Thursday, August 23, 2012

MD Promo Team - "Fall Into Autumn Sale" and Giveaway!

Fall into savings with the Maryland Promotions Team on Etsy ! Over 40 Maryland Etsy shops are having a Fall Into Autumn Sale from now through the end of August. Save anywhere from 5%-30%! Be sure to use the coupon code MDFIAS when you checkout. You can find the full list of participating shops at The Crafty Panda Girl.

In addition to this we are having a giveaway! Who doesn't like a freebie? Enter here for a chance to win some awesome prizes!

What do you do for fun in the fall? I love to bead all year long, but the colors, shapes, and patterns of fall are especially inspiring to me. This necklace, available for sale at StringtownBeads is one piece that was inspired by autumn colors, shapes and patterns.

 Please share your thoughts below about your favorite fall crafts or activities, and don't forget to check out the shops particpating in the Maryland Fall into Autumn Sale on Etsy!  Remember to use coupon code MDFIAS when you checkout!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Imperfect Olympic Trifle Fruit Salad

The Olympics as most of us know it are almost over, but Olympic season will continue.  The Paraolympics will begin in London on August 29th and last through September 9th.  This is where athletes with physical disabilities compete and go for the gold. 

I was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in my back.  I walk with crutches most of the time, and for longer distances I use a wheelchair.  Although I spent many childhood summers in the hospital and at home recovering from countless surgeries, it has never stopped me from setting and achieving my goals.  Like Olympic athletes, physically challenged or not, I have always strived for my personal best.  I am grateful to my parents for raising me this way.

My mom recently celebrated her birthday and guess who the party planner was.  That's right.  Me!  :)  As stressful as it can be at times, I enjoy event planning, and I was honored to do this for my mom.  Since it is Olympic season and my parents raised me to go for my own gold I decided to celebrate the season and make an Olympic Fruit Salad.

So I gathered up some of my favorite fruits in Olympic colors - blueberries, pineapple, blackberries, green grapes, and raspberries.

Thank you to my friend who suggested cool whip
to represent the white background on the Olympic flag!

I began alternating fruit and cool whip in the trifle bowl in the order of the Olympic ring colors.  The final result:

What a delicious mess!

As suggested by a friend, I added
 an Olympic chainmaille bracelet
to the bottom of the trifle bowl for a
decorative touch.  An identical bracelet
 is available at StringtownBeads.
So why would I want to share such a catastrophe?  I wasn't striving for
perfection.  I was striving for my personal best and I achieved that.  This is why I can say this dessert turned out exactly the way I wanted it to.

Now, while I believe in striving for one's personal best, I also believe in personal growth.  This is why I am asking you how you think I can improve this recipe and make it better next time.  Less cool whip and more fruit?  Is there a technique you use when making layered recipes like this one?  I am a beader, not a chef, so I don't know the tricks of the trade in the kitchen.  Please share your thoughts below and next time I can make this Imperfect Olympic Trifle Fruit Salad even better.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Eight Fulfilling Ways to Be Creative

Taking a little time to be creative is a great way to relieve stress.  It can also be fulfilling when you share your creativity with others.  Here are some of my favorite ways to be creative and share it with others.

1.  Create a piece of jewelry and give it away as a gift.
2.  Design a card for someone special.
3.  Draw or paint a picture.  Display it or give it away as a gift.
4.  Make a scrapbook that includes yourself and someone else. 
5.  Compose a poem for someone.
6.  Assemble a care package for someone.
7.  Create a blog or add to an existing one.
8.  Cook a new dish.

Perfection is not the goal here.  The creative thinking and sharing with others is what matters most.  The most valuable gift you can give anyone is the gift of your time.  Also, when you think creatively you are sharpening your mind and relieving stress in a fun and healthy way.  Everyone benefits! 

Now it's time for you to show me a little of your creative thinking.  When you see the beads pictured below what does it remind you of?  Please share your thoughts below and feel free to tell me some ways you like to be creative!

What do you think of when you look at these beads?

Challenge yourself to use the five senses.

What do you see, hear, taste, feel and smell in your mind's eye?


 Who knows! Maybe you will see your idea come to life on StringtownBeads !

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Ugly Bracelet

I was recently given the challenge to look at an object I consider beautiful and find its imperfections.  Why would I want to focus on the negative?  Are they really imperfections or are they aspects that complete the object and actually make it "perfect"?  I felt that this challenge needed a twist so I decided to do a switcharoo.  Rather than taking a beautiful object and discover it's imperfections I did exactly the opposite.  I took some of my least favorite beads in my collection and attempted to create something beautiful. 


I put them all in one section of my bead tray. They came to life.

So I went to work and strung them together.

I finished it with a lobster-claw clasp on each end.

Finally, I attached it to my medical identification tag.

And I created The Ugly Bracelet.

You might think this is such a negative name, but this is how I refer to it when I tell people about it.  It just seems to come naturally.  I created it using beads that at one time did not appeal to me.  They were "ugly" beads and I turned it into something very meaningful.  It's definitely a conversation piece when I tell people what I call it and it makes me smile everytime. :)

I have several interchangeable bracelets I've made for my medical identification tag, but this is the one I wear most often.  Besides the fact that the colors are neutral and match almost anything I wear, when I look at it I think of the beach.  I think of the colors and textures of the sand and seashells.  It reminds me of sitting on the beach and watching the ocean.  It brings to me a lot of peace. 

Stephanie loved the beach, so I wear her memory when I wear this bracelet.  It is also a reminder that with a little bit of effort and creativity the negative can be turned into a positive. Like countless others, I do have my share of medical needs.  However, when I look at this bracelet I'm reminded that these are all just the beads of life contributing to the bigger picture.  When strung together they take on a whole new meaning.