Monday, December 2, 2013

Stars in the Backyard

I love the anticipation & wonder of December. Will it snow soon? Will the sun peek out today? And if it does, will it gently illuminate snowflakes & make them sparkle as they fall silently to meet the earth? Each new day brings another facet of Winter's quiet beauty & strength. Yet in spite of her cold & frost, her night stars always seem to twinkle brightest.

And as the holidays press upon us, I like to take time out to count my blessings as well as look around me to see who's been a blessing to me & the community in return. One way that I can demonstrate my gratitude is to "Buy Local" for the holiday season. It's my way of thanking my hardworking & artistic neighbors—the "stars in the backyard", if you will—who endeavor to make my community more colorful, vibrant & creative each and every day.

Luckily, in my small mountain village in Colorado, the local cultural center & various vendors hold art & craft fairs during the holiday season so townspeople can do just that—buy local. Not only is it a chance for me to peruse handmade gifts crafted by exceptional artisans, it's also a time where I can chat with my neighbors, catch up on local gossip, and be stunned by how many talented people actually reside in my area!

One such talent is Megan DeSmidt, who creates artistically-designed fabric purses, satchels & backpacks for her own company, St. Clair Designs. Interestingly enough, St. Clair happens to be Megan's maiden name & is also the name of the patron saint of embroidery—so it seems destined that Megan would apply her artistry to creative sewing! You can see more of her fabulous designs at

Megan DeSmidt—fabric purse designer

I'll admit it it—I'm a sucker for the fabric arts (particularly creations that feature the interplay of different textures & patterns), so I couldn't help buying one of Megan DeSmidt's charming purses as a gift for a favorite relative for Christmas.

The "Dena Bag" by St. Clair Designs

Then there's Tina Rodholm, who takes breathtaking & evocative regional photographs of mountainscapes, vintage western scenes & brooding Colorado sunsets. You can check out more of her stunning work at

Tina Rodholm—photographer

Another artisan who inspired my awe is Helen Cahill with her "Wreaths of Hope." Similar to dream catchers, her lovely weavings made from pine needles are designed to "prompt a treasuring of nature." She says her hope is that "love, laughter, friendship and kindness will be as free flowing as air through the openings of her weavings" in the homes of all who purchase her unique gifts. You can reach Helen Cahill at

Helen Cahill—"Wreath of Hope" weaver
And speaking of weavings, the southwestern flair of Douglas Narigon was on full, vibrant display, hearkening back to the Native American heritage of our Colorado mountain region. For orders, he can be reached at 719-424-2036.
Douglas Narigon—weaver
And for the nature enthusiast, the delicately beautiful wood sculptures of Stan Dewey, who specializes in birds of prey, fish & wildfowl, were extraordinary to behold. He can be contacted at 719-439-8318.
Stan Dewey—wood sculptor
Not to be outdone, however, is Stan Dewey's wife Sandy, who is also a wood & gourd artist. She created the following charming & whimsical holiday pieces.
Sandy Dewey—gourd & wood artist
Just in case you're tempted to believe this gallery of artisans features work for the mere "common folk", bear in mind that Kenneth W. Shanika's original oil painting titled "Christmas Eve" sold at an art show within the first five minutes for a whopping $900 (and 2 others sold for that price as well). Gasp—it's gorgeous, but I'm afraid I could only afford his holiday card reproductions for $15! ; ). If you admire Kenneth's fine artistry, you can view more of his paintings at or visit Colorado Expressions Gallery at 122 East Kiowa Street in Colorado Springs.
"Christmas Eve" by Kenneth W. Shanika

Kenneth W. Shanika—oil painter
All this creativity & color made me want to break out some brushes & paint a few things of my own! If you have any free time at all this holiday season, perhaps the greatest gift you can indulge yourself in is the opportunity for creative free play. Paint, whittle, sculpt, draw, stencil, bake, write—it might even be fun to invite your relatives or guests to do the same! Below is a woodburning I created one season while I was hopelessly bored during a heavy storm that snowed me in. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and because I was low on funds that year & worried about how I could afford holiday gifts, these nifty keepsake boxes turned out to be heartfelt & homemade treasures for my loved ones <3
"Fox Box"—original woodburning by Diane J. Reed
And who knows—with enough creativity & effort, you may discover that the star ready to twinkle in your backyard might turn out to be YOU. Here's to a joyful & imaginative holiday season that sparkles deep within your soul & brings light to everyone you touch...

 (Photo credit note: All images on my blog are either my own or were gleaned from pictures in the public domains of facebook, pinterest, or other popular social networks. If you own the copyright to any of these images & do NOT want them used publicly, please contact me & I will take them down immediately! : )


  1. I always look forward to your new your "fox box" !

  2. Thank you Kathleen (a creative soul in your own right!). Hope your holidays are warm & bright <3

  3. Terrific blog and post, Diane! So glad I met you!

  4. Likewise, Donnell—thank you for visiting my website & see you soon at the holiday dinner! <3