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Friday, December 31, 2010

Respect Diversity - Let's Love Eachother - Art & Courage

Dare to Be Different: Finding Courage in Community and Creativity

Ever since I first heard about the It Gets Better Project — a viral video campaign initiated by sex columnist and activist Dan Savage to reach out and extend support to GLBTQ youth in light of the recent rash of teen suicides — I have been inspired by all the different people who have contributed their words and stories. The Queer Etsy Street Team has been working to raise awareness about this horrible epidemic. For months they have donated all the profits from their team shop to The Trevor Project — a suicide prevention hotline for teenagers.
Michelley, known on Etsy as QueenofQueens, is the leader and founder of the team and has put together an inspiring collection of stories from Queer Street Team members about the various ways in which art has helped them get through the tougher parts of life. Michelley lives in Los Angeles with her beloved partner. She is currently awaiting the ability to legally marry without a cross-country trek. An overview of Michelley’s creative compulsions, including her fine art and tattooing, can be seen on her website.
My favorite T-shirt when I was in 4th grade featured an illustration by cartoonist Sandra Boynton, of two roosters. One wore the typical comb that all roosters are born with. The other rooster proudly sported a black, plastic, comb in defiance of convention. Above them both were the words DARE TO BE DIFFERENT. Whenever I wore this shirt I felt wildly empowered and when other kids called me “weird” — which occurred frequently — I thanked them for what I believed was a high compliment.

When I realized the true intentions behind the “compliments,” it eroded my courage to be myself. For a time during middle school I tried my very best to blend in. Most of my efforts were an epic failure. Though my designer jeans were Gloria Vanderbilt, they were a heinous kelly green velvet — a gift from Grandma at Christmas. (She tried.) Everyone else was sporting dark denim Jordache or Sassoon straight legs that never fit me. My wavy hair refused to be feathered Farrah Fawcett-style and I was far more interested in horses than in boys. As you can imagine, school was rarely enjoyable and home was hardly better.
I cannot imagine how I would have found the strength to stay alive in the face of such constant hostility were it not for my discovery of new wave and punk. I was absolutely rabid for Adam Ant; he seemed to be the spirit of art and liberty personified and he was completely unafraid to be completely himself. Adam and the Ants introduced me to a variety of rebellious, expressive musicians and artists. I secretly longed to be so bold. I wanted to outwardly demonstrate who I really was.
My ninth grade year was a nightmare. I was surrounded by three relentless bullies in my math class and their torment of me went unchecked all year by an ineffectual teacher. Their behavior culminated in an act of sexual harassment that mortified and humiliated me. Afterward, I couldn’t stop crying and wanted to die. After surviving their grotesque abuse I became determined to openly and unfailingly “wave my freak flag high.” I decided that if I was going to endure constant indignity, it was going to be on my terms. Over that summer I sought out the most punk clothes I could find (long before Hot Topic) and cut my hair radically short. When I walked through the cafeteria on the first day of school, a self-identified art-fag/punk, I was met with silence from my wide-eyed, stunned schoolmates. I’d never felt more self-assured.
Claiming our space as creative people and choosing to survive in a world that tries to tear us down is the most revolutionary thing we can do. The artist and designer behind Feathered Nest Studio believes that "art gives me superpowers...okay, maybe not actual superhero strength or the ability to see through walls, but art gives me a space to be myself, to say this is what I make, this is what I believe in, this is who I am. It was because of my art that I finally felt at ease and found a place in my local gay and lesbian community. The very first time I went to my local women's community center, I met a woman who wanted to start doing art shows at the building. Until then I had felt very isolated and had been searching for a way to feel comfortable in my own skin. That initial meeting led to working on a women's community art show, which blossomed into a community arts program for women and children that I now run.”


For many of us, art classes were true sanctuaries during adolescence. Being afforded a safe space to emote and express ourselves can offer a “test lab” of authenticity until we find our confidence as adults.  The designer behind River Wolfe Jewelry found a safe haven in her senior art class in Dallas, Texas. She says, “At home, I wasn't encouraged to talk about my feelings. There was no room for my emotional needs to be met, and as a result I really had no idea what those needs and desires were. It was in Ms. Hudson's art class that I discovered how to express myself using pictures. The project was to make a collage of dreams. Mine turned out to be a silhouette of myself with a huge city in the foreground, I was entering a city full of lights and opportunity and the process was very seductive. I wondered, could I really make it in a city like that? I had no idea this desire was inside of me until it revealed itself in the picture.
"I took my collage art to another level in private. I made another piece consisting of images and ideas that expressed freedom, feminism, and complete rejection of traditional gender roles. I was so proud of both of these that finally I began to understand myself. I hold this memory as one of my most sacred and profound experiences. Learning to express my innermost fears and desires with pictures enabled me to become the woman I am today.”


Authenticity is a discipline that bestows the truest rewards. The awareness of this potential often presents itself subtly, as the visual artist behind Etsy shops Scarlet Tentacle and Lace and Sparrow shares with us: “I had been struggling with depression for several years and was reaching the end 
of my ability to maintain hope. I was taking a class that focused on the works of renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. I came into class feeling like I was at the very bottom of whatever I could handle — and then our professor put on Kiarostami's film, A Taste of Cherry. I experienced a profound moment of hope while watching this film. It wasn't a promise that things would magically get better, but instead, it gave me a feeling that the world is wondrous and that I was not alone. That feeling, that hope, let me keep going for a little longer, and opened me to the possibilities of art to create change and make a difference.”
e.e. cummings once said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Unprecedented bullying has recently led to the tragic suicides of several young LGBT people. Embracing your essence and sharing your creativity with the world is never easy in the face of adversity, especially when facing harsh rejection from the mainstream. Despite my adolescent attempts at conformity, I grew up to be the rooster with the plastic comb: a working class, femme, lesbian, Latina artist with a punk rock provenance. My adolescence was painfully isolated in many ways, and there were many times when I nearly gave up. Every time I’m fortunate enough to connect with other artists and experience the beauty of their work, I’m glad I didn’t. I now know that I share history with scores of other defiant artists and courageous queer folk. I now know that I was never really alone.

Thanks so much to Michelley and the entire Queer Etsy Street Team for sharing their stories with us. If you or an LGBT youth you know is at risk of suicide, please contact the Trevor Project's 24-hour hotline at 1-866-4-u-trevor. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ok, so I'm addicted to intuitive readings.......what's your point?

RobertRenfield on Etsy:

I requested a 3 card, 3 Question reading & here's what I got - so Cool!

The first question that you have asked is about whether or not you will be able to transfer to another job, and in response to this question you have drawn the
Star, the Knight of Wands, and the Wheel of Fortune.
The Star is the first card that you have drawn in this spread and this is a very good card for you to draw in the context of the question that you have asked, as this is a card of hope wich suggests that whatever you are wishing or hoping for is not outside of the bounds of possibility and is in fact quite likely to come to pass, so this is a strong card of affirmation and confirmation for you with regards to this question.
This is also the case with the Wheel of Fortune in this spread, as this is a card which represents luck being on your side with regards to this matter, and suggests that Fate will lend a helping hand in pushing things along so that you are able to transfer to another job as you have hoped, so this is once again a sign for you that everything should work out for you as you would ideally like.
The final card that I will read for you in this spread is the Knight of Wands, and this is a card which specifically represents job opportunities and invitations and implies that there will be a position suitable for you to transfer into in the future and that you should be successful in making a smooth transition from the job that you are currently in into a better job in the future, so this is once again a very strong and optimistic card for you to draw in relation to your question :)

The next question that you have asked is about when this transfer is likely to come into being for you, and in response to this question I have broken with the three card structure of these readings to ask Spirit for insight into a timeframe spread in which I have asked Spirit to assign one month to each of the cards drawn.
The first card in this spread represents the forthcoming month of January,
and unfortunately this card is the 7 of Pentacles which is a card of delayed reward for you and is letting you know that his transfer is unlikely to eventuate for you in this month, however it will not be a long wait for you before things work out in your favour.
The next card that has been drawn represents the month of February and is the 5 of Cups.
The 5 of Cups is once again a negative indicator for you in the context of the question that you have asked, letting you know once again that there is unlikely to be success for you during this period.
In March you have drawn the Judgement card and this is a positive indicator for you which specifically represents the message of a change in jobs or in career paths and represents positive energies flowing into this situation implying that this change will be a very good one for you - therefore I feel as though it will be in the month of March that this transfer comes to pass for you and that it will be a positive progression for you financially.
I have drawn one more card in this spread to see if there are any further messages for you surrounding this matter in the month of April, and the card that has been drawn is the
10 of Cups, which is a strong card of happiness and wish fulfillment and is letting you know that things should all be in place for you by this point in time and that any transition should be completed and that you should be fully settled into your new job by this point in time, so this is excellent news.

The results of this question negate the need for your final question - however you ar welcome to come back and claim this third question at any time should you ever need further help or guidance in the future - I will write you down on my "banked questions" list and whenever you need to you can drop me a line and I will be glad to help :)
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So, I was very happy with the results of this reading, his indepth analysis, and the quick response. He responded well within 24 hours, and even then he was very apologetic.

Two of my co-workers got readings from him also, and theirs were amazing!  Robert is a gifted intuitive, and I can't wait to contact him when I think of a good 3rd question.  I thought that was so sweet that he offered to "credit" me the 3rd question.  Very nice man!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

John Cappello: Visionary, Psychic, Medium - This Guy Rocks!

I've been to two gallery readings in Old Town Spring, where John serves as a medium to help people communicate with loved-ones who've passed on.  Both times I've been blown away by the things he communicated to myself and others in the group.  Unlike other mediums I've seen on TV, since it's a smaller group setting, John spends approximately 10-15 minutes with each person either answering questions or passing on information from the other side.

The first time, he came up with stuff about my grandparents that were detailed & that he could not have known. I was careful not to give too much information when answering his questions, and I don't believe I led him.  He knew things about me from them, he talked about my children and pets.  He saw two small dogs (yes!) & knew they had been reacting to something in the house. He said it's my grandfather teasing them, but that they're getting used to him. He knew lights had been flashing on & off in the house. He said that was Papa too, just letting us know he's there. It was hilarious when he stopped and said, "I'm having a hard time hearing. They're both talking at the same time." That was SO Mimi & Papa!  We always joked that you had to have a split personality to converse with the two of them, because they never noticed they were having 2 separate conversations with you at the same time!  John knew my grandmother lived with us for a while & said she really enjoyed that time. I came away truly knowing they are with us always and such a part of our lives.

The next time, I took my mother with me, and we were anxious to see if her mother would come through stronger for her, since they were so close.  It was amazing the things he knew about her parents and step-parents, my father, and my mother's personality. John gave my mother a wonderful gift when she asked him to ask her mother, "Am I doing everything necessary to get to where you are?", and he said, "She wants you to know you're doing More than it takes, and so is your daughter. Your transition will be much easier than mine was." He knew she's very religious/Catholic and prays all the time, that she's the matriarch of the family, and that she keeps everyone in line and tells them how it is."  So true!  I scanned my mom for crosses, religious jewelry - anything that would have tipped him off to her faith, and there was nothing.  She too had been careful not to lead him with too much information.

When he got to me, he knew about my sons' personalities and talents. I asked if anyone had a message for my husband, and he knew both of his parents are on the other side. He talked about my father-in-law and how he immediately accepted me into the family. He knew they passed a short time apart and then freaked me out when he said my husband's mother was ill, and my father-in-law was living for her, so when she passed, his heart gave out. Literally, it did!  Wow. He said my father-in-law just wanted to tell my husband to work hard and be there for his family, and that they want him to know there is no burden in his life he's not strong enough to handle.

We were humbled by the painful experiences others in the group have dealt with in their lives.  John helped members of the group communicate with children who had passed away, a spouse who was murdered, and he talked of the hardships they were coping with.  He knew the ways loved-ones had died, about drug problems, mental problems, where people were from specifically, etc.
The most amazing reading was for a woman behind us. He started out talking to her parents who'd passed on, and it was good, but then he asked if she had any questions, and she asked, "Is there another man here with me?" John asked if it was a love interest, and by mistake she answered "No".  John insisted, "There's a man here with you, a love interest or a spouse. Is he your spouse? Is your husband in spirit?", and she said "Yes."  Every one laughed out loud, and John said, "I'd say that's a love interest! You married him."  And then he went on to ask if he'd been decapitated, if that was how he passed. She said No.  John kept insisting, "I'm seeing something with his head, coming off, it's gone."  She replied, "He was shot in the head."  John knew it wasn't a hunting accident or suicide and said "But it was quick, a surprise."  She replied that he had been killed in a robbery. Wow. He went on to tell her that her husband was sorry for the mess he'd left behind, and that he's on her side. She said there are problems with his family trying to claim things of his, and John told her "He wants you to be strong with them. They were never there for him, so you be strong. What's yours is yours." And she said that was very true. He was right on.
And that was only one of the amazing readings that day!

I can't wait for the next gallery.  It's just so wonderful to have confirmation that our loved ones are still here with us, watching over us, and that we will see them again very soon.
What a gift to be able to communicate with spirits and pass messages on to people here who are hurting and need answers!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Reminder of Why We Celebrate Christmas...A Physician Analyzes the Crucifixion

Thank you, God! 
John 3:16

A Physician Analyzes the Crucifixion
From New Wine Magazine, April 1982.
Originally published in Arizona Medicine, March 1965,
Arizona Medical Association.
A medical explanation of what Jesus endured on the day He died
by Dr. C. Truman Davis
Dr. C. Truman Davis is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. He is a practicing ophthalmologist, a pastor, and author of a book about medicine and the Bible.

Several years ago I became interested in the physical aspects of the passion, or suffering, of Jesus Christ when I read an account of the crucifixion in Jim Bishop's book, The Day Christ Died. I suddenly realized that I had taken the crucifixion more or less for granted all these years - that I had grown callous to its horror by a too-easy familiarity with the grim details. It finally occurred to me that, as a physician, I did not even know the actual immediate cause of Christ's death. The gospel writers do not help much on this point. Since crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetimes, they undoubtedly considered a detailed description superfluous. For that reason we have only the concise words of the evangelists: "Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified ... and they crucified Him."
Despite the gospel accounts' silence on the details of Christ's crucifixion, many have looked into this subject in the past. In my personal study of the event from a medical viewpoint, I am indebted especially to Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who did exhaustive historical and experimental research and wrote extensively on the topic.
An attempt to examine the infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate1 God in atonement2 for the sins of fallen man is beyond the scope of this article. However, the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord's passion we can examine in some detail. What did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture?

The physical passion of Christ began in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of His initial suffering, the one which is of particular physiological interest is the bloody sweat. Interestingly enough, the physician, St. Luke, is the only evangelist to mention this occurrence. He says, "And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground" (Luke 22:44 KJV).
Every attempt imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away the phenomenon of bloody sweat, apparently under the mistaken impression that it simply does not occur. A great deal of effort could be saved by consulting the medical literature. Though very rare, the phenomenon of hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.
Although Jesus' betrayal and arrest are important portions of the passion story, the next event in the account which is significant from a medical perspective is His trial before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. Here the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blindfolded Him, mockingly taunted Him to identify them as each passed by, spat on Him, and struck Him in the face.

Before Pilate
In the early morning, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and worn out from a sleepless night, Jesus was taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. We are familiar with Pilate's action in attempting to shift responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea. Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate. It was then, in response to the outcry of the mob, that Pilate ordered Barabbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
Preparations for Jesus' scourging were carried out at Caesar's orders. The prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire stepped forward with the flagrum, or flagellum, in his hand. This was a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back, and legs. At first the weighted thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.
The small balls of lead first produced large deep bruises that were broken open by subsequent blows. Finally, the skin of the back was hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it was determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner was near death, the beating was finally stopped.

The half-fainting Jesus was then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with his own blood. The Roman soldiers saw a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They threw a robe across His shoulders and placed a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still needed a crown to make their travesty complete. Small flexible branches covered with long thorns, commonly used for kindling fires in the charcoal braziers in the courtyard, were plaited into the shape of a crude crown. The crown was pressed into his scalp and again there was copious bleeding as the thorns pierced the very vascular tissue. After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers took the stick from His hand and struck Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tired of their sadistic sport and tore the robe from His back. The robe had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, caused excruciating pain. The wounds again began to bleed.

In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans apparently returned His garments. The heavy patibulum3 of the cross was tied across His shoulders. The procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion began its slow journey along the route which we know today as the Via Dolorosa.
In spite of Jesus' efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious loss of blood, was too much. He stumbled and fell. The rough wood of the beam gouged into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tried to rise, but human muscles had been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to proceed with the crucifixion, selected a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus followed, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock. The 650-yard journey from the Fortress Antonia to Golgotha was finally completed. The prisoner was again stripped of His clothing except for a loin cloth which was allowed the Jews.
The crucifixion began. Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic, pain-reliving mixture. He refused the drink. Simon was ordered to place the patibulum on the ground, and Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was then lifted into place at the top of the stipes4, and the titulus5 reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" was nailed into place.
The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim was now crucified.

On the Cross
As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerve trunks which traverse the mid-wrist and hand. As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of this feet.
At this point, another phenomenon occurred. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arm, the pectoral muscles, the large muscles of the chest, were paralyzed and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were unable to act. Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, the carbon dioxide level increased in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided.

The Last Words
Spasmodically, He was able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences that are recorded.
The first - looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice6 for His seamless garment: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do."
The second - to the penitent thief7: "Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
The third - looking down at Mary His mother, He said: "Woman, behold your son." Then turning to the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John , the beloved apostle, He said: "Behold your mother."8
The fourth cry is from the beginning of Psalm 22: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
He suffered hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross. Then another agony began: a deep crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium, the sac surrounding the heart, slowly filled with serum and began to compress the heart.
The prophecy in Psalm 22:14 was being fulfilled: "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels."
The end was rapidly approaching. The loss of tissue fluids had reached a critical level; the compressed heart was struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood to the tissues, and the tortured lungs were making a frantic effort to inhale small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues sent their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasped His fifth cry: "I thirst." Again we read in the prophetic psalm: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death" (Psalm 22:15 KJV).
A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine that was the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, was lifted to Jesus' lips. His body was now in extremis, and He could feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brought forth His sixth word, possibly little more than a tortured whisper: "It is finished." His mission of atonement9 had been completed. Finally, He could allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry: "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit."

The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the leg. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest, and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when the soldiers approached Jesus, they saw that this was unnecessary.
Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34 states, "And immediately there came out blood and water." Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. This is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.

In these events, we have seen a glimpse of the epitome of evil that man can exhibit toward his fellowman and toward God. This is an ugly sight and is likely to leave us despondent and depressed.
But the crucifixion was not the end of the story. How grateful we can be that we have a sequel: a glimpse of the infinite mercy of God toward man--the gift of atonement, the miracle of the resurrection, and the expectation of Easter morning.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How to Wrap your Gifts the Eco-Conscious Way!


Here's a great article I found on the Gorgeously Green website about eco-friendly gift wrapping options:

Grabbing a few roles of cheap Holiday gift wrap may seem like the convenient thing to do when you’re rushing around, crazed, ticking things off your insanely ambitious to-do list BUT there is a better choice that we can all very easily make’s about wrapping your holiday gifts with a bit of thought about the wrap itself. Really cheap gift wrap is a waste of time and money because it always splits or rips where you don’t want it to, besides paper is paper, and unless it’s recycled, trees have been used to create it. Honestly, it’s so easy to find an alternative, smart and gorgeous way to wrap your gifts this year. Here are my top 6 Gift Wrap Ideas:
I. Recycled Paper: If it’s a really special gift that you want to go overboard on, or if you’re just the kind of girl that likes regular gift wrap, you cannot go wrong with the beautiful holiday wrap from Greenfield Paper Company. I met the owner of this family-run company when I wrote my first book and I was blown away with the quality of their products. Their gift wrap is 100% recycled. They also carry tree-free paper and seed-infused cards. Their Holiday cards are also stunning, and a set of their fine stationary would make a stylish gift.

2. Newspaper: They key is to only wrap small gifts or bottles in newspaper because if you try wrapping a huge box or something that is awkwardly-shaped, you’ll get print all over the shop. I love to wrap bottles of wine of homemade cordial in newspaper and finish with either a red or black satin ribbon tied into a bow.
3. Kid’s Art: My daughter is making all her own wrapping paper this year because she found an old roll of white butcher block paper and decided she’d go crazy decorating it. Not only has this activity kept her mercifully busy and away from the TV, but it’s also yielded some stunning results. Each gift is customized for it’s recipient, with sketches/designs of things that he/she loves! When we ran out of the roll, we went to the deli counter of our grocery store and asked for a few sheet of the white paper that they wrap the cheese and cold cuts in – perfect!
4. Scarf  Wrap: This is one of my personal favorites because I love to pick up inexpensive scarves and see how creative I can get with the tying. This year, I’m giving a family member a silver frame, so I had a look around World Market and found a perfect turquoise and silver scarf in which to wrap it – can’t wait to put it under the tree.
5. Planter: I love the gift to be the wrap – if that makes sense. For example, I suggested that my great friend give everyone in her office a green houseplant last year. She had been freaking out about the air quality in the
building, as she works in NYC, where the windows are permanently sealed. She found some inexpensive and really stunning planters from The Container Store and tied a pretty ribbon around each one. The then found the plants (a different kind for each co-worker. When she got back into the office in January, air-purifying plants surrounded her!
6. Gift Bags: This is a no-brainer and one that my in-laws do every year. The same gift bags are taken out, used and put away for next year. After 5 or so years, some of them are looking a bit frayed around the edges, but who cares – kudos on them for not buying more paper just for the sake of it. When purchasing gift bags, you can earn extra Greenie points and get unique bags by going down the fair-trade route. Alternatively if you’re on a teeny budget this year, the discount stores always carry them in bulk. Just make sure that you tie a label to the handle, which can easily be removed (so bag can be used again). I never write on the label that is supplied – always attach one of my own.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How to Make a Cute Gift Bag Out of an Envelope!

Decorative masking tape is turning up everywhere, and pretty much anything you stick it on becomes super cute. As our kids head back to school, these easy bags could hold treats for them and their classmates. Little sacks filled with candies would make fun party favors, too. Let's get started!
Supplies you'll need:

• Scissors
• Envelope (I used 4-3/8" x 5-3/4" envelopes, but any size will work.)
Seal the envelope and trim off one of the short sides to make an opening.
Wrap tape around both sides of the envelope. No need to cover the last inch, since it will form the bottom of the bag.

Fold about one inch on each side of the bag toward the middle; then fold the bottom upwards, creasing your folds well. You can vary the width of these flaps depending on the proportion of the bag you want. Flip the bag over and reverse the folds along the same lines for easier shaping in the next step.
Put one hand inside the bag, and with the other, push the bottom fold down. This will leave the bottom corners of the bag standing up. Press each corner into a triangle.

Fold both triangles down and secure them with more tape, covering the bottom of the bag.
And voila!

How to Make Maple-Walnut Popcorn Balls - Yummy!

Maple-Walnut Popcorn BallsMakes about 20 popcorn balls, which should be eaten whole and leave your face feeling sticky.

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B has a robust, more maple-y flavor)
3/4-teaspoon baking soda
10 cups popped corn (1 plain microwave bag or 1/4 cup kernels)
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
An oiled bowl and two oiled, heatproof spatulas or spoons
popcorn-pouring2.jpgIn a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add sugars, honey, and corn syrup and cook to 300°F over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will look thick and bubbly. Add the baking soda and stir well to incorporate; the mixture will increase in volume.
Spread the popped corn out on a large sheet tray and discard any unpopped kernels. Transfer the popcorn to the oiled bowl. Pour the caramel evenly over the popcorn, then sprinkle the nuts; use 2 heatproof spatulas and toss together until corn is evenly coated.
When the caramel has cooled and is cool enough to handle but not brittle, after 2-3 minutes, toss and shape into 2” balls with lightly oiled hands. Set on a rack to cool.

Popcorn balls are best within a few days of making and keep for up to a week.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Here's the latest reading I got from Kat - she's awesome!

Card 1: January: King of Swords, reversed
Standard meaning: Evil intentions, an obstinate person, decisions or judgments may seem unfair
My interpretation: The first month of the year may be a trying time for you as those around you continue to treat you unfairly.  Do your best to protect yourself and remember that some battles cannot be won, simply out-lasted.
Card 2: February: Nine of Swords, reversed
Standard meaning: Healing over time, unselfishness, patience, good news of a loved one
My interpretation: By this month the worst will have passed and you will begin to heal your self and the situations you find yourself in.  The worst of the conflict has passed and now patience and steadfastness will see you through.
Card 3: March: 6 – The Lovers, reversed
Standard meaning: Unreliability, separation, frustration in love, fickleness, untrustworthy
My interpretation: Consider carefully who you allow into your life and relationships in this month.  You may find that they have unrealistic expectations or are simply unable to do what they say they will.  Consider re-evaluating your own relationship expectations so you can more clearly communicate them.
Card 4: April: Two of Swords, reversed
Standard meaning: Release, beware when dealing with the unscrupulous
My interpretation: Again, use caution when choosing people to stand around you.  This month may seem to flow easily by, but simplicity can be a deception.  Watch your step carefully, especially when you are celebrating a perceived victory or achievement.
Card 5: May: Page or Pentacles
Standard meaning: Scholar, generosity, kindness, a careful person, learning new ideas/opinions
My interpretation: As spring blooms, be open to learning from those whom you have kept around you through the troubled early spring.  As you may be undertaking a journey, either physical on simply of learning, the knowledge of true friends and mentors will be or great assistance to you.
Card 6: June: Ace of Wands, reversed
Standard meaning: Selfishness may spoil the venture, setbacks for a new enterprise, a journey may be put off, a lack of determination
My interpretation: As you see this journey approaching you will feel drawn to delay its beginning.  On the surface of your thoughts you may rationalize and believe you have reasons for pausing.  Consider looking deeper than your surface feelings to find your deeper concerns about beginning this journey.
Card 7: July: Four of Pentacles, reversed
Standard meaning: Some earthly possessions may be lost, obstacles or delays in business affairs, a spendthrift.
My interpretation: July is going to be a difficult month financially.  Paying closer attention to money through the previous months may make this month easier.  The obstacles from June may be carried over as well; look for reasons beyond the obvious.
Card 8: August: Ten of Cups
Standard meaning: A happy family life, true friendships, lasting happiness
My interpretation: The end of summer will bring about new and lasting friendships that will sustain you through the rest of your trials.  Look to your home and enjoy the people you find there; they will be your true friends that will continue to stand with you.
Card 9: September: Six of Swords, reversed
Standard meaning: Journey will be postponed, no way out of present obstacles or difficulties
My interpretation: If you continue on your present path the delays that may have been overcome in the summer will be set in stone by the beginning of the fall.  The decisions will no longer rest with you.
Card 10: October: Four of Swords
Standard meaning: Rest after strife, retreat, temporary exile, a change back to the "active life"
My interpretation: Consider taking the setback of September and re-imagine it as a rest-stop instead.  It will have been a rough summer and you need to re-charge your emotional batteries.
Card 11: November: Four of Cups
Standard meaning: Reevaluation, a dissatisfaction with success, kindness may come from others
My interpretation: As the holiday season approaches be aware of those that help you.  Use their assistance as you take the time to re-evaluate your game plan.  There may be loss, but try not to get too lost in your own head; a new plan is necessary.
Card 12: December: King of Pentacles, reversed
Standard meaning: Materialistic, slow to anger, 'head is on the ground", bribes
My interpretation: December will be about money and not necessarily in a good way.  There is too much between now and then and too many financial decisions that lie outside of your control for me to get a clearer picture.
Card 13: Year in General: Three of Pentacles
Standard meaning: Reward for skills or abilities, approval, success through effort
My interpretation: When you have the opportunities to show your skills and present your abilities you will be recognized for it.  Use this to your advantage.

I just had to add this cutie pie picture of my 2 furry babies!  Buddy is almost 2 & Cosmo is 15 months!
They are typical 1st child & 2nd child. Buddy is so sweet & the perfect little people pleaser. Cosmo has a crazy little attention-grabbing personality & always looks like he's up to something. Sounds a couple of boys I gave birth to!  LOL

I'm Addicted to Etsy...Is there a 12 step program??

I'm an addict. I admit it. If I'm not on there shopping, stalking, drooling, and hopefully listing some of my stuff, then I'm thinking about it!

I need help!  ;)

At least I've gotten some cool stuff & made some sales. Basically I'm selling to support my habit. LOL!

I've been telling everyone I know about Kat & her intuitive readings, and so far a co-worker, my sister-in-law & a friend of hers have purchased readings. I got a 2nd one...the 13 card "year ahead" reading & all I can say is Wow. Looks like I'm in for Some Kind of Year. Not quite sure what to think about that, but being the positive person I am (usually), I will think the best and know that God is there to carry me through anything & everything!

The garage sale was not as successful for Me as I hoped yesterday, but Mommy & my 2 aunts worked their buns off & made some cash. I made enough to pay for a couple of my Etsy purchases at least. Sigh....
The good thing is that a bunch of stuff that was just taking up space is now GONE.
Isn't it funny how you can't stand to get rid of stuff & then when you do, how quickly you forget about it & don't even miss it. It's liberating.
Someone needs to force me to do it more often.

Anyhoo...I'm off to Etsy...........Later gators!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All my Etsy Orders have started Arriving - WooHoo!

Like I posted earlier, I've done a LOT of my Christmas shopping this year on, and I'm thrilled with the items I've received so far. Unlike auction sites, stores, etc...Etsy sellers go the extra mile to include freebies, wrap items with special care or in fun/unique ways. Sometimes the package is just as cool as what's in it.  So, I'm definitely taking notes from other sellers. I've gotten the most yummy smelling candles and soaps of the purest ingredients. I've purchase unique gift items like Beerings - adorable brass rings for men that are also bottle openers!  I just received the most precious tiles (recycled of course) with hilarious sayings on them for your best friend, sister-in-law...I can't wait to give them!
What else...Oh, glasses made from recycled beer bottles and root beer bottles. They're so awesome!
Nothing has disappointed.
And I've been having a blast joining in the BNR and BNS in the Treasury. That's where you look at that treasury of items someone put together, and when you buy 1 of them, the curator replaces that item with 1 of yours from your store. That's Buy and Replace or Buy and Stay. The BNS is in the Forums. That's one where you buy an item from 1 of the listed stores, and then your store is added to the list. It stays on that list as long as you remember to check in & give a "shout out" daily. If you forget & get knocked off the list 1 day, you just buy something again to get back on.
They're a lot of fun, and we all work at promoting those treasuries/forums via twitter, FB, etc. I've really seen my page views go up this week and I've had 5 sales! WooHoo!
Well, gotta go for now...the big Garage Sale is on tomorrow at Mom & Dad's, and I've gotta get busy dragging stuff over there!

Friday, December 10, 2010

My New Favorite Etsy Shop - EmKatCreations is Right On with the Intuitive Readings!!

Kat is an amazing Intuitive who's been reading Tarot for over 10 years.  Normally I'm not into Tarot and prefer Angel cards myself, but I found her shop, EmKatCreations, on Etsy the other day & purchased a 3 card reading for $5.

Wow! Was I amazed by the results! I've been telling everybody & their grandma about it!

All I had to do was send her my first name, astrological sign, hometown & question. My question was very vague: "I have a question about work-related problems."

She sent me a photo of the 3 cards that came up during the reading and a detailed explanation. Here it is,
and she was dead on!  I'm amazed!  Now I think I'm addicted, because I just purchased a 13 card "year ahead" reading for $30 and am on pins and needles waiting for her email!  Go, Kat!  A friend ordered a 5 card "love" reading, and we're holding our breath 'til we get that one too!
  • Before you read any further, all three cards pulled are of the Major Arcana.  To me this indicates that this situation is very important in your life right now.

Card 1: Background: 11 – Justice, reversed

Standard meaning: Bias, false accusations, intolerance, unfairness, abuse

My interpretation: The situation at your workplace has multiple facets.  One of the largest concerns is unfair treatment as well as a superior believing false accusation against you.

Card 2: Problem: 7 – The Chariot, reversed

Standard meaning: Unsuccessful, defeat, failure, last minute loss, vanquishment

My interpretation: Currently you feel as if you’ve run into a brick wall when attempting to have this problem addressed.  This is not an inaccurate statement and you should better trust your instincts.  The person you are approaching or considering approaching will have limited opportunity or desire to assist you.

Card 3: Advice: 13 - Death

Standard meaning: Transformation, making way for the new, unexpected change, loss, failure, illness or death, bad luck

My interpretation: There will be change and it will be sudden and appear as a streak of bad luck.  Take precautions now and you will be better able to meet the challenges ahead of you.  Transformation leads to change and opportunity as surely as death leads to re-birth.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I think I've only stepped into 1 brick & mortar store this year for Christmas shopping!

I think this is a record for me...I think I've only stepped into 1 actual real-life store this year for Christmas shopping...and that was Kohls. Everything else I've purchased on-line, particularly from Etsy. Talk about so much stress, no lines, no pushy people. The only stressful moment that I've had so far was last night when a package was delivered by UPS, and it looked like the Jolly Green Giant had jumped up & down on it a few times! No wonder the UPS driver practically tossed it & ran before we could make it to the door! I would've had a few choice words for him!  GGRRR....But other than that, no problemo. This is the way to go, peeps.
'Cuz you know what? I think online shopping has really slowed down my usual "One for you, one for me, Two for you, Two for me" shopping that I normally do!  :)
So far so good. I found our 2 middle (Dirty Santa) gifts on Etsy, as well as our 2 White Elephant gifts. They're crazy funny!  Thanks to Ebay, Amazon, Etsy,, and Bestbuy, I'm good to go. Just got a few more things to find & I'm done!
The only store I plan on visiting between now & Christmas is the Liquor store - WooHoo!
But now, it's time to start wrapping, and I'll be doing that with a lot of newspaper & other recycled paper and boxes. Plus the boxes I learned how to make in the video that's posted here on my blog. Make gift boxes out of scrap paper! Yay!

Declaring Coral too precious to Use for Jewelry, etc.

How to Make a Reusable Tote Bag out of Tyvek Mailing Envelopes!

How to Make Bottled Potions!

How to Make a Purse out of a Recycled Book!

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Why the Haters?

I just did a social network search for my shop name on the internet & found a blog about "calling out etsy resellers", and imagine my surprise to find my shop listed there!  It had a link to my shop's handbag section, which is completely unfair. Etsy totally allows the sale of vintage items. My handbags are all either vintage or upcycled. So, WTF?!  Are they competitors, and why the hate? It's not like I'm on etsy making millions of sales. I'm listing stuff for fun, as a way to hopefully sell some of the stuff I feel inspired to make anyway. If I find a cool vintage bag at the resale shop or thrift store, and it's cheap enough, Yeah I'll put it in my shop. That's the purpose of the vintage category on etsy. Maybe I'm forgetting to tag the listings properly....I'll have to check that out to be sure.
But, boy, that aggravated me. And of course it was Anonymously posted. Wimpy.

How to Fuse Plastic grocery bags for Re-Use!!

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to make boxes out of scrap paper!

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How to make a lightbulb terrarium!

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