Life, Zazzle, And Design – A Lifestyle and Art Blog

Coffee, Vegan Nutella, Gratitude And A Story

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Morning Flower by Claudia H. Blanton

Hey, good to see you! I just made coffee, and I have fresh bread rolls that are still hot from the oven, ready to be topped with delicious jam or some homemade vegan Nutella. How to make homemade Nutella, you ask? Rather simple:

Take 1/4 cup of hazelnut butter (you can use peanut or almond butter, but trust me it is not the same then using the real hazelnut butter stuff), put it in a bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of raw agave nectar, and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Mix it well. I recommend doubling the recipe though because most of the time someone else will want some too. Just like the real thing, this stuff is addicting.

Drinking our hot beverages, I would tell you that I am still not fond of the weather here. Way too cold. I am hiding under my blanket with a space heater next to me, simply because I like it cozy. If it gets too warm for you, let me know, and I will turn it down.

I was looking through my older stories, and found the following Flash Fiction again, and I wanted to share it with you. It is called, “A New Friend” and I hope you will enjoy it.


A New Friend

He wasn’t such a scary fellow. Ugly maybe, but who was I to judge him by his looks? Too many people tended to judge people by their appearance. But I knew better.
His eyes, not meeting mine for more than a second at a time, where big and full of mistrust. Hair, thick and unkempt, covered up most of his distorted face, his body bent forward in a mixture of agony and malformation. As he reached for the spindle, his broken left hand was surprisingly capable of doing the deed in front of him. Again he glanced, and again the glance ended as quickly as it had begun.

“I will do what you asked for.”
His voice, as broken as his body was soft, but determined.
“I am sure you will.”
“And you will do as promised.”, he demanded.
“As I always do.”
He paused, then nodded, continuing to work the spindle, swiftly, with a confidence that defied his outer appearance and demeanor. Two minutes later, he stopped, his crackling voice echoing through the silence “Why?”
“Why, what?”, I answered.
“Why do you watch?”
“Because I am curious.”
“Ahh”., he murmured, beginning to move again, repeating the motion that was so hard for able body me, and easy for challenged him. Another two minutes passed in utter silence. Stopping as suddenly as the first time, he glared at me longer, his green eyes darkening, as they penetrated through me, to my core.
“Why?” he asked once more.
“Why, what?”
“Why do you care?”
“Because you are interesting.”
“You have no fear?”, he questioned, surprised
“I feel no reason to fear you.”

He stroked his hair away from his misshapen cheek bones, pinning it behind his large ears, nodding, then with what was a twisted smile, that despite its broken shaped showed a kindness, apparent and deep.
“Then forgive me, my Lady. You have nothing to fear. And you owe me nothing for my work.”, his voice stronger this time, as he straightened as much as he was able to.
I smiled back at him, stretching my hand toward the old figure in front of me.
“So I shall give you my friendship, dear Sir, if you wish.”
“I would be honored indeed.”
We shook hands, swiftly, with the same efficiency, with which he had moved the spindle.
“What may I call you Sir?”, I dared to asked?




Don't Let Them Tame You By Claudia H. Blanton
Don’t Let Them Tame You By Claudia H. Blanton

I did not write my gratitude lists on  the blog this week, not for Thursday, Friday, nor Saturday but I am using Thanksgiving as my excuse. Those three days belonged to my family. I hope you had a wonderful celebration, and were able to connect with your loved ones.
Because of this, I am going to share parts of my gratitude list with you today, and hope you will take a moment to reflect upon what you are grateful for as well.

  1. I am grateful for my oven, which has been and will continue to be used in over-abundance until
    all of the winter holidays have left us. I might gain some weight, as a result, but that is what new years resolutions are for.
  2. I am grateful for my husband’s business partner (and who happens to be my boss), who send me a pretty nice text message out of the blue on Thanksgiving, saying how thankful he was, that we are helping him with the business. It is nice to be appreciated.
  3. I am grateful for Canva and Picmonkey, which I used to make the typography throughout this post. Both have free versions (I use premium on both), that are wonderful for bloggers, especially now that my computer is acting up. I really do not want to fight with any more complicated programs, like Photoshop or Illustrator, when I have a laptop complicating things.
  4. I am grateful for that adorable not so little dog, with white eyes, who seems to have taking a liking to me. It belongs to a neighbor, but every time she sees me, she acts like my dogs do, after I been gone for a couple of hours. That is so cute. I tried to take a picture of her, but she is too hyper to hold still long enough I think she adopted me.


This has turned into a much longer conversation than intended. I am going to let you go, but not before telling you to take some of that Nutella – of course, I made extra.


This blog post is a part of the following blog hops

Weekend Coffee Share

Celebrate The Small Things

No Rules Weekend Blog Party

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Thankful Thursdays

Words – Typography On My Mind


You Make Me Fearless by Claudia H. Blanton
You Make Me Fearless by Claudia H. Blanton

I decided to try something new this week, venture outside of my artistic comfort zone and embrace the creation of some typographic posters. I do this every once in a while, move my focus upon a subject matter or a creative technique I have never tried before, and dive in. Sometimes, I find myself completely lost and drop it like a hot potato, but other times, like this week, I find a new creative outlet I actually enjoy. I enjoyed it enough to open a printable only Etsy store “No Plain Paper”.

Coffee By Claudia H. Blanton
Coffee By Claudia H. Blanton

These designs, like all of my other art work, are still available in my RedBubble and Zazzle stores, so you can purchase them on the many applications available there, like mugs, or as gratitude journals.

What do you do to push yourself outside of your comfort zone?

Spread Kindness Like Nutella - by Claudia H. Blanton
Spread Kindness Like Nutella – by Claudia H. Blanton

This week is the first time I am participating in the To-Know-Me Tuesday, where we are asked to post 10 things about ourselves.

So here they are:

  1. I was born in Germany
  2. My Dad was an organic gardener, in charge of our local gardening club, teaching green gardening techniques. I learned a lot from him on that subject.
  3. I speed read – not as fast as I would like, yet – but I can get through a full-size novel in about 2 hours.
  4. I am a fan of Chase Charvis, Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferris
  5. I can not dance – at all. Neither can my husband, so that works well.
  6. I wrote, directed and performed in my first play when I was 10
  7. I want to write the script to a featured film
  8. I am a published Author. One of my books is available on Amazon
  9. I can lip-read in two languages  – German and English
  10. I wish there were 36 hours in the day – then I would probably find a way to fill them all, and wish there were 48 hours, lol.

Your turn!

This blog post is a part of the following blog hops:

Be Inspired Link Party

Amaze Me Monday

Inspire Me Wednesday

Tuesdays With A Twist

Manic Monday

Stop Making Excuses

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Drop Of Water by Claudia H. Blanton

So dear fellow writers, creatives and artists, I want to wake up this morning with a little kick in the behind.

Stop making excuses.

Say what?
You heard me right. Stop making excuses why you can not work on your creative projects, goals and dreams. Stop that right now. Life is too short,  to waste another precious minute pondering upon the reasons why you can not follow through
The list of potential excuses are not going to get any shorter, just because you waited a month, a year, a decade to follow through. So stop, and do whatever it takes –  right now.

Keep The Dream Alive - Motivational Typography by Claudia H. Blanton
Keep The Dream Alive – Motivational Typography by Claudia H. Blanton

I am being hard on you here because I know how debilitating those excuses can be. I lived and breathed excuses. I would blame everyone and everything for why I do not have time, from lack of sleep to lack of resources, to not being good enough, or not having the right connections.

Guess what, if you do not do any of the steps needed to make your dream come true, you still will not have all of those things, and in addition to that, you will have a mediocre life at best. Do you really want that?
I did not think so.

So, say it with me, one more time.

Stop making excuses.

Start by asking questions. How about asking others for resources, or how they did it? How about getting your head away from that tv show and watch a youtube video on how others in your field made it? You will find, that many creatives do not mind sharing their “secrets”, which are no secrets through many platforms. Learn and then do.

I am rooting for you.

This post is a part of the following blog hops:

Taking Care

Weekend Blog Party At Life As We Know It By Paula


Light And Dark

Tree With Roots by Claudia H. Blanton
Tree With Roots by Claudia H. Blanton

Welcome! Would you like some coffee? The following post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share Blog Hop, and contains links to my artwork, and stuff I actually buy (affiliate links). 

If you were here with me, having coffee – or tea – I got some yummy imported Japanese green tea, if you prefer the latter – I would welcome you to Linzer cookies, and new pieces of art. You would probably notice that this week, I have been working in contrasts – either creating very dark pieces, such as “Anger”, and “Masks“,  or light ones, like “Tree With Roots”. No colorful “in-betweens”, no “something in the middle,” but each on the opposite ends of the color spectrum and theme.

Why, you might ask, would I go from a subject matter such as Domestic violence to something really light in such a short period of time?

My answer to that question is  balance. While I enjoy working on both ends of the contrast, I find myself is automatically balancing my creations, often without noticing, and almost never intentional. I do the same with writing, instinctively seeking the balance that the Universe seems to crave.

Tree In The Dark by Claudia H. Blanton
Tree In The Dark by Claudia H. Blanton

It is  concept present in all of the celebrations of this season, no matter which spiritual connection one chooses to follow. The light, peace and hope of what is bright, and warm, piercing through the darkness of the Winter months, creating once again balance.

Do you embrace the contrast of dark and light? Does it show in your creative process, or do you enjoy one side of the spectrum more, when you are being creative? Is that an intellectual process for you, or are you creating instinctively?

This blog post is a part of the following blog hops:

Weekend Coffee Share

Tater Tots And Jello



Anger And Gratitude

Anger by Claudia H. Blanton
Anger by Claudia H. Blanton

the anger behind
that sweet smile you always show
is reserved for me

Domestic abuse – a reality many women – and men – experience in their relationship. The fear of those who supposed to be caring for us, making our homes a nightmare, instead of a safe haven is real, and never the fault of the abused.

Why am I choosing to write about domestic violence in a blog post that usually features “Celebrate The Small Things” and “Thankful Thursday”? Because I am thankful to be one of those women who do not have to live in fear, but I am also aware that this puts me in the situation to choose to ignore the plight of others, or do something about it.

While donating to organisations that assist domestic violence victims might not seem a lot, it is something many of us who live a comfortable and safe life can do. Just because we do not experience this type of environment, does not mean we can let ourselves be numb to those who suffer.

Anger And Gratitude

But, I am going to add this for my most eager readers, you should NEVER get directly involved. Domestic violence perpetrators are violent and dangerous, making anyone in their way a target just as much as the actual target they desire. If you suspect anyone you know being abused, or know that they are in need of help, look for local resources they can contact, or call them yourself, and ask them what actions they suggest for the abused to take. Those professionals are trained to assist victims and keep them safe, something that you and I are not.

If you are looking for organisations that help battered spouses, check out the following links:

Women helping battered women
 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
 Leaving Abuse

This blog post is a part of the following blog hops:

Thankful Thursdays

Celebrate The Small Things

Thankful Thursday (Pepi Smart Dog)

Reasons to be Cheerful



The above art piece “Anger” is available on RedBubble, and I am donating 20 % of profits of this digital art piece to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Thank you for your support.



Masks by Claudia H. Blanton
Masks by Claudia H. Blanton


your colorful masks
empty of real expression
hide the pain inside


We all pretend. Sometimes in social media, this pretend leaves me with a feeling of disconnect. I don’t mean that we purposely pretend to be someone else we are not. I do not believe that. But because social media and blogging (as well as art and writing) can leave the creator vulnerable, we hide behind our masks of our own creation.

How much should we share? How will what we share affect those we love, and how does the parts that we do choose to show influence what others think of us?

Many bloggers choose to share quite a bit about their lives. Cautiously, they write about their depression, struggles, obstacles and dreams. This raw openness takes courage. Artists and writers do the same, through their creation and stories – even if it is not as recognizable at first glance as it is in the platform of a blog about someone’s life. The message and vulnerability is the same.

It is that what attracts me to those creatives, and the fact that the opposite is often the truth in social media channels and that pushes me away. Where is the real person behind the twitter feed, the emotion behind that snarky comment, or seemingly open attitude? We get snippets, not stories, little glimpses of masks, rather than the true person behind.

It is not to say that we should share more, indeed I think that sharing more on those open platforms can be too dangerous to consider it. Yet, I miss that more and more today. And within that lies my love/hate relationship with social media.

Question: What parts of yourself do you share openly on social media, and which ones do you choose to hide? Is that a concious decision you make, or is it an instinctive holding back?

“Masks” is available on RedBubble as a canvas print, poster or a framed art piece.


This blog post is a part of the following blog hops:

Elizabeth And Co Link Party

Together On Tuesdays

What Are You Doing? Blog Hop

Amaze Me Blog Hop

Share With Me

Releasing Anxiety – Learning To Say No

Releasing Anxiety - Learning To Say No

Overwhelmed, and over-stressed, not just something must of us only suffer throughout the holiday season, but rather all year long. No matter if you are your own boss, an artists trying to create on your time off, or work in your dream job, stress catches up with everyone of us at least every once in a while.

I am not an exception. But I am thankful that I have come across a little trick to keep at least some of this stress at bay – saying no. Not just to what others want me to do. Yes, that is important, because the demands of others upon our time and energy can be draining, but I am also saying no to myself.

There are always so many things I want to do, accomplish and create, that it  can feel like I am drowning in want to do lists, and should do lists. But there is no way I could ever create EVERYTHING I have on those lists, so I learned to tell myself no.

Floral - by Claudia H. Blanton
Floral – by Claudia H. Blanton

I gratefully said no to the following items on my want-to-do list

1. Post every day on this blog (heck, I had the Flu, work almost full-time, and run my own business, there is simply not enough time in the day)
2. Participate in NaNoWriMo.
3. Bake multiple batches of cookies during the week – I limited myself to once a week baking.
4. Have all holiday shopping done by end of November. No one will care when I bought them their present.
5. Work on multiple book projects simultaneously. I am finishing up my Flash Fiction book, publish it and then work on the next project.
6… and many more

This was an important decision to make, one that kept me from re-living those anxiety-filled moments, where I constantly worried about not doing enough. Those moments stole my sleep, and any type of ability to relax, and stay focused upon the most important aspects of my life – my family. It is hard to enjoy someone’s company, I realized, when their attention is on what he or she should be doing instead, making those around us feel like they are not as important.

Taking charge, and saying no to myself allowed me to make that healthy shift from anxiety to true productivity.

Do you feel overwhelmed with responsibilities at times? Are there any items on your list you could let go off?

Christmas Cheer Postcard
Christmas Cheer Postcard

One thing I do not let go off, are my gratitude lists. And because it is Friday, I am adding 5 things I am grateful for right now, to this post:

1. My thick red favorite sweater. That piece of clothing has become my best buddy over the last few weeks. I just wish I had multiples of the exact same one – warm, soft and cozy.
2. Coffee – of course. I am always cold – see above – so a hot cup of coffee is always by my side.
3. The loudest cat I have ever met, but who happens to have chosen us as his family. My goodness, I have had many cats, but never one as demanding and loud as this one. He talks. To me, the dogs and whoever is willing to listen.
4. Sleeping in – I was actually able to sleep in a little yesterday, which has been rare lately. That felt good
5. Silence – at this very moment, it is absolutely quiet in here – no barking, no talking cat – he is asleep – the kids are quietly busy, and the phone is not ringing. Ahh, this is nice!

I hope you have a lot of things to celebrate and be grateful for as well.
Today’s post is part of the following blog hops:

Friday Finds

Share With Me

What Are You Doing – Blog Hop

Inspire Me

Celebrate The Small Things

Appreciation, Flu, And “Winter” Blues

Appreciation, Flu And Winter Blues
Over the last few days I have been MIA from this blog – out of two legit reasons: 1. because my kids and I have been battling the flu, and 2 because this part time job, helping out someone with building a business has been resembling more a full-time job that hope that by the end of next week, all of this will be settled, and I can resume at least a more passing schedule.
But there are also many things to appreciate today. I woke up to the most wonderful notes from my children, wishing me a Happy Birthday, which was so sweet, and then I got to open many emails and social media messages filled with well-wishes and greetings. Every one of those put a smile on my face.
I feel gratitude for the fact that the sun came out to greet me as well, which suits me well, considering the last few days have been dreary, reminding me more of those days when Winter Blues set in, in Germany, and the days were one big sea of continuous grey. Not exactly the best sight. The morning sun, as I walked the dogs, felt like a balm to my soul, exactly when I needed it.
I enjoyed this afternoon’s crumb coffee cake in all of its sweet glory – on top of that, I enjoyed that I did not have to bake it, my family did instead – I am usually the one backing all of the goodies, so that was a nice change in pace.
I am enjoying the fact that I let go of some anxiety that came back this week, with not being able to accomplish as much as I usually would like to, by employing the power of no. I will write about the benefits of this wonderful little tool tomorrow. Let me just tell you now, that it is a sanity-saving tool everyone should apply.
I am  thankful, that my dogs seem to be having no problems with the colder weather, actually I am surprised how much my shorter haired Athena is enjoying it. Still, I am looking for sweater for her – which is harder for big dogs like her, especially for when it gets even colder  than it already is.
A Floral Heart Keepsake Box by Claudia H. Blanton
A Floral Heart Keepsake Box by Claudia H. Blanton
I am also in appreciation that I was able to design a tiny bit. One of these examples is the heart design I started you just saw. When I create something, at least a little bit of something, I feel a little more productive on a personal level. And that feels good.
So what have you been accomplishing this week? Was your week as crazy as mine, or did you have a chance to relax a little more? I hope you, and all of your loved ones are healthy, and I am looking forward to hearing from you all!.
Check out the following blog hops, that this post is a part of and give the other participants some love!

Traditions, Skills And Gratitude

Tradition, Skills And Gratitude

While as a child, having a parent who is very detailed oriented and almost OCD about their space, is not a fun person to grow up around, I did learn quite a few useful skills from my adoptive father’s very exact personality. From how to cut an onion in precise and extra small pieces to careful and detailed gift wrapping, I am grateful for this knowledge and am often asked to teach those little skills to others.

Getting ready for the Holiday season, which in our family happens to be also the season where everyone seems to be having a birthday, I go through tons of wrapping paper and ribbons.

If you are like my friends and family, you probably think a lot less about the wrapping of those presents then the content of them – but I thought you might appreciate a little tutorial I found on youtube that shows a quick and easy way to make your presents more beautiful.

Speaking of gift giving, have you began to plan your shopping for the upcoming holidays yet? No? Me neither, but at least I have a plan in place for everyone on my list. Do you plan your holiday shopping in detail, like I do or are you waiting for whatever is on sale on days like Black Friday (which I do not participate in). I am not I would be able to get everyone a thoughtful gift without this planning ahead – which, by the way, I always do, throughout the year, and make a rule that it has to be done before Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Floral Magnet
Thanksgiving Floral Magnet – Personalize It!

Another tradition, albeit one that was a lot more fun to learn, was making Christmas cookies. I am grateful that both of my Grandmothers were avid backers and usually provided us with at least a dozen varieties each. This year I have to add some vegan varieties to the mix, so my daughter can eat them as well. I, on the other hand, will for that occasion not restrict myself and stick with tradition.


Do you have any favorite holiday skills and traditions that you enjoy? What skills did they teach you, even if at the time you might not have appreciated the learning process as much as you do that skill now?

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

And check out the custom designer Christmas wrapping collection, I created for you. It includes the most beautiful wrapping papers for this holiday season, I could find on Zazzle.


This blog post is a part of the following blog hops:

Celebrate The Small Things

No Rules Weekend Blog Party

Share With Me

When Life Gives You Spotty Internet Connection – Read

When Life Gives YouSpotty Internet Connection - Read

Sometimes we make plans and what happens after that is a completely different story. Today, my plan included working some on designs and posting Reiki and Yoga items on social media, my facebook page, and maybe even here.
Instead none of my programs loaded properly, so instead of fighting and getting mad, I decided to go with the flow and find out what other – more peaceful and stress-free – tasks I can accomplish today.

Then I remembered that I have quite a few business books I have to go through in the next few weeks, and because there is no better time for action than now, I will spend a couple of hours reading what I desperately need to know anyway.

Which brings me to the list of things I am thankful and cheerful for:

1. A chance to catch up on important reading materials
2. A warm and comfortable place to do so
3. Strong enough internet connection to write this blog post and connect with all of you
4. The knowledge that if things do not go my way, there are other ways to be productive

Look At Me - Canvas Art Print by Claudia H. Blanton
Look At Me – Canvas Art Print by Claudia H. Blanton


Now let me ask you this:
How do you deal with situations that do not go exactly as planned? Do you allow frustration to grow and ruin the rest of your day, or do you try to make the best of it? I would love to hear your thoughts, leave them in the comment section.

Oh, and do not forget to check out all of the other wonderful bloggers who participate in the following  blog hops! They would appreciate you stopping by

Thankful Thursdays

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Thankful Thursdays by FrogLilyPad




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