- A cute mug (from Michaels- cost: around $3 with coupon and tax)
- A cellophane bag with a silver twisty and filled with my Chai concoction (cost: around $0.50)
- A printed recipe (no real cost)
- Assorted gift-wrap trimmings (cost: around $0.10)
There are people out there who have everything ready for the holidays by now. Every single present has been purchased, wrapped and tagged; all invitations have been sent out and been replied to; festive meal menus are not only printed on parchment paper, but the food itself has been cooked and frozen in anticipation of the big day. I'm sure there are people out there like that.
Well, not me. This is when I start my shopping and/or scramble to come up with home-made stuff. So if you're like me, fear not, here are some really fun ideas that won't break the bank and won't take 3 days to prepare. And if you're snowed in like we are today, chances are you might even have what you need to come up with personalized presents already somewhere around your home. Bonus: most of these ideas are environmentally responsible, frugal and easy as pie. Or tea.
Lots of interesting ideas can be found on the Buy Nothing Christmas site. But I've also found a number of hilarious offerings online, including an exploding frog, a soda-lightful bath fizz, bath bombs and jellies. They are fun, quick and easily tailored to your recipient's tastes (and sense of humour), and your own creativity.
The Family Fun website has a long list of suggestions that can be made with or for children, but I found the following most adaptable: a Velvet Notebook, a project that can also be made by wrapping a blank notebook, a small sketchbook, or even a photo album or two in coordinated paper or fabric.
Home-made clay for both kids and grown ups, safer to use that store-bought play dough or modeling clay. For children, you can include some plastic cookie cutters that can be found for pennies almost anywhere. For a hobbyist, you can include clay sculpting tools, and a printed recipe for baked clay.
Another cute idea is called Bandages for the soul, a collection of quotes and sayings. A grown-up version of this might be creating a wall decoration with some favourite inspirational words - an inexpensive stetched canvas painted in a favourite colour, and the words carefully painted out. If that's too hard, then use a beautiful hand-made paper and ink or an art marker.
How about some Emoticon magnets, similar to projects I've already shown how to do here. Now these are really easy and not two can be alike.
Another really inexpensive idea, although not very quick, only requires your time and your printer. Why not research a particular topic that your gift recipient might be interested in, and compile a folder with all the printed information? Or even varied articles on current health news, political analysis, book and movie reviews - I know that I hardly have time to keep up and miss being able to browse magazines or newspapers for more than just functional information. Other ideas could include how-tos, free crochet and knitting patterns (Lion Brand Yarns and Bernat are great for that), easy recipes (check out Bobbie's other blog and a bunch of others I'll think of in a bit; or Canadian Living Magazine's Make-it-tonight collection). You can pretty up easily.
Finally, if you know how to bake - even if it's only plain oatmeal cookies or no-bake-rice-krispie-squares - why not bake a batch of goodies and wrap it up nicely? My kids love those kinds of presents - and so do their mum and dad.
Remember also that a lot of the pleasure of giving is that it comes from the heart. It's not how much you spent, or how many mall crowds you had to battle that counts, it's that you were thinking of that person when you were creating your gift. And hopefully, the good feelings you had in your heart became part of the present too.
I like playing around with the Color-Halftone feature in Photoshop to create mock comic book frames with a 50s feel to them. Here are two illustrations I’m quite happy with using this fun technique.
Albatros, Digital - © R. Koleilat, 2007
Bathing Beauty, Digital - © R. Koleilat, 2007
To give you an idea of how I get to my final results, here’s a quick demonstration.
To alter your picture, first select Pixelate/Color Halftone from the Filters menu.
By selecting Fade Color Halftone from the Edit menu, you can tweak it by choosing Screen Mode with 55% Opacity (3), or Overlay Mode with 35% Opacity (4) or any other Mode you like.
Teacup, Digitized Photograph - ©R. Koleilat, 2007
Another idea for a simple, friendly present for the holiday - something you can prepare quickly, but will show that you care. And what is better than a warm cup of tea to share with a friend? How about a cup of Chai, this sweet and fragrant tea specialty from India? You definitely don't want to buy that from a store. For one, prepackaged tea bags are ridiculously overpriced, and they don't hold a candle to freshly made and brewed Chai. I know that because my dear friend Sonia taught me how to make the real thing - and I have been addicted ever since.
Here's what you need - you can get most or all of it from the bulk food store, any Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern food store, or even a good supermarket:
- Pick your gift container first, to determine how much tea you need to fill it with. A plain old glass jar, decorated with a personalized label and some raffia is usually my choice, but you can also fill a bag with the Chai mixture and pop it inside a pretty mug or teapot (2 gifts in one, yay!)
- Loose tea leaves, like Orange Pekoe, or Ceylon, enough to fill your chosen container.
- Loose Earl Grey tea leaves, about 1/4 of the amount of the tea above (you don't have to, since this is not authentic but I found it enhances the taste)
- Spices: I choose to add one stick of cinnamon, 5-6 cardamom pods, 4-5 cloves, a sprinkling of allspice berries and about 1/8 spoon of ginger (this is a very mild-tasting variation enough for about an 12-ounce jar of tea, you can add more spices to your taste)
Mix all of the above in the jar, and add this tea-making how-to:
Fill small pot with 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Spoon in one heaping tablespoon of Chai mixture, and turn off the heat. Let it steep for at least five minutes, and strain into teapot. Add lots of sugar and hot milk, find a comfy spot and enjoy.
Now this is definitely not the authentic method of making Chai - but I'm trying to save you from a caffeine attack! Here's how you can come close to the real deal - a lot more delicious, but too much for me to handle.
Fill small pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, add a heaping tablespoon of tea, 1/4 stick cinnamon, two cardamom pods, 2 cloves, ginger and allspice to taste (optional), a lot more sugar than you would normally have in one day, and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Add very hot milk and simmer a couple of minutes more. Strain and serve. But if you don't sleep for two days after that, don't come knockin' - I did warn you!
(The above quantities assume you are sharing this lovely cuppa with a friend)
This is my Christmas present for all my friends, bloggers and others. This is one present we're allowed to unwrap and use early, yay!
Here's my first idea for small DYI presents for this holiday season*: Another glass bead project. I love these little glass beads that are found in craft stores or dollar stores, usually with the floral supplies. And I love micro-glass beads even more - I actually found my little collection at a very good dollar store that has a wicked craft/scrapbooking section (don't tell anyone, but I even buy tiny canvases from there too - and funky paper and plain frames and boxes).
- Create a grouping of those with a theme - anything: different hues of the same colour, or use the same colour with different geometric shapes, 3 or 4 contrasting colours...
- If you have the patience, create a magnetic alphabet set for an small child - or just the letters in their namem, they'll get a kick out of it.
- Pack them in a pretty box with shredded paper for a unique present.
When it's from my chi-ild
This is my bliss, my apple pie
As time goes by...♪
Speaking of crafty projects, I'm getting a few ideas together for some DYI holiday presents (including the one above). Keep your fingers crossed, folks - or better yet, figure out how to add a couple of hours to my day so I can get these things done BEFORE the holidays...
Don't you love this? All you have to do is NOTHING, and bam! you've done something!
Une idée de génie - Pendant une seule journée en novembre (le 23 en Amérique du Nord et le 24 pour le reste du monde), n'achetez absolument rien. Rien: ni le journal, ni un petit café, pas d'essence et pas d'emplettes non plus. Aidez cette journée sans achat à faire boule de neige, parlez-en avec vos enfants, vos amis, vos collègues. Petit à petit, on peut tout changer, promis-juré.
For more info/Pour plus d'infos: http://adbusters.org/home/ - This is where I got these gorgeous "posters" from. They are free to download, print and distribute. Wonderful.
Miss me? I missed you too - Sorry I've been incommunicado for so long, but I loved all the personal notes and the affectionate wishes sent my way. I promise I will be making it up to all of my friends (bloggers and civilians) very soon.
I've posted all the brilliant contributions at Maraya (still need to add a few hyperlinks and some text, please do not freak out if yours is missing, it will all get done before the 15th is technically over). I am too pooped to write anymore (it's past midnight my time) but I'll be back in the morning (or the afternoon).
I am so proud of this collective work - you guys are the coolest on the planet.
Here's my measly contribution - needs work, but it's food for thought at least.
Posted by Rima at 10.10.07
My blogger friend Andi has posted this video clip on her blog. It has nothing to do with art, but everything to do with beauty - more accurately, the contemporary twisted perception of it.
Whether you are a mother or a father with young girls, a young woman yourself, or neither, don't think that the crassness of the beauty/fashion/diet industry doesn't affect you personally. It does, if only because it reflects the desperation of a society gone mad with the obscenity of greed and the perversion of reality. More on this subject later. Maybe.
J'ai decidé de telecharger le "new look" de notre site, Maraya Galleries, sans avoir tout fini. Trop de travail à faire - je ferais tous les changements petit à petit. J'aimerais bien discuter des étapes à entreprendre pour en faire un site agréable à visiter, et donc, j'apprècierais énormément tous commentaires, idées et suggestions à propos du design et du contenu du site.
2. How long have you been together? Over half our lives
3. How long dated? Many years!
4. How old is your man? His next birthday is in a few days, I’ll ask
5. Who eats more? Depends on whether there’s chocolate in it or not
6. Who said "I love you" first? Uhhh….
7. Who is taller? Him
8. Who sings better? ♪He was a singer in a baannd, obladi-oblada ♫
10. Whose temper is worse? Hehehe…
11. Who does the laundry? Hahahahaahha….
12. Who takes out the garbage? ….oh, stop, my ribs are hurting…
13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? The cat
14. Who pays the bills? He brings home the bacon, I forget to do the paperwork
15. Who is better with the computer? ♪Anything he can do, I can do better♫
17. Who cooks dinner? Pizza Hut
18. Who drives when you are together? Mostly the owner of the car we’re in
19. Who pays when you go out? Go out! Hahahahaa… what a concept!
20. Who is most stubborn? Definitely, absolutely, categorically, indubitably not me.
21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? Well, since I’m always right…
22. Whose parents do you see the most? Not his
23. Who kissed who first? Sshhh, my dad is reading this!
24. Who asked who out? We were best friends, so it sort of happened naturally
25. Who proposed? He did.
- Name four places you have lived: Beirut, Austin, Oklahoma City, Winnipeg
- Four foods you like: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Midnight Snack
- Four places you have been on vacation: Côte d'Azur, Florida Keys, Romania, Muskoka
- Four places you would rather be: cuddling with my kids, hugging my mom, talking with my sister, at the beach.
- Come up with an image to promote the environmental cause of your choice.
- Write one line of text to accompany your image.
- Any artistic medium can be used: you can do a painting, a collage, a photomontage, anything that you feel comfortable with. These are only suggestions, not guidelines.
- Submit only ONE entry please. Seriously, I mean it this time. Here's why:
- Once an entry is received, it will be displayed on the home page of Maraya Galleries, in a slide window. (This is a lot of work to set up, and I want to be able to do it before the 15th of October, so have a heart, people, send me your best one, don't ask me to choose for you - this one will be for all to see, not just the blog readers)
What are you still waiting here for? Go on, gather your materials and your best ideas and get going with this - you only have 17 days left and counting. Oh, and remember to tell your friends about this too - bloggers and non-bloggers, young and old, everyone is welcome.
- MSN Games has a new version of Scrabble here
- Speaking of Scrabble, a legitimate cheating tool is available on the official website here
- My all-time favourite time-waster is Alchemy (here)
- Of course, it would be unforgivable not to mention the grande dame of all dilatory games: Bejeweled2, equally favoured by 7 and 47-year olds (or 48) in this household
- Finally, since this is supposed to be mostly an arts-oriented blog, and since the original Miltos Manetas create-your-own-Pollock page doesn't seem to be functioning, here's another smaller scale one created by an artsy blogger here
Have fun, folks - and if you have any suggestions for wasting even more valuable minutes with silliness online, by all means, don't be selfish, share with the rest of us procrastinators.
Image transfers using an acrylic medium as a base is one of those artsy-craftsy things I had some vague notions about, but never actually tried to do. Until I found a great gel medium made by a canadian company called Tri-art which said right there on the label that this product is perfect for photocopy transfers and so I decided to give it a try. Only I didn't use a photocopy, and didn't exactly follow the directions.
This is what I did - I cut out a coloured photograph out of an old magazine, to fit the size of a piece of white cardboard I had laying around. Using my fingers, I covered the cardboard in what I thought was a thin layer of the gel. I must have put too much gel, because as you can see in the bottom left corner of Image 1, the magazine paper fell apart as I was trying to smooth the surface out.
1. Glued-on image with parts rubbed out.
I put the image face down - of course - on the cardboard, so that the gel medium can bond to the ink and transfer the image on to the cardboard.
Once dry - a couple of hours later, I used a bit of water to rub out the paper off of the cardboard.
Once all the paper was rubbed out, I wiped the uncovered image with a dry cloth to take away traces of pulp and moisture, and came up with a really good image transfer - a lot better than I expected.
2. Transferred Image
Except of course, for the part where there was too much gel pooled under the image that I couldn't save.
I waited a little more for the thing to dry, but I think I should have been a little more patient and waited a few hours before applying colour to it.
I first tried outlining some of the branches with gel pens, but it didn't work well at all. I then used a fine-tipped marker, but wasn't very satisfied either.
I then used a little gouache, and found the results quite uneven - the gel medium would suck in some of it, and repel the paint in other parts, but not necessarily to very good effect. After that dried, I went over it with some wet watercolour pencils, and some oil pastels - much more satisfying.
It's no masterpiece, and not really my own work - but it is a really fun technique, easy to do and with endless possibilities. You don't have to use this particular brand, any acrylic gel medium would probably achieve the same result. I've even read somewhere that acrylic paint would bind to the ink the same way. . Julie (Mrs. Lost Luggage) shows a close-up of one of her works using the glass bead gel made by Golden (this one you can find in any craft store in N. America).
I'm going to try making a painted collage with it next. So, go on, give it a go sometime. I'd love to see you experiment with this technique and show us the results*.
*If you don't have a blog, but still would like to share your work, you can email me your creations and I'll show them here.
This is what my first application of Sue's Photoshop tutorial. I used these two images (the original photograph is from wetcanvas), and followed clear Sue's step-by-step. I even used all the tricks she talks about (X and B and [ ] *).
*don't know what I'm talking about? Go readSue's post about it.
(Texte français suivra bientôt)
Untitled - © J.Logan, 2007
I haven't updated my links yet, but two of the amazing women I've met through this fired-up artsy-fartsy blogosphere sent me their contributions to the Old Door and Bathing Beauty Workshops. Go check their sites in the meantime, you'll be bowled over like me (Julie hasn't sent anything but I don't want to wait until I update the right-hand column here).
Julie's Land of Lost Luggage - Yes, she's as witty as her blog title
Joy's This Joy of Arts - Brilliant collages and musings
Jin's À propos du sable - An exquisite visual artist, friend of Alfonso Brezmes (need I say more)
J'ai encore beaucoup de détails à finasser dans ce blog, y compris le gros boulot d'ajouter les textes en français et surtout pour rafraìchir mes links. Et trouver mon dictionnaire, héhé...
En attendant, je présente les contributions de deux nouvelles amies dans cette fofolle et fabuleuse communauté d'artistes-en-ligne que nous avons créé ici. L'exquise Jin a créé cette superbe baigneuse pour l' atelier digital de Bathing Beauty, et Joy cette porte ludique pour l'atelier Old Pisa Door. Julie n'a rien envoy&e;, mais elle est craquante dans son blog et son art.
Your own Photoshop brush or pattern, that is. It is all very easy, and to make it even easier, I'm including a pictorial to go with this very small step-by-step tutorial.
1. I painted this pattern, using different colours for the background and foreground.
When you define a brush, Photoshop will only use the shape of the brush you're creating, but will reproduce the pattern in its original colour.
2. I then chose Define Brush from Edit to create my new brush.
3.You will find your newly defined brush (and pattern) at the end of your existing list of brushes or patterns
4. You can see how, when used as a brush, the shape of your brush will appear in the colour (s) you've chosen
See? Told ya it was simple.