Creative, Special Book Wreaths

By: Shannon Boatwright 

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I had the privilege of learning a new craft before the holidays, thanks to a dear colleague. One day at school, at the start of the year, I happened to see a beautiful, very unique wreath made of the pages of a book displayed in our library. I thought it was fabulous! I discovered that my colleague had actually made it. She offered to teach me how to make one. I took her up on her offer and in time discovered what a joy it was to create something so cool, unique and special. And the interesting thing is that this particular craft is so inexpensive! Yes, it is time consuming, twisting the pages and getting everything positioned just right to make all the pieces come together into a lovely creation worthy of being displayed. But it is definitely a cheap project. I bought a few books from the dollar store, choosing books that had good pages. And also from the dollar store, I bought foam board and some more glue sticks for the glue gun I already had at home. And that’s it! One wreath costs me less than $5.

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Creating these lovely book wreaths really was a labor of love. The expense is not in the materials, but in the time. I spent several hours over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday making these particular wreaths to give as Christmas gifts. I only wish I’d had the time to make more! There are so many fabulous ways you can create wreaths with the pages of a book! Or, as you’ll see in my picture, a book wreath can be made with sheet music as well. I was especially proud of this wreath that I made for my Mama.

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So if you’re the creative type and love to take the time to make handmade special things to give to others, you ought to give this project a try! You can research them online and find all sorts of amazing ideas for your own creations.  Here’s to getting crafty and putting time and love into special handmade gifts!

Not Dressed to Impress

By: Jeanne Reynolds

When my husband and I returned from our honeymoon cruise many years ago, our flight landed without a problem in Charleston … but our luggage, alas, did not.

The good news is the airline located it with a day or so. The bad news is it was still in New York City, and apparently had been for some time, going ’round and ’round the luggage belt in one of the busiest airports in the world.

The more good news is no one had stolen it. The more bad news is apparently our stuff was so bad no one wanted it. And these were the “nice” clothes we had packed for a cruise to Bermuda.

Remembering that, I had to laugh (a little, to myself) last weekend when I decided to try the consignment store route for some cocktail dresses I thought just a little too nice for the Every Woman Blog - Not Dressed to Impressthrift store. They’re in excellent condition but I haven’t worn them in years and can use the extra closet space.

With the dresses carefully covered in plastic to protect them from the elements, I entered the consignment shop nearest my home. My first impression was somewhere between a flea market and a garage sale, except less well-organized. I immediately doubted this shop’s clientele would be in the market for sequins and black crepe, but I’d gone this far so I forged on.

Guess what? The proprietress rejected my dresses because they’re too old. Once again, no one wants my stuff.

OK, when I said I haven’t worn them in years, it might be like … 10 years … or more. (I lose track of time these days.) Maybe they’re not the latest style, but they’re beautiful and classic. Surely, I thought, someone would love to snap them up at a great price. Not so much, apparently. Maybe they fall in that no-woman’s land between vintage/retro and just … old.

That little figurative slap in the face caused me to take stock of my closets. It’s easy to see very few of my clothes are new. They fit well (thanks to running, I’ve been the same size for decades) and are comfortable, and I can usually manage an appropriate outfit for any occasion. But no one will ever mistake me for a fashion maven.

And I’m OK with that. One benefit of getting older is you get better at accepting yourself for who you are.

I guess I’m back to the thrift store donation. Kidney Foundation, be on the lookout for a sparkly little number coming your way soon.

I just know someone is going to want it.

January Blues

By: Azure Stilwell

This month has been difficult for me. I feel bad for feeling bad, but my posts are real so here it goes.

Sun will come out tomorrow

The high of Christmas and having my oldest home from college has passed and everyone has returned to a normal schedule. That is, everyone except me. My normal schedule has become a battle with depression and it is winning this month. Being Bipolar is difficult, especially during the lower times. My medications have been changed so many times I can’t even keep count anymore. I sit at home either giving into or fighting the urge to sleep my day away. I need a purpose, a reason to get up, and right now I just can’t find one, at least not until 3 p.m. – that’s when my youngest gets off the bus.

I have thought about volunteering somewhere but I don’t know where or how to begin to do something like that. I have a hard time with a set schedule. I never know when I will have a Bipolar episode, so having others depend on me causes anxiety within me. It’s really a catch 22. I need to get out to overcome my depression but I am too anxious to commit to any set volunteer time. I need a place that allows me to set my times or has short bursts of time available, say 1-3 hours, so I don’t get overwhelmed.

I have social anxiety which causes me to have a very small circle of people. Since I quit working, that circle in Columbia has gotten even smaller. I also want to feel needed and not just sitting around feeling like I am just there instead of at home.

I need suggestions on how and where to get started volunteering. Any ideas?

Try a Guiding Word Instead of Resolutions

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Resolutions are for the birds. Until last year, I made them every year, and like many of you, had abandoned most by the first week in February. Last year, I decided to select a single word that summed up the essence and focus for the next 365 days of my life.

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My guiding word for 2017 is “simplify.” The textbook definition is to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier. It literally applies to nearly every facet of my life that I would once try to tame with a resolution: my weight, my finances, my house, my health, my relationships and more.

Simplifying isn’t as easy as I thought; I really have to re-think things. I keep the word on the top of my mind, and try to use it when applicable. Here are just a few examples:

  • After searching high and low for a lost FSA card, I simply requested a new one. Most things can be replaced easily and with little hardship. Simpler and much less stressful, for sure.
  • When I have a store return, I keep it in the car until I pass the store I need to visit.
  • simplify-mugInstead of keeping a travel cup whose lid has a design flaw and leaks, even if it does keep my water cold for 10 hours, I gift it to someone who will appreciate it and get one better suited for my needs. (Stanley has a great one. The lid shifts shut AND has a straw hold!)
  • When I couldn’t find my Just Wanna Melt scrub bars at the usual spot, I just ordered them online instead of making additional stops. (Sometimes a shipping fee is worth the time and money you’d spend on an extended search.)
  • When I get a new coffee mug, I get rid of an old one to make space for the new.
  • Instead of taking time to search for a “legal” photo of a pause button, I make do with two images of my own. (See what I just did there? Simplified when writing a blog post on simplifying.)

What can you do to simplify your life in 2017? Any tricks or tips to share?

Pneumonia Weather

By: Chaunte McClure

One sure way to strike up a conversation is to talk about the weather. With this spring-like weather in the dead of winter here lately, it’s easy to do. I love it, although I have a few sweaters and scarves I haven’t worn yet. However, it’s nice when I can take a late afternoon stroll in the park without a sweatshirt, gloves or jacket.

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All the creepy crawlies must be confused. One weekend it’s snowing and the next it’s 78 degrees. This weather blows humans’ minds, too. That’s why you’ll likely find a photo on your timeline of a friend’s dashboard displaying today’s temperature. Grandma would call this pneumonia weather – when the weather goes from one extreme to the other and back again. Cold, hot, cold. I know some of you are bold enough to argue with Grandma and say the weather doesn’t make you sick, but uh ruh, nudge, nudge. Grandma is always right!

Let’s call this season “spwinter” – a combination of spring and winter. The time of year when you can wear shorts, flip-flops and wool coats in one week. And when you can light the fireplace and turn on the AC during the same week. Hey, we could have blistering cold weather like my friends in Washington and Wisconsin are experiencing. I’d say I’m happy to call South Carolina home, despite the pneumonia weather.

Resolve…

By: Angie Sloan

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This may sound like a snarky post, but that’s not my intent. The new year is here! Two weeks into 2017 and there’s not a single parking space at the gym and my Pinterest board has been filled with tons of pins on how to keep those “New Year’s resolutions.” And this year, I have decided to not buy into the hype. I don’t begrudge those who do, but it’s not for me. It’s the word “resolution” that bothers me. In its bare form it is just “re” meaning (to do again) and “solution” meaning (an answer to a problem). And you know what? That is precisely the problem.

Each December, as the new year approaches, we realize that we need to “fix” ourselves, again. We make promises to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, keep a tidier house, read more books, watch less TV, etc. But what if we are not broken? What if we aren’t the ones with the problem that needs to be resolved? Hear me out. I am not saying, by any stretch, that like Mary Poppins, I am practically perfect in every way. I am far from it. But why do we as women put ourselves through the misogynist torture of conforming to the expectation of New Year’s Resolutions?

I have a friend who received a new fitness tracker for Christmas to help her “stay on track” with her resolutions. She literally lives, eats, breathes and sleeps by this new tracker. She uses it to measure everything and I worry that’s she is beginning to use it to measure her self-worth. I think many of us measure ourselves by numbers on a scale, on a screen, on our paychecks, on our mailboxes. The new year is a perfect time to change that behavior!

(Give me a minute as I descend from my soapbox.) Here is my point, dear readers. Let’s all realize that we are good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, tidy enough and smart enough. Simply stated, we are enough. If we choose to improve ourselves, that’s a great thing. But we don’t need a new year to do it.

If we are going to make a resolution, let’s resolve to love ourselves. And let’s actually keep that one!

Happy New Year!

Living Life With Purpose

By: Katie Austin

It’s early on a Sunday morning in late December.  I am sitting on the back porch drinking a cup of coffee.  The wind is blowing through the trees and I can hear nature waking up around me as the sun begins to peek in. I am the only one home and I find my mind wondering.

If I could change anything, what would it be? What goals will I set for myself in the New Year?

This is the first time in a long time that I didn’t wake up to making a to-list for the day. I simply allowed my mind to wonder.

I decide to pick up my laptop that I set on the table next to me and begin to perform various Google searches, entering keywords like “motivational,” “purpose,” and “change.”  I watch a few of the videos and they have good information, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Then I came across one that stopped me in my tracks.  It was like it was speaking to my heart.  I found myself crying within the first few seconds.

 

The first window came up with the quote below:

“Your life won’t ever be perfect, but it can be purposeful. Live for something bigger than yourself and leave a mark on the world.”   – author unknown

As the video played, I began to wonder if my life was “purposeful.” Was I living my life with purpose or simply living?

The video went on to ask you to look at yourself in the mirror and see if you disappoint the person you were at 18? Only let him or her be the judge. In that moment, a flood of emotions came running over me as I began to remember what it was that I wanted to be at the age of 18.  When I so young and ready to take on the world…

The video ended and it was like life stopped for a moment. I sat there staring at my laptop as I realized that I wasn’t living my life to the fullest.

Don’t get me wrong – I am happy for the most part, but I know that I am not living my life with purpose. There are things that I love to do that I put on the back burner. I can only blame myself as I have a tendency to fill my plate to the point where I am getting a lot done, but I can’t enjoy what I am doing. I am trying to get one thing done so that I can move on to the next.

This is not the way I want to live my life. It’s time for a change.

Life should be meaningful and it won’t be until I make it a priority. If life is meaningful, it will be purposeful.

I hope each of you enjoy the video and find your true meaning (purpose) as you head into 2017. This is just the start of my journey and I will be writing more about it in my upcoming articles.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes and as this will be my motto for the New Year. I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you!

“Don’t talk about it, be about it.”  – Eric Thomas