5 Reasons why hand made greeting cards makes a lasting impression this holiday season

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Christmas project 101 : Personalized and hand painted Christmas greeting cards

There’s something about receiving greeting cards, either by hand or by mail. I couldn’t explain it,  but for me, I find it sooo special to receive a card through snail mail or express. It really becomes a lasting impression. A special memento, a keepsake that is treasured. Traditional greeting cards beats all the technology that we have in right now.Receiving cards is totally different from e-cards,and mobile messages that we can send through internet.Call me traditional but I can never trade the crisp texture of an envelop containing a card than swiping my fingers in my iPhone.

It’s Christmas time once again and one of the things that floods the shops and bookstores are wide arrays of Holidays greeting cards. There’s so many designs and styles to choose from.From family to friends, to business and for general media, you name it, there’s always a card for any occasion.Back then in Kuwait, I couldn’t have this lifestyle because the mailing system is so crazy that there is 99% that mails got lost into doom land. There were numerous times that our mails were lost and it’s so hard to track. Now that we live in Germany where the local postal system is just right at our doorstep, I find another excuse.

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My Christmas greeting cards project this holiday season

 

If receiving cards gives a lasting impressions, how about making and giving it instead,yourself?

This year I wanted to make something special. I wanted to make a craft project that I can really do and not compromise. I needed to squeeze my tight schedule for a craft time for drawing & designing cards. So instead of buying dozens of Christmas cards to be sent out to our dearest  friends and family, I decided to make them instead.

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Holiday Craft project : Watercolor painted greeting cards
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The materials are simple and very handy : Watercolor, colored pencils, construction papers or  parchments, a creative mind and  a lots of love!

Why personalized and handmade greeting cards make the lasting impression this Holiday season? Here’s my  FIVE (5)  reasons ;

  • It shows your style – The type of card, design and the content you share always shows  a bit of who you are.Your personality is delivered through your drawing, handwriting, and even on the choice of materials  you used.Remember, every card is special.
  • A bridge to connect with someone special – As an Expat, we are very good in connecting to far away friends & love ones.But almost all of them through our phones. There’s No better way for me to bridge the gap between love ones and friends than making an effort to send a message to them. This also depends on your location and accessibility to make this happen. Sending mails and cards can be expensive too but it all depends on your budget and lifestyle.
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Few of my personalized greeting cards, all hand made, designed and drawn by me.
  • It has the unbeatable element of Surprise – There’s no undeniably bad reason for having a big surprise when you receive something that is totally unexpected. That moment when you receive a greeting card from a friend that you haven’t spoken for years, that family or relative that live across the other side of the world..It’s all about the element of surprise. It’s a priceless gift and oftentimes, unforgettable!
  • It’s really the thought that counts – Okay , so if you’re not feeling creative or crafty and your artwork sucks? Never mind, for what really matters is the thought of giving. I once received a card for my daughter that is drawn by a 3-years old, it only shows smears and dots made out of colored pens, more like a scratch. But for me, I find it so special.
  • It shows that you care – The act of making it,and picking out a design to make cards shows that you care and you are willing to give a fraction of your time during the busiest time of the holiday season, and that is enough reason to make someone else laugh, smile and feel loved.

Do you still need more reason?

To make cards and to give them away  is simply because its Christmas! and who doesn’t want to feel loved this time? I have learned this mantra : You cannot give what you don’t have.

Have a little love, have a little artwork, spread a lasting impression!

“There’s something about the tactile nature of receiving a card,” says Shelley Patenaude, product manager for season cards. “It says that someone cared enough to pick out a card just for you, hand-write a note, and place it in the mail or deliver it by hand. Unlike a message that shows up on your computer or mobile phone, greeting cards make a lasting impression. You can display a card on your mantle for all to see or keep it forever as a memento. And with the hustle and bustle of the season, a greeting card provides that moment of peace that’s just between the sender and the recipient.”

Do you like to send someone a card this Christmas?

If you like my designs of cards in photos above and you want to receive a FREE hand-made & personalized  Christmas card,just write your thoughts in the comments or you can email me at justbluedutch@gmail.com!

 

 

 

Feuillemort & Lessons from dried leaves

F e u i l l e m o r t

(adj.)  Having the colour of a faded leaf.

French- feuille morte a dead leaf

Earlier today , I’ve learned something deep from simply looking at the bunch of brownish-coppery shades of dried leaves,  it’s Feuillemort. Looking at the trees around me, I watched the dried leaves  falling one by one to the ground with a gentle sway of the wind.  In a rhythmic motion, they dance to the call of gravity. It’s the call of the hour. It struck me as Letting go.

What if the trees itself refuses to let go of its dried leaves during fall ? What difference does it make?

Letting go makes room for growth.

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Autumn is the season of letting go, letting go enables us to grow.

A time to toss the clutter, the insignificant “part”of our lives that blocks us from growing.

I admit that I have the feeling restlessness these past weeks. Being in a new place with so many new things around me, sometimes my body & my mind refuses to comprehend.Transition takes time. Integrating on a new culture is a pain in the ass.

Do you know how hard it is when you can’t say what you want to say?  It’s like being in a bubble. You feel trapped. On the other hand, this momentary  black hole gives me time to reflect, to listen to myself. A time to change.

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Letting go gives us a given benefit, the means to focus more on our core–on what really matters to us.What matters to you the most?

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For us, it’s not leaves. It’s dried up love. Crumpled relationships. Shriveled plans. Browning dreams. Something’s died, and we have a choice: will we hold on to it, season after season, while it saps our energy, stunts our growth, and strangles our beauty?

I decided not to.

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Expats are known for packing their luggage. Sometimes ‘living out from suitcases & boxes’. We roam around and travel like nomads looking for greener pastures. Off to next destination. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of packing the “dried leaves” from our past so in the present, it’s still with us. You can change places, but you ‘re still  “unchanged” within. What is your color?

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I hope you find inspiration from the dried leaves as I did today. Let’s take a lesson from the trees, from autumn, and let that old, unhelpful stuff in our hearts fall away. Trees don’t choose to let go, but we can. Any season of the year.

Focus on letting go of negative thoughts, letting go of patterns of behaviour which do not help you, letting go of doing things you think you should but don’t really want to…

Let go of that which you no longer need and give yourself permission to nurture yourself.

Let go.

Are you having a hard time to let go ?

Do you find time to reflect and meditate?

 

 

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Why do you love watching Sunrise & Sunsets?

 

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Arabian Gulf Sunset ,never the same,always fascinating.

T H E   B E A U T Y   O F  A   S U N S E T

Are you an early riser? a nature lover?

Do you make an effort to wake up early just to watch the sun rises?

When was the last time you let your eyes wander at the changing palette of the skies when the sun sets?

“Someday you will find the one who will watch every sunrise with you until the sunset of your life.”

Personally, I think that you don’t need to be a romantic or a poet to be able to appreciate the magic of watching the sunrise & sunsets. This is one of the most amazing things in our world that we can appreciate everyday, the best things is- It is  FREE!  Life gives us a wonderful slideshow of beautiful nature that is displayed for all of us to see.

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One of my favorite Dusk photo of Kuwait,watching the sun sets 

“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.”

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The beauty of Sunset in Philippines  is also incomparable

“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.” ~Mohandas Gandhi 

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Changing colors of the Sky..Nature’s palette.

Many times that I felt like my eyes are filled with worries about life, I try to watch a sunset and suddenly my mood changes.  It’s a proven mood booster. Then I make it a habit to appreciate the sunrise every morning and gaze with a grateful heart at the sunset at the end of the day. I promise to myself that whenever possible, if I have a chance, then I strive to be an agile sun chaser. I should know where to find the sunrise and sunset times and note how the sky looks at those times, at least once. One of the things that I do whenever I am in a new place is to watch how the sun rises or catch a sunset. It’s the perfect souvenir I am taking in.Watching the sun sets relaxes me and it gives me enough inspiration, enough reason to be grateful to end a healthy day & look forward for another day. Living as an Expat allows me to see different horizons where in the sun creates a natural painting that no artist can ever replicate. If you would check out my camera roll, photos of sunrise and sunsets are abundant. It really become my most favorite subject for photography.

Nowadays that we live in a smartphone era, it is very hard to take away our eyes from our phone that we neglect the beauty that readily awaits for us to see. May your busyness leads you to right vistas, to lasting beauty of sunrise and sunset.

“If your eyes are blinded with your worries, you cannot see the beauty of the sunset.”

~Jiddu Krishnamurti 

Where was the last time you watch the sunrise or the sun sets?

Any thoughts about this post? I would appreciate your comments and your share of your own sunrise/sunset moments! Thank you for dropping to read.

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Why do you need to own Less Clothes?

How many of you owns more than 7 pairs of Jeans ? and how many of those pairs do you wear regularly?How many of you owns couple of dozen of blouses ? and shirts ? or jackets ? Or do you have any piece of clothing that has been sitting in your wardrobe for so long that you actually forgot that you have it? Does it still have a price tag on it?

If you have new clothes that you bought since last year and haven’t worn yet, then you just Own too much clothes. Really! Toss it!

Have you taken a closer look at your closet ? What do you feel when you see those piles of clothing ? Do you have a hard time dressing up in the morning because you just cannot decide which one to wear ? If you would take an account of how much money you spent on your clothing, would it make a difference to how you feel if it could have been a chunk of your savings? These questions are all elementary and only you know and see how your wardrobe looks like .

Lately, this is the reason why I am so inspired by the thought behind Simplicity to create a Life. If you want to have big changes in your Life, you need to start making small changes. In your habits, lifestyle, & routines on a daily basis. Things doesn’t happen overnight. So i decided to have small steps, starting on one of our basic needs, Clothing.

We, as women are notorious on this . I know for most of us that shopping for clothes is a happy theraphy. In our mind,  we don’t need justification why we own too much clothes…well at least not until you really have a lifestyle check. If you really look deeper on it, owning less clothes doesnt mean that you will have a better life ,No. Its just mean that you can have focus on creating yourself a Life that is less complicated .

“We don’t remove the clutter, reduce the stress, and boycott the busyness to have a simple life. We do it to have a life.When you simplify your wardrobe, you have the freedom to wear clothes that fit you and your lifestyle.” -Courtney Carver of  Be More with Less

When we are constantly defeated by not being simple enough, or decluttered enough, we lose sight of what are really after.

Being Frugal doesn’t mean that you Own Less Clothes 

Do you really need to get the new arrival trends every season?

You do NOT own less clothes in order to become a minimalist. You do that because when you have less stuff, it means more money for worthwhile things. It could be clothes or anything else that is more meaningful to you like Travel, Education, or maybe an investment.

We all know that our self- worth is not measured by the clothes that we wear . High quality and branded clothes can make us feel good, look good and be more confident. It’s human nature. So, why do they need you to go against your nature and complicate simple living? Bottomline is, You shouldn’t buy excess items that are more than you actually need to wear.

H O W  to achieve this ?

1.One Item At a Time

You don’t have to do it all at once.

When you perceive decluttering as a huge bulk of tasks, then you’ll keep on procrastinating every time you see your extremely cluttered and disorganized closet. However, there is no reason to rush at all. Take a look at an example of a Doable strategy in owning less clothes by  Colleen’s approach at 365 Less Things.

Her decluttering philosophy is to LET GO of one item everyday, so that by the end of the year you own 365 less items. It doesn’t sound so heavy right ? Instead of ONE TIME boxing all your clothes and sorting what you actually need.

2. Give it away with a Purpose. Donate.

For new Mamas like me , here’s what I have learned. If you have a baby and have incurred so much Baby clothes and stuff and eventually your child have outgrown it, what do you do with it ? If you had another child then its ok but even then, how do you deal with the full closets & storage?

Donate or Give it Away to someone you know who have a child that could use it . Maybe your friends are shy enough to ask so initiating is always a good way to create deeper connections.Three fourths of my Baby’s wardrobe from birth are all second-hand used clothing and given by my friend. I thought that Its a very grand gesture  and until now I am grateful for it. Those clothes serves another purpose than being in a storage for years.I continue this by giving away & donating the clothes that my baby have outgrown to another friend. I let the chain continues.Kindness begets kindness. It built a deeper connection in my friendships and allow us to focus our expenditures on other baby’s needs.

You can check in your local community to give away your old clothes. ( It means that they are still in good condition ) Or if you knew someone whom to give it then don’t hesitate to donate it . I tell you, they would appreciate what you did.

Another source of Inspiration is Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist  shares the following compelling reasons to own less clothes:

  • You would have more disposable income.
  • You would have more time to live your life.
  • Mornings would feature less stress.
  • Your closets would be well-organized and uncluttered.
  • Packing for trips/vacations would take less time.
  • Laundry days would be easier (not necessarily less, but definitely easier).

If it doesnt sound appealing to you or you haven’t thought of this, then i leave you with this ;

If it doesn’t spark joy – Discard it.

How does the idea of owning less clothes appeal to you?
 

Should you splurge on your kid’s birthday party?

What’s your plan for your child’s first birthday celebration ? Are you going to throw a big party or not ?

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Natalie’s Hungry caterpillar cake

My daughter just turned the Big 1 (ONE)  and just like you, I was in the same boat of this dilemma. I was looking forward to it …months away !! I have everything thought of . I have it all in my mind . But this post is not about party planning. This is actually the post-birthday lessons. Very important lessons that  I wanna share with you especially for the first time & eager mamas. Her 1st Birthday was an awesome experience for all of us  but I have thing or two to ponder. Maybe your parenting style is different, or your preferences are totally not same as mine.It’s Okay.  But I know in the end, you, as the parent will eventually  reflect on how swift the childhood days went off and evaluate your own actions on parenthood.

Here are the 5 things I have learned about my Daughter’s 1st Birthday Party :

1.Take it Easy 

I have learned to Really Take it Easy .

With the ever present social media  trends nowadays , parents always faced this dilemma. Everyone knows that we  we always want the best for our children . If you check Pinterest you will see these  jaw-dropping , almost perfect birthday party ideas that could leave you in a trance . You will hear yourself saying “I want this for my child “or “How much would it cost to throw a party as good as this ?” It’s very common to see parents nowadays  doing the ever merry-go-round hustle and bustle of giving a lavish party for their kids, especially for their child’s 1st Birthday . It is so special that starting  from your child’s themed party invitations & outfits , children’s snacks,  party favors, giant cakes, balloons & confettis, Venue and decors, plus the sound systems, games,  photoshoots, clowns & programs and things such as these could leave parents totally exhausted &  overwhelmed.  Even stressed out completely. I knew this feeling. I was feeling like this.

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My daughter’s Hungry Caterpillar Smash Cake

But Hey guys , Take it Easy ! Slow down , this is not a wedding! I mean , your one year old doesn’t even know  if you scored it all from a Bargain shop or that her cake is made with white fondant  with marzipan filling and that her smash cake is sugar-free! My daughter doesn’t care about it! She was too busy playing with the ceramic frog in the garden and splashing herself in the fountain to notice how pretty she look in her Tutu dress. She just fiddling on it,playing, eating it. She kinda love the feel of it her mouth. Who feels the satisfaction ? Isn’t it you Mama ?

I wanted to have a great “Smash Cake moment ” captured on video.

The sugar-free pink cake is scattered all over her, on her hair, on her face. Her nose is almost full of it that she screamed and get cranky. Did I have a nice video out of it ?The answer is NO. I was constantly wiping her nose. She doesn’t want to sit in her high chair  anymore. Maybe she was overwhelmed by the size of the smash cake in front of her …or we haven’t taught her how to smash the cake eh ? Who ate the rest of the smash cake ? It was hibernating in our fridge for 2 weeks .

2.Family First 

I have learned that 1st Birthdays should be Family  thing.

I am not against Birthday party celebrations, in fact,  I LOVE Birthday parties. When I had my daughter, I appreciate it even more. Birthdays are all time Family First thing. It should be like that . It should be an occasion that family bonds, and celebrate. The time when your child turns one becomes an important milestone , both for your child & you as the parent .It’s like, Yeeeaahh !!! we survive the first year!  With all the sacrifices & hardwork involved. This is the time you reflect on the past year as a swift ride where in you managed to adjust from sleep deprivation, work, career, family life and parenthood. It’s about you, your child’s happiness & your spouse that really matters in the end.

If you are an Expat parent like me, then it would be crazy to throw a big party. We live in Kuwait & I don’t have much family or friends living in the same area as we are . You can still enjoy this day with the people that really matters with you and wants to share the memories with your child .You don’t need to invite your whole neighborhood .

3.Image and Perception is really Nothing

I have learned that Thinking about what others think about you is a total waste of time.

Parents should be very careful not to be driven with the sole purpose of throwing a party because of what we perceived as Show- Off Syndrome . This is so true . It’s the  underlying factor that led parents to throw a “Better “or ” More Grand “party  to create an impression of being ” well-off,”  or “ living the good life” image . This is one of the reasons why children have the notion of anticipating that they can have the same  as others. They tend to ask for more from their parents based on  what they have seen from  their friends , classmates , and media influences . Its so easy to succumb to the consumer mentality of our society . For parents, we should make sure not to neglect this. Other than your child’s happiness , you should not even do things just to impress others . Remember ,every penny that you spent splurging on your child’s birthday party is spent only for yourself & pleasing your guests , your one-year old child doesn’t know anything nor she will  remember it .

4.Lifestyle Check

I have learned to Live within your means and be wise .

If you have the money to spend on a lavish birthday party for your child , Yeah Ok , You go Mama! Some parents think that their child will only turn 1 once, so splurging is never a problem .Sky is the limit. I think then its fine , I don’t see any problem on this .It’s your own personal choice. But on  lifestyle check,  would you rather splurge on a grand Birthday party knowing you have debts to pay ? or that your other kid’s tuition fees are due, or worse , you have arrears from your credit card bill ?  Does it really make sense to have a loan just to impress your whole clan & your guests ? Really , nobody cares ! At the end of the day , your child ‘s well being will be your priority . Had she been stressed out from that hours of noisy party , or that she was too exhausted to smile on photo shoots with her cute tutu dress that you wore her ? Parents should be  very careful in how they go about these birthday bashes , especially on the expenses involved . We should be thinking of alternative and cheaper ways to celebrate birthdays without smashing our  budget . A growing child is expensive and we need to be practical and save more for bigger things  like her Education , Travel etc . These savings can then be used to reward your child further down the track, when they are able to enjoy it.

5.Get over the guilt 

Finally , I have learned to just let go of guilt feelings .

Get over the guilt and try to have FUN even without a big party . As parents , remind yourself that you are not ruining your child’s life  and the memories for years to come with the decision you have made. Stick to the best choices for your family and in the end, everything else will fall into place. Provide your child with the best gift you could ever give  that nobody could ever question you ,let alone your conscience.

What makes a 1st Birthday a day to remember ? If you ask any child about her memories of a birthday party ,what’s the first thing she could recall ?

For me , I should say  :  Stress-free and happy parents , lots of Love , and of course , A CAKE !!! because Hey , It’s a cake !

I wish you all the best on your child’s  1st birthday .

 I am hoping that through this post you got some inspiration. To learn to become wise parents that sets as a good example to your child .

Have fun & don’t forget to smile in the camera !

How about you, how do you celebrate Birthdays in your country?