Breaking the Counting Habit and a DIY Art Journal

I have had a certain habit quirk neurosis.  Okay maybe not my only one, but my most serious.  Counting.

I don’t mean like normal counting that might come up in your regular daily life.  I mean, like, I count.  A lot.

What do I count?  Oh, I count how many days till this or that, kind of normal.  I count stairs, going up or going down, no matter how many times I’ve counted them before.  I learned a while back that lots of people count stairs.

I count how many songs on my playlist, I count how many people have looked at a particular blog post or how many followers I have.  I count pages left in my sketchbooks and art journals.  I count my art journals.  I count weeks till Christmas, how many nights’ dinners worth of groceries I have in the kitchen, and how many dollars I still need to earn to pay the rent and the electricity.  The hubs can look over at me and know when I’m counting something.  In fact, I didn’t realize how often I was counting before I spent many years with him asking me from time to time what I’m counting…

It may all sound innocent enough.  But I learned something.  Stick with me here, I do have a point.

My counting can get in the way.  It’s an old pattern that keeps me from realizing certain goals and dreams.

Here’s how it goes…when I’m feeling a bit anxious or a bit doubtful, usually about finances, I start counting.  Usually I’m counting time or money.  It’s like biting your fingernails as an outlet for the stress (although I have conquered that monkey through art journaling, you can read about that here).  But instead of biting my fingernails, I count.  I even use my fingers to do the counting 🙂

The big mistake here is that when I’m so focused on the counting of the money or the time, I’m focusing on the need.  How many dollars I still need to get something done.  Or how few days I have to get it done.

Seriously??  I have been totally focused on the lack, not on my God-given blessings and abundance!!  I couldn’t even see it, I thought that I was so optimistic and so good at being grateful and faithful and so focused on creating a life of abundance.  I couldn’t see what I was doing to get in my own way.

Crikey!  I really hadn’t looked at it that way until very recently.  And you know what happened next?  I started counting, way less.  I almost don’t count at all.  And next?  Well, next we started getting more calls for cool painting projects.  I started getting through some artist tantrums that I was having.  I started sleeping better.  I even got more patient with the kidlets.

The point in this little story is this:

Are your little quirks helpful or do they stunt your growth?  Do you even know what your little quirks are?  And if they are not so helpful, can you find another to replace it, that might help you on your chosen paths?

As artists, we have so many options to help us release and express our emotions and work through junk.  We have the opportunity to continue learning and growing and building our brain and our soul.  Whatever medium we choose at any given moment, we can receive messages from our souls, from our Creator, from our subconscious.

Prompt:  What’s your go-to activity to relieve stress?? 

*I needed a routine to help during my regular counting hours.  I’m exploring some options, but one that I’m trying to help with a daily routine is ROOT, Lisa Sonora’s 30 Day Journal Project.  It’s actually only day 2, so you can still jump in on this free journaling challenge.  For me, this is a great motivator to get past some old baggage I’ve been carrying that kept me from journaling, for about the past 12 years.  30 days seems like a huge commitment to me, so I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂  I did make my own art journal for this journaling and for another journaling project that I’m practicing.  This book has me inspired and makes me feel good.

Cover made of cardboard, gesso, spray ink, paint, glue, ink, stamped letters

Cover made of cardboard, gesso, spray ink, paint, glue, ink, stamped letters

DIY Book Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Book Pages 2

I used all kinds of papers, book pages, paper ream wrappers…

DIY Book Front Page

 

 

 

DIY Book patterned pages

Patterned papers…

DIY Book Pages 4

Old advertisements…

 

 

DIY Book Pages 3

Junk mail with gesso…

DIY Inside Cover

Music paper…

 

 

 

DIY Book Pages 1

Glossy picture book pages…

I think it has about 90 pages.

I think it has about 90 pages, including many blank pages of drawing paper. All cut to size and bound with the two rings…and I got to play with my crop-a-dile to punch all of the holes!

 

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Art is My Job…Finally!

When I started blogging, my hope that was someday, somehow, I would figure out how to monetize the blog, or my art, or both.

The goal was simple: make art, post stuff, get subscribers, make money.

Have you ever seen the episode of South Park with the Underpants gnomes??  You know, they steal underpants, the kids follow them one night to figure out where all of the underpants were going…and the kids find the gnomes with enormous mountains of underpants.  They ask the gnomes what’s going on, and the gnomes tell them:

  • Phase 1: collect underpants.
  • Phase 2: ?
  • Phase 3: make profit.

The boys ask them, what about phase 2?  All of the gnomes stop and start mumbling and look around at each other, asking Phase 2???

That’s kinda how I feel…I have no idea what happens in Phase 2.  I just know that I make art, I like to slap paint on stuff, and I want to get paid.  Then I have way more time to art.

Oh, and I also love to talk about what I love doing, and I love sharing fun tips and ideas and inspirations, I feel a NEED to give it back cuz that’s how I found this whole thing, by checking out other artists’ blogs and videos.  That’s how the blog really got going.

And I knew only that if I kept blogging, somebody would eventually look at it, and I might be able to build up the following from there.  Doesn’t that seem like what others do?  They blog a bunch, they get a bunch of regular readers, and somehow they get paid.  Advertisers just magically want to start paying them for space on the blog, I’m sure that’s exactly how it goes,right??

Okay, so I understand that’s not reality.  And I have found all kinds of other satisfaction from the blog.

So as we kept plugging along, praying for some opportunity to get paid to be artistic, I got more and more frustrated with “practical” jobs, “practical” choices and so on.  I was having more trouble smooshing myself into that mold.

Now, over the years, my hubs has painted houses, sometimes all white (boring) and sometimes with super-cool faux painting schemes.  He’s re-done cabinets and installed awesome wood-work and helped people with color schemes and decorating diy ideas.  We just hadn’t really pushed it to become a more consistent and financially supportive part of our lives.

But now we are doing just that. 

What I realized is that I want to get paid to paint.  Commissioned work is pretty cool because I know the piece is sold before I make it.  And the customer gives me the idea and the inspiration.

Painting a house is exactly that: a commissioned work. 

It’s not exactly what I was thinking I was working  towards, but it is so way much better than calling people all day long, looking to make a sale.  Stuck in a chair all day long, no sunshine, no exercise, and no painting.  That kind of day sucks for me.

And because I’m playing in paint and painting tools and Home Depot for jobs, I am thinking about other projects and inspirations while I’m working.  And while I’m working, I’m listening to music, chatting with the hubs, and finding new ways of doing things all of the time…

It’s taken a few jobs to get in the swing of the physical exertion part of my day, but I’m feeling stronger and more energetic and more excited all of the time.  In fact, I had a break because my oldest kiddo and babysitter was at camp.  I had to send the hubs to the job without me…and what did I do?  I painted the walls in my living room in between art projects at home!!

Here’s the point…

So often many of us pine for an artist’s life.  We ache for a way to make money arting so that we can spend all of our time arting.  We feel a pang of longing looking at the artful lives of those out there and feel like we’ll never get there ourselves.

If we can broaden our scope of possibility just a bit, we can find ways to live the life for which we’re pining.  We might be able to find other ways to explore our artistic selves and to financially support ourselves and our art supply habits! 🙂

And all we did was put up ads on craigslist, fairly often, and eventually built a free little website so that we could give that link on the ads.  People can go to our website and see explanations of what we do and see examples, as well as click over to our flickr page for more pics of our work.  We also believed in ourselves, that we could do it, and kept up our optimism.

And people do call us.  We do get work.  And I get lots of left-over supplies to play with!

pink room

Pink and white walls, black doors, and stencils and stickers to decorate.

Painted walls, trim, and stained and painted stair rails and posts.

Painted walls, trim, and stained and painted stair rails and posts.

 *Now I’m looking for someone to get brave and hire me to do a full-blown mural!  Then I’ll really be having some fun 🙂

 

 

 

 

How-to Make Your Own Stencil, the Easy Way

I have been making my own stamps for a while now.  I have made a few of my own masks as well.  And I have learned a lot from both, like which materials are easy to cut, which materials absorb too much product versus which ones don’t absorb enough, and so on.

What I haven’t done much is make my own stencils.  I’m not sure why, it seems like a natural next step, right?  I think that I had some crazy block, telling me that stencils are always made out of that plastic sheet stuff, and who can actually cut a neat, crisp stencil by hand out of that stuff??

Silly, I know.  That’s a look into my personal type of hangup.  I have a creative difficulty: I can’t always see the possibilities from my neatly-packaged black-and-white world.

Seriously?!?!

How can I possibly be an artist, you ask.  How can a creative type be stuck inside the proverbial box?  I dunno, but sometimes I find myself sitting in the middle of a really tiny box, and I never know what’s going to burn it up around me, freeing me out in to the world of fearlessness and color.

This time, it was making my own stencil.

I can’t tell you how joyful and good I feel to finally have gotten out of that stupid box!  I love stencils, love them so much!!  I fondle stencils at the store, I pine for them, I ooh and ahh over stencils I see other artists playing with in youtube videos…and I ache that I can’t just run out and buy every single one of them (I use my art supply monies on color, everything else I improvise, I have to have colors)…

I was just sitting here, pondering my next journal page, and I started pawing through the ole art cabinet.  I was actually thinking of cutting more shapes out for another stamp.  And that light bulb up above my head started to flicker and turn on.  Duh.

The easiest stencil ever.  Craft foam, if you haven’t ever played with it, is the greatest thing since, well, since bubble wrap and punchinella.

Craft foam is really does cut like butter, it’s fairly forgiving, you can draw on it, you can layer it, you can use it to make stamps and masks, and as it turns out, it makes great stencils!  AND, it’s cheap and commonly available!!

Stencil 3

Here’s the how-to part of this ramble:

1. Draw some shapes on the foam.  Start with something simple.  I used circles the first time.

2. Cut out the center of the shapes, in my case, the center of the circles.  Leave the outer parts in tact.

3. I went back and trimmed some of the outer edges so that the corners of the foam sheet didn’t show up in the stenciled images afterward.

Stencil 2

Ta-da, a stencil!

The trick really is to play and practice a bit.  After the simple design, you kind of get the feel for seeing the design that you’re leaving after you cut out the centers.  It took me a couple of tries before I figured it out.

 

 

The foam is also not absorbent, which I like.  When I use the stencils with sprays, the spray that collects on the stencil just kind of sits there, which makes for an awesome flip-side ghost print.  Just flip the stencil over and press.  Usually I can get a couple of presses out of it, depending on which sprays I’m using.

Stencil 1

 

And they also work great as caulk stencils because they have thickness.  The design comes out nice and deep or tall.  Or whatever you call that 🙂

Your Prompt??  Grab some foam, draw some designs, and give some stencils a try, let me know what you come up with, and have FUN!! 

 

 

Face Practice

GirlWow, so long since the last post.  Sometimes I wonder how I miss so much time??

Our painting business continues to grow.  We built a small website (take a look here).  I am amazed at how much better I feel getting out and painting and refinishing cabinets, and really physically working.  For so long I have used my brain and my conversation skills, selling and serving customers and, well, sitting.  Way too much sitting, talking on the phone, using the computer, and not getting up and moving around and doing more physical labor.

I really like it.  My body is feeling strong, my back feels better, my soul feels better…this kind of work is so meditative!  And I get to spend my work time hanging out with my hubby, making things beautiful!!  It just really doesn’t get much better than this 🙂

And in my art time outside of that, I have been continuing to focus on drawing faces.  Maybe soon I will start practicing bodies to go with the floating heads, lol…

The biggest challenge for me with faces is the coloring…I thought I would battle more with the features, but nope, it’s the coloring.  I have really come up with some interesting color combinations, that’s for sure!  But I keep at it, I’m actually learning to not fight it, but to just keep going…like so much else in art.  That’s a common theme for me, it seems.  Trust the process (I wrote ages ago about that here).

What a feeling of accomplishment, though, to keep at it and begin to see the success!  And this particular girl has a special place in my art journal…she is on the last available page of my current large journal!

Finishing an art journal…that has a very solid feeling of accomplishment.

I have been working in that particular journal for two full years now.  It’s funny, when I first started journaling, I would work in one journal straight through, then moved to the next journal.  Along the way, I started working in a whole bunch of art journals at one time.

I have old books that I used as journals, I have kids’ board books as journals, I have loose pages that I journal together, I make mini-journals out of bags or cards or junk mail, I have composition books as journals…and I have my sketch books.  I have themed journals, I have chronological journals, and I have extra paint journals (you know, the ones where you slap extra paint or ink on pages that you use as backgrounds for stuff later).

And the journals are all over the house!  I was cleaning up some shelves, and I counted…seven journals going at the moment!!  My kids thumb through them, they show them to their friends, and my hubby looks through them all of the time.  My art has become such a way of life in our home, I never imagined how ingrained in our lives it would all be.

That has its own very satisfying and fulfilling level of accomplishment, too.

A Giveaway, Oh My!

Giveaway 2Woo-hoo!!!  It’s time for an activity blitz!

We are building a project near and dear to our hearts, hoping to reach out to the art communities and family communities and Christian communities through the blog and Facebook and any other awesome online communities through all of you!

If you haven’t stopped by the SWAAK Pak page on our blog yet, please do so.  You will be able to read details there of the exciting vision we’re building.  This is a purely community-driven project, so we need YOUR help to get the Word out!  WORD!!

Now for the activity blitz part.  Several awesome and unique giveaways are getting started here with St John Family Studios Blog.

We will be having some fun giveaways as we work to build the readers on the blog and the Facebook page.  As we build the activity, we will be sharing updates and fun stuff as we move forward to the birthing of the Rocket Hub SWAAK Pak™ project and going LIVE!!

Okay.  So the first giveaway.

The first round is an AWESOME collection of ephemera!!  Wowsers!  This project is SO important, I will be sacrificing a collection of my personal horde collection: genuine-time-aged music pages, French book pages, old advertisements, vintage photos, shiny bits of stuff, sparkles, and more!  Oh, the fun you will have using these goodies in your canvases or your collages or your art journals or your hand-made cards or your love letters!  And if you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know how much I love collecting ephemera, so this will be no slouchy prize!!  And I will ship this anywhere. In.  The. World.  BangPow! *whispers* the world…

Your To-Do List:

1.  Follow the blog.  You can find the “subscribe” spot over there on the right-hand side of this posting.  Leave a comment and let the world know how cool you are for doing so 🙂

2. Run over to the St John Family Studios Facebook page and like it.  Come back and leave a comment here that you did 🙂

3.  Share the St John Family Studios Facebook page on YOUR Facebook page.  Hurry back and leave a comment that you did 🙂

4.  Share the link for this post on your Facebook page and let us know back here 🙂

5.  Share this post on your own blog and leave us some love here and let us know you did so, and you can leave a link to the post in your comment…that way everyone else will see the link to your blog, too!!

6.  This is the free-for-all-extra entry for the giveaway: Share this post on any other place that you share stuff.  I don’t know all of those places, but I know that you do!  Share it on twitter or pinterest (I have no idea if that kind of stuff goes there) or on your ning groups or anywhere that you have buddies.  Leave us a comment here to let us know 🙂

It’s as simple as that.  Simple.

The idea here is that with each comment, you’re entered a separate time into the giveaway.  You see?  You could enter 6 TIMES!!!  And if you’ve already liked the FB page or subscribed to the blog or some such thing, we TOTALLY appreciate you and aren’t leaving you out!  Just leave a comment about it and you’ll be counted in the entries for the giveaway!  

And the whole thing is gonna build as we go.  The BIG idea is to build MOMENTUM!!  So…

The first giveaway for the big brilliant box of beautiful ephemera (alliteration much?) will be given away when we reach the first milestone of 100 likes on the Facebook fan page.

You have till then to enter this thing as many times as you can. 

Then we will work towards the next giveaway (oooh, wonder what the prize will be???), that will be tied in to the next goal.  Your activities during this round will help you during the next round cuz you’ll be leaving comments then about these things you’re doing now…already liking the page and so forth…and you’ll have extra opportunities then with sharing our latest news then.  Makes total sense…well maybe only in my head, but hang in there, we’ll keep having fun stuff and prizes in the coming weeks!!!!!!!  And helping out now will help your entries then!

Whew!  So thanks for coming ’round and seeing what’s going on here with us.  We so look forward to gettin’ moving and dragging pulling bringing you along 🙂

XOXO

Upcycling Cardboard for Canvases

Working out of my home is way overrated.  Finding time to art has become its own creative endeavor all it own…I keep several projects going at all times.  Then when I find a spare minute or two, I add a bit of paint or doodle here and a bit of glued paper there, and eventually I get a whole piece finished.

But here’s the super-duper awesome thing about the job: all of the trainers are now saving me the cardboard that comes out of the training materials they use in their classes!  I have a gigantic pile of these babies, they come out of the packets of training materials before they get put inside 3-ring binders.  All of them are the same size, they’re in pristine shape, and they gesso up and make the perfect canvas for collages and other art works!  And the kids love them as well!!

Who knew?  I get paid to work, and I get more Art Fodder™!!

They will make great book covers for art journals.  They are the perfect size for making lovies to frame and put on the wall.  And they are a nice, consistent size for another project I’m creating that will have pages and pages of illustrations.

I’m posting a few here for you to see how well the card boards are working out.

TreeButterflyBirdie

Prompt: What do you like to use as alternatives to traditional canvas?  Cereal boxes, old book covers, cardboard? 

A Project Journal from an Old Book, and a Decorated Cover

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.

~John Rogers

Before the summer started, and before I got hung up working a “real” job…I started working on a journal for a class with Brave Girls Club (I posted about it way back when).

So, it was an awesome class!  I hope I can get it together and take another in the near future.  But for now, I’m still poking along with a few of the activities, enjoying the inspired soul-searching found making the journal.

I won’t bore you with the inner conversation parts, but I really do want to share a couple of things.

As I’ve told you before, I do love to use old books, especially free-to-me books, as art journals.  Each one offers its own set of challenges and surprises.  I love the smell of the pages in an older book.  I love the feel of different kinds of finishes from different books.  I love having a huge variety of sizes and shapes from using old books.  And I love that I can use what’s on the pages to add interest and layers and texture to what I’m doing on top of the pages…

For this project, I used a book about women in architecture.  In retrospect, it really didn’t have as much room in the book as I could’ve used…next time for a specific project I’ll have to give that some more thought.

But it has a great shape, a great linen-style cover, and lots of cool pictures on glossy paper inside the book.

I got better this round at prepping the book: I used a straight-edge to hold down on the inside of the pages as I ripped out every other page.  The pages themselves were pretty heavy and glossy, so I didn’t need to glue any of them together.

The other main thing I learned from this book prep:

Make sure you know that the book is not something you’ll later regret arting all over.  I only realized after I had really gotten going, it was an autographed copy of the book.  I might have looked to see if anyone would want that autographed copy.  Duh.

I did end up making sure to use the autograph by painting a frame around it.  It turned out pretty sweet, but I did feel kind of bad about not noticing it in the beginning.

And I really really really love the cover!  The inner stuff is personal and kind of boring for anyone other than me, the cover is so totally something to share 🙂

Red Book CoverBook Spine

How-to Make Your Own Book: Junk Journals, Smash Books, Mini Books, I Love Them All!

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.  We all have twenty-four hours a day.

~ Zig Ziglar*

Alright, so I’m admitting openly, I do love all of the little journals and books and albums…all of them!  I have coveted a Smash Book for some time now, but I just can’t bring myself to pay the asking price.  Not when I am in serious need of more paints and new paintbrushes and gels…

So I keep making my own little books out of the various stacks of papers and ephemera I have in my stacks.

The super-cool thing is that they are always at the ready, waiting next to whatever my current project is, waiting for left-over paint…mixed colors or blobs on palettes as I’m creating.  I use the overage on pages in my little junk journals to make backgrounds as I go.  Then I have awesome little journals in which to glue clippings and love notes and odds and ends the kids bring to me.  I have also used small Moleskines for the same purpose, using left-over paint for backgrounds in a Fave Quote Journal.

I have looked at lots of other little journal how-to’s around the interwebs, I have seen pics of other cute things and done my own versions of back-engineering.  I have stapled together pieces of paper!  I have all kinds of little books around, not sure what their end purpose is, but they have brought me much pleasure and joy as I slap paint and glue doo-dads and fondle their pages.

That’s my adult-artsy version of scrapbooks and journals, I guess.  Maybe someday my kidlets will look at them lovingly and remember fondly their youth?  All I know, it sure is fun, and it sure brings a total satisfaction in my artsy play.

Here’s a couple of my latest faves, one is a book out of mostly envelopes, and I think a couple of marketing junk mail pieces.  The pockets in the center are toilet tubes.  The other is made out of file folders.

That’s been a lot of my projecting this summer.  I have worked on a number of larger art works, I will be working on taking photos at some point to put up and on the Etsy site.  We’ve also been working on a Facebook page for our arty bunch so that we can roll out a project in the works.  More on that to come.

Thanks for sticking around.  I so miss being able to art all day long, my heart aches, my artist soul is petulant…but the sales gal in me is having a great time at the job, and that has its own brand of creative satisfaction.

 

File Book 3 File Book 2 File Book 1 Envelope Book Cover Envelope Book 13 Envelope Book 10 Envelope Book 9 Envelope Book 8 Envelope Book 7 Envelope Book 6 Envelope Book 5 Envelope Book 4 Envelope Book 3 Envelope Book 2

*Zig Ziglar has always been one of my favorite motivation speakers and authors.  This quote is so fitting as I fight for time to work, time to art, time to blog, time to minister, and time to play with the kidlets and the hubby. 

How-to Make a Mini Art Journal Envelope Album Smash Book Thingy

Book FrontBook BackI’m so pleased so many of you grabbed a download of the text sheet, that so many of you found it helpful or inspiring!

In the meanwhile, I have been totally consumed this past week by what started out as a random project.  What’s funny, this little project was nowhere on the list of up-and-coming art fodder!

I do have a number of random little books around, moleskine books, notebooks, old-books-turned-journals…little places that I slap down extra paint or scraps of papers.  Over time, they become backgrounds for other art journaling, just building up a bit at a time as I have leftovers.

But they are not projects that I focus solely on at any one moment.

This little book is totally different.  I started it, then I got totally into it, and then I realized just over a week had gone by and I hadn’t worked on any other art projects at all.  No canvases, no sketching, no blogging, nothing.  Just this little book.

Do you have projects come out of the blue and grab you that way?  Something so unexpected, something so unrelated to all of the “should-do’s” on your list?

It’s also one of those projects that grabbed the whole household and the neighbor children!  Many of the moments I spent playing with this little book was with a kid standing next to me or sitting with me, watching whatever was happening.  They had lots of questions and loved digging through the piles of stuff that ended up spread out all over the table as I was playing (oh, and the mess I have to clean up now!).

It’s also a funny little project, kind of a throwback to a bit of scrapbook-style playing.  Haven’t done that in a while, either.

I did not have a purpose or much of a plan in mind when I got started, I just wanted to put some bags and envelopes together and stitch the binding.  That’s really what got this whole thing started, I just wanted to use a decorative stitch on the binding and see how it worked with the bags.  And I had a super cute See’s Candies bag from a couple of years ago in my stash.  That was the whole plan.

As you’ll see in the pictures, it turned into quite the book.  I have used it as a favorite Bible verse book, I am going to gift it out, to a wonderful new friend (of course, after I’m done just holding it and flipping through the pages, haha!).

And what started out as a project using up some of the stashed envelopes and saved bags and little things and stuff I have stashed around,

Next time, I will use one less envelope or bag, it got kind of thick by the end of cramming all of that stuff in there.  I’ll also plan ahead a bit on how to tie the whole thing together, this time it was an afterthought.

It’s a bunch of pictures, but I want you to see how it all went together.  I didn’t think until I was well into it, about shooting pics of how I put the bags and envelopes together.  I really just stacked them together, flipping the ends of the bags back and forth, and flipping the envelopes vice versa, and then sewed straight down the center.  I did make a fold first to sew along.  I used a decorative stitch, so not only is it pretty but it’s a stronger stitch to help hold it all together.

Also, I used the bottom flap of one of the larger bags to make the flap.  So that bag is not folded in the middle, the fold lines up with the middle of the other pieces.  And one last thing, I did put a card stock piece of junk mail inside the cover paper bag to sturdy up the cover.  You could use a book like this for all kinds of themes, Bible verses, fave quotes, love notes, family pics and events, the list could go on and on…

Book SpineBook Page 1

Book Page 2

Book Page 3

Book Page 4

Book Page 5

Book Page 6

Book Page 7

Book Page 8

Book Page 9

Book page 10 w insert

Book Page 10

Book Page 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used lots of the pockets for other little doo-dads, little cards with scripture verses, tags, and cards with song lyrics.  It also has space to add cards or papers and that sort of thing.

Maybe now I can move on to the next project, but I have the little book bug BAD.  I do have a couple of other books that I’ll show off in the next couple of postings, a file folder booklet, envelope smash book…who knows how stuck I am!! 🙂

Princess Bella’s Birthday Soiree, with a Polka Dot Cake and More!

Crown

I can’t believe that Princess Bella’s Birthday Soiree was already two days ago!  I have been fixin’ to get ready to post some pics since then, but so many other happenings kept happening!

So let’s get straight down to it.

The cake.  Oh, wow, what can I say.  The hubby is the most brilliant, wonderfully creative, enabling kind of guy.  I know this is all about Bella’s birthday and the cake and stuff, but I just have to say super quickly, my hubby rocks!  He doesn’t ever try to damper my whacky party ideas, he doesn’t try to bring me down to Earth and tell me I can’t do anything.  He actually jumps right in and has a blast with me, and even goes so far as to make it even more awesome than I had imagined!!!

Okay, so back to the cake.  I wanted some kind of cake befitting the Royal Princess (ya know, I hope that doesn’t start sounding like we do nothing but spoil our children, although we might, Bella just really was born in to this world to command it, her personality!)…and it needed to be a total girl cake.

And here’s how it finished up:

Cake

And here’s what was in the middle:

Cake Balls Baked

I know, polka dots!  That is all Christopher’s doing.  I’ll include here a couple of pics of how to polka dots were put together, I might come back later and do a super-quick how-to on that whole thing 🙂

Cake Balls Cake Balls 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But on to the Birthday Banner.  That has become some kind of tradition in our home, at least the kids think that they are supposed to have a banner now for every birthday and holiday event.  My fault…so this time around I just started grabbing stuff out of my fabric stash and throwing it into the sewing machine.  And the kids colored the crown cut-outs to add as decorations.

Swag

Swag 2

Swag 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes, that’s some of my paintings on the wall, Bella wouldn’t let me move them for the party!

Now, the party favors.  We don’t do huge parties with all kinds of kids and people over.  Remembering our kidlets are home-schooled, so we don’t have to outdo all of the birthday parties of the whole kindergarten.  We do have a couple of buddies that play with ours just about every day, so we have them over with a couple of close friends.  So I don’t have to put together an enormous pile of party favor loot.  I got to really go for it 🙂

Party Favors

I made the treat bags out of pieces of denim from my stash, all from old pairs of blue jeans.  Jeans that have been outgrown, jeans that have gotten holes in the knees, jeans that finally have too much paint to wear in the light of day.  And I used boys’ jeans and girls’ jeans.  Some had sections that I could use as a whole piece, and some I had to piece together with patches from other pieces.  I also frayed the edges of everything a bit and left the seams on the outside.  For handles, I used lace and ribbons from the stash box.

Party Favors 3I worried throughout the week as I made the little bags, by the way.  I kept thinking they were looking dumb, or that they were a bad idea, just like going through hating some other piece of art I’m creating.  Not sure why I’d get away with it on party favors…

But I just kept sewing, and as the kids were in and out all week, they’d see the little bags coming together.  They were so excited when they finally got to have their little homemade artsy bag creation!  And they’ve been carrying them around with them since, including the neighbor kids!  They’ve all got the little journals I made them stuffed in the bags, along with video games and plastic jewelry and doodads and candy…they just carry their little things in them, even the boys!  It also helped that the bags had lollipops and ring pops and tootsie rolls and starbursts and plastic gemstone rings, too.

Here’s a quick peek at the journals I made them, a la clear packing tape and rubber bands (like the duct tape journals you see all over the place) and patterned papers and cardboard-painted covers.  And just like with the bags, the kids all watched me making the little books and squawked with delight when they finally got their hands on them and could start drawing in them!

Journal cover Journal cover 2 Journal inside

We cooked out burgers, and ate yummies and cake and ice cream, and Princess Bella delighted in all of the rightful attention she was getting.  And everyone showered her with gifts of love and sparkles, a whole pile of dress-up fodder…which she has been donning and trying on and admiring and wearing for the paparazzi.

It’s funny.  I didn’t have to run out and buy anything to do all of this preparation.  I just dug around in my boxes and bins of stashed fodder…so much of it was recycled material, or free craigslist stuff, or thrift store finds saved for a rainy day.  I spent a lot of time, and put a ton of love into it all, but not so much in monies.  But this will be one of those birthdays she’s gonna remember as one of the most magical and love-filled parties ever!