Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Wrap Up

Holly Jolly, By Golly!
Our trees were full of handmade Things With Wings ornaments!

We sure hope you had a great Christmas!  Ours was full of lots of family time, lots of good food, lots of new toys, lots of game playing, and lots of special handmade gifts!

The youngest Winger Emily was here from Austin for 2 weeks!  We talked a lot, laughed a lot, ate a lot and relaxed a lot.  For Christmas she gave us our very own copies of the new Austin Stone Live Worship album!  If you haven't heard it yet, go take a listen for yourself - you'll want to buy it!  They have a new website too, with a ton of awesome resources.  One of the best things about the website is that you can watch the hour long album release celebration any time you want to.  That's our Emily over on the left side of the stage with the look of pure joy on her face.  I KNOW she's really going to appreciate that I've captured this screen shot of her :-)

If you're on facebook much, you may have already seen some of the handmade gifts that we gave each other for Christmas.  Green Girl made us framed yarn-wrapped letters.  She painted the frame, added the background, and wrapped paper mache letters:

and painted leather cuff bracelets.  She cut the leather, added snaps, and painted each one in a fun, unique way:

Mamma Winger made us unique artwork from a vintage dictionary and stamped letters printed on canvas.

To wrap up 2011, we thought we'd investigate what our most popular posts from this past year were. These blog entries were our top viewed blog posts and/or top pinned images from Pinterest.

1.  Teacher Gifts, December 20, 2011  This was our top viewed post due to the explosion of new visitors brought our way via Craftgawker!   In this post I shared the inexpensive and easy teacher Christmas gifts I made from a 2x4 plank of wood.  

2.  My New Wall, August 15, 2011  In this post Green Girl Laura shared her entryway welcome wall created from a variety of frames in her collection.  We all LOVE and can relate to its honest message!  And it's so much fun for it to be one of the first things guests see when they enter her home.  The majority of our blog visitors to this post came from Pinterest.   

This welcome message has been very popular and also appears in our top selling "This Thing Called Family" piece!   Guess a lot of people can relate!

3.  New Creative Works by Connie (Mamma Winger),  May 24, 2011  In this post, Connie, aka Mamma Winger, shared a multitude of amazing new pieces that she had ready for our spring art shows, but the image that caught everyone's eye and created the most buzz was her "ABC's of life" - that baby is still ALL OVER Pinterest!

 It was very interesting to investigate our top viewed posts of the year and the referring traffic sources.  By FAR and away, Pinterest has brought us the most traffic this year.  It's made a huge difference in the number of visitors we get.  Thanks, Pinterest!  You can follow our boards here:   Leave your link in the comments if you'd like us to follow you!

So now it's on to 2012... this is a time of looking back at what we've learned from 2011 and a time of looking forward to all the good things sure to come in 2012!  Are you making any resolutions?

We wish you all a safe and happy new year! See ya on the flipside!  :-)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gifts with wings

Momma Winger reporting in! ok, I know, I know. . . I can't take photographs worth a crap.....we all know that, right? So bear with us on this one. I just had to show off the Things with Wings gifts I got for Christmas. The multi-colored "Make Today Count" sign with the handy dandy purple hook on it was made by Jill. Is it cute or what? I need to hang it in just the right spot where I will be sure to gaze upon it every morning and contemplate what extraordinary thing I could do that day. . . . hmmmmmm. . . . for sure! But I love it - the wonderful colors - and the depth of thought that 3 small words can convey. The other piece was made by Laura. The letter "B"(for Berends) in this painted frame which is a piece of art in and of itself. So cute. The "B" is wrapped in yarn. I love that soft and hard are combined and complement each other. It's hanging in my dining area right beside my Christine Mason Miller "Be an Artist" piece by DEMDACO. OH! back to Laura - Green Girl - she does wonderful things in ALL colors! I also got another very special gift from daughter #3! Gonna save that for another post. In the meantime I hope you can imagine how great these pieces are in real life in spite of my lack of talent in the photo department!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teacher Christmas Gifts

Today was the last day of school for our kids before winter break!  Are you ready?! 

Here's a peek at Christmas gifts I made for the various teachers in our boys' lives.  These wise old owls say,

"Do your best.  *BE your best."

I chose this message because I thought it was a great encouragement to both teachers and students.   (We have a friend who is a school guidance counselor who loved this message for her office - so I knew other teachers would appreciate it as well.)

On the back of each art block I wrote a personal message, thanking each teacher for how they bring out the best in their students.  We are so blessed to have phenomenal teachers in the ICCSD who care deeply about our kids.  This small token of our appreciation doesn't nearly measure up to the hard work and dedication that these people show on a daily basis.     

*UPDATE:  Because we've received so many questions about the process, I thought I'd tell you a bit more about how these were made. 

I bought an 8ft long 2x4 (Very inexpensive - only around $3!) at Menard's and had my husband cut them into 4in. increments.  As a 2x4 is actually more like 3 1/2 inches wide, this made my blocks not quite square, but cutting was much easier, quicker + came out even that way.  I painted the blocks in a variety of my favorite colors with craft acrylics, then created the owl from my patterned paper scraps and mod podge.  Another layer of acrylics + sharpie marker were added for the owl details.  Printed my quotes out and added those as well.  Pretty easy, fast, and definitely inexpensive, as I had all the materials on hand, other than the 2x4.  Just a small token of our appreciation, but meaningful!

We are so excited about all of the new visitors that this project has brought our way recently!  If you're new, we welcome you whole-heartedly and hope you'll stick around awhile!   Visit our About page to meet our artsy family, check out our line of "family values"-themed art and home decor items called "This Thing Called Family" and like our facebook page for lots of fun updates and goofiness!  

I added fun, doodle-y lines to the sides of the blocks.

So now that the kids are home from school..... "quiet" is a thing of the past.  Let the wild ruckus begin! 

Did you make teacher gifts this holiday season?  Leave us a comment - we're interested to hear about what you made!  

If you blog, we'd love to see your post about teacher gifts you made too, so feel free to leave us the links so we can come and visit!  

*Linking to Flamingo Toes!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We're Quirky Too!

Today we're celebrating all of the wonderful quirky qualities that make you uniquely YOU!

If we're friends in real life, you may already be familiar with Jen Hatmaker - she spoke at our church's women's conference a few years back.  Or you may be familiar with her because we've previously shared on facebook some of Jen's thoughts and posts as she experienced and then wrote the book Seven:

If you're not familiar with her books or her story, you can find out more here

She recently wrote a very thought-provoking post on Christmas and how her family has chosen to give it back to Jesus.   It's called the Christmas Conundrum and it may feel radical to some of you, but this may be just the very reason why by the time you get all of the shopping done, the presents wrapped, and the food baked, there is still this empty place inside you that usually results in what we call the Annual Christmas Cry.
So anyway, I just threw a lot of heavy stuff at you.  And you can take it or leave it.  Despite the challenging manner of the topics I just mentioned, Jen actually has an amazing and unique sense of humor!  Now you're probably wondering where all this is going.  The REAL reason for my post is actually much more trivial - and I mean that in the best sense of the word.  :-)

Jen's latest blog post called "Quirky" reveals some of the unique idiosyncrasies that make her one of a kind.  We all have those little neurotic tendencies.  If you think you don't, you're not being honest with yourself!  It's a very funny article, and the comments are hilarious too!  I never knew that so many people had obsessions with numbers.  I obviously don't.  So in that same fashion, I thought I'd share a few of my "tendencies" and hope the other Wingers will join in.  We'd love to hear some of yours too!  So here goes:

-There is only one way to fold bath towels.  You fold them in half, and then you fold that into thirds.  My husband, bless his heart, had to learn this early on, and now folds them that way too.  The reason: as a kid we had a linen closet tucked into a corner outside the bathroom.  The unusually small and triangular space made our mother insist we fold the towels a certain way so that they would fit. I don't have a triangular closet, but old habits are hard to break.  
-I don't like it when people are almost touching me.  You might as well BE touching me.  My sisters knew this growing up (and still occasionally even now) and would torture me by pointing their finger and hovering it inches over the bare skin on my arm or leg.  I swear I can feel it.  MO-OM, she's almost touching me!

-Now that we have a refrigerator with an ice maker, I am obsessed with crushed ice.  I only use crushed ice for all of my drinks - juice, water, soda.  Banana shaped ice cubes are too big, and they block the drink from getting to you.  If my husband gets me a glass of something to drink, he knows to use crushed ice but rarely uses enough and I'll usually end up getting myself more.  If I have filled up two glasses with ice for the two of us, I've for sure given myself more and if he takes the wrong one, he has to trade with me. I'm the opposite of all of those people on Jen's blog who said they can't stand the sound of someone eating ice. I crunch whole glass-fulls of ice.  I know this isn't good for my teeth.  I know it's probably annoying to listen to.  I probably wouldn't want to listen to it either.  But it's different when you're the one doing it.  Even after the drink is gone I will sit and finish all of the ice in the glass before I'm done.  I could go on and on about crushed ice.  It's truly a passion of mine.

-I don't consider myself a knuckle cracker because I don't crack them the 'traditional' way.  I do, however, crack them all together at the same time by pressing my fingers against my collar bone.  I do this several times a day, and only with my left hand, (I'm left handed) never my right - that would just be weird.  There's just something comforting about it.  I associate it with how I sleep and rest - (another idiosyncrasy) usually with my left hand tucked into my neck.  I've slept that way ever since I was little.  My parents used to say that I must have been in the womb that way.

-There is only one right way to build a burger when you're preparing them at home.  (In restaurants it doesn't matter.)  This too, is an inherited trait that Mama Winger passed along to me.  You put mustard and onion on the bottom bun, underneath your burger. Then your hamburger, cheese, ketchup and pickle on top of that.  It doesn't taste the same assembled any other way.  Try it, you'll see what I mean.

-In the days of sippy cups, (which we're thankfully out of now!) the matching colored lid HAD to go with the right cup.  There was no mix matching allowed.  I remember my brother-in-law was firmly with me on this one, but Green Girl could have cared less!

-here's a new one -just recently developed.  I've got a complex about Christmas cards.  This is the first year that we're not sending any out.  It's so much money and for what?  Something somebody's most likely going to throw away.  I just don't see the point anymore.  Nobody wants a picture of my family that they'll have to feel guilty about throwing away.  (Or maybe they won't feel guilty.)  Nobody cares to read a Christmas letter where we brag about ourselves.  People who we're close to already know what we've been up to this year.  I thought about doing a Christmas letter that brags about Jesus instead, but not everybody wants my sermon either.  I used to be pretty proud about how many cards we'd get from other people.  Hang them all up and display them proudly: look!  see how popular we are?  see how many friends we have?!  But how many of those people do I actually talk to regularly?  (It's kind of like being proud of how many facebook friends you have.)  I've probably just offended someone who sent me a very nice, newsy card and watch, we won't get any this year!  And then I'll feel like nobody likes me.  So right now I have a pile of Christmas cards accumulating on my kitchen island that we've already received but I haven't opened them up yet.  I don't know what to do with them. I almost feel... guilty about them.  I totally appreciate getting them, but don't want to hang them up.  See how neurotic this thing is getting?!        

So anyway, those are just a few of my many, many quirks.  I'm sure if you asked the other Wingers they could tell you many more things about me that make me, "me."  I swear I'm not a freak. 

Actually, I think it's way refreshing when people are real with each other.  Especially people you look up to.  I mean we are all so far from perfect.  Isn't it comforting to realize that everybody's got their 'stuff' and you're not alone?!  People who try to make you think that they are perfect only make it harder on themselves and all the rest of us by trying to obtain the impossible.  It creates these crazy, unrealistic standards, steals your time and robs your joy.   Why don't we all just be real instead?!  So much easier, so much freedom!

So how 'bout it? Let's celebrate what makes each of us so fearfully and wonderfully made!  What makes YOU quirky and special?   Let's just pretend that these things only make us even more endearing to the people around us!  :-)


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Introducing NEW "This Thing Called Family" for 2012!!!

We are so excited to introduce you today to the new pieces that will be coming out in January for "This Thing Called Family!"

We had our open house this past weekend, so we set up a little display of our favorites to give our friends a first look.  We had to add another little sign saying, "Not for Sale!" because so many people wanted to scoop these up!  I know, we're teasers!

The reason that we're so excited about these new pieces is because not only are they artful, so many of them are also USE-ful!  

The piece below is a great way to display your kid's artwork.  It's magnetic and can be used vertically or horizontally.

Set of share, spend and save boxes - helps kids make good choices with their money or can be used as a family for a common goal:

One of our new favorites - a magnetic perpetual calendar!  There are unique magnets for each month to place in the sun, a rectangular magnet frame to put around the day of the week, and a circular magnet frame to move along for the date.  There's a "pocket" to store the extra magnets and it says "Make today a good day." across the bottom.  It seemed like there was a lot of buzz about the calendar at our open we're thinking/hoping people will like it!

New crosses to add to the ones already in our collection! And there are more not pictured:

There are 6 sets of these phrases, made from separate word blocks.  Each says something different and has its own unique color palette.  The sides have fun designs on them and are wide enough that the blocks can stack on a shelf or mantle.  These sets are versatile because they could ALSO be hung.  You could hang them vertically - one word below the next or hang the words in a horizontal line.  So they will fit lots of different spaces:

Another new favorite: a Nesting Owl family.  These are gor-geous!!!   The message is revealed one word at a time:  "Make each day count."  We think this set is going to be a big hit - we still get all silly over them!

So this is just a taste of what's coming out in January- it isn't everything!* 

You can see all of the items in the original collection here:  This Thing Called Family.

Did you notice anything about these new pieces?
...That's right, it's the color!  We are thrilled to be adding more glorious colors to our line!  It just makes us happy to look at and is so true to where we are in our art lives right now.

We're so glad to be able to finally share these new items with you.  Secrets are so hard to keep!
*We'll show you the rest as soon as we see it ourselves!

So what do you think?  Do you have a favorite?

*We'll have even more good stuff coming out in March and summertime next year that we can't reveal just yet, but we're even more excited about (if that's even physically possible!) because it holds a special place in our hearts!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TWW Holiday Open House 2012

Our holiday open house was a big success, but man is it a lot of work!

The prep started last Wednesday night when Laura and her family moved all of their living room furniture to their garage.

During the day on Thursday we put up all of the Things With Wings artwork.  Each piece was one of a kind! 

Thursday afternoon and evening our friends came to set up their areas.

We were all set up by Friday, mid-day!!!

 Mamma Winger had 2 alphabets- both SOLD right away!
a SPECIAL special order that was picked up over the weekend.

scrapwood houses come in all shapes and sizes!

Green Girl's family chalkboard
Adding Friday night hours to our open house this year was a very good idea.  Our busiest times of the weekend were the first 2 hours Friday afternoon!  Guess everyone wanted first picks!  We'll for sure try to do Friday hours again next year.

Mamma Winger attached her ornaments to fabric this year to make garlands.  All sold!

 Green Girl's family is always happy to have their house back to normal by Saturday night!  We're so grateful that they're so willing to give up their living space for a few days, help set up and put away AND disappear during show hours!  That's asking a lot of them!  So special thanks to all of Green Girl's family!

Congrats to our Giveaway Winners!

Big-humongous-out-of-this-world thank-yous to all of you who came to our holiday open house this past weekend!  We had a great time and hope you did too.  The addition of Friday hours was a great success!  Here are our giveaway winners:
Jacqueline Charlier won the Things With Wings sunshiny owl.
Tracy Mathews won the TTW heart hook.
Mary Lovetinsky won the TWW "welcome" sign.
Marylu Hoefer won the Icing on the Cake mittens.
Rae Mosier won the Girls' Intuition jewelry.
Congrats to all! Your artist should be contacting you soon, if they haven't already. 

Here are some highlights from our weekend:

Fa La La!

entryway- a quick 'Relax' was added to the back of this bench for customers because Green Girl had nothing else to do:-)

Model Andrea from itti biti! Our favorite apron from itti biti has owls on it of course. 

Lots of beautiful jewelry from Girls' Intuition.

Headbands with fabric flowers by Marnie of Icing on the Cake Accessories

Original paintings by Shadley Grimes on old windows.  2 out of 3 TWWers came home with a new one!

the cutest cake pops by Penny Pops

a BIG custom order created by Green Girl was delivered to a special soon-to-be mother.  There were lots of happy tears!

the happy mother-to-be with Laura

A Things With Wings village on the mantle!

Next time we'll show you pictures of the Things With Wings set-up for the open house!

Austin Stone Live

Hey Things With Wings people!

I don't ever post on the blog, but I'm the youngest sister of this family. Every once in awhile I'll get on here and post usually has nothing to do with painting or crafting or any kind of artsy thing that my mom and my sisters do. I DID NOT get any of that talent! :)

BUT I am thankful that God gave me a different kind of talent and I wanted to share with you all some exciting news.  The church that I lead worship for in Austin, Texas is releasing our first ever LIVE worship album!!!!
We are SO excited about this.

It is available on iTunes NOW!! GO GET IT!!
These are songs that we sing on Sundays and we are so excited that these songs will go outside the doors of our church and into the doors of homes across the world! For HIS glory!

One more exciting bit of news...
We are having a CD Release/worship night tonight, Tuesday, December 6th at 7:00pm CT. If you are in Austin come join us at The For the City Center OR... if you are not in Austin we will be streaming the night LIVE!! Go to our website, to watch.

Another fun thing about our website is that it has a ton of resources. We have instructional videos for the songs, chord charts, the theology and story behind the song ... all kinds of things. So check that out too!

So thankful to be a part of this and to see Jesus be lifted up! He is so good.
For more information and updates you can check out my blog at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Last 3 Open House Giveaways are from Us!

We can't believe that the Things With Wings holiday open house is almost here!  We have 3 more giveaways to announce at the end of this post, and they're all from us!  I don't think introductions are necessary...You've met us before.  And you probably already know more about us than you ever wanted to. :-)

But first, here are a few details about our open house Friday and Saturday:
-TWW will be selling all kinds of original, one of a kind, handmade pieces.  NO one else in the whole, wide world will have another one like it!  As much as we love it, will not be selling any of the pieces from "This Thing Called Family" but we can tell you all about how and where to find them! 
-We wanted YOU to have the first look at the new 2012 pieces for "This Thing Called Family" because we love you so much!  We will have a small display set up for you to get a peek at these items that are not available yet to the public!

-NEW this year, with the acquisition of a Square device for our smart phones, we will be accepting credit cards!  Checks and cash still work too! :-) 
-As much as we LOVE your children, it's going to be very crowded - we are expecting our biggest turnout ever!  They would have a ton more fun at home than at our ol' open house!
-We won't be available during the day tomorrow (Friday) because we have some visitors coming from Demdaco that we will be meeting with!  Very excited to have them come!
 - Don't forget to sign up for the open house giveaways by putting your name in the bowl at the giveaway table!  Our friends have been very generous this year - go back through the last few posts to see what all you could win!

And now on to the last 3 open house giveaways!

Mamma Winger Connie is giving away this Love plaque with a handy hook.  Hang your necklaces on it, or whatever you want!

Green Girl Laura is giving away this sunshiny owl - doesn't he just look like he has a sunshiny disposition?!

And me - Jill - I'm giving away this Welcome sign.  Hang it on your front door or in your entryway for a colorful and cheerful way to greet visitors!

We hope you are as excited as we are and that you can sleep tonight.  ;-)  Let's all try to get a good nights sleep so we'll be ready for each other! 

We can't wait to see you Friday and Saturday!

Friday Dec 2, 4pm-8pm
Saturday Dec 3, 10am-5pm

More details here!

Meet Andrea, Vanessa and Norma of itti biti!

New to our open house this year!

itti biti - all things baby and more!

Andrea and Vanessa are friends who started itti biti when they began looking for unique baby products for their own babies, but couldn't find what they were looking for.  Using their creative skills and Andrea's mom Norma's sewing skills, they put together an original collection of fun and funky baby essentials.  The key to their success is handmade quality combined with stylish fabric choices which gives "itti biti" its original look.

itti bitti products include blankies, burp cloths, travel caddies, hats, aprons and more!
Andrea, Vanessa and Norma are generously giving away one of their caddies at our open house!  A caddi is just the right size for diaper changing on the go.  It holds travel wipes on one side and 2-3 diapers on the other. Throw it in your purse or diaper bag for the ultimate in style and convenience. Tuck one of their burp cloths in for a handy changing pad.  

Thanks, itti biti gals, for joining us this year!

 If you want more info about our Things With Wings Holiday Open House this Friday and Saturday in Iowa City, email us at and we'll send you an invite!

Be sure to look back at all of the other great artists who are joining us and stay tuned for the TWW giveaways, yet to be announced!