Reusing Your Kid’s Drawings

Valentine's cards I don’t know about you, but I’ve been at war with my son’s art. It was becoming an insurmountable pile of daily school drawings. Hating to discard it, I’ve come up with one creative way to reuse it.

In three words-homemade greeting cards.

Since Valentine’s was around the corner, I thought it was a simple way to incorporate my son’s drawings. Also, it would prevent me from having to buy cards that would end up in the trash.

I just happened to have the free (sort of since I had to pay for shipping) personalized notecards I got from Shutterfly. Then, I cut hearts from the paper and glued them on. Stamps and some washi tape finished it off.

Each card was slightly different and all were imperfect. I think in the end they made great cards for 3-year-olds.

 

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A Gift With Multiple Benefits

Crafts for good causesIt’s been a month since Christmas, but hiding under my bed is a gift I’ve been anticipating since before the holidays.

I first heard about Little Loving Hands from author Glennon Doyle Melton’s Momastery newsletter. It was one of her picks for “Good Gifts.”

This week, I finally gave my son and I the gift of doing something together for someone else. Inside the box, was two crafts: 1) wooden hearts for painting into memory cards 2) felt for creating a “Love” pillow After they are completed, the handmade gifts go to Enchanted Makeovers for children and families in homeless shelters.

It was the perfect craft for my three year old. It gave us something to do together. It helped teach him the importance of compassion. And after it’s done, you send it off so you don’t have to worry about more crafts filling up your home.

He says our next big project should be building a house for the families.

There’s a lot not working well in the world. This will not solve everything. But teaching my child empathy and spending quality time together makes me feel like I’m cultivating hope in the world. And I am grateful for that.

Little Loving Hands

*I was not paid to write this post. I just really love it. 

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Addiction to Doing

BeesI’ve come from a long line of them. Workers. Busy bees. One of the reasons why I named this blog, “The Inspiring Bee,” is people buzzing around was normal to me.

So many hot afternoons on Kauai with my grandmother clanging pots, mixing azuki beans and opening the oven door to let out heat and sweet manju. Either that or she was cleaning. There were always floors that needed sweeping, dishes that needed cleaning or laundry that needed to be washed.

Doing meant living. Sitting was equatable to death.

I think that’s how it started-my insistence on doing.

I think that’s why it took an autoimmune disease to stop me.

I was in remission for two whole years before the holidays knocked me off my feet. Obligations, and unhealthy eating were more than my body could handle.

For two weeks and counting, I ended up bedridden. It was a miserable beginning to 2017.

After cursing my illness, I can honestly say I’m grateful.

It is a reminder that being is every bit as important as doing. In 2016, there were days where I’d hike, bike and swim with my boys. But then I would do it until I crashed and end up holed up in my room watching the sun rise and fall.

I’m returning to the lazy me. The girl who my grandmother called, “Lazy bones,” for lying on the couch watching her work. I need her to keep me from doing too much. I need her to remind me that being, just breathing is also a magical, spiritual experience.

For when we stop to breathe, we notice the things we take for granted.

The wind.

The sound of your working heart.

The intuitive knowing that speaks when you listen.

If you give yourself time to savor a cup of warm tea, sit in silence and lie down in reverie, you will hear the call of your heart. You will find energy that you try to gain from Starbucks. And you will reconnect with the part of you, you thought was lost.

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Cozying Up to This Homemade Holiday Gift

I wouldn’t say I’m very crafty. But I love to create. I can usually find some DIY craft every holiday to make that is not too intimidating, not too Kindergartenish. You could even say, “It’s just right.”

This year, instead of my usual DIY Christmas decor, I attempted to make a small gift.

All I needed was a few sheets of felt, scissors, sewing needle and thread, fabric glue, a fun template, oh and a pair of those 3M Command velcro strips.

What was I making?

Yep, a cozy.

I found this deer head silhouette here. And I was motivated to try it.

Basically, I printed it out. I lined it up with my fancy felt from Walmart, and tried my best at cutting the outline. It was not easy since the image is detailed. Knowing what I know now, sharper scissors or a less detailed template would have made the process easier.

After that was done, I estimated what the coffee cup sleeve would look like and cut the felt to fit it. I added a second layer of felt to give it dimension and glued it with fabric glue. I also glued the 3M strips to each side of the sleeve.

The hardest part of this was hand sewing the deer to the felt. But it was also the most relaxing. Although my stitches are not perfect, I like to believe it gives the gift charm.

Happily, this took me all of one night to finish.

Hopefully, the receiver is not reading this post. Because here’s the finished product.

handmade sleeve

back of coffee cup cozy

Coffee cup sleeve craft

What are you creating this holiday season?

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Fast and Easy Pumpkin Favors

pumpkin theme

My second son’s first birthday was right before Halloween. This made planning a theme pretty easy. Pumpkin favors anyone?

Actually my idea for the favors came a year ago. I remember the bliss (seriously!) of lying in the hospital and watching TV. It was like being at a hotel that came with its own babysitter.

The Pioneer Woman was on and I was captivated by her and her candy coated marshmallow pops. That’s when this idea was born.

If you have a pumpkin themed party coming up, you might want to try it.

pumpkin birthday

Here’s what you need:

  1. a bag of marshmallows
  2. orange candy melts (I got mine from Walmart)
  3. lollipop sticks
  4. candy eyes (All the rage, and also from Walmart)
  5. black edible pen (Another Walmart find)

Pumpkin party

Here’s what you do:

  1. Melt the candies either by microwaving or I put a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water that I later simmered.
  2. Put a little of the candy melt atop the stick so the marshmallow adheres to it.
  3. Dip the marshmallow.
  4. Stick eyes on it.
  5. Let it cool either by sitting out, putting it in the fridge or freezer.
  6. And then draw a mouth.

That’s it!

pumpkin favor

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Spiritual Lessons in the Parenthood Trenches

creativity

There are things you learn as a parent you couldn’t possibly learn without kids. Funny things. Gross things. Things that if you allow yourself to be fully open and awake, can change your world forever. Things like…

Thou Shall Feel Guilt

but do it anyway.

Everything you do or don’t do will be scrutinized. It will be judged by others and worse by you. You will for a period of time try to do everything so that no one will hurt you, but it won’t work. Or it will for awhile and you will live a shell of an existence.

If you want to pursue a passion, you will probably feel guilt. That is because you love your kids more than your arm. But give all of yourself and you will be a dry and empty well. You will want to offer your children hope and possibility, but having stifled yourself all you will have is the bread crumbs of a lost dream.

I heard this quote from author AS Byatt in Liz Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast and found it in this The Guardian interview:

“I think of writing simply in terms of pleasure. It’s the most important thing in my life, making things. Much as I love my husband and my children, I love them only because I am the person who makes these things.”

And Thou Shall Be Better for It

Saying motherhood changed me is in understatement. It’s the painful cracking open that made me realize I was doing more than wiping butts and feeding babies. For a long time, I believed that my children and everything that came with them was keeping me from the work of my life. One day, I dreamily thought to myself, one day they will be in school full-time and I will have time to write that book. I will have time to be a health coach. I will get to paint that picture.

That’s because the successful people I was reading and listening about only accomplished things when their kids were grown. I thought I had to suffer like a martyr and sacrifice, waiting to truly live my life.

And then I realized that they are the work. If I am attentive, if I can take care of myself, if I can learn to love and forgive myself, if I stay open when I am scared and doubt filled, if I can stay present, I will have accomplished what I dreamed about during those childless days working in a cubicle. All I wanted when I worked in that 9-5 job was a meaningful life. Your dreams sometimes come in a different package than you expect it.

Being a mother isn’t keeping me from my life. It’s pruning me for the life of my dreams. It’s a multidimensional season this parentdom. It’s stark and isolating as winter and as love giving and fruitful as spring. I have two young kids which means my time is limited. But that time is filled with precious moments of presence and laughter, and anguish and pain, all heightened because children make it so.

It is a gift you know. You might not feel it while wiping a butt, cheek, or smirk off your toddler’s face. But they are teaching you. They are teaching you that they matter, you matter, and that this moment matters. They are teaching you about the grim valleys where moments feel grueling cause they are filled with unlimited monotonous tasks like washing things. But in those valleys there is also time for rest, dreaming and being alive. They also remind us that creativity is important and what we do is important, more than what we teach.

There will be sad faces, and lots of guilty places when we take time to write, paint or read. Or there will be sacrifices to be made-favorite TV shows and sleep being switched out for our important personal work. But it all matters. You don’t have to give up your dreams. You only need to let life mold you so you have the knowledge, energy and love to push it forward.

Use your time to create the life you love by being fully present in every moment. Don’t wish away the time. Don’t spend it in jealousy on Facebook. Just keep being present. Just keep spending your precious free time doing what makes you better.

That’s the way you stay sane.

That’s the way you curate a well-lived life.

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Q & A with Mom and Revel Designs Owner Vashelle Nino

vashellerevel-design-logo_final

Vashelle Nino is a mom friend I met while she was living in Hawaii. She is genuine, kind and super creative. In a word, inspiring. I’ve been stalking her jewelry on Facebook and had to know what inspired her. Here’s what she had to say about her business Revel Designs and life in Maryland with her husband, three kids and “feisty pooch.”

How long have you wanted to create jewelry?

I have been creating jewelry for myself for as long as I could remember. It is sort of the perfect hobby for me for a number of reasons. First, since I have always been thrifty and not one to spend a lot of money on myself and my appearance, I use accessories as an inexpensive way to look put together. I truly believe it is one of the cheapest ways to feel good about what you’re wearing! Second, I have always liked creating and working with my hands. Beading and braiding and working with wire and pliers is like therapy to me. It has a focused, calming effect the same way that yoga and meditation does. Third, it is one of the only things I am good at! Ha! I love creating just about anything, but I don’t think anyone would purchase one of my paintings.

How did you first learn how to do it?

I taught myself jewelry-making techniques long ago just by getting in there and trying it! I’m still learning so much, and there is actually a lot I have yet to learn. Recently, a friend made a custom order with materials I had never used before—real gold and real Tahitian pearls. It was so nervous making this fine jewelry, and I had to do a little bit of research on the materials beforehand. I enjoyed the process and am always eager to learn new things.

What’s your inspiration?

Cost of materials is what drives and inspires me 80% of the time. I love shopping for beautiful beads, stones, charms and accents when they are at their best price. It allows me to sell my finished pieces at a reasonable price. Again, I believe great style can be achieved through accessories—affordable ones at that—and I love being able to contribute to that. The other 20% is when I see materials so beautiful I cannot resist using them in a piece. I get an image in my mind of how I want to use it and I go for it.

That is my creative process.

But what inspired me to open my own jewelry shop to begin with is this: I met a lovely lady in 2014, back when I was living in Hawaii. Her name is, ahem, Brandi. She was a fairly new mom, a kindred spirit, and I saw her striving to live an inspired life doing what she was passionate about. It made me ponder, what do I love? What am I passionate about? And why am I not doing it? It took a while for me to figure it out. I had just had my third child and was about to embark on a cross-country move from Hawaii to Maryland. I did not have the time or stability to focus on that sort of thing right away, but once we settled down in our new home I was able to reflect on what I was good at creatively. I will always be thankful for the sweet serendipity that brought Brandi into my life and what her presence did for me.

Did you have any fears or challenges about creating it initially? If so, what helped you get through these obstacles?

I cannot say I was fearful of anything. I have failed enough times at other things not to care about my ego or embarking on another failure. I had gotten to the point of thinking what is there to lose so I pretty much jumped in!
My biggest challenge when it comes to creating is time. As a mother of three, spanning an age group of 2 to 14 years old, I have very little time set aside to create. I often pine for there to be more hours in a day, but don’t we all!

I often hear from friends, “How do you do it all so effortlessly?”

And I often reply: “I don’t! Would you like to see the mold in my shower, or the three baskets of unfolded laundry hiding in my laundry room, or the Easter wreath still on my front door even though it’s October?”

I think the idea of having it all or doing it all is an illusion. We parents are busier than ever—and I don’t believe that is a good thing. Did your mom do with you as much as you are doing with your kid(s)? Was she as sleep-deprived? Did she worry about the 762,983 things the media tells us to worry about? I doubt it. And I think we should let some things go for the sake of our own sanity.

What do you see for your creative future?

I hope I will still be creating jewelry and perhaps some other things. My love for creating is REAL. I am happiest when I am using my hands and getting messy. I love colors and shapes and textures and all mediums, and I have referred to myself many times as a “sensory whore.” Ha!

I hope to continue selling on Etsy, as it is a comprehensive, reliable and credible platform for my shop. I have had nothing short of a great experience using it.

I also hope to do more craft shows in my area. Incredibly, I moved to the most appropriate place to embark on my new creative venture, as the community in Harford County, Maryland celebrates and values local art and business. The opportunities to showcase my work are plentiful.

What are you most proud of thus far?

Sticking with it and not giving up too soon. My family and friends were the bulk of my customers at the beginning. While I am immensely appreciative of their support I knew they did not sign up to support my business forever, nor did I expect them to! So I remember how excited I was when I got my very first non-family/friend customer through Etsy. I was like What! Someone found my shop, actually liked something and bought it! It was an incredible feeling. And even though I’ve had many non-friend/family customers since that first one, I still get very giddy and humbled. I love the transaction process, knowing that many Etsy shoppers believe in supporting artisans. Even though it is a modernized process using technology and postal services, it gives me the wonderful feeling of being a craftsman vending at an exotic bazaar. I love that.

vashelle vashelle-ninohttps://www.etsy.com/shop/RevelDesignsbyShelly
Instagram: @revel.designs.by.shelly

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