Black Friday Holiday Promotions from the CIJ team

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

The season is upon us!  A time for family and friends.  A time for caring, sharing, and giving.  Why not let the Christmas in July team help you find that special gift that shows just how much you care?  Just be careful, or you may wind up in Ken Nesbitt’s predicament!

December I went shopping
for presents for my friends.
I bought a bunch of knickknacks
and a lot of odds and ends.

I picked the kinds of presents
that everyone enjoys:
Computer games and candy
and a wagon-load of toys.

I brought them home and wrapped them.
I placed them near the tree,
but liked them all so much
that I unwrapped them just for me.

Would it be wrong to keep them?
I guess it just depends.
Can someone loan me money
to go shopping for my friends?

–Kenn Nesbitt


1) Natalia from KMalinkaVintage is offering 25% discount in her entire shop of lovely vintage clothing and accessories.

Vintage party dress

Vintage party dress

2) Lisa Neal Behrens from sparkklejar will be promoting her adorable jar lid ornaments starting on Black Friday.  She has a variety of shabby chic gifts in her shop.

Adorable handmade ornament.

Adorable handmade ornament.

3) Linda Yunker from LazyYCrochet is offering a 15% discount with the Coupon code: CHRISTMASSALE2015  She offers a variety of crochet items to keep you and yours warm and cozy!

Sample scarf set on sale!

Sample scarf set on sale!

4) Dawn Whitehand from DeeDeeDeesigns says “Being an Australian we don’t do the Black Friday thing as we don’t do thanksgiving – but I am happy to offer my USA friends and customers a coupon code for the occasion …. and the USA dollar is strong against the Aussie dollar at the moment – all the more reason to take advantage of my custom coupon code Blackfriday2015 for 10% off.”  Check out her lovely ceramic work.

Lovely ceramic ornament for gift giving.

Lovely ceramic ornament for gift giving.

5)  Ginny C from GRCTreasures will have all items in her shop on sale during the Thanksgiving weekend starting midnight on Thursday through cyber Monday.  She has a variety of vintage items in her shop, like this one…

Lovely party tray for the holidays!

Lovely party tray for the holidays!

6) FrameYourStory from Frameyourstory offer lovely personalized frames and home decor.  They have started their holiday coupon code now, so buyers can get their orders in.

Active now is code HOLIDAY2013 – $10.00 off of a $50.00 purchase.

Starting  Blackfriday until December 4th is code BLACKFRIDAY for 20% off.

Personalized holiday frame....what a great family gift!

Personalized holiday frame….what a great family gift!

7) Tami Wooliver from HannaHerbalFarms, specializing in herbal infused skin care and home scent items, will offer a coupon code “Christmastime” for 15% off.  In addition, they will be featuring several items in their “sale” category for extra savings this holiday season.
Herbal home scents.

Herbal home scents.

8) Barbara Ann from BarbaraAnnsCreations has a coupon code for her vintage dishes.  Just type in YOURAREALDISH at checkout for a 15% discount on any dish item, like this one….
Christmas dessert dishes.

Christmas dessert dishes.

9) Sue from SuesAkornShop is also offering a coupon code.  Enter 10OFF at checkout to enjoy a 10% discount on a variety of hand-sewn crafts for the home, like this one…

A hand-made, old fashioned Christmas stocking.

A hand-made, old fashioned Christmas stocking.

10) Miss Shelley from SouthernJamsandJelly says,  “We will be offering our 2oz jam jars for the same price as our 1.5oz jars…Plus, our 8oz jam jars will be 3 for $15!”

Handcrafted jelly for Christmas morning.

Handcrafted jelly for Christmas morning.

11) Ethical Infant from Ethicalinfant offers a selection of baby clothing and is offering Free Shipping with the code ShipFree at checkout.  They will also be doing a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” sale.  Just check out their banner for more details.

Toddler and baby clothing for gift giving!

Toddler and baby clothing for gift giving!

12) Gari Anne from beadloverskorner offers a variety of beaded jewelry and beads.  She is also offering a 30% discount with the code CYBERSALE at checkout.

Jewelery is a timeless gift.

Jewelery is a timeless gift.

13) Melissa R from missy69, who offers a variety of jewelry and hand crafted items says, “Starting November 1, 2015, and lasting all the way until January 1, 2016, I will be kicking off the holidays with a BOGO event. That is right, buy one item, get the second item, of equal or lesser value free. You will put the first item in your cart, then in the comments tell me the item you want for free. It is as easy as that. Please be aware that if you pick a made to order item, then both items will be shipped when the second item is completed. It is still always best to ask questions first, and avoid issues later. Free USA shipping will still apply. If, by chance two people want the same item, then it will be first come first serve. All invoices are dated, and timed, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Start making your list now!”

BOGO is every bargain hunter's dream!

BOGO is every bargain hunter’s dream!

14) Eric from VinylStandard will be discounting his entire shop 10% for Black Friday.  He carries a variety of records spanning decades of music.

Santa LP...great for the record collector!

Santa LP…great for the record collector!

15) Lori from SpokeNwheelz will be doing mystery packs of 2 T-shirts with bicycles or cars (you choose, and specify size) for $20.  Use coupon code XMAS15 in her shop at checkout for a Free Shipping bonus!

Custom shirts make great gifts!

Custom shirts make great gifts!

16) stfne9 from CustomCraftsbyStef has a coupon code SAVE25 to save 25% on her entire selection of custom baby and toddler clothing sets like this one…

Adorable gift for kids at Christmas!

Adorable gift for kids at Christmas!

Many more shops will be offering special sales this Holiday Season.  Just search “CIJ” or “Christmas in July” to check out our entire team’s items!

Wishing you good cheer, good times, and good shopping this holiday season!

Home For All The Holidays

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

Any holiday is the best excuse to gather the family and show how much we care.  Independence Day was always a big celebration in my mother’s family.  Generations have served in the Army, Air Force, and Marines, and it was always important to our family that their service be honored through our celebrations.  Our entire extended family would gather in a little town called Louviers, CO.  A large BBQ and back yard games would ensue.  What makes Holidays special for our CIJ families?  Read on.  Feel free to share your holiday memories in the comments section.  If you see something you like, just click on the pictures to shop our Etsy CIJ team!

1) Ina from InaSudjana says

For us it will be the Chinese New Year (CNY).
It is a big thing in our family, very much like Christmas to many Western countries except that it usually falls on either end of January or beginning of February. Every year has a different date according to the Chinese calendar.
We’re from Indonesia, but my family root is Chinese and my parents are ‘big’ on Chinese New Year.

It is the time to gather together as a big family and enjoying the CNY dinner.

Food is usually in abundance around this time, especially sweet treats like Pineapple tarts. Sweet treats symbolise sweet beginning to a new year.

The CNY dinner menu usually includes fish, tofu, noodle. They symbolise good fortune and long life. We usually wear anything red and the children will usually get red pockets from their parents and grandparents.

This red dolly felt hairclip organiser in my shop is inspired by the CNY:

Adorable felt hair clip from InaSudjana.

Adorable felt hair clip from InaSudjana.

2) Noel from MinkCouture says

I have a Christmas birthday and my parents would always get me a Christmas ornament and put it on my cake with my candles. Sometimes it was cats (I went through a cat phase), other times it was space capsules and moon landers. It morphed into a car for my 16th, a ballet shoe for a big recital…..

I still get an ornament each year, something to symbolize an event that happened.

This inspired most of my ornaments, but definitely this set of “his and hers” first Christmas stockings. Miniature stockings are hand cut from a up cycled felted sweater and sweet vintage pearly, white buttons are seen on the edge.

Lovely Christmas Stockings  from MinkCouture.

Lovely Christmas Stockings from MinkCouture.

3) Olga Creativ from Creativhook says

My favorite holiday is the day of birth. On this day, it’s nice to get the gifts. The best gift for a girl is a doll.

Great gift idea for little ones from Creativhook

Great gift idea for little ones from Creativhook

4) Lia Russo from Ghirlandiamo says

One of my preferred holidays is Mother’s Day.

My sons really love me and usually show me their love in different ways, but It’s so sweet having a particular attention on that day!

This year they were both away but they called me on the phone and on skype too.

When they want to be particularly tender with me, they don’t call me “mom” but “mamy” and I’m…..touched!

I created this decor just thinking it as a perfect gift not only on Mother’s Day, but to show every day love and thankfulness to every mom in any moment of the year.

Lovely heart wreath from Ghirlandiamo

Lovely heart wreath from Ghirlandiamo

5) Claire DeRosa from ToBeMeJewelry says

My favorite holiday is Christmas when family from far away come home to celebrate. Let’s face it, during the month of December we run around completing our energy. To replenish my energy after Christmas, what do I do? Go down to the beach to find sea glass. Although, finding sea glass is now hard to find at the Jersey shore, it’s not impossible. The best part during this “after Christmas” visit to the beach is to see all the Christmas trees along the beach. Bradley Beach, NJ uses the trees to recycle and build up the dunes. It’s so cool, to imagine all the memories these trees provided to families. It’s a cold little visit but so worth it. My energy is renewed and maybe a few pieces of sea glass in my pocket!

Stunning sea-glass bracelet from ToBeMeJewelry

Stunning sea-glass bracelet from ToBeMeJewelry

6) Dawn Whitehand from DeeDeeDeesigns says

Within my family we celebrate Christmas the most – usually everyone has time off work so everyone can get together.

My store has lots of handmade ceramic tablewares which are ideal for making a celebration special – what better than to share food presented in a unique piece of tableware made with love.

Beautiful Bowl from DeeDeeDeesigns

Beautiful Bowl from DeeDeeDeesigns

7) Martha from HolidayCreations4U says

The Christmas Tree Skirt is a big tradition in my family. I use the one my Grandmother made for me soon after I got married. I put it under our tree every year. My mother uses the one her mother made her soon after she married. My sisters also put out the tree skirts that were hand made for them by our Grandmother. It is a special time when I pull out that skirt and remember my Grandmother.
I thought it was a wonderful tradition to get started in any family. I hope that my customers are picking out a special handmade tree skirt from my shop and use it year after year.
Here is a sample of my home made felt tree skirts.

Stunning tree skirt from HolidayCreations4U

Stunning tree skirt from HolidayCreations4U

8)  Stock Lane Studio from StockLaneStudio says

Mother’s Day is near and dear to my heart. Of course, because I’m a mother and I can feel the love my daughters have for me. And to me it’s a day to celebrate being a mother myself and what a great gift my children are. And lately though it’s bitter sweet since I am often so far away from my own mother that I can’t visit her on this day. And with her declining health and advancing age, I count each new Mother’s Day she celebrates as a gift. I was able to see her a year ago and captured her prize-winning roses in photo. I’ve turned some of them into greeting cards and overtime I look at them and relive so many sunny Mother’s Days I spend with my own mom.

Stunning greeting card from StockLaneStudio

Classic greeting card from StockLaneStudio

9) Kristy Jo from KrystalKlarityBeads says

In our family while I was growing up almost any holiday turned into a big deal with large family get togethers and tons of great foods, fun, games and laughter. Our family is much smaller now, but the part that always means something to me no matter what is just – family. That bond that is there regardless of the holiday you are celebrating. I was so afriad I would not be here to celebrate more holidays with family when I was diagnosed with lung cancer at 44 years old. I lost my father to this disease, – it has been many years, but I thought much on the fact that those holidays, birthdays, Easter or any holiday – many families do not have very much laughter or are feeling lost, hopeless, lonely, or grieving. I wanted to provide a message of hope, and messages of inspiration – as a survivor I feel a need to pass that on. I also know that sometimes just having something to remember and honor those who lost this fight can be a special thing, and a healing thing. So I make things and hope that they bring a bit of happiness and hope – and healing. I want awareness to spread.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Miniature Handmade Hope Tree from KrystalKlarityBeads.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Miniature Handmade Hope Tree from KrystalKlarityBeads.

10)  Donna Zuk from SassyScrapsCrafts says

My holiday tradition is making handmade ornaments every year, whether its from paper, felt, tree limbs, or fabric. There is nothing you can’t use to make special memorable ornaments from. I would rather have handmade then store bought ornaments anyday because they are truely unique and special.
Charming Old World Santa Tags from SassyScrapsCrafts

Charming Old World Santa Tags from SassyScrapsCrafts

A parting thought…

We’re thinking of you this special holiday,
Sending our wishes for joy and happiness,
Hoping all good things will come your way:
Satisfaction, comfort, peace, success!
By Joanna Fuchs

Fun In The Sun From Team CIJ

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

Summer is fast approaching.  Kids will be home from school with extra time on their hands.  Why not take some tips from the Christmas in July tips for picnicking and family fun!  This post is full of great ideas for outdoor eating and for entertaining the kiddos this summer.

1) Kelly from ColourscapeStudios

Well, we’re heading into Autumn here, but the thing I found most fun with my daughter over Spring and Summer was baking! At Christmas we make cookies, and I plan on doing it again for Easter to take to our family get together!

Here’s the recipe:

185g butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups plain flour (the cake/biscuit/pastry version if you have that available)

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan-forced. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy.
3. Add egg. Beat until combined.
4. Sift flour over butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine.
5. Cut cookies.
6. Place cookies 4cm apart on prepared trays. Bake for 10-12 minutes until light golden.

I then let her loose with a couple of different coloured icings, and some icing gel pens to decorate with. I think she enjoys that part the best!

2) Becky from LollysCubbyHole says

The calendar says it is SPRING, and I certainly could feel the change; however for the last few days, we have been in the low 40’s here in N. Florida, making for some very chilly nights.

Since you might be peeling potatoes anyway, here is a way to keep little hands busy and out of the way while you cook. I would put a big plastic table cloth down , loads of scrap paper destined for the shredder and some potatoes with paint! Have fun making stamps!  We use them for Easter Eggs, but they are great any time of year!

3) Sue and Misty from shabbyshopgirls says

A great way to keep the boys active is to get them involved with the Boy Scouts! Kids learn many ways to survive in the wilderness and they learn about the Native American Indians and their skills. This book is all about the different tribes, with amazing pictures of how to do things such as build a tepee, tie knots and build a fire!

4) Arlene from ThisandThatCrafter says

 How about for the girls (and boys can do this to… just use a PJ pant pattern for the boys) to learn to sew! A great little PJ set pattern for kids!
5) currynpepper from CurrynPepper says
A fun activity with kids – make a doggie treat with your kids for happy kids and happy paws!



3-4 pieces Curry n Pepper Veggie Paw-paddum (any flavor)
2-3 tsp canned organic black/red kidney beans (no salt added)
1-2 organic curly kale leaves finely chopped and lightly steamed
2 tsp organic diced carrots
1-2 pieces organic finely chopped strawberries
1 tsp organic, non fat plain yogurt or cottage cheese
1 tsp Curry n Pepper immunity boosting oil (optional)


1. Lay 4-5 pieces of paw-paddums flat on a plate
2. In a bowl mix rinsed beans and immunity boosting oil well
3. Top each paw-paddum with beans
4. Garnish with steamed kale, diced carrots, strawberries and a tiny dollop of yogurt/cheese

Serve and watch your pooch gobble it up!

(Tip: Substitute beans with any meat.)

Remember always serve with a bowl of fresh water.

6) Carolyn Eady from SproutsPressDesigns says

What about Journal Adventure Kits?! As a kid I was always making little books and filling them with my ‘adventures’ over summer break! Great for summer camp, vacations, road trips and time spent at the cottage!

7) Nautico Creations from NauticoCreations says

Well, I’m not quite sure if anyone would actually purchase a new quilt to lay down for a picnic lunch, but this one has a nice dark colored back that would help hide the dirt and would fit nicely in the car.

Picnics almost seem like they have gone by the wayside these days with everyone’s busy schedules and fast food at every corner. Actually taking time to pack up some lunch and go to a park is good for the soul and a great chance to take a break and unwind.

My family used to carry a blanket in the car at all times just in case we made it to the park. This could become a new tradition with your family too.

8) Stock Lane Studio from StockLaneStudio

Keep cutlery protected from your heavy containers and food items with these washable pouches. Great for holding small jars of condiments or even first aid supplies.

Also great for holding a deck of cards and pencil and paper for playing games while you watch the birds.

9) Sally Manke from SallyManke says

 My picnic tip is to be as green as you possibly can. Pick up all your trash and put reusable packaging to use. These sandwich bags can be used over and over without contributing to the landfill!

10) Sue and Misty from shabbyshopgirls

Your outdoor picnic or sea side clam bake is sure to be a hit with a brightly colored vinyl tablecloth which features a convenient zipper and a round hole in the middle for a round patio table and umbrella!

11) Becky from LollysCubbyHole says

With Independence Day just around the corner, I think my patriotic candles might look good on that picnic table!
Just click on the pic to be taken to this lovely collection shared by CIJ members.

Just click on the pic to be taken to this lovely collection shared by CIJ members.

Teacher Appreciation Week May 4-8, 2015

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”
John F. Kennedy

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”
Carl Jung

What teachers touched your life?  Had an impact? Inspired you to do what you never thought possible?  The Christmas in July Team shares some of their stories and appreciation gift ideas with you this month….

1) Sarah Johnson from BellaBoutique23 says

Mrs. Thorne was such a wonderful teacher, she was my 5th grade teacher and she lived down the street from me. I would go knock on her door to see Thurman, her cat, I saved numerous little sweet notes she would write to me. It was a friendship that lasted through the years. I was in her wedding, went to visit her in Chicago. I am very thankful for how she embraced and loved me.

2) Sally Manke from SallyManke says

What a great idea. I’m a retired teacher and have a daughter that teaches 3 grade and a son in law that teaches 6th grade math. I started kindergarten in 1958 in a one room school. We had one teacher for grades K-8. The school closed after 7th grade when we had to attend “town” school. I actually learned to read in the Dick, Jane, Sally readers.

3) Patricia and Rebecca from northandsouthshabby says

Like Sally above, I am a retired school teacher-and yes I too learned to read with Dick and Jane! When I started my career, new students were expected to enter 1st grade knowing the alphabet. When I retired some 30 years later, students entered my classroom already reading! There have been so many changes in education through the years, and the demands on teachers have increased ten fold. Please know that a note of appreciation to your child’s teacher can make their day!
 4) Lia Russo from Ghirlandiamo says

My mother, my father, my two sisters and my husband, all they were/are teachers!

Even me, some years ago, working as communication consultant, I taught apprentices and managers.

It was really gratifying!

If I should think of a gift to teachers, I’ll say: flowers, flowers, flowers!

And what better than a wreath with permanently fresh flowers?

5) Dawn Whitehand from DeeDeeDeesigns says

I am a teacher in that I teach pottery from my studio to adults and children, and also visit schools, kinders and community centres. While teaching ‘pays the bills’ it also keeps the inspiration going and does have an impact on my own ideas and motivation – so its a win win!!

This hand carved ceramic trinket box would make a great teachers gift to keep little treasures safe – your child could even write a message and place it inside before giving!

6) Melissa And Wendy from OrneMental says

I am home schooling my grandson for his kindergarten year. It is such a joy especially when you see the light bulb go off. He is really starting to do very well in reading!


Top Ten Easter Gifts for Kids

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

Hello, and welcome to Easter!  The bunnies are hopping, the eggs are popping, and the flowers are blooming!  Read on to find out the Top Ten Gifts on the Easter Bunny’s List this year, all from the Christmas in July Team on Etsy.

10) Cookie Cutters

The kids will love making Easter Cookies with these fun Easter Cookie Cutters! Decorate them up with all sorts of fun colors and embellishments for a sweet little treat, AND/OR, use them for fun creative arts & crafts projects for Easter decorating!  –Sue and Misty from shabbyshopgirls 
Adorable cookie cutters give the kids something yummy and create warm family memories.

Adorable cookie cutters give the kids something yummy and create warm family memories.

9) Easter Bunny Plush Animals

Hello, I have a bunny softie sewing pattern that comes with a lop-eared version too.  These make a great, memorable and lasting Easter gift for kids. –Lucy from MyFunnyBuddy

Adorable, easy to sew pattern for Easter Bunny Plush Animals.

Adorable, easy to sew pattern for Easter Bunny Plush Animals.

8) Tote Bags

This delightful little tote can be used for more than just a tote–it can be a reusuable Easter “basket.” Just add colorful “green grass” and lots of Easter eggs!  –Evelyn and Lucy from artsyEVE

Soft, lovely tote made with Easter in mind.

Soft, lovely tote made with Easter in mind.

7) Pillows

What little girl, or boy for that matter, doesn’t want their very own bunny.

Well, with this bunny soft velveteen pillow cover they can have their own cuddly soft snuggly bunny with no clean up required, vet bills, feeding or mess. –Patricia from TheOldBarnDoor

Soft, cuddly bunny without the mess!

Soft, cuddly bunny without the mess!

6) Baskets

If you want to give an Easter basket to a kid or a kid at heart, this floral Easter basket is just the ticket. It will last longer and will welcome Spring without adding calories or sugar. Inspired by old fashioned Easter baskets, faux flowers add a special twist and bring back memories to adults who haven’t been given an Easter basket for a long time. It includes a bunny and a couple of butterflies for a special touch. –Nautico Creations from NauticoCreations

Adorable bunny on a basket!

Adorable bunny on a basket!

5) Artwork

He’s a cute Schnauzer Easter bunny & he has plenty of colorful Easter eggs in a basket. For the kid who shares a home with a schnauzer or any adorable four legged friend! Inspired by my love of dogs and Easter. –Angie Ketelhut from petartbyangie

Original artwork...the gift that becomes a family heirloom.

Original artwork…the gift that becomes a family heirloom.

4) Choco-bunny

A chocolate bunny for people who can’t have (or hate-do they exist?) chocolate! This cute bunny also comes in many other colors (pink, blue, yellow) in my store.

A felt bunny pin ready for adoption with hand embroidered embellishments. A welcome addition to any Easter basket or spring outfit. –Noel from MinkCouture

Adorable chocolate bunny even if you're watching those calories!!!

Adorable chocolate bunny pin…works even if you’re watching those calories!!!

3) Personalized Candy Gifts

Check out our Easter personalized candy bar wrappers.

These make great favors for any Easter event. Great chocolate gifts for handing out at school or sticking in your child’s Easter basket. They can also be used as cards. Why send a regular card when you can send chocolate!

The Wrapper Press from TheWrapperPress

Add an Easter theme to regular candy bars…adorable!

Add an Easter theme to regular candy bars…adorable!


2) A bunny and an egg

Bunnies are a great addition to any Easter Basket! Or hide them for an Egg Hunt! Put goodies inside a plastic egg and put the plastic egg inside the tummy of the bunny (instead of an ice cube)! Boo-boo bunnies are great fun!
These are great for teenagers, too. I sent my kids on a scavenger hunt for the bunnies, each giving a clue to the next bunny. The final bunny had money inside. What a great surprise!

Have fun with Lots of Colored Easter Bunnies! –Jul from JulsSewCrazy

Adorable egg hidden inside a bunny...what says Easter more than this adorable little gift?

Adorable egg hidden inside a bunny…what says Easter more than this adorable little gift?

1) Cards

Here’s an Easter idea for a child that will bridge the distance; it folds into an envelop, can be mailed anywhere, and when opened to 180 degrees displays a 3D Green and Yellow Easter basket with two cute bunnies. I think adults would love this also! –Wendy CN from CardNotions

For the kiddos far away, the Easter Bunny uses the USPS!

For the kiddos far away, the Easter Bunny uses the USPS!

A final little poem to light up your Easter this year:

Even as the Earth turns into Spring,
Angling its torso towards the sun,
So like birds our hearts begin to sing,
Touched by time as tides by moonlight run,
Ebbing as faith faces the long night,
Returning with the laughter and the light.

-By Dimitri Shostakovich.

#CIJArtGallery: StockLaneStudio

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

Art is always so much more appreciated when we know the story behind the piece or behind the artist.  I hope you admire this stunning piece, and its story, from our CIJ Member StockLaneStudio on Etsy.

1. What is your work of art?

I have submitted a European Travel Photograph of an old worn red brick walkway of Beersel Castle outside of Brussels, Belgium.



2. Please share your inspiration for this piece.

This curved pathway reflects the many travels my family and I have taken and the cultural riches we have gained because of that.

I captured this shot on a visit with my children to the castle while living in Belgium. We were the only visitors there at the time so we had ample room and time to explore.

I love how the shadows enhance the curve of the path. Looking at this photo always brings back the feel of the old sunken brick and the thought of so much history passing under my feet.

But this pathway is appealing even if you have never been to this castle. The red brick is both a rich color yet earthy and neutral creating a fitting accent piece many rooms.

3. What keywords describe your work?

colorful travel photography, cultural impressions, wanderlust

4. Is this your favorite medium? Do you work in other mediums?

Yes, photography is my favorite, but I also enjoy other graphic art such as word art, typography.

5. What fascinates you?

Cultures, people around the world and how they make their lives meaningful. The natural world and how we take part in it.

6. What are your social media sites?


Top Ten Tips: How to say I Love You

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

Valentine’s Day is the perfect way to share your “I Love You’s” with all of those you truly care about.  Our Christmas in July Team on Etsy share some ways to extend that I Love You into the rest of the year.

10) My daughter loves the jewelry I make. A jewelry gift is always a way to show someone they are special. Place it in a beautiful box with a handmade card or note. We always think of red, but it can be a color she loves. My daughter loves purple. –candy frizzell from TrueEarthDesigns

9) My husband and I have been together for over 30 years, and my top tip would be don’t forget “special occasions” like Valentine’s day. It actually becomes more important, as the years together grow longer, to show you’ve made an effort to pick out a gift just for your sweetheart!  – Valerie Brown from FirepanJewellery

8) I believe we should show others we care for them EVERYDAY!! I love putting together gift baskets for my loved ones. The items don’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful. For example, manicure supplies, DVDs with popcorn and candle or a nice book, assorted teas and a nice sturdy mug. Thoughtful always trumps expensive. –Jo Ann’s Angels from JoAnnsAngels
7) For me loving someone is all about surprise. Making life fun by making gifts all the more because there is no official occasion. –oppning from oppning
6) I believe in telling those that you love that “you love them”. I have always lived what I believe but I do understand that many have a hard time doing just that. I have created a send a heart in a cascade of fabrics that can be sent for any occasion. It can be scented and mailed to the person you want to send a message to. –Myrna Neal from ShopOfCraftsByMyrna
5) I want to give EVERYONE handmade gifts, but realistically, that doesn’t always happen. For teachers, sisters, mom, I like making zipper pouches. They’re useful and can’t have enough of them. I also give animal pillows to adults as well as kids. They’re kind of a nice travel size and still fit in my useful/handmade category. Happy Valentine’s Day! –Lucy from MyFunnyBuddy
4)  I am a giver so I think the best way is to tell someone you love him with words, hugs and kisses, my husband and my daughter at least they appreciate it. For all the other parts of my life, a handmade gift is my way to saw them that I love them, a piece of me!  Happy Valentines day to everyone!! –Ifigeneia tsiltikli from fifirixtra
3) The sweetest thing I’ve heard at a craft show was about these mini book necklaces. A man bought one and was going to write something on each page that he loved about his wife. He planned on giving it to her as a special token, filled with his words of love! Aw!!! So sweet! –Carolyn Eady from SproutsPressDesigns
2) I love to give gifts to the one’s I love to show them I care. A gift doesn’t have to cost a lot either. One year my husband gave me coupons to redeem and it is such a fun, romantic, and inexpensive gift you can give. I chose to create a card for Valentine’s Day that includes coupons to give to a special someone. –Sarah Johnson from BellaBoutique23
1) I’m married for many years and in this kind of relations often wife and husband take everything for granted.

I think it would be very nice to me to be invited by my husband go visiting one of the beautiful Italian towns: Naples, Venice, Rome, just like tourists!  Will it occur?  Perhaps if I show him my last Valentine’s Day decor, he will understand! –Lia Russo from Ghirlandiamo

Alas, our Ten Tips is at an end.  How better to say “I Love You” than a poem…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

….and a few gifts from our Top Ten Contributors and other members of our CIJ Family.

To shop for any of these stunning, thoughtful gifts, just click on the collection!  Happy Valentine's Day from the Christmas in July Team!

To shop for any of these stunning, thoughtful gifts, just click on the collection! Happy Valentine’s Day from the Christmas in July Team!

Top Ten Tips: Handmade Gifts Under $10

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

Looking for that perfect little something for someone special this Christmas.  Needing the perfect “Thank You” gift for a teacher, mailman, or beautician?  Look no further than the Christmas in July team to give you stunning, handmade gifts with a small price tag.  Simply click on the collection to be swept into our CIJ World of Wonder this holiday season.

Click on this lovely collection to be swept into the shopping world of Etsy.  Read the item's stories below to make shopping even more memorable this Holiday Season!  Season's Greetings from the Christmas In July Team!

Click on this lovely collection to be swept into the shopping world of Etsy. Read the item’s stories below to make shopping even more memorable this Holiday Season! Season’s Greetings from the Christmas In July Team!

10) charlene c from CeeCeeandBee says

I’ve chosen my Simplee Irresistible Luxe Body Soap in Rosemary Mint. This handmade soap is minty to the max made with extra strong peppermint tea and essential oils combined with Rosemary for a bit of an herbal punch. Great gift for the mint lover in your life!

9) Jennifer from DtailsULike says

Delicate holiday earrings made for the petite woman or a minimalist lover. They are also hypoallergenic. It can be a great secret Santa gift for teen, teacher, co worker or a family member.

8) Sherry from treasuresRtimeless says

Most everyone little girl loves pink! This vintage jewelry box has been restored with just a few pink touches. It is a wonderful idea to help organize a young girls jewelry!

7) Nautico Creations from NauticoCreations says

 This set of three Santa ornaments was created because I wanted to have something in my shop that anyone could afford for the holidays. I love homemade gifts and these just bring a smile to my face. Hopefully they will find their way into someone’s home.
6) Cindy R from PlethoraGifts says

These owl earrings have been one of my most popular items! I started making them because they are my oldest daughter’s favorite animal. Not only are owls a popular owl in fashion and home decor, but they’re absolutely adorable. Perfect for a teenager or young women who likes fun accessories with a bit of personality!
5) Bhanumathy Sankaran from SunMoonJewels says

This sun catcher or  tree ornament is a perfect gift for anybody. After X mas you can hang it on a window to brighten up the room.

4) Bee Macneil and Caroline Pinnington from PaintedSongbird says

This cute little blackboard is great for a kids room. This duck egg paint is perfect for any room so even grown ups can use it for leaving notes or reminders. Leave a message for Santa or practice your homework. Its uses are endless. Such great value and a really durable gift. All of our blackboards have been upcycled from unwanted picture frames so they have been given a new lease of life.
3) Jessi K from WillowandQuail says

I love the “saltbox” house design of the brick, east coast houses. They just remind me of coooold, cozy winters! Plus they have so much history, and living out here on the west coast, we just don’t have the same kind of historic houses that have been up for so long!
2) Ifigeneia tsiltikli from fifirixtra says

I made these tree ornaments as a tribute to my daughter who loves pink, the white-red is for my husband!  This year my Nsyfsika is almost 2 and she understands everything, so I want to make this Chrismas unforgetable for her, starting from now!
The price is for 2 candy bars and it a great gift for everyone because it can be made in so many colors… You can use it not only as a tree ornament, but also as Christmas spirit at your presents this year!
1) And our Top Tip is a Tie!

A Christmas Tree Ornament is a perfect Hostess gift, gift exchange, stocking stuffer, or to tie on a Christmas present. This particular ornament is a vintage decoupage one!

Key chains and key rings make great little gifts for that woman you need to buy a gift for but just aren’t sure. They don’t have a size or need to match anything in particular and can just be fun! Great idea for co-workers, teachers or the office grab bag or, as we say around here, “Yankee Swap”!

Top Ten Tips: Holiday Entertaining on a Budget

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

Nothing stretches the wallet quite like the stretch from Halloween to New Years Eve.  Don’t let that be daunting…the CIJ team to the rescue!  Our members share their Top Ten Tips for saving money while entertaining those you hold dear this Holiday Season.

10) Wezz from cyberwezz says

 I really like all the little tiny lights at Christmas! Since candles are not always the safest to use, especially with little ones around, you can get these tiny lights for very cheap and they make a world of difference in the season feel of your decorations.

One of my favs is to take a large glass vase (I love the tube style or square/rectangular ones) and fill it with christmassy stuff: use baubles, pine cones, holly, whatever, and wrap those tiny lights around. I also like to wrap them around a bunch of holly branches and other greens from the garden. You can even find these lights in small sets of 10 or 20 lights with batteries, which I so love to put a decoration like this in the middle of the table.
oh, and put a bunch of cloves in a fresh orange and enjoy the smell!

9) Stock Lane Studio from StockLaneStudio says

 A Thanksgiving ice breaker or way to pass the time while the turkey is basting:

Cut out large leaves of various shapes and colors. Have guests write what they are thankful for one one side of each leaf. Then gather them up and before the meal or during dessert, read the leaves out loud. We have a large basket of “Thanksgiving leaves” that we have saved up over the years and add to every year. We still love reading them.

8) Marjorie Scenna from mscenna says

Hosting a tree trimming party is lots of fun and a great way to show off your ornaments to your friends and family. Making ornaments from recycled materials such as buttons and beads, or nature materials such as pinecones or acorns, is fun and can be a great activity idea for children or adults! I love to make my own ornaments.

7) Sue and Misty from shabbyshopgirls says

A fun way to entertain with vintage items this Christmas Holiday is to set up a beverage station with vintage paper goods, cocktail napkins and coasters.

6) Another tip from Lia Russo from Ghirlandiamo

A very easy way to decorate and let kids helping is this:
From a felt red piece and from a white one, cut the different parts of Santa Klaus dress ( pants, jacket, bell, and so on).
But previously design them on a piece of paper.
Then glue all the pieces on a rope, like Santa Klaus’ laundry.

5) Kelly from ColourscapeStudios says

In Australia,  Christmas happens right in the middle of summer, so while we can dream of a white Christmas, it’s usually around 100F!  Christmas on a budget is a simple thing here, collecting shells, driftwood and the like, adding a bit of tinsel and the all important bonbons to the table and it’s a gorgeous Aussie Christmas!

4) Nautico Creations from NauticoCreations says

 One of my favorite things for a party is to have a small gift for guests to take home so they remember the party. I have had a tiny ornament for years that was given to me by a friend at their party. Ornaments are inexpensive to make or buy and make a nice keepsake. Handing them out is a great way to end the evening.

3) jennifer mccarthy from artsix says

I love incorporating vintage and new decor,especially for the holidays. Vintage items make great gifts, too!

2) Courtney from courtneyannabanana says

My favorite easy finger food for the holidays are meat and cream cheese roll ups! The kids can even help make them. Purchase large tortillas (I like the spinach and tomato ones), spread cream cheese thinly over them, roll up an entire pickle wrapped in a slice of lunch meat, slice, insert a toothpick to hold in place and eat! They can be layed out in cute shapes or stacked to make a tree! Always a crowd pleaser in my home!
And a tie for Tip Number One….
1) Rose LAbbate from rosepetalsjewelry says

A real crowd pleaser. Savoy saltine crackers.

Tip. 1 pk savoy saltine seasoning. 4 slevers saltine crackers ( I use the mini ones.1 box), 1 c canola oil, (1) 2 gal. zip lock. Mix oil and seasoning to bag. Mix well, add crackers toss until seasoning is absorbed. Let rest overnight.

Susan Fowler from SSFDesigns says

 My tip for entertaining on a budget for decorations and arragments I take evergreens, pinecones, sticks, berries and holly things I can find outside in the yard and spray them with fake snow, put them into fun ontainers.  This gives the house a festive feel without spending too much.
Visit these shops for great deals on Holiday Entertaining!  Just click on the image to be taken to the world of Etsy!

Visit these shops for great deals on Holiday Entertaining! Just click on the image to be taken to the world of Etsy!

Top Tips for Cooking Light (Even during the Holidays)

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

The Holidays are all about indulgence, opulence, and spending time with the ones you love.  Our Team has come together to offer you suggestions for shaving off a few calories so that indulgence doesn’t go all to our hips!

1) Tisha from quiltytherapy says

 In an effort to get more fiber and heart healthy fats into our diet we almost always have avocado on Taco Tuesdays. We sub out the sour cream and cheese and use avocado to provide that creamy texture. We don’t miss the salt and excess fat.  Make sure to have napkins handy on Taco Tuesday, it can get really messy.
Napkins for Taco Night!

Napkins for Taco Night!

2) Angie from SucculentBathAndBody says

 Each year we have a large garden, and that alone inspires healthier eating with fresh veggies grown in our own soil, not over-farmed land depleted of minerals. It starts in the spring with homegrown lettuce for salads, and continues into late summer with tomatoes and peppers. I love to combine a 15 oz. can of chickpeas with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and a little onion for a quick salad that is low in calories and high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Simply dress the salad with 4 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar and salt & pepper to taste. And, if you like to garden (or just know that fall yard and garden clean-up are coming up soon), you’ll need Succulent Bath & Body’s “Johna’s Garden” gardener’s soap, made with organic essential oils, activated charcoal for extra cleaning power, and magnesium-rich Epsom salts for scrubbing.
Great idea for gardeners!

Great idea for gardeners!

3) Sandra crochet from Ankleknits says

 I was born in Europe. And when I was a child we had our own fruit and vegetable garden, so my mom always used fresh produce from garden all year long. And now I have 3 children and I am growing my own vegetables and strawberries so my kids would know how they grow and tastes. We often drink peppermint tea from our little garden and I always use coasters under the tea cups.
Coasters under healthy tea is a great idea for those cold winter evenings!

Coasters under healthy tea is a great idea for those cold winter evenings!

4) Elizabeth Wellburn from ElizabethLovesGlass says
A “build it yourself” salad is always fun and healthy at family gatherings. A big bowl of greens, then smaller dishes of sliced tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, etc. so guests can choose what they want. We tend to keep the dressings simple – often just a pair of shaker bottles for oil and balsamic vinegar. Goes with almost any meal!These crystal serving utensils could be a great part of such a mini salad bar.
Salad Bars are a great idea for holiday gatherings!

Salad Bars are a great idea for holiday gatherings!

5) Angie Fitzpatrick from CraftyMom75 says

 WE love pureeing and “hiding” veggies in our meals so our little guys will eat their veggies. For example, pumpkin puree blends magically into spaghetti sauce and no one knows it! Plus, always have a great helper to keep you on your toes!
Nothing says cooking like potholders!

Nothing says cooking like potholders!

6) Kelly from ColourscapeStudios says

Growing my own herbs and veg has become one of the smartest things I decided to do. I have pots full of goodness, ranging from basil to strawberries, red onions to thyme! Our two year old thinks it’s awesome that we can go into the backyard and pick our food, and it’s really made her more interested in eating more, so it’s a win/win!
Great gift for the chef with everything!

Great gift for the chef with everything!

7) Megha Silvano from byTheArtBug says

Instead of buying ready-made Jams from the store why not make your own!

This way you can control and know the ingredients that go in. Here is a simple 3 ingredient home-made Strawberry Jam Recipe.
1 Cup chopped Strawberries.
3/4 Cup Sugar.(or you can add more if needed)
1 Tsp Lemon Juice.
*both sugar and lemon juice act as natural preservatives.

Mix everything together and cook in a non stick pan till the mixture thickens and leaves the edges of the pan.
Cool and Store in an airtight glass container and refrigerate.
It would be good for 2-3 months. (Unless you like eating spoonfuls like me)

Warm jam and biscuits on Christmas morning sounds just lovely!

Warm jam and biscuits on Christmas morning sounds just lovely!

8) Amy Spock from BeadsandThreadsbyAmy says

I love substituting oil or butter in cookie recipes with applesauce. My husband loves my applesauce raisin oatmeal cookies made this way. It takes some playing around with the amount, but it is well worth the effort! Any time I bake, I love my apron! Saves me laundry and stains on my clothes, and wearing it always reminds me of my grandmother.

Aprons are great holiday gifts for the health-conscious chef.

Aprons are great holiday gifts for the health-conscious chef.