Handmade Christmas Card Ideas

While going through my assortment of cards I’ve made in the past I found some that would be appropriate to this season that I thought I’d share with you. It’s been quite a while since I’ve made cards, but a few years ago I was really on a kick and made so many. It’s nice to be able to still pick out a card for a loved one that is handmade even if I don’t always have the time to make one for each occasion as it comes along these days.

My mother-in-law goes all out decorating for the holidays. She has multiple themed Christmas trees in her home and many other seasonal displays. I always feel like we get to spend Christmas in a home out of Better Homes and Gardens while we are there visiting each December. One year it occurred to me to take photos of some of her decorations to make a set of Christmas cards to give her the following year. This is just one of many photos I used… seems all of the other ones are gone now. I also made a set of gift tags using the photos of her decorations printed much smaller and mounted on appropriate sized card stock with a hole punched and a string attached. They also went over very well. Even if your home isn’t a showcase you may be able to find photos to take that would work for cards or to make tags with. Or if you know someone as I do with a real knack for decorating the gift card/tag sets featuring photos of their own displays make a gift that is very personal. Whether or not you send out any of the cards yourself I suppose would depend on how comfortable that person would be with another using images from inside their home that way. A lot would depend upon the photo and how much of the home’s interior it showed.

Nature photos can also work well. It’s been a long time since I’ve been somewhere it snowed to take “Seasonal” sorts of photos, but even in the Arizona desert I took this photo which I think works well, as long as you call them “doves” and not “pigeons”. 😉

Photo cards are really so easy and quick to put together and you can make many copies of the same card at once. You just need a piece of card stock folded to match the size of the envelope you plan to use. You can buy packs of envelopes only at Michael’s, as well as same sized blank cards. I find it cheaper to buy a pack of card stock and cut and fold it to make my own blank cards, and I end up with a greater selection of colors that way. Cut a contrasting piece of card stock or scrap booking paper to frame the photo, glue it all down and you’re done.

These two cards were made by mounting a piece of paper on the blank card and then adding the silhouette of a male or female moose cut from a scrap of leather. (I actually made a lot of leather cards of different designs using the leather from an old broken recliner. You can see them here.) Let your imagination run wild with the shapes and symbols you might use. Leather scraps can be found in a wide variety of colors and one piece can make an amazing number of cards as each one uses so little of your material.

So for those of us without an extensive stamp and related paraphernalia collection, making handmade cards can still be done without much expense. It is a lot of fun both to make them and to give or send them. In the end it can save a lot of money as you use the cards you have made rather than dropping $2.00 to $5.00 a card every time you need one for a special occasion.(Not that boxed Christmas cards are generally that expensive.) The recipient is also more apt to appreciate them as the message you write inside is more personal and the fact that you are giving something handmade is always special.

Here’s where I’m linking up:

Fall Into The Holidays

Sunday:

I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo Toesjembellish clothes upcycling page,

Blissful and Domestic,

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

A Round Tuit,  C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Sarahndipities The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

Not Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot GiraffeKammy’s Korner,

Home Stories A to Z,  Crafty Confessions, Homemade Tuesday,  Today’s Assignment,

Antiprocrastination TuesdayTake-a-Look Tuesday,  Nifty Thrifty Tuesday,

The Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and SchwinHeart and Soul Blog Hop

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally Sustainable,  Lil’ LunaSomeday CraftsWhimsy

WednesdayWhatcha Work Up Wednesday

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderAnything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projects

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Naptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Artsy Mama,

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My HandsHello Weekend,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo here are some photos taken in Tijuana. On a stage set up in the street, a regional folk dance from each Mexican state, complete with typical costume was being performed on the day we happened to decide to cross the border for a quick visit. Mexico has 31 different states and a federal district so this was no short performance. We only caught a bit of it before moving on and I didn’t take notes as to from which regions  the dancers in these photos hailed, but I loved seeing the traditional costumes, and of course, the dancing.

Back when I was teaching in the Spanish-bilingual program we used to have so much fun with Cinco de Mayo. Mothers would come in to teach the Mexican Hat Dance to any student that wanted to give up their lunch recess to learn it starting a couple of weeks before the big day. Children from the general ed program were also invited to join in. My classroom was bursting with happy, excited children and I knew better than to plan on getting any grading or lesson planning accomplished in my room that month.

On the big day the kids would perform at an assembly. The history behind the day would be recounted by a child, and others would share songs and poems. Back in the classroom we would eat lunch, as the kids proudly showed off their mother’s culinary skills in a classroom pot luck.

Loving the colors!

Aztec dancing.

My your Cinco de Mayo be likewise full of friends, something to celebrate, good food and the laughter of children!

Thanks for reading.

Karen

Memories of Istanbul

There is a a lot happening in our lives these days that takes precedence over doing sewing or crafting projects. So in the absence of the “just created” perhaps now is another good opportunity to pull out some old travel photos to share. You don’t mind if they are from 2006, do you?

These were taken during the same trip that I was able to share with my husband that I’ve bloggged about in the post Images of Ireland. After leaving the Emerald Isle we went on to Istanbul.

While my husband worked during the day in the office there, I would wander around the neighborhood where it was located taking pictures. I quickly fell in love with Istanbul. The stone streets, the attitude of hospitality to strangers, the Grand Bazaar, the history that stretches back so very much further than anything here in the US. Actually the length of history in Turkey rivals just about anywhere you might visit.

Random acts of English.

Istanbul has an abundance of street cats… many of them very friendly. One of the ways I amused myself was to go buy small fish from the fishmonger to feed the cats. If you know me, you know that as a child I aspired to grow up to be the crazy cat lady. Well, maybe not so crazy, but definitely the cat lady. My cousin and I would scheme and plan for hours about how we would run a cat farm. We couldn’t understand why nobody else was already doing it. Barns full of cats and kittens… so much more fun than cows to our 6 and 7 year old minds. (Obviously long before I understood the importance of spaying and neutering.) For most of my life I have shared my home with multiple cats.

So this was the behavior one would expect from me by plunking me down in a place with swarms of cats, a source of inexpensive fish and a lot of time to burn. The locals though, did not know me, of course. It hadn’t been my intention, but I did manage to draw a lot of attention to myself. One lady lectured me in a very heated tone, complete with wagging finger for at least 5 minutes. When she would stop to take a breath I would try to say that I didn’t speak Turkish, but this just made her inhale deeper and lecture a bit louder (though just as rapid-fire).

Forgive the obnoxious watermark. This wasn't the size or placement I chose, and somehow when Image Bucket went rogue it managed to overwrite both the original and the duplicate of the photo. Technology and I can be a dangerous combination, even though I'd swear this wasn't my fault!

I’m pretty sure she was worried about my exposing myself to who-knows-what-kinds-of-germs by touching the filthy felines. That’s my guess as it seemed to be the concern of other people as well. One shopkeeper left his shop to hurry over to me with a bottle of water which he poured while he insisted I wash my hands. I showed him that I was carrying and using hand sanitizer but he wasn’t impressed. After these two experiences I continued to enjoy the cats, just a little more discreetly, around the corner into alleyways and the like.

This one, while not the most attractive, was especially endearing to me. He followed me for a long time, meowing continuously. He just wanted me to stop and pet him. He let all the other cats be distracted by the fish so he could monopolize me for attention. Eventually I had to start ignoring him as it was impossible to just take him home with me. I can still hear him meowing after me when he finally gave up, sat down and just watched me go.

My first day out I was so proud of myself at being clever enough to take a quick picture of the street sign at the corner by the office. I didn’t congratulate myself at being clever enough to write down the office phone number and take it with me, because, um…, I wasn’t.

Istanbul is NOT laid out on a grid. And while it could not be accused of being without visual interest and variation, when everything you look at is new and exotic looking to you it becomes hard to remember landmarks. I quickly became lost, and in trying to find my way back, became even more so. This is where I found out how very hospitable Turkish people are. I showed someone the picture I had taken and he didn’t recognize it, so he looked for somebody else. This happened again and again until finally I found myself escorted through the neighborhood by about 7 men who had each dropped what they were doing and made it their personal responsibility to make sure the silly tourist got back safely. It turned out almost nobody recognized the street corner because the streets had been given new names the week before.

A chair in the early morning light in the home of our hostess.

I really liked this photo taken from the window of the Archaeological Museum, until it was marred by the overzealous watermark.

We were just there for about a week, and it was primarily a work trip, but we did get to see quite a few sights there in Istanbul during the afternoons and over the weekend. We visited the Hippodrome, The Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, the Archaeological Museum, the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque. Unfortunately, most of the photos I took inside these places turned out too blurry to be blog-worthy.

Ferries for crossing the Bosphorus between the Asian and European sides of the city.

We took a boat ride along the beautiful Bosporous and had one delightful culinary experience after another. So it stands to reason that I hope to be able to return to Turkey some day to re-experience it all but also to travel elsewhere in the country to see Cappadocia, and other archeological sights.

Flute-playing Squirrel

Going though iPhoto I found this picture I took in Vancouver almost exactly three years ago (I’m a just week off of the anniversary of our delightful encounter.) Hopefully it makes you smile as much as me!

“The flute player played songs of the forest
and songs of the sky,
songs of the meadows
and songs of the sea.
all day and all night.”

–Robyn Eversole, in The Flute Player

We are beginning to see squirrels in our neighborhood here in Southern CA this year. I love to see them foraging alongside the wild rabbits. When we moved here from the Chicago suburbs in 2005 I quickly realized squirrels were one thing I really missed. In one apartment I had in Illinois there were very wide windowsills. All winter I would put out nuts and birdseed for the squirrels. It got so that if the food wasn’t out by the time one squirrel in particular made her daily rounds, she’d knock on the window. She’d also taunt my cats by doing what I can only describe as blow-monkeys on the window. The cats were not amused. I really wish I’d taken photos!

Images of Ireland

In September 2006 I had the privilege of accompanying my husband on a business trip to Ireland and Turkey. (After business was completed we stopped by Spain on the way home. Some photos from that part of the trip can be found here.)

We were only actually in Ireland for a day and a half, and it was raining much of that time, but there was a few hours when the rain subsided and our gracious hosts took us on a drive through the countryside of County Cork to the Glengarriff Nature Reserve.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the lovely sights we were treated to that day.

I have always had a thing for old cemeteries. I wish I could go back and spend a long while there reading any stones that are still legible and imagining the lives of the people resting there. (Yes, I’ve been told many times that I’m a bit strange.)

This looks like a storybook cottage to me. So peaceful…

Wouldn’t it be great to spend a day like you’re 9 years old again, exploring this stream and enjoying a picnic on a mossy bank?

We saw the ruins of a small castle.

Here is a view from inside the tower.

And what about this red-haired, blue-eyed beauty? I had thought all cows had brown eyes. I was delighted to find I was wrong.

I had always wanted to see Ireland since I was a young girl. Now I fervently hope to be able to go back one day as my short time there just whetted my appetite for more.

Thanks joining me on my little trip down memory lane. Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day. 🙂

Karen

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeDittle Dattle,

C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet homeCraft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising,

Sarahndipities Just Winging ItEverything Under the Moon,

The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchTea Rose HomeLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit Bear,

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love Creations,

Between U & Me,  Anything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

Family Photos

I have always hated having my photo taken. Sitting in front of a camera I feel awkward and ill at ease. Over the years I’ve taken a few that would be worthy of contributing to the Awkward Family Photos website if I ever unearth them. (But do I really want those pictures of me floating around in cyberspace for the rest of time?) I have learned to just accept that at times pictures must be taken and if I really don’t like them I can choose not to look at them or share them much.

Now that we have a child there is more reason to get family photos taken with greater frequency. Last year we went to a department store studio. The pictures with me in them felt plenty cringe-worthy, so we chose one of just the photogenic Eli for the Christmas card.

Sears Photography, 2010

Sears Photography, 2010

This year my husband felt we should really use a family photo for the Christmas card, as it is no longer Eli’s first Christmas. So back we went to a department store studio. Eli has changed a lot since last year though. He is much more active, and quite wary of strangers. Not a good combination for a studio session. The stuffed bunny used by the photographer to elicit a smile brought forth tears and fright instead, and it all went downhill from there. We left without any photos to show for our efforts.

An acquaintance at church Mary Hurlbut,  is a photographer so I spoke with her about our dilemma. We made an appointment for a photo session with her using the church courtyard and alleyways in that neighborhood as a setting for the photos.

The first thing Mary did before we began was to say a simple prayer asking God to help her capture images of our family that will show us the way He sees us. What a wonderful thing to pray! I felt myself immediately relax.

We began with a few shots of me so I’d have a profile shot for this blog and for my Etsy shop.

Then we moved on to the family shots. Instead of trying to get Eli to sit nicely (which he NEVER does, even in the best of circumstances) for a carefully posed shot. She followed him around as he explored the things that caught his interest, instructing us how to jump into the frame and arrange ourselves around him.

Eli loves to play on the stairs.

Being tossed by Daddy!

Climbing on the fence.

Always on the go.

He is constantly on the move and she had her work cut out to keep up with him. Much of the time she was a bit out of breath! Instead of seeming annoyed that he can be a bit of a challenge to capture on film, she seemed to really enjoy him. What parent doesn’t like to see another person appreciating the little things about they so adore about their little one?

A hand full of stones.

Cell phones make him happy.

Hello!

The end result is a profile photo that does not feel like a necessary evil (I actually think they are some of the best photos ever taken of me), a fun photo for our Christmas card, and many other pictures that wonderfully capture our family at this stage in our son’s life. I would not hesitate to recommend Mary to anyone else in need of a photographer. She is a joy to work with, and she takes photographs that will be treasured for a lifetime.

Thanks, Mary!

Mary also has a blog where her most current post features some seriously breathtaking nature photography.

All photos in this post are by Mary Hurlbut Photography, unless otherwise attributed.

Spanish Graffiti

When one hears the word “grafitti” images of ugly gang-land scrawl usually come to mind. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Spain with my husband. The graffiti I saw in Granada amazed me.

"Thank you spacemen"

Vibrant, playful or serious, simple or complex, these layered images decorated the steep, narrow alleys and streets.
They were quite helpful to us as visitors when it came time to retrace our steps back to the bus station after a long day’s wandering.
I took many pictures to use to make notecards which I sold for a while in a local coffee shop.
I’m making up some new cards now for my Etsy shop and I thought I’d share some of these delightful images here.
Enjoy!

"I am a free bird"