Thursday, December 30, 2010

Air Art

I admit it.  I am afraid to fly. Since I had always felt this way, I was a grown woman with a 10-year-old child before I ever got on a plane.  I realized that my fear of flying was pretty irrational and to face my fear I booked a three-hour flight to visit a friend several states away. 

I have to say my first experience was not the pleasant trip I had hoped it would be.  The plane shook like a maraca.   By the time we landed I was a frazzled mess.  My daughter, cool, calm and collected just laughed. When the time came to leave I seriously considered renting a car and driving back and just forgetting about my round trip ticket.  Considering it would be three days drive, I relented, and did get back on. If I am honest I have to admit the second flight was not as bad, still I was never getting on a plane again.  The years went by with no traveling further than that which would consume a tank of gas.

Then fate smiled, no she laughed right in my face.  I met my future husband and what do you think was his chosen career?  Avionics, in fact he worked for a major airline.  How is that for irony?  What’s even more ironic is the fact that if you work for an airline, then you and your immediate family can fly seats available absolutely free!

The years have passed and I am a frequent albeit sometimes uncomfortable flyer.  I have learned that when a plane shakes it does not mean that I need to get on my knees and start to pray.  I have learned that a thousand mile trip takes two hours by plane, which is the best of enticements.  And I have also learned that it is very comforting to have an aircraft mechanic sitting in the seat opposite you at all times.  No you can’t borrow him, but you can borrow my sage advice.  Relax.

Finally we come to what this post is really getting at, art.  You can find art in places that you would never imagine would contain art.  You just need to know where to look. 

Look out the window from thousands of feet off the ground.  Observe how the earth appears symmetrical and asymmetrical all at the same time.  Did man really do this, did he really build that, and could that little line be a river?   The earth toned colors of the ground rise and fall.  The pure white floating clouds hover just above.  Oh yes, look at the clouds.  In this place lives inspiration.  Here are sights you will never see from the front seat of that old Toyota.   So live, love, laugh and fly…


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recycled Dog Bark Stopper to stop the dog from barking

Dog barking is normal.  I know that.  Excessive dog barking is just plain annoying.  My dog, Maddy is a barker, yapper you name it.  She barks when people come over, she barks when they leave and she sometimes barks just to hear herself bark.

What’s a person to do?  There is a simple solution to this dilemma.  It comes in the form of a regular old soda can.  Did I say soda can?  Yuppers, I sure did.   When you turn the can into a mini noisemaker and shake it whenever the barking becomes inappropriate, the barking will stop.

It seems that if you distract a dog’s attention to something other than the object that is causing him/her to bark, the noise becomes the focus and magically the barking stops.  I know, it sounds unbelievable but it really does work! 

I’ve had this can sitting in my foyer for ages and it kind of looks, well, tacky, so I figured why not spruce it up a bit.  So what follows are instructions for my recycled, redecorated dog bark stopper.

P.S.  With New Year’s Eve fast approaching the dog bark stopper also makes a great noise maker for partiers without dogs!

Be very careful while using a glue gun.  They are VERY hot! I do not recommend the use of a glue gun with small children.   I used a glue gun but you can also substitute tacky glue as a child’s project.

You will need:

One empty soda can, washed and dried

Eight or nine pennies

Duct tape

Felt in desired color (I used a mottled beige)

Scrap of darker brown felt

Pompoms (1, large beige, 2 medium beige, and one small black)

Wiggly eyes

9-inch scrap of ½” ribbon in desired color

scissors, pencil, ruler

Hot glue gun and glue sticks (or substitute tacky glue)

Put the pennies inside the can and tape the top with a couple of pieces of duct tape. 

Cut a piece of beige felt 9 inches by 5 inches. 

Place the can, top down on the rest of the beige felt and trace around.  Draw ear like shapes on each side of the circle you just traced.  Cut out.  Fold in half and trim the ears so that they are semi-symmetrical.  (It is not necessary to be exact)

Glue the 9” x 5” piece of felt around the can to cover. 

Glue the top only of the ears piece to the top of the can.

Glue a large pompom on top of head. (Top of can)

Make the face by gluing two medium pompoms halfway down the center of the can.  Make sure you line it up with the ears on each side. Glue the small black pompom in between the two medium ones to make the nose.

Cut two small oval pieces of the darker brown felt and glue above the muzzle.  Glue two wiggly eyes on top.  (Face made)

Glue a 9-inch scrap of ribbon around bottom to represent a collar.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gift boxing day!

Winter arabian ACEO

Dear Department store,

I bought a gift this Christmas from your store and asked for a gift box so I could package and wrap it.  You gave me this flat box…not a top and a bottom, just a cardboard one-sie.

I took this contraption home and got ready to settle the innocent sweater into the section designated as the bottom.  (At least that is what I assumed was the bottom) I attempted to close the box but much like an angry transformer the attached top flattened out.  Whose idea of a joke was that?  I fiddled with it and finally got it to close with only a rip or two, even though the back had a mind of it’s own was bound and determined to reestablish it’s original flat shape.

When the holiday was but a pleasant memory, I decided I would save the box.  After all who doesn’t want to recycle and reuse? This was no ordinary box, however. Now that its shape was box-like it wanted to remain, box-like. 

I pulled and pushed, flattened and tore, but flat it would never again be.  Finally with one last impatient move, I ripped it to shreds. 

In retrospect, for the sake of my nerves, I should have gone to the wrapping paper section and just bought some gift boxes that are old fashioned enough to have a top AND a bottom. I guess you really do get what you pay for, and not get what you don’t!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The day after

Arabian in snow ACEO

Christmas has come and gone. Snow remains on the ground, which is a nice change.  It’s not too much, just enough to turn the grass white but not keep you holed up in the house for too long, a currier and Ives print.

The thing that Mr. Currier and Mr. Ives never pictured is the crowd of people standing in line to return a Christmas gift. Either the size would never fit or it just wouldn’t fit…the personality.

The dilemma is not to hurt anyone’s feelings.  I mean a husband who buys a sweater that is two sizes too small, is very flattering and kinda sweet.  Squeezing into said sweater to go to lunch with your girlfriends, well, that’s just suicide.

And even when the fit is technically correct, maybe the style is not exactly yours.  Who hasn’t at one time or another received one of those sweaters with buttons the size of dinner plates and little snowmen dancing down the front? 

Return etiquette and sensitivity dictates that we makeup good excuses to the giver of a non-fitting gift.  If they leave a gift receipt in the box you can surreptitiously take it back without them being the wiser if not, then excuses are necessary.

So my excuses go something like this:

“Oh my god, I love it, I feel so bad that it is just too large, I know it’s a Medium and that is what I usually wear but it must be very well made.”

“Oh my god, I love it, I feel so bad that it’s just too small.  Sizes are just so varied from one manufacturer to another.”

And for someone who asks if you’re happy with your gift:

“Oh yes, I love it, I wore it the other day and it’s in the laundry.”

“I am just devastated that my husband washed it in hot water with the towels and it shrunk terribly.”

If all else fails pull off one of those gigantic buttons and plead damage, then delegate it to the back of the closet till you get the chance to sew it back on.  Note:  You will never sew it back on.

Many happy returns,

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Arabian in the snow ACEO

I think we may have a white Christmas this year.  Its odd but through the years that is thing I always hope for.  Then came last year with its back-to-back snowstorms that piled up so much snow I couldn’t get out of my neighborhood for days. For weeks there was no school and I discovered what it meant to have cabin fever.

I live in the part of Virginia that usually gets very little snow. It does snow around these parts but it’s usually gone the next day.  Sometimes we even get enough to build a snowman, most of the time, though he is just a puddle by midday.

The worst part of snow in Va. Is the fact that nobody around here knows what to do about it.  They don’t know how to drive in it, get rid of it, or clear it out of parking lots.  The stores are crowded with people expecting to hunker down for months. Grocery store shelves are bare and you practically have to go on the black market to get any of the basic three… bread, milk, and toilet paper. The way we act around here cause northerners to roll on the floor with laughter.

Still I always long for the white stuff around Christmas.  Blame it on the song “White Christmas.”  So now they are calling for a snow to begin on Christmas and end…well maybe the day after.  That pretty much is cause for an apocalypse around here.

I think I just may ask Santa for a snow blower.  


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Easy Kid's Craft, Holiday Napkin Rings (Recycled Autumn Napkin Rings Revisited)

You are baking, cooking, or wrapping gifts and the kids are already bored.  You need to put them to work making your holiday table decorative and fun.  Its easy to have them create some recycled paper towel roll napkin rings with just a few supplies, a work table and some imagination. Every child I know has plenty of imagination so why not get them crafting?

Just use the instructions on the Easy Kids Craft Autumn napkin rings post (see sidebar) and simply substitute red embossed felt and some Holiday felt motifs.  Voila!  It’s easy as the pie you are baking.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mini Christmas City

I’ve already explained that I am a Christmas junkie so it should be no surprise that my husband and I have set up our office with a huge display of miniature houses in a sort of holiday diorama.  It does take up most of the room; even so, part of it must extend into the hallway.  Next year, perhaps I will take out my computer desk and chair and add another table extension for the rest of the city.

Just got back from a long trip and tired I am…oops I am turning into a very tired Yoda, so sorry.

Friday, December 17, 2010

You can make a five dollar origami star

***The holiday has been exhausting. As a result, I have been a bit absent from the internet.  Cooking and entertaining for 15 people does that to a person.  And then there is the Nightmare before Christmas, otherwise known as Black Friday.  Not for me!  I was sound asleep in bed when others were pushing and shoving in order to get that deal.  Anyway back by popular demand...the instructions for folding an origami star out of five one dollar bills.***

I am posting these instructions by request.  Every Christmas I fold origami stars out of five one-dollar bills.  Sometimes I leave them as tips in restaurants.  Other times I give them as gifts with a string attached for hanging on the tree. Most people love them and think they are complicated to create, but if you can fold a paper airplane you can fold an origami dollar star. You can make them using one dollar bills but if you feel generous you can certainly make them with fives, tens, twenties, fifties…well you get the picture. A chopstick, butter knife or skewer makes it easier to tuck the pieces together.

1.     Lay a dollar bill with the ONE facing up on the table and fold it in half lengthwise.

2.     Open the fold and fold the top corner to the fold line.  Repeat on the other side.

3.     Turn the bill so the point is facing you.  Fold the point up to the edge of the circle on the fold line.

4.     Turn over so the folded edge is at the top.  Fold the right hand corner to the center fold line.  Fold again.

(Just like you are making a paper airplane.) Repeat on the other side.

5.     Turn over.  You have made a pointed flap.  Take the bottom edge and fold up under the flap.  Fold it again under the flap and repeat it a third time. You now have a star point with a tab on each side. The front will be the one with the flap and the back has a pocket.

6.     Make four more star points for a total of five.

7.     To assemble start from the back.  Tuck one of the folded tabs into the back pocket of another.  Then tuck the front tab under the flap on the front.

8.     Repeat this around for all the points.  The last one is the hardest but with the help of a chopstick you can easily tuck it in.  It stays together nicely. 
9.     Of course if you want to spend the money it’s easy to unassemble and spend!

front of point

back of point

back of star

Easy, easy and so much fun!  It is best to use crisp, new one dollar bills to fold since it makes a sturdier star.  You can easily ask your bank for new dollar bills and have fun, believe me... "you can't make just one!"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas songs that bring laughter or smiles, the best medicine

Nuttin for Christmas?  ACEO

They say that Laughter is the best medicine and I will go a bit further and suggest that even smiles are a great prescription.  Along these lines I have gathered together a list of songs of the Christmas season that may evoke a giggle or two and at the very least, a smile.

“Nuttin for Christmas.”  This song, originally sung in 1955 by 7-year old Barry Gordon will surely make you nod your head and smile.  Written jointly by Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett and performed by the Art Mooney Orchestra with Barry singing the vocals, it surely will bring back memories of trying your darndest to be good so Santa won’t leave you with “nuttin.”  Cute!

“The twelve pains of Christmas.”  12 days of Christmas parodies are simply everywhere.  There are so many parodies of this popular Christmas classic that I simply cannot list them all.  One that stands out in my mind is the one by Bob Rivers titled  “The twelve pains of Christmas.”  Give it a listen.  You may not agree with all of them, but I think you may nod your head knowingly at a few.

“Santa Lost a HO.” You will interpret this song in one of two ways. If your mind is more childlike like mine you will take it in a very innocent way. Of course those of you (and you know who you are) with minds in other places may take it in a much different way. 

“Snoopy’s Christmas.” In the late 60’s a Band called The Royal Guardsmen recorded several songs inspired by Snoopy, the beagle in the comic strip “Peanuts.”  There were four in all but one of the most popular was Snoopy’s Christmas.”  It told of a battle between Snoopy and his archenemy The Red Baron and how on Christmas the infamous baron makes Snoopy land and surprisingly gives him a Christmas present.  I still remember how I felt when the Red Baron utters the words,  “Merry Christmas mine friend.’  It still makes me smile.  The original band broke up in 1969 but the song lives on.

“You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch.”  You need to sing this one to your favorite Grinch clone.  This song was included in the TV special “How the Grinch stole Christmas.”  Almost everyone knows the Dr. Suess (Theodor Geisel) story so I won’t give a synopsis here. If you don’t, shame on you, you need to take a trip to the local library and check out the children’s book. The song goes through several comparisons of unpleasant things in reference to the Grinch.  Although Boris Karloff narrated, Thurl Ravenscroft sang the song.

“Grandma got run over by a reindeer.”  This 1979 song by Elmo and Pasty Shropshire is little ghoulish for me but some people find it funny.

“Merry Christmas from the family.” By Montgomery Gentry is another along the lines of the previous entry.  It’s a little dysfunctional but its heart is in the right place.

Did you know that a second grade music teacher in 1944 wrote the song, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth?” It seemed that every child in his class had a lisp due to the loss of teeth, so what better thing to wish for.  Guess that song practically wrote itself. 

Although it is child’s song, the Catholic Church once banned “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” because it contained references to kissing and Christmas!! The young vocalist, Jimmy Boyd managed to meet with the archdiocese and had the ban lifted.  Boy things have sure changed since 1952!

There you have it, my list of Christmas songs that may brighten this season just a bit more.  Well, its snowing outside now, so I guess I will just sit down in front of the fireplace, turn on the Christmas lights and heat up some hot cocoa.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy to make Holiday earrings

If you want to deck yourself as well as the halls with a pair of holiday pierced earrings making them is easier than you may think.  If you have allergies to certain metals and just can’t wear the baubles that you can buy at the discount stores it’s easy to make them with surgical steel wires or even Sterling silver.  If you can work a pair of needle nosed pliers you are all set.

You will need:

Needle nosed pliers, two pairs

Jewelry findings available in craft stores or online…

Jump rings

Fishhook ear wires, surgical steel or sterling silver (sterling is not as expensive as you may think)

Tiny ornaments from craft stores.

 You can buy all sorts of little ornaments, snowmen, bells, etc. Since many times there are multiple ornaments in a package you will have more than enough for several pairs. Look in the area for decorating miniature trees.  You will be surprised at all of the choices and ideas. When shopping for baubles make certain that they have an attached loop at the top where you can add the findings. Most are plastic so they end up being very lightweight.

1.   Using two pairs of pliers, one for each hand, grab onto the jump ring and open by a twisting motion rather than pulling wide. 

2.     Slip the jump ring onto the top loop of your ornament.  Using the twisting motion in the opposite direction, close the jump ring. Make sure that the ends butt together.

3.     Open another jump ring like you did before and loop onto the jump ring that you just attached to the ornament.  Add the fish hook ear wire to the same jump ring.  Make sure the ear wire is facing the right direction.  Twist the jump ring together to close.  Make sure the ends butt together.

That’s it!  Now wasn’t that easy?  Quick and easy and you can enjoy them throughout the season.

Warning:  These are so easy to make and so inexpensive that you may not be able to stop making them.  J

A wonderful way to display them is on a Christmas card made for adding photos.  You simply poke them through the card and tape a small rectangle of paper on the back to hold them in place.
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