Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas tree ornament tradition

Since the very first Christmas Alex and I spent together we decided to create our own family tradition and each year buy a single Christmas tree ornament. A  couple of days before Christmas the whole family goes out and picks up that ornament that we hang on Christmas day. Our Christmas tree might not look fashionably decorated with matching ornaments and colors, but it is so heartwarming to decorate it, picking up piece by piece each and every memory we have collected through the years. Remembering the funny stories, Christmases past, sometimes the tears and heartbreak of the loss of a loved is priceless to us. 

This leads me to the my Christmas ornaments, the ones that I make. One thing that I always appreciate in a Christmas tree ornament is how breakable it is, that is why I love making unbreakable, childproof Christmas tree ornaments. Wood is absolutely perfect for that.  I love giving and receiving Christmas tree ornaments as gifts too. It is awesome to remember a person that you love on Christmas day, when you are trimming the tree, don't you think?

This year's ornaments that I made :

Christmas tree ornaments- bells
Christmas tree orgnaments Dec1211
Teardrop Christmas tree ornaments
Christmas tree orgnaments Dec1219

Christmas tree ornaments- pear shaped
Christmas tree orgnaments Dec1218

Christmas tree ornaments- lights
Christmas tree orgnaments Dec1217

Christmas tree ornaments- soldiers
Christmas tree orgnaments Dec1215
Aren't they perfect to send to a soldier overseas? Small enough to keep in your pocket, durable, just perfect!

Christmas tree ornaments- houses
Christmas tree orgnaments Dec127

Christmas tree orgnaments Dec124

Joy sign
Christmas tree orgnaments Dec122

Christmas sign

Christmas tree orgnaments Dec121

If you would like to buy any of these, they are available at my Etsy store for purchase.  Hurry, there is still time to get them before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The spirit of Christmases past

Etsy Christmas (34 of 34)

I was thinking today how we used to celebrate Christmas when I was little and I was going for a completely different angle than what this post became. As a matter of fact I had to go back and rewrite the beginning, since the post kind of took on a life of its own.

Thinking about my Christmases as a child, there was a lot missing, it wasn't a single thing to point a finger at. The government frowned upon Christmas celebrations and often only old ladies and children were allowed in the church. I remember my grandmother taking me to light a candle for the dead ( that was acceptable I guess) and telling me how there are people outside looking at the entrance that take note who is visiting the church and a lot of people got in trouble with " The Party" the next day because of it.

Etsy Christmas (22 of 34) Etsy Christmas (2 of 34)

I remember Father Frost (the communist version of Santa Claus, I guess somebody had to bring the presents after all) and his dazzling "mate" Snowflake ( it was not very clear what role she played in the whole thing, however it was obvious she was some 30 years younger than Father Frost, nowhere near Grandma Claus). That was the only time there were oranges and bananas sold in the stores and there were long, long lines with people waiting to buy some. The quantities were limited and people were allowed to buy only a certain amount per person, but of course the proverbial Bulgarian resourcefulness made this quite the gray area.

And then, there was the Nutcracker. The ballet I mean. The version we got to see was the Russian National Ballet one and it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I never actually wanted to be a ballerina, no - I wanted to be the toymaker.

Every Christmas I would wish for a nutcracker like the one in the story, and every Christmas I wouldn't get one. There was simply no such toy in the stores. However, one Christmas to my horror I got a metal nutcracker ( I don't even remember who gave it to me), which was a nice tool, good for cracking nuts I guess but that was all.

Etsy Christmas (4 of 34) Etsy Christmas (3 of 34)

I believe I was in my twenties when I saw a real nutcracker. Of course, since the very beginning of my woodburning experiences I wanted to make one, and I did at some point but it was quite small for my expectations. I wanted one made out of solid wood.
Recently I found one, although again, it was not as big as I Imagined but it came out beautiful. I recently sold it in my Etsy Store and I am still looking for that perfect big nutcracker made of unfinished wood, the same as the one Clara had in the story.

Do you own a nutcracker? More than one? Tell me your nutcracker story!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Advent Calendar

Ever since I started preparing items for my Etsy Store I was toying with the idea to include an Advent Calendar in the list. My biggest issue was that I could not find a wooden item that didn't look flimsy. I wanted something sturdy, something that would last for a long time and could be handed down to the next generation.
As they often say, doing your homework pays off in the end- I found such an item. I was extremely excited when I received it and  my hands were itching to start working on it right away. Unfortunately, as always happens, I had so much other stuff on my plate at the moment that I had to postpone it.
Woodburning the piece was a wonderful experience. There is nothing else that you can compare to the pure creative process of imagining how something will look like when it is finished. Although I knew that this piece would look gorgeous when it is done, I have to admit my imagination didn't do it justice. I love it so much that I was tempted to keep it for myself and not sell it.
Isn't it stunning?
Etsy Christmas (31 of 34)

Here is some detail too
Etsy Christmas (21 of 34)

The cute little drawers are small enough, yet big enough too. Perfect for any treat or trinket. 
Etsy Christmas (7 of 34)

Saturday, November 17, 2012


While I was looking through my old picture stash I found these and I wanted to share. There aren't that many people who agreed to pose for me through the years, so these are definitely special. I rarely draw people. I don't know why, maybe because it is too time consuming, too frustrating if the model is not still and I like to take my time and totally immerse myself in the details of their faces, especially the eyes. Eyes are my thing, I've always said it, compared to hands, which I hate drawing.
So, to decide to draw a person I have to feel a special connection with the moment, the facial expression, the feeling that radiates from that person, the person itself. In other words, it's complicated.

the kindest, sweetest person you could find. I am so happy I was able to share her special moment a couple of weeks ago. Even if we don't see each other or talk that often, every time we are together is like we have never been apart. That is the portrait of a true friend.

Although I never met Malenna in person( I know her mom), she is simply stunning little girl. This drawing was my first charcoal study and I never drew another. 
Malenna, charcoal sketch

She is the most beautiful pregnant woman I have ever seen. People often say pregnant women have this special aura, now I believe it. Noelia was simply radiant. 


Jo-Jo -
 is a bright young man now, but as far as I hear, he still  has the same mischievous smile.

my very own, my only little big boy that wants to be e grown up. How did he pose his fingers like that, I still can't explain.

my other one ;-). Now this little cutie loved to tickle tree leaves. Her first apple picking was unbelievable fun, there were many pictures taken and of course, the drawing followed.

just look at her eyes! She is older now, writing in her traveling journal, a sophisticated young lady.Same beautiful, wise eyes, though.


the love of my life. Nothing more beautiful than to watch his peaceful face while he is sleeping.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Corel Painter 12 Test Drive

Now is the time to announce that there are many changes coming up in the beginning of 2013 connected with my website and more. What is more...will remain a secret for now. Trust me, it's not easy for me to keep it a secret since it wants to burst out of me like an alien, but I'll do my best.

So, while we are on the subject of changes, one of the projects that is coming up required some research on digital drawing software. My Wacom Bamboo tablet and Corel Painter Essentials software are serving me well( I don't know if you remember my project with the hand drawn illustrations from  last spring) but I kind of felt that it might be time for a little upgrade. I was eying a new tablet, maybe even Adobe Creative Suite, but the prices are ridiculous. We'll see, Christmas is coming. :-)

Anyway, while I was looking for an upgrade on CPE, I saw that Corel actually has a new and better version, Corel Painter 12. How much better is the better version, I was asking myself. A quick trial of the software gave me the answer. MUCH BETTER. I  mean, I knew it will be better than what I have ( I have the 2007 version, duh), but I didn't expect what I saw. The mixer capabilities, the brushes and materials, not to mention the mirror drawing- it's insane!
In short, I LOVE IT!

The software is so much more intuitive than Corel Painter Essentials, I was able to do this in 30 minutes with no prior experience with the software or with manga.

Painter 12 Test

 I watched this tutorial a couple of days ago and I meant to try it with real pencils on a real piece of paper, but I didn't have time, so downloading Painter 12 today was the perfect opportunity to give it a go.
 Of course, it was a trial-error experience,that is why it took me so much time. I am still not familiar with all the features of Painter 12, but it is simply amazing what it can do.
I was so excited, I wanted to share. Stick around, there will be more new and exciting developments I will share soon. :-)


Friday, October 5, 2012


Rainy, lazy afternoon. Although Fall is calling you with her colorful attire to join her, jumping in puddles in your rain boots and coat, sometimes it is nice to stay in your PJ's, to stay in, relax and enjoy doing nothing. Unfortunately, in our family doing nothing is completely out of the question and "doing nothing" actually means "do-something-we-don't-usually-do-but-will-enjoy-doing", so it was no surprise my little one challenged me to have a Draw-Off.

" What's a Draw-Off?" I said, hoping to hear her colorful explanation. She loves to talk, but what she loves even more is to explain things to you. And she's pretty good at it, I have to admit, so I don't miss a chance to make her "explain" things to me, because as she says, she has "her own version" every time you ask.

"It's like a Bake-Off, but we're drawing, you know, with pencils", she chirps.

"Done", I say and we begin to get our "artist materials" out.

"What should we draw then?" I ask her.

" Let's draw Daddy, because we love him so much."

What a wonderful idea! We are also lucky that Daddy is sleeping, so it will be easy.
We set the timer and we draw- 15 minutes on a sketch.

Her first try ( don't forget she's 6):

Draw off21
I love her attention to detail, don't you? Notice the fingernails, the shape of the head, the beard, the little lines on the lips, the watch. I thing it's awesome for a first try. And here is what I did:

She didn't want to stop there, so the drawing continued. ( And she caught me off guard drawing in my favorite fluffy socks, and took a picture of me)
Draw off2

My second sketch wasn't as nice as the first one, but what can you do, Sharpies are not my thing I guess.
Draw off1
She however moved on from pencil to dry erase board, showing me that beauty is fleeting.
Fleeting or not, the beauty and sincerity of her smile will always fill my heart with joy.
What filled your heart with joy today? 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Merida DIY costume

Ellie and I were so excited to pick up some fabric and embellishments to make her a Merida Halloween costume. Initially we thought we would just buy a costume, but the options available were either ridiculously looking or ridiculously expensive, so good old DIY option was our last resort. We bought only the wig and the bow and arrows.

Merida Costume15
The costume according to Ellie is " bull's eye" :-)

Merida Costume112
Believe it or not, the costume is absolutely no sew. I used only fabric glue and fabric heat tape.Well, I sew the buttons, but that's the extent of the sewing part :-)

Merida Costume19

It was really nice that I had some of the materials left to make a strap for the bow and pouch for the arrows to match the outfit.
Merida Costume111

Merida Costume110

Kalin has trouble deciding what he wants, but we are playing with a couple of ideas. What are your kids wearing for Halloween?


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Letter photo collage

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably figured out that I like to give unique presents, tailored for the person to receive them. Although I try to do this with all presents I give, I don't remember when was the last time I had so much fun creating something for someone, as I did for this project. Was it because it was for my husband or maybe because the kids cooperated and actually had fun helping me, or maybe because the sun was shining and we were laughing our hats off with the silly ideas we were trying to recreate, I am not sure. In any case, this was the best summer project ever.

We started simple and humble- with a message. 
" Daddy, we love you so much" 

A white cardboard, 7 locations and 58 pictures later, this is what we came up with:
Summer project 2012 collage

For the pictures we used a clear white board, then I digitally drew the details and letters. It is a great idea, especially if you want to "change" the messages.

"Little devils"
Summer project 2012 (1 of 1)-2copy

"Little angels"
Summer project 2012-4 (1 of 1)copy

"Thing One and Thing Two"
Summer project 2012-3 (1 of 1)copy

"A volcano of love"

Summer project 2012-10 (1 of 1)copy

" Risking life and limb for you"
Summer project 2012-8 (1 of 1)copy

" The Superhero and the Fairy"
Summer project 2012-6 (1 of 1)copy

"We'll find you anywhere" 
Summer project 2012-7 (1 of 1)copy

" A mile high"
Summer project 2012-5 (1 of 1)copy

"You are out of this world"
Summer project 2012-8 (1 of 1)-2copy

After I was done with the digital drawings I printed a poster for my husband and that was the present from the kids for his birthday. Do I even have to say that this was considered the best present ever by him and all who saw it? ;-)

I hope you enjoyed looking at them as much as we had fun taking these pictures.
Ta-Ta for now,


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fabric roses

Ok, so I started a Pinterest account  and at first it was fun, to pin things, here...and there. Then I looked around what other people are pinning, then I looked around what other people's friends are pinning...and I realized that I shouldn't allowed to get close to Pinterest. Ever.
I could spend a whole day looking at things on Pinterest, people! That's not funny, especially since I not only look but I actually want to MAKE things...that's when it gets serious. I mean, I learned how to make fried chicken ( all right, the scientific way of achieving a perfect chicken crust and golden crunchy color, AND have the chicken actually cooked inside!), make fabric roses and organize my lingerie drawer with a utensils holder in 15 minutes! That's how addictions start!

Headbands May 20123

Headbands May 20125

So, I couldn't resist...and I made 2 headbands with the fabric roses I was practicing on and although I gave both to my daughter ( of course), I am ashamed to admit I "borrowed" one to wear at my son's B-day party( you can probably guess which one).
The birthday party- I did not forget, I will cover it in the next post, stay tuned!



Monday, May 7, 2012

Chess birthday invitations

Great! ( was my first reaction)
Heck, where are we going to get these from?! ( followed a second after)

Seriously, where do my kids come up with these ideas?? Of course, there are NO chess birthday invitations, OR decorations, OR party favors. So, mommy dearest took out her beloved Silhouette machine and in 30 minutes 8 invitations were made, placed and envelopes and mailed.
As they say in a very popular commercial -
Paper, glue and scissors =  $15
Reaction from 9-year-old-to be =  Priceless!

Kalin 9th Birthday invitations1

Kalin 9th Birthday invitations3

Can't wait to make the cake! :-)


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