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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Just a Journal.

One of my Art Journals.

For PL 2014, I use a old (yet never used) Moleskine Daily Agenda.
I just change the name of the day.

My PL this year was heavily inspired by my friend (and web designer!) Hope's journals.
I decided to give this a try as it looked super simple to keep up with, for me.

Just a few of my current journals: Gratitude Daily, Biz Gratitude Book, Gardening Journal,
Project Life 2014, Art Journal, Journey Home.

My blog is just my journal.

It is not a marketing tool, as I have nothing to sell. My art and photography don't sell because of my blog, the same happens for my products.
Differently from other creatives and artists out there, I'm not innerly called to teach art, photography, or any kind of craft, so I have no classes to offer and promote. I have to do what I have to do, and it doesn't matter at all to me if I am invisible to the world doing so (most of the times I'd love to be).

My blog is just my journal, sometimes more of a diary, and sometimes more of a journal. I have worked so much to make it the cozy and beautiful and comforting place it is, and I always love to nurture it, because truth is, it brings me great blessings on a daily basis.

My blog is my journal, and I want it to always be updated as are my paper journals, no stress to do so, joyously taking the time to sit quietely every few days in company of those bundles of paper and ink (or graphite, as I always sketch and usually write in pencil). A new, fresh spread to be filled with words, emotions and beauty. To jot down my blessings, my joys, exciting discoveries (well, for me they are!) and speak of my gratitude.

So I'm trying this new format, I had tried in the past too, but with a different approach. This time, it will work because my frame of mind is different now.

My posts will be frequent, short, always visually appealing, spontaneous. All topics of conversation work fine for me, love to follow the creative flow wherever it takes me.
There will be much longer ones, with poignant content, but that won't be the norm.
It will be easier to read, with all of the writing at the bottom of each post, instead of a few lines here and there between photographs. Simplicity at its best. No pressure to make it perfect, my blog is not a photographer's portfolio, and I don't want to compete for the Pulitzer. I need my posts to be quick and easy to assemble, as my plate is already full.

After all, with all I have to do, I consider my blog {my time, my vision, my joy, my given talents} just a gift that I offer to the world.

Monica xo

Monday, January 27, 2014

And so I Closed my Handmade Etsy shop Forever...

... to make room for what I love, without having to make a lot of stuff with my precious hands for commercial purposes, but for my enjoyment only.

To make room in our home for the crafting supplies and the things that make me really happy, for what I really want to make (and not what has to"sell").

To just play, as I already work so much! No price tags to be applied to something that cannot have monetary value because of all of the immense love, patience and endless hours, decades of practice and acquired professional workmanship, that hardly competes with all of those shops that sell all kind of handmade on Etsy... even things they had just started to make a couple of months before.

I closed my handmade Etsy shop forever to free myself from the thought that really a few people bought something from me during all of these years of blogging (a big thank you, teary-eyed, to you!) even if my products have been top- notch and very well made with the best materials (and obviously, priced accordingly). I've suffered for that so, so much, but as my wise, darling hubby suggested, maybe the answer is in the question itself. It was not what I am meant to do, guidance has definitely been loud and clear! In the end I welcome the tears too, as perhaps without them I wouldn't have made this life- changing decision.

I closed my shop forever to finally be able to give my handmade creations freely to someone who really loves, needs and appreciates them. To just keep some in our home because we value each stitch, each second I spent creating them with all of my love.

After I have "hand-made" for all of my life, seeing just a few sales online and my work not appreciated, had stolen my joy. Having to make things that were supposed to sell, instead of those I wanted to make, had stolen my joy. Not having time to do all, being my job as licensing artist and photographer so demanding and my life something I chose to live in a certain way, had stolen my joy as well. 
And instead, I choose joy!

Not that closing my shop means that I don't love handmade or that I won't make anything anymore! On the contrary, I bet I will find the time now that I made this long- due decision.

As for what I'm going to do with what I make, as friends asked me, something I'll keep, the rest I'll give freely. Love, Joy and Beauty are meant to be shared. Not that the bills will come for free for me, but so many people out there need a free smile. I'm sure that all that I need comes to me, as it always did and it always does, even if I don't offer for sale my handmade stuff anymore on Etsy. 

"Making" will be just my hobby, and I'm excited to finally welcome playful relaxation in my life!

Monica xo

Saturday, January 25, 2014

From my English Country Diary: Snowdrops.

It's my first January living in England, and I've started spotting snowdrops everywhere! You bet I'm excited!

All the pictures above have been taken right at my doorstep. The little yogurt jar I made to adorn the table for lunch with a dear friend (and as sweet treat for her to bring home, afterwards!). Just a red ribbon and that's it. Simple, charming beauty at its best.

Monica x

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Welcoming my "Warm and Cozy" Collection with DEMDACO Silvestri!.

Photo courtesy DEMDACO.

There are quite a few, Winter-y, comforting things that are well rooted in the imagery of the child I am at heart.

They've always been there since I can remember. Mugs filled with spice-scented tea or hot cocoa, ready to comfort you on a cold day spent in front of a real fire, all snuggled up in a warm blanket wearing thick, woolly socks.

Lots of things "warm" and "cozy", like wool fabrics and yarns, knitted things, tartans, felt...

Birdhouses, to provide rest and refuge to the wild birds outside. A sleigh and a shovel, red, brown and rusty. And those windchimes that tinkle sweetly when the wind caresses them.

And lots of snowmen! Oh, those are dancing like crazy in my mind, doing all kind of funny things, and Singing Happy Tunes.

10" and 16.5" high

And definitely, a snowglobe. Those magical spheres filled with snow and a cute snowy landscape and lovely characters, that you turn upside down, and down the snowflakes fall- while you stare at them enchanted and kind of suspended between the Earth and Sky.

There are wool scarves, mittens, earmuffs; checks and stripes, tartans, polka dots. 

Welcoming wreaths. Red and white. Lots of nests and little birds (many of them wear scarves too!), snowflakes and little hearts galore. And trees covered in snow that look like frosted masterpieces of fine patisserie. All is merry and white, inside and outside.

All of these symbols of the Season are my comfort, my joy, my safety net, the little things that make me the happiest- they are just rooted in my soul, like a warm and cozy blanket you may need to wrap yourself into on a cold, winter's day, a blizzard outside making of the countryside a Winter Wonderland. Merry and Bright. Welcome Snow. All ready to Welcome the Spirit of the Season to come and heal the World.

I'd really love to tell you some meaningful anecdotes about this collection, and why it's so dear to my heart. But as the post is becoming really long, and I wish that you really savor it, I'll do that another time.

The "Warm and Cozy" collection, which includes all of these pieces and many more (like traditional baubles, ornaments, a cute shovel, birdhouses and a 30.5"tall display snowman, too!), lovingly designed/painted by me and produced by the wonderful DEMDACO Silvestri!, is now available for wholesale orders through your local DEMDACO distributor (and will be in stores in time for Christmas 2014). 
I know there are many many persons out there cheering me on, supporting me along my journey, sharing their heart with me, just loving me! Could ever a girl be more blessed than that???
And this is the very reason why I leave the comments enabled on this post.  But I wish to tell you I practice detachment from my results. Truth is real magic happened when I stopped considering/ listening to my ego, to to what I wanted, needed, to all of the fears and thousands worries it kept arising, and started to instead have BIG faith that all things are possible with God, Spirit, Mind, Love, and we are here on this Earth for a precise reason and it is a very good one. When I consciously said a big, loud YES! to what I'm called to do in this life (and licensing my work is just a part of that, that wasn't at all in my plans!). All that has happened to me, one synchronicity after another, that guided me to this very moment, is just the divine plan for me, to convey love and goodness, in one form or another, into this world.

You're very welcome to tell me and the other readers that will stop here about your favorite Winter/Christmas things, treats or decorations, traditions, if you love Snowmen, how you make them, your big (childhood or adulthood) dreams, or anything else you wish to share! Screams of delight and tears of joy are very welcome too, as they keep good vibes in the air!:)
Monica xo

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

From my English Country Diary: The Slaughters after Christmas.

This past December I was really determined to capture the beauty, creativity and inspiration that fill the Cotswolds at Christmastime. But during Advent I've been so busy with my new designs for Atlanta Show, all of the stress for my hubby's surgery, and also because of my high sensitivity I always avoid busy places and busy hours, in the end it was just at the end of December, when things calm down, that I decided to go for another wreath- hunting expedition. That very day, I awoke to everything white. Jack Frost had popped by for a visit overnight... in the beginning I didn't realize that the roads were all icy and slippery too (and I had never driven in such conditions before), but then I decided to be brave and go anyway. So glad I did!

I love to follow the sat nav in the middle of nowhere- this has been a big leap of faith the past year for me, and a powerful epiphany, when I realized I just had to trust! You point the sat nav and then you follow the directions, even if you have no idea of where on earth you are, and sometimes even believe that it's guiding you to the wrong place! You simply have to trust, take deep breaths along the way, and savor the journey (of course, you know what I mean in a wider, more of a methaphysical, sense).

This is how I found myself in this little village, that lies in the open countryside somewhere between Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire (update: the name of this tiny village is Cornwell). From the car, I spotted just a coreography of frosted roof tiles, stone walls, apple trees... and I immediately knew I had to stop and have a look. These hidden gems, where everything is silent and the time definitely has stopped somehow, are the very reason why I love living in the Cotswolds!

The roads were incredibly slippery, and even wearing Timberland boots, had to be extra careful. So didn't venture far away from my car, but managed to take some interesting shots anyway, and I will surely come back with better ground conditions.

While I was itching to walk along those alleys, I decided to not linger any further and reach my destination, the Slaughters, in Gloucestershire.

I arrived in Lower Slaughter, a nice village not far from Stow- on- the- Wold, hoping to find a plethora of Christmas wreaths on the doors... and finding instead the broom in bloom! :)

I found some wreaths on the doors in the end, but the village was totally missing the festive atmosphere I had hoped for. In England, looks like many keep the decorations up just for a couple of weeks, no longer, and that's it. All gone just after Christmas or first days of January. Boo hoo (... by the way, my hubby was veeery pleased to hear that there's something that I don't like at all in this Country! te-hee). 

The views were stunning, though... so different from those I'm used to in the Summer! This is one of the places that I like to visit every now and then, camera in hand and sketchbook in my bag...

The cottage with a blue door by the old mill was the very reason why I visited the village that day, but unfortunately... no signs of Christmas at all!
I felt like a child whose icecream had fallen down to the floor :(

From Lower Slaughter, in less than one mile you can drive along a narrow country road and reach Upper Slaughter (hence these two villages are referred to as The Slaughters) one of my personal favorites in the Cotswolds! Maybe it's the place that I love the most, of those that I've explored since I'm living here. Coming back is a breath of fresh air, each and every time.

Looks like old telephone boxes are used now for defibrillators. I've bumped into several lately.

One very creative wreath, I think my favorite I've seen this year!
Loved the richness and contrast with dark green.

I had to brave the river, as the road was so slippery that this was the only way to reach the other side of the village!

And each and every time I come here, I stop in front of these windows, likely of a painter's studio. Oh I wish I could sneak a peek in there! :)

While during summertime you can meet several tourists along these roads, in the Winter you have them all for yourself. What a treat!

Monica x