Sweethearts–A Miniature Shop for Lovers


May 30, 2015

Around Valentine’s Day I felt absolutely compelled to create a miniature shop of all things heart-shaped. But I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Here’s what I wound up with…

The shell of the shop was a paper mache “hatbox.” I cut out the front door, covered it in black and white Contact paper, trimmed it with black Duck Tape, and added a patio. I also bought a cheap Styrofoam heart wreath and took it apart to put the hearts on the top of the box lid. A line of pink quilling tape runs under the edge of the lid.

The topiary bushes are Styrofoam hearts that I painted and covered with sawdust that I collected from the floor of my local Home Depot. (I actually walked in with a whisk broom and dustpan and cleaned up. No one minded!) The gold urns are party favors from the Dollar Tree. They originally were trophy cups, but I took off the handles and painted them. The sign was part of a Valentine’s Day card I gave David and promptly took back from him.

The lights are the most expensive portion of this display. A bar of LED lights was inserted in the lid. I also had a strand of tiny lights that I put around the heart display shelves in the back. The white border around the top of the wall is actually the plastic strapping tape from a box with reams of paper. The flexibility was great, although it was hard to get the acrylic paint to stick. I added the hearts because of that flaking paint–and came to like them.

The joy of a miniature shop is in its clutter. I love having too much for the eye to take in. Here you see the shelf unit that was once a box of chocolates, the table and chairs, and the side walls. The shelves of the shelf unit are actually pieces from the original box of chocolates.

A close up of the shelves. Let’s work our way from the bottom up. On the bottom are linens made from a paper napkin and lace trim. A box of chocolate from a printie. A tiny Oriental book, tied with black string, from the Bas Bleu catalog. Two large heart bookends. On the next shelf is a container of Ferrer Roche chocolates made from the plastic bubble of a gum package and real wrappers. A perfume bottle. A rack of Valentine postcards, a poster, a candle, a container of real bath salts, an envelope filled with love letters. On the top shelf is a flower arrangement from dried blossoms from an RL (Real Life) arrangement in a small plastic piece I found on the beach, and an assortment of chocolate boxes from printies and from paper Valentine’s Day plates. The tiny box on the right is a printie. On the left bottom is a floral arrangement in a basket with a piece of blue plastic I found on the beach. The red mesh is from a bag of oranges. I made the flowers in this arrangement.

To the right of the shelves is a pink birdhouse with a faux license plate roof. A clock made from dressmaker pins stuck into a shaped piece of wood with hands from plastic toothpicks. An original Zentangle piece of art on canvas I bought from Walmart in the crafts section. The red wax candle in cellophane came from a real candle. The cup with succulents was a purchase from a miniaturist named Betinha Murta (http://betinhamurtaminiatures.blogspot.com/) who taught me to make the roses to the left of the cup with cold porcelain. The signs (love) are “tin” from old Coke cans.

One other cold porcelain rose is in this bouquet. I made the chairs, of which this is one. The tie on the bouquet is a re-used twist tie that had a pretty metallic plastic coating.

Here we are looking to the left. I made the tiny black table. The white shelf unit is plastic that washed up on the beach. I think it must have held batteries? The Valentine’s Day card holder is topped by a piece of metal I found on the ground that’s had a tiny picture of a rose and micro beads added. The big red heart is a rock. The small pink heart on the stand was a bead on a bookmark by my friend and author Krista Davis. The small pink books with the black dress are from a sticky note set from my friend and author Penny Warner. The mirror with hearts is a mirror with punched out hearts stuck around it. I really, really love the picture of the tree with red hearts for leaves. The plates are paper.

Here’s a close up of that black table. The candy dish is made from plastic marked “6” in the recycling code. Any plastic that’s 6 can be shrunk. So I used a rubber stamp to stamp a design, cut the plastic into a heart-shape and applied heat to shrink it. The white vase to the right of it and behind it (the candy dish) is a bit of junk found on the beach.

Here is a close-up of that white shelf unit. I couldn’t believe that I’d found something exactly to scale for this project and it was there on the sand! All I did was clean and paint it with a fresh coat of white! The books I made, and the tiny picnic basket to the right on the bottom shelf is a printie, assembled of course. The tiny tissue “box” is a bead with a heart I painted on it. I also made the tiny clock the LOVE sign, the boxes of perfume, the boxes and the hearts stuck into the floral bouquet are from the hangers for Christmas ornaments, shaped, soldered onto a metal stem, and covered with plastic.

I printed out the plates, shaped them, cut them, painted the edges gold, and covered them with clear nail polish. The napkins are bits of paper napkins tied with gold thread. The forks are pieces of metal from the tops of wine bottles. I doubled the metal and glued it together before cutting and shaping it. The cake stand is the plunger from a syringe cut to 1/4″ tall and topped with a button before being painted white.

I’m very proud of the skirt on the table. I soaked the fabric in glue/water before draping it over the table form. I love the way the fabric drapes!

So what did I buy?  The initial paper mache box, the scrapbook paper for the walls, the “tile” for the floor, the lights, the pink saucer and succulents, the tiny dog statue, the cake–and the rest are all raw materials I put together. Most of the expense, where there is any, came from printies, paint, and glue. The purchased finished items probably cost me less than $25 or $30.

I still have a tiny bit of work to do, but mainly, it’s finished! What do you think?

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QTR — And Why It Matters


May 29, 2015

By Joanna Campbell Slan

Last night our dear friend Eric introduced me to a new term: QTR.

I’d never heard of it. So he explained, “It means Quality Time Remaining,” and he went on to say it has to do with how you spend the rest of your life.

Now Eric is as smart a man as any I’ve ever met. Maybe even more important, he’s wise and he’s kind. So when he talks, I listen, and then I think. A lot.

This morning, I looked up QTR and found this reference CLICK

or go to

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/stories/2003-12-07/a-round-with-wayne-huizenga

The article quotes American entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga as saying, “I have a friend who’s my age [65], and the last thing we say when we hang up is ‘QTR’ — ‘quality time remaining.’ I don’t know how many years I’ll be able to play golf, so I’m going to enjoy every minute of this.”

I’m not interested in playing golf, but I am interested in making the rest of my life matter. Eric’s phrase reminded me to focus on what’s important and on enjoying each day to the fullest. 

None of us know how much time we have left. As we age, and we see others struck down by Alzheimer’s or crippling diseases, we recognize that healthy, productive time is a premium. 

So I’m going to spend more time THINKING about the time I have left, in order to maximize each moment of each day. That doesn’t mean I’m going to work like a fiend. It does mean that I’m going to appreciate each moment and make choices that reflect my values.

I think these questions might lead me to more QTR:

1. Who and what matter to me?
2. What sort of relationships do I want with people who matter to me? Am I actively cultivating those relationships?
3. Who or what take up a lot of time and effort–and are a waste of my time and effort? Who or what deserves more of my time and effort than I’m currently giving him/her/it?
4. What am I trying to change that can’t be changed? What do I need to change that I SHOULD change?
5. What joys do I overlook or under-appreciate?
6. How do I need to re-arrange my life so I can be more fully joyful and present?
7. What do I want to accomplish in the time that I have left?
8. What plans do I need to make–and start working on right now?
9. What am I putting off that matters?
10. What enjoyable activities am I shortchanging? Delaying for a day that might never come?

I’m curious. Have you ever heard of QTR? Do you think about the rest of your life and how you want to spend it?

**

Joanna Campbell Slan is actively pursuing her QTR while writing books and walking the beach on Jupiter Island. Learn more at www.JoannaSlan.com

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Sea Trash Brooch


May 5, 2015

8 MILLION tons of plastic are added to our oceans every year. But we can all do something about it! Next time you walk the beach, pick up that plastic and transform it. I’ll tell you how in a future post.

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How I Write a Short Story, Part IV


March 9, 2015

To review:  

I have these elements…a time frame (St. Patrick’s Day), interesting factoids (people actually DO make their own luck to some extent), a conflict (Clancy hates St. Patrick’s Day), and a mystery (why? because it’s the day her husband left her). 

I need some activities (Kiki’s crafts–I’ll have to come up with these), and a resolution (I’ll think of something).

I also have a cute sidebar problem. Anya loves animals and when she hears that Laurel owns a rabbit’s foot, she goes nuts! (Or course, it’s a fake rabbit’s foot, but Anya doesn’t know that.) 

What else do I need? Well, I need a snappy opening line. Something that sets the stage for my story. It should foreshadow problems, entice my readers, and get the ball rolling.

Now, back to the resolution. I’ll need a BIG ending. Remember, I’ve been thinking a lot about Clancy, and I have a surprise in store for her. To me, a BIG ending would mean a change of luck for Clancy. 

Okay, I’ve got all my ducks in a row! Again, here’s my list for preplanning a short story:

* time frame — often concurrent with a holiday
* interesting factoids — research
* a conflict or problem to be solved
* a mystery or a secret
* a sidebar perhaps, or a link back to an earlier Kiki story or book
* activities 
* a resolution

And of course, I already have my cast of characters because it’s a Kiki Lowenstein short story. Tune in tomorrow, and I’ll get the story started.

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How I Write a Short Story, Part III


March 5, 2015

So Barb H. had a wonderful idea, “Perhaps St Patrick’s day has always been unlucky for Clancy because that is when her father died or her husband left her or she lost a child. I am getting all these crazy ideas and am probably off base. I will be anxious to hear what you say!”

Barb thinks like I do! 

So now I have these elements…a time frame (St. Patrick’s Day), interesting factoids (people actually DO make their own luck to some extent), a conflict (Clancy hates St. Patrick’s Day), and a mystery (why? because it’s the day her husband left her). 

I need some activities (Kiki’s crafts–I’ll have to come up with these), and a resolution (I’ll think of something).

I also need to look back over Kiki’s world and think about possible ways to tie this story into Kiki’s life. One idea comes immediately to mind. In Handmade, Holiday, Homicide, we learn that Laurel has a lucky rabbit’s foot–but it’s fake fur. We know that Anya loves animals. She would be appalled to hear that Laurel has a rabbit’s foot, especially if she didn’t know it was fake! So somehow, I’d like to weave that into my story.

We’re almost at the end of the planning stage…except that I’d been thinking about Clancy, a lot, and I had surprise in store for her and her life. Keep reading to see what that is!

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