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Random lines in my sketchbook

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”  ~Etty Hillesum

I realized this week that I had gotten away from wrapping gifts at Christmas.  For the past few years, I have loaded up on after-Christmas bargain gift bags and made good use of them too.  They are organized by size on hangars in one of our extra closets.  And God forbid someone actually throws one away!  That goes for the tissue too – I’ll smooth that out and use it again.  It’s not about the money, it just seems such a waste to throw away things that are barely used.  This drives my husband crazy, though he LOVES gift bags.  As far as he’s concerned, if it has a handle it works to wrap a gift.  Many of his gifts come right in the shopping bag.

As I contemplated the mound of gifts to wrap, I decided to resurrect my gift wrapping skills.  I had lots of lovely red satin ribbon left over from the wedding and couldn’t resist some really pretty paper on sale at Hobby Lobby.  Oh, and I had some cute peppermint decorations left from my pre-gift bag days.  As a child, I always loved to see a prettily wrapped gift.  Many of the gifts I loved best were all about the wrapping and not so much the contents.  So I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped some more.  I also remembered why I turned to gift bags in the first place; wrapping gifts is exhausting!  Though I think it was worthwhile when my grandchildren exclaimed over how beautiful all the gifts were.  Jack was especially excited when he realized the one he liked best was for him.  To be fair there is one gift bag, but I gave myself a pass.  It wasn’t a gift I am giving – the wrapping got pawned off on me.

Feet and back aching at the end of the day, I sat down to relax with my sketchbook.  I haven’t had much time to tangle lately, so I just decided to play around with some new tangles I had been admiring, but had yet to try.  See the list at the end of the post for the tangle names and links to the instructions should something catch your fancy.  Then I just started drawing lines.  I’m not sure that it’s anything to write home about, but I really like it.  The random repetition was very meditative and helped me relax at the end of a busy day.  By my definition, that makes it a winner.

Sketchbook tangle test drive

Tangles on this page:

Squiggles by Lori Howe

Wartz by Genevieve Crabe

Fat Paper by Livia Chua

P-Feather by Carol Ottaway

Lupe by Christina Vandervlist

Splinters by Lizzie Mayne

Original Zentangle design for 2011 Christmas cards

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” ~Bob Hope

One of the things I love about the Christmas season is the continuity of tradition.  We really didn’t have any set traditions while I was growing up, but I have very consciously established a few with my own family.

The oldest of our traditions revolves around the Christmas tree.  I began buying dated Christmas ornaments for my children every year since they were born.  I have carried it on with my grandchildren.  There were a few lean years along the way, evident in the simplicity of the ornaments for those years.  I even have one lone survivor from our first tree after we were married.  A plain glass dime-store ornament that has managed to survive through 35 Christmases and various moves.  Even my grandchildren know to handle that one with care.  Once my girls moved out on their own, I gave them their collection as a start for their trees.  That was when I realized I would be losing a LOT of ornaments and started to collect for myself.  We gather ornaments from various travels, usually buying at least one on each vacation.  I now have a huge 9 ft. tree that is completely covered with unique ornaments.  My new son-in-law was stunned to learn that many of the ornaments my daughter has from her childhood are worth quite a lot of money.   Katrina was outlining the procedure for decorating their first Christmas tree, complete with Christmas music playing the whole time.  I was touched when I realized how thoroughly she embraced our traditions when she gifted me with an ornament purchased on her honeymoon for me.  Or course, I had ornaments to commemorate their first Christmas together from our trip to Branson.

I started two new traditions last year.  Once I began to embrace Zentangle, I decided to design my own Christmas cards.  I especially love this year’s creation – a Christmas tree – done with Sakura pens and Derwent Inktense pencils.  The second has to do with Christmas morning.  I always cook supper and usually have my grandchildren as my daughter works every Christmas Eve and Christmas in the ER.  She comes to our house on her way home from work Christmas morning to open gifts with the kids before getting some rest for her next shift.  I’ve been following the FlyLady for about a year and she included a recipe for cinnamon buns in one of her newsletters last year.  It was so simple and intended to be a no-fuss, no-muss treat served on Christmas morning.  The kids and I assembled them the night before and I popped them in the oven on Christmas morning.  They were a huge hit and I am told they taste like Cinnabon (I have to take their word for it, as I have to avoid gluten, so don’t eat them.)  We’ll be doing these again this year.  In the interest of spreading a little tradition, I am sharing this wonderful recipe with you.  Enjoy and take a moment to think about your own traditions – or start a brand new one and make some memories for the people you love.

Christmas Eve Shortcut Cinnamon Buns

From the Fly Lady

These are made the night before and popped in the oven Christmas morning when the kids are attacking their presents.

 Ingredients

20 unbaked frozen dinner rolls (Bridgeport works well)

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup instant vanilla pudding mix (this is NOT the whole box)

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions

Lightly grease a 10 inch Bundt cake pan.  Place frozen rolls into the pan.

Combine the brown sugar, pudding mix and cinnamon.  Sprinkle over the frozen rolls.  Pour melted butter over the top.

  • If you don’t have a Bundt pan, you can use a muffin tin, but they turn out better in the Bundt pan.

Cover with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight at room temperature to rise.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake rolls for 25 minutes, until golden brown.  Turn rolls onto serving plate and dig in!

Makes 20 buns

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

“If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport.”  ~George Winters

I am starting to sense a theme in my life over the past few months and it has to do with my wallet.  I have to travel to Dallas today for meetings starting at noon.  I am every bit as careful with my company’s money as my own and opted to fly in very early this morning to save hotel costs.  Even though it meant a 6 am flight.  A supreme sacrifice for me as I am not a “morning” person.  This necessitates getting up at 4 am to dress and allow travel time to the airport.  Ugh!  As I arrived at the airport this morning, I discovered my wallet missing from my purse.  Not only can I not board the plane, I can’t reschedule another flight since I don’t have my credit card.  Allllll the way back home and pounding my brain the whole time to figure out WHAT happened to my wallet.  As I pulled into the garage, there it was.  It had evidently fallen out of my purse when I loaded the car and I never noticed.  I am really not awake at 0-dark-thirty.  Sooo, at least it wasn’t lost or stolen.  New flights are booked, but I will be several hours late for my meeting.  Lessons learned: check for your wallet before you pull out of the garage, don’t be pennywise and pound foolish – go up early and deal with the hotel cost.

Since I am up at an ungodly hour, with a little gift of time, here I am.  I’ve been playing around with color on my Zentangles and have actually completed a couple of Diva Challenges, though I didn’t get a chance to upload them to her slide show.  Challenge 49 was to use a red string.  I decided to do two of these.  One that really celebrated the string and the other keeping it simple.  I was surprised that the simple string – even though it was red – really disappeared into the tile once it was all tangled.  I had to go back and add more red ink to really see it.  Challenge 50 was to “Biggify.”  This involved taking a few favorite tangles and making them much bigger than we would ordinarily draw them.  I decided to do three – normal, big and BIGGIFY.  They are shown with the same string and all together so it’s easier to see the changes in each tangle as the scale increases.  This is a very good exercise for those just getting started with Zentangle.  Because the tile is only 4.5″ square, the tendency is draw smaller scale.  Pushing the envelope with scale give some freedom in shading but puts more importance on making each stroke carefully.  Most people come to the realization that some tangles are much better when they are drawn larger.  If you are struggling to find the right scale for your work, try this challenge and keep it to one tangle on a tile – or mark out a few tiles on your sketchbook page.  Enjoy the process and remember there are no mistakes in Zentangle!

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