Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My First and Best Giveaway for Christmas!

I know it sounds like a cliche, but I think I love giving gifts more than getting them, especially when the gifts I'm giving are ones that I created especially for that person.  Speaking of giving gifts, it has been a while since I had my own giveaway.  I have enjoyed featuring other artists and their giveaways during the past year, but now it's my turn.  It has been awhile for me, so I figure I had better do it up big, just in time for the start of the Christmas shopping.  So ....

You'll have one week to enter a comment here.  Just tell me what you enjoy most about the holiday season. And it doesn't have to be Christmas.  Whatever you celebrate - it can be Hanukkah or Kwanza - heck, it can even be Festivus!

As always, you can enter extra comments if (1) you visit my morebrightideas shop and come back here to tell me your favorite(s),** (2) you sign up to follow (or already follow) this blog, (3) you sign up to follow (or already follow) my Facebook page.  Please be sure they are separate comments; they won't be counted otherwise.

**- I really would like your feedback.

So ... what's the giveaway?? I will use random number generator to pick FIVE comments.

The FIRST name drawn will receive a $40 credit (with free shipping) for any one item or combination of items totaling up to no more than $40 in my morebrightideas shop.

I'll then draw FOUR more names, and each person will receive a secret coupon code entitling them to 50% off (not including shipping) of any one item in my morebrightideas shop.

I'll do the drawing some time after noon EST on:
 
Tuesday, December 6

Good luck!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Today's the Day!

CYBER MONDAY!




Until midnight (EST) tonight, I'm offering 15% off any purchases in either one or both of my shops:



Insert code: THANKS

And be sure to stop back here. I'm still working on it, but sometime this week I'm going to be offering a special giveaway here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spammers Begone!

Note to my followers:
A while back I removed the word verification requirement for comments to make it easier for you to comment.  However, since then there's been a significant increase in spam posts on my blog.  So far Google has caught most of them, but it makes me a little nervous that something might slip through and I might pick up a virus of something.  So for the time being, word verification is back on.  So sorry! 

On a similar subject, a mystery.  A blog that I follow has disappeared from my Google Reader even though I'm still shown on their blog as a follower.  Actually, it's still there in Reader, but it's not updating  new posts since mid-October.   Does anyone know how I can get it back? Or where I can get some advice?  In the past I haven't had much luck trying to contact Google directly.  Thanks!

What a Busy Weekend!

No, no, no - I'm not out shopping at the malls.  Do not, do not like the embarrassing spectacle of Black Friday. I can't think of anything I want that badly that I would put myself in the middle of that unruly mob!  I don't have a lot of gifts to give; I have no husband or children, and my extended family is HUGE, so we decided long ago to exchange names rather than trying to give gifts to a lot of people and bankrupting ourselves in the process.  Besides, I have always created the personal gifts I give to friends and family.  I'm very grateful that I have the talent to do that, and everyone seems to appreciate those gifts so much more than a big-box-store-something.

I'm busy around the house.  I relaxed on Thanksgiving day, and yesterday I did some "weatherproofing" around the house and cleaned out my workroom.  I could barely turn around in there with all the mess!  I also made a few small Etsy sales yesterday, so I'll be packing and shipping those today.  I sure hope I have a lot of sales over the next few weeks - I am totally out of room to store the products I have listed in my More Bright Ideas shop.

Here's my latest listing:

Today is decorating day and it's a test. For years I put up a 5-1/2' artificial Christmas tree.  But it has become more and more of a chore for me (you know, my bad back) to drag everything up from the dungeon basement, put it together and decorate. Even worse is taking it down! Many times I have had to get my teen nephews over here to help me out.  Last week I spontaneously picked up a 3' tabletop tree so I'm going to see how that works out.  I love doing holiday decorating, but since I no longer host my family Christmas party every year I have been cutting back little by little on my former decorating extravaganzas.  Things change ....

Well, it's not going to get done until I get off the computer!  Before I go, here's a reminder:

Through midnight on Cyber Monday, I'm offering 15% off any purchases in either one or both of my shops:


Insert code: THANKS

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Prayer


I wrote this prayer for one of our family Thanksgiving dinners a few years ago.  Feel free to borrow it for your grace prayer tomorrow if you like. And accept my sincere wishes to you and yours for a loving, happy, grateful Thanksgiving.

Come, our thankful families, come.  Offer grace for the bounty of goodness.  Raise the song of harvest home, the glass of good cheer, the heart overflowing with joy.  We have so much for which to be thankful.  So much about which to smile, so much to share.  So much, that in this time of uncertainty and loss, we can embrace a season of relinquishment.  All we have is all we need.

O beloved Lord, truly you have given us so much, an extravagance of riches.  Give us, we pray, one thing more.  The gift of grateful hearts.    Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Shop Local

Do you know what that is? It's a bandwagon.  I figured it was time for me to jump on!  (Not. There's a lion in that cage ...)


Starting immediately and continuing through midnight on Cyber Monday, I'm offering 15% off any purchases in either one or both of my shops:


Insert code: THANKS
 And whatever you do during this shopping season, please consider buying local and support small and independent businesses in your area.  For those of you anywhere in Michigan I think I can be considered "local."  :o) 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving and Contemplation

November. The month of falling temperatures and brooding skies. The month of Thanksgiving.  Most of us take time now to snuggle down and think about what we are thankful for in our lives.  I find myself contemplating, at odd times of day, about all that I'm thankful for in my life. 

I have written before about being most grateful for that wonderful surgeon who put my wounded spine back together, giving me new energy and new life. 

I'm always grateful for my large, boisterous, never-a-dull-moment extended family. 

I'm grateful that friends and family often come to me for advice or help when they need it.


I'm grateful for whatever artistic talent I have. 

I'm grateful that I have an insatiable curiosity to know. As much as I can. Everything.

And I'm grateful for all of you that I have "met" online (and sometimes in person) through this blog and through my online shops.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

Here's some thoughts and images for contemplation.




A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand.  I think, I too, have known autumn too long.  ~e.e. cummings


   This day and your life ... are God's gift to you, so give thanks and be joyful always!   - Anon

 

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.  For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.  ~Edwin Way Teale



Whatever we are waiting for - peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance - it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. 
-Sarah Ban Breathnach


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Sad Reality of Sweatshops and Child Labor

 My friend, Mitzi has written a great post on her blog, Mitzi's Miscellany, about where our products come from and what we as artists and crafters can do to alleviate the situation in our own lives, at least.

Mitzi's done a lot of research - it's an extensive post with lots of links but well worth it as an eye-opener. Take a look:
 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Ran Down the Stairs Today

I ran down the stairs today.

I did it without even thinking. 

Big deal, you say.  Well, if you have been around my blog for awhile, you'll remember that I have had an ongoing back problem with multiple surgeries over the past 10 years.  Last March I spent almost a month in St. Louis where all the messy hardware from previous surgeries was removed and replaced correctly.  I now have more metal and screws in my back than Ace Hardware has! 

I'm now in my 8th month of recuperation and enjoy small victories every day. The stairs have been an accurate measure of my progress. When I first came home it was all I could do to get up the stairs, one at a time, holding on to the railing for dear life. For the longest time I was totally out of breath by the time I reached the top of a very short staircase. (I blamed it on altitude!)  As time has gone on it gets better, but until very recently I was still holding on and taking one stair at a time.

This November, the month of Thanksgiving, I cannot express how thankful I am for that compassionate surgeon who takes on the worst surgical cases and more often than not creates miracles.  He sure did with me.  Friends and family are amazed at how completely different I now look.  I never realized how much the pain and discomfort in my back was reflected in my face and indeed in my entire appearance.  (I'm loving all the compliments, by the way!)

So ... running down the stairs WAS a big deal for me.  It's amazing what we take for granted.  Until we lose it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weddings and Hospitals and Visitors, Oh My!

Just got through a busy weekend.  My niece married her sweetheart on Friday, 11-11-11.  You can bet her husband will never forget their anniversary!
 We had out of town guests for the wedding; my Wisconsin sister stayed with me from Wednesday through Monday. At the same time, my brother has been in the hospital for almost two weeks now.  He had heart surgery and has had a few complications since.  He was supposed to have been released over the weekend, which caused us to do a fair amount of jockeying around with schedules, since the out of town visitors wanted to visit him as well.  Everything worked out well in the end and my niece and her new husband are now on their honeymoon somewhere in Florida. 

Me? I'm feeling the backlog effect of taking basically six days off.  Every year I vow to work on holiday products much earlier, and every year I find myself rushing to get everything done. I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week.  I never learn! 

How are you doing this year? Have you hit the panic button yet? Or are you so super organized that you're already sitting back, relaxing and drinking hot chocolate?

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Awe-Full" Fall Color

I don't know whether the fall color in my neck of the woods is especially spectacular this year, or whether I'm just paying more attention.  But I have experienced several breath-taking moments as I walked or drove through the neighborhoods this fall.

I don't even have to go very far - the trees in my very small condo complex are stunning.  Even though it's cold and windy this morning I had to go out and take some photos of this Bradford Pear tree.  I always love its burgundy fall color, but I don't remember it ever having all these colors AT ONE TIME!!

 Isn't it gorgeous??

 Here's a closeup of the various colors, from deep burgundy to red, to pink, to orange, to yellow. 

Right about now you're thinking, that's a pretty funny shaped tree, isn't it? Yes, you're seeing right. Here's the view from the other side.  Unfortunately, this tree lost a huge branch in one of our heavy storms earlier this year.  I could almost cry when I see this happen.


Flawed, but still beautiful, still surviving.  Love it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is a House a Home?

 I've been thinking about something lately .... (uh, oh ... danger-danger!)  After going over the various repurposed/upcycled items I have created over the past year or so, it connected with me that so many have a "house" theme.


At first I thought - well, it's only because I have been on an almost total recycle/repurpose/upcycle mission, creating as much as I can with what I have on hand. And what I have on hand are a lot of wood scraps from various projects. A house shape seems a natural.  


 But then I wondered if there were some subconscious meaning to this.  In dream symbolism:

Dream symbol meaning for House deals with the body, as well as a desire for security and safety. The condition of the House in your dream represents how you truly feel about your current situation. A house may represent your self image: how you see yourself, or how you want to be seen by the world, or what you want from life.

Well, that's all well and good. I very much desire security and safety. And my house is neat but not obsessively so.  It's filled with things I treasure - silly trinkets that have some special meaning, lots of my artwork, lots of family photos.  It's very much "me" as everyone who sees it says.  So okay, it reflects my self image.  


 But I don't really dream about my house so much.  What's important to me is how my house makes me feel.

My home...It is my retreat and resting place from wars, I try to keep this corner as a haven against the tempest outside, as I do another corner in my soul.   - Michel Eyquem De Montaigne
HA I'm not fighting wars out there, but it sometimes feels that way when you're going about your business outside of the house, doesn't it?
 A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.   -Sydney Smith


Yes! Comfort is a big deal with me!
 Here's what else I believe:


Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. - William Morris

I live in my house as I live inside my skin: I know more beautiful, more ample, more sturdy and more picturesque skins: but it would seem to me unnatural to exchange them for mine. - Primo Levi



 So ... whatever my little houses mean, I'm sure they reflect how grateful I am for my home:


Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.
- Sarah Ban Breathnach

ExACTLY!  




Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lots of New Treasuries!

My Christmas items in my More Bright Ideas shop are appearing in many new treasuries. So much fun!








Monday, November 7, 2011

New Holiday Wreaths

When I posted my Pine Cone Wreath Tutorial I promised to show you the wreaths I was working on when I finished. Now I realize I'm never "finished," just that life keeps interfering with my blogging schedule!  So for the moment, I'm putting everything else aside to show you what's happening in Santa's workshop.

I love love love this color!
 How much fun is this!?!



I just listed this one.  It's quite stunning!




 

 Here's a  sweet little grapevine wreath.

 
 

 And here's another grapevine wreath.  I'm particularly proud of this; I made the wreath form with bittersweet vines on my patio! 
24" White Grapevine with Red Trim
  

 This somewhat more traditional wreath has already been sold to a friend of mine. 
 


I still have a lot of cones.  I don't know if I'll have time to create more. But I do know one thing: I'm running out of storage space, so I hope I'm chalking up more sales real soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

We Have a Winner!

We have a winner for the $40 gift certificate to Diirvine's shop:


HOFKEN



Congratulations! I'll be in touch with instructions to claim your certificate.  And thanks to everyone for participating!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Time is a Stealer


Oh my - time is getting away from me this week!  I'm running in every direction with my brother having heart surgery tomorrow and a whole slew of relatives coming in next week for a family wedding on 11/11/11.  You can bet no one will ever forget their anniversary!!

Just wanted to remind you that you have until 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time tomorrow (Thursday) to be entered in the giveaway from diirvine:

http://feliciakramer.blogspot.com/2011/10/in-michigan-studio-with-diirvine-and.html

What's the saying that's all over Etsy?  Stay Calm and Carry On!
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