Holiday Overachiever Meets Christmas Disasters

Like most of you, the holidays require time for planning, cooking, baking, shopping and celebrations. I add drawing illustrations to that list. No matter how organized, there’s never enough time and mistakes can be made. Add four birthdays to the Lindau mix and my Type-A, overachiever, perfectionism is really tested. But that doesn’t stop me from setting lofty goals. Nope.

illustrated christmas cards

Looking back on November, I can’t believe I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I knew I wouldn’t write 50,000 words like I did in 2014. I didn’t need to. My new book is almost done, but I signed up for the camaraderie and the word counter. Still, I thought I would write at least 20,000 words to hit my own 50,000 word mark. I was dreaming. I fell 4,500 short of that wimpy goal. I guilted out day-after-day over Thanksgiving for not carving out a little time to write. Then I faced that whiney voice head on and turned it off. I spent time with my family.

After taking my mom and brother to the airport and helping my sister with her paintings for a show, I finally sat down at 7:00 Monday night. The house was quiet. My husband, Danny, watched the Packer game in the other room. I planned to catch up with blogging. It would be nice to sit back and relax for the next few days.

Then it hit me.

IT WAS CYBER MONDAY! December 1st would arrive on Thursday! I scrambled to click on deals until Amazon read, AAmmaazzoonn and my credit card was maxed out. Not really, but I got a lot of shopping done.

The next day, I made a list.

  1. Decorate the house.
  2. Prepare for a holiday party.
  3. Bake cakes and cookies.
  4. Draw the family Christmas card.
  5. Shop for everyone.
  6. Wrap presents before Christmas Eve.
  7. Keep up with writing projects.

At the end of every holiday season, I take pictures of my decorations to make it easier for the next. The following year, I never look at them. I’d rather try something different. Decorating a couple of Christmas trees and evergreen swags which hang on almost every surface, then setting up several tablescapes should be easy. (In other words four solid days of work, at least.)

Fifteen years ago, Danny and I hosted a humongous Christmas party for a few hundred guests. I made ninety-three different delectable dishes, sweets and treats. Ninety-three! I kept the list. I told you I was Type-A, I mean OCD. That stands for Obsessive Christmas Decorator, right? The inside of the house was trimmed from stem to stern. The outdoor decorations made Boulder’s Top Twenty list. I splurged on a velvet Ralph Lauren dress complete with a train. I hired help to pass out appetizers. It would be elegant.

gorgeous dining room christmas

Over-achieving had reached new heights. I planned the perfect holiday party. I hadn’t learned the fact that no matter how you fantasize about an event, it never turns out remotely close to your imagination.

A few flakes floated down adding to the Kincaid Christmas card mood. It kept snowing. The snow blew and drifts rose toward the windows. It didn’t stop until the next day. More than half the guests didn’t make it because of impassible roads. Someone tracked mud through the house from the garage. The kitchen, which is the focal point of my house, was trashed sometime during the second hour of the party. Unwashed dishes and containers littered the streaky counters. I tripped on my train all night and considered cutting it off. Some of the hors d’oevres, which took hours and hours to make, were never served on trays. My heart sunk when I found all of them in the refrigerator the next day. That was the last big Christmas party we hosted.

After that fiasco, I entertained my tennis friends with a ladies sit luncheon. It started with a very small group of five. Over the next few years the guest list grew. The last time I hosted the event, I invited seventy! Only half of them showed up. Key words, “The last time I hosted.”

I had a weak moment in November and we will brave entertaining again, inviting people who have kept in touch through the years along with some new friends. The last two nights,  I woke up in a cold sweat wondering how I’ll pull it off without a caterer. I’m relying on my old mantra: “You got this. You can do it.” I’m trying not to fantasize. Nothing will be served on trays. My new dress won’t have a train. My family is helping with the party. I’ll be “dancing for drought” before the party, just in case.

After brushing off my dusty cookbooks, I listed the dishes to prepare for the party. Cakes, breads, and my favorite cookies will be baked and frozen. I hope they don’t disappear before the holidays. I’ve developed a bigger sweet tooth than Danny!

My Christmas card will be tackled early. The first time I made a popup version, they were so complicated, each one took more than ten minutes to paste together. I missed two holiday parties to finish them. That didn’t stop me from continuing the popup time suck over the last few years.

pieces and parts of card diy

This year, I will create an old-fashioned illustrated card. (See card below from 2008.) No bells. No whistles. No pull outs. Just one fold down the middle. I hope. Okay, so if I do something remotely popup this year, take away my scissors next year. Please!

I still have lots of time before Christmas to shop for presents. Ordering online makes shopping so easy. I had a brilliant idea to wrap gifts as they are delivered or bought. Ha! That would be a Christmas miracle.

illustrated christmas card 06

So how will I balance my writing life through the holidays? I won’t. I wrote a new chapter yesterday and then studied my planner. There’s no way I’ll finish everything on time for the holidays with a 1000 word per day goal. It’s time to cut back, relax, and enjoy a season that only comes around once a year.

The most important thing? No matter how I plan, I’ll remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. “Do you hear that right side?” asks the left side of my brain.

illustration of boy and girl fighting

I’ll do my best and will enjoy the holidays like a normal person. What’s that like? I have no idea. I’ll let you know in January.

 

I have a gift for you! I’m hosting The #Blessed Project until December 17th. Blog a #Blessed Project list and I’ll feature your post on December 19th. Check out the details here. No matter how the holidays turn out, I’ve been blessed by having family and friends like you!

What could go wrong if I stick with my plan? Are you a holiday over-achiever?

The Big Reveal and WINNERS!

Holiday traditions are different for everyone. Some cut down their own Christmas trees while others host huge holiday gatherings. I don’t have time for that. I’m too busy crafting my greeting cards.

IMG_1346 (1)

Now that most of them are in the mail, I can relax and focus on the rest of my Christmas traditions, like shopping, baking, shopping, trimming the trees, shopping, wrapping gifts, shopping…

And DANCING!

I thought I would return to my old-fashioned printed cards, but not this year. It’s really hard for me to settle for something less. I’ve never settled in my life. Why start now? This card is another pop-up.

I confided in a friend about the stress involved in making them. She asked why I bothered.

I had to think about that. Continue reading

You Still Have a Chance!

I have spent hours sketching, drawing, crafting, cutting, slicing and pasting my Christmas cards in a sort of elf-like assembly line without the elves. While up to my elbows in paper scraps, I looked forward to that blissful nirvanic state attained after slipping them into envelopes.

A lot of love goes into each card and I would like to share it! Here’s your chance to win one.

Elf materials

Every year, I draw my family engaging in some kind of holiday or winter activity.

Guess what we are doing in this year’s card, leave a comment, and win!

Merry, merry!

 

My Project Unveiled For All To See. Yikes!

I’ve sent out all of my greeting cards, so it’s time to unveil my project. I’m so nervous. I hope you like it.

Every year an idea comes to mind which becomes a sketch and then transforms into some kind of 3-D popup creation. I know what you’re thinking. Most people don’t even take the time to buy and send ready-made greeting cards. I keep telling myself, “This year I will simplify.” HA! I don’t know the meaning of the word, “simplify.” Two things about me never change: I was born sunny-side up and I love challenges. “Bring it on” should be my middle name, but it’s not. It’s Mary which is pretty dull in comparison. Don’t tell mom. Her first name is Mary.

The front is very similar to last year’s. Take your complaints to Yelp.

So here it is. Drum roll please…………….

Front of card

Ta da!

Here are the innards skinnards. Now you can imagine how weird they would have looked with duplicated drawings. That was a close one! Continue reading

Leave a Comment and Win!

constructing Christmas

I’ve been busy drawing, cutting, pasting and folding this year’s Christmas card. I think I’ve listened to almost every corny holiday movie between the Lifetime and Hallmark channel.

Every year has its challenges. In the past, I sent out my cards after more than sixty hours of work and they boomeranged back for more postage! Last year I had to add extra postage for weight. This year I thought I had it handled, but the post office was closed, so I couldn’t check the weight. I was about to throw them in the mailbox, then I decided to take them home just in case.

homemade Christmas cards

Some of my older cards. The newer ones are popups. 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

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