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Let the crafting begin

Tonight I’m off to a mid-week ornament making party. Since I was old enough to hold a crayon or stir together butter and sugar, making has been a part of my holiday preparations. There is a perception that home-made gifts must be challenging or time consuming, but neither is an absolute requirement (though both are certainly possible if that suits your fancy).

There are SO many blogs and websites with great DIY tutorials and gift ideas. Here are a handful that I return to again and again to feed my inspiration and get the craftiness flowing {click on the images to go to each site} :

What are some of your holiday traditions or favorite crafty gift ideas?

December Updates

It is the end of a long and productive week.

A few updates:

If you’re in the Missoula area, I will be participating in the Missoula MADE fair this Sunday (December 9) — come by and say hi, I’d love to meet you!

My original pieces have been included in the first issue of a new Montana Art & Photography publication!

Just a reminder : ORDERS must be in by Sunday, December 16, for holiday delivery.
If you’re hemming and hawing, hem and haw no more! Calendars are moving quickly and they really do make the perfect gift for that impossible-to-shop-for person on your list.

Have a great weekend!

It’s the last week of the semester and it feels like some giant being has pushed a fast-forward button.
When my life feels upended and frantic, I turn to nature to bring me back to a reasonable perspective.

This video is a perfect example of the magic that happens right in front of us that we don’t (or can’t) see.
It makes me humble. It makes me breathe. It brings me back to center.

I hope your December is starting off a little more calmly than mine. Or if not, that this helps you pause and reset.


{video via Dooce}

Monday Morning Joy : Aimee van Drimmelen

Someday, when I have a little more time, I want to get better with watercolors. I think it would require looking at the world in a totally different way than papercutting requires.

I’m loving these illustrations — both for their subject matter and technique :

For more, click HERE.

Happy Monday!

Books for a quiet day

I love stories. I love being transported to a world of the authors making. I love the pause it creates in my life and how I leave a story  foggy-eyed and dreamy. This time of year is my favorite for stories, for curling up with a mug of something delicious and disappearing into a book.

Trouble is, there are not very many gaps for leisurely reading in my life these days and when I find a book I love, I have a hard time putting it down to do the work I “should” be doing. The other day I was doing a little Christmas shopping – looking for a book for a first grader I know – and ended up finding a shelf-worth of books that I want to read instead.
Children’s chapter books seem like the perfect solution — they’re quick but rich; full of nuanced characters, lessons, and adventure.

Here are a few that I’m going to look for at the library over the next few weeks (if you click on the picture, it will take you to Amazon for more details):

This one I just finished and LOVED. Loved :

What are you reading? I am always looking for good book recommendations — tell me your favorites in the comments.

Early Winter

Just a few photos from the last week:

It’s always a little tough to get up to full speed after a holiday — so nice to have the time away, but then a bit of a scramble …

I hope your week is moving smoothly.

‘Tis the Season

Well. Today officially begins the holiday shopping season: Are you ready? For the hype, the incessant commercials, the canned holiday music?

As a retailer, I look forward to this time of year — it’s frantic pace and the gratification of people choosing MY work to give to their loved ones. But the co-option of magic frustrates me. No matter what your beliefs, this season is about generosity. Sometimes that’s easily forgotten in all the rush.

I love that I’m able to share my art with a wide audience and I appreciate hearing what the art brings to your lives, but I wrestle with being an ecologist and selling disposable goods. And when everyone one is connected, all the time, to their digital calendars and email, why sell wall calendars and cards?

Stationery evokes an era before technology, when communication was tactile, an era of steam engines and elaborate formalities. Most of that life can be happily left in the past, but choosing cards with care, writing thank you notes, hanging a calendar that brings art into a room — these are traditions that should be cultivated amidst the bustle and glow of smartphones and inescapable connectedness. Stationery is a pause, a breath, an intent. Slow down. Enjoy the feel of pen against fine paper. Imagine the happiness of the recipient as you write. The bustle can wait.

At this time of year it’s especially important to hold on to the traditions that keep you grounded, that remind you what we celebrate, that bring you back to generosity.

I wish for all of you a season that is joyful, thoughtful and full of celebration.

Tricks of the trade

Before I became a scientist, before I began my art business, before I knew I had celiac, I was a baker.

I’ve been gluten free for 8 years now and only a very few things make me miss it : a fresh croissant, the wonderful, tactile process of making bread, the smell of toast, and cinnamon-sugar pie crust scraps.

Growing up, whenever a pie was made in our house the trimmed scraps of crust were dusted with cinnamon sugar and baked for a pre-pie snack. Warm, fragrant, flakey … Somehow a million times better than you’d think a piece of dough with sugar on it could be. Magic.

If you’re in charge of the Thanksgiving pies this year, I encourage you to try it. So simple : As you trim the crust, place the scraps on a cookie sheet — if you add a sheet of parchment, you won’t even have to wash the cookie sheet. Sprinkle the scraps with cinnamon sugar (1 T cinnamon mixed with 1/4 cup sugar) and bake at 350. It won’t take long 3 – 8 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your scraps. You want the edges to be slightly golden and the scraps to be crisp. Let them cool slightly and then watch them disappear. They are best when eaten warm, though I’ve never seen one last long enough to cool off completely.

Have a fabulous holiday tomorrow. I’m thankful for you.