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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pictures from Patzcuaro

Following up on my post from yesterday, here are more pictures from the Mexican colonial town of Patzcuaro.  If you like to sit in an outdoor cafe in the evening while drinking a cup of coffee, or better yet a glass of wine, and watch the children play in the plaza and the young couples walk hand in hand around the plaza square, then Patzcuaro is the place for you.  Restaurants and shops line the square around the plaza which is beautifully landscaped with paths around it and through it, with a large statue in the center.                          
This is one of the buildings that surrounds the plaza.  The second floor has lovely windows outlined in stone and balconies with flowers.  A distinctly European influence.
  The statue in the center of the plaza.  Benches are everywhere if you want a rest from walking the paths.
 This is the street leading to our house.  All the houses in the "centro" are painted white and brick red.  You can see the mountains in the background.  As I described yesterday, beautiful, large houses with gardens and patios are behind those doors.  It's amazing to see inside when a door happens to be open.
 This picture shows an old church in a nearby town that dates to the 17th century.  This town is known for making the rustic wooden furniture that is so well known in much of Mexico.

The picture below is of the ceiling of the church.  It is in surprisingly good condition.

Don't be afraid to travel to Mexico - the people are lovely, the scenery and architecture are something that you just shouldn't miss.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back from Patzcuaro

I have been missing for a couple of weeks - actually I wasn't missing but instead I was in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico.  Patzcuaro is a lovely colonial Mexican town in the gorgeous state of Michoacan.  It is a mountainous and green state that has many little towns where much of Mexico's artesans reside and create.

This is the bell tower of what is now Patzcuaro's public library.  Originally, the building was a church built in the 17th century.  The tower is more recent but the rest of the building is the old church.

The streets are cobblestones and in the historic downtown (centro), the houses can only be painted white and brick red.  What is absolutely amazing about these colonial towns is that behind the doors lay beautiful, large homes with gardens and patios.  You would never know it from just looking at the doors.

Much more tomorrow!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Making Blankets For Animal Shelters and Etsy Contributions

Today I'd like to focus on what animal lovers can do to help out the homeless animal shelters as well as highlighting a couple of Etsy stores that donate part of their shop proceeds to such shelters.  First, one project for those who like to knit, crochet or sew is the Snuggles organization.  This is a terrific organization that works to provide blankets to animals living all over the world in shelters.  They have found that a frightened or difficult animal, after being given its own blanket, is able to calm down, thus providing the caregivers time to assess the situation and better handle the animal.  Snuggles believes that this calming effect has saved many lives of newly sheltered animals.  There is also a benefit to the shelter because the blankets provide a more homey, comfortable home and atmosphere for the animals, visitors and staff.

Now, the best part for crafters is that you can make the blankets in your own home with the website providing the preferred sizes and patterns (however you can use any pattern or medium that you like) and it guides you to the shelters in your area which accept the blankets.  Snuggles location directory.  It is so easy yet can make such a difference in an animal's life - an animal who has lost its home, loved ones and is frightened and lonely. Snuggles also has a form that it requests that you fill out when you donate blankets so that they can keep track of how many shelters worldwide are being provided with your handmade blankets. I think we all believe that when we make handmade items, they are made with love and the recipients feel that love.  So let's go spread some of that love on these animals!

And indeed, there are many gifted people on who are donating part of their proceeds to animal shelters.   Let's look at a few (I wish I could show all of them).

Storied Threads sells these adorable Pet Bandanas and donates 75% of the proceeds to a local no-kill animal shelter.  Wouldn't your favorite dog love to sport one of these?

This beautiful silkscreen art print, called Betty the Cat, from the Hero Design shop would be a lovely addition to any home and 100% of the proceeds to the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter.  This print is of "Betty", one of the shelter cats who was waiting to be adopted.

And finally, if you purchase one of these catnip toys (they come in two different sizes) you are assured that 100% of the  proceeds go to one of the three rescue organizations that the SunStones' owner volunteers for.  So let's get moving and
find a way to make
life better!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cupcake Aprons

Cupcakes are popular now for parties, weddings, office gatherings, etc.  I've found that aprons made from cupcake themed fabrics are also in style.  I've made up some in different styles for women and little girls.  The first ones is the little girl's apron:  Child's 5/6 cupcake apron

 This second one is the "Diana" style named after my oldest daughter.  It has a large pocket that runs the entire width of the skirt and is perfect for cooking, baking, gardening, etc. as the pocket can hold all kinds of gadgets.  This is a retro apron style.  Diana Cupcake Apron

The "Laura" apron below is named after my middle daughter.  This is the more modern, "sassy", apron and is made in the halter style.  This is more of a hostess apron and is perfect for the younger set and for bridal shower.  Laura Cupcake Apron

And this black and yellow cupcake apron
is called the "Sonia" style for my third and
youngest daughter.  It has a full skirt and long ties.  Some Sonia aprons come with these cute gathered pockets and others have more traditional pockets.  This is a perfect style for the kitchen and for a hostess apron.  Sonia cupcake apron


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Norway: Midnight Sun, Fjords and Art

In the mid 1800's my ancestors arrived at Ellis Island and from there they migrated to Iowa, Wisconsin and Canada where they mostly farmed.  My daughters, husband, son in law, soon to be son in law and I are planning a trip to Norway next summer and I've started some of my research as to where we want to go.  One of the most famous natural sights that are a most see are the fjords.

The fjords were carved from the hard rock mountains along the coastline by slow moving glaciers.  What is left are steep cliffs, lush green slopes and snow capped mountains.  You navigate the fjords by boat and you can choose a trip of several days or a one day journey. For the more adventurous, you can hike, go kayaking, skiing or cycling.

Besides its natural beauty, Norway has a rich cultural history that includes popular folklore.  Everyone has heard of the infamous Vikings who some say were the first to reach North American by ship.  But did you know that Norway did not gain its independence until 1905?  For centuries it was ruled by Denmark and then Sweden for a briefer time.

Norway is well known for its beautifully knitted sweaters.  They are knit from wool and besides being gorgeous, they will keep you warm during the coldest of the cold winters.  Check this one out on Etsy.  Amarinalevin

Rosemaling is another treasure that comes mainly from Norway.  It involves painting motifs on wooden or tin furniture, chests, plates, figurines, jewelry, etc. This piece can be found at HobNobArtisan on Etsy.

 There is so much more to say and show about Norway.  Another day!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July from Mexico!

I have to say that it is poignant to be spending the July 4th in Mexico, far away from my daughters and my county.  But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and as I sit here today, I know with all certainty how lucky we are to call the United States of America our country.

It is so easy to take for granted what we have and to complain about politicians and laws we don't like. But today, and every day, we should take a step back and reflect on all that we have - such as freedom from the fear of expressing ourselves.  We can vote without fearing for our lives and we can speak out against our leaders without fearing reprisals.  Of course we are not the only country that is so fortunate, but I do think that we are amongst, if not the most, patriotic people in the world.  In just 236 short years, our country has built a legacy that will endure forever - a legacy of opening our doors to people from all over as well as a legacy of finding ways to work together to create opportunities for anyone who wants to take advantage of what our country offers.  

In the words of John F. Kennedy "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

May we all find ways to work together to keep our country the great!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lavender Fields, Facts and Your Home

I think pictures like this always take our breath away and make us wish we were owners of a lavender farm.  (Or maybe I'm just talking about myself).

Although grown widely in the United States and Australia, lavender originates in the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean where it grows in sunny, stony habitats.  It was used in baths to help purify the body and spirit, and folklore has it that for hundreds, if not thousands of years, it was also put in pillows to help restless people sleep.  And in fact, scientific research bears out the calming and soothing effects of lavender when its scent is inhaled.  

Today there are so many products that use lavender such as soaps, shampoos, sachets, pillows, artwork, and it is even used in the kitchen for cooking.  (Although some studies suggest that pregnant women should not eat lavender).  How have our creative friends on Etsy used lavender?

In soaps:

In beautiful wreaths to welcome people to your home:

And in beautiful bouquets for all our brides:

Add some lavender to your home today to uplift and at the same time, sooth your spirits.  How do you use lavender?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Soccer Apron and Smock

I was going to write about something entirely different today, but then I started thinking about yesterday's European Cup 2012 championship game between Italy and Spain and I changed course.  We watched the game from a restaurant in Mexico City while it was pouring buckets of rain, and as we didn't have an umbrella, we weren't going anywhere until it let up.  It's always fun watching soccer games because the fans are so into the game - as was almost everyone in the restaurant.  I know it is the most popular sport in the world and it certainly seems the most active one to me - all that running and kicking for 90 minutes must be exhausting.  Anyway, here are two contributions from my shop to the wonderful sport of soccer!!  This smock makes a cute cover up for your little one.
And this one is for mom!

To celebrate the 4th of July, during the week I am give you a coupon for 10% off anything in my etsy store if you decide to follow my blog.