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Archive for the ‘Art and Crafts’ Category

September 11, 2015Butterfly bushes hang limp in the breeze. Dead grass crunches when walked upon. It’s obvious that the drought conditions in California have wreaked havoc in my yard. The only things flourishing in it right now are the spiders. In lieu of masses of pretty white flowers, I now have a generous sprinkling of white spider webs. With its areas of tight gossamer weave and its immense size, this spider web is a masterpiece – a different type of gift from Mother Nature.

#1 – Bioinspiration
Strongest Natural Material Spider webs have long been considered to be the strongest organic material, but now a challenger has arrived on the scene – limpet teeth. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have found that the material in tiny limpet teeth “contain a hard mineral known as goethite, which forms in the limpet as it grows.” Engineers will try to mimic the structure and find practical applications for it. The article Scientists Find Strongest Natural Material describes bioinspiration as “Finding out about effective designs in nature and then making structures based on these designs.”

#2 – Glamorous Decorations
20 Glam Halloween Ideas If you don’t have fancy spider webs like mine, you can make your own decorative ones in time for Halloween. Check out these 20 Ideas for Glam Halloween decorations.

#3 – Words of Wisdom
Words of Wisdom from Author Kurt Vonnegut Eight years ago, some students in a high school class wrote letters to their favorite authors. Only one author replied. To see which author took the time to respond to them and to read the inspirational words he shared, click on the photo to enlarge it.

#4 – Tips for Life and for Traveling
99 Travel and Life Tips Having traveled around the world for the last nine years, Sherry of Otts World offers a plethora of great life and travel tips in her blog post 99 Best Life and Travel Tips.

#5 – Bound Together
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” Chief Seattle

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September 4, 2015 EditionSucculents don’t suck. They just suffer from a lack of appreciation. However, all that is changing. With drought conditions existing in the United States, versatile succulents are rising in popularity. Sporting a wide range of colors, textures, shapes, and sizes, succulents add striking beauty to gardens. In an effort to cut back on water usage, I replaced almost all of my potted plants with succulents and I am so happy that I did. Succulents also produce spectacular flowers, like the trumpet-shaped one above that graces my front porch.

#1 – Crayon Initiative
Saving Crayons: Crayon Initiative While celebrating his birthday at a restaurant, Brian Ware learned that the crayons given to his children to occupy themselves were discarded after use. This led to the formation of the Crayon Initiative. Mr. Ware collects used crayons from schools and restaurants, melts them down, remolds them, and distributes them to hospitals throughout California for young patients to use. Says Mr. Ware, “If these crayons give them an escape from that hospital room for ten minutes, we did our job.”

#2 – Where Magic Happens
Visiting Illustrators' Studios A while back, when I chaired Author Day programs for my children’s schools, my family had the privilege of visiting the studio of Ruth Heller, children’s book author and illustrator. That is where magic happened, where her books came to life. Photographer Jake Green visited the studios of well-known illustrators of children’s books. Here’s a peek at some of his notes and photos from his visits in Where Magic Happens: Children’s Illustrators Open Up Their Studios.

#3 – Who’s the Cutest?
Who's the Cutest? Zoologists and animal experts from around the world took to Twitter to compete in a “cute-off” to determine which animals are scientifically the cutest. To see photos of some of the entrants, check out Scientists On Twitter Agree: These Are The Cutest Animals That Exist .

#4 – Propagating Succulents
Propagating Succulents Whether you plant succulents in the ground or in pots, you will need to keep them in shape. Many varieties can get “leggy” and need to be pruned back. Almost every part of a succulent can be used in propagation, so why not propagate while pruning? Needles + Leaves has an great tutorial on Propagating Succulents. You’ll be amazed at how easy the process is and how many plants you can get from one “mother” plant.

#5 – To Plant a Garden
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
Audrey Hepburn

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August 14, 2015 Edition Resembling a drunk, my granddaughter Charlotte teeters back and forth on unsteady legs as she walks towards me. Deciding to carry the largest and heaviest toy in the room, she makes frequent balance adjustments as she plows her way through a minefield of toys on the floor. I smile at the scrunched-up-nose grin on her face; that happy grin appears during moments when she is most proud of herself. “Slow down little one,” I say to her, not wanting her to fall, but, in a grander sense, not wanting her to grow up too fast. Although she’s not quite a year old, it’s hard for me to remember what life was like before this precious bundle of joy blessed it.

#1 – Stop Complaining!
How to Complain Less Some days I watch Charlotte for 15 hours straight, but I’m not complaining. I consider myself lucky that I’m physically able to do it and that my son and daughter-in-law trust me enough to care for their child. The act of complaining zaps the joy out of life, so stop complaining or at least do it less frequently. Read What It’s Like To Go Without Complaining For a Month and learn a few tips on how to complain less.

#2 – Coloring Stress Away
25 Free Coloring Pages Back in the “good ol’ days” before the invention of televisions, computers, and cell phones, kids would entertain themselves by coloring in their favorite coloring books. Remember the happy feeling you had after buying a new box of crayons and a new coloring book? Regain that happy and carefree feeling of being lost in art as you color away your day’s stress. Check out The Country Chic Cottage’s list of free coloring pages. Coloring is not just for kids!

#3 – Salads in a Jar
20 Recipes for Salads in a Jar Vacations are over. It’s back to school or back to work we go. And that usually means back to routines. Break the monotony of bag lunches by taking out unappetizing sandwiches and substituting tantalizing salads. Better yet, make the salads ahead of time in a jar and the next morning grab a jar and go. These 20 Mason Jar Salads to Pack for Lunch will give you a few recipe ideas for next week.

#4 – Admiring Glass
#0 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today One would think that glass is a cold and lifeless medium, but not in the hands of these 30 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today. In their hands molten glass solidifies to become expressions of emotions and beauty. Ikuta Niyoko, one of the artists featured in the article, says this of her work, “My motifs are derived from feelings of gentleness and harshness, fear, limitless expansion experienced through contact with nature, images from music, ethnic conflict, the heart affected by joy and anger, and prayer.”

#5 – Be Surprised
“We get a limited number of milestones in life, but we never run out of opportunities to be surprised by joy.”
Connie Schultz

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August 7, 2015 Edition It had to be “UKE;” it had to be “UKE.”
I wandered around and finally found the somebody who
Could make me be true, could make be blue,
And even be glad, just to be sad, thinking of you . . .

Because two colorful ukuleles arrived the day of my 38th wedding anniversary, I took a little liberty with the lyrics from the song “It Had to Be You.” For my husband and me, the thrill of being married hasn’t worn off, nor has the fun of playing ukuleles. Despite being novice ukulele players, we enjoy the time we spend together strumming and singing, so much that we recently purchased a pair of waterproof soprano-sized ones. Beach, lake, swimming pool, rainforest, or shower – there’s no stopping us now! My kids should be scared.

#1 – Make It and Play It
DIY Musical Instruments Whenever I take my ukulele out of its case, my baby granddaughter becomes very excited. Although, I look forward to making some of these musical instruments with her, I question why kids are the only ones allowed to be silly and wildly creative? Last week some of my friends and I discussed the idea of letting loose and holding adult creative play-days. Check out 42 Splendidly Creative Homemade Musical Instruments and feel your inner child come to the surface.

#2 – Tree Houses
Houses Built Around Trees This series of photographs depicts ways in which buildings were designed around existing trees. How I would love to relax and strum in some of these homes!

#3 – Proverbs
Inspiring African Proverbs Wise proverbs and bold graphics make these 11 Inspiring African Proverbs standout.

#4 – 100 Ways to Get to 100
100 Wonderful Ways to Live to 100 Whether you’re on the younger or older side of life, there is no time like the present to start incorporating some of the 100 Wonderful Ways to Live to 100 into your life. Most likely, you can already check off many of them, but there is always the possibility to do more. By the way, ukulele playing falls under number 86 – “Find the healthy hobbies that make you light up.”

#5 – The Food of Love
“If music be the food of love, play on.”
William Shakespeare

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July 31, 2015 Edition Shapes, curves, and lines make up our world, but we often don’t notice or acknowledge them. Going through life on autopilot or in a state of distraction causes many of us to miss out on seeing some of the truth of what’s in front of our eyes. For example, this echeveria plant has an interesting ruffled appearance and a nice medium green color. But when using the power of black and white photography, the elements of the plant are stripped down to their essence. The dramatic shapes, curves, and lines of the plant now stand out and beg our eyes to take note. So, the next time you’re out and about, stop and look at something around you. In your mind, imagine what that item would look like if it were in black and white. You may discover that you appreciate it in a different way.

#1 – The Power of Black and White

100+ Awe-Inspiring Black & White Photographs

Berenger

The dramatic power of black and photography can be seen 100 times over in 100+ Awe Inspiring Black & White Photographs. Which photo is your favorite?

#2 – Display Those Photos
Creative Ways to Display Photos Taking photographs is one thing, but displaying them is another. If you store photographs in shoe boxes like me (bad, bad, bad idea!), get them out and and try using one of the creative ideas from Buzzfeed’s 27 Unique Photo Display Ideas That Will Bring Your Memories To Life.

#3 – Architectural Winners
The Coolest Buildings on the Planet, According to Architecture Fans Architects play with lines, shapes, and forms for structural and interesting effects. To see some incredible award-winning architectural designs from around the world check out, The Coolest New Buildings On The Planet, According to Architecture Fans.

#4 – Sweet Black and White
Chocolate Icebox Cakes Not everything in the world of black and white is austere. Take this icebox cake for instance. Layers of chocolate wafers and whipped cream, make for one sweet treat. Click here for the recipe.

#5 – Clothes or Souls?
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
Ted Grant

Now go and spread joy!

 

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July 24, 2015 Edition “Stop right there! Don’t take another step!” I called out to my dad. He stopped suddenly, looked around for signs of potential danger, and then looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Why?” he replied impatiently. During a walk to the beach with my family, I noticed words etched into the sidewalk. As I read the words, I saw that my dad was on the verge of stepping on them. The moment was too perfect; I had to interrupt his stride. At his feet, scrawled in the concrete, were the words, “WE LOVE YOU GRAMPA.” Surrounded by his family for the weekend to celebrate his birthday, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to capture our love for him more “concretely.”

#1 – Ageless Graffiti
Senior Citizens Learn to Graffiti According to Merriam-Webster, “writing or drawing made on a public structure without permission” is graffiti. That means the etchings in the sidewalk could be considered graffiti. Is graffiti always a bad thing? That’s not so, in sections of Portugal. In an attempt to “banish ageist stereotypes through the art of graffiti,” an urban art workshop called Lata 65 brings together senior citizens and well-known street artists. Read the article and take a look at some of the artwork that comes out of this unique creative workshop by clicking here.

#2 – The Power of One
Great Invention: Shoes That Expand Imagine buying shoes for your children that grow with your children’s feet and last for years. Kenton Lee, “a normal guy with an idea,” designed a sandal-like shoe that does exactly that. His invention The Shoe That Grows can grow 5 shoe sizes and last at least 5 years. These leather and compressed rubber shoes protect the feet of children in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Columbia, Vietnam, and Laos and prevent the children from having to go barefoot. One person with one idea is helping children around the world.

#3 – The Hubbub About BookBub
BookBub: Free EBooks BookBub is a daily email service that finds free or discounted ebooks for its subscribers. It provides readers with opportunities to sample new authors and discover new books. Since readers can specify genres of books they are interested in, BookBub sends out emails with titles matched to readers’ preferences.

#4 – You Have Today
Interview with Tom Rath Don’t dwell on the events of yesterday and don’t fantasize about tomorrow; today and the present moment need your attention. Susan Cain shares her interview with author, researcher, and speaker Tom Rath on her blog Quiet Revolution. Mr. Rath’s philosophy of life resonates with me. Click on the link above to read the entire interview. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from it:

The broader learning for me, after battling cancer for a couple of decades, is: you have to do something today that will continue to grow after you’re gone. I may have a more constant threat to my mortality than the average person, but in reality the only thing any of us can count on with extreme certainty is that we have today to do what matters most.

#5 – A Bit of Perspective
“My granddaughter came to spend a few weeks with me, and I decided to teach her to sew. After I had gone through a lengthy explanation of how to thread the machine, she stepped back, put her hands on her hips, and said in disbelief, “You mean you can do all that, but you can’t play my Game Boy?”
Author Unknown

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July 10, 2015 Edition Buster dashes through the opened front door, runs past the kitchen filled with delicious aromas, and heads straight to the back door. He longingly stares through the glass panes of the door and then begins to bark loudly. Buster wants to go swimming. No gentle licks of hello or nudges to be petted; he is a dog on a mission. Playing fetch with his water bumper in the pool brings him so much joy. Dogs appreciate the simple things in life. We should take lessons from them.

#1 – Simply Genius
This cooking technique found on GoodHomeDIY is simply genius. The onion ring not only holds the egg in a round-shape while cooking, but it also imparts additional flavor. Round-Shaped Eggs

#2 – Must Read
Looking for some good books to read? It can be as simple as checking out Buzzfeed’s list of 53 Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down. Must Read Reading List

#3 – Box Templates
Making your own boxes may not seem like a simple process, but it brings such a sense of accomplishment when you are finished and have a beautiful box perfectly suited for its contents. Take a look at the variety of box and bag templates offered for free on Template Maker. Template Maker

#4 – Look Me In The Thighs
Women's Thighs: One Word 25 brave women between the ages of 20 and 70 bared their thighs and then, using one word, described them. This is not a desirable or pleasant task for most women, but the descriptions by these women are simply honest and revealing. Read 25 Women Bare Their Gloriously Unretouched Thighs — And Describe Them In One Word and immediately start appreciating your thighs more.

#5 – The Simple Life
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter . . . to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

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