Links of Joy: Awesome Christmas Gift Guide- cross stitch

“Ellen.”

“Yes?”

“ELLEN.”

“What?”

“It’s not even HALLOWEEN yet!”

You’re very observant. But if you’re planning on making things to give people, you really need to get started pretty soon unless you’re MUCH faster than me. Me, I started stitching Christmas gifts last week, because I know what I’m like.

And by ‘I know what I’m like’ what I mean is I’m much lazier about these things than I should be until it’s probably too late to finish everything I planned. Last time I had a big project to finish (making a wedding quilt for two very dear friends of mine), I started 9 months beforehand and I STILL didn’t get it finished until a couple of weeks ahead of the wedding.

Anyway, just to give you some ideas, here are some cross-stitches you could consider making. Cross stitch! It’s not difficult, you can make a bunch of them from one piece of Aida cloth, and you still get to go shopping- for awesome frames.

Also I resisted the temptation to link you to a bunch of beard-themed cross-stitches even though they’ve been calling to me. If you saw the Best Beloved you’d understand.

But I digress.

First, here’s one for that friend you know would be sitting in the jail cell next to you saying “that was awesome! Lets do it again.”

And one for your family (if they’re anything like, well, most families)- I’m considering making this for my Best Beloved’s Dad.

For the friend who is a liability if left alone with a credit card and Book Depository. Which is most of the people I know.

For the pre-teen in your life. Or maybe that’s just me. Who couldn’t do with a reminder to channel someone fierce in their lives?

Or perhaps you’re the sort of person who likes to give Christmassy Christmas gifts (or know someone who loves to receive them)?

How about this rather awesome festive pattern. Or there’s this DEFINITELY Christmas-themed one if you’re making something for, well, any geek man I’ve ever met and most of the girls.

Finally, this isn’t a pattern but I very much like the sentiment. What can I say? I’m a romantic at heart.

You can, of course, get a bunch more ideas on my Cross Stitch Shenanigans Pinterest board, if you’re so inclined.

What are you planning to make for Christmas? Let me know in the comments. And I’d love to see what you make if you use one of the patterns here or on the Pinterest. Show off your mad crafting skills!

Make your own Blogging Oracle Deck

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Or any other kind of oracle deck you’d like, really. If you want to create a deck that really speaks to you, that you really connect with, what better way than making your own?

That’s the thought that led me to creating my own deck, and this tutorial. Now, a disclaimer- this tutorial is so you can create a deck for your own personal use. If you were intending to make something to sell, please please PLEASE make sure you have permission to reproduce any images you use that you didn’t create yourself. Don’t be that guy.

You will need:

Index cards- you can get them at most stationery stores)- the kind you’d use to revise for exams are perfect.

Coloured pens, watercolour paints, pencils, glue, glitter, or anything along these art-supply type lines that you fancy. If you’re taking (or have taken) Gala Darling’s Radical Self Love Bible School, or if you love scrapbooking and paper crafts, you likely have a bunch. But don’t let me stop you grabbing some more, in whatever colours and styles you love.

(Hint- you could use this tutorial to make your own Radical Self Love Oracle Deck! Imagine taking some of Gala’s Radical Self Love prompts and turning them into oracle cards to guide and inspire you…Hmm… I feel another project coming on. )

Words! For my blogging oracle deck, I wrote down a long list of words that are inspiring to me, as well as topics I like to write about, and a few blogcademy-specific words (since it was my scholarship application). I ended up with a list of 50 words, which probably sounds like a lot but remember, a normal tarot deck has 78. You’re making a deck of cards here. Coming up with the words was easier than you’d think- once you get a few, you should find the ideas start firing and you can’t get them down fast enough. But if not, why not ask friends for inspiration, or look at, say, fun words on Pinterest, to give you some fresh input?

Or, you could just use my list. It’s available on the Freebies page for you to download as a PDF. Don’t say I never give you anything!

Photographs. This is where things get even more fun. Once you’ve got your list of words, it’s time to go through photos and find ones that express each of the words. When I worked on this I mainly used photos of me, or ones I had taken, as these were the ones I felt most connected to. It’s a great excuse to get some of your favourite snapshots off the computer and onto paper, even if you just print them out on paper (as I did). You could also use an image search, or Flickr, there are all kinds of possibilities.

The most important rule here is that you choose images that speak to you, that make your heart bounce.

Assemble your photos and print them out, reasonable small so they’ll fit on the cards.

Once you have your photos, words, and materials, it’s time to play!

Making the cards:

SO super simple.

Take one of your index cards.

Pick a word from your list, and find the picture you have to match it.

Cut out the picture and glue it to the card.

Write the word on the card somewhere, however you like. You could illuminate it, write it in a comic-book speech bubble, or in large friendly letters covered in glitter, however you want!

Now you have the picture and the word on the card, and yes, you could just leave it like that…OR you could go to town decorating the card. I gave each of my cards a sparkly frame, coloured around some of the pictures with watercolour pencil, decorated others with drawings- this is where you can let your creativity run riot.

Yes, if you make as many as me this could take a while, but it’s a fun, simple process and a good exercise of your imaginative and artistic muscles.

And when you’re done, you have a beautiful, very personal deck of cards to inspire your blog posts. Pull one- or more- at random and see what comes up, then use the words to guide your next blog post. Or just to guide you if you’re making a different kind of deck.

And don’t forget to let me know how you get on…photos, or it didn’t happen. Just saying.

Links of Joy: Giggles

For this week, despite the temptation to yet again link you to a bunch of pretties you might also like to buy, I’m going instead with a few things that have been making me laugh.

Lets start with, imho, three of the best celebrity Ice Bucket Challenges (yep, I went there. What can I say? There’s a Zeitgeist and this time I’m jumping in.)

First up, the Otter King himself, Benedict Cumberbatch (or as he’s known to me and my ex-flatmate J, Bundaberg Crumblybumbly. Why Bundaberg Crumblybumbly? Blame this text conversation (not mine, one she read to me))

[youtube=http://youtu.be/YOa7ZjxRuKM]

And then there’s fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss, taking it to a new and scientific level. That’s how we do it!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/n-UGa1nWIfo]

I think, though, it’s Patrick Stewart who nails it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkO4NIqAMss

The Out of Context D&D Quotes Tumblr has been making me snork rather more than I really should be doing at work. One of my friends has now announced that ‘first of all, how dare you‘ is her new battle cry. As for me, I plan to steal this name for a future campaign character as insurance against my current one being offed by the GMs. What? It’s a totally valid strategy. 

RIP Joan Rivers.

And yes, I know this video of a baby getting his hearing aids switched on for the first time has been everywhere but it gave me such warm fuzzies. Yeah, I’m a sap. And proud of it. 

We made it to Wednesday! Go us!

Links of Joy: Time for some majesty

I’m having a day where many things have annoyed me and I’ve let them get to me more than I should. To break the pattern, time for some majestic links of majesty.

Lets start with this frosted rainbow unicorn light (because when I think majesty, I automatically think unicorns. The internet has me well trained.).  

From the pages of myth gallops this majestic unicorn, carved in frosted splendor and glowing with an ever-changing rainbow of light.

Yes, that’s the actual description. The light itself reminds me of the kinds of gifts I used to get from students when I taught English as a second language. At the first place I taught ESOL, we had a row of ceramic oil-burners of varying degrees of majesty along the shelf above the resource library. Sadly I had to divest myself of my giant red glass swans forming a heart with their necks when I downsized after I left my now ex-husband. Yes, sadly.

If unicorns aren’t your thing, perhaps you’d prefer to channel Siegfried and Roy with this white tiger side table. But wait, it gets better- according to Amazon, customers who bought that table also bought this dramatic eagle side table. In fact, you can buy them as a set because, again according to Amazon, they are frequently bought together. That means, somewhere in the world (most likely somewhere in the States), it is possible, nay likely, that there is someone- in fact more than one someone- who has BOTH OF THOSE TABLES IN THEIR HOUSE. Lets just take a moment to ponder that. See? I’m feeling better already.

 I’m happy to see that the majesty of the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt is alive and well and available in New Zealand.

You could also get a black wolf t-shirt (because combining shipping is thrifty!). To me it looks kind of like the G’mork in ‘The Neverending Story’. And that’s pretty cool (though holy hell the G’mork scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid).

Sadly, Shiro Cosmetics have discontinued their Three Wolf Moon lipcolour, or I would have linked you to that as an alternative. But to my delight they now have a Red Wedding lipgloss and a new collection of Miyazaki-inspired tinted lip balms. Also, an eyeshadow named after one of my favourite moments in The Avengers (and is rainbow-glittery!). Things I’m adding to the list for a payday treat…

Some natural majesty here, courtesy of Buzzfeed- this majestic mountain trail is trying to kill you. While the photos terrify me (I’m scared of heights- I got freaked out on an escalator last time I was in Auckland, but that was because the Best Beloved insisted on leaning over the edge to look at the floor several stories below), I also really want to go there. Though maybe not on the Insane Plank Walk.

For your movie entertainment (if you own a VHS that is), perhaps you would enjoy this classic 80’s story of using music and bodyrock to stop a greedy land developer from taking over a neighborhood.  Ah, yes, I have many happy memories of the ‘using music and bodyrock to stop greedy land developers’ genre. Starring Mario Van Peebles! No, I don’t know who that is. But the Etsy seller seems to be excited about it, so darn it, I am too.

By the way, if you find things that make you happy on the internet I’d love to see them. I may even feature them in a future Links of Joy. Share the love!

Right! I’m off to put on my sexy dress and move on. Happy Wednesday everyone!  

I’ll leave you with some majestic Beyoncé quotes. Because Beyoncé.

Links of Joy- FOUR WHOLE STRAWBERRIES

Watching:

What can I say? This made me giggle. A chap in an Australian shopping precinct reads the Very Hungry Caterpillar in the style of a street preacher.

Reading: I just (like literally about 15 minutes ago) discovered, via Veronica Varlow, Alise in Wonderland, and it was food and reading lust at first sight. Compelling, dreamy, magical writing. Moving stories. Vegan recipes. I’m actually disappointed I’m not in front of a stove right now making Vixen burgers. VIXEN BURGERS. How could you not want to eat something with a name like that?

Giving: If like me you’re a bit too fond of art-nouveau comic book characters, check out the Atomic Tarot Kickstarter. Designed by a group of four women artists in Denver who are “interested in the intersection of science and the supernatural”, something about this just spoke to me. 

 And another random smile:

Times Tumblr raised serious questions about Harry Potter– this Buzzfeed article had a lot of my friends laughing until they cried. I especially like 23, 24 and 27.

Links of Joy

We made it to Wednesday! Halfway through the week seems like the perfect time for some of the things that have been making me smile and inspiring me this week.

ListeningNo Prejudice by Pollaponk

First up is Pollapönk, Iceland’s entrants into the Eurovision Song Contest, with their song ‘No Prejudice’. My first thought when I saw them was ‘they’re the Icelandic Bearded Wiggles’- and it turns out I was right! The name, from what I can gather, means ‘boy-punk’. Not only are the two founders of the band both pre-school teachers, they describe the intent of their music as being able to be enjoyed by children and their families. Their first album (says Wikipedia) was actually their final-year project for their teaching degrees. And the guy with the epic beard wearing purple who’s singing backup? He’s a member of the Icelandic Parliament! “We got to get together on this, cross this problem off our list” seems especially resonant given the post I made yesterday.

(If you haven’t caught Conchita Wurst, the Eurovision winner, and her song ‘Rise like a Phoenix’, go look it up and watch that too. I’m including Pollaponk here because they deserve some love too.)

Reading: Riding the Wild Donkeys

This e-book by Leonie Dawson is gold. It’s also free, and quick to read. It’s about something I’ve often struggled with- getting things finished and out into the world.

Part of it is to do with letting go of the perfect vision you have in your mind. I’m not saying that for some projects, striving for perfection (ripping back that inch of knitting that went wrong, unpicking the seam that didn’t work out right, or just plain undoing the whole thing and starting over) isn’t a good thing. I love getting a beautiful finish on projects. BUT for creative ideas, often the best approach is to grab them and ride them until they’re done- maybe they’re not how you originally envisioned them- and lets face it, how many creative projects ever are?- but they’re done, they’re set free, and you can move on.

Some other links that have made me grin:

Is this the most beautiful, crazy wedding ever? Quite probably. And I totally want to have a bad bridesmaid dress party.

I fully want to use these mystical fire crystals next time I’m at a Scout camp for the weekend and there’s a fire pit.

Cornify. So magical. So cheesy. So many unicorns and rainbows. It is to love! It is also like being back in the 90s. Oh, the sparkly sparkly gifs.