I’m a Follower

Good morning, good morning!

Man do I wish the Patriots had won yesterday. ¬†ūüė¶

Today, for a potentially slow moving Monday for all of us football fans…and those who just love the Sunday that is the Superbowl party…I have an easy little Valentine’s Day project.

But first, for all of the bloggers…and anyone who likes to follow blogs and keep them all organized in one spot, a little word about the new Linky Follow tool that you’ll see top and right in the, well, top of my right sidebar. ¬†ūüôā

I didn’t necessarily fully understand this when I jumped in the pool of blogs, but blogging is a game of numbers.

Here I thought it was game of eloquent writing, well edited photos and thoughtful topics – whatever the focus of your blog. ¬†Believe you me, it for sure is all of these things…plus the numbers.

Before I had a blog I would read bloggers talking about different conferences they attended with seminar topics specifically about not measuring your success in numbers. ¬†I didn’t really think too much about it pre-the space between.

But now that I am IN the space between, literally, I get it.

I started a blog because I thought it might be fun to keep a chronicle of all of the things we do in the spaces we find ourselves in. ¬†When I think back to all of the homes we’ve had and upgrades we’ve made and projects we’ve learned how to do along the way, I’m down right bummed out that many of those things live only in memory. Memory can be so fleeting. ¬†:/

And the response to this here blog, my friends, has been¬†phenomenal. ¬†I didn’t know I would get so excited when I got a new comment, or a new follower, or repin on¬†Pinterest.

Seriously?!? ¬†You like what you see enough to want to get a notification when I do something else (or are a blogger who knows about the numbers)? ¬†How cool is that for this gal? ¬†Wicked fricken’ cool I tell you!

So, when a couple of blogs announced the new Linky Follower tool I jumped right on board. ¬†It’s easy to get signed up and totally free.

How fun to be a part of something from the very first day it was announced to the whole world. Roeshel and Cheri posted all about how to get started and are also hosting a month long Giveaway Bonanza to kick start the new tool.

If you feel so inclined, it would be super cool if you would click to follow me on the new Linky Tool…and be sure to let me know you did because I would like to follow you back.

Click here¬†to follow this blog and view my other followers…

Now, back to my lazy Monday Valentine’s Day heart idea.

Did I mention she’s FREE? ¬†I always have that exact change in my wallet. ¬†ūüėČ

See her snuck in the new gallery wall there? ¬†You may recall the faux zinc letter B was there for the reveal, or maybe not, whatever. ūüôā

I thought a little pop of holiday, and color, would be fun to switch in that spot throughout the year.

For all of the deets on how to make this beauty you have to head over to A Content Housewife where I’m guest posting today, while Lianne is busy moving to Charleston. Hope it’s going well Lianne!

If you missed the nitty gritty details on how this whole wall is hanging from one screw please click here.

To hang the heart, I just hot glued a length of ribbon scrap to the back and duct taped it behind the framed stencils.

To me she’s just the right amount of Valentine’s Day in our otherwise neutral colored wall.
The whole deal took about 3 hours…perfect for a lazy evening.

I happened to be watching the collapse of Kyle Stanley at Torrey Pines. ¬†The poor guy¬†had a 4 stroke lead on the tee at 18…and then nothing went right and he lost the tournament in a playoff.

I would gander to say my afternoon went better than his.  Sorry Kyle!

Now, don’t forget to drop in on Lianne to see some more pics and how I made the rosettes.

And, if you haven’t yet, you can click right here to get signed up to follow me in the new linky tool.

And then, have a fabulous Monday.

Oh, and I’ll be back tomorrow with the announcement of the giveaway winner and my features from the Imagine the Impossibilities Link Party…I am having a seriously hard time narrowing it down…

I am sharing this project here and at:
BNOTP, Home Stories A to Z, Savvy Southern Style, Remodelaholic, and Sugar Bee Crafts.

12 Days of Kindness – Part II

Hello again! ¬†How was your first week of 2012? ¬†Hopefully it’s off to a bangin’ start. ¬†In a good bangin’ way of course. ¬†ūüôā

I am so happy to be continuing my little Kindness Project.  In the last post I shared how I got started on this little journey and what I ended up doing for days 1 Р6 of the 12 Days of Kindness.

Now, let’s get right into days 7 – 12…

Day 7 – I don’t know if it’s the same on every island, but one of the things you have to get used to here in Curacao is grocery shopping. ¬†There are quite a variety of grocery stores, and they’re all different, and they all sell different types of stuff, and they NEVER have the same stuff all the time or even on the same shelves. ¬†So, in the course of a couple weeks I could end up at 4 different grocery stores just to get my usuals.

At one particular store there is a guy who loiters outside. ¬†He’s there all the time, he sometimes offers to help unload your groceries in your car, he collects carts from the parking lot, stuff like that. ¬†But, he’s definitely not employed by the store. ¬†He is just always there, but I don’t believe that he is all there, if you know what I mean. ¬†I’m actually quite curious what his story is, but we don’t speak the same language.

I saw him on my way into the store and decided to buy him a cold drink with my groceries. ¬†(We average a temperature of about 90 degrees daily). ¬†Turns out he was at the car next to mine when I came out (maybe just a little odd…) but I gave him the cold drink and said Bon Pasku (Merry Christmas in the local language, Papiamentu). ¬†He stared me down, looked at the drink like he had never seen it before (it was an Arizona Iced Tea), opened it, took a sip and then drank about the whole thing in one sip and walked away without saying a word. ¬†Who knows, could have been the only thing he had to eat or drink all day…or maybe he lives in a mansion by the water.

Day 8 – I paid for the groceries of the women behind me in line at the grocery store. Since I was just getting a few bottles of wine¬† holiday essentials, I was in the express lane so I knew I wasn’t going to be gifting hundreds of dollars. ¬†But, when she came behind me in line she actually laid her basket down almost in front of me, kind of like she was trying to cut. ¬†And since it was just a few days before Christmas the store was a mad house. Literally, I had to park down the street because there weren’t any spots even on the curb, my usual go to parking spot.

As lady behind me was bullying her way through the express lane I was totally enamored by cute old man in front of me. ¬†He had a perma-grin and seemed to know everyone. That’s when the idea to pay for someone’s groceries hit me. ¬†My instinct was cute old man in front of me, but then I thought lady behind me might just need a little kindness to put a smile on her face. ¬†So I perused her items, to make sure she wasn’t just getting bourbon and cigarettes.

Seriously, I did this and all I was buying was wine.  Hey judgmental, what up?!?  :/

But, she had a random selection of things that made me think she was getting some last minute essentials for Christmas dinner so after my items had been all rung up I offered to pay for her groceries. ¬†Turns out she didn’t understand English so the cashier worked as our translator. ¬†Lady behind me seemed initially a little skeptical but then this cute little grin came on her face and we exchanged a few holiday pleasantries in Papiamentu, the local language here in Curacao. ¬†She was very appreciative and I felt like a million bucks, a win-win I say.

Day 9 – I emailed a friend of mine who’s husband is in the military and asked for her help. ¬†I wanted to send a care package to someone serving our nation and protecting our freedom. ¬†She sent me a name and address and I¬†wrote a little thank you note and plan to put it in the package. ¬†As I write, I have not yet done my care package shopping. ¬†I knew I would be traveling to the US in January and that my money would go farther if I waited to do my care package shopping and mailing. ¬†(I am kind, but definitely not frivolous. Give me an opportunity to save a buck and I will) ¬†Since the idea was intended as part of the Kindness Project I stand strong on it’s inclusion. ¬†And since the project is my idea, and I don’t really have any rules, it’s inclusion is affirmed. ¬†ūüôā

I hate to say that this is something I think of doing every year but just don’t. ¬†I don’t know why. ¬†But it took this little Kindness Project to push me over the care package edge. Sometimes I just need a swift kick in the right direction.

Update:  I am in Maine and did the shopping, included the letter and mailed the package yesterday.  Pics to come.

Day 10 –¬†I made a driftwood Christmas ornament for a friend of mine. ¬†She is actually another American who used to be my neighbor and was part of the same Spanish class I was in. ¬†We aren’t at all the kind of “friends” who would exchange gifts. ¬†But she just had a baby in November and doesn’t have any family here and made a comment that she couldn’t find any good 1st Christmas ornaments. ¬†So I thought it would be a nice gesture to make her one. ¬†And, I knew she liked the driftwood stuff because she not only had bought one of my trees but showed it off to her friend who then also bought one. ¬† (more on the trees here, here and here) Thanks Sarah!

Now she’s definitely not a stranger but unsuspecting all the same so it counts in my book.
Day 11 – I cleared out a hiking trail I frequent regularly with the dogs. ¬†We are getting toward the end of rainy season here and last year around this time I remember hiking down the trail and seeing that it had been widened (after getting VERY overgrown) and thinking that was so nice of whoever did it. ¬†So this year I figured I could do the clearing and hopefully 1) give the person who did it last year a break and 2) inspire someone else who hikes the same trail to think “man, that was really kind of someone to clear the trail for us all”.
Hmmm, who played around with editing and made the photos look totally different colors?  Sorry!

And, am I the only one who thinks it looks like I didn’t really do anything but put my dogs in the way to make the trail look crowded? ¬†Honestly, I did some trimming. ¬†The loose ends that were hanging into the trail, basically anything that I would have had to walk through I cut. ¬†I don’t know why it looks the same in the before an after, I trimmed, I swear. ¬†I’m tempted to go back and take pics of the clippings…but I won’t.

At the end, the four of us ended up here.

Yes, I counted the clippers in our head count. ¬†I wonder if anyone has noticed a difference on the trail since? ¬†Like, more of a difference than you see in the pic. ¬†Let’s hope. ¬†ūüôā

Day 12 – A resolution of kindness everyday. ¬†Now, I had other ideas that I had thought I would accomplish as part of this project and for one reason or another I didn’t. ¬†(More on that in a minute.) ¬†But, I also wasn’t counting a lot of the things I make a habit of doing, that through this little process I realized weren’t necessarily habitual to the general public. Not only did this kindness project make me¬†consistently¬†focus on how my reactions to every single situation would first come from kindness, but it made me realize how much ¬†I enjoy that mind set. ¬†So, on the final day of this project, in celebration of a resolution of kindness everyday, here are a few things I resolve to continue to practice on a habitual basis:

  • open the door for people and let them go first
  • let someone with only a few items go ahead of me in line at a store
  • be a patient and courteous driver
  • make eye contact, wave, smile and say hi to strangers
  • offer to help someone who is in obvious need (can’t reach something from a shelf, carrying too many things at once, tourists wanting a group picture together)

Now, I am so happy with this little project. ¬†Some of you might be thinking I didn’t do anything monumental, and I agree. ¬†Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from myself. But, the bigger picture is that I accomplished what I set out to do and felt great about it. And, I definitely can carry this forward and take it to greater lengths.

Here are a few of my ideas that didn’t come to fruition for some reason:

  • I emailed a friend who lives on this island but was visiting her family in England for 3 weeks to find out at which kennel her dogs were. ¬†I wanted to visit them and walk them while she was gone. ¬†This is something that would mean a lot to me and thought it would have to her as well. ¬†But she never emailed me back so her loss. ¬†ūüėČ I’ll do it for you next time you go Carol.
  • Contribute to someone’s gas tank fill up
  • Pay for someone’s movie ticket
  • Buy someone coffee or in general pay someone’s tab at a restaurant
  • Buy a family a Christmas tree or donate one of my handmade driftwood trees
  • Give someone waiting for the bus a ride. ¬†I’m not convinced this is a safe idea to do with strangers and don’t recommend it. ¬†But, I know a fair amount of people who take public transportation and I thought if I had seen any of them during this project I would stop and offer a ride. ¬†The bus system here is terribly inconsistent and always behind whatever schedule they pretend to keep.

I had pictured this project to be a more spontaneous act of kindness so I was happy with the challenge of doing something kind every time I was out instead of going out specifically to do something kind. ¬†Make sense? ¬†Not that there’s anything wrong with going out specifically to do something kind. ¬†Obviously. ¬†ūüôā

According to the end all and be all of information…Wikipedia, the definition of a Random act of Kindness is:

a selfless act performed by a person or people wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual person or people.

In this respect I feel ultimately successful in my 12 Days of Kindness journey.

So, tell me, do you practice random acts of kindness? ¬†Are you a pay it forward kind of person? ¬†Do you have specific go-to kindness moves I need to know about? ¬†Are you a “smile, wave and say hi” or a “get out of my way, I’m just going through my day” kind of gal?

Here’s to a Kind 2012 for us all.

I am sharing this project here, here, here and here. Check ‚Äėem out!

12 Days of Kindness

Hope the first few days of the new year have been good to you!

Don’t you just love the new year? ¬†I do. ¬†Fresh starts, new beginnings, it’s like a clean slate of opportunity that I always hope to make the most of. ¬†I don’t make any resolutions or anything like that. ¬†I just like the feeling of starting with a whole year ahead of me and endless possibilities to live a wonderful life. Like turning to a fresh, empty sheet of paper that I can fill with whatever my little heart desires. ¬†Or laying in bed with crisp clean sheets, I heart clean sheets. ¬†Bliss!

Before the clock turned to 2012 I literally woke up in the middle of the night with this idea. ¬†And it just made me smile. ¬†ūüôā

Not the idea for the sign, the idea for a 12 Days of Kindness project.

I had seen all of the great advent calendars people were making in the beginning of December. But, with just Joel and I in the house with the dogs, a Christmas countdown felt kind of … silly. ¬†I mean, we already know how to count, and read a calendar, and eat holiday treats whenever we want, so the whole advent countdown just wasn’t suited for us.

But a countdown of kindness? ¬†Heck yeah! ¬†And sometimes genuine kindness really can’t be planned. ¬†So I skipped the whole calendar with itemized acts of kindness on each day. My goal was to do something kind for some unexpected¬†victim¬†person at least once a day until Christmas. ¬†Is there really any better way to celebrate the spirit of the season?

And it just so happened to be the night of December 11th so I had about 12 days until Christmas.  What fun!

Seriously, I tell ya, this little idea had me smiling for the rest of the month.  Every time I was out and about I was plotting kindness, I was scoping out unsuspecting souls who might become a beneficiary of the daily act.  What a great way to interact with the world everyday.  I am definitely keeping this outlook going, it just makes my time in the world happy, and focused on kindness All. The. Time.  Smile.

It seemed so appropriate to post about it at the first of the year. ¬†I’m getting out of my bed of clean sheets, flipping my page in my book to the next which is empty with possibility and starting with the ultimate of positive messages. ¬†Smile (again)!

Now, I am notoriously frugal so I didn’t want everything to involve money. ¬†But, given said frugality, I knew kind financial gestures would be extra painful meaningful. ¬†ūüėČ

Also, I practice kindness regularly, I mean, we have this sign in our living room.  I made it out of driftwood, shells and coral over a year ago.

So, I really wasn’t sure how my 12 Days of Kindness would turn out, but here is what I came up with.

Day 1 – On this little island¬†the baggers (not beggers) at the grocery store are abundant. ¬†They aren’t actually paid employees of the store, they are working for tips and trying to make a living. I don’t normally need any help (unless I’m stocking up on wine) since I only shop for two people and will save a few guilders (currency in Curacao) whenever I can. ¬†But on this day I took the help, had a pleasant conversation with the nice young man and gave him 5 times the amount he would have expected.

Now, he quickly turned to hustle back into the store with his money. ¬†I’m sure he was thinking “silly tourist, probably doesn’t know how much she gave me”. ¬†And I was left thinking, what a waste of kindness. ¬†Uhhh, really…is kindness ever a waste?

This little idea might just teach me a few lessons I need to learn.

Day 1 of Project Kindness off to a bit of a rocky start. ¬†But I’m not easily deterred.

Day 2 – I was at the gym in the morning (I workout, as LMFAO says) doing calf raises and I thought of a good friend of mine from college who had been quick to point out our sophomore year when I had lost all calf muscle definition. ¬†We were close enough that I could know he was right without wanting to suffocate him in any inhumane way. ¬†But, that little exchange has led me to think of him every. single. time. I’ve work out my calves since then. ¬†At the time, we were living in Switzerland for an exchange program and I didn’t really do anything but drink beer and eat Swiss chocolate¬†athletic. ¬†Jay was a very close friend of mine for exactly one year and for some reason we just didn’t keep it going.

Through the magic of Facebook we are in touch today. ¬†For as much as commenting on one’s status constitutes being in touch. ¬†ūüôā

Without necessarily thinking “this is an act of kindness” I posted on Jay’s wall that day just to tell him what had happened that morning at the gym. ¬†And he just so happened to comment back.
Sometimes telling someone the thought of them makes you smile is the kindest thing you can do.

Day 3 – I called someone who I knew was going through a very difficult time, whom I had been thinking about a lot and just hadn’t reached out to be of support. ¬†I believe that showing someone genuine, unconditional love and support in times of challenge is a gift. Sometimes our own thoughts or feelings can get in the way, our opinions or beliefs can prevent us from giving the support we may want if we were in such a situation. ¬†We make excuses and time passes and we miss our chance to make a difference. ¬†I am of the opinion that we all get a finite number of opportunities in our life to make a grand gesture of unconditional love to those important in our lives. ¬†I am glad that I didn’t miss this one.

Day 4 – I didn’t punch my neighbor. ¬†Now you’re probably thinking, this is just normal adult behavior and shouldn’t really be considered an act of kindness. Well, here’s the deal. Our new neighbor, who moved into the house across the street about 3 months ago has 5 dogs. ¬†Now, if you have been following along, you know I am a dog lover. ¬†Like crazy. ¬†I tear up at the Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA commercials, I have had dogs all of my life, I feel more connected to my dogs than most humans I know. ¬†I. AM. DOG. LOVER! ¬†(Picture me swinging from trees, pounding me chest, talking like Tarzan.)

But, new neighbor’s dogs can jump her fence and get out of her yard. ¬†That in itself is bearable. ¬†They even often instigate our dogs by lunging out our fence while barking. ¬†Also for the most part bearable, my girls are too old for such puppy games most of the time. BUT, the week before Project Kindness began, as the girls and I were leaving our yard for our evening (leash bound) walk around the hood 2 of new neighbor’s dogs jumped her fence and attacked my dogs. ¬†Now, now, settle down. ¬†There was no blood. ¬†It was more of an “I’m in charge of this street” attack than an “I am going to kill you” attack. ¬†But, (Really, does every sentence need to start with but?) facts are facts, there was biting by new neighbor’s dogs and submission by my dogs, and you, new neighbor, need to find a way to keep those beasts in your yard.

She wasn’t home at the time so I couldn’t address it with her. ¬†It festered for a week while I talked myself on and off the ledge of punching giving new neighbor a piece of my mind. But, the truth is, I am a believer in second chances. ¬†I like to think that when people are educated on a situation they can make a positive impact on, if given the opportunity, they will make said impact. ¬†Sooooo, when the girls and I were leaving for our evening walk on Day 3 and new neighbor’s dogs jumped the fenced and tried to play King of the Street while I yelled “NO” as loud as I could over and over while trying to prevent my dogs from strangling themselves as they were trying to hide behind our Jeep while still on their leashes and new neighbor scrambled frantically to get a grip of herself and her pets I approached the situation with kindness. ¬†We discussed her covering this one spot that they can escape the yard. ¬†I mentioned the previous attack and explained that I was worried about the well being of all dogs involved, it’s never safe to have dogs running unattended near streets, especially in areas where there are a lot of unfamiliar dogs. ¬†I hoped thought we were on the same page.

So, when day 4 came around and we had a repeat of day 3 and all I wanted to do was deck the old hag in the kisser and instead I said “Did you have any luck getting the new piece of fencing to cover that spot where they jump out?” I was feeling very kind! With a side of anxiety and high blood pressure.

I mean who wants an adversarial relationship with their neighbors?

To my delight when I was heading out in the morning of day 5 new neighbor was attaching new, higher fencing around her trouble spots and apologized profusely and offered to give me a free massage for all of my trouble (she is a¬†masseuse). ¬†Now, there won’t be any massaging going on, but I am happy that we will be able to move past this awkward situation without any ill will.

Big score for Kindness!!!

Day 5 РI baked cupcakes and, along with some store bought holiday cookies, brought them to some great people.  They are staff at a place I frequent A LOT and they are always smiling, hospitable and just down right awesome!  It felt great to do something so simple and unexpected and give them all a smile.  Honestly, I smiled the whole time I was baking and frosting just knowing how much these guys would enjoy them.

These kindness smiles are contagious. ¬†ūüôā

Day 6 – I put this note in my neighbor’s mailbox. ¬†No, not the new neighbor, we’re not exactly there yet. ¬†ūüėČ

Yes, I asked for good penmanship and the ability to spell neighbor right on the first try for Christmas, no luck.  :/

This is a neighbor that I have never really met. ¬†We wave from a distance and smile as we pass, he is an adorable man probably old enough to be my grandfather. ¬†I don’t know if he lives with anyone, or has any other family close by. ¬†I just loved the idea of giving an anonymous card thanking him for being so pleasant. ¬†I hope it made him smile and believe the world would be a nicer place if we all just waved and smiled when we don’t have to.

So, the first half of Project Kindness is complete and I am just down right In. Love. with this process. ¬†It is so enlightening to be constantly thinking of how I can be kind to people that won’t necessarily expect it. ¬†Now, clearly, I’m not pulling off any Oprah’s Favorite Things type of kindness, but is there really any limit to what amount of kindness is enough?

How would our daily interactions with strangers differ if we always approached them with kindness? ¬†How happier would we all be if we were always focused on creating happiness? I don’t know, but it sure seems worth a try.

Project Kindness days 7-12 coming soon to a theater blog post near you.

I am sharing this project here, here, here and here. Check ém out!

Just a Little Touch of Christmas Decor

Now, I think I’ve mentioned before that we live in a rental house that is slightly bigger than a bread box. ¬†No?!? ¬†Which really is awesome when it comes time for cleaning … or searching for something my husband I can’t find. ¬†(I mean there are only so many spots he can put the clothes he had on yesterday. ¬†Which is ALWAYS where said lost item is.)

It’s also awesome when it comes to accessorizing, especially with some holiday decor.

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers talking about how they’re going simple this year. ¬†Understated and inexpensive. ¬†I would say this is my decorating strategy all day everyday. ¬†And that is even more exaggerated with such a small space. ¬†Where exactly am I going to store bunches of holiday decorations in the off season?

I’ll have to share some of our creative storage solutions with you sometime. ¬†Can you say construction doors turned walk in closet shelving? ¬†ūüôā

So, in addition to our driftwood Christmas tree, I made just a few upgrades.

Just ignore all the cords, but hopefully the Charlie Brown Christmas on tv makes you smile. ¬†ūüôā

Those tall lit things on the right are 3 bamboo poles that we keep out all year. ¬†We picked them up at a beach here in Curacao,¬†I cleaned ’em up and coated them with clear varnish.

For Christmas, I just strung them with lights and using really small gold clothes pins (that I also used to make photo/place card holders here) I displayed Christmas cards and photo cards from years past.  For the record we have one friend on it enough to get a card here in time.  Love the card Sue!
An easy and festive card display.  I like to think it overpowers the blank piece of plywood hanging above the tv.

What, you didn’t notice it? ¬†Ok, pretend I didn’t mention it. ¬†ūüėČ

And then I did just a little somethin’ on a side table.

I little ribbon on a twig. A few baubles in an apothecary jar.
And a few baubles mixed with coral and shells under a cloche.

For this I actually cheated a bit and wrapped a couple of tennis balls in a gold ribbon to take up space in the middle. ¬†I turned the cloche upside down, lined the top (bottom when upside down, obviously!) with items, nestled the ribbon wrapped tennis balls in the middle and then filled in the rest. ¬†I used the tissue paper to just make sure everything was nice and snug so when I flipped it all over on the white plate it wouldn’t shift too much.

Easy little touches of coastal Christmas.  And since I already had all of the items, totally free.  My favorite word!

I had bought the cloche and apothecary jar a couple of years ago on super duper discount when a home improvement store was preparing to close down and I bought the gold and white trees and baubles last year also at about 90% off after tropical storm Tomas hit the island and forced a lot of shops into big sales.  The coral, shells and even the twig were all picked up along the way at different beaches.

And this cute little pic Joel took of our wedding rings with a lobster after our wedding in Maine is just the perfect little additional touch of red.

When I posted about the decorated driftwood tree I didn’t wait and take any night pics. Well, here she is, in all of her tea lit glory.
You might notice she’s just a wee bit different than when I first posted about her with all of my fun DIY ornaments. ¬†I set up a table at a small Christmas Bazaar recently and was fortunate enough to sell a lot of my creations. ¬†All of the cutie sea urchin snow(wo)men and glittered shells and even the book page star and red wooden tree topper have found new homes for the holidays. ¬†So, I just added a few little miniature mercury glass ornaments we had and one clear bauble with sand in it we had received as a gift last year.

I still love her. ¬†ūüôā

It’s not much, and it’s not monumental, but it’s festive. ¬†And it’s in perfect scale with our little space, just the right amount Christmas up in here.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not express my heart felt wishes to you all to enjoy this final week before Christmas and the rest that 2011 has to offer us.  Relish in the true spirit of the holiday.  Cherish the moments with the ones you love.  Enjoy the small stuff.  Sleep in if you can, have an extra cup of coffee, eat cake for dinner, give extra hugs.

Do whatever it is that makes your heart sing, it is the holiday season, the perfect excuse to be contentedly happy all of the time for no other reason than we are living the life we were meant to live.

Here’s wishing Happiness to all!!

I am sharing these decorations here, here, here and here. Check ém out!

Homemade Christmas Tree Finale

Hey hey! ¬†How is everyone’s holiday prep going? ¬†I am LOVING the holiday season this year but have to admit, I am ready to be done making ornaments and trees and move onto some other things. ¬†I’m feeling just a little Christmas ornament crafted out, if you know what I mean.

But, first I have to sincerely thank the Mega Crafty Christmas Tree Challenge for kick starting me into the holiday spirit this year.  With a budget of $20 we were challenged to decorate a tree at least 4 feet high and this challenge was the perfect way for me to get a little Christmas going up in here.

I will recap everything I’ve made at the end of this post, but I want to first show you my scrap tree topper.

In my very first blog post evah I explained how I make Driftwood Christmas Trees and I was able to use little pieces of scrap 1/4 inch wooden dowels left over from that project to make this.
I cut 10 segments of the dowel about the same length and spray painted them red. ¬†I first wanted to make it so the ends of the dowels overlapped and were exposed and the twine was used to connect the segments in a rustic way. ¬†But to say I had some trouble with that strategy would be an understatement. ¬†I don’t think the dowel segments were long enough to overlap, and I kind of lost my way on the way to making a star shape…
Uhhh, that’s going to be a star, right?!? ¬†And yes, I started this project the same night I made the beaded star snowflake. ¬†Somethings just take longer to come together, you know?

It was at this point that I unwrapped all the twine and decided I might have better luck hot gluing each of the points together and then just covering the glue with twine for effect. So, I glued the star shape together right before I went to bed,
and woke up to this.
Isn’t she cute? ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Luckily, (for her and the star) she hadn’t laid on it until the glue was dry so with a little extra glue support I was ready to re-wrap the twine.
In the end, it all worked out. ¬†I love that it’s an open star so it doesn’t totally overpower the whole top of the tree. ¬†The driftwood tree peaks through and even a little glittered sea shell.

And here’s how she looks all put together.
Everything on the tree (including the tree) is either made by nature or handmade by me, except for the lighting. ¬†That statement makes me happy. ¬†ūüôā

Now for a little trip down handmade Christmas tree lane…

I first went on a little “shopping spree” to gather supplies and came home with things like this,
and explained the whole experience here. ¬†$0 out of the budget, $20 remaining. ¬†ūüôā

While I pondered ideas on what to do with all this goodness I got distracted one night while organizing and made one of my favorite ornaments out of a few cards we had gotten at our wedding, I posted about it here.  This was the first time that I used the silver glitter that I had bought specifically for this challenge for Nafl 6.35 which equals $3.57. $16.43 remaining in the budget.
Then one day when I was working out on our patio a little bird’s nest literally blew right up to me so she found her way onto our tree, more on that here. ¬† $0 out of budget, still $16.43 remaining.
Continuing to use some of the sea urchins I had found at the shore I made some cutie patootie snow(wo)men here.  This was the first project that I used the table salt and white paint.  The salt cost me Nafl 1.46 which is $0.82, and the white paint was Nafl 2.70, $1.52. Bringing my remaining budget down to $14.09.
I then played around with a few ideas that turned into my One Hit Wonders, a beaded snowflake, book page star and light bulb turned ornament.  No budget used for any of these guys.  Booyah!
Then the girls got a little tree representation with these dog bone ornaments made from a mushed up egg carton.  Again, $0 spent on these.  Still $14.09 remaining.  Woop woop!
After multiple attempts I finally came up with some salt dough starfish that were tree worthy. ¬†You can read all about the troubles I had here. ¬†I used the salt, white paint and glitter again here, but nothing new out of the budget. ¬†I’m noticing a trend. ¬†ūüôā

The last ornaments I made were beglittered sea shells and baubles, I really love the combination of natural element and sparkly glitter.  More on these here.

I then accessorized the tree with some sea glass and white and green sea urchins just scattered here and there.

Clearly this is not a traditional tree and stringing traditional lights doesn’t really work with the driftwood design. ¬†With your usual pine tree you lose the green light wire in the tree when it is strung. ¬†But, with the driftwood the wire just sticks out like a sore thumb, so I used tea lights. ¬†They are just the right touch of light without all the stringing mess.

Now I don’t know exactly how I am supposed to calculate the cost of the items I had previously purchased and used in making some of the ornaments. My “ingredients” list includes:

    1. black paint, red rope ribbon, raffia and gold ribbon scraps for the Sea Urchin Snow(wo)men
    2. beads, wire, silver ribbon scrap and red wrapping ribbon for the One Hit Wonders
    3. red paint and red wrapping ribbon for the Dog Bone Ornaments, Salt Dough Starfish and Glittered Shells
    4. red wrapping ribbon and raffia for the scratched bauble fix.
    5. red paint and twine for the Star Tree Topper
    6. tea lights for lighting purchased for the tree but lighting doesn’t count in the budget, right?!?

Yes, I will haggle with anyone over pricing. ¬†ūüėČ

Update: ¬†I have to add the old baubles used for number 4 to the ingredients list. ¬†Duh! How do you fix an old bauble without actually using the bauble? ¬†Sometimes the brain just doesn’t connect all the dots, you know.

Truth be told, the cost of the Driftwood Christmas Tree was Nafl 4.90, $2.75 and the tea lights cost Nafl 7.00, $3.93. ¬†So, if you add that to the total spent on supplies this year my total total spent was $12.59 (including tree and lighting). ¬†That leaves $7.41 left to allocate to all of the scraps that I ended up using. ¬†And, I would argue, that if you look back at the original price I paid for the items and amortize it over the life of said item and calculate depreciation…

Woah! ¬†That’s even a little much for me, but you get what I’m sayin’, no?

I’m under budget, I just don’t know by how much. ¬†ūüôā

Now, I really did think I would make a lot more different ornaments.

I thought I might try to make something like this map pine cone ornament that Barb over at Turtles and Tails made. ¬†I could use a Curacao map and I’m from Maine. ¬†A Curacao map pine cone ornament, seriously, how appropriate is that for me?!? ¬†Love the idea, maybe someday.
And I had all of our Christmas cards out from last year. ¬†I didn’t want to do exactly what I did with the wedding cards¬†and I just never got the idea that got me crafting.In recent years I have cut the pretty pictures from each card and used them as gift tags. If I don’t come up with a creative ornament idea I can always do that again.
I pulled all of the petals off of a red rose I got here¬†and let them dry. ¬†I could make some kind of our ornament out of them, right?!? ¬†I suffered from a little crafter’s block here too. ¬†:/
Now, you know I’m going to get the perfect idea in like March. Isn’t that how it works? Ohhh, maybe if it’s February it could turn into a Valentine’s Day idea. ¬†One can hope. ūüôā

And just because, here’s another picture of our little homemade driftwood coastal Christmas tree and the projects I actually DID accomplish.
I love how it turned out. ¬†I’m glad we have a tree representative of where we are in the world and where we are in our lives. ¬†I do think there are plenty of ornaments on the tree as is, it’s nice to give the driftwood tree itself some room to shine. ¬†And I’ve had a blast gettin’ Christmas crafty and again can’t thank Meg at¬†Mega Crafty enough for giving me the Christmas kick in the butt. I am definitely in the holiday spirit and heading out to spread some cheer.

So, do you have all your holiday deco up? Have you been done forever already? Waiting until the 24th? Either way, I hope you’re loving every minute of it. Happy Holidays everybody!! ¬†ūüôā

I am sharing this project here, here, here and here. Check ém out!

Glitter Makes Everything Better

I made some of the easiest coastal Christmas ornaments yet.
A few weekends ago when I went on my little shore excursion, I came home with a random collection of seaness.  I posted about the adventure here.

I even found a fully intact light bulb that I turned into an ornament here.

And used some sea urchins to make super cute snow(wo)men ornaments here.

For all of the little shells I was left with I went with a super simple upgrade.  Drill a hole, glue on some glitter, add a red ribbon hanger and voila.


Now, the drilling was not fool proof.  There were quite a few shell (and even one drill bit) casualties in the process.  I ended up using a drill bit intended for use drilling concrete.  It worked to get through the shells, but sometimes the little suckers still just fell apart.

After drilling I brushed glue around the edge of the shells and just coated it with glitter.

Super simple.  And just the right amount of bling to turn basic natural items into ornaments for our rustic little coastal Christmas tree.

I also took a few shells that weren’t the pretty white color and painted them red and beglittered them for a few more coastal Christmas touches.
While doing this process I also figured I could use the glue and glitter to cover up some bauble blemishes.
Have you guys all seen the beautiful ornaments that Miss Mustard Seed has made? Including this one…
I ended up with a similar result on my green baubles, and the glitter covered up all the scratches that had been there.  Score!

I also glittered the top piece that holds the hook in because it was gold and my glitter was silver.  I just coated it with glue and let the glitter set.

All of these items were so simple it’s hard to even call it a project. ¬†The glittered green baubles have my favorite trait of intentional¬†imperfection¬†and I always love when I can use natural elements in my decor.

I also played around with using sand as “glitter”. ¬†I did it here with my salt dough starfish and I also used it on some silver baubles because it actually showed up better than silver glitter. I used the same glue and glitter technique as with the green ones and then I also created some holly on the beach baubles.

Hello reflection photography! ¬†ūüėČ

The silver baubles actually started as scratched green baubles. ¬†I tried to cover one with torn book page pieces but it didn’t work out that great. ¬†And the glue/water mixture took a lot of the green covering off of the bauble. ¬†So, I just used water to get the rest off, and actually “clean” off all the green from a few others. ¬†That would have been an even easier upgrade, to just leave them plain silver.

TIP!!!  Keep that in mind if you find scarred baubles at discount shops or yard sales.  You could either use the glue glitter technique or maybe even just wash off the entire scratched finish to unveil a beautiful new bauble.  How easy is that?

So, what do you think of the creations? ¬†Do you like the addition of the glitter to the shells or just prefer them au natural? ¬†Do you think it’s the right amount of bling or just tacky? What about the sand as glitter?

I am sharing this project here, here, here and here. Check ém out!

Holy Humidity Batman!

It’s gettin’ hot in here. ¬†Which isn’t good for these guys.

Well, to be honest, it’s always hot in here. ¬†We are only 12 degrees from the equator here on this little island. ¬†But it’s this time of year that gets pretty humid. ¬†We call it rainy season, some of you others know it as winter. ¬†ūüėČ

I actually don’t mind the rain, it often brings down the temp and honestly, who needs sun every. single. day?

But, the down side is the humidity, you can just feel the moisture. ¬†And it definitely took it’s toll on my salt dough starfish.

I actually didn’t take any pictures of the destruction in action. ¬†I was just so irritated that my ornaments were literally swelling and falling off my tree. ¬†Man that Christmas spirit can be fleeting. ¬†:/

I got the salt dough starfish ornament idea from the Desperate Craft Wives who had made a starfish garland out of salt dough for a nautical inspired bedroom. ¬†Didn’t theirs turn out so great. ¬†Kinda makes all you coastal lovers want to try it, right?!?! ¬†Super easy, 3 ingredients, ¬†bake for a few hours and enjoy.

Not so fast.

1st – These are the temp options I have on our gas stove.
I went all the way to the Рsign and the little suckers still looked like this after about 20 minutes.  Drats!
Take 2 – I baked for a very short period of time. ¬†The ornaments didn’t burn, they weren’t 100% dry (clearly!), but I figured they’d do. ¬†Wrong! ¬†They weren’t really the right color so I painted each one, added a ribbon hanger and they were down right adorable on the tree. Just the right look for our little coastal Christmas tree.

Until the other night when I came home to one that had fallen and noticed the others all bloated. ¬†Boo! ¬†Now, I had bought the salt and white paint specifically for this ornament as part of the Mega Crafty Christmas Tree challenge and I’ll be darned if I’m going to spend money and have it not work out for me.

So, 3 strikes and I’m out – Well, I’m out of new ideas but luckily I think this third time around the ornaments will at least last until Christmas if I keep baking them for an additional 30 minutes every few days¬†are keepers. ¬†I used our trusty little toaster oven. Yep, it came here as part of our move essentials list and has proven over and over it is essential to us. ¬†Mostly for garlic cheesy bread. ¬†Yum!

I made a new set of the little bastards starfish.  I actually was able to make rounds 1, 2 and 3 all with the recipe of 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 3/4 Р1 cup of water.  After each round I wrapped the remaining dough in wax paper in a plastic bag and stored it in the fridge.  This final round I baked for about 2 1/2 hours on 225.  Nice and hard, but unfortunately yellow.
As you can see, my final shapes also changed a little bit along the way.  The upside to having 3 go rounds is that I got to perfect my technique a bit.  My personal salt dough starfish tips are:

  • Make a thicker, smaller in diameter ball of dough than you think you’ll need. ¬†As you cut out the starfish shape and even out each leg (?) the starfish will thin out and expand without you really trying. ¬†I wanted mine about 1.5 – 2 inches tall so my ball o’dough started at a little smaller than a quarter.
  • If your leg sections are unequal when you cut them, they will be unequal when your starfish shape is made. ¬†If that’s not what you want trim them before you make your shape to avoid frustration after.
  • Add less water to the dough than you think. ¬†My moisture issues have been clearly itemized.
  • Pointy leg ends and shallower veins and dots look more real in my opinion. ¬†Check out the pics above compared to this 3rd round pics.
  • A knife worked best for me to make the veins and an uncooked piece of spaghetti worked great for the dots (?) and to make the hole for the hanger.

When all was said and done I decided to get a little more creative with my 3rd and final round.  I actually used a combination of beach sand, silver glitter and white and red paint to make these final starfish.

In the end, I love the look. ¬†I probably won’t try something like this again unless we move to a drier climate, but I do recommend the project. ¬†It’s cost effective and down right cute. I love the garland idea, and have recently seen all different size and shapes of salt dough ornaments out there. ¬†Maybe not worth ALL the effort I had to put into it, but a great addition to our 2011 tree.

What do you think?  Any suggestions on how I could have avoided all my trouble?  Were they worth the effort?  Do you have any favorite salt dough shapes or uses?  Are you in the Christmas spirit yet?  Over all the Christmas ornament posts?  Looking forward to the new year?

I am sharing this project here, here, here and here. Check ém out!

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