Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 in Review

January: After years of kind people complimenting me on both my writing, quilts and other artworks, I decided to look into starting my own business. My husband, in turn, considered the start up process (aka, $$$) and decided to look into buying antacid by the case.

February: "Julie Clark Art" launched. More like a paper airplane than a jet, but, hey, you've got to start somewhere, right?

March: This blog came to life. Well, kind of. It's sort of my middle child; it needs more attention than I seem to give it. Poor thing.

April: Ok, it's fess up time. I'm sure something earth shattering happened during this month, but I'll be darned if I can remember a lick of it. I can blame it on age, having a teen, or all sorts of things. Then again, it could simply be that April was a quiet month. And I'm ok with that. Sometimes, excitement is just that. Others, it's a migraine waiting to happen, right?

May: Mr. FruFru turned two. I still can't believe we have a dog in the house. Neither can some friends who swear he's really a cat trapped in a dog's body. I think they might be onto something...

June: "Asperger's in Pink" was published (Future Horizons 2010). I continued to be humbled by the support, and encourage everyone to share their stories! We can only learn and grow if we chose to share and truly listen to one another.

July: Another 4th of July. Another night K prayed for rain so fireworks would be canceled anywhere within earshot. We've given up on expecting anyone to understand her aversion to them.

August: K started high school. So did another "Meet Asperger's" conference with her teaching team. *sigh*

September: After months of kicking and screaming, I signed up for Twitter. For a wordy person, such as myself, it's become somewhat of a cerebral challenge. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it, especially in 140 characters or less. Which this isn't.

October: I attended Future Horizons SuperConference in Charlotte, which was nothing short of incredible! It was also my first book signing, where I met several wonderful people. And, of course, out of respect for K, I didn't wear any shirts with buttons.

November: Guess who learned what a head ga$ket is, and how much it co$t$ to repair? I al$o learned that the initial diagnosi$ can be wrong, and $till co$t the $ame to fix. Nothing say$, "Happy Holiday$" like $pringing for an unexpected car repair... (That remind$ me, I need to ask $anta to $lap a bow on the hood Christmas Eve.)

December: December's story has yet to be written. And I like it that way. There's something to be said for "hope" and "promise". And for a year full of high's and low's, I'm hoping December will be filled with high notes.

Not just for me and my family, but for you, as well! Thank you for stopping by, and being part of what's made 2010 such an exciting-in-a-good-way year! Cheers!

Friday, December 10, 2010

On Christmas and Holiday Newsletters

It’s that time of year again. And even with the changes from paper holiday cards to ecards, one constant remains. The newsletter.

Or should I say... “The Longwinded Personal Diaries Released En Masse in December”?

Years back, we had a designated letter writer for my extended family. Part news, part cringe, 100% mimeographed. After all, nothing screams Christmas like faded purple ink on white paper. But being a kid, not only did I have the bliss of not having to read it – I didn’t even have to pretend to know what was in it!

Ah, those were the days…

But now, I’m an adult. At least that’s what the calendar says. And my husband and I get the honor of lugging them from the mailbox, into the house, directly to the “library.” I mean, really, if every kid on the planet made the Dean’s list, then we probably wouldn’t be in the economic position we’re in now, would we? And about the 4,682 bags of leaves sitting on the curb... Talking about gripping statistics!

Or is it “griping statistics”?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some friends whose letters we miss when they don’t write them. In fact, we pleaded one family to send theirs out this year. Why, you ask? (Oh, you didn’t ask? No problem, I’ll tell anyway.) They are hysterical. And, above all else, they are real.

I mean, who hasn’t seen a kid give her sibling’s bangs an impromptu buzz cut? Or dumped fuchsia nail polish all over the newly installed carpet?

Or the dog?

And about that word, “camp”, when 19 year-old Johnny goes there unexpectedly in March, what kind of “camp” is it, exactly? Hmm…

Ahh, the things you’d really rather read in family newsletters. Oh, the things that will never find their way to print! But, oh, how delicious they would be if they did…

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Funny Thing About Soap Making

Like so many people, I’m having a handmade Holiday this year. And it’s not all about the budget (although it doesn’t hurt, either!). As this is the first year I’ve started making a living writing and selling things I design and make, it just seemed, well, odd and a little hypocritical if all of the gifts coming from our home came from a big box store.

But like many other artisans and most other families, December is crammed tighter than Santa’s sack. And, of course, I decided on this idea after Thanksgiving.

Of all places, I got the project idea, Pantry Soaps from a mass email from Martha – yes – Stewart Living. No, not soap from scratch. Well, not this year, anyway. (Anyone familiar with my shop knows I’ll try almost anything.) This process is called melt and pour. You buy a block of soap base, melt it, add in whatever, and pour. Not only was it easy, it was fun, and a heck of a lot easier than baking. I used their ideas and made soaps with oatmeal, honey and spices. But, true to who I am, I also made my own versions, including vanilla mint (which, by the way, makes the clear soap have an amber hue) and one I call “oatmeal cookie”. All add-ins were items I already have in the kitchen.
But after the soap was set and cooling, there was a mess greeting me by the microwave. Oh, was there mess! A mess that I left sitting on the counter all night long, still not knowing how I was going to clean it up.

Then it dawned on me.

This is soap. You wash with it. It dissolves in water.

Like it's supposed to do.


Is time tight, and are you looking for handmade soaps to buy? You won’t see them in my shop, but these fellow artisans, as well as many others, do make and carry them: E-Scentual Creations, Soapsmith Bonnie Bartley, and AJ Sweet Soap.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Already?

In the early morning rush as I grabbed my phone to check the time, I couldn't believe my eyes. Right there in front of me were the characters: Dec 1.

December? Already?

Sure, the lights are up around the neighborhood. Gift lists are long and money short. (Who knew a blown head gasket would make for such an unexpected and lavish "gift" for my husband and me this year? As they say, timing IS everything.) And don't even get me started about trying to convince my teen that a "wish list" is not a "check list"...

Like many others, some of my gifts will be handmade this year. And, like many others, if I don't get going, they won't ever be finished, will they? Don't get me wrong, I love my job as a certified handmade artisan, but this is the first year I've found myself in my studio having to make sure I pull from my "personal fabric stash" (and we quilter's all have a fabric stash!), and not the "business fabric pile". And I need to schedule time to do that. And I need to get going.

Are you having a handmade holiday? Do you make it yourself, or have a favorite artisan small business or two you love, who have the perfect gift ideas? Feel free to stop by my JCA facebook page and post a link to the shop, or share your own handmade project ideas. Have any advice for this sensory-saturated time of year? Or concerns you’d love to throw out there, and reel in a suggestion or two? Post it on the “Asperger’s in Pink” facebook page. No doubt, times are tough. Let’s help each other through it.

~ Peace

All I ask is that links and content be relevant and family-friendly!