Monday, December 31, 2007

Was that 2007?

Wow—that went by fast. I'll have to remember that they have a tendency to do that.

I hope your 2007 brought lots of happiness.
Cheers to the new year ahead!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Further up the alley

We've had lots of celebrations and parties around here lately. Our eldest just turned 9 in between Christmas and New Years. We had a bowling party to celebrate which of course required a bowling cake. Here's my answer to that. The pin was cut from a sheet cake and the ball was baked in a bowl. I used tea lights (each equals 3 years!) for the candles/finger holes. I swirled pink, purple and white icing for the ball because what 9 year old bowls with the boring black one? I used Airhead candies—cut in half lengthwise—to make the stripes on the bowling pin.

My girl is growing up about as fast as that ball is speeding down the lane. Each year brings more independence and a little more distance from me. Sometimes I want to stop it and other times I want to rush it along.

Regardless I realize that the moving ball is out of my hands. At least for now, my job as a parent is to cover the gutters when I can and help her hit as many pins as possible. All too soon she'll be on her own.

Happy 9th birthday Cara.
I wish you many, many
happy ones to come.
Love, Mom

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Cut for Christmas

This has been on my almost 9-year-old's mind for a long time. She's had friends that have done it and has talked about wanting to do it too. Lately Cara's long, long, years-to-grow hair had been drawing lots of compliments which was making that final decision harder for her.

I made it clear to Cara that it would be her call when we went in for a Christmas "trim" yesterday afternoon. I could tell Cara was deep in thought on the drive to the hair salon, however the minute we entered her mind was made up. She decided she was ready to donate her hair to another child.

With a quick snip, Cara was holding years in her hand. She knew it was worth it. After all It's just long hair to her, but the world to a child suffering from hair loss. Her hair measured just over 10 inches which is the minimum required by Locks of Love.

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. They meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses LOL provides helps to restore self-esteem and confidence to children, enabling them to face the world and their peers.

We mailed the hair off today. I'm proud of Cara for the special gift she has given this Christmas. A gift that really matters. No fancy paper or ribbon needed.

Locks of Love donor information can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Canvas Door Hangers

This is one of the gift projects I've taken on this Christmas. Now that I've cut back on the cookie/ candy craziness I'm finding myself with all kinds of extra free time ; ). I like these little guys hanging on door knobs, but they could also be hung on a wall or cabinet knob.

To start, I purchased primed 4" x 4" canvases with a 1-3/8" depth.

For the peace hanger, I stretched fabric over the canvas. I attached the fabric to the back of the canvas with a staple gun. I then sealed the fabric with a satin gel medium. After the canvas was dry, I painted over the fabric with a white metallic acrylic paint. Before the paint had time to dry, I used a wet paper towel to remove areas where I wanted the fabric to show through. Next, I used scrap booking letter stickers to spell peace. I applied a second layer of satin gel medium. After that was dry, I went back in and painted on top of the letters adding details here and there. Finally, I coated the entire canvas with a sealer.

After the sealer was dry, I cut a 40 inch length of ribbon. The ribbon should have a width between 1" and 1-1/2". I adhered the ribbon to all sides of the canvas with hot glue except for the top. Then I tied a bow at the top. (Don't be confused. The picture above shows a variation using the same fabric background. Here I traced a letter and painted in the monogram. I added a slightly different border with the turquoise paint that I have a fondness for lately.)

To the right is a simple monogram door hanger with a plain=no fabric background. After painting the background, I traced my letter on the canvas and then filled in with black acrylic paint. I also painted the sides of the canvas black before I attached the ribbon.

Now I think I need to go bake some cookies. I'm having withdrawal.

Monday, December 17, 2007


This past Friday was the opening of the art show themed "RED" at Redtree gallery. I'm showing four pieces along with works from 22 other local artists. The show runs until January 5th. I've been on this experimental kick and spinning like I'm the big wheel on that game show. I'm not sure where (or when) I'll finally land and concentrate some serious energy. So for now, you never know what you're going to see here.

Above, as well as in the first painting way above, I've incorporated a base of papers, fabrics and old sheet music. I enjoyed visiting a different era while painting these gals.

My St. Nick orange is in the show along with "Green Apple on Red Cloth". Both of these are painted on red fabric that was first sealed with gel medium (which by the way makes them on "red cloth" in a 2-D and 3-D sense if you think about it.)

On a side note, I am ready to throw my camera in the Ohio river. I need to go now and compose a letter to Santa. Surely Santa will understand my frustration and get an elf to build a better one for me. I've been nice this year...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

All Dressed Up

What goes on during her nap.

Crafts by little hands.

Family heirlooms.

Ahhh...the memories.

Remembering the reason.

Less than one inch of clearance equals perfection.

My white vs. their colored lights compromise.

A dressed up tree is magical.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ohio Buckeyes

I keep telling myself I'm going to simplify things this Christmas season. That means no making 10 varieties of candy and 6 varieties of cookies among many other silly, silly things that I fell compelled to do despite how very busy I am. Luckily, buckeyes made the cut. How could I not make a batch representing our dear state of Ohio? In case you're interested, the name "Buckeye" presumably comes from local usage in the early days of settlement of Ohio. An early botanist found the tree on the banks of the Ohio River, and added "Ohio" to the common name in order to distinguish from the related Yellow Buckeye. In 1953 the Ohio legislature named Aesculus glabra, the Ohio Buckeye, as Ohio's official tree. I've been in a trivia mood this week so bear with me.

These are so simple to make. I'm including the recipe I use below.

Milk Chocolate for dipping (I use Merkens chocolate wafers--melted in the microwave)
Peanut butter filling:
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups confectioner's sugar

Combine peanut butter filling ingredients. Roll filling into balls. Insert a toothpick in each and freeze for 30 minutes. Dip 2/3 of each ball into melted milk chocolate and place on parchment to set. When chocolate is dry remove toothpick and use fingertip to remove toothpick mark.
And here's a toast to the reject buckeyes. I'd be in big trouble if I didn't have a few of these for my anxious audience members. The rest of the buckeyes have to quickly packaged and stashed or they would never see the light of Christmas day.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

St. Nick Day

I thought I'd paint an orange in honor of St. Nick Day. That is after I did a little research. With all the questions I'm getting these days from my kiddos I realized that I needed to brush up on my St. Nick knowledge. So here's a little background on that lovable guy--where the true story of Santa Claus begins. (The following is from the St. Nicholas Center.)

Nicholas was born during the third century in the village of Patara. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. Some of the popular symbols of Christmas started here:

Christmas stockings by the fireplace. And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there, goes the oft repeated Christmas rhyme. In the story of Nicholas rescuing the poor maidens from being sold into slavery, the gold dowry money, tossed in through the window, is said to have landed in stockings left to dry before the fire.

Orange or tangerine in the toe of filled Christmas stockings. The gold Nicholas threw to provide the dowry money is often shown as gold balls. These are symbolized by oranges or even apples. So the orange in the toe of the stocking is a reminder of Nicholas' gift.

Candy Canes. These are really candy croziers (bishops staffs), one of St. Nicholas' symbols. All bishops carry staffs, hooked at the top like a shepherd's crook, showing they are the shepherds who care for, or tend, their people.

Gift-giving in secret, during the night. Stockings are filled while children are sleeping. Nicholas did his gift giving secretly, under cover of darkness. He didn't want to be seen and recognized as he wanted those he helped to give thanks to God.

Seasonal concern for the needy.

St. Nicholas gave gifts to those in greatest need—the young and the most vulnerable. Christmas gifts and baskets given to those in need, along with other seasonal contributions to charity, reflect St. Nicholas' unselfish concern for others. He never wanted or expected anything in return.

The challenge in my house is to work on keeping the focus on the true meaning of Christmas, so especially today, St. Nick's our man. For anyone with kids in need of a Christmas commercialism break, here's a link to some cute St. Nick activities.
Happy December 6th!