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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

West Michigan's Finest (Ladies & Crafters)

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Perhaps you got some rest or were finally able to tackle one of the items on the ever-growing to-do list every modern woman has.

I had the distinct pleasure of doing both at the same time on Saturday morning, when I attended my first Etsy West Michigan (EtsyWMI team) coffee social. This terrific group of women re-charged my batteries with their abundant creativity, dazzling humor, and encouragement! AND they shared secrets of the (web) universe with me to help me in my own Etsy shop endeavors!

Sure, I came away with an even longer to-do list, but they were all tasks that should leave my little shop more exposed to what the universe has to offer (not to mention exposing others to my cool creations) so I couldn't be more jazzed! I learned more in that couple of hours about growing one's craft business than I had in months of online research! I also learned what amazing things women can do when they put their hearts and minds together!

I'm already looking forward to meeting up with the gals next month, and feel so blessed to be part of such a wonderful tribe! Having told you about what a delight it was to spend time with these women, I feel I would genuinely be doing you a disservice by not sharing them and their creations with you, so here they are):

From left, standing: Ginny, LaShelle, Barbara, Jesse Lin, Cathy*, & ME! ;)
From left, sitting: Harriet*, Amy, & Julie

Ginny, New Leaf Designs (art to decorate you and your home at
LaShelle, Butterfly Heavens (assorted creations--let your imagination take you away at
Barb, Barbara's Quilts (quilts and quilted gifts for the generations at
Jessee Lin, Jessee Lin's Jewelry Box (high-quality, unique and vintage jewelry at
*Cathy, Just Jaynes (modern and simple sterling silver jewelry at

*Harriet, That is So Cute (handknits, felted & more; handmade without the work at
Amy, Perennial Piecer (unique jackets, shirts, and bookmarks at
Julie, Celebrate Today (hand-stamped, personalized jewelry at

*Cathy (Just Jaynes) & Harriet (That is so Cute) are our awesome team leaders! They work regularly to keep us all in touch via forums, set up group treasuries, and keep our team blog ( up-to-date. Because of their dedication to excellence in their individual crafts and for 'paying it forward' to those just learning the ropes and new to the Etsy community, these two terrific women are today's Angels of the Day!

I hope you get a chance to check out each of these amazing & unique women & their creations!

Live with gratitude & seize the day!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Angel of the Day: Christine Annette, generous blogger

Today's Angel of the Day is the fabulous Christine Annette. Why is she so fabulous? Let me count the ways:

First, Christine's blog, Old Photo Album, at features one of the most unique selection of genuine vintage photos on the web, and she shares all of them for FREE! She asks only that the images not be compiled and sold, but otherwise gives complete artistic freedom of use! My personal faves are her photos of fabulous women of a by-gone era. Her site has a veritable cornucopia of grand dames, and includes themes perfect for every season. For other interests, though, Christine's blog also includes vintage playing cards, floral postcards, & other illustrations. I personally love using the quirky lady photos in cards with interesting quotes. What will you dream up with Christine's free images?

Secondly, Christine has started another blog, Friends Who Share, at as a meeting place for crafty ladies to share graphics, recipes, crafts, decor ideas, and more! What a great idea! The site includes listings of freebies and giveaways as well as links to other crafty & free graphic image sites. Well worth a visit!

Christine has also set up a blog for the sole purpose of helping blogger newbies set up and customize their blogs! She links to Graphics Fairy on this blog as well (another angel) and even offers a free blog header and installation help to those who utilize her assistance! This alone makes her worthy of angel status!

Lastly, if you're interested in beautiful, unique blog designs or housewares, you might also want to drop by Christine Annette Designs, at I would describe her style as shabby Parisian glam, but see for yourself.

In each of her blogging endeavors, it's clear that Christine Annette has made a priority of reaching out to kindred spirits in the artisan community & helping them on their way. This truly makes her an angel!

Live with gratitude & seize the day!


Monday, February 22, 2010

A Joyous Monday (Oxymoron?)

Hello, my lovelies! Thanks for staying tuned despite my haitus at the end of last week. It was a week of mixed blessings, which brings to mind something I often overheard my father say as I was growing up: "Perception is reality." I was totally confounded by this statement for the better part of nearly three decades. It made no sense to me; after all, even if I thought something was navy, that didn't change the fact that most of the people around me saw it as a deep purple. Or if I thought a bale of hay was a giant shredded wheat, that didn't make it so.

I get it now! Our individual perceptions of the world define our individual realities. This is so amazing! How wonderful is it that we are never damned to a certain fate! If we can find the means to alter our perceptions of the world, we are empowered transform our own realities!

You may be thinking at this point, "Sure, Holly, that's great, but there is still the actual reality to deal with; most people are facing real obstacles and not just an issue of perception." I completely agree! But I'm not claiming that one's perception of reality changes her immediate circumstances (i.e. reality), but simply that being aware of and consciously changing her perceptions of herself and her circumstances gives her more options for a future reality.

Of course this is easier said than done, and it requires that the individual be at a crossroads where she has nothing left to lose, knows she desperately needs a change, or is just open to considering new world-views. But the great thing is that, for most people, this doesn't require years of therapy! ;) My experiences in social work have shown me that even individuals with deeply embedded negative views of themselves and/or the world can begin to change these harmful perceptions within a period of months if constantly exposed to positive people and experiences, and administered regular doses of acknowldegement for their existing personal strengths.

Now I'm well aware that some people are as prickly as hedgehogs, making it hard for us to get close enough to ascertain any kind of positive personal qualities. However, sometimes even their tough exteriors can be complimented as a strength. For example, does that sharp-tongued lady in your office have a keen eye for detail or a quick wit? What about the tough teenager? Does she have good street smarts/common sense that have gotten her through this far? Is she a good judge of character? Is she a survivor? Is she a compassionate care-taker for small siblings or an ailing family member?

What about you? Are you a courageous woman who escaped years of abuse at the hands of an individual or group of individuals who tried to make her believe they were more powerful? Are you the girl who bravely peels back the facade of her 'perfect life' and shares her personal imperfections with others so they can gain insight and avoid the pitfalls she didn't? Maybe you're the strong mom who, despite all the challenges, does all she can to give ensure her children know they always have a warm bed and a warm embrace waiting for them.

We all have a perception in at least one area of our lives that is hindering our reality. I challenge you (as I do myself!) to identify just one, assess it, and resolve to actively change it by whatever means are best suited (counseling, a talk with your mother, a talk with a girlfriend, chatting with a group of women, or even going out and doing your own research online or in a library). For instance, if you grew up somehow disadvantaged, find a biography on a person with a similar disadvantage who overcame the disadvantage and attained their desired reality.

The challenge to immediately follow that one is to reach out to another woman who may need help finding new 'rose-colored glasses' through which to see and alter her reality. Do so with love, empathy, and tenderness. Perhaps the person you help can find a way to pay it forward; your one act could change many lives--just imagine!

The Angel of the Day is Barbara Johnson, beloved public speaker on the Women of Faith tour, founder of Spatula Ministries, and author of countless books to heal a woman's soul. Barbara is an angel because she has devoted her life to improving the lives of other women, to opening their hearts and minds so they may experience the 'bright hope for a future' we need. I highly recommend her book "God's Most Precious Jewels are Crystallized Tears." It includes short accounts of the lives of many women who have used the pain and sorrow in their lives as a catalyst to encourage and heal others. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did!

Live with gratitude & seize the day!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Angel of the Day: Karen, AKA The Graphics & Background Fairy

It is very fitting that the first Angel of the Day being featured on my blog is Karen, AKA The Graphics Fairy, AKA The Background Fairy. This woman is every kind of amazing one can aspire to be!

I truly felt I had found the holy grail when, during my quest in spring 2009 for cool, unique vintage ephemera I stumbled upon The Graphics Fairy blog,! Never before had I seen so many beautiful, amazing things all featured (for FREE!) in one place! Karen's site is not just beautifully laid out, it's also user-friendly! No need to wade through every post to find just the type of image you're looking for; she has a handy link guide where you can choose a specific category, such as 'women' or even by occasion, such as 'anniversary'.

Personally, though, I have to admit it's well worth spending the time to go through her entire blog history! She has a natural, easy way of articulating things, and every image she posts is gorgeous! Her site is where I downloaded the majority of my own images! When people ask me where to obtain cool vintage images like those featured in my pieces, I always advise them to start with The Graphics Fairy blog!

Not only does Karen provide fabulous & free vintage images for other artists to use in their work, she also provides a platform upon which artists can display their creations in her "Brag Mondays", where she features pieces made by her followers using her images. Brag Mondays are great source of inspiration, and typically include a tutorial as well for those interested in creating items in a similar vein.

Karen also sells her own gorgeous, vintage embellishment pieces on Etsy. At, you can purchase her wares to use in your OOAK pieces or to beautify your home; FABULOUS! Additionally, on her Background Fairy blog,, she provides (FREE!) backgrounds, headers, and tutorials for bloggers! True to her standards in her Etsy shop and Graphics Fairy blog, each and every thing offered there is a gem! My own background for this blog is one of hers.

Last but not least, Karen is an angel because she seeks not only to promote herself, but to promote other artisans and crafters as well. She features links to many other blogs, shops, and sites, including those offering content similar to her own. Her arms are open to the universe, and the universe is in turn blessing her richly with a loyal following. If you choose to become a follower, please pay it back and pay it forward; follow in Karen's footsteps by giving credit where credit is due and by helping others along the way. Viva la Graphics Fairy! God bless!

Live with gratitude & seize the day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Welcome to Uncommon Beauty!

Hello out there! I've set up this blog because I sincerely want to find kindred spirits in the world who can inspire me as I strive toward becoming a woman who can, in turn, inspire others. I want to build connections with other women and community-minded folks who share my desire to improve the world by simply getting out in it, living the way we want to be remembered, and giving what we can when we can, be it a word of inspiration, a beautiful creation, or simply a listening ear.

I want this blog to be a place where people who desire to be the salt and light of the earth can come and radiate warmth and joy to others who may need just that.

I also want this blog to be a place to recognize those who have brought joy into the world in the simplest ways on a daily basis. To start the ball rolling with that, I intend to feature an 'angel' each day. Initially these will be the bloggers whose selfless giving has provided me with inspiration and ephemera for my own artistic designs.

I believe every single person in this world has extraordinary potential that may be unlocked by something as simple as one aptly-timed word or act by another. I believe there is a place for compassion and a place for humor in each and every day of our lives. I believe most of us need at least a small push to "unplug" from our jobs, our electronic devices, and our own worries, but that in doing so we make connections with others in the world that end up inspiring or forcing us to move toward the greatest versions of ourselves.

Live with gratitude & seize the day!