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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Handmade Christmas Tree Ornaments.

I love the holiday season! I love Christmas! The house gets decked out for Christmas with my Santa Claus collection on the coffee table, Christmas wreaths on the front doors and the outside of the house decorated with bright, colorful Christmas lights. We are actually practicing Muslims, but Christmas or more like the holiday season is just such a festive time of the year that it doesn't matter what religion you practice, we can all participate in the joy and cheer and goodwill of the season. The tradition is that after Thanksgiving we put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house with the garlands, red ribbons and bows along the staircase banister. And of course let's not forget the beautiful twinkly lights that are adorn the banister, and everywhere else possible. 

But this year, because I knew I was going to be away the day after Thanksgiving on a cruise with the family, I decided to go ahead and put the Christmas tree up a week before Thanksgiving. 

We use to get real trees when growing up in Chicago. The ritual of going with my dad to go pick out the tree, then bringing it home and placing it in the tree stand filled with water. And because the trees had been sitting outside in the frigid parking lot somewhere, we couldn't start decorating the tree the same day or even the day after we brought it home.  We had to wait a couple of days at the least to let the tree thaw out and open up. Since living in Florida for the last 14 years I've given up on buying real trees. Due to the extreme heat we don't have to worry about thawing out the tree once we bring it home. Our problem instead is ensuring that we keep the tree hydrated to avoid fires. Also living in Florida, I haven't had carpets in any of the homes I've lived in. Instead I've had marble or wood floors. And the idea of sweeping up the pins every day was enough to drive me straight to the store to pick up a nice artificial tree. I've had this tree for the past eight years now. Although the original lights don't work, I simply wrap a couple of strings of the bright twinkly lights and we're good to go. 
The advantage of having a real tree is that the whole house smells christmasy like the pine. But I've compensated by picking up these pine sticks which  make the home smell Christmasy. 

My favorite part about putting up the tree is unpacking all the many handmade ornaments from when the boys were in pre-K and-kindergarten. Our tree is a very simple tree but it is absolutely beautiful to me because every ornament has some kind of memory or significance to it. I've picked up ornaments over the years every time I've traveled around the world. I've also picked up ornaments from the different Broadway shows that we've seen. And have made a few over the years. But I realized this year that I haven't updated or added any new personalized ornaments in a year or two so I vowed  to make up for that this year. I simply change the ribbon on the tree and it has a new look every year. 

I had a few choices of customizable ornaments available to me at my local arts and crafts supply store. They have these clear glass balls which open up from the top. One can use those to fill up with different things or even squeeze a picture if you'd like. I knew for sure that I didn't want to use glass but instead was delighted to find these circular acrylic ornaments which open up in half,  making it extremely easy to work with. The first batch that I worked on our gifts for my sister-in-law and brother and their new baby who are celebrating their first Christmas in their new home. They have a beautiful tree with a few store-bought ornaments and I promised them that Iwould make  them a small collection of personalized ornaments to add to their tree. Unfortunately due to the busy time of the year and studying for my LCSW exams , which, thank God I passed on December 6 of this year, I wasn't able to get them done until the day after Christmas which happens to be today. 
So here are a few pictures with basic instructions of how I made them. 

I opened up the ornament and removed the center circular paper and placed it aside. Next I painted on a thin layer of Modge Podge  on the inside part of one half. I next sprinkled glitter, carefully ensuring it covered the entire surface. I chose Christmasy colors of red, green and gold. But you may choose any color glitter to coordinate your tree theme. I let them all sit out for couple of hours to dry. 

This is what it look like when the Modge Podge was still wet. A few hours later after the Modge podge had dried, this is what they looked like. 

Well these were drying, I used my Creative Memories cutting system from 16 years ago to trace out the circular shape.  I just happen to have one of the stencils that fit the size perfectly but you can also simply use the inserts that comes in the ornament to trace on the picture and then simply cut with a pair of scissors. After I had cut all the photographs, I use the double-sided scrapbooking tape applicator, and taped the circular pictures to the circular inserts.

Next I carefully wiped away any glitter on the inside of the other side. Then I closed the ornament and used a little bit of hot glue gun to seal the ornament. 
I used ribbons that had kind of a Christmas feel to it, to decorate the outside of the ornament. I simply used a piece of ribbon and glued it to the top part of the ornament. This served two purposes which included covering the top part where it joins together and adding a decorative touch. 

I hand wrote "2014" on each picture using a simple black pen. 

Here are the first batch of Christmas ornaments for my sweetheart's tree. 

And this is what one of the ornaments look like hanging on my Christmas tree. 

The other ornaments you see hanging toward the bottom of the picture are little notes that the teachers had sent home or the kids had written when they were in pre-K or kindergarten. 

I intend on making another batch of the circular ones along with a few others sometime this weekend for our tree. 

Here's another picture of our Christmas tree at home. 

Supply list:
Acrylic ornaments that open up in half
Mod Podge
Disposable paint brush
Circular cutter or scissors
Tape runner or double sided tape or glue stick 
Festive ribbon of your choice
Glue gun/ glue sticks
Your photographs

Merry Christmas and wishing you all a very happy new year. 

Love, light, and blessings.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Guilty pleasures!

I love fresh baked bread or for that matter, any bread! And butter! 😊
I am is on the lookout for fresh delicious bread and the best tasting butter I can get my hands on in North America. And I am happy to share that I have found it! Thanks to sweet friend Marcia! 

This is available in your our local Fresh Market store. If you don't have a Fresh Market in your state, I'm sure you can find it at whatever natural health food store you have. Cost $5.50. But worth every penny. 

And as we were walking through our local Fresh Market store, we try the sample coconut curry with chicken and it was love at first taste.

Cost about $10 per jar. 
I picked up some rotisserie chicken, brought it home and deboned it, put it in a pan along with half the jar and let it simmer. I added another quarter of the jar to give it the strong flavor. It's got a little bit of a kick to it and it's perfect! 

This is the perfect meal for a cold evening like today. 

My new favorite bread is sourdough!

And the kids loved it too!! Win! Win!

Love, Light and Blessings,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why Relationships Fail!

I'm reposting this on here ...its a piece I wrote for another blog...

Whether it's a friendship, a romantic relationship, a working relationship or marriage, in my humble opinion, the underlying reason for any relationship's failure can be attributed to disrespect.

I've been happily divorced and single for almost ten years now and I've done my fair share of datingit took me too long to recognize disrespect. But after all these years, I think I can easily claim to be someone of an expert in the matter. Be it as simple and obvious as being spoken to rudely or as subtle as someone not considering your feelings or your time. According to the dictionary, disrespect is a lack of respect or courtesy.  In my definition, disrespect is when I am overlooked; when my needs are not considered or when my feelings are not considered.

Here are a few other forms of disrespect:
- Verbal abuse: Being cursed at. Someone calling you names or belittling you, even if,  to them it's "just a joke".

- Physical Abuse or emotional abuse.

- Checking out another person while with your partner.

- I believe in complete transparency and welcome the opportunity to discuss anything and everything with my mate. But there are those who don't enjoy talking. It's either never a good time or they simply don't like to talk. Either way, an unwillingness to communicate is just disrespectful to the sanctity of the relationship because open and honest communication is one of the key ingredients to a successful relationship.

- Asking your partner for money. Gosh do I have stories to share. which I won't of course. I am always taken back by this one. How do men and for that matter, even women, ask their partner for money or for them to buy them things. Now I understand when a couple is committed to each other and have agreed to share their financial resources and responsibilities, but I am referring to a new couple that is perhaps still only dating. And yet, I wish I could forget how many times, a man has in a direct or a not so direct way, asked me to buy him a cell phone, pay his phone bill, loan him money for God alone knows what etc... Pathetic!!! And being the sucker that I was, until recently, I would give the money (no more than $50) but then walk away from this person forever!!! In my head, I paid the price for failing to recognize the slime ball that the person was. I guess my Catholic school upbringing continues to hover over me in my need to feel punished for my "bad" choices. :)

This is just the beginning of a what I'm sure, is a very long list. Since the intention of this blog is to initiate a conversation among friends, I am hoping, you'll share your thoughts on the subject. Of course, you have the option of posting a comment as "anonymous", but it's always more gratifying for me as a blogger to know who I'm interacting with. But I leave that to your discretion. Either way, please do share any other examples of disrespect that come to mind.

Everyone deserves love!!! And it starts with self-love!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Saying Goodbye To 2014 and Preparing For 2015!

Hello fellow travelers on this journey of life. As we come to the end of 2014, and get ready to bring in 2015, I am getting ready to do what I have done for many years now. Thought I'd share it with you here.

I find a place to sit and reflect about how my year went, revisit the goals and intentions I had set at the end of the year before and take stock. Next I write down my intentions/ goals for the next year.  Some are the same, others change and new ones are added.

This year I intend to use this workbook put together by Susanna Conway. She is awesome! and here is a link to download a free copy.

I don't like setting New Year's Resolutions because I never seem to stick to them past the second week in January. Thus I stopped making them years ago. Instead, I like the idea of setting intentions. I found an awesome and very creative way of documenting my intentions for 2015. It was in the Somerset magazine.

It was in this issue which you can buy at your local craft store, in Barnes and Nobles or on Amazon.

It involves using chalkboard paint to transform a flip book that you can then write an intention or two with a chalk marker. If you haven't tried a chalk marker, you must!!! They are erasable but don't smudge as easily as regular chalk.

Here is a link to some fun and easy projects using chalkboard paint...which is my latest little guilty pleasure. I bought a pint of it from Hobby Lobby but haven't had the time to start with it. I have a feeling that once I start painting with it, I'll be out of control. Well...I'll let you know.

Here is the link:

So some of my intentions/goals for 2015 are:

- Eat cleaner.
- Walk more.
- Keep up with Project Life
- Plan and facilitate a women's retreat this year.
- Organize and maintain my studio space
- Be open to love in all of its forms
- Enjoy my boys. Aly is gone next year to college...Zayn is only home for 5 more years.
- Keep creating and growing "Anita Ladhani Designs"
- Sleep more regularly
- Meditate
- Start and work on creating a book for Aly for when he leaves for college.

I'll post pics of the finished project when I get it done...hopefully before the new year.

Love, Light and Blessings,