So far it has been a b-a-a-a-a-d year. I caught a cold which decided to show up Christmas day. Scratchy throat, headache, runny nose. I started feeling worse and worse. I missed the annual New Years celebration at the cabin and now going into the 3 week I feel better, but I can’t hear anything. It settled in my ears.

A few things I have learned from this cold. 1) it is ever changing and has a new surprise everyday. 2) So far, no glimpse of getting better. 3) When your sinuses are so clogged you can’t hear it sounds really strange when you brush your teeth. The upper teeth sounds totally different from the lower teeth.

I did manage to get to Walgreen where I talked to a nice pharmacist who said the behind the counter Sudafed and Advil was a good choice. So I promised not to make meth with it and they let me have it after showing my ID–the photo looked remarkably like me today.

But as will all colds, it will eventually go away. At least I have my cute Norski Gal mug filled with tea and comfy blankets to help me recover in style. Here’s to a better 2019. I won’t say it couldn’t get worse because, well, it could.

by : : Sarah

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Christmas Morning

Merry Christmas! We wish you all a blessed day as we celebrate the Christ child who puts the Christ in Christmas. Without him, there would be no big winter holiday.  No reason to share gifts, he was the gift, received gifts, and gave us gifts—and that is why we give gifts to others on this day.

The old Roman celebration of Saturnalia provided early Christians a holiday where they could openly celebrate the birth Christ unnoticed by Roman authorities. Many of our early Christmas traditions came out of the Roman holiday, and we have continued to add and add them until Christ is almost forgotten on this day. In fact, most Christian families have primarily followed the national trend of reducing the day to just another holiday, complete with Santa Clause as the primary character of the day.

So for non-Christians we say: have a wonderful day of color, gifts, and love in and for you families! We wish you a day of fun and rest from the worries of the rest of the year.

And for Christians we say: remember that Christ was born on this day for a purpose: for life and grace for you. Celebrate him in and among the festivities of your (his) day!

: : by Min
: :  image by Sarah

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Earth Mirror: Viewing the World

Art is a reflection of who we are. Perhaps not individually but certainly as a society. Why? Because art doesn’t just appear from air. It’s a product of how we think, what we believe, what we want, and how we can (within the rules and customs of our society) express it.

How do we view the world around us? As something beautiful? Is the landscape beautiful? Are the people beautiful (how they act and react not so much what their faces are like)? Is ours a colorful world? A drab world? An exciting world? It is a world where we feel comfortable?

Art is also about what is important to us. What do people paint, not the surfaces, but the themes and subjects? Are galleries full of landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, animals, children, certain groups of people? Are paintings and sculptures political, generic, cause-oriented, religious/anti-religious? Does the art move us forward or is it nostalgic?

Feel free to enter the discussion on our FaceBook page!

By :: Min

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Holiday Parties

“Dashing through the snow….” to Christmas Parties!  These parties are the highlight of the season for many people. Festivities! Desserts! Beautiful new dresses, sharp dressed men. Happy music, ringing bells, laughter. People go all out for these events, guests and hosts alike.

Let’s focus on hosts and hostesses of Christmas parties. What logistics go into creating the best party of the year!  Hors d’oeuvres, food, drinks, flowers, music, theme, and decorations.

Elaborate, theme ridden, unique, and eye-popping decorations:

  • Diamond or star studded, red and green, black and white, blue and silver, brightly multicolored.
  • Trees, bells, tin soldiers, nutcrackers, angels, 3-kings, reindeer, Santa hats, candy boxes, gingerbread houses, packages with bows, golden ornaments, the list is endless so I’ll stop here and let you dream of your favorite theme.

Here at Volcano Alley we picked a few themes of our own for this Christmas: Candy Box, City Fanfare, Shadow Lights, Greenery, Reindeer Games, and Holiday Rhythms. Plus a few more just for wrapping presents.

You might take a peek and see if they add to your holiday festivities this year.

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Giving Thanks

Giving thanks. We live in a time and nation where we, in general, have more than anyone else ever has. Heat in our homes, food on our tables, reasonably stable lives, medicine and doctors to keep us well.


The pilgrims left Europe for freedom of worship. They came to a new world, ready to build a new town or county; I wonder if they knew what that meant when so far from home?

What we consider everyday things took so much work, prayer, and sheer will power for the early settlers in this country. Over half of them died, others had been terribly sick. Out in the heat and cold to find animals they could shoot (with blunderbusses! Just try that!), tilling soil that had never been tilled to plant vegetables and fruits never grown in this country before, having and raising children in such harsh conditions while starving.

Their struggle prompted Thanksgiving Day. One day to give thanks to God who had bought them safely though all of this and made their work prosper. They also invited the Native Americans who had helped them, and shown then how to do so many new things, they needed to know in this new world; Native Americans and Pilgrims sharing the meal together.

Today, we can add so many other things to our list! Electricity, quick modes of transportation, shopping centers and grocery stores. Those early pilgrims would be astounded to see such things!

We are all thankful for our health, our food, our shelter. Many of us are thankful for our loved ones living through fires, wars, and violence; for better economic conditions (while many still look forward to better days), opportunities to work; to worship freely, and to live freely. As a country and a people, we also set aside one day to give thanks for all the good things we have.

What are you thankful for this year?

We add that we are thankful for all of you who have liked, shared, and followed our Volcano Alley Creative Group and bought our designed products this year. Have a great thanksgiving everyone!

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Rainy Day View

It’s a cloudy day but you decide to talk a walk. On goes your sweater, your iPhone, your rain coat and your boots, and perhaps you grab the umbrella as you head out the door. Good thinking: it starts to rain, then pour. You look down at your feet watching the puddles, but that is so boring. You look up and you find a wonderland of interesting things.

The drops make fractal designs in the water. There are shimmering colors in the puddles from the neon street signs and traffic lights. Shapes come in and out of view. Cars go past like so many colorfully striped zebras. Out in the rain there is an entire new world opening to you: one of beauty and creative thinking.

As you ponder this new world, wondering why you haven’t noticed it before and why does it seem so strange and yet so familiar, you realize that this is a muted world of solitude. The rain is loud enough to drown out the sounds, voices seem distant; the bright colors are grayed out. Even with the beating rain, the world is calm and you breathe in and out with ease, slowing you pace, after all you’re out for a walk, not in a hurry. You have time to stoop down and see the small leaves dancing in the damp, twisting this way and that, bobbing up and down.

A quiet interlude is just the thing before a busy season arrives.

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Halloween is a time of year that has become one of the biggest holiday of the year. That was a surprise to me when I heard it a few weeks ago. And yet it shouldn’t come as surprise. The ads are in the newspapers, on the internet, and my mail box. The empty stores come alive with ghouls and skeletons. 

People talk about costumes (especially the children). It certainly is not secret that it is arriving. And I start looking around to find my traditional skeleton earrings, just for fun. And I shop for candy to give out to the little ones, and I try to find some kind of healthy candy that tastes good. If you’re thinking, “Oxymoron!” you are certainly correct.

Do you want to see something really scary? A look at your clock on Sunday morning and finding you are already an hour behind! So remember to set your clock back one hour before going to bed on Saturday night. Remember the old adage: Spring forward, Fall back.

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Bring an Office to Life

Who does your office say you are? When people look at your office, or cubicle, or perhaps your desk among all the others, what statement are you making about yourself?

Family photos are signs of a mom or dad. Unicorns are signs of a fantasy dreamer with a sense of humor. Calendars are signs of the well-organized. Do you notice these little things when you go to the desks, cubicles, or offices of others? Sure you do, we all do, whether we are conscious of it or not.

My office says that I am utilitarian. I have my tools around me: books, papers, pens, pencils, brushes, canvas, and camera. But on the wall next to me? I hang my 6’x6’ painting. It is big, bright, and bold. People who know I’m an introvert sometimes laugh to find I paint so boldly, but it is also who I am.

Not everyone can have a 6’x6’ painting where they work, but everyone can have coordinating pieces of desk supplies that might give a clue that you are more than you seem.

At Volcano Alley Creative Group, our goal is to provide products that show your style in your spaces: work, home, and out-and-about.

by :: Min

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Decorative Arts

We all have a traditional fabric or jewelry in our past, whether we know what it is or not. Many young people are not connected to their family traditions and roots, many might not even know what their heritage is, but everyone has them because this is how we use to live. Our great-great grandparents came from a certain region of the globe and in that region were specific ways to dress, dance, write music, cook and everything in their daily life revolved around the traditions of that particular area.

My mother’s family is Scandinavian, some southern Norwegian and some northern Norwegian, including Sami. The colors are bright and beautiful and the needlework is sublime. I am not so fond of many of the dishes they serve (Lutefisk, oh my goodness!), but the artwork is amazing. The music is upbeat and makes you want to get up and dance.

We don’t have too many traditions left in the world, it seems that everything is just turning into a monochrome of sameness, everywhere you go it is becoming the same. Sad, having a regional identity is a way to connect with the past generations, which are also being forgotten.

But on certain days we stop and remember a bit of our heritage by dress or drink or dinning. Be it green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, enchiladas on Cinco de Mayo, sausages at October Fest, or lefsa on Leif Erickson day, we have a little fun remembering that while as people we are all the same, we are also people who come from places and cultures around the world and we all add a bit of spice to life.

: : by Sarah

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