Monday, December 24, 2012

Oh Christmas Card, Oh Christmas Card

I have a true and genuine love for stationery. I love all types from the finest, most luxurious engraved silk correspondence sheets to sweet delicate little girl note cards to bold bright highlighter-colored informal cards (in the 80's we called it neon, but my daughter tells me those colors are called highlighter now - pardon me). And of course it must be personalized. Full name, first name, last name, initials, family monogram, whatever, personalization is the cherry on top. I can't remember when I started loving stationery, but I remember getting a box set from my mom when I was in the 6th or 7th grade. It was white paper with a pretty floral border. It had blue envelopes and it was in a beautiful blue box with a gold satin ribbon tied around the outside. I wrote notes, just to write notes. I also remember trying to be dreamy and spray a touch of perfume on the paper before I sent it to that special boy. Here's the kicker... I never had a special boy I was sending a perfumed note to. And more than likely I didn't have stamps either. So, perhaps some of my friends may have received a nonsense note with just a hint of Jean Nate' or maybe Avon's Sweet Honesty. Perhaps.

When Mike Richardson and I tied the knot, it was stationery heaven for me. A fully compiled list of addressees and multiple reasons to send notes? Ahhh heaven! I made our wedding invitations and thank you notes from cream colored card stock with green ink, Celtic font and a Celtic knot work border. Irish and stationery together? Heaven for sure! Of course every envelope was handwritten, and each thank you note included my sincerest appreciation for both my guests attendance and any gifts they so kindly gave us. I wouldn't even think about or consider using a label back then. Everything had to be handwritten. Although......I do have a did take me 3 months to get my thank you notes out. Yep, 13 years later and I'm still a little embarrassed about that, regardless of whether or not they say you have a year.

Prior to getting married I sent out Christmas cards, but it was to  a small list of close friends. Now I had a fully comprised Butler-Richardson family and friends list?! Oh yeah, it was on!

While insisting on making Emily Post proud, I made things so much more difficult on myself. For some unexplained reason, I let the thought of things I'm supposed to do paralyze me and inevitably stop me from doing anything at all. Shamefully, I didn't even send out Christmas cards the last couple of years. I did an electronic card one year, that was funny, but didn't quite cut it. The truth is...I knew how much time would be spent handwriting each and every envelope with a personal note to each recipient  and the thought was a daunting task that I decided I didn't want to do. Actually, that's a lie. I wanted to do it, I love doing it, and I had full intentions of doing it, but because I waited until the last minute (no surprise) I ran out of time and just didn't do it. To quote my dad "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". Ok...cue the guilt. 

I love getting holiday cards in the mail. I smile every time I open the mailbox and see a card. I love the newsletter updates, the funny cards, the serious cards, the cards that are handwritten or printed on a computer, and the cards with pictures, . I love to see pictures of my friends and family and their families. Whether it's a picture of the whole family, just the kids or even just their pets. As the recipient, I don't care if it's handwritten, I don't care if there's a label, none of that matters to me, I just love getting them! That is not say that I do not acknowledge or appreciate the time and effort of those people who do go to the lengths they do with their Christmas cards. I do! Boy do I ever and it does not go unnoticed. However, it doesn't make me less appreciative of any other card I get.

So let's get to the point already!

This year I decided it was time to get back to the Christmas cards. I intended to have the remarkably talented Michelle Wolf come to the house to take family pictures. I love decorating for the holidays, I love my tree and holiday decor, so I wanted to get a family photo at home. Of course I ran out of time and poor planning let that opportunity slip away. She took some amazing pictures of my girls in a sunflower field this past fall and those were the most recent pictures I had on hand. So, I uploaded one of those pictures to picMonkey and changed the picture to black and white. Then I turned what was once a purple bow in Julia's hair to red. Yes! Now it's a Christmas picture.

I have some friends who get their photo cards done conveniently at Costco for a great price and they look awesome! So I thought I would give it a shot this year. I ordered my photo cards on Costco's website and a day later they were ready for pick up. This year, I did not hand write a thing. I used a label on the front, a label on the back and added our Christmas greeting right on the photo card.
Ahh Simple.... stress free...relaxing...

I could've been done...

I really could've been done...

BUT, I wasn't done yet.

Since I started my little blog, I've stumbled on many wonderful and extremely talented and creative bloggers. I am absolutely amazed and awed at the creativity some people have! While browsing some blogs I came across a couple who send out a little gift every year in lieu of a Christmas card. The gifts they've sent out are so elaborate and beautifully executed and just wonderful. Once I saw their ideas I was inspired to include something handmade, something small, but something that each person would be able to use or appreciate with my cards. I knew I didn't have enough time to make a gift for my entire address list, but I wanted to do it for those to whom I would hand deliver a card. This included some neighbors and a couple friends at work. I didn't go crazy on my count because you have to know at this point I was already in the weeds. I also had to finish teacher gifts, individual gifts for each child in Julia's 1st grade class and Mikayla's 5th grade class, as well as 16 bottles of the homemade Bailey's I make every year for my husband's key employees. Yes, I waited until this week to cram all of this in. And this is just the short list!

I decided my little gift would be a magnet. And because I didn't do any personalization at all on the card, I wanted to make the gift special.

I found a pretty black and white damask picture online and I copied and pasted it into a Microsoft Word document. Then I added a one inch circle and a text box. I inserted a red initial in a pretty font in each circle and printed it on photo paper. I used the photo paper I get at the Dollar tree (a pack of 8 full sheets for $1). That is a better price than any card stock I've found, so I use it for everything. Next, I cut out each circle and Mod Podged it to the back of one of the glass stones I bought at the Dollar Tree. I also printed out some other ideas I had for magnets that are pictured below with all of the supplies.

Once it was dry, I glued a magnet to the back and instant monogram magnet.

Instead of writing the recipient's surname on the outside of the envelope, I wanted it simple. Just the  magnet with their initial. To give the magnet something to stick to, I taped a metal washer to the inside of the envelope.

Simple...very simple and understated. 

I delivered all of my cards on Friday, yes that's correct, December 21st, four days before Christmas. The following day I received both an email and a text from neighbors who enjoyed the little Christmas card surprise. That makes me smile!

Maybe next year, I will get it together a little bit earlier. Maybe I will hand write my cards. Maybe I'll get a family picture. I may even begin this little tradition of a small little something included. Who knows! I feel like I took a shortcut this year, but hey, my cards went out.

From the Richardson home to yours, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Dad's Chair

I have been fortunate enough to have a sewing room in the last several places I've lived. As a matter of fact, the only place I didn't have a sewing room was at my parent’s house. Now, when I say sewing room, some of these sewing rooms have been mere spaces sectioned off in basements. I even had one when my sister and I were roommates in the "not so nice" part of town. That was in the early 90's when stenciling was big and she stenciled purple grapes and green vines all around the cinder block walls. She did that for me as a surprise and I loved it. Having a dedicated room to sew has always been very important to me. It is my sanctuary. One of my favorite places to be, and if life wasn't happening around me, it's a place I would never leave. There have certainly been times I've been in that room from sunup to sunup for days. I recently saw this quote someone posted on facebook “nothing motivates me more than the last minute". How fitting for me?! That definitely sums up the reason for the hours on end I have spent in there. This house is no different, Mike Richardson has been working on our basement and he gave me a grown-up sewing room. It has a door and a window and closets and it is just perfect! My current set up for my sewing machine (The Husqvarna Viking - Ah Ahh Ahhh) is an old vanity that was in my brothers’ room when they all lived at my parent’s house. My dad took the mirror off the back and I've been sewing on it since I was 14 years old. The chair I use is an old wood kitchen chair. Now that I have more space in my new sewing room I bought a large used desk that I'm going to refinish (which will likely be the subject of a future blog) but I need a better chair.

I went to my Mom's house recently and she needed some help in the basement, so down we went. I asked her if I could go into my dad's office because I wanted to find this old map holder he kept in the car with a bunch of city maps inside. I don't know why I expected that my mom would have kept it, but I walked into his office thinking it would just be sitting right there on his desk. Somehow I was surprised that almost all of his stuff is gone. But it is. The desk is pretty much empty, his typewriter is gone, and the maps were nowhere to be found. His desk, his chair, and a few of his accessories are still there, but not much more than that.

Also sitting on the desk was his AM radio. When I walked into that room I swear I could hear the sound of WJR with the static of the AM radio in the background. The room still smells the same. Of course it has the smell of a basement, but the smell of the big metal desk and the vinyl on the chair is the same. Exactly as I remember it. It's amazing how certain smells can bring memories flooding back. My mom gave my niece one of my dad's handkerchiefs as a gift for her wedding and when she opened it, both my sister and I tried to smell it to see if it still had his smell.

Here is the junky radio that provided the sounds of the Butler household for as far back as I can remember. It was either WJR talk radio or Ernie Harwell announcing a Tiger baseball game. Actually, the one pictured below was the "new" radio. I can still vividly see the old white one sitting on the counter in the kitchen.

I tried to pull myself together because I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and thoughts of my dad sitting at his desk with me right by his side. I remember sitting on the corner of the desk while he worked. He would let me answer his phone as if I were his secretary. I remember reading Treasure Island for a school project at that desk. I remember punching holes in paper with his funky hole puncher and we all sharpened our pencils on the sharpener he had on the wall. It's funny the things you remember when you stroll down memory lane.

Here is a picture of the funky hole punch.

My Mom added interesting little anecdotes while were down there too. She said she didn't even know my dad was getting a desk until he came home with it one day. She said he got it from a buddy and she was sure he didn't pay anything for it. The fluorescent lights were free from somebody who was throwing them away. And all of the doors that are in the basement were from a job site that our old neighbor Ronnie Simmons was working at and my dad said he wanted them. I loved hearing those stories because I realized that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! He loved free just as much as I do!

Finally, I asked my Mom if I could have my dad's chair. I barely choked out the question. She said "yes of course, take it and take anything else you would like. I can't take it with me and it's not doing anybody any good just sitting down here".

As you can tell from the pictures the chair is showing its age. I don't remember when the seat split and the duck tape was added. I remember it always being in great shape. When I was little I thought it was so cool that the back rest part of the chair flipped completely around. I did many a spins in that chair and almost fell more than a few times. The bones are still great, it rolls like a gem and I think it will look amazingly fresh and retro in a damask fabric.

I was happy she said I could have it, but then I became filled with anxiety. I knew that once I got my hands on this chair, I would change this picture forever. The scene will be altered. And it isn't just my scene or picture. I was going to alter this for my brothers and sisters too. The picture in their heads may now change. The smell will go away. I tried to take as many pictures as I could so I can always remember. It sounds so silly.... it's just a desk and a chair in a basement. But to me and my siblings it is so much more.

I loaded the chair in my car and I took the funky hole punch and the pencil sharpener and I even took the dictionary. Yeah, the 5 pound giant dictionary. I don't know why I took the dictionary! Why the hell did I take the dictionary???? I needed to take it. It has some large colorful botanical pictures in it, I'm not sure what project that will be yet, but I'm sure I'll need it for something.

I got the chair home and it made it as far as the garage. It looks different in this scene, which is good.

I think I need to just keep looking at it.

I'm not ready to rip it apart and reupholster it yet.

I need to keep it just as it is for a little while longer.

I can't do it.

Not today anyway.


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