Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reasons for the Season

It's almost Christmas.  Those three words generally evoke feelings of joy, anticipation, happiness, and memories of childhood.  But this year I'm struggling with that.  Those three words are just that -- words.  A signal that malls are full of crazed shoppers, that it's time for parties, food and gifts, and that the year is almost over.

I've had a hard year, and I know I'm not alone in that.  I've gone through things that I never imagined I'd ever go through, let alone at my age.  And in thinking about this past year and what my husband and I have lost and how we've hurt, I can still see the many, many blessings in my life.

I recently saw the episode of Family Guy where Brian and Stewie go to the North Pole to find Santa.  When they get there, they find Santa gravely ill and the workshops more like dirty factories with these huge iconic smokestacks billowing black smoke.  Not at all what one would imagine the North Pole to look like.  The cause of this?  Us, a society whose wish lists grow longer each year, and in his attempts to keep up with the demand, he's grown weak.  The only way to save Santa is for each person to ask for only one gift for Christmas.  The next Christmas they do, and Santa is saved.  (Note:  This episode was done in grand Family Guy style, so I would not recommend sharing it with your children!  Just the moral of the story.)

I really related to that symbolism, especially after this year.  If you could only ask for one thing from Santa in order to save him, what would it be?  Honestly, I can't think of anything...nothing tangible that is.  I already have so much that what else could I possibly need?  I have an amazing family that has stood by my husband and me through everything, great friends, a wonderful church family, a roof over my head, a vehicle to get me where I need to go and food in my pantry.  I have love constantly surrounding me.  I have the gift of creating things and I love sharing them with you.  And I have a God that loves me unconditionally, so much so that he had his own son -- a baby brought to Earth on Christmas -- killed just for me.  If those aren't reasons enough to celebrate this Christmas, I don't know what is.

My family did away with gifts this year.  We are just simply spending time together.  And celebrating the little things.  And I really feel that that is what Christmas is all about.  So I say again: It's almost Christmas!  Time to gather with family and friends, to share the Christmas story and to remember the reasons for the season -- a very special little baby and all the little things in life. 

I don't have a new notecard design or a cute little craft to share.  Just a message from me to you:  Merry Christmas!  May you be truly blessed this holiday season, with all the little things.

Until next time...

Friday, November 19, 2010


...the 2010 Christmas Card additions!!

Each of these is available for purchase, along with past cards I've done.  If any of them interest you, just email me at and we can get an order going.  :)  But hurry!  Christmas will be here sooner than we think!!  :D

Wreath Christmas Card
This is done "postcard" style, meaning it's not a bi-fold card, but it does come with an envelope for mailing.  Paper doily wreath with pink paper bow and pearl detail on textured khaki cardstock.

Present Christmas Card
Traditional bi-fold card with a plaid paper "ribbon" and a real ribbon bow on kraft paper cardstock.

Snowflakes Christmas Card
Traditional bi-fold card with watercolor painted face.  Snowflakes feature mini jewels.  Snowflake cut-out.

O Tannenbaum Christmas Card
Traditional bi-fold card with Christmas tree design printed on smooth white cardstock.


Years Past Christmas Cards

Christmas Ornaments Card
Traditional bi-fold card with ornament design printed on smooth white cardstock.

Let It Snow Christmas Card
Traditional bi-fold card with stamped snowflakes on smooth white cardstock.  Random mini jewels on the snowflakes.

Peace on Earth Christmas Card
Traditional bi-fold card with printed message and gold stamped decorative vine on kraft paper cardstock.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Art? Probably Not...But It's Pretty

I am going to make this one short and sweet, because I don't think it's anything spectacular, but perhaps it will lend some inspiration to you :)

I was recently in need of some art for my house--my mantle to be specific.  My husband and I aren't currently in a position to purchase anything frivolous, and I'm no artist by any means, so I scavenged my house to come up with something to decorate my mantle. 

I came across a calendar I had saved from a few years back that was a collection of Art Nouveau art and advertisements.  I also discovered 4 empty frames to fill, so I chose a couple of pictures that fit the frames.  2 down, 2 to go.


Piece #3:  I love the simplicity of silhouettes, so I wanted to try something in that idea.  I remembered I had leftover paper doilies from a very special birthday party, so I used the large ones for my background, then created the bird silhouette.


Lastly, I used some scrapbook paper that looks like vintage wallpaper for my background, then wove a ribbon into 3 doilies that I cut the centers out of.

So now I have a generic-ish collection of art (versus a mantle covered in photos of my husband and me). 
Now, I'm not claiming these are Picassos or Warhols by any means, but I think they are a collection of pretty things, and can maybe give you inspiration to create art of your own.  :)  Calendars are a great way to start.  Many calendars are a collection of landscapes or famous artists or period artwork, like my Art Nouveau calendar.  Clip out the ones you like, frame it, and you have instant art.  And if you needed it larger than the standard calendar size, just have it reproduced larger.  :)  And that's just one place to start!  Hopefully I helped to turn on your light bulb, even if only dimly.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Made Just for You

I've worked on a few projects within the past year that seemed to have a common thread:  Initials. 

It started last Christmas when I was trying to figure out unique gift ideas (on a budget) for the girls I worked with.  The one thing they had in common is they are all moms, so I put together a gift I hoped might help them relax.  My idea of relaxation is a long, hot bubble bath surrounded by music and candles.  And chocolate, of course, makes everything better.  So, I thought candles and homemade fudge with a note encouraging them to take time for themselves would be good. 

But, I can't do just plain candles.  And through that organic design process I've spoken of before, I produced these personalized candles.  Each candle was wrapped with a wide velvet ribbon and tacked on with pins.  I then used letter buttons from the scrapbooking dept. for the monogram.  Each candle had a wrought iron holder, and the gifts were completed with the tin of fudge.  The girls really appreciated the thought, and even though the gifts were similar, ok, basically the same thing, it was still made for each of them individually.

Then, this past spring, when it started warming up (yes, here in Texas, we start warming up in March), it was time to switch to the cooler bedding.  I had recently inherited a few vintage quilts and really wanted to use them. 
**On a side note, quilts are fabulous!  They are beautiful and meant to be used!  If you have one, use it!** 
The only problem was, I didn't have a bedding "set" with these quilts.  I had these 3 Euro shams in storage that I wasn't using, but not any regular pillow shams.  But I did have some scrap muslin and a few other various fabrics.  I've seen these decorative pillows that take shapes or figures, and print that silhouette in a different pattern on the pillow.  So I took that idea, but decided to do our initials to give us His & Hers pillows.  I found a font I liked, printed the letters as big as I needed to fit on the sham, cut them out, traced the shape onto the fabric, then cut out the letters in the fabric.  After I had sewed the muslin shams together, I applied the letters to each sham with stitch witchery, then reinforced it with small stitches on the edges of each letter.  And, voila! 

What I especially like about this "set" is the fact that none of it matches, but it still works, just like the different fabrics on the quilt.  And I think these shams would work with any of the other quilts I have.

I have to give a little shout-out to the owl hanging above our bed.  That was hand embroidered by my great-grandmother.  It hung above my Grannie's bed forever, and was passed down to me and it is my treasure.  He sits in his tree, watching over me, and says, "The wise old owl lived in an oak.  The more he saw, the less he spoke.  The less he spoke, the more he heard.  Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?"  Love it.

My latest letter arranging came this summer when a very good friend of mine asked me to do a special project for her son's nursery.  She needed letters spelling his name that would fit the nursery's sports theme.  She sent me pictures of some artwork in the nursery already to work from, and the ideas just starting flowing.  I wanted them to be special, and because I know this family loves sports, I thought if I could make something that could be in his room for years to come, that would be the best value for them.  So my final design came from the idea of a framed jersey.  Instead of having individual letters to hang, this would be a framed unit: a black frame with a blue pinstripe painted background and the letters attached.  My color scheme came from the existing artwork--blues, creams, reds.  I painted the letters a slight rust red and outlined them in black and cream to give them definition against the background.  Then I applied sports symbols--basketballs, footballs, baseballs--randomly on the letters. 


The result was exactly how I envisioned, and turned out, I think, super cute.  And I really enjoyed making them.  I'd love to do more :)

Until next time....

P.S.  I also had the pleasure of "monogramming" a very special little boy's bedroom wall.  And although this technique isn't something new or unique, it turned out really cute, and I loved doing it for him.

My nephew's name in rope on bedroom wall :)
Sorry for the grainy cell phone pic!!
Until next time...for real ;)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Baby's Blankie

I get a lot of my creativeness from my mom, even though she would deny it. But I do. And this creation of mine I have to completely give her credit for: I stole it. With permission of course. As one of my professors once told us (as inspired by Picasso), "Good designers copy. Great designers steal."

I can remember when my youngest cousin was born, about 8 years ago, my mom made her a set of towels. I didn't remember the details, but they were really cute. Then my second cousin came along, and another set of towels. But I think it wasn't until my nephew was born that I noticed how great these things really were. She was making these hooded towels that were perfect for wrapping up a baby, toddler, or young child in. They could be easily personalized, and I could picture them being that blanket they drag around the house, just like Linus.

So came my chance to make a set. One of my best friends from college was having a baby boy, and because I wasn't able to make it to the shower, I wanted to do something unique for her. Mom suggested I make her a set of towels--a hooded towel and 2 burp cloths. I remembered that she and her husband were really into sports, so I went with it. And I got lucky since they had decorated the nursery in a sports theme. :) I had more fun picking out the fabrics and coordinating towels. Sewing them was a different story.

The first hooded towel I made was horrible. My thread was all tangled and the ribbon trim looked really tragic. Even though it functioned like a hooded towel, it was not presentable. So, I needed a do-over. Take 2 was much better. Below is the finished product. (My monkey model is a cutie, no?)



Not long after, another family member was having a baby boy, and since she wasn't registered anywhere, I thought these would make the perfect neutral gift. I mean, all babies need towels, right? She also didn't have a true "theme" she was going with, so I kept the colors and patterns boy neutral. Then packaged them up for shipping.

I know my mom can't wait to make a set for our kids, and I can't either, but in the mean time, I love sharing these unique gifts with others.
Until next time...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We just got a letter, We just got a letter....

Email. IM. Chat room. Video Chat. Text. Facebook. Twitter. When was the last time you used any form of these to communicate with someone? Yesterday? Today? An hour ago? A minute ago? Chances are, yes you have, and I have to include myself in there. And I'm not knocking today's technology by any means. It saves time, and has ultimately resulted in making our world smaller. Communicating overseas no longer takes weeks, but seconds. IM'ing is basically how I met my husband, so of course I have a fondness for it, lol.

But with all this electronic communication, I sometimes feel like there is a disconnect between people. I think my business is a bit of a risk in the 21st Century. Handwritten notes and thank you's are becoming a thing of the past. We are a go, go, go society with no time to sit down, put pen to paper, and tell someone hello, how are you, or thank you. And I think my generation is the beginning of the end for handwritten communications. I can remember my mom always asking us, "Did you send your thank you's yet?" And always the reluctant reply: "No, not yet." It was just a waste of time to sit and think of how to say "Thank you." My Grannie always sends thank you's, and it really is a good feeling to see someone is thankful for something you did. But I can honestly say I can probably count on one hand the number of handwritten notes from anyone my age.

I would like to think I could start a revolution: to make everyone see that e-mail and every other form of electronic communication is missing that "personal" factor. I mean, really, how much longer would it take to grab a card or a piece of stationary and physically write a letter, rather than type it? Granted, there's no backspace key, but would that cause us to truly think about what we say and how we say it? But I know I live in la-la land. You can't ask a society to look backward when they are racing forward.

But maybe, just maybe, the next time you want to thank your mother, sister, brother, best friend, instead of popping them an email, you'll think to write them a note. I bet you'll feel better, the recipient will feel better, and just maybe one day it'll bring peace on Earth! ;)

Until next time...

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Party at Jenni's House!!"

Well that is something you would never hear! You can probably go back and ask all my high school friends and college buddies...I was not a "partier." Don't get me wrong, I like to go out and have a great time, but I was never hard core about it. And I never had parties at my house.

That being said, I do like to entertain. I love to fix up my house, fluff the pillows, set the table, cook a great meal, and of course, dessert. I just get a real satisfaction from making everything look perfect, and the pleasure on everyone's face at the end. I guess you could say I am a people pleaser. :)

My most recent entertainment opportunity came this past weekend. My mom and my Grannie were coming up for a visit, and it just so happened that it fell just before my Grannie's birthday. Light bulb! (Which actually came in the form of my mom suggesting maybe I make a cake for her birthday.) Well, why stop at cake! :)

I started searching my recipe books and somehow decided we needed to have lemon poppy seed cupcakes. Yum :) And the ideas took off from there. That sunny yellow color of lemons made me think of rich and elegant summers of yesteryear and I wanted to do something elegant and a little bit vintage. Lace and yellow and bright and clean and sweet.

I had a vision in my head of how I wanted the table to look, so now I just had to make it reality. My family is in super save mode right now, so there wasn't an opportunity for frivolous buys. It was time to get innovative.

I knew I wanted a white table cloth, and I remembered I had about a yard of white sheer-ish fabric I had bought long ago on sale that I never used. Presto, tablecloth. And it was the perfect length. Divine intervention. Next, I needed place mats. We have a set of bamboo place mats for everyday use, but those wouldn't be right. I had a set of place mats with a retro 60's pattern in browns and bright greens, so that wouldn't work either. But wait....brown. That could work. The back side of those mats were solid brown, so I cut off the tag and now I have reversible place mats. Perfect!

Next was the lace, and what is more lacy than paper doilies. A visit to the dollar store and I have a wide variety of shapes and sizes. I used the oval doilies on the place mats. To me, it looked like all it was missing the silhouette portrait and it could have been hanging on the wall. Exactly the look I was going for.

The place where I probably frivolously spent was on the cupcake stand. I didn't have anything that would give the feel I wanted so my goal was to find a glass domed cake stand. It was something I had been wanting for a long time so I knew I would use it. We found one at a discount store within my very small budget, but I still had this tiered, elegant, frilly look in my mind and that just wasn't it. Bed, Bath & Beyond and my husband to the rescue! We popped in, just to see, and he found the perfect solution. A glass lazy susan, topped with this great little cake stand that was almost dainty. I remembered I had a mini glass domed cake stand made for serving cheese, and all three stacked together was exactly what I wanted. The foundation for the party atmosphere was set. Yay :D

With the addition of white dishes, a mix-mash of glasses and candles, along with a tissue flower garland running down the center of the table, and I had my elegant, slightly vintage table setting, perfect for the birthday girl.

I made place cards using vintage wallpaper inspired paper, and used an aging technique on the tags. I also cut the centers out of the smallest paper doilies and used it for a napkin ring. The lemon poppy seed cupcakes turned out perfect, with a lemon cream cheese frosting, topped with a fresh mint leaf. I also used the cut-out doilies as a ring around the cupcake.
With the cupcakes resting in their new home and the table set, all that was left was the arrival of the guest of honor.
I think I'll put this one down as a success. Happy Birthday Grannie!
Until next time....


Friday, July 16, 2010

My "Babies"

I love babies. And my husband and I can't wait to have one of our own, but until then, I love being able to share in the special baby events for other families. My first opportunity came just over a year ago when my little nephew Matthew came into our lives. His daddy, my brother, is a firefighter, his lifelong passion, so I offered to do their birth announcements, in a firefighter theme, of course. :)

It was such a joy to be a part of this special life. Fast forward what seemed like only a few months, and this little guy is already having his first birthday! Lesson number one with babies: they grow up WAY too fast! But they are a lot of fun at that age too! :) So, I was asked to do his first birthday party invitations. His parents debated between a John Deere theme and a firefighter theme, but ultimately chose the firefighter theme.

I had so much fun working on these, and was even more excited at how much his parents liked them. For me, the greatest pleasure in creating these one-of-a-kind pieces is how much the recipient likes the finished product.
My latest creation in honor of babies was for my husband's niece, who is having a baby shower in anticipation of her little boy. She, too, debated with a "theme," finally told me "teddy bear sports," and left it open to me for interpretation. Yikes. But the end result was a huge hit with mommy-to-be and her family, so I was super excited.


Each of these was an evolution of an idea. I start with a sketch--a concept--and begin the "construction" of the layout, but as it progresses, it develops into something more than what I had originally imagined. And with the first birthday invitations, a problem in production led to a much better solution. So I never really know how something will turn out, because what I imagine it to be often becomes something so much more, and it's great. I love that evolutionary process. It makes me anticipate the end to see what it will become. These are all my babies...a little piece of me that I nurture and help cultivate, and when I see the end product, I am filled with joy, especially when I know how happy the client is.
Until next time....

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