January Cleaning and Crafts

I always have the urge to get organized in January. I think it’s the combination of the cold weather and the fact that I’m already on a roll as I put away the Christmas decorations, and try to find a new home for any gifts we’ve received.

Yesterday, as I was looking for a spot to store a new game, I came across an old photo album with pictures from my early years as a crafter. It made me smile as I calculated that the photos are (gulp!) 26 years old!

Craft fairs were in their infancy then, and this is a picture of my very first one.

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The photo is fading a bit, but if you click on it to make it larger, you can get an idea of the display. My daughters are “helping”, Dear Husband is the photographer, and I seem to be working on something even as the event begins. The fair was held on a sunny autumn day on the grounds of a school in New Hampshire. The raffia dolls that you see were very “in” at the time – hard to believe now! It was a particularly exciting day not only because it was my first fair, but also because I was approached by a lady who wanted to display my items in her gift shop! I was so delighted – I couldn’t believe it.

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It turned out that the shop was a restored “caboose” which was just adorable. We took a drive to see it after hearing that my crafts were on display. The kids look thrilled, don’t they? 😉 Well, it was a long drive.

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Since that time, I’ve learned many new crafts and had lots more adventures at craft fairs and gift shops, but it was during those earliest years (see Take this job), that I discovered something pretty valuable.

I learned that “making something” is like giving your spirit a vitamin! 🙂


Holiday Gifts in a Tough Economy

With the gloomy economic forecasts of late and the jittery drift of the stock market, many of us are worrying that we’ll see our 401(k)s shrink into 201(k)s!

The timing couldn’t be worse with the holidays just around the corner.

Cheer up though – there’s a silver lining. This year we have the perfect excuse to scale back on the holiday spending spree, once and for all.

“What kind of humbug is that?” you ask.

Fear not! I’m not suggesting we abandon gift-giving entirely, but that we return to basics and emulate our thrifty ancestors by making as many of our gifts as possible.

With a bit of determination and your creative ability, you may be surprised at what you can create on a limited budget.

With only about 65 days until Christmas, there’s not a minute to lose! Begin by making your list and dividing it into gender and age groups. It will save you time and money. For example, if you decide that all of the teenage girls will be getting handcrafted bracelets, you can buy the supplies in bulk, and work on the pieces in an assembly-line fashion.

To further economize, visit the Dollar Store for your wrapping materials. They have a wonderful assortment of papers, gift bags, tags and ribbons; and there’s nothing more festive than a beautifully wrapped gift!

You may be surprised to see more smiles than ever this year, as you present your special handmade treasures. And, who knows, it could just be that you’ll have started a new “back to basics” tradition in your family!

©2008 Bead Happily Ever After

Take this job and . . . ;-)

When I was a young bride, I quickly learned that housekeeping was never totally finished. To my chagrin, a task that I worked on all morning could become undone in a second! The sink was never really empty, for as soon as I finished the dishes, a glass or a plate would appear. And laundry . . . sigh . . . the laundry! I’d no sooner complete what I thought was the last load of wash, when a pair of dirty socks were thrown in that “bottomless pit” of a clothes hamper. Similarly, freshly washed floors quickly sported tracks of muddy footprints, and sparkling bathtubs were again grimy, soon enough.

But you know all about this stuff! What I really mean to talk about here is the other thing I discovered as a young bride – “making something” is permanent!

It was pretty thrilling to realize that I could embroider a cloth napkin, knit a scarf, or make a dried flower wreath for the front door, and nobody would come along and undo my efforts. What joy, what satisfaction! After an hour or two of work, I actually had something lasting to show for it. Whether I totally finished a project or just added to its progress, the next time I picked it up – it was exactly as I had left it.

There’s such a wonderful sense of fulfillment when we create something lovely. During a day when a lot of what we do is repetitious and boring, how fun to grab a few moments to nourish our artistic side.

These days, beads are what inspire my creativity, and I haven’t found even one necklace disassembled while my back was turned!

But the laundry . . . excuse me, please . . . I think I hear the dryer buzzing! 🙂

©2008 Bead Happily Ever After

You are special. (Mr. Rogers was right!)

If you make jewelry for gifts or to sell, be sure to keep one of the best pieces for yourself now and then! Too often we sell or give away the items that we consider to be our best work. If we keep anything at all, it’s usually not a favorite creation. I call this the “burnt cookie syndrome”. Do you ever stand at the stove and eat the rejects, so the family can have the “good” cookies?!? I see you nodding out there. 😉

Most women seem to have an innate desire to give the best to others. We’ll eat the burnt cookie, or make sure to take the chipped dinner plate, or select the bent fork. It isn’t necessarily that we don’t value ourselves, or that we are afraid for others to see our imperfections. I like to think it’s more that we actually enjoy making things special for others.

Of course we realize that isn’t always possible, so we allow ourselves a little “breathing room” by personally settling for a lower standard. It’s a compromise that’s not too difficult to accept. After all, we know that if we really want to, we can choose to be fussy for ourselves – anytime!

So tie a string around your finger or stick a post-it note on the fridge, but please remember that any day might just be the day, to make something special for YOU!

© 2008 Bead Happily Ever After

Christmas in July

If you are like me, there’s something about the hot and hazy July weather that inspires your creative side! I suppose it’s the combination of wanting to keep occupied when it’s just too muggy to move, and also the realization that if I’m going to make Christmas gifts – an early start is necessary!
The retail world seems to be on the same page, as you’ll notice that most craft and sewing supply shops are usually brimming with new inventory in July. Here at Bead Happily Ever After, we have just the bead to spark your summer design sessions. Whether you’re making a pair of earrings to match your favorite sundress, or designing a very special necklace to tuck into Mom’s Christmas stocking – we have lots of beautiful beads to inspire you.