Saturday, July 31, 2010

52CP30: Fairies and Dreams

Not daily, but often, I get White Hot Truth email updates from Danielle LaPorte ("because self-realization rocks", as her tagline says...). The most recent one had a link to this article in it:

Richard Bach, author of the metaphysical classics, Jonathon Livingston Seagull and Bridge Across Forever, noticed that the Idea Fairy came to him when he was gardening, or flying in a plane. That's when he'd get his storyline ideas and life solutions.

Call it what you want: the zone, the flow, the magical gap, the illuminating silence...there is a place in space and time where we tend to think and feel most clearly. And in that place, ahaas, creative genius, strategies, and revelations tend to flow our way.

Notice when and where the Idea Fairy likes to visit you. Notice how solutions enter your being. Maybe it's when you're talking to a particular friend or associate (interaction). When you're cruising down the highway or walking to work (movement). Or in the bathtub or washing the dishes (water). Some people's Idea Fairies show up after a good meal or great sex, first thing in the morning, or just as they're drifting off to sleep.

The Idea Fairy can be slightly unpredictable. She won't always show up when you're in the zone. But she really appreciates being invited.

For my project this week, I made what could become a card front, or the cover of a Dreams/Ideas journal to record the inspirations of the Idea Fairy, or a framed piece for my studio - the jury's still out...

Stamps: About Art Accents fairy tree silhouette, Inkadinkado/Brenda Walton Flourishes; Ink: Ranger Faded Blue Jeans distress ink, Versamark; Paper: Close to My Heart Outdoor Denim, DCWV Luxury and Metallic 8" x 8" stacks, unknown blue parchment; Accessories/tools: Stampin'Up! Hodgepodge Hardware ribbon slides, detail clear embossing powder, stardust embossing powder

Where/when does your Idea Fairy visit? I'm pretty much in the zone when I'm driving by myself. I even blogged about it once... Anyway, here's Mr. Linky (with any luck at all, he won't be quite so lonely this week...)

52CP29: Featured Artists?

You all must have had a week like mine - not one submission for this challenge! That's okay - I soooo totally understand! I've been guilty in the past of not making anything, and they're MY challenges! Tune in tomorrow for a new one!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


As the month of July comes to a close, my thoughts have turned to patriotism and all that it entails. We celebrated Independence Day here in the states, and our neighbors to the north recently celebrated Canada Day. The World Cup of soccer recently grabbed everyone's attention. Here in the Northeast, recent headlines focused on the controversy over the United Kingdom refusing to honor the Iriquois sovereign nation passports in lieu of American passports to attend the international la crosse tournament. Pride in our nation has been very much in the forefront of late.

And yet, I can't help but wonder about the apathy that seems to have crept into our patriotism over the generations. World Wars I and II saw huge support for our soldiers and tremendous displays of patriotism, not just in the displays of flags and such, but in tire drives and newspaper drives and more. Part of me wonders if it's because the current wars are "over there" and don't really affect daily life "over here". Regardless, a focus on and appreciation for our nation and those who defend it would be a wonderful thing, so this week I'm doing just that.

The following article appeared in Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion in July 2002, which was soon enough after 9/11 for people to still be paying attention. I think it bears repeating:

For Old Glory and Uncle Zozzie
by Kathryn Renner

Today, against a sky the color of a pale blue finch's breast, we will unfurl our flag and secure it near the front door just high enough so Old Glory will not brush the petunias below. As we look down our street, we will see other flags on fence posts, miniature versions stuck in flower buckets, and bright bunting swagged across mullioned windows. They symbolize pride and honor, and some stand for loved ones, their faces imprinted on our hearts. In our home, that face is Uncle Zozzie. The flag we display was draped over his casket when he died at the age of 99.

Uncle Zozzie, my great uncle, was the longest-surviving World War I veteran in Russellville, Kentucky. He was born Raleigh Thacker, but his boyhood nickname stuck, stubborn as the roots of a morning glory. His longevity made him a hero in Logan County. In one of our family scrapbooks, handed down to me, clippings from the News-Democrat & Leader and the Daily News relate how Zozzie shipped out on the U.S.S. Maine, then, after our victory, crossed the Atlantic six times aboard the passenger ship Troy to bring home war-torn soldiers. The sight of a devastated Europe made him feel hollow inside, he said.

But my memories of him are not of a soldier. I knew a genteel man with a soft Southern purr, full of "pleases" and "thank you, ma'ams" and eyes that twinkled when he described the glacial peaks of meringue on his wife's coconut cream pie.

As I watch his flag stir in the breeze, I wonder how his quiet soul would have dealt with the recent assaults on our freedom. Then, in my heart, I know. He would roll up his sleeves and take his station, whatever that might be, just like he did before. For me, Uncle Zozzie personifies that American spirit - a heart ferocious in its kindness, as well as its strength. I see it in his face in the news photo where he stands by a flag on the 75th anniversary of the WWI armistice, a commemorative medal pinned to the lapel of his gentlemanly white suit. He stares into the camera, a little awkward and shy - a feeble man now - but his veteran's pride shines through, sharp as a boot camp salute.

The photo of Zozzie that I love best is a close-up of his face inches from the cheek of my toddler son in 1985. He had traveled cross-country for what turned out to be his last visit with us. Haley's Comet shot through the sky that year; we watched together from our California patio, my son cozy on the lap of this old man who said, "Give me some sugar" instead of "Give me a kiss". Zozzie talked about lying on the grass near the Gaspar River in1910, his sisters nearby, pointing to the comet's blazing tail as it rocketed across the Kentucky heavens. "Never thought I'd see that again," he said.

But he did see it again. And our soldiers have been called again. So flags wave with renewed vigor, buffeted by wind, bleached by sun, yet steadfast as patriots. Ours flies in Uncle Zozzie's name - a name that brings honor to those who served and to those who fell like stars in a star-spangled sky.

What wonderful sentiments, and what a wonderful view of soldiers and flags and where our thoughts should turn - at least on the days set aside for such veneration: Flag Day, Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day for those of us in the states. All nations have such days, and all citizens could and should take part in celebrating not just the day, but those whose lives and works and sacrifices are the reasons for the day! Perhaps this week we could make a card and send it to a soldier or someone who is working to defend our freedom and/or make our lives better here at home...

Stamps: Close to My Heart Three Cheers; Ink: CTMHHoliday Red, Outdoor Denim, Ranger Tea Dye; Papers: CTMH Colonial White, Holiday Red, Outdoor Denim, Black; Accessories/tools: Stampin'Up! ticket corner punch

Here's Mr. Linky for this week:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

52CP28 Featured Artists

It's been a majorly hectic week here at the Culotti household and, as a result, I'm a day late with this post, and will also be a day late with the new challenge. Greg's dad has been in the hospital for two weeks (he's almost 92 years old) and we're wading through paperwork and financial mazes and making sure his mom is okay at home. Her 90th birthday was yesterday and today I hosted her dinner/party at our home. Add in the usual work and running the household and other "normal" stuff, and WHEW! I hope you'll bear with me here...

Anyway, we had three great cards this week! First up we have Sarah again this week with this fun card:

She showed herself some love this week by doing what she loves - being creative and using images that reflect her love of the wildlife that visit her yard, as well as an "enjoy" tag (so cute!) to re-emphasize the joy! I love the colors she used here - so bright, cheery and summery!

Next up was Bev with what she loves - art supplies, of course! Things that make us happy... I love her borders and the fun contrast of pastels with red!

Finally, Steph brought out one of her many, many (apparently endless) sentiment stamps to make this gorgeous card:

I love the pop of yellow with the green and black - so pretty!

Thank you, ladies, for your continued support! I hope the rest of you will click over to their blogs and check out the rest of the details on these cards, as well as to see what other fabulous creations they come up with! Also, be sure to check back tomorrow for a new challenge! Have a great night!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

52CP28: Me First

One of the little adages most - if not all - of us have heard repeatedly in our lives comes from the Ten Commandments: "Love thy neighbor as thyself." But how often do we stop to think about what that means really, truly and practically?

I was watching the video The Secret, and a line in it grabbed my attention. The gentleman on the screen was saying, "...because you're going to get to love yourself, and as you love yourself, you'll love others." A-ha! There's a little key there - did you catch it? You have to love yourself first, and then you are able to come from that place and love others!

Part of an article by Valerie Monroe that I read this past week discussed this very issue:

Why is it hard for many of us to do things for ourselves before we do for others? Maybe we believe the "good" woman sacrifices herself for her family and, increasingly, for her work. "In terms of our relationships, women often feel they're responsible for everything - which is not a complete misperception," says nationally syndicated columnist and life coach Harriette Cole. "We are the ones who usually lead the way. But somehow we get from there to the idea that the world won't work unless we help it along."

Taking on responsibilities that might be well or even better handled by others is one of the ways we begin to lose our balance and slide down the slippery slope from generosity to martyrdom. Because women are likely to be the primary caretakers for husbands and children as well as aging parents, we have ample opportunity to fall into the pattern of serving the people we love before we serve ourselves. But there are good reasons to be judicious about that. "If you always put someone else first, there's a tendency for others to depreciate you, to lose respect, because respect comes from an understanding that that person has her own wishes, dreams, and desires," says Ethel S. Person, MD, author of Feeling Strong: The Achievement of Authentic Power.

Determining boundaries and standing firm in your expectation that they will be respected is key. Being available when needed is not the same thing as being on call 24/7. Moving from being supportive to being a crutch is not helpful on either side. Resentments can build and fray nerves and relationships. Conversely, avoiding this by taking care of ourselves first is beneficial to both parties, as mutual respect and loving attitudes are maintained.

Going back to The Secret: " you become the solution for you. Take time for yourself. In a sense, to fill yourself up to fullness and then you can come from there, and give it out."

Treating ourselves as kindly and generously and lovingly as we would hope to treat those we love is the best way to ensure that we are able to do exactly that. If we look at those that we admire as loving and kind (Mother Theresa comes to mind), it is evident that they are quite comfortable in their own skin and serene within themselves. It is possible for us to emulate them.

Getting to know yourself and to accept yourself wholeheartedly - warts and all - is, in my mind, how we begin to move into this loving space. We make allowances for the quirks and foibles of others - we need to do the same for ourselves. Carving out a space just for us - to be still, as we've already discussed, to do those things that renew us and recharge our batteries, to truly come to love ourselves - these things are crucial to enhancing our ability to truly love others.

Stamps: Inkadinkado/Kathy Davis Expressions; Ink: Stampin'Up! Kiwi Kiss and Rose Red; Paper: Stampin'Up! Raspberry Tart dp, Kiwi Kiss; Accessories/Tools: Nestabilities Labels Eight, K & Company Smitten chipboard hearts, Prima flowers (altered), redline tape, Studio G glitter, unknown bling

The card I made reinforces the concept that all things do, indeed, grow with love - our self-esteem, our relationships, our happiness, etc. Here's to a week of finding ways to be kind to ourselves and grow in love - for ourselves and others!

52CP27 Featured Artists

Good Sunday Morning! Yeah, I know - this post should have been up yesterday... It's been an "interesting" week, so I hope it's okay with you all that I'm posting it now. Summer is notorious for too much to do in too little time, so I'm going with the thought that this is the reason for less participation in the challenges of late.

Still - we did have three submissions and they deserve viewing! Stephanie was first up with a tribute to friends gone too soon:
I love the technique she used to create the background for her sentiment! Check out the link to her blog for more details on this beauty! Next up was Erica's fun card:

Great pattern mix and a cute, cute image! Finally, Beverly played again this week, with a card reflecting the influence of the strong women who came before her and influenced her:
Her cute heart dp is DIY - random stamping - love it! That's it for this week! Thank you, ladies, for your contributions this week - love them all!

I'm still tying up a few loose ends from my "interesting" week, so the new challenge won't be up for a few hours. Be sure to check back later, though! Have a great day!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

52CP27: She's Amazing

I found this most amazing video on Brene Brown's blog earlier this week and knew it needed to be here, too:

You can read the backstory to the video HERE, and nominate an amazing person HERE. My amazing person is my mother and, rather than make something new this week, I'm posting a card I made for a Splitcoast Stampers challenge a couple of years ago:

Stamps: Close to My Heart My Mom and Soul Mates Word Puzzle; Ink: CTMH Holiday Red, Versamark; Paper: CTMH Holiday Red, White; Accessories/tools: Cuttlebug with Top Note die and textile embossing folder, white embossing powder, ribbon, decorative-edge scissors, computer (For part of the sentiment - Amazone BT font)

Here's what I said about the above picture:
For the "Feeling a Little Nostalgic" challenge for the Holiday Challenge Extravaganza. This card is dedicated to the memory of my mother. She raised womanhood in general - and motherhood in particular - to a high art. She fostered a love of reading, music, creativity and learning, among other things. I've traced my love - bordering on passion - for the color red to the shaker on the right. My mother used it for cinnamon and sugar to put on our toast, and to sprinkle on leftover pastry bits when she made pies before she baked them... To me it represents all that is joyful, comforting, encouraging, and "home". How can you not love that?
And there you have it! Who is your amazing person? Your challenge this week is to create something to honor her. Hopefully we'll have a very full, very amazing gallery this week!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thank You, Sarah T. and Stephanie

Hello again, all! I'm not quite sure what the dealie-o is/was this week, but Sarah was the only one to submit anything for the challenge, so she gets the spotlight all to herself this week! No - correction - Steph added a card, too! Here they are:

Great layout and ribbon treatment, and I'll always, always love Americana colors - the good ol' red, white and blue! Thank you so much, Sarah!

Gorgeous color combo, gorgeous silk ribbon (check the pinking shear action on the tails), beautiful card! Thanks for adding your card, too, Steph!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a new challenge - we have a video this week!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hello? Is This Thing Working?

Hi All! I'm a tad bit concerned that you all think I neglected to post this week's challenge... I remembered the "featured artists" post after I'd already posted the challenge, and couldn't find any way on Blogger to switch them around, so the challenge is in the post following the featured artists one. I said so in that post, too, but maybe you were all so distracted by the great artwork that you didn't actually read anything...!

At any rate, I hope you'll click HERE now, and play along... Have a great (what's left of it) week!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

52CP25 Featured Artists

Oops! I forgot about this post before I posted this week's challenge - doh! Ah well, it's probably okay, since we had some last-minute entries that wouldn't have been included if I'd been more on the ball. Everything happens for a reason, right? This week's challenge is below this one, so keep reading after you get to the end of the great artwork, k?

I'm not going to add commentary on these, just thank you so much for adding to our gallery, ladies, and thank you for looking, those who just drop by to see what's what! Click on the name under the pic to go to the blog post where there are details on each card:


And there you have it! Please scroll down for this week's challenge!

52CP26: The Space Between

Happy Fourth of July! I'm posting a little later in the day than usual because Friday was my birthday and we had a party last night and I've been a little sidetracked there...

One of the things that I've become increasingly aware of lately is how busy all of our lives are and how full our schedules are and how easy it is to just be on the go - usually at full throttle - all of the time. I've also been getting more and more frustrated with my lack of focus and my inability to pinpoint exactly what it is that I could be doing to lead a more fulfilling life that resonates with my values and belief system on a deeper level. Right now I feel like I'm "going through the motions", and I know many others who feel the same way. Because of this, our focus this week is on "the space between".

We've all heard the phrase "reading between the lines", and understand it to mean that there is as much - if not more - information in what is not said, as there is in what has been vocalized. Paying closer attention is indicated and necessary to catch that information.

I've been watching "So You Think You Can Dance" this season, and one of the recurring criticisms/suggestions from the judges to the dancers is to do something with the space between the steps that the choreographer has given them - a space to put their emotions and creativity.

In music there are notes - quarter notes, whole notes, half notes, etc. - but there is also a symbol called a "rest". It indicates exactly that - rest, or "leave a space" in the music. This makes a much more interesting musical composition and is useful in creating mood, as well.

In design, "white space" is a valuable tool. In interior design it is necessary to have spaces that are not filled with decorative items. If there is too much, the eye doesn't know where to look first because everything is competing with everything else; creating vignettes with space between leads the eye around the room, enhancing individual elements and giving a pleasing overall effect. The same principle applies across all artistic/design disciplines.

In "life", it is necessary to carve out space in our days to be still - be it through meditation, prayer, pondering - whatever. If we allow ourselves this stillness, we will be amazed at the rejuvenation of mind, body and spirit. I further believe that this space is where inspiration lives. Unless we are able to shut out the "chatter" of the outside world, we cannot possibly hear our intuition and the still, small voice that reveals to us our highest, best selves and the next step(s) in our journey here. It is a way to "pay closer attention" and get new information (or remember what we already know but forgot about). Besides, we all need a rest... Make it a priority to take time to Be Still.

Paper:Unknown; Accessories/tools: Cuttlebug with bird and branch embossing folder and Nestabilities Labels Four and Eight dies, Offray ribbon, Stampin'Up! Word Window punch, computer (Flinglet font), pearls