Thank You!

Today is Memorial Day in America, have you expressed your thanks yet?  Here are some simple ways you can.

-put change in the bucket of a vet outside the supermarket after you shop for your picnic

-send them a homemade thank you card, made by you or your kids

-send them an e-card

-support programs like Vietnam Veterans, Wounded Warrior Project, and others who support soldiers and their families

-buy or make a poppy

-fly a flag

-make flag decorations

-have kids draw pictures

-say a prayer

-give soldiers and veterans a discount or extra bonus when they shop/do business with you

-say thank you!

What will you do to thank a soldier today?  Share about your favorite soldier, or how you will thank a soldier today below.

FF: Laurie Anderson

Happy Friday! Today’s guest is Laurie Anderson. She paints beautiful pictures and jewelry!  Let’s meet Laurie.

Why are you passionate about art & jewelry?

I am passionate about my art because it is a natural talent I have had since a little girl.  It gives me much joy and pleasure to be painting and creating.  Being a woman, I love jewelry. Why not incorporate a work of art into the jewelry!

What got you started with art and being creative as a business?

Twenty years ago, I discovered I was very good at portraits and sold my first commissioned portrait of two children in 1991.  I’ve been drawing and painting ever since.  Over the years, I did go to Art & Craft shows with my art as a vendor,  but having a job and being a Mom, I was not able to go to very many.  Now, I have quit my day job, (going on two years) and I work as an artist full time, as my business!  I have my own website and a shop on Etsy, as well.

Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?

That is so hard to answer!  I will do a painting that I really like, then the next one I paint, I will like even better.

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

I have various shows booked till the end of the year.  Just recently, a local park is selling my art prints, cards & jewelry in its gift shop.

Do you have any tips/inspiration to share?

Just never give up!  Always create what is in your heart and what you enjoy doing, NOT what you think other people would want.  When I complete a commissioned pencil portrait order or a watercolor house painting order, and the people share with me how thrilled they are, (sometimes with tears of joy)  THAT is when I feel truly BLESSED!

You can connect with Laurie on Twitter, at her website and on Etsy (and here’s one of my favorites of Laurie’s work).

Thank you Laurie, I love your unique and beautiful perspective on art and jewelry!  I look forward to seeing your work in more shows and more places around the US!  Thanks for sharing!

Memorial Day Fun

Are you a Veteran?  Do you know one?  This Monday is an opportunity for all of us in America, and even around the world, to celebrate and thank the troops who have served in the military.  My personal belief is that regardless of whether you support wars, it’s essential to support and thank the troops.  So I hope that you’ll join me in gathering with friends and family this Monday and celebrating them.

Before we dive into all the fun though, let’s take some time to get to know about this special holiday.  You can learn about the history of Memorial Day here, discover some books about Memorial Day here, and check out the great resources to share with your children about being in the military, celebrating Memorial day and teaching kids to love America from Parents.com.

Food:

Sunny Anderson from Food Network’s ideas for a picnic for the troops.

And more ideas from Food Network.

Also check out my post last week on summer BBQ ideas.

Fun:

Craft ideas from Apples for the Teacher including a flag bead pin, flag box, patriotic beaded angel, and patriotic placemat.

Craft ideas from Enchanted Learning including a wreath, pinwheel, standing star and windsock, all patriotic of course!

Don’t forget some poppys too!  Robin shares a great template to get you started.

On Monday I shared some fun and crafty ideas for crafting and decorating for Memorial Day.

Also, get in some exercise with some fun backyard games with the whole family!

Decorations:

What party would be complete without decorations!?  You can start with getting all your plates, cups and silverware in red, white and blue, and use some of these ideas to add style!

Decorating ideas from Better Homes & Gardens including bunting, stars & stripes and country flair.

Of course we can’t forget flags, flags and more flags too!

What are you doing to celebrate Memorial Day? Picnic? Parade? Barbecue?  Share your fun ideas, and crafty Memorial Day decorations below.

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Remembering the Soldiers

Veteran’s Day may be in November, but Memorial Day is another perfect opportunity to celebrate and honor the veterans in our lives.  Today I’m sharing 28 ways you can celebrate and honor veterans and soldiers around the world, and especially in the USA!

Stained glass-for the adventurous stained glass creators, how about a stained glass window that depicts soldiers?

Collage-make a collage of pictures and memories of your soldier

Coloring-use red, white and blue

Sewing-sew an American flag, poppy or star into your design.

Flower arranging-a beautiful red, white and blue arrangement would be perfect!

Painting-there’s something special about seeing a painting of a flag fluttering in the breeze.

Writing-write a poem, news article or petition that supports, highlights or encourages soldiers.

Drawing-draw a picture of your favorite soldier.

Needlepoint-get festive with this heart and strips

Scrapbooking-here are some simple ideas to get you started scrapbooking your heroes memories.

Cooking-cook a meal for your favorite soldier or veteran family or group.  Or, attend one of the dinners they host.

Cards-get together with a bunch of friends and create cheerful thank you cards to send to soldiers around the world.

Decorating-use red, white and blue in your decorating and design

Candles-light a candle in honor of the troops.

Quilting-quilt a flag, or incorporate a heart into your design.

Origami-try this cute and dimensional star.

Sculptures-try sculpting an eagle, America’s bird.

Jewelry-try this butterfly of freedom.

Video-make a home movie to send to the soldier you love.

Clothes design-get creative with these star-studded shirts.

Craftsthese shining stars are festive and fun!

Photography-capture the moments of a parade like my friend Jess Klein did in his photos “God Bless America” and “We Salute You America”.

Wood working-make a birdhouse and give it a patriotic paint job.

Knitting-knit a warm cap soldiers can wear while traveling.

Music-play patriotic music.

Sand-make a sand sculpture that honors the flag, a soldier or another aspect of America.

Finally, donate your time or money to Wounded Warrior Project or another Veteran/Soldier group, and offer your services at a discounted price for soldiers and veterans.

If you don’t live in America, you can adjust the colors to celebrate the soldiers in your country.  Regardless of where you live, your soldiers and veterans should be celebrate.  What will you do to celebrate and honor the men and women who have fought for your country?

FF: Faerie Moon Creations

Happy Friday! Today we’re talking with Theresa of Faerie Moon Creations.  Theresa is a talented artist, sharing her passion through jewelry and mixed media art.

Why are you passionate about jewelry and mixed media art?

I love doing anything creative!  I’ve always had a huge interest in the arts since I was a child.  I would try just about anything – painting, latch hook, clay, wire art.   You name it – I tried it at least once.  I always doodled people as a child and loved creating my own little comic strip characters.  The human face is fascinating to me –  I am especially drawn to the eyes.  When I was younger, I only created portraits in pencil.  For some reason, I was afraid of color.  Now, through mixed media, I embrace it!   Mixed media truly provides     you with a new way to see art.  I love incorporating art papers, tissue papers, rub-ons, stamps, sprays, found objects – you name it – to a piece to add dimension and layers.  I primarily focus on faeries and whimsical girls, as those are what appeal to me most.   I have always enjoyed wearing jewelry, especially earrings.  Whenever I would go to craft shows, or even visit online shops, I would always seek out the most interesting and unusual pair of earrings to purchase.  Sometimes I could just never find the right pair!  So one day I decided “I want to create jewelry…whimsical and unique jewelry!”    I started out really simply, with just glass pendants, ball chains, and digital images.  Once I gained a little more confidence, I began to offer more intricate beaded designs.  The majority of my creations are one of a kind because I truly want the person who purchases my jewelry to feel special.

What got you started with being creative as a hobby/business?

I have always been making things, as far back as I can remember.  There was a local craft store in the town where I grew up, and I was a frequent visitor there.  I’ve often given handmade gifts to family and friends – it’s kind of an extension of oneself, I think.  I was often encouraged to try and sell my work – but I’m rather shy and didn’t feel comfortable selling at art shows or craft fairs.  I had long been an admirer of Etsy, and I figured it would be the perfect venue for me.  This August marks the second anniversary of Faerie Moon Creations!

Do you have some favorite things you’ve created? 

There is one piece of which I am particularly proud.  And I’m really thrilled to say that she is off to her brand new home.  Her name is Ella, and she is a butterfly faerie.  She is, by far, my most realized piece.  I truly put my heart and soul into her.  And when she was finished, I nearly cried.  She is just so special and personal to me.  I seriously thought about keeping her – but I believe that art is meant to be shared with others.  So, I parted ways with my Ella.  But she is still available in bookmark form.

I’ve been taking a number of online art classes which have really helped me learn to try new techniques with my creations.  This is an example of how I’ve been able to add more dimension and depth.

My favorite jewelry creations are those which I create with my husband.  He loves to play with hammers, copper and wire.  This necklace is one of our many collaborative efforts.  It has a true playfulness to it and is a one-of-a-kind piece.

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

I am working on having my artwork available for sale as prints!  Right now, I have art pendant necklaces and bookmarks available, but I am very much looking forward to offering customers another affordable way to enjoy art.  Photography is another passion of mine.  My favorite subjects are nature and animals.  Whenever we go for walks, my camera is always with me.  I’ve received many wonderful comments about my photography and would like to start offering some of my prints for sale, as well.   The possibilities are so exciting!

Do you have any tips/thoughts you would like to share?

I think that everyone is creative, even if they don’t think so.  Each one of us is special and unique, and we all have something wonderful to offer.  You just have to give it a try!  Maybe you can sing, write, draw, sew, quilt, teach, cook, bake, play an instrument.  But if not – it’s never to late to learn. Explore all the possibilities available to you and channel your inner child.  The Internet has so many amazing resources available to you.  You can taken an online art class, learn a foreign language, learn to knit or sew – without ever having to leave your home. I really like this  quote on creativity from Martha Graham “There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.”   This is so true.  Never let an opportunity to express yourself in a creative way pass you by. You might just be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

You can connect with Theresa and Faerie Moon Creations on Facebook, Twitter, Etsy and her blog.

Theresa, your passion and dedication to your art inspires me!  Thank you for sharing your creativity with the world and I look forward to seeing the prints you create too!

Barbecue Bliss

It’s almost officially barbecue season!  May is National Barbecue Month to get the summer kicked off right.  These recipes will get you started with tons of yummy ideas!

Chicken

Family Fun’s chicken recipes, including quesadillas, fingers, wings, salad and teriyaki.

Martha Stewart’s chicken recipes, featuring flavors like lemon, oregano, blueberries, yogurt, salt & pepper and orange.

Better Homes & Gardens chicken recipes including beer can chicken, honey-dijon, Mexican, pepper-lime and more.

Pork

Food Network’s Pulled Pork Recipes, including egg rolls, empanadas, tacos, bruschetta and a variety of sandwiches!

Food Network’s Smoked Pork Recipes, including butt, loin, chops, apple injected, skewers and ribs.

Family Fun’s pork and lamb recipes, including fajitas, meatballs, tenderloin and kabobs.

Better Homes & Gardens pork ideas including mustard-bourbon-glazed ribs, smoked chops, lemon herb, and over 19 more ways to do pork.

Beef

Better Homes & Gardens beef ideas including kabobs, texas-style, zesty short ribs and more.

Kaboose shares great ideas including beef & vegetable bundles, fajitas, an oregano marinade, teriyaki, and more.

Food Network shares over 100 ideas on how to grill steak and burgers.

Vegetables & Sides

Martha’s vegetable and side ideas, including green beans, peppers, corn, eggplant, and cornbread!

Better Homes & Gardens has some recipes, as well as tips for grilling vegetables.

Try your hand at grilling pizza too.

What would summer be without fish?  Try grilled salmon, herb shrimp or calamari!

Family Fun has a great collection of barbecue recipes including grilled shrimp gumbo, beef satay, salmon burgers, Japanese chicken yakitori, and many family favorites.

Don’t forget the sauce!  Try these 5 varieties.

Try something new this grilling season?  What’s your favorite thing to grill?  Share your favorites, and grilling stories below.

Fun with Flowers

Flowers are a sure sign of spring!  Before we head into summer and the festivities of warm weather, here are some last ideas to celebrate those spring flowers and bring some into your home without the smell or pollen.

Fingerprint Flowers

Glossy Flowers

Ribbon Flowers

Flower Friends

Petal Portrait

Faux Tape Flowers

Spring No-Snow Globe

Thumbprint T-Shirts

Garden of Weaving

Egg Cup Tulips

Paper Dahlias

But,don’t forget about the real flowers too!  Here’s a post on gardening, and here are some ideas on arranging cut flowers.

Do these spark any ideas?  Share your flower inspired creations below!

FF: Words by Joy

Happy Friday!  Today our guest is Joy Bennett.  She’s a writer who is passionate about supporting others.  She’s got a great story for us, let’s check it out.

Why are you passionate about writing?

I’ve been writing since the 2nd grade when I wrote and illustrated my first book. So I guess you could say that writing is part of who I am. It’s also how I work out what happens in my life. There’s something therapeutic about taking the chaos and putting it into words written left to right, top to bottom, ideas spelled out one at a time in a way that makes a little sense. If I can’t write (and there have been seasons when I had neither the energy nor the time for it), I grow restless.

What got you started with writing and being creative as a hobby/business?

I was an undeclared major my freshman year of college, wanting to write but convinced that the only kind of writing was creative and that authors pretty much starve. I tried a bunch of other things but didn’t find the right fit. Then I received an email about a professional writing program and immediately made an appointment to speak with the professor. When I learned that I could actually make a good living writing for businesses, I was sold. I graduated with a technical and professional communication degree, and started life in the working world as a technical writer for a computer company. This degree is very flexible, giving me the skills to pick up freelance and part-time work as an editor, designer, journalist, ghost-writer for technical journals, and instructor. I’m freelancing now, partly because I have young children and cannot manage a regular 9-to-5 job and partly because I don’t WANT to work in a 9-to-5 job.

Do you have some favorite things you’ve written?

I really enjoy writing that matters — that celebrates people and teamwork and making the most of the cards you’re dealt. In the last nine months I’ve written several things for our local children’s hospital — web copy, bios for an award they give for promoting an approach to health care delivery called “patient- and family-centered care”, and a newsletter article highlighting the volunteer work of nurses. I also have a personal blog, where over the past three years or so I’ve delved into the murky waters of faith and doubt, depression, and grieving (our oldest daughter died at age 8 in the fall of 2008). People are hurting and desperate for a shoulder to cry on and an arm to lean on, but it’s tough to find a safe person with whom you can share your deepest fears and doubts, pain, and sorrow. Writing about my experience, and corresponding with those who have contacted me to share their stories, has been incredibly healing for me — to see God use the most difficult experiences of my life through the medium of writing to help others is humbling and awe-inspiring. I also write for the blog Deeper Story. I would say my favorite posts are the following: Hiding – on the challenges of true intimacy in marriage,
I Want In– on faith and doubt and judgy people, Depression Is a Bad Boyfriend, and Unbreakable– on breaking my promises.

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

I have countless dreams and ideas, but very little in the way of plans. I think this is partly because of my current season of life — my first priority is to my three young children and my husband, and they need most of my time and energy right now. In the next couple of years, however, all of the kids will be in school and my daytime routine will be wide open. I’ll be able to take more paid writing work at that time (my schedule fills up very quickly now because I have limited hours), but I will also finally have time to develop my personal writing. I will find a writing group, maybe take some classes or participate in workshops, and finally start writing my daughter’s story.

Do you have any tips/thoughts you would like to share?

I will just reiterate what countless writers have said before — write! Your writing will only get better with practice. You also need to be open to critique — find some people who know good writing and ask them to help you improve yours. Take a writing class, or work through a book on good writing — my very first college writing class worked through the book “Style: Ten Lessons on Clarity and Grace” and it transformed my writing. Last, challenge yourself. Identify your weaknesses and work on them. I’ve been working on story-telling and illustrating ideas with my own analogies instead of using the worn-out cliches that everyone knows. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s been very good practice for me.

You can connect with Joy on Twitter, Facebook, at her personal blog, and on her writing website.

Thank you Joy!  I am so touched by your story and can’t wait to see your words in businesses and touching lives around the world.

If you have encouragement for Joy, you can share it below.

Creating for Mental Health

How are you feeling today?  I hope you’re feeling great, enjoying a nice day, warm beverage and great company.  Every day isn’t a great day for most people though, and that reason often stems from their mental health state.  May is Mental Health Month so today we’re talking about using creativity as a way to improve your mental health.

I’ve spoken with countless creative individuals who have said that doing creative things such as painting, dance, jewelry making and sculpture have not only gotten them through mental challenges like depression, stress, bullying, PTSD and others.  While I’m not a doctor, I’ve personally found that creativity is a great tool for healing and strengthening your mind.

If you’re struggling with a mental issue, don’t be afraid to get help.  There are tons of resources and online support groups that you can connect with. Don’t forget about Twitter and Facebook too, there are tons of creative individuals there that you can connect with and encourage each other too. Second, do something good for yourself!  Pick up a creative activity like drawing, clothes designing, singing or cooking.  With each creative expression you’ll feel more like yourself, your mind will relax and you’ll regain some of the confidence you’ve lost through your struggle with mental health.

If you’re not dealing with a health issue, creativity is still a great way to express yourself and help your mind stay healthy.  What creative activity has helped you most in life?  Share your stories and ideas below.