Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shopping for the Geeks in your Life: EV Holiday Gift Guide Series 2010

Let's face it Christmas shopping for the geeks in our lives is never easy.   Either are budgets are not big enough to accommodate the toys they are after or, like me, I am so far from being a geek that I haven't a clue what to get them.   Trying to make it personal with a handmade gift adds another challenge when trying to find the perfect gift for the geeks we love.

However there is hope, Tina and I researched and pulled together a list of gifts that are sure to please:

A few ideas for mainstream holiday gifts for geeks:
1.)  USB thumb/flash drives
2.)  Multiple gadget charging station for the techno geek
3.)  MP3 player with case
4.)  Noise canceling headphones
5.)  IPad

Handmade holiday gift giving is totally possible for the geeks in your life; check out the collection below that we curated on ArtFire.    These talented artists in this collection did a fabulous job of creating unique, but hip items for the geek.  

We hope you have found this, the first, in our series of Holiday Shopping Guides helpful. 
What challenges have you encountered when Christmas shopping for an individual?
Even better add your own suggestions for the perfect gift.
 Can't wait to read your stories and ideas...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Holiday Gift Shopping Tips

The holidays are upon us, if you haven't already you will soon begin the time honored tradition of gift giving. 
Are you someone who plans ahead or waits till the last minute?   Whatever end of the spectrum you are on or if you are somewhere in the middle, the following list is a great tool to make your shopping expeditions less chaotic and keep you within your budget.

Holiday Shopping Tips:

1.) Set a per person budget.  I have found that a per person budget works best to keep from overspending.

2.) Ask for a Christmas list.  Some of you are probably thinking this takes some of the magic out of it, but like me, you probably have at least one person on the list you have no idea what to get for them.  And let's face it in today's tight economy sometimes a practical gift is more appreciated than a whimsical gift.  No matter how much the person may like the whimsical gift.

3.)  Make a list of people you are shopping for.   There is nothing worse than getting home thinking you are done and find you forgot to buy a gift for someone.

4.)  Add to your list of people an idea of what you are looking for.  Don't forget to think of handmade items.  Handmade gifts add a personal touch to your gift giving.

5.)  Consider shopping online and avoiding the malls altogether.

6.)  Plan your shopping trip -- Group your gift list based on the different stores, categories, types of items you are looking for, then plan your route.  You will save a great deal of time this way.

7.)  Find a shopping buddy -- stores in general are crazy busy this time of year, it is easy to miss deals. With a shopping buddy you will cover more territory, saving you time and catching deals missed when shopping solo.

8.) Bring your own shopping bags --  not only is it environmentally friendly, they are easier to carry and keep track of.

9.)  Consider shopping for Handmade items online.  -- Yep, I am all for avoiding those malls and totally appreciate a handmade gift over a mall special.

10.)  Remember Yourself  ---  It may be the season of giving, but we all work hard and deserve to treat ourselves too.  Whether this be a large item or a small item, you are deserving and taking care of yourself allows you the energy and humor to care for others.

What great ideas do you have to help tame the holiday mayhem?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inspirational Lampwork Beads

At Entwined Vines, we draw inspiration from many areas of our lives.  One that is a constant for us are the different elements we use in our creations.  One of those elements is Lampwork Beads.

Lampwork Beads are a special type of glass bead that are created using a flame to melt glass.  This is an ancient technique,  you will find a brief history write up at http://www.artfire.com/users/EntwinedVines/blog
New link is http://entwinedvines.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/brief-history-of-lampwork-glass-beads/.

Lampworking involves using a steel mandrel to wrap the glass melting in a hot flame around it, to achieve the desired look, style, and size  you wish to create.  Once the artist has formed the bead to the desired look, there are several additional steps before the bead is used in creation.   Lampwork beads are kiln fired to start the annealing process.  While annealing creates a stronger glass bead, that is more durable and less prone to chipping, they are still glass beads and should be handled as such.  Once the kiln process is complete, understand that the beads are still on the steel mandrels.   They are then allowed to cool, before soaking them in water to soften the bead release agent.   At this point all that is left is filing and cleaning the holes. 

All Lampwork beads are handmade and as such create unique one-of-a-kind beads each and every time.  However, you have two types of one-of-a-kind lampwork beads.  You have the production lampwork beads you find in most bead stores and catalogs.  These are designs that are recreated as a production item, yes done by hand.  This doesn't make them any less valuable, simply not as unique as the second type.    Lampwork Artisan's  create unique individual pieces or small complimentary sets of usually about six beads total.  Using artisan created lampwork beads to create jewelry guarantee one of a kind wearable art.

While we are not currently creating our own lampwork beads, we love lampwork and work with both types.  We find the texture, shapes colors, look of each bead, inspires us to create stunningly unique pieces of jewelry. 

Below is a collection of lampwork jewelry from our studio, showcasing how versatile lampwork beads our.

We would love to hear what your favorite elements in jewelry is?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tips to relieve the Stress of the Holiday Season!

The holiday season is just around the corner, are you prepared?  No I am not talking about having your gifts bought, or your outfits for parties picked out.  I am talking about taking care of yourself, so that you can enjoy the holidays with little to no stress.   

Some of you are probably going what stress?  The holidays are times of good cheer and merriment with family and friends.  Yet, for many of us it is a time of stress, sensory overload, extended time and proximity to family, shopping, and I could go on, but the list would probably fill my entire blog post.  Which isn't the point.   

We each have our own stress triggers during this time of year, but do we all deal with the added stress in a healthy manner?   I know that for me personally it really depends on if I start early or not.   So this year I decided to start now, so the habits I try to maintain year round, will be firmly reinforced and in place before the holidays are in full swing.  

Tips to relieve holiday Stress and some of my reasoning behind them:

1.)  Don't be afraid to say NO to an invitation.
 "Gasp, from my readers"  Yes,  I say no to invitations during the holidays (actually all year round if truth be told, but that is a topic for  a different day).  The manners police isn't going to hunt you down for not accepting every invitation, that comes your way.

2.)  Schedule, quite time for yourself.  
Whether this is by yourself, with close friends or whatever.  Ok, I know it seems counter productive for me to suggest spending your quite time with friends, but we all have those friends whom don't cause us stress.  So spending time with them is peaceful in its own way.   Not sure what I mean?   Think about which friends you choose to spend your time through out the year.  The ones that if you received two voicemail message invitations, which one would be the yes without conscious thought. 

3.)  Get enough Sleep!!!
Stick as close to your normal sleeping pattern as possible, the Holiday Season is also cold and flu season, make staying healthy a priority.  I have been focusing on this one the last several years and last year I succeeded in making it through the entire holiday season without being ill.

4.)  Eat healthy!!!
No, I am not saying don't indulge in the holiday food fair, I like food too much to say that.  But by limiting the indulgence for the last several years, I have maintained my energy level and combined with number three  have stayed healthy during the holidays.

5.)  And my final tip Plan, Plan, Plan....
I am a planner by nature and I love lists, can't you tell...lol
By planning ahead for gifts, shopping, travel, accommodations, etc.   The holidays will run smoother and hopefully with less stress and annoyances.    I say hopefully because the holidays are a time of year where interacting with others seems to be more challenging and we can only control our own reactions, not how others will react.

I want to stress I am not a medical professional!  The tips listed above are ones that have worked of me in the past.   Some of them may or may not work for you.  I am sharing in hopes that it makes you stop and think about how you handle your stress during the holidays.

How do you manage the holiday season? 

Enjoy your holidays!   Remember, Life is an Adventure are You Living yours...