Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Week On Craftdom - April 25 to April 29, 2011

Craftdom is a blog dedicated to the beauty of handmade products. It features creative and well.crafted handmade products, and also discusses different themes about craft business.

These are the posts of the week (April 25 to April 29, 2011): 

Lauren Alexander and her Beautiful Sunlit World - Lauren is a watercolor artist, whose work gives you the happy feeling that the sun is constantly shining. She sells originals, prints and downloads on Etsy, and even hosts a giveaway until May 2, 2011.

10 Great Tips for Your Jewelry-Making Workshop - written by Jenny Holmer from IRLA, this is one of Craftdom's How-To articles. Jenny is a jewelry-maker and teacher, and provides a list of useful ideas for people, who are just about to start offering classes.

Stunning Crochet Jewelry by Lavender Field - I absolutely love Victoria's stunning creations. Who would have thought that this "granny pastime" could be used for making trendy jewelry? 

A Very Crafty Royal Wedding - This was posted on the evening before the Royal Wedding and includes a few examples of crafty takes on the event.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Impressions

I absolutely loved the energy of the Royal Wedding earlier today. It had the spirit of a modern fairytale and somehow opened the doors to streams of joy and well-wishing in the whole world. While energy is something we do not see, massive flows of happy emotions shared by a critical mass of people are able to influence positive changes on a global scale.

The view of Catherine surrounded by the gentle care of her father and sister, was an inspiring display of what a modern-day nuclear family could be. The Middletons are known for being close and supportive of one another, and exactly this is the ultimate goal of everybody who has ever considered getting married. 

Seeing the little examples of pure love and affection shared by the bride and the groom was beautiful, and signaled the beginning of a completely different story than the one of Prince William's parents.

The wedding ceremony itself was breath-taking. My 3-year-old absolutely loved the hymns; she actually regarded everything else to be a mere pause before the next music slot! The singing made her slow down and listen quietly.

This is my last post of Royal Wedding excitement :-)


Some Thoughts on The Royal Wedding

I somehow feel embarrassed, but should admit my great excitement about  today's Royal Wedding. Royals  of all nations have never been a craze of mine, even though most behave sensibly and represent their countries appropriately. While I read an article or two about last year's nuptials of Princess Victoria of Sweden (who, by the way, is the direct heir of the throne and also married a commoner), and surely wished the couple well, the event did not touch me emotionally in any particular way.

So what is turning the UK Royal Wedding into a globally anticipated one? Is it Prince William's appeal as the "Prince of Hearts", which he somehow inherited from his mother, the late Lady Diana? Or is it Miss Catherine Middleton's natural beauty and engaging smile? How about their well-documented and long-lived romance? After all, they have been together for about 8 years and are still  in love. William has been known for his successful representation of Britain since long, and Catherine's few official pre-wedding public appearances made similarly good impression. 

The UK itself seems to be divided by the contrasting parties of proud well-wishers and glum "this-wedding-is-ruining-the-economy" complainers. The fact that the pair's families are covering the largest part of the expenses (if not all of them) does not help. Some people complain about keeping the monarchy at all, although many other respectable European countries also have reigning royal families.

Without being an expert, I see little difference between the roles of  elected presidents in parliamental republics and the hereditary European royals. Both have predominantly ambassadorial roles, and the main decisions are taken by the prime ministers and the parliaments. Such republics do spend millions on elections on a regular basis - salary and costs of the president including. The royals typically have funds of their own and in some cases even take normal employments. Prince William is a great example: he has a 40 hours-a-week job as a search and rescue pilot in Wales and seems to attend to his royal duties in his spare time. What is more, heirs of thrones and their children are being trained for their future role since early age, and are also very loyal to their countries.

Politics and state finances aside, today is a day to be remembered - and hopefully Prince William and Catherine will manage to enjoy it despite the whole world watching. All the best to them and their new family; may they keep their love alive and strong for all the years to come!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Finding What You Really Want To Do

Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil
Many years ago, when I was about 19, I met the person who thought me some of my first important life lessons.  We were introduced by his girlfriend, who was an editor in the newspaper I was working for at the time. He was about the age of my parents and hailed as a great unconventional artist. I loved the way he was expressing ideas from his partly Zen-influenced philosophy through pieces of art, often using sculptured objects in combination with light. We became friends and over the time he spontaneously started "coaching" me together with a group of fashion design students from my university.

We lived in a town at the seaside and the Sea Garden was our favourite place to meet up and talk. Once we were strolling there with a friend, who was confused about what direction her life should take. She was unhappy about her fashion design studies and wanted to do something different, meaningful and joyous - but felt unable to decide what that should be.

"There is one easy way to find out what you really want to do," said Victor (not his real name). "Just set aside an hour every day and do whatever you feel like doing, without judging if it makes sense or not. Write down what you did and after a few months check what was the activity you chose most often."

Trying to help us find our own answers was typical of him. Back then I thought I knew what I wanted, but this piece of advice was so simple and straightforward, that I remembered it anyway.

Yesterday my husband and daughter went to visit friends. I have seldom been on my own since our little one was born, and desperately needed some time for myself. The moment they left, I knew I was going to do exactly what Victor suggested years ago - fill my time with whatever felt right at the given moment.

I first had a shower, meditated, found my favourite skirt from the time before the pregnancy (and it still fitted me:-), and then slowly figured out what I was going to do next - write, write, write. I almost didn't stop until my husband and daughter came back in the evening. It was an absolutely joyous experience and certainly the best Easter Sunday in my life. It was as if Life started flowing again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter as a Time of Personal Revival

Photo credit: Vera Kratochvil
Happy Easter!

Before chocolate eggs were invented, Easter used to be the celebration of Christ's resurrection. However, the day is important not only for devoted Christians. It is a special time of the year, when we can  re-think, renew and "revive" our own existence. 

  • Is there something in our life, that we continue putting up with although it has long become a hindrance?
  • Is there something new, we would like to concentrate our attention on?
  • Are we afraid of stepping on the road less traveled? 
  • What do we actually want to do?
  • Is there a way to live up to our dreams?

Naturally Coloured Easter Eggs

This was my daughter's first fully conscious Easter, so I did my best to make it memorable for her. We painted eggs and did the obligatory egg hunt. The Easter Bunny (who refused to let her see him:-) was kind enough to hide some chocolate eggs.

Easter and Earth Day happened to coincide this year, which strengthened my resistance against artificial egg paint even more. After some research, I found a few ideas about natural ways to colour the eggs.

I used red cabbage for blue, turmeric for yellow, spinach for green and beetroot for red. As you can see on the picture, yellow and blue were the only colours, which turned out well - and I had to soak white eggs in the blue paint for over an hour.

However, I think the main problem was that the paint was too diluted. Probably, if I had used more of the beetroot, red would have worked well too. It was a wonderful experience though, which my daughter and I shared with a friend and her young son. We are determined to give it another go next year!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Our Live-In Interpreter

Photo credit: David Wagner
On Sunday we celebrated the lovely sun with a family walk in the woods. On the way back we saw a few butterflies - to great delight of our three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who absolutely adores them. Sitting on my husband's shoulders, she felt the need to teach him the word butterfly in Mommy language.

He repeated and then praised her for being able to speak both Mommy and Daddy languages.

Starting getting excited, she exclaimed:
"Anne (her best friend from kindergarten; not the child's real name) says: "Schmetterling!!!"

"Yes, this is how you say it in German," agreed my husband.

Still speaking in his mother tongue, our little one continued:
"Daddy, in English it is called "butterfly"."

We both gasped. While we do communicate in English with one another, none of us uses it with her. She understands it more and more, but does not try to speak - and we never ask her to. We have a few English picture books, which she loves and sometimes wants to hear in the original language; at other times we  simply translate them as we read. However, none of them is about butterflies, and neither I, nor my husband could remember telling her this word.

"True," I said. "In English you say "butterfly". Where do you know that from?"

"I was listening to Mommy and Daddy when they were talking," she answered.

Wow. Isn't it amazing how young children pick up languages with playful ease?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In Preparation: Everything About Amethyst

Amethyst is a beautiful magical stone, used also for meditation. I have been working on an article about its healing properties and will soon upload it on my website. It will appear both on its English and German pages.

I just finished cropping the pictures of some new amethyst gem angels, so this is the sneak peek:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kids and Sweets

Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil
Many children (mine including) are sweet-toothed. While parents feel uncomfortable watching them gulp one chocolate cake after another, hard restrictions are also not the solution. So how do you help your child establish healthy habits?
  • Offer tasty healthy food on a regular basis. Children generally need to see a certain food/dish many times before accepting and getting into the habit of eating it. Involving them in the preparation process makes them more interested in trying out the ready meal. Some younger children enjoy creatively shaped food: for example, a mountain of rice surrounded by a valley of broccoli, a baked potato turned into a boat, etc. 
  • Cook from scratch as much as you can. Ready meals often contain higher quantities of salt, hidden sugar, and preserving agents.
  • Practice what you preach. You have higher chances of raising your child as a healthy eater, if you are (or become) one yourself.
  • Praise them. If you are happy that they have eaten their greens, say it. You might even want to introduce a star chart and celebrate their increasing success.
  • Allow sweets only as dessert. Having eaten its main meal, the child is likely to have less of the sweets. What is more, the body deals with the sugar easier when slow carbohydrates are already in the stomach.
  • Make a deal in advance. I often find it helpful to let my 3-year-old know how much sweets she could have before giving them to her. Over the time we developed a three-sweets-at-a-time principle, which seems to work well for her. We keep the sweets in a box on the top of a cupboard, and she is allowed to chose any three of them. Chocolate is typically braked into pieces, so one piece is one sweet. Sometimes she would go for three pieces of chocolate, or three jelly bears, but more often she would mix and match. Once she has made her choice, the box goes back to its place. On Saturdays and at parties she has the jester's license to have as many sweets as she wants. However, we stick to the rule of having them as dessert only, so she still eats them in rather reasonable quantities.
  • Go for as healthier options as possible when buying sweets. The truth is that even chocolate from a health food store is not a healthy food. Nevertheless, the biscuits and sweets you will find there are more likely to be made with wholewheat flour and raw cane sugar rather than the processed white ones. In addition to that, they are usually devoid of preserving agents, artificial sweeteners and colourants.
  • Offer sweets only upon request. Mealtimes are not supposed to always end with a dessert. I never mention it myself, but typically let my daughter have her three sweets when she wants them.
  • Point out how yummy and sweet some natural products are. Bananas (and many other types of fruit), dry fruit and honey also satisfy the hunger for "something sweet".
  • Whenever it feels appropriate, talk to your children about the benefits and principles of healthy eating. While parents of young children can put the sweets out of reach, older kids go on a search for them - and mostly find them. We can only hope that our children will have the understanding of what is healthy for them when they are older and more independent. Talking about it doesn't need to be a boring lecture. The best way is to take the opportunities when they come. A few days ago my daughter saw me looking at a picture with recommended foods. She asked about it, and I explained that the foods in the green part of the circle were really good for our bodies, while the ones in the red part were OK, but it was better to have less of them. We spent the rest of the day checking the foods we were eating with the graphic.
Any other ideas? Please, share them as a comment to this post. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

The 100 Most Spiritually Influential People Alive

It was refreshing to find a list of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People on the web - after all our society seems to be dominated by lists of the richest, sexiest, craziest, most powerful, most popular, etc. people.

So who compiled the list?
It was created by a London-based independent bookshop called Watkins Books, which is specialised  in new, second-hand and antiquarian titles in the Mind, Body, Spirit field. Another interesting fact about them is that they have existed for more than 100 years (the shop was established back in 1893) and have been at their present site since 1901. Nowadays they import books from around the world, and maintain an expert stuff of customer assistants. To be honest, I had never heard of them before, but will surely drop by next time when I visit London.

What were the criteria?
  • The person has to be alive.
  • The person has to have made a unique and spiritual contribution on a global scale.
  • The person is frequently googled, appears in Nielsen Data, and highlighted in throughout the blogosphere.
The 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People:
Eckhart Tolle tops the list, followed by Dalai Lama and Dr Wayne W. Dyer. Many other favoruite authors of mine make the Top 20 (for example Paulo Coelho is number seven and Doreen Virtue number thirteen), but I was rather surprised by Oprah Winfrey's position at number eight. However, being born and bred in Europe, I have never watched her TV show and have only read about her tremendous empowering influence on women around the globe.

My View:
I am absolutely thrilled that someone thought of putting together such a list, and could imagine that it was only possible to do it with the help of the statistics by Google and the Nielsen Data; after all, spirituality has many paths and we tend to be inspired by different people at different times of our lives. 

If I were to assemble a similar list today, I would have put Doreen Virtue on top, simply because her work is what resonates to me the most these days. Nevertheless, during different times of my life,  number one would have been Dr Wayne W. Dyer, Louise L. Hay, Neale Donald Walsch, Paulo Coelho, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Vladimir Megre (yes, I've read some Anastasia books many years ago), Nelson Mandela, etc., or Brandon Bays, who is not even in this list.