Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Celebrations

July is almost here and Americans will soon be celebrating their most popular summer holiday, the Fourth of July, or Independence Day. Fondly referred to as the birthday of the United States, the Fourth of July commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration declared freedom from British rule for the 13 American colonies. The Declaration was not completely signed until August, 1776, but July 4th was adopted as the official anniversary date of American independence, with the first celebration taking place on July 4, 1777. Since the early 1800s, Americans have enjoyed their favorite holiday traditions of fireworks, parades and picnics on Independence Day. All over the United States, the red, white and blue of the American flag, and stars and stripes can be seen decorating everything from plates, tablecloths, banners, and balloons, to clothing, and jewelry.

from Sixsisters

Patriotic Flower Focal
from Zuda Gay

Red, White and Blue Heart Pin in Polymer Clay
from Artsy Clay

American Flag Patriotic Half Circle Window Cling Suncatcher
from Clinging Images

Fourth of July Stemless Wine Glasses
from Glitz N Glass

Stars in the Sky ACEO/Sun Catcher
from Designs by Christine

But did you know that July was chock full of other, lesser-known, and somewhat unusual holidays? According to Holiday Insights, almost every day of the month offers something to celebrate. It seems July is sometimes known as National Blueberry Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month, National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, and National Anti-Boredom Month!

Many of the holidays are related to food:

July 1 - Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day
July 6 - National Fried Chicken Day
July 7 - National Strawberry Sundae Day
July 7 - Chocolate Day
July 9 - National Sugar Cookie Day
July 12 - Pecan Pie Day
July 15 - Tapioca Pudding Day
July 17 - Peach Ice Cream Day
July 18 - National Caviar Day
July 19 - National Ice Cream Day
July 19 - National Raspberry Cake Day
July 21 - National Junk Food Day
July 23 - National Hot Dog Day
July 23 - Vanilla Ice Cream Day
July 28 - National Milk Chocolate Day
July 29 - National Lasagna Day
July 30 - National Cheesecake Day

Though these "holidays" may not be entirely official or universally confirmed (most have cloudy origins), it is still fun to think about ways to spark up the dog days of summer with entertaining, celebratory activities. So break out of National Anti-boredom Month by doing something special for...

July 10, Teddy Bear Picnic Day

Hand Needle Felted Brownie Bear
from Felt 4 Ewe

July 15, Cow Appreciation Day

Happy Holstein
from Luke18

July 20, Moon Day

African Moon Necklace
from Rosegardenfae

July 2, World UFO Day

Whoa...Spaceships, Quilted Fabric Postcard
from Attack of the Vintage

July 25, Threading the Needle Day

Dragonfly Summer Felted Needle Book
from JN Originals

July 11, Cheer Up the Lonely Day

Summer Original Mixed Media Painting of Sunflower
from Yankeegirl's Watercolors

No matter how you decide to spice up the summer, BBEST wishes you lots of fun and memorable times spent with friends and family!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Peeling away pounds through creativity

When I’m writing a blog post, a poem, a letter—or anything else—my husband knows better than to open a discussion about today’s mail or tomorrow’s weather. I am so absorbed in my task that I simply don’t hear him. Some creativity experts refer to this experience of shutting out distractions and focusing on the moment as “being in the zone” or “experiencing flow.” Whatever you call it, there is no doubt that productivity is in action! It may also be that you snack less while you’re being creative.

That is the premise behind Julia Cameron’s The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size. One day while browsing titles on a bookstore table, I ran across this book. Cameron, who has written many books about creativity, including The Artist’s Way, maintains that “. . . weight loss is a frequent by-product of creative recovery. Overeating blocks our creativity. The flip side is also true: we can use creativity to block our overeating.”

Whether Cameron is right or not (after all, I am drinking a Pepsi as I write this post), The Writing Diet provides its readers with seven writing tools that not only enable you to lose weight, but also to explore your creative inner self, whether you write, paint, fire a pot, sew, or pursue any other creative endeavor. Here, then, is a summary of the tools.

  • Morning Pages. Morning pages are Julia Cameron’s basic tool for creative recovery and weight loss. They represent three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, answering the question, “What are you feeling?” The idea is that as you write, you identify what is blocking your creativity, and also what leads you to overeat. The pages, of course, are intended for your eyes only.
  • The Journal. Much like the food diary that Weight Watchers® and many other weight loss groups recommend their participants keep, a Journal is a log of the foods that you eat, every time you put anything in your mouth, as well as the times that you feel like eating. The difference between it and a typical food diary is that you jot down what you are feeling at the same time. Over time, the hope is that you will identify negative patterns and change them, and also to reach for your Journal for answers instead of food.
  • Walking. Cameron encourages her readers to walk for at least 20 minutes a day, replacing worry with exercise. She asserts that exercising our bodies not only helps to peel away calories, but it also “grounds” our creative energy in the real world, rather than allowing us to approach creativity as an ethereal, out-of-reach notion. Walking provides time and space to examine our problems and reflect on them, to consciously open ourselves to inspiration and new connections.
  • The Four Questions. The Four Questions are four strategic queries designed to ward off snack attacks, especially at night, when all bets are often off. The four questions are: (1) Am I hungry? (2) Is this what I want to eat? (3) Is this what I want to eat now? (4) Is there something that I can eat instead? The value of these questions is that they are grounded in the reality that you are probably going to succumb to some sort of craving, but that you can make good choices about what you ultimately eat, instead of bad ones. And, of course, when you make better choices about what’s good for your body, that increases your mental well-being and increases your physical creative energy.
  • Culinary Artist Dates. Much as the Artist Dates that Cameron describes in The Artist’s Way are designed to encourage you to expand your comfort zone, once-a-week Culinary Artist Dates are intended to tease you into scheduling a date to explore new, healthy ways to cook, or even to taste foods you might not otherwise choose. Often we associate a diet with deprivation, but the Culinary Artist Date suggests it can be a creative adventure for the palate. You can use this date to take a cooking class, explore fresh foods at the farmers market, learn about spices, or treat yourself to a special meal at an ethnic restaurant.
  • HALT. Participants of recovery programs are often encouraged to identify the patterns or situations that lead them to become (H)ungry, (A)ngry, (L)onely or (T)ired because this is when they are most vulnerable to whatever weakness they are suffering. This is just as true about overeating as it is about the times we feel creatively blocked. HALT is a common sense rule, encouraging us to eat at regular intervals, and to journal about anger, loneliness or tiredness (or paint, fuse glass, shape clay, or utilize our creative talents in some way) instead of allowing these emotions to trigger overeating.
  • The Body Buddy. A Body Buddy is a partner in your quest to lose weight and release your creativity. He or she is neither an enforcer nor someone who agrees with you all the time, but is instead a sounding board, or someone who helps you to see inside yourself with more clarity than you can by just reading your own Journal. A Body Buddy is someone with whom you can share your Journal to discover new insights about what leads you to overeat. Often a Body Body is someone who is also an overeater, in which case you can act as checkpoints for each other.

I have to admit that I never consciously thought about using my creative energy to shed pounds, but The Writing Diet provides some food for thought (pardon both the cliché and the pun!). You can read more about creativity in these books by Julia Cameron:
  • The Artist’s Way
  • Walking in This World
  • Finding Water
  • The Complete Artist’s Way
  • The Artist’s Way Workbook
  • The Right to Write
  • The Sound of Paper
  • The Vein of Gold
  • The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal
  • The Artist’s Date Book
  • How to Avoid Making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy)
  • Supplies: A Troubleshooting Guide for Creative Difficulties
  • Inspirations: Meditations from The Artist’s Way
  • The Writer’s Life: Insights from The Right to Write
  • The Artist’s Way at Work
© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's Summer!!

Are you ready for the summer??

I hope so because it’s here! I’m not a fan of the heat but I must admit there is something so relaxing about the summer months. The warm weather seems to make things move a little slower, makes us undo a button or two and gives us the freedom of sitting back a little more to watch the world go by.

I don’t know about you but summer often gives me a nostalgic feeling. Remembering good times with family and friends and the rituals that made this time of year so special. Here was the perfect day from my summers past…..

First, lets load up the beach bag......

with a sunhat....

and a great book....

jump in Dad's old Chevy......

and enjoy some time on the beach

(truth be told I always wore a swimsuit, lol).....

Maybe look for some seashells.....

come home and enjoy some watermelon.....

and smell the lovely hydrangeas.

Wishing you all a happy summer filled with your own lovely memories!

And make some new ones, why don't ya??

Life is good!

Monday, June 22, 2009

G is for....

I am sitting at my computer to type this (obviously), and to my side is a window.  Through this I can see our garden, with all the beautiful shades of summer flowers intermingled with green.  I love summer, especially being able to see the wide variety of colours that paint the view.  Thankfully the glass is clear or my view would be obstructed.  However, the artisans and artists of the Bbest team use glass in a variety of ways to colour our world.

Once I had started on my quest it didn't take me long to find the sorts of things I wanted to use to illustrate my point, and this first example shows perfectly the benefits of clear glass.  Made by Mike of gimmebeads this pendant is such fun.

If you like mushrooms you'll find this one listed here, but take a look at the other items in the shop, they are beautiful.
More glass/garden ideas from GlitznGlass.  If you look through her shop you will find several, but I rather like these tulip wine glasses.

Imagine sitting in your garden or yard sipping a delicious glass of wine.  In fact, I'll come and join you.....
For a touch of the real thing take a look at these coasters.  

Nonnie60 has sandwiched real wild flowers between layers of beautiful stained glass and antique window glass.  Perfect for your wine glass.
This attractive donut is from LaughingOtterJewelry.  More glass jewelry can be found in the shop, but I particularly like this one, and it reminds me of a tiny garden.  
Take a closer look at the Glass Donut here

Are there fairies at the bottom of your garden?  I think there must be some in that of Chris1!  She has created this beautiful glass ACEO entitled Summer Fairy.  
Chris also notes that it could be used as a sun catcher.
Lastly, maybe you are looking for some inspiration for your garden.  How about a walk in the park?  StuStuSudion took one, and this is the result!

You can find it here, but don't forget to visit the shop too...
Have a lovely summer in your garden, even if you have to look at in through glass.....!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A great big country and our cozy little world

This past week I traveled from the green, wet east coast of the United States to Phoenix Arizona for work. The event was pretty typical for work travel - I arrived early at the airport and browsed around half-heartedly in the shops. The flight was on time and completely and totally packed with every single seat occupied. Rush of people to board the plane, standing around in groups waiting, struggling with luggage and overhead bins, making sure to buy a bottle of water and a snack before boarding, and none of the excitement for travel that comes with a family trip or a vacation. Then the flight seemed to take forever. I had a chance to read a book (cover to cover), do some crochet work, and read a magazine.

When we finally landed it was like arriving on a different planet.

Phoenix landscape

Oh yes, everyone talked the same language, I could read the signs, I knew where I was. But the landscape was dramatically different from where I started - and the sky was HUGE! The desert is an amazing place, and very different from my rainy humid east coast of the U.S. home. Hardly any trees, no grass. Lots of flowering bushes - truly gorgeous ones - but nothing like home. Alone in Phoenix I was completely out of my element, completely out of my comfort zone. I had a hard time driving the rental car because I couldn't stop myself from staring and gaping at the desert around me. It truly was an alien landscape for me. I thought about the moon, about Mars.

Phoenix desert

I found my way to the hotel and realized that even though it was mid-afternoon with a blazing sun, it was after dinner "back home." I went to bed at 7:00 PM. It felt like 11:00 PM.

Over the next few days I gained some degree of comfort with my surroundings - I easily found my way between the hotel and the office - but I was still stunned at the views and had to be careful driving. I drove through an Indian reservation. The mountains were a sharp relief against the big big sky, and the dust that blew up from the machines tending the fields swept across that sky in big dark waves. I had seen pictures of this phenomenon, but it was absolutely stunning to witness. Apparently there are still dust storms in the western United States, but I didn't know it.

Dust storm in Chandler

The flowering cactus was breathtaking, as was the heat and the dryness of the air. The Valley of the Sun was true to its name, and the Indian colors were everywhere. I thought of the early explorers and settlers. I appreciated the hardiness of humanity, and our determination.

Then, this morning, I saw a jack rabbit. He raced across the road as I left the hotel (at 5:00 AM Phoenix time, felt like 8:00 AM), and again I slowed my car to take in this surprise. His ears were enormous compared to his body. I called my husband and left a message for him sharing this good omen for the day. I thought about felting a jack rabbit with their huge, heat dissipating ears. I thought about being home.

I was nervous on the way to the airport. Was my watch right? What if I had the time zone wrong and missed the flight? What if I got lost on this last leg of the trip? Why in heavens name was I so nervous??

I made the flight fine and we flew, hours and hours and hours across this great big country. I read, I crocheted, I thought about what I had seen, and I thought about writing this entry. And that led me to thinking about the wonderful world of our BBEST friendships and connections.

Across the whole big country and around this whole big world I have made friendships and met colleagues, I have learned and been touched by the talent and the sharing that is BBEST. I know people all across these United States and in many countries that I have never visited. We have things in common - a history, an era in this life, a creative spirit, a deep respect, music, and memories - that bind us together as strongly as if we lived next door. We certainly have many differences, not the least is our geography, but these all seem to pale against the many commonalities that we are fortunate to share.

And so, even in this great big country with all the many differences here - and all across the world with all the things that separate us, I am comforted. This community of talent and support is precious, the connections are true despite the differences - and our BBEST team has given me a wonderful surprise at this point in my life. For we are all incredibly lucky to live in our cozy little world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh, dear.....

"Oh, dear," I thought to myself. It's almost time for Sally to arrive, and I don't know what I'm going to do!

I grabbed the magnetic notepad off the front of the fridge, ripped off the half-finished grocery list, and then it happened. The doorbell rang. I scribbled quickly as I made my way to the front door.

"Hey!" exclaimed Sally as she came in. I held up the notepad.

"No voice!" it read.

"No voice?" she asked. "What's wrong?"

I wrote, "Must be laryngitis."

"Oh," sighed Sally. "I'm so sorry. Do you want me to come back another day?"

"No," I shook my head. And then I motioned to Sally to follow me. We headed for the computer, and I pointed to a chair, indicating she should pull it up to the desk. We sat down, and then I scribbled, "Shopping! With some of my Bbest friends!"

Sally smiled and said, "You know how much I love seeing what your Boomers and Beyond friends have created!"

And off we went.......

Hillsboro, Ohio


Holly Springs, Mississippi

East Hanningfield, United Kingdom

Jacksonville, Florida

Crawfordsville, Indiana