Father's Day Card Front

Naturally Crafty: DIY Father’s Day Card

Did you know that greeting cards were handmade up until the middle of the nineteenth century?  That was when advances in printing made it possible to reproduce a design relatively cheaply.

I can’t help but think sometimes that technology and the ability to mass-produce cheaply has turned many of us into mass consumers rather than creators.  Well, I say “NO” this year to a cheap, mass-produced Father’s Day card and “hello” to creating my own handmade greeting.  I also decided to make it mostly from materials destined for the bin.

When we get book inserts at work, they come wrapped in shrink wrap on these cardboard pieces to keep them from getting damaged in shipping.  Since my office building doesn’t recycle, I have been trying to find ways to reuse them.  Usually, I stick them in large envelopes to keep documents from getting bent in the mail but I have found they are also great for craft projects like making cards and journals.

Father's Day Card Materials smaller

All of the materials used in this card, except for the gold ribbon, the lettering, the white inner paper, the gold washi tape and the Velcro dot on the inner envelope, were saved from getting dumped in the bin at work.  (If you need orange envelopes…call me.)

Father's Day Card Front

The white heart was punched from a name tent from a past class.  The circle behind it is punched from a Thank you card someone was kind enough to give me.

Father's Day Card Inside

While it may not be perfect in the way that a commercial card is, making your own gives you an excellent opportunity to add fun embellishments or personalize your greeting to the recipient.

Lucy Envelope

I added this envelope in the back, so I could include a letter from my parents’ dog, Lucy.  (They receive correspondence from Lucy whenever they go on long trips.  Perhaps, not surprisingly, this began when I found myself with an over-abundance of orange paper and envelopes.)

Tell me, do you ever make your own cards?  Is it something you would consider?

Wishing all you fathers (of humans and furry kids) a very happy Father’s Day!

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

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Repair or Replace: Are You a Lamp-Saver?

What do you do when something breaks in your home? Fix it, forget it or replace it?

Recently, I was in my parents’ garage when I spied their bedside table lamp languishing in a corner. I remembered about a year or so ago that it stopped working. My father said he would fix it. Somehow, it migrated from the bedroom to the basement and eventually ended up in the garage a.k.a. “The land of forgotten best intentions.”

I picked up the glass shaded touch lamp and wondered how it would fair out in the outdoor storage area for long. Other than a coat of dust and a slightly bent finial, it seemed fine. It seemed too nice to eke out the rest of its existence, forgotten in the garage. I remembered Mom saying she liked it better than the replacement they picked up. I had no idea what was wrong with it or how to fix it but I seem to have a knack for figuring things out (My superhero name would probably be The Researcher. Sexy, no?)

A few quick google searches revealed that the little lamp was probably ailing from a dimmer switch that went bad. Apparently power surges are the main nemesis of touch lamps. The part was about $8 at Home Depot. (I wonder how much the new lamp was.) I picked it up and attempted to install it myself but was thwarted by the plastic caps on the end of the wires. Little suckers wouldn’t come off! So, I turned the project over to Dad and within an hour he restored it to working order.

The whole thing got me thinking about how people seem to have stopped repairing things like that. It’s just so easy to go out and pick up a new one, relatively cheaply. I wonder how many of us really even think twice about fixing anything that originally cost under a $100. We then start accumulating all of these broken items in garages, sheds and basements because we feel guilty, knowing they can be fixed and should be, but it just doesn’t happen. Eventually, we run out of room and these items either get moved to a storage facility or thrown out. If they get thrown out, they sit in landfills, taking many, many years to decompose or are incinerated, releasing toxins into the environment.

We don’t like to think about our waste or what it is doing to the planet. I get it. I am busy too. Sometimes, it seems like if I have to stop and consider the implications of everything I throw away, my head might explode. I forgot to bring a fork to work with my lunch the other day and ended up using a plastic one. It happens. I wasn’t about to eat chili mac with my hands. However… maybe when something like a lamp or something similar breaks, knowing it’s not a big, expensive repair, it’s worth considering the time and effort to save it. When you do, you are saving money, space, the environment and possibly giving a repairman much needed work if the job is outside your abilities. That’s a pretty great return on investment!

Are you a Lamp-Saver? I would love to hear about your home repair triumphs. Please share them in the comments section.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

MomandME2

Mom Was Right

Yesterday, I was driving home during rush hour in stop and go traffic.  I like to leave a good 20 to 30 feet between my car and the one in front of me because I have seen too many multi-car fender benders. I have no desire to be put in a position to slam on my brakes and pray I don’t rear-end someone.

Apparently, my logic was lost on the maniac child of God behind me BECAUSE he practically hooked himself on my bumper and periodically honked at me.  I would glance in the rear-view mirror and shrug as if to say, “do you really think I’m the one who is holding you up right now?”  As we got closer to the exit, he leaned on his horn, at which point, I lost my temper, opened the window, stuck my left arm out high and saluted him with my middle finger.  He got so angry that he pulled up alongside me to curse me out.  At which point, I refused to look at him, stuck my right arm out and saluted him again.  Then this crazy, moth-  fellow human being pulled sharply to the left as if he was going to play bumper cars with me.  I managed to swerve around him, narrowly missing the car to my left.  Thankfully, he gave up at that point and sped away on the exit ramp.

My first thought was , “Holy crap, that guy was willing to literally use his car as a weapon and cause an accident.”  My second thought was, “Mom was right!”  I instantly heard her voice in my head saying, “Cindy, STOP giving people the finger!  You don’t know if that person is crazy or not.  Someone could have a gun.  Do what I do.  Leave the windows rolled up and yell at them.  You get your frustration out and no one gets hurt.”  I have been in the car with her when someone has cut her off.  Her language is very colorful, indeed, and would probably make a sailor blush.

So, here is the best Mother’s day gift I could ever give her:

“Mom, you were right.  Happy Mothers Day!”

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers who are mothers (to humans and furry kids.)  All the best always!

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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Naturally Grateful: Actually, I practice…

Gratitude is a very popular word these days. You can’t go for very long, it seems, without someone mentioning having, “an attitude of gratitude.”

I had been flirting with a gratitude practice for a long time. I mentioned in my birthday post that I wrote out a list of 100 things for which I am grateful. I also used to try to close my journal entries by writing three things I was grateful for but I didn’t always keep it up.

Last October, I decided that I wanted to establish a daily gratitude practice. A quick google search revealed there are a myriad of different ways to do it. Some people opt for the typical method of writing down what they are grateful and why. Others have come up with unique approaches like snapping a daily photo or shooting a quick video of what they are thankful for and then sharing it on social media. One artist, Lori Portka, expressed her gratitude over a two year period by making 100 paintings to honor people who have impacted her life in a positive way.

Combining your personal creative passion with gratitude is a beautiful daily practice! Since I am a writer… that pretty much brought me right back to where I started BUT with a few helpful changes! I bought an old school composition notebook. (By the way they are still only 99 cents. Isn’t that amazing?) I decided I wanted to keep a separate gratitude book because I like writing freely in my journal. I also wanted a cheap book because I wanted to make sure I wrote daily without trying to save space for truly sterling, eloquent expressions of gratitude. This practice is about being thankful for all things, big and small.

I do have a few rules for my daily gratitude writing. Each day gets one page. I write only about what happened that day. It’s easy to write about a bunch of things you’re perpetually grateful for but the idea is to train my mind to focus on the good I encounter each day.

I noticed during that first month that was exactly what occurred. I think knowing that I was going to do the ritual at the end of the day, kept me aware of good things as they happened. I was then able to pause and relish them, instead of rushing on to whatever bit of business to which I had to attend next.

Take Chauncy, for example, I am always grateful for him! However, this is how it shows up in my gratitude book:

“I am so grateful that I looked back in the window before I got in the car this morning to go to work. Chauncy was on the other side with his paws up on the window seat, watching me go with all the love in the world shining in his little face.”

I catch so many more of these moments when I maintain my notebook. At times, it has almost seemed like more good things were happening. Although, it’s more likely that my shift in awareness allows me to see more of these twinkly moments, that actually happen all the time to everyone.

Now, to be completely honest, I fell off this practice for several months after my dental disappointment in December. It can be hard to feel grateful all the time when you’re heartbroken. While I am always aware I have a lot to be thankful for, knowing it and feeling it aren’t the same. Sometimes, you just can’t force it and need to give yourself a break. I am pleased to report I am easing back into a more regular practice again… and I am grateful for that!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Must Presidential Hopefuls Stoop To Conquer Now?

I have never liked watching political debates. I found them annoying in past elections because candidates would rarely offer straight answers and found ways to attack their opponents on issues that weren’t even relevant to the question being asked. After I watched the first GOP debate last year, I quickly became disgusted watching and, unfortunately, listening to Donald J. Trump insult not only his opponents but moderators as well.

I stopped watching the debates after that and chose instead to seek out the highlights afterward from various news sources. After reading articles and watching clips of Thursday night’s debate, it seems clear that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have chosen to join Trump in helping to degenerate these debates into little more than rank out sessions with the moderators acting as playground monitors. I was hard-pressed to find news content that actually focused on discussions about policies and what plans these guys would execute if they actually got into office.

What’s next? Televised “Yo Mama”-style diss sessions? Can we expect to hear things like, “Yo mama is so ugly if you became president, other countries would nuke the US, just so they don’t have to look at her.” It doesn’t seem that far-fetched compared to what these candidates are saying to and about each other. Donald J. Trump already thinks it is perfectly acceptable to refer to people as morons and losers. Marco Rubio focused a campaign speech yesterday on describing Trump getting his sweat mustache powdered during a commercial break and suggesting he may have requested a full-length mirror to “make sure his pants weren’t wet.”

I do find it somewhat ironic that Trump and Chris Christie referred to these new low blows coming from Rubio as desperate attempts to bolster a failing campaign. Considering Trump has built his entire campaign by continually showering these types of insulting remarks on his opponents, the media and anyone else he decided that he didn’t like when he had a microphone handy; what is it called in his case if not desperation? Is a lack of decorum and decency more appropriate coming from Trump because he is already a reality star?

Personally, I don’t like it coming from anyone, least of all, someone who may be the next recognized leader of the United States of America. Have we gotten so used to the horrific behavior of reality TV personalities that we not only find it acceptable but we think it is suitable and even preferred in a presidential candidate? The idea that it has somehow become necessary to stoop to Trump’s schoolyard style of attack in order to gain the attention of American citizens is utterly appalling and embarrassing.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton seem to be able to run lively and news-worthy campaigns without resorting to childish and nasty personal attacks. Why can’t the republicans? Donald J. Trump appears to be the reason. Perhaps it is not him so much as it is his marketing strategy. His team has tapped into an ugly little truth about our viewing habits. We want to be entertained all the time. Apparently, we are willing to sacrifice being informed for the sake of sating our inexhaustible desire to be constantly amused. Are we willing to deal with the consequences?

 


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Naturally Creative: The Perfect Gift

I love it when I get to make gifts for people.  I really try not to be annoying about it.  I mean I don’t make things to get out of buying things.  It is nice to save money when you are on a budget but I genuinely enjoy being creative.  So, when the stars line up affording me the time, opportunity and inspiration to make something I believe someone else will appreciate, truly, I am at my happiest.

Up until recently, I never had the chance to make anything for my dad.  Dad is a manly sort of guy!  I make jewelry, bath and body products, etc. While he enjoys my baked goods, I have never have been able to make him anything that lasts.  So, imagine my delight when I happened across this dragon egg tutorial from Accio Lacqueur!  So happy!

Just to give you a little background.  Dad is a very well-read cat, everything from classics to military history, sci-fi, thrillers, you name it BUT fantasy is one of his faves.  So, Dad is a big Game of Thrones fan.  In fact, Dad, my brother, sister and I, all started out reading the George RR Martin Series but I bowed out after two or three books.  (I need more dragons and magic, less gore; more romance, less creepy sex.  I digress…)  Dad has been an avid fan of the show since the beginning. When he took me to the Renaissance Festival last September, it seemed like every time we turned a corner, he was greeted with “Game of thrones!” or “Winter is Coming!” because he was sporting the coolest Family Stark tee shirt in all the realm.

We both like dragons.  Here are two of Dad’s snaps from that day:

Bigger DragonLittle Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty cool huh?

So, after after putting 5000+ tiny coats of varnish on 1000+ tacks over countless netflix sessions, this

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Turned into:

Dragon Egg Two

So much fun!  I just had to share.

Do you ever make gifts for people?  Leave me a reply in the comments section.  I would love to hear all about them.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Naturally Reflective: New Year’s Review and Reset

I am very happy to have today off!  Since it’s New Year’s Eve, a coworker asked me yesterday with a smirk if I was going to “party hard.”  The sarcasm stems from the fact that I am the only introvert in an office replete with extroverts.  It’s common knowledge at work that “partying hard” is clearly not in my wheelhouse.  In fact, I stopped trying to “fake it in order to make it” years ago.

I prefer to focus more on starting the New Year off on the right foot.  So, New Year’s Eve for me is a good time to reflect back over the last year.  I saw a great quote on Facebook the other day from the ageless and wise Mimi Kirk:

“2016- Life is like a garden, keep the things that worked last year and get rid of the things that didn’t.”

Oh how I love a good gardening analogy!  It seems like sage advice for non-diggers as well.  Removing clutter from our lives has become a popular theme in recent years, as the minimalist trend has gained momentum.  I applaud the idea of careful consumption and avoiding the accumulation of items that aren’t loved or needed.

What about habits and behaviors that don’t benefit us and keep us from living our dreams?  This is the question I will be pondering today.  New Year’s Eve is a good time to look back over the past year and see what worked and what didn’t.  I am going to follow Mimi’s advice to weed out what is not serving me.  I also want to recognize with gratitude what did and plan to cultivate those practices.

How are you spending New Year’s Eve?  Will you be spending time in reflection and gratitude?  Partying hard?  Little of both? Leave me a reply.  I would love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!  May 2016 be your best year ever, filled with love, happiness, prosperity, laughter and many beautiful blessings!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Being (a) Patient: Heartbroken

Sometimes, when you are being put back together things don’t go the way you want or expect them to.  You believe you are going to make a giant step forward and are disappointed and pushed backward.  Such was the case with me yesterday.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get what I expected and what I did get was unacceptable to me.  I feel like I have a cough drop stuck to the back of my front teeth that never dissolves.  It feels horrible.  I have no comfortable place to put my tongue.  I don’t like the way it looks either.  I am also lisping worse than I was with two teeth missing.  The good news is that it is only temporary.  The painfully frustrating part is I need to find a new prosthodontist.

 

In the meanwhile, I will regroup and hang with my favorite wellness practitioner, Chauncy.  No matter how hard life gets sometimes, Chauncy always make me feel grateful!

Chauncy always gives me a reason to be grateful!

Dr. Chauncy to the rescue!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

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Being (a) Patient: Bye Bye Flipper

I am very grateful to have had my flipper for the last two years and four months (and the essex bridge for two months before that.).  Although it wasn’t fun tasting plastic all day, it definitely beat missing two front teeth.  I will be wearing it for the last time this morning because I am happy to share that by this evening, I will no longer need it!!!  I am getting two temporary crowns on my implants today.  Hooray!

Farewell my beat-up, well-used and discolored flipper!  Today, you will be granted an honorable discharge.  Your service has come to the end.  Thank you!

 

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly