A Call for Holiday Recipes!

That’s right. I’m on the hunt for holiday recipes for inspiration.

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Three years ago, I found a fabulous paper created by the Mr.Boddington’s crew and was immediately inspired. I used that paper to design my Hanukkah Latke’s recipe/greeting card that came with an envelope lined with that paper. And it launched a million and one ideas of what could be done with fabulous holiday specific recipes.

But then I sat. I did absolutely nothing with the ideas, aside from thinking about it and telling some friends.

And now, I’m trying to quickly collect them before the holidays are upon us. I tend to cut myself short, as you see. I’ve gone through my collection of cook books and cookie recipes looking for the best and most holiday specific cookie recipes, but I’m falling short. I’ve asked some friends. I even managed to find while organizing a recipe binder a cookie recipe collection printed in the Washington Post back when I lived in the DC/Northern Virginia area in maybe 2005. It’s so old, it’s turning yellow. Not to mention, the recipes didn’t really conjure the inspiration I am seeking.

So I’m asking you guys! If you have a recipe you don’t mind parting with, that reminds you of the holidays, please leave a comment below and I’ll respond, or you can email me at info [at] s2stationery [dot] com.

When I say holidays, I’m all inclusive. Ideally, I’d love to have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkha, and Kwanzaa focused holiday recipes as we’re approaching that season. Honestly, though, we don’t have to stop there. If you have a favorite Ground Hogs Day recipe, send it my way. The same goes for Easter, Valentine’s Day, Passover, any holiday!

The deadline to submit holiday recipes is Monday, October 17th. That gives me some time to sketch things out and get some ideas on paper. Literally.

All recipes will be shared by name, even if not selected for a design, on this blog. Recipes used will be properly credited and the person who shares will get some free product with their recipe(s).

Again, to get in touch with me, please leave a comment below and I’ll respond, or you can email me at info [at] s2stationery [dot] com. 

So please, help inspire me, if you can! And ask your friends to share, too. The more recipes I can get, the better!

 

A Social Experiment + The 2013 Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade Goodie Bag

Over two months ago now, as I got ready for the 2013 Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, a request came from our team asking for donations for the goodie bags being given out to the first 100 shoppers between the two days of the event. Being my first Cavalcade, I was reluctant. The cost of doing two-days was adding up and it was only going to get more costly day of.  Donating to the goodie bag, seemed like just another expense. After a third request, however, I decided to join in and I’m glad I did.

I had no idea the amount of fans (and shoppers) who line up in advance and wait, no matter what the weather (snow last year!), to get their hands on these bags.  As was explained to me, those who get a goodie bag, get home and eagerly and slowly go through each piece inside looking at all the freebies and discounts offered.

My donation ended up being a bit of work (I don’t have a single picture of my donation!), which probably stopped 48 gift bag lovers from participating in my giveaway, but I’m glad I donated what I did.  My freebie piece included a small notebook paper size bag that included my business card, a discount card, and a postcard that read “Holiday Sugar” and had the word “sugar” glittered in red, one $.33 stamp (which at the time was the cost to mail a postcard), and a note that said the following:

“Hello there Handmade Shopper!

Thank you so much for attending this year’s Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade! This is my first Cavalcade and I feel really fortunate to find myself amongst these incredibly talented artists and makers, but more to find my little bag of goodness in your hands.

Enclosed is a holiday card that I glittered by hand one cold night in November.  It is a postcard, which is why somewhere floating in this bag along with my business card and a discount coupon (expires February 1, 2014!!) is a $.33 cent stamp.  All you need to do is write a message either on front, or on the back of the card, address it and mail it off.  I figured if I give you the stamp, you might actually mail the card, even if you don’t mail out Holiday cards normally.

So here’s the challenge I’m presenting to you. Yes there’s a challenge!

I want to see how many of the 50 cards floating out there are actually mailed.  I’m asking that you go one step further and email me and let me know when you mailed it and where you mailed it to…was it domestic, in NYC, outside NYC, abroad-where?  You do not need to provide names or anything else.  Again, I just would love to track how far these cards go and find out how many actually used the stamp and found a mailbox or post office.

As for me…well, I’m just Sara, a woman who loves paper (I studied Japanese paper making this time last year), writing, and communicating with the people I love.  I don’t think we do enough real connecting any more. I also don’t think we know how to properly express ourselves.  It makes me sad. I’m trying to fix it. I figured I could use this little goodie as a social experiment and a way to get you writing this Holiday season.  Please let me know how it goes!

Yours in love & cheer!

Sara/S2″

I know that’s a lot, but that’s me. A rambling lover at heart and it’s better to be honestly me than try to be anything else.

My rambling way made some kind of a connection because I had two shoppers email me and let me know they received the postcard and mailed them off:

Hi Sara,
Just mailed your cute postcard yesterday to my sister in Iowa via my local post office in Jackson Heights, NY.  I can’t remember the last time I actually sent my sister anything by mail (I haven’t mailed Christmas cards in years).  I am sure she will be surprised!
Thanks for the lovely idea.
All the best,
R

AND

Hi Sara,  

I am one of the recipients of your goodies in the NY holiday cavalcade market in Brooklyn. I was travelling from overseas last week when I came across the market and the goodie bag. Your card and stamp prompted me to write to a new friend I had made in DC.   I

am with you in thinking that we don’t express ourselves as well or as often these days as people used to, and as a great fan of snail mail I think this is a pity. I am not sure how long mail normally takes in the States but I’m hoping that the stamp was enough to get the card from New York to DC – I haven’t yet heard from him saying he received it (sent 4 days ago). Fingers crossed! 

Thank you for your card and for reigniting my love of snail mail. I hope you hear from many others confirming that your cards were circulated around the country.   

A

Those are real, unaltered, emails from people, whose full names I removed, who went along with my challenge. Both of these messages made my day when I received them.  Sure only 1% of the people who received the postcard contacted me to let me know they mailed it, but that’s still 1% or two people who made the effort and were grateful for the opportunity to write a message to a loved one and express their sentiment.

Naturally, I wish that more people had written in and contacted me, but I consider this a success. Knowing that two people, took advantage of an S2 design and sent out love is enough to remind me why I am doing what I’m doing and why I’m going all for broke doing it. If I can help more people feel this way, and reach out to loved ones with intentional communication, well then, that’s my legacy and its worth all costs, rambles and all.

On days like today, where I’m sitting thinking about how I quit my job and am really trying to make a go doing the things I love while my bank account dwindles, I read these messages and remember, this may be my fifth year, and I may be taking a risk, but the world needs some “holiday sugar.”

Speaking of holiday sugar…Friday, tomorrow, is Valentine’s Day. I wish you all a day full of intentional communication, or missives of love.  Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy Holiday Sugar!  Pick up a pen and get to writing! Please?

Where to Find and Buy S2 Stationery & Design this Holiday Season

Well, this week officially launches the holiday season. At least in my mind. I’m not budging. I’m also not shopping the day before, on or the day after Thanksgiving.  I believe we need to spend time with our families and reconnect. Shopping does not do this.  However please note that I do believe in shopping and in shopping at local establishments and buying from local artists, farmers, etc.  So when you do shop, if you are looking for any S2 Stationery and Design products here is where you can find them, or me directly:

Montclair Pop-Up
102 Walnut Street
Montclair, NJ 07042

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Open NOW – December 31, 2013
Hours: 10AM-8PM

Friday night, I attended the opening celebration for the Montclair Pop-Up Shop in Montclair, New Jersey.  I didn’t stay too long because I am claustrophobic and I could barely move up and down the aisles (I’m pretty sure I almost knocked down one table four times. Typical Sara!), but my time there was awesome.

The shop is stunning and gorgeous. The women who are running the Pop-Up Shop did an amazing job of incorporating all of the different designers work together. I personally loved seeing all of my stationery sets in different places mixed with different wares. For example, they had my invitations and recipe cards with table top wares and yummy snacks. They had my Hanukkah card (this is the only place you can pick up S2 Hanukkah cards!!) with the other Hanukkah merchandise and in the window. My “Flirt” card sets were mixed with the delicious smelling soaps and beauty products for sale.  My Teacher’s note cards and apple note cards were mixed in a bunch of places, but with children’s products. It was nice to walk around and see where they put S2 products and just how well they worked within each category of goods.  Below are pictures I took with my phone camera at the event.

Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade
The Space
50 N. 3rd Street (btwn Kent & Wythe)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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December 14th and 15th, 2013
10AM-5PM

I will be at this event both days from 10-5 selling all things S2 Stationery and Design.  I’ll have holiday cards for sale, both as singles and sets of 10. I’ll also have stationery sets for teachers, mom’s, daughters, fathers, the whole family!

This is the 6th Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade and my first time participating. I’m not sure what to expect, but from the list of Vendors selling, I will be in good company. I’ve sold before with many of these fine artists and I’m honored to be selling with them again in a different venue and one that promises to be exciting! In fact, a bit of S2 history…back in 2009, when I was still ironing out all the details of starting my business and looking for a Team on Etsy that I could connect with, I heard about the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade. It was held then in Soho, I believe and I went and walked around. I remember feeling overwhelmed by everything I saw, but still amazed at all the vendors selling their products. It was a cold night and I didn’t buy anything, but I left more certain about my need to be part of this Team and my desire to run my business.

So here I am, getting ready for this big two day handmade market. I’m excited, proud, and revving to go. I hope you’ll stop by if you’re a friend and/or fan of S2 Stationery and Design.

Happy shopping, hunting, celebrating, eating, hugging, loving, and most importantly sharing. Oh and don’t forget support local businesses!

Behold The Beautiful Mt. Fuji

Today, December 30, 2012, marks my 91st day of travel.  It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been gone for this long and yet in that time, it’s been fast, slow, scary, new, old, exhausting, loving, nurturing, silent, full of love, full of doubt, strong, powerful, enlightening, thoughtful, and challenging. I don’t know that any other 90 day period in my life has been like this, nor will ever again.

On October 1, 2012, I left on an Aeroflot plane to Istanbul. I landed for a short layover in Moscow (a city I’ve always wanted to visit) and then continued on to Istanbul, Turkey a city I’ve always felt in my heart I needed to see with my own eyes.  I’ve shared quite a bit about my journey on this blog, but not as much as I originally planned. It’s hard to convey everything I’ve experienced. I honestly don’t think I have the words, but I hope to share more once the trip ends and I’m back in America figuring out the next steps of my personal journey. I think more will come after the traveling has ended because I will have digested large chunks that I’m still chewing. I also think writing will come more easily when attempting to write, all the while thinking about what all I’m missing in my time final days in Tokyo. Having said that, I do want to share my recent trip to the Mt. Fuji area outside of Tokyo…

I had originally planned to visit this great Mountain on Christmas Day. Having spent Thanksgiving, and my birthday alone, but in nature, I decided that Christmas should be no different. Christmas Eve, I spent with an amazing couple I met recently, who invited me over for dinner in the afternoon before midnight Mass at the local Catholic Church here in Tokyo.

Christmas Day morning came and went. I overslept.  The day after Christmas Day came and went as well. I overslept, but I also only wanted to sit inside and watch Christmas movies and be quiet. So I did.

And then came Thursday. On the eve of Thursday, I went out and grabbed some sushi for dinner and a beverage from Starbucks. I decided walking was probably good for my body after a day of just padding around the apartment mixed with some minor dancing and mostly sitting on the couch. Before I went to bed though, I got the coffee pot ready. I picked out my outfit for Thursday and I set my alarm for 4:15am. If I didn’t oversleep, then all signs pointed to visiting Mt. Fuji.

Even though I had set up my morning, I knew that my trip to Mt. Fuji would be a result of waking up feeling the urge to get up at an unGodly hour and get dressed, fed, and out the door to catch the first of three trains at 5:55am.  Thursday morning was that day. I could have easily slept until eight or nine am, but instead I jolted up out of bed and was out of the apartment by 5:19 and that included eating, packing coffee and water, dressing in 20 layers, and then walking to the Shinjuku train station in the dark and figuring out the train system. (Every day that I get on the JR or the subway is an adventure in learning something new.)

I felt tired as I journeyed on, but I was filled with excitement. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen mountains, and quite honestly been so close to mountains. I’d say that my visit to Koya-san and Nara were my last full on mountain visits at the beginning of the month. After spending 45 days in the mountains surrounding Echizen, I needed this trip. I needed mountain air, brooks of water, and the sounds and sights that come with nature that close. A prime example is the 10-15 minutes I spent watching three birds fly around and do what I call their wild dance at Lake Kawaguchi.

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My day was over all exhausting. I was gone for 14+ hours I think. I slept so much on Friday that I never got out of my pajamas! It was glorious and yet, I still feel exhausted. See, being in nature, I’ve learned has the ability to both enliven me and exhaust me. I tend to think so well out there, but also end up tired from all the thinking and walking that I inevitably do. My time around Mt. Fuji was no different.  As soon as I caught sight of Mt. Fuji, it was love. I was determined to capture as much of her as I could and spend as much time exploring around her as possible.

Mt. Fuji has two months of climbing season. The rest of the time the mountain is too volatile to climb. I learned on Thursday that her idea of cold is in fact COLD and I would not have survived an attempted climb. When I got off the train, my feet were freezing and that was with two pairs of socks on, one pair an extremely thick pair of LL Bean hiking socks. I don’t recommend you even think you can hike this beast outside of July and August.

Since I couldn’t hike the mountain, I instead walked around Lake Kawaguchi which is gorgeous in it’s own way. I took the cable car up a smaller mountain across from the lake and had my first level view of the great Mt. Fuji, which only increased the love.

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I hiked a bit around the mountain I was on, prayed to the spirits at the shrines at various points there and then went down to continue my day exploring Fuji-Yoshida, which is the same as Fuji-san, or the town that has the longest history with the Mountain.

Legend has it that Mt. Fuji and the Goddess of Fire, Konohana Sakuya Hime, protect the town from Mt. Fuji’s eruptions. Here is a bit of the mythology behind Konohana Sakuya Hime and Mt. Fuji:

The fire ceremony [marking the end of the mountain climbing season on August 26] has its origins in the earliest known myth about Konohana Sakuya Hime, the principal goddess of Mount Fuji. According to the ‘Kojiki’, the great 8th-century AD compilation of Japanese mythology, she married a god who grew suspicious of her when she became pregnant shortly after their wedding. To prove her fidelity to her husband, she entered a benign bower [in the volcano] and miraculously gave birth to a son, unscathed by the surrounding flames. The [fire] ceremony at Fuji-Yoshida recalls this story as a means of protecting the town from fire and promoting easy childbirth among women.

As a fire sign in western astrology, I could not help but being drawn to this particular Kami (God) and her symbol of the mountain. Mountains are powerful in structure and strength. Their volcanic bases are terrifying and yet provide a sense of renewal. Their ability to tower, strong and assured are proof that nature understands more than we mere humans ever will. (I know, again with the spirituality!) I’m not sure what I was hoping to gain from this visit, but I knew that not visiting Mt. Fuji would have been a regret. This entire trip has been about a spiritual awakening, one so strong, it has brought me back to the core of who I am and learning about the mountain helped me understand it more.

This year alone, I’ve managed to carve out time to visit a few mountains. I went to Bear Mountain Park just north of New York City during the spring for some time away. In July while visiting Portland, I drove out to Mt. Hood to see some of the beauty of North West America. I should mention that I loved Mt. Hood. She’s a beauty as well. For 45 days, I was surrounded by the mountains of Echizen that taught me about extreme cold, rain, and patience. In Osaka, I visited the mountain that houses Koya-san, an important Buddhist Monastery town (and World Heritage Site) on my birthday. All of these experiences taught me new found respect for nature and the beauty around us, but it wasn’t until I laid eyes on Mt. Fuji that I truly understood the power of a mountain.

Mt. Fuji called to me on Thursday and so I went to her.  Toward the end of my trip, I followed signs leading toward the base of the beginning of the trail path, Yoshida Climbing Route, and the Fuji Sengen Jinja, where pilgrims who trekked up the mountain for spiritual connection to the Gods would pray beforehand.  While I could not climb the mountain, I was able to pray to the Goddess of Fire and thank her for this amazing opportunity to see her glory. It was also at that point that I decided that my youngest brother and possibly my nephew, and I have to climb this mountain together. My youngest brother wants to study in Japan at some point and when he gets to Japan, I intend to meet him and climb Mt. Fuji with him and not from any of the various stations that you can start from, but from the beginning, from Yoshida Climbing Route.

Mt. Fuji has become a huge tourist destination. Even I ventured to her as a tourist. However, I learned thanks to following the signs detailing the past of the town of Fuji-Yoshida that over 200 years ago religious pilgrims were the only ones who trekked up the mountain. At the time there were houses known as Oshi, where pilgrims could stay, eat, and pray on their way to the mountain. I was able to take a tour in Japanese and English (how I understood most of this I don’t know because it was more Japanese than English) and see the oldest Oshi that has become a museum and tells the story of these religious pilgrims. As I walked further along the road, I saw a few more of these Oshi thanks to the signs noting them along the way and then found myself at the gate and entrance to Fuji Sengen Jinja. After praying and making my promise to return and climb her, I breathed in the calm and peace of Mt. Fuji and begun the three hour trip back into Tokyo.

I know that I have been given a special experience here. I know that to many my trip may seem like an extended vacation, a way of running away from my responsibilities, or even like something a rich girl would be able to do, but none of these are the case. Japan has been calling to me for quite a few years now. The connection to my passion for paper was the deciding force behind this trip, but after seeing Mt. Fuji, I can honestly say that Mt. Fuji was also calling me toward Japan. Every mountain I’ve taken in has led me to her and I have no doubt that in doing so, I’ve learned more of my own strength.

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I can’t wait for my next experience with Mt. Fuji. I hope I’m even stronger when the times comes, but more importantly, I know from this visit I’m strong enough to venture in 2013. AMEN!

Merry Christmas! Rambles on Lessons in Faith and Spending Christmas in Japan

Holiday Greetings from Tokyo, Japan on the afternoon of the day after Christmas Day!

Today is Wednesday, the day after Christmas Day. I sit in my friend’s apartment where I’ve been staying since earlier this month, catching up on Christmas movies that I didn’t watch yesterday or on Christmas Eve.  Those movies specifically were “Home Alone” and “Elf,” two of my favorite Holiday films of all time. I realized as I watched both of them back-to-back that my reason for loving them is because they tell the story of “belief.” The idea that belief can create what you want by staunchly believing in who you are, which is formed in your youth (not your adulthood) is an idea scoffed at by many. We all believe that as we get older, we get wiser and better. And I agree with this idea completely. I mean, I am someone who has enjoyed the wisdom and advantages of age, but there is at least one instance a day where I regress to my youth. Where I dance on trains and street corners (I used to dress up in a tutu as a child and dance to Madonna songs in our living room), or I lay on the floor and doodle, or I find something worth giggling about.  I try to have these moments when I feel myself caught up in anger or anxiety. In fact, I look for ways to find that magic of belief that every child has and is most prevalent on Christmas Day.

This morning after waking up and missing the train to Mt. Fuji again, I decided to sleep in and then watch two Christmas movies. Two days ago on Christmas Eve, I spent the afternoon relaxing and getting ready and buying myself a present (it’s so purty!) and then I dashed off to meet up with a new friend who invited me to her house to have dinner with her and her husband on Christmas Eve so I wouldn’t be alone. We had a great time, talking, swapping book and music recommendations, and watching Australian and American comedy skits on Youtube. (I’ll be attending a New Year’s party at their house on January 1st that I’m super excited about!) After I left their home, I went to the 10:30pm (aka Midnight Mass) at the local Catholic Church in Tokyo, St. Ignatius.

The Mass was incredibly quick it seemed, but it brought me to tears. Maybe because I’ve spent the past two months praying to every deity possible? I don’t know. What I do know is that for the first time since leaving NYC, I felt the pull and the true meaning of Christmas.

See, Christmas pasts have always been a fun and stressful period for me. They’ve been fun because I can decorate and buy presents, but last year for the first time, I felt rather blah about the holiday. I’ve felt shopping is too painful and daunting. I’ve felt a bit like Charlie Brown- knowing the meaning of Christmas, but not feeling the meaning in the greater world. In an attempt to find happiness and joy again, I’ve given more to charity and to my 10-year-old nephew.   This year because I’m away, the idea of giving presents wasn’t an option. I would have had to mail them and lets be honest mailing boxes to the US from Japan is expensive (I shipped a box before I left Echizen with some books and paper, tons of paper and it cost me about $100.), not to mention, I didn’t know what to get them. I mean do they really need anything from Japan?

For me it was more important to connect with loved ones and new friends rather than focus on gifts. Christmas Eve night here, and Christmas Eve morning in the US, I spoke to my cousin for an hour, I think. While we talked about Christmas and presents for her children, we talked a lot about my spiritual journey here in Tokyo. We talked about how I may not feel in the Christmas spirit, I have connected spiritually in other ways.  Which I think is why I cried that night at Christmas Mass because all the spiritual connections led me to the door of the greatest belief in all, that Jesus was born to redeem us.

Yesterday, Christmas Day, I stayed mostly inside and talked to another cousin in New York for a few hours thanks to Google hangouts until I went to dinner at an Ethiopian Restaurant that was recommended to me by my old boss. This was my second time eating there not only because the food is delicious, but because the owners are amazing. I sat down for dinner at around 7pm and didn’t leave until 11:45 to catch the trains before they stopped running. My evening involved Christmas carols, whiskey on the rocks, and a lengthy conversation about the Black Movement, Africa, Ethiopia, America, gun control, violence, crazy people, race relations, injustice, money, the Japanese culture, papermaking, mixed-race people, my family, his family, music, how he knows our mutual friend, New York City, city living, driving cars, and traveling. It was the perfect way to spend a holiday that isn’t cared about in Japan.

Christmas in Japan is a commercial holiday. The stores are all decked out with trees and lights. Tokyo and many other large Cities in Japan decorate like crazy-large light displays. People rush all around shopping and the stores are crowded beyond capacity. And yet, it all means nothing. The night of Christmas Eve couples go out for a romantic dinner together. Christmas Day is a work day. The day after Christmas, today, everything is gone..the lights, the trees giving way to sales and New Year decorations. In Asia, there is more of a care for the New Year. On New Year’s Day, I will make my way to the Shinto Shrine close to my friend’s apartment and pray for good blessings for the new year.

I don’t want to get too spiritual here (even though, I am), but today as I watched these movies and sat in a state of continued uncertainty and wonder about a situation while trying to pushing down my impatience and need to fix things, I was enlightened.

See, I remember when Home Alone came out in 1990. My aunt and her boyfriend, now husband, took my brother and I to see the movie and we loved it. In all the years that I’ve watched the movie, I’ve always laughed at the antics and felt warm and fuzzy at the message of love and family. However, it wasn’t until today that I watched it and really listened to the dialogue and I felt like there was a reason that I picked the movie and watched it today. The scene toward the end, where Kevin and Old Man Marley talk about family relationships and they have the following exchange:

“Kevin: If you miss him, why don’t you call him?
Old Man Marley: I’m afraid if I call him he won’t talk to me.
K:How do you know?
OMM:I don’t know, I’m just afraid he won’t.
K:No offense, but aren’t you a little old to be afraid?
OMM:You can be a little old for a lot of things, but you’re never too old to be afraid…
(Talk about Kevin’s fear of the basement)
K:…my point is, you should call your son.
OMM:What if he won’t talk to me?
K:Least you’ll know, then you can stop worrying about it and you won’t have to be afraid anymore…”

I needed those words now more than ever. But more importantly, the simplicity of the message got me. The idea that a child, whom no one ever believes could be wise is wise enough to help set the course of action for an older and wiser man ground me to the core.

The same is true of “Elf.” Again, I remember seeing “Elf” like it was yesterday. I was living in Virgina then and my aunt and her husband (the same ones who took me to see “Home Alone” 13 years prior) asked me to watch their son, my cousin, over the weekend. I, along with one of my best friends, took him to see “Elf” and we loved it. I own the movie and make it a habit to watch it during the Christmas season, especially when I’m stressed out -usually as I write out Christmas cards at the last minute.

The film just has a way of making me feel warm and fuzzy. Today as I watched it, I laughed loudly, exclaimed that Will Ferrell is a nut, spoke along to the lines I could remember and at the end, sang along to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” It should not be a surprise that I cried at the end while singing along to the song. Why did I cry? Because of the message of belief. Obviously!

What I love about “Elf” is that you have this strange guy, with child-like abandonment, walking around NYC in tights, believing that he’s an elf and manages to save the holiday from what it has become…an over-commercialized and cynical day. While many laugh and try to change him, his own father included, he manages to remain strong and keep believing in what he knows, all the while being one of the most open and caring individuals around.

What’s more though is that in both films, you have the idea that with a lot of belief, a dash of child-like simplicity, the ability to love, and a strong will to accept who you are, you can and will change things…examples include:

  • you can will your family to disappear and then reappear;
  • you can get over your fears and move beyond them;
  • when you begin to see your wrong doings and start to forgive you can move beyond issues;
  • saying sorry can fix many broken things including hurt feelings;
  • love makes things possible and better;
  • being true to your different and quirky self will lead you to the right path;
  • Santa Claus (the idea of good will and openness) does believe, if you believe.
  • You can inspire others to believe as long as you believe and keep believing
  • Miracles are possible.

Today, as I celebrated what was the remaining hours of Christmas Day on the East Coast of America, I watched these movies, made plans for the upcoming weekend and sat around in my favorite Christmas pants (candy cane red and white stripes) while in essence being a child. I delighted in my bowl of Chocolate Rice Krispies cereal for breakfast and in the messages I learned from watching these films. They all brought me back to the one reoccurring theme of my travels these past two-and-a-half-months- signs are everywhere – but not because you’re looking for them. In fact, I believe that if you are looking for signs, they won’t appear, but if you’re moving forward, even with a heavy heart and a sense of uncertainty, the signs will find you and show themselves accordingly.

I believe that I had to spend Christmas alone this year to truly understand and appreciate not just myself being alone, but the spiritual factor of the holiday. I also believe that I had to watch these movies today, after the Christmas festivities to remember to stay strong, feel the magic, believe in who I am and in the road I’ve traveled. Things are only going to get better, even if something is missing and I’m uncertain; as long as I keep believing in the stars and spirits above and the heart inside my chest, things will be better.

That faith and belief will allow me to keep providing the best gifts I can to the ones I love the most, and even those who I have yet to meet, know, and love. Further proof of that can be seen (below) in the electronic Holiday/Christmas card I sent out to my friends, family, and fans of my stationery company last week.

The Official 2012 S2 Stationery and Design Christmas Card
The Official 2012 S2 Stationery and Design Christmas Card

In the picture is me and my “papermaking family” from Echizen on my last day at the Museum where I studied. It is one of my favorite pictures and I think captures my joy and love for the people who kindly opened their hearts to me for 45 days this fall.

It takes a lot of self-belief to step out into the world where you don’t know anyone, or speak a certain language and tackle a challenging task. It’s like being left Home Alone, or realizing you’re not an Elf, but a human in a world that lacks imagination and is cruel to those who are different.  Yet, still stepping out and having that belief can move mountains and change the status quo and is worth every minute.

That’s my Christmas lesson this year. It is what I’m most appreciative for this year that is coming to a close. Merry day after Christmas! I hope your day was filled with love, kindness, and all the warm, squishy, great stuff.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

First of all, this here blog is mine, well, my thoughts rather, and I can say what I want (for the most part) and because of that I’m wishing everyone that celebrates a MERRY CHRISTMAS! I’m also throwing in Happy Hanukkah because, well I love everything Jewish and Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays even though I don’t really celebrate it. So yeah, Happy Hanukkah! If anyone wants to give me some latkes and applesauce, I will be your friend forever. Seriously.

Here is my holiday greeting card to all of you readers, fans, friends, and lovers of S2 Stationery and Design. If I had you’re physical addresses, I’d mail you all real cards. I hope you find this card a fair compromise, though!

There will be more blogging next week, although not until Tuesday or Wednesday, which I suppose is normal blogging schedule, but content will be light as I prepare even more for 2012.

With love and gratitude,
Sara

Um…2011 Holiday Season?

Um, it’s November 15th. That leaves exactly 39 days until Christmas, 9 days until Thanksgiving and 16 days until my birthday. I had to some how throw in my birthday. I had to!

I realized yesterday as I wrote my blog about getting ready for 2012 and getting back into the swing of business, that I don’t really have Holiday product. Not only do I not really have Holiday product, but I also don’t have a plan for 2011 Holiday product. I wish I could sit here and type about the wonderful Holiday inspired gift wrap and tags, cards and other accessory pieces I am planning to launch in a great kick-butt campaign called ” 16 Swinging Days of Holiday Fun and Surprises”, but I don’t! I don’t! I don’t.

Instead, yesterday morning, I posted two Holiday card sets that I’m selling in my Etsy shop, one designed last year for a customized order, that was just too lovely to pass up for future Christmas cards and the other a card that I designed earlier this year specifically for this year. But that’s it.

For anyone who follows my randomness, you know that I am inspired spontaneously. When working on a customized order, I ask for at least a week to create my designs. Why? Well because I take the information provided by my client meetings and then I sleep and dream. Yep. All of my best ideas have come from dreams.  Those ideas are usually the winner of the three options I provide to my clients, but, those ideas also provide other design options that I store or quickly sketch out/write down for a later time.

Working in this kind of environment doesn’t always leave me enough time to plan ahead. I’m always awed by designers who can just knock these ideas out 6 months, if not even earlier than that. Granted, I am aware that I’ve created this type of situation, but I find that I’m great on my feet. Yes, this is something to consider when I sit down and develop business plans and strategies for 2012. I also have to take into account the time I’ll spend traveling when I figure that out, but regardless, as I get ready to assess the next year, where S2 Stationery and Design is going and where I, Sara, am going as well, I am brought back to the present – a 2011 Holiday Season with rarely any new items to present and an exciting opportunity to sell these “items” at the Yelp Giftacular Holiday Market at 82Mercer on December 17th and 18th. I’m really hoping that my brother’s birthday, December 18th, brings me extra luck.  If not, you know, I appreciate the opportunity to gain more exposure and learn from first-hand customer interactions.

So there you have it. Exciting things, Holiday cheer, and a bit of a bumpy road to Holiday sales, but you know, we’ll get through.

I am working on a custom Holiday card order tonight, so I’ll be posting new items in the Etsy shop sometime between the weekend and Thanksgiving. Newsletter readers and blog followers will get the first notice of their availability along with a good ol’ fashion discount in case they want to order immediately. If you want to be part of that awesomeness, you can sign up to get the newsletter and/or blog updates and you’re IN! Amazing, how this technology thing works, no? Si!

Sending you tons of Holiday wishes and a few myself as I get ready for the Holidays as a business owner. Send me any extra luck wishes you may have!!