Halting Holiday Stress: Just Do One Thing

Is wearing matching PJ's your favorite part of the holidays? Then go for it...maybe just not this particular pair.

Is wearing matching PJ’s your favorite part of the holidays? Then go for it…maybe just not this particular pair.

If you are a Pinterest addict like me, then you know there are about a zillion crafty/creative projects and activities you could be doing this holiday season.  In fact, it’s easy to feel like a big holiday failure if you don’t:

  • send out handmade cards
  • make cookies for all your neighbors and friends
  • decorate both the inside and outside of your house by the end of Thanksgiving
  • go caroling
  • feed the homeless
  • make your own nativity scene, advent calendar and stockings
  • buy (or better yet, make!) matching pajamas for your family
  • enjoy several holiday traditions with your perfectly-behaved children and pets by doing things like reading aloud together, making gingerbread houses and singing Christmas carols

I know I left out a whole bunch of other projects – but you get the point.  The number of things we “should” do around the holidays and the things we actually want to do – or physically can do – is much more limited.

So this year, instead of writing a mile-long to-do list, pick just one or two things to do.  And do them well.  And enjoy them while you’re doing them.  And have that be enough. For me, I truly love Christmas cards (giving and receiving!) so that’s where I will be putting the majority of my creativity energy this year.  How about you?

 

The Picture of Happiness – Knitting

It’s  The Picture of Happiness Month!

Today’s guest is Caroline Moore, she says:

Knitting makes me happy.  I love going to the yarn store and picking out something beautiful from all the gorgeous varieties of wool, synthetics, cotton, alpaca, and bamboo.  I enjoy the feel of it in my fingers and the warmth it creates.  From picking out a pattern to casting on the first stitches to giving a loved one (or myself) a finished product, I love the whole process.  I enjoy solitary knitting or with dear friends in my “craft group” which I have been doing for the last 20 plus years.  Knitting keeps my hands busy and my head clear.

Knitting makes me happy.  I love going to the yarn store and picking out something beautiful from all the gorgeous varieties of wool, synthetics, cotton, alpaca, and bamboo.  I enjoy the feel of it in my fingers and the warmth it creates.  From picking out a pattern to casting on the first stitches to giving a loved one (or myself) a finished product, I love the whole process.  I enjoy solitary knitting or with dear friends in my "craft group" which I have been doing for the last 20 plus years.  Knitting keeps my hands busy and my head clear. I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.  I am a retired occupational therapist who is loving this new stage in my life with the gift of time and health to pursue new interests and old.  Travel, volunteering, exercise, grandchildren and family, reading and crafts fill my days.


Caroline is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She is a retired occupational therapist who is loving this new stage in her life with the gift of time and health to pursue interests, new and old. Travel, volunteering, exercise, grandchildren and family, reading and crafts fill her days.

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.  I am a retired occupational therapist who is loving this new stage in my life with the gift of time and health to pursue new interests and old.  Travel, volunteering, exercise, grandchildren and family, reading and crafts fill my days.

CREATE Mental Health Re-Cap

From May 2 – May 13, 2011 I celebrated CREATE Mental Health Week (it actually turned into almost 2 weeks). During these weeks I invited guest bloggers to post on Dr. Stephanie. My guests posted on all sorts of creative topics, including: cake decorating, card making, sewing, photography, gardening, and jewelry making. The authors each posted a tutorial, as well as a brief description about how creativity helps them maintain mental health. I was thrilled at the breadth and depth of the posts – and appreciate each of my guests. Take a look at the posts:

A Calendar for Cognitive Orientation by Melony Bishop of Stamping with Melony

A Little Girl’s Bracelet by Tamara Miles of Beaded Essence

“Cutting the Cheese” in Photography by Jenni Lillie of Awaken Photography

A Paper Purse by Kristen Bryant of Stamping with Kristen

A Summer Tote Bag by Sarah Markos of blueSusan

Edible Sugar Flowers by Rachael Teufel of Intricate Icings

Button Clips for Big Girls’ Hair by Laurel MacDougal of Ducks in a Row

Healthy Garden, Healthy Food, Healthy People by Dr. Kaycie Rosen of Golden Naturopathic Clinic

A Greeting Card by Jessica Taylor of Ink it Up!

CREATE Mental Health Week – Making a Calendar for Orientation

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Melony Bishop. Melony writes the blog, Stamping with Melony.  I love this idea – it blends creativity and function beautifully!  Welcome, Melony!

When my friend Faith recently approached me about creating a special stamping project, I couldn’t help but realize the additional cognitive benefits that were involved in this sweet hand-made gift.  Faith wanted to make a daily calendar for her aging father-in-law  to help him stay oriented to the date each day….  What a simple but powerful tool for this man and his caregivers!  A daily calendar hand-made by his beloved daughter-in-law!  What a fantastic way to “CREATE MENTAL HEALTH” in this man’s life!  (Maybe it’s the Occupational Therapist in me that couldn’t resist this purposeful creative calendar coupled with a cognitve component.)

After many hours, here is the fruit of this “labor of love” for Faith’s father-in-law!  🙂

Notice the details involved!  We designed and hand-made a central month page for each of the 12 months with a seasonal theme.  We then designed coordinating mattes for the days of the week and the date of the month for either side of the month.

Faith used the GoGo Boots Die Cut letters with the Big Shot to cut and adhere the names of each of the days of the week that can be rotated daily throughout the year.
She used the Simple Numbers Die Cuts to die cut each of the dates of the month to also rotate through each of the days of the months.  Both the days and dates were cut from Early Espresso Cardstock and adhered to 4×4 Whisper White squares using 2-way glue.

We hand-made little embellishments for all of the various holidays and special days throughout the year and adhered magnets to the backsides that will magnet onto the metal clips on the clipboard to designate those special days of the year.  🙂  We stamped multiple different years as well for the center clip.

We used clear box cases to organize and keep all of the pages safe and handy for his caregiver to swap each day of the year.

Check out the rest of the months of the year that we created……..

CREATE Mental Health Week – Photography

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Jenni Lillie. Jenni is the owner of Awaken Photography, which specializes in wedding and family photography.  Welcome, Jenni!


Cut the “CHEESE!”

Photographing kids can be very fun, unpredictable and stressful. When I photograph a family, I can tell right away how their family takes pictures. A lot of times as soon as I point the camera at them they will look at me with a cheesy, fake grin. Sometimes the kids will even yell “cheese,” a prompting born out of repetitive habits and norms.

But there’s a different option out there. If you are tired of the “cheese” smile my suggestion is to “cut the cheese.” Just don’t say it anymore. If you want more natural-looking photos of your kids, do the opposite–don’t demand they look at the camera at all. Follow them around, observe, and snap away. Photograph the details of their day or their lives. Do they have a special blanket, toy or sport? Let them play and get photos of them being themselves. Those will be the memories and moments you cherish.

Finally, it will be more enjoyable and fun for everyone involved to not force the photo to happen a certain way. Removing our expectations frees us to just capture them naturally. There’s always a place for posed photos, so I wouldn’t discard them completely. And when that time comes, get your kids laughing and snap the genuine smiles they have and not the toothy “cheese” grin you may be used to.


CREATE Mental Health Week – A Little Girl’s Bracelet

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Tamara Miles. Tamara is the owner of Beaded Essence, an on-line boutique specializing in unique, handmade jewelry and more.  Welcome, Tamara!

I love to make jewelry because it is a good way to be creative without taking a ton of time, and you get great results.  In 15 minutes, I am able to make an adorable little girl’s bracelet that can be worn for a Baptism, 1st Communion, Easter, or really any occasion.  It is also nice just to be able to make something for your little girl that you can feel proud of, knowing that you took the time to make it, and didn’t have to spend the time trying to find one at a store.

These bracelets can be made with sterling silver or 14K gold filled beads.  You can also use different colors of pearls and crystals if you like; however, for religious occasions, the white pearls and clear crystals seem to look the best.

Here is what you need (cost around $10):

(The number of beads may change depending on the size you want to make, keeping in mind that the extender chain will allow for a lot of leeway in sizing.)

  • 7 inches of Wire-I like to use Beadalon: 49 strand-bright
  • 2 Crimp tubes:  2mm in sterling silver or 14K gold filled
  • 2 Crimp covers:  3mm in sterling silver or 14K gold filled
  • 1 Lobster clasp:  9mm or so in size, either in sterling silver or 14K gold filled
  • 1 Extender chain:  2 inches in sterling silver or 14K gold filled
  • 10 Swarovski crystal pearls:  white or color
  • 4 Swarovski crystals:  clear in color
  • 15 Metal balls:  4 mm in size-sterling silver or 14K gold filled
  • 8 Daisy spacers:  4mm in size-bright sterling silver or 14K gold filled
  • 1  charm:  small in size in either sterling silver or 14K gold filled

Here are the tools you will need:

  • Jewelry Crimper-for 2mm crimps (approximately $10 depending on quality, etc…)
  • Jewelry Wire Cutter-(also around $10 depending on quality, etc…)
  • Spring-to hold beads on the wire-(very inexpensive)
  • Jewelry glue-(approximately $4.50 per tube)
  • Bead tray-if you have one:  or you can use felt on a plate

Instructions:

  1. Put wire through crimp tube and then through hole on lobster clasp, and then back through crimp tube.
  2. Crimp the tube together by using the inner half-moon shaped crimp on the inner part of the crimp tube.  Then use the outer crimp of the tool to squeeze the tube together.  It should look like a flat tube with a crease on one side.
  3. Cut the extra wire, and put a touch of glue on the crimp.
  4. Place a crimp cover over the crimp.  Then use the outer crimp of the crimp tool, and carefully squeeze the crimp cover together so that it looks like a round bead.  (be very gentle when doing this as sterling silver is very easy to bend too much)
  5. Now start adding all of the beads in the pattern on the picture.  You can lengthen the bracelet by adding more sterling or gold-filled beads at each end.
  6. Take the extender chain, and put the wire from your bracelet through a crimp tube, then through the extender chain, and then back through the crimp tube (just like when doing the lobster clasp at the beginning).  Pull the wire tight so that the crimp tube is close to the extender chain and there is no wire to be seen at the end of the beads.  Crimp as in step 2 above.
  7. Follow steps 3 and 4 above to finish the crimp on the end of the bracelet.

    You are finished, and you have a beautiful bracelet that a little girl will love!

CREATE Mental Health – A Paper Purse

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Kristen Bryant. Kristen writes the blog Stamping with Kristen.  Welcome, Kristen!

I love to escape into my stamp room to create cards.  I enjoy the satisfaction of being able to quickly make something.  One of my favorite times of stamping is with mothers and daughters.  I just had 7 moms and their daughters over to create and this is one of the projects we made:

I started out by using a Scallop Circle die to make the top of the purse.

Next I took a 8 ½ X 5 ½ piece of card stock and folded it in half.  Once I had a nice fold, I trimmed off ½ inch diagonally from each side to create more of a purse look.

Next I took the Scallop Circle and folded that in half and using a small circle punch made a little hole for the ribbon to go through.

I used glue dots to fasten the ribbon inside the scallop circle.  This picture shows the card opened up:

I use a piece of Velcro to keep the purse closed.  Here is another version using different paper:

I love having stamping as a creative outlet for me.  It gives me a quick escape for the business and chaos of life and results in cards to encourage others.

CREATE Mental Health Week – A Summer Tote

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Sarah Markos. Sarah writes the sewing blog blueSusan. It’s one of my very favorite blogs, and actually got me to start sewing.  Sarah’s tutorials are awesome! Welcome, Sarah!

Hi everyone!! I’m Sarah, visiting from blueSusan today.  How fun to be able to do a guest post on Dr. Stephanie’s blog.  Thank you Stephanie for hosting such a fun event.   I love creating things.  I am a stay-at-home mom by profession and I have four sweet and silly kids, ages 10, 8, 5, and 3.Making things is my therapy, and my creative outlet these days is sewing.  I have been sewing most of my life off and on, but over the last couple of years I have really gotten into it on a regular basis.  A few years ago I was going through a particularly tough time.  I had a fairly new baby (my 4th),  my husband was gone a lot, and I was struggling to keep my head above water.   I felt like I never accomplished anything and never had time to myself.   A couple of my friends had learned to sew and started making a ton of cute things.  I didn’t want to miss out on the fun and I needed something to take my mind off of all my struggles and stresses.  So I set up my sewing machine in my bedroom and started sewing once the kids went down for the night.  Now my sewing machine is a permanent fixture in my bedroom and I use it almost daily.  Sewing helps me unwind and get the “me” time that I need.  Like I said…it’s my therapy!

I make a lot of bags and so I thought share a little tutorial with you for a chic Summer Tote that is the perfect size for taking to the pool or the beach.

This is an easy one to sew, and relatively quick too.  Want to make one??

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 yard outdoor canvas, or home decorator weight fabric.
  • 2/3 yard lining. I used 100% cotton solid.
  • 1/4 yard fabric for handles, I used small wale corduroy.
  • coordinating thread.

As a option, you can choose to omit the lining fabric, which just makes the bag a little thinner when finished and saves a little fabric cutting time.

Okay, ready to start??

Next take your long piece and pin it to 3 sides of your square, matching the seams to the corners.

Stitch around the 3 sides with a slightly less than 1/4 in seam allowance.

Pin the other square to the other side of he long piece and stitch in place.

Now you’re ready to finish the top.

Fold the seams to one side, do not press them open.

Don’t forget to back stitch a few times at the top for added security.

Almost done!! Make the handles… these go quickly.

And that’s it!! Trim your threads and enjoy your new bag!!

CREATE Mental Health Week – Edible Sugar Flowers

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Rachael Teufel. Rachael is the owner of Intricate Icings, a cake design studio in Erie, CO.  Perhaps you’ve seen Rachael’s work on the Food Network’s Cake Challenge. Welcome, Rachael (and thanks for letting me eat the samples shown here – DELICIOUS!!)

Sugar has always been my stress reliever. Well making art with sugar that is, although I have been known to eat sugar in times of stress as well (not quite as healthy for you though). So I thought I’d share an easy way to make your cupcakes super cute in a quick and easy fashion, while hopefully releasing a little stress.

First bake some cupcakes and ice them with your favorite buttercream. If you’re not so much into the baking thing, it’s okay just buy some premade cupcakes and top them with your own edible flowers.

Here are the things you will need:

  • Flower shaped cookie cutters and a small round cutter or piping tip
  • A rolling pin
  • 2 colors of Fondant or modeling chocolate (Fondant can be found at your local craft store)
  • Paint brush
  • Water (in very small amounts!)

First start by rolling out one color of fondant on a smooth work surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar. You’ll want to roll the fondant as thin as you can, about 1/8 inch thick. Using your cookie cutters, cut out a large and a small blossom. Apply a small dab of water to the center of the blossom and using the tip of your finger; securely attach the small blossom to the center. Repeat this process until you have the desired number of flowers. You can cut multiple flowers at one time, just be sure to work quickly as fondant does dry out fairly fast.

Roll out your second color of fondant and using your piping tip or small round cutter, cut out the centers of your flowers. Apply a small dab of water to the center of the blossom and using the tip of your finger or the end of a paint brush; securely attach the center to the blossom. Then transfer your beautiful flower to the top of the iced cupcake and serve.

This most certainly is a very basic flower, but be creative and you can find other fun ways to embellish them. For instance… use a textured mat to imprint a design on the fondant before cutting out the blossoms. You can use a paint brush and gel food color to paint designs on the petals. Or you can form a lady bug, bumble bee or butterfly out of fondant and place them on the flower. The options are endless. Whatever you choose, just remember to have fun!