Wearing It Proudly!

Last Saturday, Danny and I rode the chairlift with a friendly gentleman. We commented on the the fine weather and fresh snow and noticed his accent.  This started a guessing game. He removed his goggles and squinted into the bright sunshine as Danny and I tried to guess his nationality. After naming 8 or 9 countries, we gave up. He said, “I’m Ukrainian.”

We continued talking after we arrived at the top. Then he wanted to guess my heritage. He asked me to take off my goggles and look at him straight on and then in profile. “Irish,” he said, “Your nose gave it away! It’s the same one they drew on Leprechaun’s in books and cartoons back in the day.”

st pattys profile

My father always claimed he was full-blooded Irish. Then out of the blue a couple of years ago, he mentioned a Scottish great grandmother who came to live with them for a while. “What?” My mother asked with skepticism and just about fell over.

Knowing that I’m more than 75% Irish (maybe closer to 70% with this recent revelation), always put a spring in my Irish step this time of year. Another part of that spring comes from nostalgic memories.

I grew up in a creative household. My dad was one of the original Madmen and my mom was always whipping something up in the kitchen or on the sewing machine. They started a new and unique tradition. Every year, on St. Patrick’s Day Eve, the Leprechauns visited our house. They were a messy lot and would spill their chocolate filled coins all over the house while we slept. My sister and I searched high and low for the little fellas, but we never found them. Later, my brother joined in the shenanigans.

gold coins

My mother would bake an apple pie while corned beef, carrots and cabbage simmered all afternoon on the stove top. The scent was heavenly. As if that weren’t enough, she baked soda bread. After my dad returned from work, we would sit down to an authentic Irish feast while traditional music played from my dad’s record player.

I continued this tradition with my own family. For my son Kelly, this is one of his favorite holidays. Every year, he makes an Irish feast for his friends. I am still working on an invitation.

An Irish Leprechaun

So when I look in the mirror at my pug Irish nose, I smile. I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, even for a glimpse of those elusive Leprechauns.

 Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

To watch Danny and I dance an Irish jig – Click HERE!

For the more about my family’s fun with Leprechaun’s – Click HERE!

Jumping for Joy! Literally…

As part of our family’s Christmas traditions, I shop, bake, decorate, and create homemade greeting cards. I am always up for adding something new to the list.

My son Kelly figured he would receive a Playstation 4, but he still expressed over the top happiness when receiving his gifts. That’s when I had an idea…

Kelly jumped for joy, but what happened to his feet? His new snow pants need a hem.

Kelly jumping for joy 1

Then my daughter Courtney jumped! Continue reading

The Big Reveal, DIY and a Message

After almost sixty hours, my annual Christmas cards are done. Whew! I smiled while dropping them into the mailbox and imagined my friends and family opening up my little art project. Time is at a premium and many don’t even send store bought cards. We live in an electronic age where communication is at our fingertips. We make contact through texts, tweets and Facebook. Very few pick up the phone and actually talk to people anymore. Everyone is too busy.

I am a dinosaur in today’s world. I plodded through the week while drawing, printing, cutting, and pasting. My gift to others is not just about the card. It is about the love  and time it takes to create them. Each one  took over 45 minutes. Yep, That was a little overboard. I have a wealth of new ideas for next year and promise to start in July!

The Process:

First I decide on an activity. My family is found skiing in many of my cards, but I wanted to come up with something unique for 2013. It has been an exceptional year in some ways, but I was derailed by breast cancer. When I thought of the concept, Dancing on 2013’s Grave, I laughed out loud!

Yes Wild Riders. I am ready to dance once again. Did you miss me?

First I sketch my ideas. Once I have a workable drawing, I use tracing paper and a marker for a final copy. I  hope to capture the likeness of everyone. I only draw once a year, so I am always a little nervous when I start. Sometimes the illustration just works like this year when it only took two hours. Other times, I find it challenging to recreate the shape of the eyes, the nose, the mouth, and the jawline. There’s always some printing involved. Thank God for the invention of the inkjet. I used to run back and forth to a commercial printer in a neighboring town to get the pieces camera ready.

2013 drawing Continue reading

Christmas Stalkings

One year, I took extreme measures to find the perfect Christmas gift.

We used to own a wholesale toy and school supply business. On Christmas Eve, my husband Danny would come home with a trash bag full of toys. We would spend hours wrapping the little gifts. Our children grew up and we sold the business. Soon I received my children’s Christmas lists which took me on quests encompassing much of the Denver Metro area.

One year, my son Kelly asked for a Playstation 2. It was the only item on his list. I thought, “Wow! This will be so easy this year. I’ll pick it up and buy a couple of small presents. DONE!”

PS4-Console-wDS4

Not so fast. I walked into Target and stood in front of an empty shelf. I asked the salesman when the next shipment was due to arrive. “We never know when they’re coming in.”  I drove to Best Buy and several other stores. The salespeople gave me the same response.

I started to panic. Where would I find the holy grail of Christmas gifts this year if they manufactured so few of them? I compiled a list of stores and started calling every day. I started recognizing the operator’s voices. Continue reading

Guess What’s Spinning Out of Control – A Contest!

While growing up, my sister and I kept busy by creating all kinds of art projects. Accustomed to drawing, I chose an art degree and graduated with a Bachelor of Science. I worked at a hospital as a medical illustrator for a few years. When Danny and I were married in 1987,  I drew our first Christmas card which started a family tradition. They never took more than a day. I dashed off to the printer and picked them up when they were done.

step 7

Last year’s card. They were a piece of cake compared to this year’s.

What started out as a simple illustration  has become a complicated marathon. It all started a couple of years ago, when I paged through Robert Sabuda‘s Christmas pop-up books. I stared in wonder at the amazing crafted paper which transformed into 3-d objects before my eyes. The BRILLIANT idea of creating a moving card was born. Continue reading

The Pilgrims Wore Black and Other Tall Tales

I was taught that the Pilgrims were the first American colonists who arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Pfft! The first colonists arrived in America waaaay before that. Be prepared. This is not the warm and fuzzy story we learned in school.

Victorian Thanksgiving card

In 1587, John White set sail to Roanoke Island, North Carolina and became the governor of the first colony. After struggling for several months, he left his wife, daughter and infant granddaughter and sailed back to England for supplies. A major war broke out between Spain and England and he couldn’t wrangle a ship.  He waited three long years.  When he returned to his family and the 112 other colonists, they had disappeared without a trace. His crew could not find any sign that they had ever existed. They did find a wooden post carved with the name “Croatoan.” Continue reading

All Done!

First of all, Happy Holidays to everyone out there in the blogosphere!

After all the drawing, printing, folding, cutting, and pasting, I am happy to say that my Christmas cards are finished. Whew!

They are a little different this year. They are a modified pop-up and more like a fold-up.

step 1

Step 1: Fill coffee mug. Use up entire red ink cartridge. Punch out trees. Refill coffee mug.  Continue reading