Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paint Chip Pockets

In the May 2012 Country Living magazine, the Idea Notebook suggests stitching those free paint chips from the hardware store on three sides to create pockets that can be tacked onto bulletin boards for clever organization. 
I just happened to have a number of those paint swatch cards in my craft stash, and--as you know--I love stitching paper, so I couldn't resist giving this simple craft a try:
I'm not sure how practical they are as bulletin board organizers; let's just say they don't hold a whole lot.  I didn't have an available cork board handy to test them, so I photographed mine laying on the work table.  They look pretty nifty, don't you think?
It occurred to me as I was making them, though, that they would make awesome little pockets for art journal pages. 
There really isn't anything complicated about making these little pockets.  You just stack two cards of the same size together with the right sides facing out, then stitch along the bottom and sides with contrasting thread.  And you can give all your sewing machine's fancy stitches a try while you are at it!  

Enjoy an artful Memorial Day holiday!

Friday, May 25, 2012

All in the Family

I've been thinking about making up an "official list" of summer activities and excursions to enjoy with my kids this summer, like I did last year.  But then my husband just jumped in and started making it happen:  a super-memorable-and-fun-arts-and-crafts-activity!

He has gotten all kinds of "handy" with his basement tools, and his latest project was a sort of bookcase for storing our shoes by the back door.  We were using a small wire rack that was sadly deficient, and led to shoes being strewn in front of the back door.  I fancied it a kind of burglar trap, actually, since no one could get in our house without tripping over all of the mess!

But I like the results of my husband's efforts much better:
He used the frame of an old bookcase, then created new shelves for the shoes.  We wanted to use paint we already had, rather than buying anything new for the project, so we ended up with the same blue we used in our dining room.

Bayla, my younger, helped to paint on the blue while Katy was at preschool (much to Katy's competitive chagrin!)...
and then when she got home, Katy used one of my craft paintbrushes and orange acrylic paint to add her own "signature" to the project:
I am the only member of the family who didn't contribute to the project!  But I probably enjoy it the most now, as it adds order to my ridiculously-small double-duty mudroom/laundry room by the back door. 
I declared a "new rule":  no shoes that don't fit on the shelves!  (And now I have to be careful that I'm not the one who violates it!!)
Enjoy a happy, artful weekend!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giveaway Winner & More

Because I never heard from the first selected giveaway winner, I have drawn a new winner.  I am looking forward to sending off the stationery set and art journaling book, so here's hoping I hear from:
Tina!  Also known as Beansieleigh of Beansie Babbles.  Please send me your snail mail address at, and I will get your giveaway prize out to you.

I was on the receiving end of a giveaway recently, and I wanted to share it with you.  Do you remember my post about finding poetry on the spines of books from last month?  For my poetry-finding efforts, Quinn McDonald was kind enough to send me a copy of her recently-published book Raw Art Journaling:
One section of the book features--of course!--Found Poetry.  Not only does Quinn take us through the process of creating Found Poems, but she provides plenty of examples to inspire us to use it on actual art journal pages:
You might have noticed some Found Poetry in the art journal pages I posted from my beach trip.  With the very limited stash of clipped words and phrases I brought with me, I was able to put together this thought:
"Enough of all the noisome chatter and clatter--to be in a place around beauty, pure contenement, energy, family--so that my soul can begin to stir."

Perfect expression of my week away!

I am looking forward to really digging into Quinn's book to let it inspire this kind of meaning-making in my art journaling practice.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Living Artfully at the Beach

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10)

Nature and art are the clearest ways I know to pause and draw close to the creative power of God.  That sounds a little grandiose, but if you had spent the past week staring out at the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing to the shore, I think you would agree!

And it's not just the awesome and powerful sights of nature that impress me.  Sometimes it's the smallest detail, like the way the mussel shells so much resemble a delicate butterfly in the sand.
We explore all these ways we can add texture to our journal pages and our art, and I was struck by how God Himself is the ultimate Creator of texture in the shells and pebbles along the beach:
In the spirit of creation, I took a gallon storage bag of magazine clippings and filled a photo box with some basic art supplies for the week:  pens and markers, colored pencils, scissors, glue stick, a small set of pan watercolors and my water brush, a set of alphabet rubber stamps and a black ink pad, and three rolls of decorative tape. 
I've read it over and over again, and it holds true:  sometimes it's more fun to work with a limited stock of materials than it is to try to make choices in a room spilling over with every artsy/craftsy gadget and supply.
I worked in my art journal more this past week than I had in the months prior to our vacation.
Most of my pages seem to reflect the reality that a vacation with my daughters is not exactly a blissfull retreat; all of the whining and tears follow us to the beach.  But there is enough of the "different," of the "escape," of the "moments," to make it into its own form of family bliss. 

Some other evidence of artistry from our week:
Michael got a picture of me sketching in my notebook during our
first afternoon on the beach.

Katy was queen of the sandcastle-making all week.  She used shells for windows
and doors, and twigs as flags on top.

Bayla showing off her beach finds:  "This one looks like chicken!"
One of the girls' new favorite things to do is to grab the camera and take a hundred pictures.  Here's a portrait of Mommy by Bayla...impressive considering she used to come out with hundreds of pictures of her own fingers!
Oh, yeah...that's more like it!
Michael takes his sand castle-making very seriously, with moats and bridges and all
kinds of other details.  We watched as the water moved in and obliterated
this sand village...quite exciting!
I am going to draw a new winner for my giveaway on Tuesday if I don't hear from our original winner by that time!
Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Garish Sights at the Boardwalk

As our Jersey Shore vacation draws to a close, I thought I would share some of the more garish sights to behold on the boardwalk.  During the high tourist season, which will begin in a couple of weeks over Memorial Day weekend, it is probably the people themselves who would draw the most attention.  But, as you can see below, by coming in mid-May, we have COMPLETELY missed the crowds.  In fact, we are almost the only ones here!
But some of the great boardwalk decor is year-round:
Even though my littler girl was frightened of this giant gorilla, she was captivated by the fact that, to her eye, he seemed to be eating "pretend ice cream."  Perhaps because she was dreaming of some ice cream for herself every time we set foot on the boardwalk!
I couldn't resist a photo of a store called "Bad Kitty"...home of henna and hair wraps and other beach-day must-haves!
Pirates never go out of style at the shore, I suppose.
There's something a bit haunting about an abandoned amusement park.  The rides sit there so silent and useless.  My younger daughter kept asking when she would be able to ride the "fairest wheel"...that will have to await another vacation, another season!
They seem to have a thing for whales around here...
...which I suppose is to be expected when you're at the beach!  But can someone please explain...
the fascination with dragons??!!
I hope you enjoyed your virtual tour of some of the more garish sights of the Ocean City, New Jersey, boardwalk!  Next up, I'll share some of the more artful aspects of my week away.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Celebrating Seven Years!

Today is my 7th wedding anniversary! 
We are celebrating in true parent-style, vacationing with our children, eating pancakes and sandwiches at the local diners, my husband currently stretched out on the sofa to nap while the girls craft and I quickly hop on the computer. 
No romantic, candlelight dinners for us, or a night dancing on the town...but right now I wouldn't have it any other way!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Happy Mother's Day

My wish to everyone who IS a mother, who HAS a mother, or who has their own special memories OF a mother is a very Happy Mothers' Day!
I am having the extra pleasure of spending Mothers' Day in Ocean City, New Jersey, on vacation with the two little girls who make me a mommy, and the man who made it all possible.
Monday marks our 7-year-anniversary.  But those are images for my next post...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Mailbox Mystery

I recently discovered the delightful, upbeat blog of Mary England, called Lust for Life.

Mary is a 20-something, mail-art loving, positive-energy giving blogger who lives near Baltimore, not far down the road from me.

She recently gave away some Hallmark postcard packs she found while thrift shopping, and I was lucky enough to win one of them.

Because Mary loves mail art, just like I do, her package to me was lots of fun:
I think the very best part was her Moo card, which listed her name as "Mary England, Life Enthusiast" great is that!?!

And the postcards were very sweet:
Now here comes the mystery:  The envelope arrived with the bottom slit open; however, it did not appear that anything had slipped out.  Included in the contents were a handful of photos that looked like they were taken at a prom in the 1980s; the back of the photos, however, said that they were developed at WalMart just this month.
When I asked Mary about where she got them, she didn't know anything about them!!

Now, could it be possible that someone opened my mail to put something into the envelope, rather than to take something out?  Is this some sort of mail prank? 

A mailbox mystery, to be sure.

I still haven't heard from Bonnie, the winner of my recent giveaway. If I haven't heard from her by Sunday, May 20, I will be drawing for a new winner from the original entries.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Postcard Exchange

Since discovering Jennie Hinchcliff's Good Mail Day, the lure of mail art has been irresistible.  And getting involved in blogging has introduced me to many kind and talented people who share that interest. 

When I found several vintage San Francisco postcards at a recent auction, I shared one with Pamela Gerard, both because she calls San Francisco home and because she clearly appreciates a good postcard!  (If you check out her blog, you will see that she has an entire shopping cart of mail art in her amazing sight to see in the middle of the hallway!)

But before I sent it off, I indulged in a little mail art postcard altering.  I've always wanted to create a bit of a surrealist look by adding incongruous elements to a postcard image, but had never pulled it off.  Here is what I came up with for Pamela's postcard:
Pamela asked me where I found my airmail washi tape, but I let her in on my little secret:  I simple trimmed the edges from an airmail envelope and glued it to the card.  It functions just the same as tape!

Here's the back, awaiting its message:
In return, Pamela sent me this lovely postcard:
How great is that vintage postal image!
And on the back she used all kinds of collaged and stamped elements, along with postage stamps taking center stage.  I am curious about her postal-themed postage stamps.  I am going to have to talk to my local post office to see if they might have something a little more interesting than the run-of-the-mill Forever flag stamps.

If you are looking for some fun and interesting mail art inspiration, I wanted to recommend some web sites to start:
Many of these sites have plenty of links to keep you busy for weeks!

Keep sending that mail art love!


I have not heard from giveaway winner Bonnie with her postal address.  If I haven't heard from her by Sunday, May 20, I will be drawing for a new winner from the original entries.