post

Inexpensive Valentine’s Gift Ideas for Her

Valentine’s Day is coming and some are still clueless about what gift to give their special someone. It does not need to be expensive. As the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts. You just have to let her know that she is being thought about despite your busy schedule. Here are inexpensive gift ideas for Valentine’s Day.

Flowers are already a given. Flowers are a standard for Valentine’s Day. Bouquets can start

 from $50 to $200. Giving a more expensive bouquet doesn’t mean it will be appreciated more. Your special someone wouldn’t know the price, anyway. Just make sure the arrangement of the flowers look nice and the bouquet doesn’t scream “cheap.” Flower shops are everywhere. There’s bound to be one near you!

Along with the flower bouquet, you can add some more items to make your gift look more sophisticated and fun. Bear stuff toys are a common add-on. If she’s too old for that, skip the stuffed toys. Chocolates are also a good addition to your flowers. Now, chocolates could be a little bit tricky. She could easily determine if the chocolates you bought are cheap because of the brand. You still do not need to buy expensive chocolates. If you can afford it, go ahead. If you can’t, a good alternative is to buy chocolates from those brands that she is not aware of. There are countless bakeshops and homemade chocolates that still tastes wonderful. Just make sure the packaging of the chocolate look expensive. If you do not have time to taste chocolates from bakeshops, Godiva has Valentine’s chocolates starting from $15. You might want to check Always On My Heart for great presents.

Spa gifts are also a good addition to give to your special someone. Women love products that will pamper them. You could buy a gift certificate package from a spa salon and give it along with your bouquet. Beauty shops will offer spa packages complete with brushes, soaps, loofahs, etc. You could also consider beautiful looking scented candles, lotions, and fragrances.

If your special someone is really fond of makeup, give her cosmetics as gifts. It is unusual, but it just says that you are paying attention to her and you are taking the extra effort of finding makeup that suits her (a very daunting task especially for a man). When a man gives a woman makeup gifts, the woman is very sure that the man went an extra mile (and brought his manly ego down) to ask someone else what makeup would be best for her. A lot of small makeup companies/retailers will be willing to help you determine the best cosmetics to give to your special lady. (Tip: try asking Tamera Szijarto’s online cosmetics store for advice)

Remember, an expensive Valentine’s Day gift does not mean that it will be appreciated more. The important thing is that the woman knows that you are thinking of her and you are willing to make some effort just to give her a meaningful gift.

CONVENTION!

M.I. Hummel and Mickey meet again and we are inviting you to join in all the fun at the

2011 CONVENTION!

Disney’s Contemporary Resort
August 4-6, 2011*

Are you ready to fulfill your dreams with an enchanting Convention experience? On August 4 – 6, 2011*, Disney’s Contemporary Resort will welcome some special guests – M.I. Hummel collectors and enthusiasts from around the world, as it opens its doors to the 2011 North American M.I. Hummel Club Convention. We invite you to join us and be among the first to see the newest M.I. Hummelcreations.

There will be many things to do including forums, seminars, and games. For example ~ do you want to learn even more about M.I. Hummel? Master Artist Ulrich Tendera knows a lot and delivers the information with pizzazz! You’ll hear him talk about his great passion and have the opportunity to meet and interact with him throughout the Convention.

“But wait, there’s more,” as the saying goes …

  • Enjoy presentations & seminars hosted by prominent M.I. Hummel VIPs.
  • Reconnect with old friends, and make some new ones.
  • Relax and catch up with other members during a fun, casual Friday evening Bavarian dinner dance.
  • Explore the magic by taking the unique and exciting optional tours presented by Walt Disney World®.
  • Opportunity to enjoy special Walt Disney World® tickets and savings only available to convention attendees and their guests.
  • Information designed to help you to take advantage of everything Walt Disney World® has to offer.

New this year …

Young adults aged 12 to 16 are invited! We have some very unique and exciting activities planned exclusively for our young adults including a chance to work with Disney experts on a video production team! This is a great opportunity to introduce your loved ones to the world of M.I. Hummel in a magical way, as it has never been done before.

The 2011 M.I. Hummel Club Convention is an unbeatable vacation with exclusive opportunities for all. Unique activities will be planned for young adults and the young at heart.

And with four theme parks, two water parks, five golf courses, nighttime entertainment, shopping, and over 100 restaurants, Walt Disney World® Resort has something for everyone. Make plans to attend the 2011 M.I. Hummel Club Convention now.

Marks of Authenticity

The quality and artistry of the M.I Hummel products and their authenticity are beyond compare, agreed by a number of admirers and collectors. The genuine figurines from M.I. Hummel are designed using strict procedures for high quality by Manufaktur Rödental, Hummel family and the Convent of Siessen.

The Signature

There are authenticity marks to identify if a plate, figurine, or bell is authentic  M.I. Hummel products. On the base of every piece is incised the signature of Sister M.I. Hummel. When Franz Goebel and Sister Hummel made the contract, they agreed that every piece, excluding the ones that don’t have adequate surface or base, to have the signature of Sister Hummel as her personal stamp. This contract is honored to this day.

 

The Trademark

The figurines have another important trademark that is on the figurines’ underside. Since 1935, the trademark’s look has varied and has been a very exciting moment for all collectors of M.I. Hummel. You can check some of the variations over the years below.

 

When purchasing M.I. Hummel products, be sure to shop only at authorized M.I. Hummel establishments. And look carefully for two marks of authenticity – the M.I. Hummel signature and the trademark. They are your assurance of the continuing excellence and artistry of Manufaktur Rödental.

Ceramic Art Gift Ideas for Her

Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day Gifts for Special Occasions

Special occasions and holiday celebrations create the perfect opportunity to present a mom, a wife or a girlfriend with a unique, handmade, ceramic art gift.

Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day are only a few of the special occasions that require unique gift ideas. Traditional gifts such as roses can be fun to send and receive, but consider adding a unique touch of a handmade ceramic gift to take the gift to the next level.

Ceramic Vases

A bouquet of roses is a customary gift for special occasions, but roses delivered in a handmade one-of-a-kind ceramic vase will add a wonderful personal touch to the special gift. Consider having the flowers delivered to the recipient’s place of work for an added touch.

White ceramic vases finished with a clear glaze will match any décor. This vase will look good no matter where it is placed and won’t compete with the colors and beauty of the flowers. The ceramic vase can also be painted to match a certain room’s décor. Match the vase by color or theme for a perfect fit. A vase can also be painted one solid color. This works well when the designated room needs accent colors to finish it off.

Ceramic Plates

A fun idea for a ceramic plate is to decorate more than one. Make a matched set that can be used for an elegant dinner for two. If the dinner will be a family affair, make a special plate for each family member. Food-safe paint will allow the family to eat from the plates for years.

Make special holiday plates for Valentine’s Day by painting the ceramic plates with hearts. Easter plates might have a cross or a few brightly-colored Easter eggs in the center or place along the edges. Mother’s Day plates can have brightly colored flowers or an image of something mom likes painted onto the surface. Other themes can commemorate various events. Match the theme to the special occasion.

Ceramic Mugs

Ceramic mugs allow a gift-giver the opportunity to create a unique, mug-themed present. A finished gift wrapped in clear cellophane and sealed with a coordinating bow makes a beautiful package. A chocoholic will appreciate a gourmet chocolate hot cocoa theme. Coffee lovers will enjoy a coffee-oriented gift basket.

For the hot cocoa theme, paint the mug with a fun design and pair it up with a hot cocoa mix. Make sure to use food-safe paint for the mugs. A mint-flavored, chocolate-covered stir spoon will add a minty taste to the hot cocoa mix when the owner mixes the concoction together.

For the coffee lover, place the ceramic mug, a variety of gourmet coffees and some biscotti in a pretty gift basket.

Choose one of these fun ceramic gifts or come up with a unique idea that isn’t listed. The special occasion will be memorable whether the gift is a fish-shaped ceramic figurine or a traditional set of dishware. Consider the likes and dislikes of the person on the receiving end to commemorate her special day with style.

LASIK Eye Surgery – What You Should Know

What is LASIK?

How much do you know about LASIK eye surgery? LASIK is an acronym for Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis and it is a medical procedure to correct certain eye conditions. Covering the front part of the eye is a tissue called the cornea. LASIK eye surgery will change the shape of the cornea permanently. 

What you should know about Lasik Eye Surgery

If you wear glasses or contact lenses then you may want to consider having this procedure. Many people have already had great success with LASIK eye surgery making it no longer necessary to wear glasses or contact lenses but how do you know if it’s right for you? To answer that question you need to learn as much as you can about this procedure and weigh all the facts carefully. Here’s a video to help you out. 

What Risks Are Involved in LASIK?

All medical procedures have risks and the same is true for LASIK eye surgery. Those who have had this procedure are happy with the results but occasionally the unexpected can happen. You need to know the risks of LASIK surgery in advance so you can make an informed decision on whether or not the surgery is for you.

List of possible risks associated with LASIK surgery:

  • Vision Loss
  • No Change in Your Eyesight
  • May Develop Debilitating Visual Symptoms
  • Dry Eye Syndrome
  • Results Can Reduce With Age in Farsighted Patients
  • Under Treatment or Over Treatment Is Possible

Keep in mind that these problems can occur but it doesn’t mean that you will be affected in any of these ways. Don’t make a decision based on what other people say even if they have had the procedure done with great success. Make your decision based on facts and only after discussing everything with a specialist. If you feel you are not ready for LASIK, then wearing reasonably priced prescription contact lenses may be a better solution for your vision problem.

How to Choose the Right Doctor

lasik surgery - choosing a doctor

Knowing how to choose the right doctor is very important when you are considering LASIK. First, you want to find a doctor that is experienced in this procedure and follow the suggestions listed below.

When choosing your doctor:

  • Don’t be afraid to check credentials to make sure they are as qualified as they say.
  • Don’t let cost be a factor in choosing your doctor because your eyes are too important.
  • Be cautious of services that make promises and guarantees. There are no guarantees when it comes to medicine.
  • Make sure the doctor you choose uses FDA approved equipment.

Take time to talk to the doctor and go over the procedure with him. They should be able to tell you exactly what to expect before, during and after the eye surgery. Don’t be surprised if, after the surgery, your doctor will still recommend the use of breathable disposable contact lenses. Residual refractive errors are common even after LASIK.

Make sure that you tell your doctor about any medical conditions or eye conditions you have now or have had before. Discuss medications you are taking or have taken within the last six months. This includes over-the-counter medications and let him know about any allergies you have.

Before the decision is made, your doctor will perform a thorough eye exam. This is to see if you are an excellent candidate for the eye procedure. You will discuss the risks and benefits of surgery and what you should expect before, during and after the surgery. You will also discuss your responsibilities and ask any questions you have during this time.

Making a Ceramic Decal from Clay Slip

Clay and Concepts Make a Decal That Blends with Clay Body

A ceramic decal can be made from Concepts and clay slip. A design is printed on paper, covered with slip, and then applied to a clay project before firing.

 

Using Concepts or similar, paintable, low-fire glaze and paint a design on ordinary newspaper or copier paper. The beauty of this technique is that Concepts glazes come in a huge array of colours, and all colours can be applied at the same time. Let the glaze dry. This step can be done well ahead of time. It won’t hurt to let the glazed images sit. The next step is to cover the design with slip.

Prepare Slip

The best slip to use is a slip that has been mixed and has been sitting for a time. This older slip is thick and smooth, similar to sour creme. Be sure to use slip made from the same clay as the clay of the project. Different clays can repel each other and cause the decal to peel off. Never mix high fire and low fire clays.

Cover Design with Slip

The next step is to spray the design lightly with water. This will help ensure that the slipsticks to the glaze. Cover the glaze-painted design with the slip. Cover the design about a one-half inch all the way around. Use three to five coats, allowing each coat to dry slightly. To avoid repelling of layers, don’t let the coats dry completely. Once all layers have been applied, let the decal dry. For this step, it is important not to let the slip over dry and crack. The back, or slip layer, should be dry but still flexible.

Apply Decal

Wet the back, or slip side, of the decal with water from a spray bottle. Apply the decal, to somewhat wet or leather-hard clay. The clay project can be moistened with water from a spray bottle. Press the decal on firmly and smooth with fingers. Continue smoothing firmly with fingers. Moisten the front side of the decal with a spray bottle. Keep smoothing. When the clay from the decal has adhered to the clay of the project, gently remove the paper.

Finishing Touches

Voila! It appears that the glaze has been directly painted on the clay body. This is a nice option for a repeating image or an intricate image. An easy way to do this is to print the image or images with a printer or copy machine. Then paint over the images with the glaze. A series of decals from a different coloured, but compatible slip may be applied for a mottled look. If the rough-edge of the decal is not desired, apply slip to the edge of the decal and smooth into the clay body.

Classic Ceramic Art: Earthenware, Porcelain & Chinaware Pottery

Ceramic art as decorative accessories contributes to a room’s character, expresses spatial dignity and reflects the aesthetic interests of the owner.

Ceramic Art – Shotsie

Amongst the most popular and useful decorative items for interior spaces are ornamental clay and pottery products, fired with a kiln and referred to as ceramics.

The discovery of pottery by archaeologists indicated that some form of ceramic art had been around since the prehistoric era and that its art spanned the whole prehistoric world at the time. And as the different cultures arose from those times, they all simultaneously produced similar forms and painted designs of ceramic pottery.

With this evolving of pottery art, each culture invariably developed their own individual expressions, the results being a vast and interesting array of various forms of ceramic ware.

The 3 Known Classifications Of Ceramic Pottery

The word ceramic is derived from the Greek word ‘keramos’ or potter’s clay. Ceramics is divided into three classifications depending on the materials used to produce it and based on its physical properties. They are:

  • Earthenware
  • Chinaware
  • Porcelain

Earthenware

Earthenware is made from almost any clay material found in riverbeds, it can be shaped moulded or turned on the potter’s wheel quite easily. Earthenware is however fired at low temperatures coming out porous and opaque. Depending on the riverbed deposits and geographical locations, earthenware colours range from pale tans to deep reds or browns. They can be glazed or unglazed and if fired at high temperatures will become harder and denser.

It is good to know that the following words are synonymous with, and are commonly used interchangeably with earthenware:

  • Pottery
  • Faience
  • Majolica
  • Delftware

There are many methods applied to decorate earthenware ceramic art. These methods are all beautiful in their own way and include a ‘scratching ‘ technique on the surface of the unfired pottery called ‘sgraffito’ and painting after firing or after glazing.

Chinaware

Chinaware ceramic art is opaque and has greater resilience than earthenware. Its materials almost always include some bone ash and this affords it some quality that enhances its practicability, making it a popular ceramic used commonly for everyday tableware and interior décor items. Chinaware, popularly called China is broader in scope than earthenware or porcelain.

The following words are synonymous with Chinaware ceramics:

  • China
  • Ironstone
  • Creamware
  • Queen’s ware
  • Staffordshire

Porcelain

Unlike simple earthenware ceramics, porcelain ceramic is produced with kaolin (decayed granite) and petuntse, an equally decayed feldspathic rock. The clear white colour of porcelain is from its firing at very high temperatures in order to vitrify the components which in turn comes out an extremely hard, white, with a translucency associated with porcelain.

The manufacture of true porcelain was initially mastered in Germany in the very early 1700s. it is however believed that pure porcelain ceramic art originated in China where it was found in abundant quantities, so much so that it was exported to Mesopotamia during the 9th century.

Ceramic Art Today

In modern-day ceramic engineering usage, ceramics is the art and science of making objects from inorganic, non-metallic materials by the action of an application of heat. From this process, millions of decorative ceramic art items are produced worldwide.

These pieces are also known as pottery art, and though produced in most geographical locations of the world, yet they all still possess certain unique characteristics and similarities, such as determining the shape and configuration of the ceramic art piece, deciding on how it is to be decorated (etched, carved, engraved, stained with wild berries, or painted) and whether it’s final surface finish is to be glazed or unglazed.

Today, ceramic art in itself is still one of the most sought-after interior décor items by many homeowners, interior designers and interior decorators.

How to Care for Antique Glass

Using, Cleaning and Storing Old Crystal, Pressed and Cut Glassware

The antique glass may be more stable than contemporary glassware, but it still needs special care and attention when it comes to cleaning, using and storing it.

Very old glass from the 18th and 19th century has a chemical and physical formulation that makes it quite stable. While contemporary glass can break much easier, the antique glass would have to fall onto a hard floor or be struck to break it. All glass will break, however, so while antique glass may be stronger, it is also more valuable and that alone means more care should be given when it’s handled.

Handling Antique Glass

An antique glass should be handled with both hands. Wine glasses should be held with one hand on the stem and another on the bowl of the glass. Antique glass pitchers should be held with one hand on the handle and the other around its main body.

Never let water sit too long in a crystal or cut glass vase. It will leave a ring as it evaporates. Change the water daily, to keep it topped up and fresh. An antique glass should not be cleaned with abrasive cleansers, but without abrasive cleansers that white ring left behind by the minerals in the water may be difficult to remove. Avoiding those rings will keep the glass clear.

Use candles that don’t drip or run in antique glass candle holders, and the wax should never be allowed to burn all the way down. The heat from the candle can damage the glass top that holds the candle.

Cleaning Antique Glass

It is best not to wash the antique glass in a stainless steel sink with a stable faucet. The glass can easily hit the faucet and break. The glass can slip out of hands and fall on the stainless steel, or simply break as it bumps into other items that may be in the sink. Antique glass needs to be washed one piece at a time, not in the dishwasher and not with other dishes in the sink.

A plastic container with a folded towel at the bottom is the best sink for antique glass, with using a soft cloth and a mild dishwashing liquid. Both glass and water should be at room or even temperatures without being too hot or too cold.

When drying an antique glass, place a soft towel on the kitchen counter to act as padding, and use a lint-free dishtowel to hand dry and polish the glass.

Storing Antique Glass

The glass is best stored in a china cabinet of glass cupboard. The shelves should be lined with felt. Plates should be stacked with felt or cloth between them. Wine glasses should be placed upside down on each shelf without touching.

An antique glass should be used and enjoyed, rather than hidden away for special occasions. They just need to be used with a little more care and attention. And knowing how to care for antique glass will give it’s owners a lifetime of use.

How to Clean Porcelain Figurines and Ornaments

How to Clean Porcelain Figurines and Ornaments
Porcelain is a delicate ceramic product made from hard-fired clay. It is typically used for making a wide range of decorative items. Due to its fragile nature, porcelain needs to be handled with great care, especially when cleaning it. Fortunately, there are gentle methods that do the trick and keep your favorite porcelain pieces beautiful and in tip-top shape. 

Here’s how you should clean and remove stains from your cherished porcelain collection.

  1. Using a soft, dry cloth like microfibre, remove any surface dust.
  2. If the object you are cleaning has tiny holes or crevices, use a soft, lightweight brush to clean out any dirt or dust.
  3. Place porcelain items in a plastic bowl or line the sink with rubber mats to avoid damaging them in cases of slips and falls.
  4. Wash the items slowly with warm water and mild soap or detergent. Keep the temperature of the water consistent and use mild detergent to avoid damaging the items, especially those with metal trimmings. Allow very thin items to acclimatise to the water temperature to avoid destroying the delicate finish.
  5. Remove stains with baking soda paste or a salt and vinegar mixture.
  6. Never use a toothbrush or scourer to clean porcelain; use a soft cloth or sponge to rub stained areas with a light hand.
  7. Never use bleach or abrasive, harsh cleaning agents.
  8. For stubborn stains, try soaking the items in warm water. Or you can purchase a commercial porcelain cleaner from your local hardware store and use it with extreme caution. Try the product on a small, not so visible area first.
  9. Rinse your porcelain figurines and ornaments in warm water
  10. Place on paper towels to dry.

Here’s a helpful and informative video tutorial on how to clean porcelain items without damaging them: