Archive | November, 2012

Stay Home Because You’re Well Day

Happy Stay Home Because You’re Well Day!

November 30 is a day devoted to YOU. Do you feel ok? Better than ok? Are you at 100 percent – physically, mentally and emotionally? If you answered yes to these questions, take the day off! Staying home to relax with a good book, catch up on housework or sleep or do absolutely nothing is so much better than staying at home with a fever and stuffed up nose while burying yourself under a tissue-covered blanket.

Everyone needs a day off every now and then (not just when we’re sick), and most of us deserve it. So take advantage and call in “well!” Yes, that’s right: the catch of this brilliant holiday is that you can’t call in with a fake illness. Be honest with your employer and let them know that you’re staying home because you’re well.

Caution: You might not want to celebrate this holiday if you don’t think it will go over well with the bosses. We understand that it’s probably not worth the impending unemployment.

Note: Stay Home Because You’re Well Day is copyrighted by Wellcat.

Sources: wellcat.com, holidayinsights.com, theultimateholidaysite.com
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Square Dance Day

Happy Square Dance Day!

November 29 is the perfect day to grab a partner and head out for a night of square dancing! So maybe it seems a little silly, possibly outdated, but square dancing is a fun way to get some exercise and meet new people, since it involves switching partners, as announced by the square dance caller.

Click here to learn a few square dance steps before you hit the dance floor!

Sources: holidayinsights.com, theultimateholidaysite.com
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Red Planet Day

Red Planet Day celebrates Mars, aka the Red Planet!

Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and our neighboring planet. Though this terrestrial planet has a cold, desert environment and an atmosphere that is too thin for any prolonged existence of water on its surface, Mars features seasons, weather, polar ice caps, volcanoes, and canyons – just like Earth.

Red Planet Day is celebrated on November 28 to commemorate the launch of the Spacecraft Mariner 4, launched on November 28, 1964. The Mariner 4 performed the first successful flyby of Mars and got close enough to Mars to capture photographs of the planet’s surface.

Celebrate Red Planet Day by learning more about Mars or watching some Red Planet-inspired films. You can also celebrate by speculating over the undisclosed findings discovered in a pinch of Martian soil gathered by the current Mars rover, Curiosity. Part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Mission, Curiosity (the most advanced rover yet) was launched to find out if Mars was once – or still is – an environment suitable for supporting life.

…the Mars Science Laboratory will collect Martian soil and rock samples and analyze them for organic compounds and environmental conditions that could have supported microbial life now or in the past. [...] The record of the planet’s climate and geology is essentially ‘written in the rocks and soil’ — in their formation, structure, and chemical composition.”

- mars.jpl.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/present/msl/

Learn more about Curiosity’s mission at NASA’s website.

Sources: Holiday Insights, Wikipedia, Mars Exploration Program, Solar System Exploration, The New York Times

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Jimi Hendrix’s Birthday

November 27, 2012 is Jimi Hendrix’s 70th birthday!

An American musician, singer, and songwriter, Hendrix (Nov. 27, 1942 – Sept. 18 1970) was an innovative and, some say, the greatest electric guitarist in the history of popular music and one of the most important and influential musicians of the 20th century.

Jimi Hendrix surmounted racial and cultural barriers in America and Great Britain at a time when youth culture, pop music, and society were radically changing. One of the most innovative musicians of the 20th century, Hendrix continues to influence an ever-increasing number of musicians, artists, and fans in the 21st century.”

- Jacob McMurray, Senior Curator for the EMP Museum in Seattle

To commemorate Hendrix’s 70th birthday, the EMP Museum opened the “Hear My Train A Comin’: Hendrix Hits London” exhibit on November 17. The exhibit focuses on Hendrix’s rise to fame in the UK while in London from September 1966 to June 1967 when he returned home to become an international sensation after performing at the Monterey Pop Festival in California. Get a sneak peak at some of the items on exhibit at the Huffington Post’s coverage of the Hendrix exhibit.

If you live in Seattle or are planning a trip there soon, check out the exhibit in celebration of Jimi’s birthday! You can also celebrate by listening to your favorite Hendrix music or dressing up in Hendrix fashion.

Sources: Wikipedia, Hennemusic.com, Ultimateclassicrock.com

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Interview with Mary Engelbreit

In 1977, Mary Engelbreit took her portfolio to New York and received a suggestion from one art director that she try illustrating greeting cards. Mary took the advice and quickly found that the single-frame illustrations for greeting cards were ideal for her style and sense of humor. Once Mary focused her talent on greeting cards, success came quickly. Today, thousands of retailers sell Mary Engelbreit calendars, T-shirts, mugs, gift books, rubber stamps, ceramic figurines, and many other  products to her countless fans.

Be sure to read our heartwarming story about a customer and how much Mary Engelbreit’s work meant to her and her mother.

See all of the 2013 options in Mary Engelbreit’s calendar line.

What was the first picture you drew?
I drew a picture of my parents when they were all dressed up to go out one night — I was so impressed with their finery I had to get it down on paper!

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Probably from that moment! Really, as long as I can remember.

Is Ann Estelle a fictional character or is she based on a real person?
Her personality is based on me, but I named her after my maternal
grandmother.

How do you pick the quotes to go along with your art?
Before I settle down to do a calendar or a big batch of greeting cards, I take a couple of evenings to go through my quote books and/or troll the Internet quotation sites for quotes that really inspire me.

What inspires you?
Daily, everyday life inspires me, the situations that we all find ourselves in at one time or another.

What are a few of your favorite pieces of art that you’ve drawn over the years? Why?
I always tend to like the drawing I’m working on at the moment, but I do have some favorites. “Life Is Just A Chair Of Bowlies” is one of them. I also really like a calendar drawing from a couple of years ago– “The World Is Full Of Cactus”, and another called “Must. Change. Attitude.”

What do you like best about being an artist?
Just being able to express myself and reach so many other people by doing so is really great!

Do you draw all new art for your calendars each year?
Yes, I do, although I do have help coloring them all in. If I had to color in all those skies by myself, I think I would pack it in.

What is your family life like?
Chaotic, fun, frustrating — just like everybody else’s.

Do you own a Scottie dog?
No, we have a half shitzu, half poodle, all cute little puppy who goes everywhere with us, named Sophie.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to embroider all manner of things, and I read quite a lot, mainly mysteries and fiction.

How long does it take you to complete a new piece of art?
I would say a calendar drawing takes anywhere from 10 to 15 hours depending on how detailed it is.

Does the décor of your house resemble your artwork? Do you have cherries and fried egg flowers throughout your house?
I don’t anymore, although I used to. Our house now is very light, done mainly in yellows and oranges, and it’s a lot less cluttered than my earlier homes.

Do you ever get tired of drawing?
Never.

Which artist do you admire most?
I love William Joyce, Lizbeth Zwerger, Johnny Gruelle, Arthur Rackham — I could go on and on!

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Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday, a term coined by Shop.org, is the Monday following Thanksgiving. Think of it as the online version of Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, when retailers mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season with sales, clearances and special promotions. On Cyber Monday, online retailers kick off the online holiday shopping season with special promotions.

So if you want to beat the Black Friday crowds, wait a couple more days for Cyber Monday and finish all your Christmas shopping right at home!

Happy shopping!

 

Sources: shop.org, retail.about.com
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An Interview with Shelly Reeves Smith

 

Shelly Reeves Smith began her career in 1988 when she and a friend co-founded a greeting card company, Among Friends. Twenty years later, her illustrations of home and garden can be found on cards, stationery, books, gifts and home decor.

Smith lives in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri with her husband and son where her surroundings provide plenty of inspiration for her work. When she is not painting or spending time with her family, Smith dedicates her time to her bluegrass band, Lonesome Road.

Take a look at the Shelly Reeves Smith calendar line at Calendars.com.

Tell us about your musical talents and your band Lonesome Road.
I grew up in a musical family. My father, mother and brother all sing and play. During my high school and college years, I was fortunate to get a job performing at a country music show in my hometown in Missouri. I also met my husband through those music connections.
The Lonesome Road bluegrass band started in 1997 as a group of friends who enjoy playing together. We all have full-time jobs, but we get together about once a month to perform at local and regional bluegrass events in the Midwest.  After 15 years we’re still going strong and having fun.

How does it inspire you?
As artists know, paintings need to have a place in them where the eye can “rest”. As a visual person, I guess I need that in my surroundings, too. Our little community in the country is the perfect place for that. We live in a farmhouse built in 1915. It’s surrounded by springs and creeks, fields and woods. My parents were both raised on farms, so I guess I’m naturally drawn to farmhouses and everything about them. Everyday things like tables and chairs, porches and windows, kitchen and garden tools can be so expressive. They, and the signs of our use on them, tell stories all by themselves.

What else provides inspiration for your art?
I’m inspired by my family, especially my son, Ison, who is now 2 ½. I also find endless inspiration when I study the Bible and when I read the work of talented people like Kerry Boone.

How long does it take you to complete a typical painting that appears in your calendars?
It takes me a couple weeks from start to finish…from concept, to pairing the idea with the verse, the rough sketch marked up for color, the final sketch, the finished watercolor painting, plus the verse and border art that accompanies it. Of course, that is if all goes as planned!

What makes watercolor your preferred medium?
I started out with colored pencil, but I like watercolor because it can be either soft or bold and it allows the painter to build up to brighter colors gradually. It also provides opportunity for “happy accidents” – like the unintentional splash of color that ends up looking purposeful. Unlike most other mediums, watercolor allows one to see through to the sketch beneath. That glimpse of the graphite sketch behind the color is charming to me.

Are they real places, or do they spring from your imagination?
I sure hope they are inviting. That is my goal. They are sort of an amalgam of real and imagined places, from either my current surrounding or from memories.

Do you begin a painting with a Bible verse in mind?
Yes, it is a big part of the equation. I have a little book that I keep with my Bible where I record verses that are meaningful. When making decisions about the calendars images, I usually look first to that book for inspiration.

Tell us how you work with Kerry Boone, who writes the sweet, secular verses that complement your art so perfectly.
Kerry is one of the kindest and most talented people I know. Because we are friends, we appreciate the same kinds of things – the simple life and the value of close relationships –so working with her is like working with a sister. She is a prolific writer with a large body of work from which to choose. We often select verses for the calendars from her existing work. At other times I’ll send her a sketch of calendar ideas for a certain year and ask her to either pull a line from work she has (that I haven’t seen yet) or write something specifically for those images. She always comes through with some little thought or phrase that takes my breath away.

Is your home as comfortable as the interiors we see in your artwork?
I want my home to be comfortable and enjoyable. It’s often easier to create that in a painting than in real life, but it’s always the goal.  For variety, I try to paint interiors in various decorating styles, but I always end up coming back to the traditional American style. I guess we’re drawn to what speaks to our hearts.

Are you a good cook?
I’m clumsy in the kitchen, so I’m not a natural cook. But I love to cook and I really enjoy painting images that involved good food and gatherings like in the cookbooks I designed with Roxie Kelley. While working in her restaurant and bakery while in college, I personally served and prepared most of the dishes in those first two books, so they were like old friends. I also learned a lot about baking and gracious entertaining from her. The most important part of meal preparation, however, I learned from my mother…simply love the people you’re serving. That’s something we all can do well!

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Ruby Shoots Oswald

On this day in 1963, Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who had been arrested for assassinating President John F. Kennedy two days before.

Ruby shot Oswald when he was being transferred to another jail. Because journalists, TV news reporters, and photographers were on the scene to report on the transfer, the shooting was broadcast on live television and witness by millions of viewers.

Though some people suspected that the two had actually been working together to assassinate Kennedy, the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson found no evidence that Ruby and Oswald were involved in such a conspiracy.

 

Sources: Wikipedia, America’s Story, The Library of Congress

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You’re Welcome Day

Happy You’re Welcome Day!

You’re Welcome Day is celebrated each year on the day after Thanksgiving, which makes sense, considering Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks. According to holidayinsights.com, You’re Welcome Day promotes good manners and encourages us to say the phrase “you’re welcome” when someone thanks us…because apparently the concept of “you’re welcome” is lost on society today, according to Salon.com columnist Matt Zoller Seitz. Read his struggle with accepting “No problem” as a replacement for “you’re welcome” here.

Use You’re Welcome Day to re-appreciate the importance of the phrase “you’re welcome.”  You could also conduct this little social experiment: take any opportunity you can to tell people “thank you” and see how they respond (and how polite or impolite society is today).

 

Sources: holidayinsights.com
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Black Friday

Now that the turkey and fixings have been gobbled, it’s time to come out of your food coma and kick off the holiday shopping season with the busiest shopping day of the year: Black Friday!

We hope you got enough to eat yesterday – you’ll need all the energy you can muster to fight the crowds for Black Friday deals. Luckily, we can buy pretty much anything online these days, so if you’re not up to facing long lines and crazy shoppers, you can find plenty of Black Friday deals online.

Don’t worry if you don’t get everything on your list in one day – you can look forward to more online deals on Cyber Monday (11/26)!

Before you head out, get shopping tips from experts and find out how to get the best bargains. However, with stores opening extra early this year – some stores opened as early as 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night! – you might find yourself changing your Black Friday shopping strategy.

And don’t worry if you miss out on Black Friday deals. Retailers will typically carry out the same or similar deals for the rest of the holiday shopping season.

 

Sources: Wikipedia, About.com, Huffington Post

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