conducting the tour that this vast collection of nutcrackers was donated a few years ago by a woman who originally discovered the Seelye Mansion while traveling through Kansas with a motorcycle group.)

Here is the main staircase leading from the central foyer upstairs toward the second floor bedrooms and the main "ballroom".

This is one of the three or four antique Victrolas (record players) throughout the house.

Here is one of the second floor hallways leading to a bedroom

Here's are a couple of photos of one of the second floor bedrooms on the front side of the house.

I lost track of how many bedrooms there were . . . but there were LOTS!

I do remember that there were also several bedrooms and a small bath toward the back of the house, for "maid" quarters!)

Back on the main floor again, this photo is looking in at the dining room from the central foyer.

This is at the far end of the dining room, showing a curved wooden stairwell, leading down to the lower level to . . . . . .you'll never guess . . . . .the "bowling alley"!

And yes, HERE is the "bowling alley", located just below the dining room. No doubt, this was quite the novelty in Abilene, Kansas, in its day!

Off to the right is the "storm shelter", a definite necessity in the Midwest!

Here's my dear sis, posing for me in yet another curved wooden staircase going from the back of the basement (where a laundry area, food storage, and safety vault were located) up into the kitchen area of the mansion.

And here's a photo taken in the kitchen, located along the back of the house.

No, this photo isn't sideways! This shot was taken near the kitchen area and inside back door, looking up at the various staircase levels.

As I look at the Seelye Mansion today, right here in the middle of my home town, I find it hard to believe that I hardly noticed it in my growing up years.

But then I guess it's not SO unusual that, in our youth, we don't always notice (or perhaps we take for granted?) much of the uniqueness and beauty of our surroundings.
Who knows, maybe we're just too "busy" with the task of growing up!

In any case, I wanted to share these few photos of my newly "discovered" home town treasure with you, and hope that you enjoy them at least ALMOST as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Until we meet again . . . . .may you never lose your sense of new discovery.