A Simple Christmas Book Review


My sister gave me this book, A Simple Christmas, written by Mike Huckabee on Thanksgiving.

A Simple Christmas
Mike Huckabee

I like Mike Huckabee. I like how gentle he is on TV. I like his ability to laugh and his gift with music.
I like that he’s a christian and I usually like his sense of humor.
A Simple Christmas is a collection of 12 short stories.
I enjoyed these stories. Reading it in the middle of the holiday season, I took it one story or chapter a day.
I have heard Mike’s voice so many times on the radio and tv,  that when I read the book, I felt like I could hear him reading it to me, with his pauses and smiles.
I also love vintage and mid century things and when he describes his life growing up as a child in the 50s and 60s I could picture the homes, decorations, clothing and scenery.
It made me think of my parent’s, the same age as Mike and I could insert my own family’s faces into some of his stories.
This is not a political book, Thank God.
It’s a book about simplicity, growing up and learning to appreciate things until the things grow smaller and smaller and eventually there are no “things,” but moments and people.
A great book to unwind during the holiday season while having a cup of tea.

Storybook Christmas Card
FlapperDoodle on Etsy

The Joy of Greeting Cards

creativity, memories

In an age where everything is instant and downloadable, wouldn’t you agree there is something special about receiving something in the mailbox?
I love seeing an envelope addressed to me and then looking to see who it’s from, where it was postmarked and I also enjoy looking at the stamps.

Vintage Unused Christmas Stamps

But when something comes in an envelope the 2nd part of opening it in anticipation of what’s inside is the real treat.
Some years my family has made handmade Christmas cards to mail to our friends and family. This was one of those years and they were less than perfect, little hand cut gingerbread men covered in glitter. Even though they weren’t perfect, we went with it and mailed them because I knew they would bring smiles to our friends. Some friends may have wondered, What Were They Thinking? Other’s may have smiled at their silliness and there may have even been a few who cursed us for the glitter~
I participated in a card card exchange this year with a photography team I belong to, Female Photographers of Etsy or FPOE.
I received beautiful cards, some were handmade and most included a photograh made by the sender.
I sent this photograph in a wallet size to all of my team mates.

If I were to purchase something to display cards in my home, I really love this wine cork board.

Handmade WIne Cork Board in Vintage Frame by:

But what to do with all of the beautiful cards when we are done displaying them?
My fellow photographer friend and paper crafter, Lisa Bonowicz shared what she does with hers. She binds them, almost like mini scrapbooks. I love this idea, I wish I would have started doing this years ago. I am thinking you could even add a recipe card for what was served that year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Favorite cookies etc.
And I especially love the idea of being able to go back and see the handwriting of people I love.
Lisa’s photography can be found at Lisa Bonowicz and her paper crafting can be found at The Orange Sparrow.

It’s All About Snowflakes

It’s All About Snowflakes

art photography, handmade jewelry, Home Decorating, Home Decor, Winter, Christmas, Uncategorized


What makes snowflakes so special? They are all one of a kind. If you don’t live up north, perhaps you have never felt the awe and joy of seeing these almost microscopic masterpieces up close.

Sometimes when it’s super cold and the windshield freezes I can see them through the glass. I want to try and capture their beauty through my photography this winter. The thing that amazes me is how tiny, fragile and perfectly different each one is. They are light on the tongue and mesmerizing to the eyes.

Snowflakes are one of the prettiest ways to decorate; they aren’t limited to Christmas but anytime in the winter. Sparkly, sassy, sweet and peaceful they can be all these things.

Here is a little collection of handmade and vintage snowflake things I really love.


This handmade Christmas Snowflake Dreamcatcher is pretty amazing


I love this fine art snowflake photograph from FirstLightPhoto
Snowflakes aren’t just for around the home, they are lovely to wear. This simple snowflake necklace is handmade by LaurenBlythe.


And a vintage set of snowflakes that makes holiday cocktails even better

All of these vintage and handmade items are available on Etsy.







Searching for Santa

Searching for Santa

christmas, Uncategorized, vintage

Every family has that one special Christmas Decoration or toy that year after year is pulled out and when the children become parents, can’t wait to share with their kids. For our family one of the 2 that I remember is very similar to this Santa on Bike that winds up and rides across the floor.


It feels like it might be more difficult for our kids to remember the “Most Special,” piece from their childhood because they are bombarded by disgusting quantities of mass produced junk that pretends to be fancy and more than they are.  For me, all of this “stuff” lacks feeling. It costs less to make more and more and more and more and you get the point. And it waters down the magic.


I love vintage, everyone that knows me, knows that. I long for the simpler pieces,the Kitsch perfect pieces that people keep year after year; the pieces that don’t end up getting donated or tossed out after a couple of seasons.

Like these simple plastic Santa Tree Light Ornaments from the 60’s. They have withstood the test of time for almost 50 years.il_570xn-834645923_4jev

Or this tubby Santa Clause that is a signed Rosbro from the 1950’s and can be used for holding candy or other small surprises. There’s nothing pretentious about him.il_570xn-682840098_fn77
Even this adorable 1940’s Wind Up Santa is unassuming. He is simple, he is sweet, he makes me smile when I see him; nstead of feeling overwhelmed by mass quantities of his clones, which is what I feel with the majority of his great grandsons at the box stores this year.il_570xn-537813815_92id

I just hope if you are reading this, you will do a little “self experiment.” Try opening a big box website and next to it open a website with vintage of the same item, could be Santa, Nutcracker, Stockings, etc.

And without looking at price or anything else, just look back and forth and see which one makes you feel something. I catch myself when window shopping for vintage physically smiling at the pieces. That’s the one to buy, not the biggest, newest and cheapest because chances are you will be over it next year and onto the newer bigger and cheaper thing.


Portraits in Objects and Tales

Portraits in Objects and Tales

arts, community, family history, gallery opening, pennsylvania, storytelling images, Uncategorized, writers
Over the last couple of months, I have had the opportunity to sit down across a table with people I had never met and hear real 
conversations. No technology, no formalities, just real people talking and reminiscing about day's gone by. It took me back to my 
childhood with countless hours around the table with my own Grammy 
and Mother, playing canasta and hearing so many stories from the past, some of them multiple times, but never losing their humor.
I have been collaborating with local writer, PJ Piccirillo on a 
project called,

“Portraits in Objects and Tales: A Show and Tell of Days Gone by in Bennetts Valley.”

Wednesday, November 18th, there will be a debut of the project from 5:30-7 at the Bennets Valley Senior Center. The people who shared their stories and who had their portraits made will be there.The community is welcome and there is no RSVP necessary.

One of the portraits you will see and 2 of people you might meet are:

Rick Crocco and Elda Benigni

The pair are standing in front of the infamous long dark hall of, “The Cave,” where Crocco ran movie reels for his grandfather at a time when movie tickets only cost .14 cents. The same dark hallway led to the dance club for teens that was started by Benigni after the building was no longer a theater.


To read Piccirillo’s essays and see all of the potraits, come to the show at:

149 Plum Street Weedville, PA 15868  814-787-7888

Easy Way to Seasonally Change the Look of a Room

easy decorating tips, seasonal decorating

When the seasons change, I admit I like to decorate and I also admit I like it to be easy. When I get the urge to decorate I need to be able to make my vision happen or life gets in the way and it never gets done. As a fine art photographer and a vintage collector I always have stuff to choose from. But I like some fun pieces that don’t have to be out all year.
AngelAnthonyJacob 145

Throw pillows and their decorative covers are on of the hottest trends going. I didn’t understand it at first and I didn’t offer them for sale right away. But after purchasing one for my mothers home with the fall cat on it and seeing how easy just changing out the cover of the pillow changed the look from summer to fall , I am hooked.

Indian Corn Pillow – looks awesome with leather or wood grain furniture


    Squash Cat – looks great in a primitive setting, but is so cute he works in a modern aparment too


Autumn – Texture full of Decorative Edge

Autumn – Texture full of Decorative Edge

autumn home

Living in Pennsylvania, I look forward to autumn every year. It’s the end of the heat and a pause before turning on the heater. But as an artist I adore the bright blue skies and the rich colors and textures that encompass the fall season.

Orange and Yellow Mums Photograph
Golden Corn Stalk Photo in Field
Indian Corn Art Photograph

Oranges and yellows, reds and golds in the leaves, the flowers, the reflections in the lakes and ponds are everywhere. A crispness in the air that seems to bring the contrast right out in the scenes around us and even more the TEXTURES. The crunch of the leaves curling below our feet, the chrysanthemums in pots with their fuzzy dimensional heads and the wispyness of grasses and cornstalks blowing in the wind all make this a very inspiring season for me.

I wanted to share a few pieces I have created that really show autumn through my eyes.a very inspiring season for me.

Penny Brown, Nurse, Midwife, Memorialized

community, family, mandatory sentencing, memorials, murder, penny brown, pennys law, salamanca new york

Recently my family went to New York, into the Allegany State Park for a geocaching event. The ASP is very close to Salamanca, New York. We are from Pennsylvania so really it is almost over the line.

When we came out of the woods for a donut, we saw on our gps there was another geocache to find in town. so we decided to check it out. We dead ended into an Amazingly Beautiful farm property. We first thought thecache was there but realized half way up the gorgeous drive we had gone to far.
Right outside the gate was a walking path and it was so beautiful out after having rained all day the day before. We hadnt walked very far when we started to notice light blue ribbons tied around trees going down the path. I thought maybe they were planning to cut them for timber. Then we came across a large wooden cross.

As fate would have it the light filtering through the leaves and trees in the spot where this cross sits makes the entire scene magical and enchanting. Purple flowers adorn the cross. I had an immediate feeling come over me that this was something more than just a memorial. Part of me really thought it must be there for a child. On closer look I saw that what was glittering from the trees were pennies, there were pennies at the base of the cross, garland made of pennies and then I saw a little marker that said Penny Brown.

Angels holding babies were at the base and a beautiful cement bench.

The family went on to find the geocache and I stayed back to take it all in and make some photographs of the spot. I was so touched by it and had such a feeling come over me that I needed to know who this was for.

Technology today made that easy for me to start gathering information, even though we were technically on a Indian Reservation. The Seneca Nation with beautiful mountains all around, there is also a state of the art casino a black away and CELL PHONE service with WiFi.
Penny Brown, Salamanca I googled and immediately answers came and so did the reason why this memorial brought on so many real emotions.
On Mother’s Day in May of 1999, Penny a nurse and midwife and active citizen of her community was attacked while jogging with her dog and strangled, raped and murdered.
The criminal, 15 year old, Edward Kindt. If his birthday had been 2 months earlier, he would have had at least an additional 16 years to serve before being eligible for parole.

Because her family, friends and community, including elected officials were outraged by the lack of punishment, Penny’s Law was written into legislation. It changes the lives for juvenile offenders from 5-9 years to life to a more justice serving sentence of 15-25 years to life.The people of her hometown have made other changes too, by reclaiming the jogging area where Penny lost her life and making it a beautiful place for people to walk, jog and stay active. Remember Penny Brown’s life, her family and the sad tragedy that led to her death. If you are visiting Salamanca, visit the memorial and leave a PENNY for Penny to let her family know she is not forgotten.

Is Art a Luxury?

fine art, galleries, jack welpot, limited edition prints, luxury items, museums, photography

artist:MariaWojtiuk Poland

IS ART A LUXURY? This question was posed today by scoutiegirl, a blogger that I follow faithfully.
As an artist, but I feel more IMPORTANTLY as a LOVER OF ART, the answer has to be yes.Art is luxury because it is something to be breathed in, tasted, swallowed and savored. I know if I was a bazillionaire after giving lots of money away, I would have a house full of ART, why because it makes me feel good. Art that I love inspires me, changes my mood, makes me think and is a momentary visual vacation.
I also love the idea of being able to help support artists and I don’t think people who are not active art collector’s or artists themselves realize what they are really paying for when they buy original art from an artist. There is a perception that it may be too expensive. For me, I never judge a piece to be too expensive, I know that it takes hard work, skill and talent to create a piece and more importantly if it is something I would like to own, then that artist has become a kindred spirit to me through their work:)
I only know that many times I cannot afford it now, rather than thinking it is too expensive.
That being said, for people who live in cities there are amazing FREE resources to look at beautiful works of art…. they are called MUSEUMS… I could spend all day there. And just visiting a museum feel like a luxury to me. My favorite museum that I have visited is The Legion of Honor. I am actually a little teary thinking about it because I had the HONOR to visit it twice with my mentor and dear friend Jack Welpott, who passed away a year ago. His birthday would have been yesterday. He brought me to this amazing place in San Fransisco and we saw everything from Van Gogh, Monet, Manet and Bourgerau. The second time I visited we went and saw the exhibit of Georgia Okeefe. I can feel the whole experience again right now just thinking of it.
Another free place to enjoy art is to visit galleries. Take it all in and see what you connect to and fall in love with.
And of course there is lots of free window shopping online for art now. Including on of my favorite sites ETSY. I love it because I can talk to the artists directly without a middle person.
Remember just because you don’t have the money now, you can enjoy the arts and let it be a part of your life and if you are an artist or gallery owner, don’t take for granted the shopper who windows shops often, they are appreciating what you have to offer and they very well someday may come and make a purchase.
Some Fine Photographers I am following right now:
Brett Edge

ArtTales an AMAZING freestyle RECYCLING-FABRIC Crafter-Artist

ArtTales, crafters, creativity, eco-friendly, LEFTZ, molly O'Bryon-Welpott, owls, plush animals, recycled art, stuffed magazine, trout season, upcycled, whimsy

Fishing season, specifically TROUT season, will start very soon in Pennsylvania and if you live near any lakes, rivers or ponds in PA, you know this is a BIG DEAL!
I found this amazing shop on Etsy recently when I was looking for other artists in Pennsylvania and the uniqueness of her shop…. (HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU KNOW THAT MAKE STUFFED TROUT) not the taxidermist kind and not the edible kind??? Probably NONE!
But she does:)

“The trout idea sprung up because of my Uncle, who is an avid fisherman.
Men need to have plushies too ;)”
LEFTZ is the name of her shop.
Unlike myself living in rural Central Pennsylvania, Mary lives in the suburbs of Eastern Pennsylvania. She would love to someday live on a farm and that is also reflected with her mice and owls.

How does Mary approach a new piece?
“Each one starts out as a totally free form design (without a pattern) I love to collect fabric from yard sales, thrift shops, and remnant shops. With the added charm of vintage trims, vintage buttons, and with their signature missing left eye, LEFTZ are born.”
LIZZY the plush Owl

What are LEFTZ?
“LEFTZ (pronounced le-ft-e’s) are handmade plush softies made with reclaimed/upcycled material from yard sales, thrift shops, or my family. These eco friendly plushies are stuffed with recycled plastic shopping bags and are unique in their own way. Their good eye is made from layered vintage buttons. I don’t use patterns just my imagination o.X”
When I asked Mary if she displays her pieces in her home, she passionatly answered, “Absolutely! I have mounted plush on my studio walls, a full-sized Canadian goose, and an 8ft plush alligator hanging from my ceiling. All my other plush are on bookcases in my studio.”
From the magic and success of her work a viewer may think she has been doing this forever, but that is not the case. “I started sewing seriously in June of 09′ Before that I had tried to make quilts but the blocks never seemed to line up correctly. I can’t follow a pattern to save my life!”
I am a firm believer that is how some of the BEST arts and crafts are formed is through giving up using a pattern or list of rules and ArtTales proves it.
You can see a selection of the plush creatures that have been chosen for the vol. 4 summer issue of STUFFED Magazine. It will be out in July and can be found at Barnes & Noble.