family art project

I went home for the holidays, along with my siblings, their significant others, and their kids. My dad told us this week that we had a few projects to do before we could leave town. It would be like summer camp, he said. But for Christmas.

Christmas Camp started with family breakfasts where we learned to make southern biscuits and a book club meeting (more on that later). But one of the coolest things we did all week was a water color blob inspired art project.

art project wall

We started with a wall filled with paintings of blobs of color. My dad made them for us, he said, so that we could use ink to draw on the painting whatever image we saw in the blobs–kind of like spotting images in clouds. He had some examples.

art project sample

We each had to complete one drawing and put it back on the wall before the week ended. Well, we got a little carried away. One was just not enough. Soon we ran out of blobs and starting making more.

making more blobs

We used water colors, added some salt for texture, or used a straw to blow the paint for streaks of color–anything was fair game to get colors twisted and turned in juuuust the right way.

We had so much fun. It was so interesting to see what our family came up with, and everyone from grandkids to grandparents all participated. Here are some of my favorites. Don’t forget to sign your masterpiece!

art project water color 1

 

art project water color 3

 

art project water color 4

 

art project water color 5

 

art project water color 6

 

art project water color 7

 

art project water color 9

Here’s our wall when we were finished!

art project wall

top 12 posts of 2012

I love this time of year so much. I love the decorations and the parties and the holiday cards and seeing my family and friends. I love Christmas trees. One year I left my little Christmas tree up until April and made it into an Easter tree. My wonderful roommates didn’t kick me out of the apartment that year, and for that I am grateful.

It’s also a great time to take a look back on the year and set some goals for the new year that’s coming. Here’s the top 12, most viewed posts from Rae’s Days this year, counting down to the most viewed post.

  • 12.  (plans for) a home sweet home. I listed and schemed and loved doing this post because it helped me realize some goals for making my home my perfect escape.

plans for a home sweet home

  • 11. art. I ended up going with something else for my wall, but I am keeping this wall art in my back pocket to hopefully use somewhere else.
  • 10. polka dot. One of my favorite day-to-night posts. My hair used to be so long!
  • 9. christmas dinner keepsake. A really fun craft for my imaginary dinner party that I’m dying to host.

place setting

  • 8. a very mizzou weekend. A collage of the best weekend ever!
  • 7. yellow. A  work look with one of my favorite skirts.
  • 6. two weeks after. I moved this year! It was traumatic. Just kidding, it ended up being awesome, and this post checked in two weeks after moving day.
  • 5. dress up. Another work look with that yellow skirt. I sure got a lot of mileage out of that.
  • 4. ok, well. Yellow skirt again! See what I mean?
  • 3. on new york. This was my favorite post to do, probably ever. I loved writing it, and the responses were so great. I got to talk to so many people about New York and about creating their lives where they live.
  • 2. let’s share a cup. Coffee cups based on quotes from your favorite books combines three of my favorite things: crafting, coffee, and books!

quotecups

  • 1. my promise to women. The number one most-viewed post of the year is my promise to women. In my promise, I defend fun, simple pleasures and promise to support other women in reaching their goals–whatever they may be.

Thanks for reading this year! It’s been a blast.

gift-card giving fun felt envelopes

When I was little, my grandpa gave me a gift card to Barnes & Noble for $20.

I thought it was the most money in the world. I remember looking at all the shelves, picking out so many books, so excited at the new stories at my fingertips. When I was done, we went to the cash register, and–shockingly–the total was more than what the giftcard would cover. About $20 more. My generous mother said she would pay for the rest, and I bounded home with treasures from my giant shopping spree.

Gift cards are fun. They can let someone have fun and shop without budget worries. They can help you provide for someone when you aren’t sure of their size or exactly what they need. But sometimes I feel like they can be a little impersonal–it’s a great gift, but it’s hard to be excited about giving someone a piece of plastic.

So to make my gift-card giving a little more fun, I whipped up these felt envelopes. It was super fast, and I think they came out really cute!

gift card envelopes

I measure a long rectangle of 9 and 3/4 inches by 4 and 3/4 inches.

measure felt for gift card envelopes

Then I cut out the felt, and folded it into thirds. I used an iron to help me make the creases. Then I pinned it in place.

gift card envelopes folded

Then, for the top of the envelope, I measure a dot in the middle of the felt, used my ruler to make a triangle, and cut to make a point.top of gift card envelope

Then I used a zig-zag stitch–just for fun–and sewed up the sides of the envelope and to the point. I also have these cool velcro dots in my craft bookshelf, so I added those on and was done!

done_MG_0300

You could also embroider the letter of the person you are giving it too, or use a ribbon to secure the envelope instead of velcro. I just used what I had on hand. I also wasn’t very precise–you don’t have to be a perfect sewer to make these work. You could even use hot glue instead of a needle and thread. Or colored duct tape! Or any materials you have on hand! Have fun, and be proud to put it under the tree.

tree_MG_0311

Don’t forget in this season of giving that the Newtown libraries have set up a Books Heal Hearts fund to provide books and materials for their community. Like my grandpa gave the gift of books to me, you could help provide for some kids who really need some new stories or comforting entertainment. Read more in my original post on Books Heal Hearts.

books heal hearts (donations for newtown)

books

Books heal hearts. I believe that’s true. Books can offer a safe place to escape, and a familiar story with a happy ending can be a unique source of comfort.

In Newtown, right now, there are a lot of children who may need this comfort. Who may need a small break from grief. I am packing up a box of children’s books to send to the C.H. Booth Library in Newtown. The library has also set up the Books Heal Hearts fund to provide materials for the community, now and in the future.

Please join me in giving, if you can. You can make checks out to Cyrenius H. Booth Library with Books Heal Hearts written on the memo line. Please mail donations to:

Cyrenius H. Booth Library
25 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470

You can also donate through the library’s JustGive page, where you can select Books Heal Hearts and donate with a debit or credit card. All donations are tax-deductible.

Books are an escape for me, even if it’s just from a crowded bus. Familiar characters become your friends. New details in an old story give fun, new insight. Books can stretch your imagination and bring joy without batteries and without traveling. We can’t stop the hurting in Newtown, but we can be kind to one another and try to provide something that could help. Rae’s Days is about making a beautiful life and finding inspiration from stories. I hope you are inspired, too, to give back any way you can.

pick-me-up

I, like the rest of the nation, need a pick-me-up. After days of off-and-on tears, and off-and-on news, knowing we can do nothing to ease the always-on pain of the families who have lost someone, I did my best this weekend to stay busy and keep my mind occupied.

So I rearranged my room. (And almost got stuck under my headboard.)

bedroom

Here it is when you walk in. To the right, you’ll see my shoes and my picture frame jewelry holder.

shoes and jewelry

And to the left, you’ll see my repurposed screens. They used to divide my old studio. Now, I think they’ll show off pictures and mail from friends. Jewels, of Oven Lovin, has a similar greeting card garland as part of her Christmas decorations.

picture screens

#fatcat enjoyed my new room.

fatcatQuite a bit.

I also recently filled the space above my tv.

living room raes days

Want to see it closer?

paintings raes days

My dad has painted on and off for many years, and he let me take home some of his paintings. And I snuck in one my mom painted, too. I’d also like to fill the spaces on the bottom left and right, but I’m not sure with what. Maybe a new painting that hasn’t been made yet.

I’ve done a lot of crafting this weekend, to keep my hands busy. I also painted my nails.

essie a cut aboveIt’s Essie’s A Cut Above. I like it because it reminds me of champagne, and I’m excited to see my friends over New Year’s.

I hope you’re excited to see your family and friends over the holidays as well. And I hope we all hug each other a little tighter.

Thinking of you, and thinking of Newtown.

that’s stationery, with an e

I just finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I seem to be the only person of my generation who didn’t read it in high school, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The only things I knew about the book were a tunnel in Pittsburgh and something about feeling infinite.

Nothing about it was what I expected, and there’s something to be said for that. I don’t think Charlie and I would be friends in real life, but I can relate to some of his doubts and struggles. Charlie makes friends, loses some, and really tries to participate in life instead of watching from the sidelines (you know, as a wallflower). Sometimes he is successful, and sometimes he’s not.

One thing Charlie definitely does well, though, is letter writing. You learn about him and his first year of high school through his letters to an anonymous acquaintance. I imagine Charlie uses whatever paper he can find, but if I were writing letters to an anonymous acquaintance for a year, I’d like to try to write on some fancy stationery.

I love the idea of having stationery lying around your house for any and all notes you choose to write throughout the year. And of course you’d write notes more often–you’d have personalized stationery ready and waiting.

But ordering stationery and having it on hand isn’t practical or easy for everyone. So I took some supplies I did have lying around the house, and added a quick, fun design to some notecards to spice up my letter writing.

diy supplies of sharpie, notecard, ruler

I started with a blank notecard, a ruler, and sharpies. I made a dot every half inch along the notecard with some of my favorite colors. It took just a few minutes and added a personalized touch–and you all know how much I love polka dots.

polka dot diy notecard

 

I kept going, adding lines willy-nilly, but you should do whatever you like! I think ombre dots would be fun, or random colors. I was worried about bleeding through, so I did have a scrap paper underneath my card as I was polka-dotting. It wasn’t a problem in this case, but might be if your notecards are thinner.

polka dot notecards

 

It’s super quick and super fun, and now I’m ready to write letters all over the place. Maybe I’ll start by making invitations to a Perks moving-watching party. Did you guys read this book, what did you think?

 

this post is full of spiders

If you are friends with me on Goodreads you know I am reading This Book is Full of Spiders (the sequel to John Dies at the End). It’s hilarious and fun and about a parasite demon creature that takes over an entire town and turns you into a dead, mindless killing machine. So, pretty much a zombie.

The government places a quarantine on the town, and our heroes, John (the one who dies at the end), David and Amy, try to find each other amid the craziness and break out of quarantine to save the town (John and David can see the invisible parasites because of a side effect of a drug they took a few years ago, so they can tell who is infected. They think). Shenanigans ensue.

But what would I do if I were running away from zombies? Well, let’s start with what I’d wear.

zombie gear

Black so you can blend in with the night. If you can, I’d recommend a ka-pow sweater for added courage. A puffer coat for warmth while you’re on the run, and a watch–for keeping time and possibly for bartering with other quarantine rebels. And you’d definitely need a cross-body purse, with zippers, for hands-free activities like running away.

You should also probably read this Vulture article on sawed-off shotguns, so you know what you’re dealing with.

You know what, we should really get a contingency plan in place.