Holiday Memories ... Blog Giveaway Contest

Last Tuesday my blog hit a milestone with the 10,000th visitor since I started the blog at the end of August this year. Even though a couple of artists got in touch with me, thinking perhaps they had won the "Christmas Surprise" package I had planned for the 10,000th visitor, it turns out that the 10,000th visitor will remain a "mystery".

My "Holiday Surprise" goodie package still wants to brighten someone's day when they receive it in the mail, so here's what we are gonna do...

Leave a treasured holiday memory in the Comments section to this post! You have some time to think about it. This "holiday memory" contest will close on Saturday, December 6 (St. Nicholas Day). The names of those who have left a favourite memory will be put in a santa hat and the winner's name will be drawn. All you'll need to do is to check back starting Dec. 7 to see if you have won and get in touch with me. If I haven't heard from the winner within three days, another name will be drawn. So please remember to check back.

Here are some of my favourite memories to help get you into the spirit ...

It can be a Christmas memory from your childhood, perhaps a toy you received that you just loved. I still remember the doll I received when I was five. Oh, I just loved that doll to bits. We went on many adventures together over the course of a couple of years. It was a sad day when she finally fell apart from so much lovin' and had to go to doll heaven.

It can be a holiday memory from your teenage years. I met my first, really serious boyfriend at a New Year's Eve dance. It was THE enchanted evening that many a teenage female with raging hormones dreams about (na, you're not going to get the details LOL). You know, the day when Prince Charming finally arrives to sweep her off her feet! He did too... for about two years....wonder where he is now?

Perhaps it is a humourous memory of a family Holiday dinner... like the time my Dad asked my little brother to say grace before we "attacked" the turkey.

Bobby (as he was known then) said "Grace"!

That was it.

We waited and waited... nothing. "Aren't you going to say grace?, said Dad. "Gosh Daddy you said to say Grace so I did. Can I have some peas please!"

We all burst out in great gales of laughter. The look on his face told us he didn't have a clue as to why we were laughing so hard. Mom passed him the peas!

Wishing for snow on Christmas Eve and my wish came true! It was magic walking home from the skating rink that crisp, December evening... with my tongue stuck out to catch the snowflakes!

Seeing the Christmas lights in Paris for the first time... The Christmas market in Germany with it's wonderful smells and delicious goodies all waiting to be sampled... Baking Christmas cookies with my (at the time) two year old son.....there was more flour on us than in the cookies!

Enjoy your trip down memory lane!


37+ Ideas for Recycling Reader's Digest Condensed Books

Last week, the "librarian" in our community complex got in touch with me to tell me that they had a number of old Reader's Digest Condensed Books and other hardbacks they were culling from the library in our community building.

Knowing that I am always on the lookout for books, she asked if I would be interested in them. She estimated that there were around 50 of them! All I had to do was take them away. "WOW", I thought, "What a find. Can't turn this offer down."

Later on that day, I went down to the community building to see just what kind of condition they were in. Even though some of them were 40 years plus old, most were all in pretty good condition. They had been taken care of by their owners over the years before they were donated.

I estimated that there were about 70 or 80 of them! But where would I put them all? And, what would hubby say when I came home with yet even more books? My first thought was to share them with other artists in my art groups. Then I remembered Canada Post's mail charges. They charge an arm and a leg to mail stuff and it just wouldn't be feasible. Scratch that idea!

I have to admit, my second thought was to hide them somewhere! LOL A secret stash! I figured that hubby might have a fit if he came in the door and saw a gazillion books lying around. But hubby and I don't keep secrets from each other (it's just another reason why we have such a successful marriage) so I made the decision to talk to him about it when he came home that evening. I figured out where I could put them... on a long shelf that leads down to our family room and my art "playroom".

Surprise, surprise. He agreed with me that they were a find, as long as I could come up with something I could do with them and actually use them (not just having them sit there doing nothing for the next ten years).

I told him about putting the "call" out to the art groups I belong to for ideas... Altered Books, Art Techniques, Art EZine Cafe and the Latest Trends and showed him the list of ideas I had compiled from the input of my fellow artists. "Okay", he said, "I'll help you bring them home."

When we started loading them into the trunk of our car, I realized that I had grossly underestimated just how many there actually were. In the end, we brought home 120 of them!

I couldn't get them all into one photo for you. It's pretty impressive when you actually see it. But to give you an idea of just how much book shelf space they took up.... that shelf is 10 feet wide and when we ran out of room we had to start double stacking them! Here's a photo of just some of them:

So, now what?

First, I know that there are some people who get very upset at the thought of altering books. Some books lovers think it is a sin! If you can't bear the thought of dissecting a book for its parts, then this blog post is not for you. If you have some books and would like to clear out some of your collection, I'd suggest giving them to a local nursing home or perhaps a "traveling" hospital library.

However, be that as it may, I can tell you that RDCB's are not suitable for altering as in "altered books". The spines are week, the paper is poor and not the best quality for altering. They just will not stand up to rigor of some art techniques when transforming them from a book that no one seems to want into something wonderful filled with gorgeous art.

Most public libraries do not keep Reader's Digest Condensed Books on their shelves. Many libraries will not even accept them as a donation. However those that do will often give them away "gratis" to patrons who want them.

A quick search of e-Bay revealed that although there are many of them listed for sale from anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 a book, there is a distinct lack of any bidding going on. Charity thrift stores in our area sell them in the same price range as E-bay and have racks of them that have been there for years.

Although they may look "good" on a shelf because of their colourful covers, both my book loving hubby and I agree... they may have some good stories in them, but they are not well made "quality" books.

We both believe they were originally made for the "masses" to encourage people to read and purchase the books at a price much lower than the original hardbacks of the featured stories in each edition. However, once read, they languish on book shelves for years and finally like many worn out paperbacks, they land on a garage sale table, get sent to the landfill or (hopefully) to a paper recycling plant.

I like to think that re-purposing these RDCB books is making lemonade out of lemons. We book artists "salvage" what we can that is still usable, infusing new life into the elements and present them, once again for people's enjoyment, in a different form.

There are many things you can do to recycle these "unwanted" hardback books into your art. Here are some "re-purposing" ideas the very talented artists in my art groups and I came up with...

1. Gut the book. Use the paper to make paper beads, as scrap paper to try out new art techniques or as scrap paper at your art table for cleaning your paint brushes (and making serendipity papers).
2. Cut the paper up to use as "text" backgrounds in collage for cards, collage or use as wrapping paper for small gifts.
3. Sew or tape the paper together to get big sheets. You can use the sheets on your art table as a cover up when painting, for a barbeque tablecloth or wrapping bigger gifts.
4. Salvage the illustrations in the book for future use in your artwork.
5. Cut out the book titles. They used some interesting fonts when typesetting the books.
6. Some of the earlier books have wonderful, coloured end papers made from quality paper. Salvage them!
7. Save the bookplates from the front of earlier editions of RD books to use in your art. Recycle them into "modern" bookplates with the addition of some art work. Check on the web to find out whether or not these bookplates are collectibles. Many bookplates are. If they are, I'd love to hear from you. I've been too busy writing this article to check this out myself!
8. Many of the later editions have colourful covers. Photograph them and use them to create background papers in a graphic program.
9. The "bookboard" on the covers is very strong and the colourful backgrounds on some RDCB's make great backdrops for collage.
10.On some of the older, padded covers from the 60's, the "chipboard" beneath the outer cover has a thin layer of foam glued to it. Although you can't take the foam off, you could re-use the padded chipboard for "mini quilt" creations or anything that you want a padded surface for.
11. Some of the RDBC books came encased in an outer cardboard case. You can leave these outer cases as is and alter them, give them a nice new look with a coat of paint, use the light cardboard and the coloured end papers for diecuts, embossing with a cuttlebug, etc.
12. Use the block of paper in the book to make a book sculpture. Check out this photo show from artist Terri Noell , one of the very talented artists in my group, for inspiration.
13. Remember those angels, snowmen and Santa Claus' from the 70's and 80's made with the RD magazine? Well they are back! Do a search on the Internet for how to directions.
14. Stack the books up, drill a hole through the center of the book piles, insert a hollow metal rod and make a "book" lamp. You can also glue the books together in a random fashion before drilling for a more interesting arrangement.
15. Stack the books, drill a hole for a dowel through the center and use for table legs. You can paint them or leave them as is.
16. Use the covers as a canvas for collage and art plaques to hang on the wall.
17. Cut a hole in the center of the book cover and use to frame a photograph or art piece.
18. Glue the pages of the book together. Hollow out to make a book "case" for your treasures, a sewing box, a jewelry case, a love letters box, a "book safe" for hiding keys, important stuff you want to keep from prying eyes!
19. Glue the pages together and make a "book shrine".
20. Glue the cover and the book pages together. Cut an opening in the book cover and cut a niche in the book pages (just like in tip 18) for a shallower "display" area.
21. Make a book display. Open the book up in the middle. Letting the book pages fall naturally, glue the pages together on the right side, repeat on the left side so that you have an open book. When dry, decorate the book. When you are finished you can lay a copy of a favourite poem on the open book. Makes a nice display for a wedding invitation, Golden anniversary memento, special photograph, etc...
22. Cut out same sized figures from the book pages and use them in an altered book for pop ups, families, etc.
23. Cut out the titles of books and mix together for a collage of letters.
24. Found some vegetable illustrations in your RDCB book? Cut them out and make a pop up garden.
25. Turn your RDCD book into a purse. This particular article is geared towards a steampunk costume accessory, but it could be used in lots of ways.
26. Heather, who works in a library with children and young folks, sent along the instructions for a handmade journal she made in a workshop with the younger, budding artists set

"... we ripped out the guts and then added in blank pages to fill it- voila handmade journals with 'professional' covers. One girl went home, printed off a whack of daytimer pages and made another (journal) to use as her school agenda. To bind the pages together. we used regular paper (misprints, scrap sheets ) cut in half, clamped the pages to keep the edges even and glued away, applying a muslin strip to the wet glue for added strength and hold, created endpapers and used those to add the new guts. As these were to be notebooks for random notes/jottings, the partially used/printed sheets didn't cause any problems. Finally the covers were embellished/personalised. These random papers/covers books make great glueboooks. of course these can be done with any hardcover, not just RDCB's"

27. Use the books in assemblages.
28. Pile them up, put a board on top and use it as a shelf.
29. Use the gutted book cover (with the spine still attached) as a birdhouse roof in an assemblage.
30. Use a cover to make a very large postcard. Wouldn't that make a great mail art postcard?
31. Make "book board" out of the paper. Just glue and layer a number of pages together!
32. Use as a tablet for gluing smaller items. When you are done, just rip out the used page. You can also use old phone books if you don't have a RDCD.
33. Make a stationery holder with a cover. Make the cover pretty, add a pocket to the front and back for paper and envelopes.
34. Some of the later books have dust covers printed on good quality glossy paper. The dust jackets feature the covers of the original books that appear in the condensed book and use some interesting fonts. They could be "salvaged" to use in your artwork.
35. Look at these marvelous book vases created by Laura Cahill. What a great idea!
36. Jim Rossenau makes the coolest bookcases and book shelves you have ever seen. I've been a fan of his since I first saw his website a year or so ago. Visit his site, This into That to take a look at his funky creations.
37. Read this article about Book Lovers at MIT who make furniture out of books!

There are a wealth of sites that you can visit on the web. When you have a few minutes, go on a search to discover some of them!

So there you have it... 37 plus ways for you and I to use those unwanted books!

Stay tuned... I am already working on my first paper sculpture! Terri inspired me to take a crack at it!

Thanks again to all the artists who sent me emails privately or posted their ideas and suggestions to our group.... Pam x 2, Heather, Gale, Elizabeth, Terri, Lisa, Maxine, Bonnie, Alicia, Mary, Lee, Cathy, Ellen, Theresa, Kathy, and Cindy. I hope I haven't missed anyone! If I have just know that your contribution was much appreciated!

Have a great week... A Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers. Wishing you great bargains on "Black Friday"!

Hopefully I will get to posting on Friday but can't promise. It's a very busy week this week... heating up for the Christmas party season already... have three invitations this week, two of them before Friday!


The Elves and Mrs. Santa

have been busy in my art room! The Christmas season is one of my favourite times of the year. I truly enjoy getting out my glues, paints, inks, ribbon, lace and sewing machine and making a big mess LOL at this time of the year for me!

These past couple of weeks have gone by in a blur. Mrs. Santa's workshop has been in full swing working overtime creating all sorts of goodies for the upcoming holidays.

Many of the "creations" I had set aside for the arts and craft fair last week ended up being sold before the craft fair began to friends and folks who check in with me to see what I have been up to lately! So it was back to the art table to make "more stuff"!

The cozy arts and craft fair I participated in was the first one I have done in years! The atmosphere was great, the room was filled to brimming with all manner of luscious goodies and the women who participated were hilarious to be with. We shared many a good laugh over the course of eight hours.

It was delightful and fun chatting with the shoppers who stopped by my table. How lovely it is to hear comments like "Oh, that is just gorgeous. How creative you are!" or "I just have to have that!" or "My goodness where do you get all of your ideas? I don't have a creative bone in my body. Your things are absolutely wonderful. " or "Oh look at that! Isn't it cute?"

Even though I do my "work" from a place of love and would do it regardless of what others think of it, there is something wonderfully gratifying and empowering to hear words of praise and appreciation from others. The proof of their words is definitely in the pudding when they purchase something that really speaks to them. That's the most gratifying and in a strange way, humbling part... knowing you have created something that they want to purchase as a gift to themselves or for someone special.

Do you participate in Christmas "art swaps"?

I do. They are a favourite Christmas activity for me. Last year, my time was fully consumed with tracking down long lost ancestors and putting the finishing touches on my family genealogy project. Writing the family stories, finishing the digital art work, putting all the pieces together and getting it published kept me busy well into the night for about seven months. Once that was accomplished I was off to San Francisco to spend ten days in early December with my favourite aunt.

She had no knowledge of the project (boy did all of our family members keep that secret well) so it was a complete surprise. I wanted to deliver her copy of the book, which I had dedicated to her, in person. It was very timely. The day that I arrived in S.F. she was diagnosed with cancer. I am certain to this day that the timing of my being there and the book being published was divine intervention. My lovely auntie died this past May. However she died in peace and the comforting knowledge that she finally knew her roots. It was something that she had wondered about (and sometimes agonized over) her whole life.

Needless to say, I didn't get to participate in any swaps last year. But I shall not be "swap deprived" this year!

Over at The Latest Trends yahoo art group, we currently have two swaps going. One is for Christmas charms and the other is for Christmas ornaments. I am also in a couple of "secret buddy" swaps but to tell you any more than that would be to give the secret away!

This week, I finally got to making some of my "stuff". Here's a photo of both the charms and a few of the ornaments for the Latest Trends swaps. I'd appreciate hearing what you think of them. Your comments are always appreciated!

With company coming for Christmas this year, I have also been sorting through all my projects stored in the guest bedroom! I must admit I was rather amazed at just how much I have done this year. My gosh I even found some things I had forgotten I created when I started pulling out the boxes.

A number of my online (and offline) friends have been pushing me (albeit gentle, but persistent nudges) towards opening up an "etsy" shop. Looking at all that I have accumulated over the past year, I am now seriously considering it. I am running out of space to put it all and next year is right around the corner.

So who better to ponder this question over with than those of you who visit my blog! If you have an etsy or other online shop and would be willing to share your expertise and experience with me about selling online, I'd love to hear from you. I am open to all suggestions and ideas. I'd like to hear both the pros and the cons. Click here for my email address to write to me privately.

Here are a few photos of some of "ma' favourite things" that I pulled out of the boxes and have been thinking might be suitable for an online shop...

Add some pizazz to the back of your bathroom or bedroom door! Store your bras, socks, pantyhose, tights, nightie or p, j's in style in a lace, pearls and satin Victorian Corset Bag! Oh la! la!

Fun and funky "Daytimer" game piece earrings There is a second set of earrings "The Numbers Game" that have numbers of them so you can "mix and match" with this set!

"Strategies 4 the Road" License plate key chain.

"Dare 2B You - Who You Are Counts"

The idea for these key chains originated in a personal development workshop series I wrote and conducted in my coaching practice called "Strategies 4 the Road". This is just one "plate" out of the series. Clients loved them especially because they got to pick the one that had the most meaning for them!

"Show me the money" T-shirt earrings made from a U.S. dollar bill.

You'll never be short a buck again with these on! They are... uhh... priceless!

For all those hockey fans in your life... a "Pond Hockey" T-shirt made from a $5.00 Canadian bill. Did you know that Wayne Gretzky, one of Canada's most beloved hockey players, learned to play hockey on a pond? Hubby is going to get one of these in his stocking this year!

Hope you have enjoyed this week's "picture show". I'd love your feedback on these projects and your opinion as to their suitability for an online store. Just email me your comments. Gracias! Vielen Dank! Merci! Dankjewel! Tack! Grazie! Arigatou! Tak! Kiitos! Thanks bunches!

Time to get back to my art table. See you all next week.


Christmas is Coming...

This has been a busy week finishing up some of my Christmas projects for an upcoming arts and crafts show. Needless to say it hasn't left a lot of time for writing! It has been a bit of a struggle as my arthritis has been acting up again... the November rains have hit the "wet coast"... so I decided that instead of writing a piece that probably wouldn't get finished until tonight LOL, I would "show off" some of the things I have been working on.

A French Lavender Hanky Sachet

Here's just one of the sachets that I have made with some vintage and antique hankies and vintage jacquard brocade material that I have had for about 30 years (and was about 20 years old when I got it). I loved this material so much that I have never wanted to part with it until now. It was perfect for making the sachets. I have made 10 in total and they all have a secret pocket to store your hopes, wishes and dreams. I nearly fell over when I went to buy the lavender from a local supplier. The cost of culinary French lavender has risen to $40.00 a pound! But oh my gosh, the sachets turned out beautifully and smell absolutely wonderful...

Potpourri Christmas Jar

And speaking of potpourri... here's a Christmas jar filled with Christmas lights and cinnamon potpourri that I made. It has an antique doily on top. It looks wonderful when it is turned on and the smell is just delicious. The Christmas lights (35 in all) warm up the potpourri and permeates the air with the smell of Christmas!

Vintage Style Christmas Cards

Christmas isn't Christmas without making some cards. I love making Christmas cards... but this year I have limited myself to a baker's dozen otherwise I'd have enough for this Christmas and next. CHUCKLE.

Here's a delightful card made from a vintage Santa image. He sure is one cute Santa...LOL... Yesterday, on my way home from the bakery (I had gone to purchase some pie boxes for my Potpourri apple pies), I saw a sign near the farmer's market that read "Leave wine, not milk. Love Santa" Yo Santa... will do!

"Artisan" Glass Pendants

This is a photo of some glass pendants that I made from recycled tumbled glass. The photo just doesn't do them justice... they are absolutely gorgeous. I used a combination of fantasy film, Angelina fibres, Franklin Opals, embossing powders and glitter. I am just tickled with the way they turned out. It took awhile to do them... waiting for the glass to finish tumbling seemed to take forever! But once they were done... my heat gun, my "stuff" and I had a date... and here is the result

Next Tuesday is Remembrance Day in Canada. Instead of Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips, I hope to post a tribute to our war veterans... past and present. Without their sacrifice to our country, we would be living in a much different world.

There is something really wonderful about the days leading up to Remembrance Day. Everyone you see has a poppy pinned to their jacket, sweater or lapel.

Rain or shine, you'll find me at the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Sydney, B.C. to watch the military parade (including hubby's band) march to the cenotaph for the ceremony to honour our war dead. After the ceremony is over, hubby's band goes on an all day "pub crawl" playing a few sets in each pub! Thank heavens they have a military bus with a driver to transport them around. He should be in fine shape come 7 p.m. when I join him at their last stop LOL!

Have a great weekend... I'll be sending pleading messages to the rain Gods that the "pineapple express" (the rain that is coming from Hawaii and absolutely soaking us) doesn't last too long!