Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There is a Grand Catherdral in our Midst

If you have never been to the Grand, Gothic Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, now is the time. This is the second tallest center for learning in the world.
The grand hall makes you feel like you have been transported back hundreds of years to the pinnacle of Gothic architecture. The carvings, height and attention to detail is stunning.

The University offered "rooms" to different Nationalities during the construction of the Cathedral in order to help with the funding of the build. As a result, there are examples of classrooms from all over the world represented here. The University offers tours of these Nationality Rooms year-round, but it's best to go at Christmas, because they are all traditionally decorated.
The rooms are filled with stained glass, period furnishings, original paintings and tapestries. There are even examples of whole rooms that have been transported from whatever country they represent. The Greek room features marble columns, this marble was mined from the same quarry that was used to build the Parthenon. There are surprises everywhere, the kid's favorite was the Ukrainian room which allows access to a very small 3rd floor balcony.
And while you are crawling around the place, don't miss going as high as the elevator will take you. There are great windows up there and you can see for MILES!
Here's where you can get more information: www.pitt.edu/natrooms

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Chaos is Over...Time to Gain Control

Yes, The holiday craziness has come to an end. The endless shopping for food and gifts has finally come to a close. Amen, I'm all for some serenity!

Since most of us are grasping for some order about now, and getting organized for a stellar 2009, I thought I'd share a helpful tool.

If you would like to get your finances in order and: set up an easy budgeting tool, get charts and graphs on where you are spending, and get tips on how and where to save, read on. The best part is that there is NO Monthly Input required!

"In 5 minutes, see where you are spending it, understand how your investments are performing and set up realistic budgets." Go to http://www.mint.com/ .

Friday, December 26, 2008

And the Winner Is:

Everyone asks, Let's face it. "What was your favorite gift?" Well, this year, I have a clear winner: Who wouldn't love a book entitled: "Mom is Always Right. Words That Celebrate the World's Smartest Moms". And. Of course, it was given to me by my Mom!

Here are a few words of wisdom:

"Mothers have as powerful an influence over the welfare of future generations as all other earthly causes combined"- John Abbott

"Mother is far too clever to understand anything that she does not like"-Arnold Bennett

""Motherhood brings us as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else will ever make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own"-Margarite Kelly and Elia Parsans

I've enjoyed a quiet and peaceful day browsing through this book looking for the wisdom in like minds. Thanks Mom!

Friday, December 19, 2008

There is Hope and Joy This Holiday

O what fun we had! I was floored by the talent in the room! The creativity and bottomless enthusiasm is absolutely contagious.

I mean, a bowl made of a gourd with handmade soap and p.j. pants!, a kitchen chalkboard and a handmade apron made from a spare curtain!, an amazingly fun lighted snowman gourd and lovingly knit perfect green pair of mittens! ALL MADE BY HAND AND ALL UNDER $10!

It was a challenge and a lot of fun coming up with the Secret Santa. Certainly a highlight of my Christmas Season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Game To Play Your Life By

I am facinated by "Life Coaches"...People who have all of the answers to all of the big questions. I mean, we're here in the trenches, keeping track of all of the minutia, (do we have peanut butter?, did I wash the only socks my son will wear for hockey practice?, And, if so, where are they?, I can't believe I didn't send that sympathy card yet...I mean the poor guy died weeks ago... I obviously could go ON and ON). Life Coaches are so focused on what matters..the big stuff.

Here's something one of the Coaches I read suggested: Live your life as if it is a game of Hot and Cold. Hot is happy, Cold...well, not so much. Gravitate towards the warms, move toward them, emotionally and physically. Walk away from the cold and colders. If you do enough walking, your life will be filled with mostly "warms" and maybe even some "hots".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to WOW Kindergarten Kids and Teachers Alike

All you have to do is combine the kid's three favorite ingredients: Sugar, Butter and Sugar! I made these for my Kindergartener's class today and everyone really liked them...before I left, I was typing a copy of the recipe for the teachers.

Here's all you have to do to amaze young and old alike: Make your standard sugar cookie....use my recipe from a few months back...the tried and true, old stand by. Then, use a large cookie cutter and then a smaller one to make a hole in your cookie. Have the kids choose thier favorite flavor of Jolly Rancher and put it in the center "hole". Bake as normal. The candy will get all bubbly in there, just let it go...It will smooth out like glass as they cool. I find it's best to bake them on parchment paper, just because they slide off so easily. I've also thought of crushing some of the candies to make a stained glass effect, but haven't yet tried it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Calf

Over the weekend, the kids were excited to meet "Paintpot". He's the new calf at the farm. They raise black and red angus over at the farm, so the calves are usually red or black. My Dad usually names the red ones "Red" and the black ones are "Blackie". Every spring there are lots of "Red"s and "Blackies" running around. It's somewhat of a rarity to get a calf with this much white on it. He's really beautiful and soft. Winter calves have it tough..they've got to make it through all of the severe cold that is yet to come and the muddy, wet spring. More work for the farmer, but farmers are used to more work, in fact, I don't think the idea of "less work" has ever occurred to them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Great Gift for Hard To Buy For Loved Ones

A friend of mine has recently sung the praises of Shutterfly, and it you haven't checked it out, Now is the time!

You can create a book of your photos..the site allows you to choose backgrounds, layouts, fonts, and book covers. I can't imagine a better gift for Grandma...a quick family history, or just a book showing all of the fun that the grandkids had this year. I recently got one for my Dad, detailing and cataloging our trip to Alaska. I even took pictures of our ticket stubs for the back cover. And, for a limited time only, the books are 30% off with free shipping! check it out at www.shutterfly.com

A Serious Addiction

Like all addicts, I was in complete denial that I had a problem. I mean, it's just a little thing, just a few, not expensive if you get them one at a time. I had a good source and it was close by, easily accessable.

And then I saw it all laid out one day and I realized that I had a problem: massive and ridiculous amounts of cookie cutters! I mean stars in 3 sizes, hearts in various sizes and with different trims, trains, leaves, acorns, angels, you name it, I have it. The bin runneth over.

I guess it's not the worst of addictions...the rewards are sweet.

Recycling and Upcycling

As near as I can tell, recycling is re-using and item by deconstructing it and re-using the raw materials. Upcycling is re-using an item by re-purposing it or adding to it to make it better. Here's a picture of the kid's UpCycled Gingerbread House!

Apparently we did not give enough Halloween candy to the troops!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I've Been Wanting To for Years...

I've been wanting to do this for years...And, thanks to the spiraling and unpredictable economy, I think this is the year to forgo the luxury and the over the top presentations.

This is definitely the year for "Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String"! I added a little color by making my own "From" tags. Let's face it, scrawling 6 names on the "From" section of those little cards was a little tedious, so I just made up my own and printed them on cardstock.

I tied a little greenery at the center for interest. I wanted them to look a little travelled and worn, I almost crumpled the paper before I wrapped them, but then I thought I was going a little far. I mean, some of the things in these boxes came from Amazon, but Not THE Amazon!

My kids completely hated the idea, I'll confess. They insist that any "kid" packages have to be wrapped brightly, festively and with lots of ribbon--not string. Oh well, you can't please all of the people all of the time!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Big News-- I'm Officially in a Gallery!

There's a new Gallery in Town, and they wanted to feature local artisans. The Bottlebrush Gallery has a wonderful open gallery space with really amazing artists. They plan on juried exhibits from artists from all over the country. They are currently featuring a photographer who also has a permanent exhibit at San Francisco's Museum of Art.
We designed a display and an item that we have never marketed before especially for the Gallery! We created a handmade glass bead pendant on a sterling silver venetian box chain with matching handmade and perfectly matched earrings on our most popular sterling leverbacks. They look terrific on their display case, and the tree display really fits in with the feel of the place.

If you are local, I'm hoping you'll stop in!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Swirl it Up Girlfriends!

I'm EXCITED to add this NEW option to my line of interchangeable jewelry. The Swirl! These little sterling dipped numbers are just the thing to add to your holiday wish list.
They look great alone or, I like to add any of my round dangles....shown here are Swarovski crystals in "Snowdrop" and "Gotta Have It Aqua". Try something new and swirl it up!