Something I've done in the past and enjoyed is making homemade ornaments to gift for the holidays so I did it again this year when money was short and I wanted to make it special. I really like painting blown eggs but something new I came across this year at the farmers market were spinning gourds- super cute little gourds that are very much like bird house gourds. You can spin them like a top, hence the name, and cure them for decorating. I lined the gourds up on a windowsill (out of direct light, it's the window between our living room and the mudroom. I'm not sure what direct light would do to them) near our woodstove and once cured, a few months later, assigned sanding them with super fine sand paper to Jon. A tiny hole drilled through the top for thread and a nice paint job later and viola!

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Cured, sanded and painted gourd without base coat.
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With base coat.
Now the eggs take some prepwork too but it doesn't have to be all trial and error, I'll tell you the easiest method I've found so far for blowing out the insides. First, if you have a super handy husband that happens to have a set of these  http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=picks+tools&hl=en&rlz=1T4SNCA_enUS280US280&prmd=ivns&resnum=15&biw=1417&bih=664&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=6149079201643859505&sa=X&ei=I0IaTZKGH8Spngei1s2LDg&ved=0CHUQ8gIwAA# , borrow the little elbow one and a hammer. If your handy hubby doesn't have a set of these, buy one as a stocking stuffer and borrow the little elbow one and a hammer. Or just get yourself a set. Now, with the eggs still in the carton, lightly hammer a little hole in each end of the eggs. Straighten out half of a paperclip, poke it in a hole and stir it about to break up the yolk. Then, aiming over a bowl, use your mouth and literally blow the insides out. Tada! Don't waste the now nearly scrambled eggs! You could also aim over an ice cube tray blowing one egg per cube, freeze and store frozen in a ziplock for later use in baking.
Now, a quick word on eggs. I do not support large egg operations for many reasons so I simply refuse to just go to the store and buy the cheapest eggs to blow. That being said, it would make things simpler. Truly free range, healthy eggs are harder to blow simply because the whites are thicker and the yolks are far superior and hold together much better. The only real problem I ever run into is the little stringy white thing connected to the yolk getting stuck but really, it's a non-issue for me. Whatever type of eggs you use is up to you.


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So, onto decorating! I use multypurpose acrylics, glitter, ribbon, embroidery thread, metalic floss thread and hot glue. I've done snowmen, footballs (with forged autographs shhhhhh), penguins, pointsettias, clauddaughs, Santa's, and many others. This year, I'm trying to teach myself rosemaling. Unfortunately, also this year I'm working with a serious case of tendonitus in, of course, my right hand- because I'm right handed.
I used a cut up and re-taped tp roll for little holders while paint dried and tied the ribbons into bows before hot glueing to the top of the eggs. I also used a pencil to lightly draw out a design before painting some of the more complicated ones.
So here are some of this year's ornaments and I hope they inspire you!

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This is the only egg on which I painted a base coat.
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Rocky start 11/14/2010
 
I know that for the very few of you who have visited my blog, it seems to be pretty slow going, and it is. Not without good reason. I killed my laptop. And I injured my back which led me to some meds that leave me unable to blog coherently. So I'm just kind of taking it slow and doing what I can when I can. It will get better. Promise.
 
 
I know what you're thinking, now she's really lost it. Well let me tell you, I may be a bit unusual but when it comes to carb addiciton, I'm not alone. It's real and it's serious. And not just addiction to carbohydrates(including  high fructose corn syrup), even an addiction to aspartame is damaging. These very real addictions have destroyed health and had negative impacts on relationships, school, employment and social lives. Addictions to these foods can cause weight gain,  insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, mineral dificiencies, disruption of normal brain function and so much more.  I can't even get into the affects of aspartame without making this post much longer than you care to read.
So how do you know? Well, other than the obvious feeling of needing carbs, or artificially sweetened things, here's a list of possible signs of addiction according to Sober Recovery:

1. I get tired and/or hungry in the afternoon.
2. I feel lethargic after a meal.
3. I have a hard time stopping once I eat my favorite carb foods (starches, sweets, snacks).
4. When I feel stressed, my first response is to want to eat something.
5. I can’t live without my favorite carb foods.
6. I have a tendency to binge.
7. I frequently crave high-carb foods (sweets, pasta, bread etc.)
8. I am a compulsive eater. I wish I could control my eating.
9. I am overweight even though I don’t really eat that much.
Many consider addiction if you experience withdrawls.

 Here's an excerpt from the website for the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine;
"A hospital pharmacist with considerable knowledge about addictive substances and drug abuse wrote: "I have been a chronic user of diet drinks for years, and always joked that I was 'addicted' to aspartame. Recently, I decided to stop them, but I can't do it no matter how hard I try. When I'm not drinking these drinks, the people I work with and my family have all commented that I act as if I'm going through heroin withdrawal. I also experience many problems while drinking them, the most profound of which is joint pain""

I have personal experience with this. After smoking cigarettes for thirteen years, it took three attempts at quitting before I succeeded. That was EASY compared to how hard it was for me to quit cherry Pepsi. It took me about five attempts and even though I haven't had one for about a year, I still have a hard time resisting. I also have a hard time with sweet, bready things like sweet rolls, doughnuts and cookies. Give me just one and I will do almost anything for more, and more of anything carb-y, it doesn't have to be another cookie. I will get angry, irritable, quick tempered and downright unpleasant. I do not have experience with aspartame or other artificial sweeteners simply because I never cared for them.
Jon is currently going cold turkey after years of at least one liter of Mountain Dew a day. He described how he felt after two days by saying that he felt like his body was furious with him and that he felt like he was freaking out.
We've taken steps to reduce our carb intake naturally through a traditional foods diet but also by simply weeding them out. When I do sweeten something I use whole sugar like sucanat or rapadura, honey, real maple syrup and on occasion, stevia. I seldom bake but when I do, I try to use gluten free ingredients and properly prepared grains. The only junkfood we ever keep in the house anymore are organic blue corn totrtilla chips.

Here are some tips for breaking an addiction to carbs or aspartame:

1. Eat less but more often. Eat small meals or snacks containing some PROTEIN every few hours to keep blood-sugar levels steady.
Skipping meals causes blood sugar levels to drop, which leaves you yearning for processed carbohydrates and sweets for energy.
2. Be selective about the carbohydrates you eat. Avoid nutrient-stripped foods made of white flour, white rice, refined sugar and highly concentrated sweeteners. Look for foods rich in fiber such as fresh vegetables and fruits, which level off blood sugar.

3. Don't skimp on protein to 'make room' for large amounts of carbohydrates. Protein gives the body extended energy, helps balance blood sugar and keeps cravings at bay.

4. Limit your intake of alcohol, fruit juice and caffeinated drinks. These cause abrupt blood-sugar highs followed by troublesome blood-sugar lows, leaving you starved for energy.

5. Eat small portions of seasonal goodies AFTER protein-containing meals or snacks, if at all. If you eat sweets on an empty stomach, you'll experience blood-sugar lows that trigger the desire for more sweets.

6. Avoid becoming famished during shopping trips and while traveling. Carry protein-rich snacks such as soaked or sprouted nuts or hard-boiled pastured eggs. These high-power foods are great when you feel your energy drop.

7. Get enough sleep. When the body and mind are well-rested, cravings for carbohydrates often vanish.

Here are some more really great tips- http://www.firstourselves.org/2009/10-steps-to-control-sugar-cravings/

I find that such damaging and harmful substances are so widley available and accompany so much misinformation shameful. We wouldn't give our children crack now would we? But in so many ways, many of us do and don't even realize. Even if you consume these foods and beverages and don't believe that they are causing any harm, I encourage you to do your own research.  Here are some links to get you started:

http://www.healthiertalk.com/can-carbs-kill-you-hidden-danger-bread-pasta-and-rice-1796

http://www.squidoo.com/carbohydrateaddiction

http://www.carbohydrateaddicts.com/cadfnd.html

http://www.carbohydratescankill.com/

http://boingboing.net/2008/08/22/carbs-kill-cells-tha.html

http://ezinearticles.com/?Curbing-Your-Carbohydrate-Addiction&id=17522

http://charm.cs.uiuc.edu/users/jyelon/lowcarb.med/topic7.html

http://www.radiantrecovery.com/

http://www.zimbio.com/Be+Healthy/articles/agLh3CFOTvx/High+Fructose+Corn+Syrup+Addiction

http://conservationreport.com/2009/03/06/pepsi-natural-replaces-our-high-fructose-corn-syrup-addiction-with-our-sugar-addiction/

http://www.eskimo.com/~nanook/blog/2006/12/plague-of-high-fructose-corn-syrup.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/articles/2184.html

http://www.holistichelp.net/sugar-addiction.html

http://www.askmen.com/sports/foodcourt_150/153_eating_well.html

http://www.angelfire.com/az/sthurston/sugar_addiction.html

http://www.arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/articles/aspartame_addiction.html

http://www.321recipes.com/aspartame.html

http://www.dietdrinkaddiction.com/aspartame-withdrawal-symptoms-are-they-real/

http://www.ppnf.org/catalog/ppnf/index.htm

http://www.westonaprice.org/homeopathy/1606-shameful-sugar-cravings.html

http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/575-aspartame-diet-astrous-results.html