Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking forward, looking back

Back when I was working full time as an Occupational Therapist in a rehab clinic, I absolutely hated doing my yearly reviews. I was all about living in the moment. As far as I was concerned the past was the past, and the future was safely in God's hands, so why waste time struggling to come up with impressive sounding goals? I intended to "do my best," and I was eager to move on to the next thing, not waste time muddling through priorities, facing past mistakes, etc.

Thankfully, I've come to see the value in reflection, and the wisdom of bravely facing past mistakes and areas of weakness. It's not comfortable, not fun, but necessary to move on to a higher level, in any area of our life.

So, off and on during the past few days (when I haven't been playing on our new Wii) I've been looking at various areas of my life with a critical eye, and writing down the areas I've fallen short. But, I'm also making sure I record and acknowledge my achievements with gratitude as well.

I have come across two great resources that have helped me in my yearly review that I'd like to share with you. For looking back at the art side of my life, I'm using Alyson Stanfield's Acknowledge yourself and celebrate! list.

More importantly, I have been taking a hard look at my spiritual life, and am working my way through these Questions to ask at the Beginning of a New Year. I am going through this list somewhat superficially right now so that I can see where I need to make concrete goals, but will review parts of it in depth later on.

I'm also narrowing down what my focus word of 2009 will be (ala Christine Kane's blog). Only a day and a half left to decide...what will yours be?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hope for uncertain times

I know. It's Christmas, and we are filled with joy and anticipation, as we get ready to celebrate our Savior's birth with family and friends. Rightly so! But despite the specialness of this season, aren't we all are a bit unsettled, as we try in vain to block out all the dire economic news?

My family is blessed.
My husband still has his job, for the moment, but continued layoffs are expected. God has been good to my Elizabeth's Flower's and leaf petals endeavors, but my income won't come close to supporting our family should my husband lose his job. So, although we are fine, and I am thankful, in moments of quiet I can detect uneasiness deep inside.

Last week Revive our Hearts had an awesome series called "Hope for uncertain times" that I found to be completely reassuring. I needed to be reminded that these unsettling times are not catching God off guard - He loves us just has much as He always does, and is working things out according to His plan, as He always does. And, most importantly, even if things do get difficult, anything that makes us need God is a blessing.

You can listen to the first program of the series here. There is also a helpful "Hope for uncertain times" brochure you can download for free, a gold mine of wisdom and comfort.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Blooming Secrets

My Christmas cactus has begun to bloom - it must have almost 100 buds of various sizes. Considering that the winds are howling and the wind chills today are expected to hover around zero, these tropical colored blooms are a joy.

There are many different theories about how to get a Christmas cactus to bloom, and some of them can be tedious. My grandma gave me this plant probably over 30 years ago (how old that makes me sound! But I was really, really, young then). As she tucked the tiny pot into a cereal box to protect it on the long ride home, she instructed me to keep it shut in a dark closet for the entire month of October. I usually didn't remember to do this, or as it got bigger I had difficulty finding a closet big enough and empty enough to hold it.

Thankfully I have found a simple method that has been working perfectly. My cactus spends its summers outside under a shady burning bush, and I water it only as needed. I might give it a shot of organic fertilizer once or twice if I think of it.

The key, I have found is to keep it outside as long as possible, well into October if I can. If there is a threat of isolated frost I cover it for the night, but I try to leave it out until mid autumn. Once I bring it in, it goes up in our loft area, where it receives light from two sky lights. The cold nights outside and increasing natural darkness seem to do the trick, and I've been rewarded with loads of blossoms. One more tip, while I happen to be thinking about it, I also trim my cactus in the spring, to keep it more compact. It is almost 3 feet across, and I don't want it getting any bigger. I don't know if that impacts its blooming potential or not.

While taking a break from writing this post I noticed that Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening has just blogged about her Christmas Cactus as well, so check out what she and her readers are doing with theirs.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Special Snowball Cookies

No new ""You frame it Friday" picture today, I'll be posting my unframed pressed flower art again sometime after Christmas. For now I'm busy filling orders, which in this economy is such a blessing.

I think my customers seem to appreciate my offer of free gift wrapping, along with a free pressed fern Christmas gift tag. If you are still thinking of ordering, please do so soon. Next Friday (the 18th) will be the last day I fill orders until after Christmas.

If you received my latest newsletter you've already seen this, but I've decided to share my favorite Christmas cookie recipe this year for Snowball Cookies. These aren't the really buttery snowball cookies typically covered in powdered sugar. Instead, these cookies are soft and tender, with a delicious flavor. I'd love to make some this weekend, but I don't dare make them until right before Christmas...because they disappear almost instantly in my house.

Special Snowball Cookies

1 C soft margarine
2 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
5 C sifted flour
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 C sour cream
1 C flaked coconut
colored sugar

Cream margarine and sugar until light. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients, sour cream, and coconut, mix well. Chill several hours.

Shape into 1 inch balls and sprinkle top with colored sugar (or those little colored balls). Bake at 375 degrees, 8-10 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen only if you don't sample large amounts of dough.


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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Recycling your own paper

What kind of paper can I use to make my own handmade paper if i order your own paper making kit?

I've been hearing (reading?) that question a lot lately, from prospective customers who are interested in purchasing my Going Green Paper Making Kit, but want more information. I include a list of good sources of used paper that can be turned into handmade paper in the instruction book included with my paper making kits, but for those of you who are just wondering...here's a list of good sources of used paper for handmade paper making for you.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

You frame it Friday

Wow! I just realized that my previous blog entry was my 200th post! I am amazed. I wish I would have realized that and celebrated in some way! I will have to keep closer track, and be sure to recognize the next big milestone.

This week's unframed pressed flower art creation is called "Golden Flowers." An online friend pointed out that I seem to be stuck on yellow flowers lately. I think I am drawn to the warmth and joyfulness of yellow - yellow seems hopeful, optimistic, and always joyful - like a celebration.

I've been using a Franklin Covy Planner for years, a small compact binder with my calender, daily and monthly "to-do" lists, yearly goals, etc. I can also fill out a small card called a "Weekly Compass," with the key goals I want to focus on. I use it as a "monthly compass" instead, and usually come up with a key word that I want to focus on for the month. In the past, I've focused on kindness, timeliness, humor, reverence, etc.

This month I'm focusing hard on joy...which seems especially appropriate given that this is the month we remember the incredible gift of God Himself coming to be with us. Psalm 8, which I am attempting to memorize says:

"...what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?."

Yes, who are we, really, that we've been given such a gift?
The more I think about this, the more joyfully amazed I am.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Everything in its place

Two things are on my list for today - to begin listing my new botanical journals in my etsy shop, and to do some massive "decluttering" in my work area.
My work area - I can't call it a studio (but hopefully someday...) has silently become a disaster area. A stray object or two here, a few things I'll put way later there, some un-filed papers here...and suddenly I have a mess. Elisabeth Elliot always used talk about the importance of "a place for everything, and everything in its place." How true!

I love to read tips on organizing, I could read them all day - but diligently putting them into practice is another matter. Thankfully I am becoming increasingly aware of how my lack of diligence in putting things away -as soon as I am done with them- is costly in both time, energy, and even personal joy. The frustration I feel when I struggle with the chaos covering my work area robs me of my enthusiasm in creating.

Off I go, with a quick prayer for perseverance, wisdom, and a sense of humor wouldn't hurt either.

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