20 December 2011

You can do anything, but not everything

It's been a while since I wrote anything profound on my blog.  I used to do it all the time, and then I became busier and busier and in order to keep it active I simply started posting all the projects I had going on.  It wasn't long before I got really caught up in the "project-a-day" club and had to let that go as well.  Last Christmas I sat in this very same spot and thought about what things I might change in 2011 to make my life feel less chaotic, less "obligatory".  And I made one and only one New Years Resolution in order to help me accomplish that.  To learn to feel content.

2011 started much the same as 2010 ended... with lots of responsibilities I didn't really want or need, and lots of stressing and running around and generally being the person I thought everyone expected me to be.  Slowly but surely I began to let things go... little things... to give the more important things in my life room to breathe (and I continue to work on this).  More importantly, however, my mindset has begun to change regarding who I want to be, how I want to be remembered, and what I want out of life.

My own mother was a busy bee.  She was on the front lines of virtually every school fundraiser, church activity and neighborhood project.  She epitomized a woman who was "on the ball".  But inside she was a mess.  She created such an alluring image of herself and family that it became all that was important to her. And we, her family, had to keep up with that image - no questions asked.  So I recognize where this inbred tendency to keep a dozen plates spinning at all times comes from.  And I, like my mother, have thrived on the reputation of being that woman on the ball.  Its a good feeling, but not one that lasts, I'm afraid.

I wonder at what point this image became so revered.  We each take the best parts of others and compare them to our worst.  "I wish I was as fit as ________." "I wish I was as pretty as _______." "I wish I was as creative as _______." "I wish I had as much money as _______." "I wish my house was as clean as _______." "I wish I cooked as well as _______." "I wish I could save money as well as _______." "I wish I had as many friends as _______." "I wish I was a successful ________ like ________."  And we put them all together and VOILA! that is the ideal woman.  Furthermore we think this perfect multi-faceted woman we've conjured up in our minds is secure, and perfectly happy. When, truthfully, it's the woman who doesn't need to do it all and be it all to be happy that we should emulate.  I envy that woman, who is content to live a simple life, and is proud enough with the respect of her family and loved ones to not go looking elsewhere in order to feel validated.  Is that not what true happiness and self assurance looks like?

I'm not saying we don't need to pursue our own dreams or make ourselves a priority, but I think pure intentions and genuine fulfillment should drive our choices - whether they be to take good care of our body, our home, our family, etc.  I want to get to the point where each choice I make, as to how I spend my time and energy, is a choice I think through.  And a choice I am content with.  I 'm tired of trying to keep up with that alluring image of the perfect woman, above all else.  It drove my mother crazy - quite literally.  And crazy is the only outcome I can think of for someone who can't find contentment in the small things (which ironically, for someone of that mindset, are the most important things).

I have a long way to go towards becoming that woman.  I have lived a full life and experienced many wonderful things.  I want badly to have all those things active in my life, all at once!  But it's impossible.  The analogy of the seasons rings loud and clear for me as I try and determine what is best worth my time and energy at this time in my life:

To every things there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven

I think my zest for experiencing everything life has to offer is indeed a blessing, but also one that I (thankfully) have plenty of time to enjoy.

30 November 2011

Tis the season...

I've found some time to make a few new goodies for my home this Christmas!  You know how you sometimes don't know what you're missing?  Well I've been missing creating with my hands.  Apparently. Because now I can't seem to find a stopping point!  The photography suffices to an extent, but I guess every now and then I just gotta get out the spray paint, scissors, ribbon, glue... :)

I'm foregoing tree skirts this year in favor of something simple and lovely.  I cut up a bunch of burlap and made these sacks for the bottoms of my trees instead, and tied them up with lace.  I'm having a mostly white Christmas this year, so it's just perfect.  Perfect and simple.

My husband finds it amusing that it takes me DAYS to get my house decorated for Christmas.  I find it therapeutic!  I gotta do something different every year, not necessarily with all new things, but I like to think of new ways to display things, and just tweak it from year to year.  It makes it so much more magical!  How about you?  How long does it take you to deck the halls?  Do you enjoy it, or is it a chore?  I'm guessing, since most of you love craftiness like myself, that we are all int he same boat. :)

P.S. I am still posting at Brown Paper Packages every other week!  This week we're talking about Christmas bokeh:

{Ah, that's nice... isn't it?}

Come see how to get the great Christmas bokeh at BPP... should be up tomorrow or Friday. :)

P.P.S. Let's see if I can blog twice this month!  I'm also working on an angel wings project... as I have been obsessed with wings lately!

01 November 2011

Carnival Birthday Party

My Drewby is 7!!!  This year's party theme was "carnival"... so, so fun and full of possibilities.  Luckily, both Hobby Lobby and Party City have a party line of carnival themed items.  Plus I scored several items from Target's $1 spot for party favors.

I kept the decorations pretty simple...

The first thing kids wanted to do was play in the bouncy house we rented for the day:

This was the main attraction!  But we also played some fun old fashioned games.  We had a potato sack race and raced with plastic eggs on spoons.

The kids loved both games enough to play a few times each.

I also had a little photo area set up:

The kids came in and ate pizza, drank kool-aid and had cupcakes/cake.

Each guest took home a treat (circus peanuts or cotton candy in the plastic containers you see above) and a party favor that included these items from the $1 spot at Target:

Drew was one happy boy!  He had such a blast with his friends!

23 October 2011

Giveaway winner! 3 Lads I need your EMAIL!

Sorry folks, I went out of town this weekend and just knew I'd forget to announce the winners last night! I know myself well apparently. Anyway, the 2 winners of the book and tights are 3 Lads and a Lass and One Fish (my cousin)! Congrats girls!!! 3 Lads and a Lass, I need your email address right away!!!


18 October 2011

Razzle-Dazzle Ruby giveaway!!!

If you have a little girl age 4-8, then you are in for a treat.  2 My Many Colored Days readers will receive a copy of the book Razzle Dazzle Ruby and a pair of striped tights just like Ruby!

My official children's book reviewer (5 year old Sasha) and I found Ruby to be a very imaginative child, who like most little girls loves all things that sparkle, spin and twirl! The book is full of interactive pages that come alive with pull-tabs and picture wheels and colorful art that sparkles.  Sasha fell in love with Ruby right away and so will your child!

Here is a sneak peek into the book:

{Watch the video sneak peek!}

From the publisher:

About the book:
Ruby can make the ordinary extraordinary!  Come skate on a shimmering pond, roll a giant snowball, sled down a snowy hill, and create soaring snow angels with her as she becomes a snow queen and transforms a typical winter day into a gleaming-beaming fairy tale. Combining glorious watercolors, elegant paper engineering, and whimsical storytelling, this joyful novelty picture book is sure to enchant children and adults.

About the author:
Masha D’yans is an award-winning artist.  Her line of greeting cards, clothing, and home d├ęcor, featuring her alluring artwork, are sold at Target, Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, as well as other major retailers and smaller specialty shops.  Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, and classically trained at the St. Petersburg Academy of Art Lyceum and subsequently at Cooper Union in New York City, she now lives and works in Manhattan.  Razzle-Dazzle Ruby is her first book. Vist her at www.masha.com . 

For more, you can also visit www.razzledazzleruby.com!


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GOOD LUCK!  Winners will be announced Sat. evening, 7pm MST!

16 October 2011

Painted Pumpkins and giveaway announcement!

Well - I did it.  I made myself sit down and make something this week.  Actually, I made a few things.  I've been missing my paint brushes, fabric and tulle (oh my!).

I hadn't painted pumpkins in a while.  And I needed something to do last week with my kiddos for family night.  You can see their pumpkins here (as part of my photography post at Brown Paper Packages).   My porch this year is predominantly black and white, so this is what I came up with for my own this year:

The striped one was easy... I just followed the lines of the pumpkin. For the chevron pattern I actually used electrical tape. Trying to decide if I think it looks good that way or if I should paint the pattern. The polka dots are painted. And the damask pattern I found on google images. I printed it out and copied it onto the pumpkin. All 3 pumpkins took me about 30 minutes to finish. And I used craft paint, which dries quickly. So it was a fast project.

Here's the rest of my porch... tutorial for the wreath coming up in a few days!

{Just love my big ole spider!!!}

One more thing - there will be a great giveaway here Tuesday!  Let's just say that if you have a little girl age 4-6 yrs. you are definitely going to want to enter!

See you then!

30 September 2011

Have a little fun with your photos

I took some darling (if I do say so myself) pictures of my nephew a while back while he was staying with us for the weekend.  He is at that perfectly delicious chubby age where all you want to do is keep them naked and kiss all their soft rolls!  I knew I wanted to capture the details - his cute, chubby little hands, his beautiful long eyelashes, his roly poly legs... and I knew that I wanted to compile them in a fun and uniquely personal way for mom.

When my kids were little their aunt took some snapshots of them and set them to the words of favorite children's books.  I always loved the idea.  And since I am a photographer I set out to find the perfect words to go with all of Callister's cute new pictures.  I settled on Counting Kisses, by Karen Katz.  Of course, it shall now be named "Counting Kisses With Callister". :)

All I did for these pictures was add a solid colored block to the right side of each image, using photoshop.  You can select a portion of the picture to be covered up and then filled in, or add a block using an enlarged template, depending on the composition of your image.  It's really simple, especially if you already know the basics of photoshop.

These can be printed out and put in a photo album, or made into a book through Shutterfly.  What a fun memento of baby's most darling stage!  

Other books that would work great for this project:

I Love You Through and Through - Bernadette Rosetti Shustak (another good baby one - this is the one my sis-in-law used)
Here Are My Hands - Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault (great for a preschooler)
Blue Hat Green Hat - Sandra Boynton (think how much fun a toddler would have with this)

Linking up with Tatertots and Jello!!!

27 September 2011

Christmas Dove Ornament Tutorial

Ahem.  Hello. :)  Yes, I know this must look a little crazy.  I fall off the face of the planet for a couple months and then come back in September with a Christmas ornament tutorial.  Lol.  Actually, the tutorial is old.  I am bumping it up for Parenting Magazine, who wants to use my dove template in an upcoming article.  Maybe though, this is just the kick in the pants I need to get back on top of this blog.  I do miss it.  For what it's worth - in short - life is good.  Just busy, busy with my photography business and my 4 children.  It's hard to do it all... my favorite quote as of late: "You can do anything, but you can't do everything."  Wise words.

Anyway, on with the tutorial!

I came up with this idea after eyeing some fun ornaments in the Ballard Designs catalog a couple years ago, so I created a knock-off.

Here's theirs:


And here's mine:

I added a few simple clear ball ornaments that I simply painted peace signs onto using glitter glue (you know, the cheap stuff your kids like to play with?).

For the dove ornaments -

Materials used:
dove template (see below)
scrapbook paper
silver sharpie
mod podge
triple thick
brush for application

First, trace your template onto cardboard or other stiff backing.

Cut out and repeat with your scrapbook paper.

Before cutting out the template drawn on your scrapbook paper, find yourself a cup that is about the right sized circle for your distressed peace symbol. Find a corner to trace the rim of the cup on - you want just a hint of it to show. *Lightly* trace your circle and fill in the remainder of the peace sign. Get your silver sharpie out. If you look at mine closely I just barely shaded in my peace sign, I used quick, short, straight brush strokes on either side of the single line I'd drawn with my pencil, keeping the thickness even all the way around. I realize not everyone can freehand this kind of thing, but it really just takes a little bit of practice. You might want to play around with a scrap piece of paper first. :)

Now you are ready to cut out your scrapbook dove and mod podge it onto your cardboard backing. Now, I call these ornaments but mine do not actually hang on my tree. I opted to stick them in with evergreen boughs in various places around my house - in a bowl as a centerpiece, and on my mantle. If you want it to serve as an actual ornament, you will obviously need to punch a hole before you apply the mod podge.

Let the mod podge dry about 15 minutes and apply your triple thick as a top coat. let the triple thick dry for at least 20 minutes. The triple thick is shiny, so it makes the ornament look classy, not like you just slapped some paper on an old piece of cardboard! Love that.

Here are some additional pictures!

In a bowl on the center of my craft room table :

A spin off - just brown craft paper with silver polka dots:

And since I was really feeling the natural color scheme Ballard had going on that year, I made a paper chain to "match":

Lastly, here is a full shot of my mantle, with little silver birdies tucked in there, a crystal bead wreath, some ornaments up inside my sconces, and who knows what else to come... I'll continue to add to it, probably:


24 June 2011

Ballet Birthday Party

I spend most of spring and summer planning birthday parties for my kids.  It's so fun for me.  Sasha is turning 5 and wants a ballet party.  Since I've danced for half my life, I'm probably just as excited about this as she is!  She's taking dance classes this summer and I see many more in her future.

I've got some fun, fun stuff planned for this party.  I made the invitations last night and I love how they turned out!

I just bought plain, white, blank note cards and wrote "You're invited" on the front, and tied each invitation closed with a strip of pink tulle.

The inside has all the info covered with what looks like a curtain.  And under the curtain it says "Please draw the curtain for Sasha who is turning 5", along with all the party info.

And here are a few hints as to what's in store on the big day:

ribbon wands a la Angelina Ballerina
face paint
flowers for all the little performers

I can't wait!!!

22 June 2011

Getting out of auto mode!!!

Hey friends! I'm at Brown Paper Packages today with part II of getting out of auto mode! Go check it out, and if you missed part I, you can read that HERE.

Also, I was nominated for best birth photographer at Get Babied HERE.  Would love it if you voted for me!  There are other categories like prenatal photography (maternity) and newborn, too!  Thanks so much or your support. :)

17 June 2011

Father's Day Printable

Well I finally got around to creating a tag for my husband's Father's Day gift.  This year we are making him a treat jar for his desk at work.  However, it is personalized just like a candygram.  Thought maybe some of you might like it, so I created a printable for you!!!

Father's Day Tag

I've never done this before, so hopefully it works. :)

Linking up:

12 June 2011

Star Wars Birthday Party

My son Jonah turned 9 a couple weeks ago and he asked for a Star Wars themed party!  We had so much fun with this!

As guests arrived, this is what they saw on the front door... I wanted it to look like the begining of the movies, kind of trailing off, but I didn't have much time to fiddle with it. My wording was inspired by the invitation on Shindig.

Our first activity was balloon popping.  I failed to get a picture, but I tied a balloon to each kid's ankle and they had to pop it with the other foot.  Not as easy as you think. ;)  Inside each balloon was a yoda sticker for them to wear.

Next up the boys were split into 2 teams and had a relay to see who could cross Mustafar (lava) the fastest.  The catch was they had to do it one at a time, using 2 stones all the way across.  When one boy finished, he had to run the 2 stones back to the next in line, and so forth.  We had some wind issues with the tablecloths staying down, but it was still a lot of fun.  Even the girls played!
{the idea for this game came from here}
After the relay game we got out the water.  It was a HOT day.  I drew a vulture droid on our driveway and let the kids "shoot" at it with water guns.
{I also borrowed this idea but I cannot remember where from!}

Next we had a Jedi training session.  Which was nothing short of hilarious.  I had my brother lead the training (same brother who played bouncer at Adriana's Rock Star party).  Honing his karate skills of old, he conocted some ingenius moves such as the Jedi side kick, and Jedi side punch.  Real original, eh?  He also demonstrated Jedi Mind Tricking by forcing his wife to hop on one foot and bark like a dog.  Needless to say, the adults were rolling, but the boys ate it up!

Next it was time for a little break.  We feasted before the Jedi Awards Ceremony with a buffet of Star Wars themed snacks.

{some of the food ideas came from Shindig as well - the yoda soda was my favorite!  lime sherbet in lemon-lime soda}

I wanted a good vs. evil themed table, so I stuck primarily to black and white-ish foods.  The white side of the table represented "The Force" and the black side of the table represented "The Dark Side".  Even the cake had a little good vs. evil going on... originally Jonah just wanted cookies (he's not a big cake person), but we saw this cake at Target the night before while picking up some last minute items.  It had bright flowers all over the top, but I just scraped them off and re-iced it and added the lettering.  Dang that cake was yummy!  So were the little cupcakes around it... green key lime flavored  and appropriately named "Jaba Cakes"!
The boys went back outside and were each awarded by name ("Master _______") with a light saber made from pool noodles.  I've seen these in pictures all over blogland, but no real tutorials.  I cut each of 4 noodles in half, wrapped one end in silver duct tape, edged the same end with black electrical tape above and below the duct tape, and added few dot stickers (the kind you use for price tags at garage sales) to look like buttons.

Armed with their new light sabers, the boys then played a game of keeping a balloon up in the air, using just their light saber.  The wind made this the perfect challenge and they loved it! 

The boys ran around a bit and chased each other and whacked each other a few times with their light sabers (good thing they're soft).  So for the pinata we opted to use a pullstring.  I figured enough "striking" had gone on and it was a nice way to settle down before they went home.  I filled the pinata with Star Wars fruit snacks.

We all headed inside and played a quick game up "Pin the astroid on the spaceship". It came with 3D glasses (presumably to be used AFTER the blindfold?  lol) which was fun.  

{my cute niece looking a little bug-eyed!}

Finally, Jonah opened his gifts.

Parents came and each boy left with a party favor box filled with Star Wars themed items I found at Party City.

We had a great time.  As much as I enjoy the frills and fun of my girls' birthday parties, I enjoy the adventure and challenge of coming up with creative boy party ideas!

Linking up: