Wow!  Week 51!  If you are a celebrator of Christmas, are you ready?  I give myself about a B.  I have some food shopping and cooking to do, and Christmas cards, but otherwise not too bad.  My new job is much more liberal with time off over the holidays than the Air Force, and that's really quite nice.

So let's get down to it shall we?  Along with the Focus on Life weekly challenge, I also joined Sally for her annual ornament swap.


I was paired with Melissa who has a great blog called Bead Recipes. Melissa lives in Australia which I find so exciting - it is a dream of mine to visit there some day. Knowing my ornament had to travel across a couple oceans kept me motivated to get it in the mail early, and I am pleased that everything arrived on time.

Melissa spoiled me by sending 3 different ornaments (and some Cadbury - yum!)!  The first two feature lamp work beads by Marianne Bradman, Czech glass beads, and images on wood made by Melissa.



The third ornament used waxed linen, cinnamon sticks, and a star anise.  It smells divine.


And here is what I sent her:


I bought a bag of small, unfinished wooden spools at Michael's, thinking I could use them for a jewelry project some day.  Somehow it popped into my mind that I could stack them and make a snow man.  First I sawed off one end for the spools that would be the hats.  I was about to buy fresh spray paint, but then I remembered I had some artist paints from a long ago project with Emma.  The hat needed a little something, so I dug out sequins and seed beads I already had.  Now it became a challenge to finish the ornaments (I had enough spools for several) without buying anything new.  I wanted a rustic way to string them together, and had some sari ribbon in a rich red.  You can't see it in my picture, but I used steel wire and additional red beads to make a festive hook, and tied donut shaped glass beads on the ends of the ribbons to keep the spools from coming off easily.  

There are many other fantastically creative ornament swappers - you can check them out here:


And if you'd like to see how others are being ornate/ornamental this week, go here:




So...while I had the best of intentions, I didn't quite get to making my entry for the latest Lorelei and Heather challenge.  And the palette is really stunning:



I did buy the beads at Michael's, and I did have art beads in mind to meet the challenge's "twist." These are all beads I already own, and they matched the colors of the beads perfectly:


Starting bottom right is a Tin Snippets creation from Lorelei, a feather from Marcie, and a coral pice from Round Rabbit.  All the glass beads are ones I made myself.  The far right one is made with glass called Caribbean - it's a clear deep green glass with a layer of opaque turquoise.  The rest of the beads are made in a color called Kryptonite that I LOVE, and the big bead and the pair have some multi-colored frit added.  I bought the chain at Michael's, too, because I envisioned something with multiple strands, maybe long.  Or not.  But I know nothing will happen until this gets cleaned up:


Check out the other contestants over on Heather's blog, Humblebeads.




I am catching up, but as I type 49 and 50, wow! It's hitting me how close Christmas is, and that 2015 is right around the corner. We Aulds have crammed a lot into 2014, but I wouldn't change a minute of it.  When I take a moment to sit quietly a feeling of gratefulness washes over me.  For all the chaos there is light and wonder...hey, isn't that the theme of these last two weeks? (wink wink)

This last Monday was gingerbread house making with my son's Scout troop.  Somehow I went from assisting to leading it, which really just meant buying an extraordinary amount of sugar filled items, setting up tables, and watching them go for it.  It was controlled chaos, and tons of fun.  And I might have eaten my fill of gummy bears, too.  This is Michael (in the middle) with his BFF Garrett (right) and Garrett's brother, Eddie (left).


Now on to lights, the theme for this week.  We love decorating for Christmas, inside...


...and out!


But nothing beats this place in our neighborhood.  Everyone knows it as "The Collingwood Lights."  If you live in Northern Virginia, it's really worth a trip to see it.  You can find info here.



See other well-lit posts here:






New job, heavy volunteer effort (what was I thinking??), Christmas around the corner...so my bright idea was to get involved in a couple artsy challenges.  Crazy?  Actually the challenges are exactly what I need to keep from going completely nuts.  Heather of Humblebeads actually has a great post about it.

Speaking of Heather - I have bought the beads to complete the challenge that she and Lorelei issued using this palate and these beads from Michaels.  The beads are sitting on my desk waiting for inspiration and a spare moment.  Come back December 18th to see what I came up with.



The second challenge I am participating in is Sally's Ornament Hop. My partner is Melissa Trudinger and I got the box of goodies from her today - all the way from Australia.  I can't wait to show you.  I am super excited about what I made too - especially because I didn't buy anything new.  I used all stuff I already had in my craft room.  That is either clever on my part or a sad statement on my hoarding tendencies :-)  Come back on December 20th to see what we made!










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