Monday, January 31, 2011

an (almost) wordless week for olive

This is a bittersweet time for my family- we have a funeral for a beloved aunt this week after a short, but challenging illness, other family drama that has left everyone exhausted, all the little ones in our family had birthdays within the last couple weeks and hubby's and mine are this week, so I think I will welcome February with some beautiful pictures and a little less said -

(BTW don't forget to enter CleverHands giveaway if you haven't yet)

xo

*love on a sunday morning print by the amazing myan at zuppaartista

Friday, January 28, 2011

Upcycled Wall Art Tutorial - getting shredded without any crunches


I shred everything for packing material

(I have been known to mistakenly shred unpaid telephone bills and insurance cards - oops)

I keep them in plastic bags hanging in my studio and visitors often think it is some kind of modern wall art.

(of course I nod in agreement at my genius)

On Tabitha's Salon Takeover last week (the episode with the crazy salon owner with the gazillion rules) - when the salon was renovated at the end of the episode they had shredded the gazillion rules and framed them in huge hobby frames. They were uber cool looking.

So, I decided to grab some of my shreddings and frame them. I think a cluster of framed pieces like this - you could use misc color shredded (as shown), solid white or all the same color - could make an amazing wall display.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone - stay warm - more snow expected for us!
*see other tutorials (some more tutorial-like than others) here

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

where the path of least resistance might really lead us ...

"the path of least resistance is for losers" - H.G. Wells

Now, I have no idea the context of this quote and don't know much about H.G. Wells other than that he wrote "War of the Worlds" -

which before it was a Tom Cruise blockbuster was used in a radio broadcast about a martian invasion of Grovers Mills, New Jersey -

(which I can assure you would be the first place for an invasion especially if these were desperate pizza-addicted aliens willing to sit in bumper to bumper traffic and pay high tolls to get some amazing thin crusts)

that was so believable people actually leaped to their deaths rather than face this potential calamity.

I would agree that the path of least resistance isn't a path that you can be on from birth to death and actually get anywhere - you will end up in the basement of your parent's house, with your mom doing your laundry and dad paying you in quarters to cut the grass on Sundays -

(although there are days this does not sound so bad to me)

but, I don't want to be beating my head against the wall all the time either.

(and I really can't spare the kind of brain cells this beating might endanger)

Can't the path of least resistance be the appropriate path sometimes?

Some of the best things in my life have come to me, at least in the early stages, rather effortlessly.

I met my husband on a blind date I totally did not want to go on (still married), I got the best job I ever had while using their restroom, bought the first house we looked at (still here - not sure I would recommend this one, but it has worked out for us)...

Of course at a certain point these effortless things get a bit efforty and then you get to decide just how much you want them and whether you want to push through the resistance, that is sure to come up sooner or later,

and the importance of that pushing may be more about the muscles you will get from the process than whether or not you actually get where you think you want to go or get what you think you want to get

Maybe, the start of a very good path for us could look like the path of least resistance - I am not going to climb through sticker bushes when there is a perfectly plowed path to the ocean, after all

(of course if those sticker bushes lead to a private beach, and I know the owners are in Hawaii for a week, well, I might just put on some heavy denim and plow through - not that I have ever done this)

but when that perfectly good path has some rocks and detours and sticker bushes of its own as it will sooner or later, I'm not exactly going to turn around

although sometimes when that path turns into a 10 ft brickwall we may need to find a way around it or regroup to grow the muscles we will need to climb that or decide if we even want to because how many times have we really, really pushed and moved mountains for something only to find it really wasn't what we wanted anyway - it didn't make us happy ...

I don't think the path of least resistance is for losers - sometimes it is for smart people avoiding sticker bushes and Jersey traffic.

Disclaimer - since I am not an expert in resistance and cannot be said to actually know what I am talking about I cannot be held responsible for any actions you might take from reading any of my posts - please keep this in mind if you end up in your parents' basement playing Guitar Hero in which case I would recommend a Nook and some H.G. Wells.

* a hazy stretch of grey print by leahtree photography

Monday, January 24, 2011

Etsy GIVEAWAY - CleverHands Awesome Upcycled Journal BANDOLIER! CLOSED

AND THE WINNER IS : #217 GrayGirlStudios

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 610
Result:
217

Clever Hands has set up a coupon code for EVERYONE for the next week - Add code OLIVEBITES to any order and get 10% off thru 2/15!!

Clever Hands is the awesome new shop of Emily in San Francisco who makes these amazingly genius and handy little bandoliers!

Originally from New York, Emily says she "misses snow" which convinces some people she is crazy.

(uhuh we get that ... the crazy part, not the snow part)

but she is crazy genius to create these modern and versatile little beauties!

[jour.nal ban.do.liers n.] - "straps fitted with small loops for carrying pens, pencils, and other handy tools wrapped around a journal, planner, or other book" - I love them!

We are lucky to have one of Emily's amazing bandoliers for this week's giveaway!

WHAT YOU GET:

One lucky winner will receive their choice of one of Clever Hands journal bandoliers!




HOW TO WIN:

It's easy, peasy - just leave your contact information below with 2 fabric choices (in case one is out of stock).

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.

DRAWING:
Enter by midnight, Sunday, February 6th! Good Luck! CLOSED

Make sure to bookmark Clever Hands for future purchases!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Work in My Shops This Month - more cork and magnetic, recycled lockets!

Even though the holiday rush has left me a little burned out I have added a few new pieces to each shop this month - I also have some new artist sets that have just launched or are launching within the next week or so and will post about them soon!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone - don't forget to enter this week's giveaway (top left) ending on Sunday at midnight!

xo- Cat :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

this DECIDING thing is a pain in the a--

So, my very first decision this year

(well, maybe not my first decision, I guess my first decision was to make more decisions)

was to take better care of myself

and part of this take better care of myself thing is to cut way back on diet soda.

And this is a very hard thing for someone who has believed since high school that calories should not be wasted on beverages unless those beverages are chocolate milkshakes or wine coolers.

So, I am transitioning over to unsweetened tea and the "w" word and skim milk and trying to stay sane with a lowered caffeine intake all the while conjuring up images of myself doing backflips and benchpresses at 80 because I will have these amazing bones that will not have had all the calcium leached out of them from another few decades of diet pepsi.

I bought a beautiful glass pitcher to keep cold water in my studio - something about seeing that crystal clear water and the sound of the water as I pour it just makes me happy and makes me feel all healthy and grown up and very much a decision maker.

Now, this is a process

(I'm not exactly going cold turkey here - maybe more like warm chicken)


although I have crossed a little something off my mental checklist.

Don't worry though there are many, many more things for me to be working on like writing the great American mystery novel

(whose protagonist is a crafty mom whipping up recycled valentine's by day and solving the puzzling disappearance of the mailman between dinner and bedtime)

and learning how to make donuts like the girls of Madderroot and doing the laundry without tripping over it for a week first

(have I mentioned the laundry "room" - ie tiny little corridor holding the washer and dryer - is right outside my studio door - this seems like bad feng shui to me although it does come in handy when I get cold and need a sweater as long as I don't mind that the sweater has food stains and smells a little bit like wet dog ... which I don't)

but I'm up for the challenge. Life is short and moves fast, folks. And I have a lot of decisions to make this year ....

*here's the dilemma penguin by living feral

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Upycled Rubberband Valentine Tutorial or when good tutorials go bad ... ah the heartbreak



Sometimes when crafting, the thing you end up with is not exactly the picture you had in your head when you started.

(and this is the beauty of handmade and I really truly believe this, even when things go ... well, kind of bad -

maybe not life in prison with no chance of parole kind of bad, but more like a couple weeks in county with a roommate named Ginger who really, really likes your hair -

not that this has happened to me)


So although this project has some problems with it I decided to post it anyway because - 1. perfection is highly overrated and 2. many of my mistakes you can avoid

Although I am giving you a step by step of what I did I will add a little instruction for the way I would do it if I was to do it again

(which I never, ever will, trust me on this)

You will need: rubberbands (now, maybe there is a reason stringart is done with actual string, but I had a bag of rubberbands in my kitchen drawer that were just screaming Valentine's Day at me - use your own judgement on this), nails, cork, a back board (I used a second piece of cork flooring under the first tile which proved to not be strong enough for the rubberbands which wanted to pull everything inward so I would recommend the wood backboard the pattern suggests - ugh), a hammer (I started out with my trusty mallet, but soon had to switch to the slimmer hammer head), the pattern, a calculator and lots of patience

1. Lay out your pattern and hammer in 80 little nails, yes I said 80
2. Tear out the pattern center (the instructions say to remove the entire pattern at this point, but I don't see how this project is possible to do without the numbers, so leave the numbers)
3. Follow pattern section 1 (this one is easy peasy)
4. Follow pattern section 2 (good luck with this one, maybe remove small children from your immediate vicinity because your language is going to be rough - also pour yourself a drink)
5. Pull out the little pieces of paper with tweezers
6. I cut my cork to fit in an embroidery hoop, but this would look just as cool on a clipboard or something simple

<----Now, I admit I did not end up with anything nearly as amazing as this and you may have to squint a little bit to see my heart, but as I tell my family sometimes when I am accused of heartlessness, it's in there, trust me.

Also my pattern went wayward when I tracked on the right side and I didn't quite manage the gorgeous circular fold with my heart - not sure if this is a result of the rubberbands or my own placement mistakes - and my nails, without the solid backboard and because of the rubberband pressure, have gone a little wonky - but I will just keep everyone 5-10 feet away from it and don't think anyone will notice the flaws.

(I find this is good advice for most things)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy MLK Day - wishing everyone the time to slow down and think about his lessons of peace, brotherhood and forgiveness


When his home was bombed as his wife and four young children slept, Dr. King could have held it up to the world as an example of the kind of barbarism that is fueled by irrationality and extremism. He chose instead to practice the forgiveness he so often preached.

“Love has within it a redemptive power,” Dr. King said. “And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Love your enemies. Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. ... there’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive.”

Thursday, January 13, 2011

why the teacher doesn't always eat apples and carry a ruler ...

when the student is ready, the teacher appears - Buddhist Proverb

I love this proverb, but truly always imagined this teacher to have some human form or voice or written word attached to him or her -

like a certain someone would pop into my life just when I needed them to and I would hear just the thing I needed to hear at exactly the right time and this has actually happened to me

(and all of us, I am sure)

a couple times -

and I have to admit that I love to play the teacher at times and offer unsolicited advice that the other person will quickly dispense with by saying "that's easy for you to say" to which I always counter "exactly, that's why I'm saying it", which always makes them rethink whatever genius thing I am saying and gives me a guru-like seriousness, kind of like Forrest when he came to the end of his run -

but more often than not what actually happens when I am "ready" is that this "teacher" appears in the form of a lesson or obstacle or something that doesn't look anything like the solemn faced Mr. Miyagi I am expecting.




(and you don't get life lessons like "wax on, wax off" just anywhere you know)





So, when I am ready to

(ie desperately need to)

learn patience for example - life sends me an opportunity to learn patience by practicing patience - in other words - delays, traffic situations, time spent waiting - you get the picture.

This learning by practicing thing is why I never ask the universe to give me strength or courage or anything like that (unless I am in the middle of a crisis already) because I know the best way for me to learn these things is through something that requires me to be strong and courageous and with my luck who knows what kind of calamity will be sent to me as my 'teacher'.

So anyhoo, I have decided to see if there is a little kink in this universal system that I can use to my advantage - a little way to cheat the system - a little life lessons for dummies cheat sheet.

I have determined that what I really need to learn is to be a little more grateful and now things that I am very grateful for should start to move into my life to teach me about gratitude. Do you think this can work?

Like I am grateful for my little Nook that I am totally addicted to

(who has one and what books can we trade ?? warning I have purchased alot of detective fiction and nonfiction, but if you have a Nook and want to borrow/lend, let's chat- no clue how we do this, but we will figure this out together)

and all the books that have been flowing my way.

(my next lesson may involve my dwindling bank account balance since this little marvel has a very simple "2 quick clicks to purchase" feature that makes books very hard to resist)

I will let you know if this lesson of gratitude allows many things for me to be grateful for to flow into my life and if this works we can all be walking around muttering "damn, I wish I was a more grateful person" and see what kind of teacher appears to us - this could be the real law of attraction and remember you heard it here first folks.

(of course, if we really do get Mr. Miyagi and a jar of turtle wax, well, then, we will be at least be grateful that we have a very shiny car ... and we may also have a very tired arm, but at least with the Nook there are no pesky pages to turn)

*math class photograph by D. Hunting

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

creating our own opening ....

My assistant/intern (aka niece) got her driver's license recently

(yay for me never having to pick her up or drive her home again)

and she was talking about a little acronym that her driving instructor taught her -

SMOG

(yes, smog)

Smog is what you think about when changing lanes in traffic - S for signal, M for mirrors, O for over the shoulder and finally G for go.

It got me thinking about how I actually change lanes in traffic

(which is more like MOSG)

I always check my mirrors first

(probably so I don't look like an idiot trying to change lanes when there is no room for me)

and if there is no room I slow down or speed up until there is room and then I signal.

Although the truth is that even if there isn’t an opening, many drivers will allow us an opening if we signal first and of course, the longer our little signal is blinking at them, the more pressure we build in the other drivers to let us in.

(this could be just a Jersey thing but we like to build as much pressure in other drivers as possible here)

and this got me thinking even further

(yes, my brain cells have actually fired up a bit in the new year - although in strange ways like this sometimes)

that this little acronym would make a good little strategy for the way we change larger and more important things in our lives than driving lanes.

We need to signal first. Often if we look before signaling, there just won’t be an opening.

But if we signal anyway maybe we will create the opening we want.

(this feels like some pretty deep and genius thinking to me tonight - of course, we are expecting more snow and I have a couple store orders that must ship tomorrow and my post office's motto is apparently not the "mail must go through", so I am a little stressed and may not be thinking clearly)

In real life how often do we make decisions (check our mirrors) before setting our intention (signaling what we want to do) and getting clear on what we really want.

Maybe the best way to manifest our best and highest intentions is to let life (and ourselves) know what we want instead of deciding that it just isn't possible until we get to some other place.

(this isn't about forcing our way in either - although life absolutely rewards action - but more about trusting life to allow things for us once we put out a clear signal about what we want)

So, in my year of deciding, I'm thinking SMOG (and snow, definitely snow)

*amazing traffic print by Myan of zuppaartista

Monday, January 10, 2011

the GIVEAWAY is back with the absolutely fantabulous Old New Again! CLOSED

I am kicking off 2011 with a giveaway from one of my favorite upcycled shops - Old New Again!

Old New Again is the amazingly talented husband and wife team of Rick and Liz of Green Bay, Wisconsin, supporting their family with their handmade goods.

Their work has a gorgeous vintage look, but with a POP of NEW! They call it "fresh vintage", truly the best of both worlds and done by them to perfection! Cottage chic with a kaboom!


We are so lucky to have one of Liz and Rick's amazing pieces for this week's giveaway!

WHAT YOU GET:

One lucky winner will receive this gorgeous wooden wall vase in your choice of color!


HOW TO WIN:

It's easy, peasy - just leave your contact information below with color choice.

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.

DRAWING:
Enter by midnight, Sunday, January 23rd! CLOSED
Make sure to bookmark Old New Again for future purchases - they are amazing!

AND THE WINNER IS: BailyBelle Creations!
True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 710
Result:
80

Thursday, January 6, 2011

10 Day WE CAN DO IT Countdown to 2011 # 10 Balance

If 2010 had some of us throwing out balance in favor of inspiration or at least the freedom to be inspired -

(which somehow does find it easier to navigate a way into our sleep deprived brains at 2am -

of course, like that guy at the bar with the nasty tattoos, what seems like a great idea at 2am doesn't always look so good the next morning)


maybe 2011 will be about allowing more balance back into our lives.

Working until we collapse, get sick or burn out is maybe ok for ocassional short term projects, but real life working creatives don't always get that kind of end zone.

If we find ourselves craving an inordinate amount of time alone or time doing absolutely nothing we have probably given too much of ourselves away.


I think Etsy (and being able to see everyday the amazing work others are doing) has also created an impetus (and inspiration) in some of us to do things NOW, but real life and real creating is about the process.

Before I created Uncorked and before I created Polarity I had made room in my life for something BIG. I thought at the time that BIG thing was going back to school full-time, but I truly believe that it was the 'making of that space' that allowed the ideas for both of my lines to flow through me.

Sometimes when you get out of balance, favoring one way of being in the world to the exclusion of all others, things get overwhelming fast - it is like we have found ourselves on one end of a seesaw with 600 lb sumo wrestler on the other side and we are just not going anywhere no matter how much we jump up and down and facebook and tweet and whatever the hell else we are doing - now we don't want to toss that sumo guy to the ground because then we will come crashing to the sidewalk, but he absolutely needs a diet and he needs one now.

(not sure how well this analogy is working for me, but for some reason I am feeling the need to stick with it)

I love my work and I love alot of other stuff, too.

(people always tell me how lucky I am to work at home - and yes, I get the positives of working at home, truly I do- but the big negative is that when you work at home you are always at work and balance gets tricky)

And again this is a process and we are never going to be in perfect balance, but I know I can create something better here.

So, in 2011, I am deciding my sumo guy needs some Jillian Michaels and a few more carrots, maybe yours does, too.

(and we may even find we have time to read something that doesn't contain pictures of celebrity cellulite ... which I may have been perusing in the grocery store line and may have inspired my little sumo man)

*serene balanced stones print by tanya gilmartin

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10 Day (maybe this is a 14 day) WE CAN DO THIS Countdown to 2011 - # 9 Showing Up

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light and not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be ... " - Marianne Williamson

When my daughter was very little and raced around with other children she would always run with her arms out and behind her to keep herself in the lead - quite genius I think.

(of course, this could have been an attempt to steady herself when she ran full out fast or maybe she thought she would take off and fly if she was fast enough)

My intention with this new year of deciding is to gently

(although I may throw my arms behind me sometimes, so please forgive me if I knock into anyone or look like the prima ballerina's understudy who has left the star tied up in the broom closet and stepped out into the spotlight not really sure of what she is doing)

explore what it means to me to really show up.

I think sometimes I have expected the world to draw me in and engage me - easier for me to hide behind my work and this busy-ness and so I have set up my life in such a way that this busy-ness is overwhelming and real -


(how can I be expected to take a deep breath when I only have time for little gasps of oxygen after all)

but this reality was created by me and I can create a new reality.

Showing up, for me, will be about allowing other people to sometimes be disappointed in my choices ... and making them anyway.

No hiding. No comfort zones. Showing up is about our everyday choices. Working out in the morning again because otherwise I will never do it.

Saying "I" when I mean "I".

When I worked in a bank it was all about the "we" and being the teamplayer that I was I got in the habit of saying "we" even when I was the one doing the work.

These days, although I am the only one here,

other than Olive of course - who does provide daily inspiration, but spends way too much time lazily dangling over the heater and yawning at me when I try to send her to the hardware store for flux, to be included in this -

I still say "we" about my business when maybe I should be claiming it with the word "I" more often.

(I should say that this "I" thing is a lesson for me in really owning my work and showing up - for some of us the lesson may be in the "we" and the big picture thinking and team sharing this word creates)

No more standing myself up in 2011. I resolve to show up - even if I have to run around with my arms behind me - like that overbundled brother in A Christmas Story.

* beautiful You are an ARTist said the little bird keepsake box by Danielle of herpaintedword

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why "DECIDING" Means Ditching the Get It While We Can Mentality #8 counting down to 2011, maybe this is a countback

Yes, I realize it is already 2011, somehow these posts got a wee bit behind (sigh) ....

You might know this feeling, too.

The feeling that makes you say yes to work when you really need to say no.

When I had a cart in the mall, I never sold anything in the first 2 hours of any day

and yet everyday during this period I would start to get nervous like I would never sell another thing ever again -

it is the same feeling when you start to sell regularly on Etsy and then you don't for a day or two or maybe a week.

(now sometimes this is a good feeling - well, not a good feeling, but it produces a good outcome - a little kick in the keester that we need to encourage us out of a rut and into something new)

But, it is also the feeling that leads us to take on any work, any opportunity that comes along whether it fits in with our intention for our business and our life or not because this could all end tomorrow - doomsday - get it while we can - thinking.

This mentality can be the death of us in almost a literal sense because we will run ourselves ragged, undervalue our work and make promises that will be impossible to keep -

(although we will beat ourselves up trying)

We have to trust in our process.

Saying no sometimes is about self-love. To quote Dr. Phil -

(yes, I am quoting Dr. Phil now - don't hate me - does anybody else find it really weird the way he grabs his wife's hand and practically races her out at the end of every show - very odd - imagine if Oprah did that to Stedman, people would throw a net over her)

It teaches people how to treat us and more importantly confirms to us how we want to be treated. It tells the universe that we trust it; that stuff will still be there for us later - the right stuff.

(and that little voice in your head that screams - are you crazy, you can't turn this down, you are lucky to get paid for this - you can make 10 scarves in 2 days for $150.00 and ship them to Peoria - may get a little quieter - that voice may even crack open a bottle of champagne and whisper hallelujah)

* magical cupcakes print by raceytay

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 1/1/11 Everyone!

I think I am going to pay all my bills today

(maybe)

just so I can write 1/1/11 over and over - it feels so much like a do-over year to me - a year when anything can happen!

We managed to be awake at midnight

(but only because a stinkbug crashed into our ceiling, sending me flying for the lightswitch and Olive running under the bed - yes, the stinkbugs are back - if anyone has any stinkbug prevention tips let me know - we can't seem to figure out where they are getting in)

and someone on our street was setting off fireworks, very brave of them with the new state trooper station across the road.

I had a couple people email me about a previous post where I said something like our businesses are either busy growing or they're busy dying.

I definitely did not mean to imply that we have to have a big business. I think a small, profitable

(and there are kinds of profit other than monetary profit although monetary profit is usually pretty important at some point in the life of a business)

business is a wonderful, miraculous thing we should all be proud of. Maybe instead of growth I should have used the word change.

Because I could see where growth might infer something getting bigger and bigger which does not have to be our intention at all with this creative thing we are growing.

(oops there is that word again)

I do think that when you create something from your heart you give it one thing and it gives you back another thing and this process is about growth even if nothing ever gets any bigger ....

Anyhoo, I hope everyone gets to write 1/1/11 at least once today!

* Year of the Rabbit calendar print by Brooke Woolley