Monday, February 24, 2014


I've been dying to whip up a new art journal to play in.  I'd been using a spiral-bound journal that I made recently, but I found the 9x12 pages were too big and scary for the doodling I wanted to do.  I had a bit of vintage barkcloth begging to become the cover for my new journal, and I really wanted to make an art journal with watercolor paper pages.  So.  I did.  I learned the technique from my good friend Teesha, and have made several like this one.  I love them.  Really my favorite way to play.  I like that I can customize the page size to whatever I need for whatever I'm doing.  The spiral-bound journal will continue to be an awesome sketchbook.  I know, I really does sound like the same thing, doesn't it.  It's just not in my world.  :)  Anyway, this is the cover of my new art journal.  I love using odd bits and pieces and putting them all together.  This bit of lace was my grandmother's, and the tab that I embroidered "journal" on is a vintage doll quilt I purchased at an antique mall.  It's so fun to find new uses for old treasures!  Makes my heart happy.

In any event, I've been playing in my journal.  And it got me to thinking about where inspiration comes from, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts I had this morning about that.  Like many of you, I'm a visual person.  So, I love books.  I picked up this book and this one and a few others like it for sketching inspiration.  I find the images in these books are a great jumping off point when my pen won't get moving.  I love to pick out just one element from a design on the page, and see where it goes.

Where can you find inspiration?  Of course Pinterest is a great resource, but sometimes I like to get something physical in my hands, you know?  Art books are a huge inspiration for me.  I love looking at paintings by Matisse, with his brilliant use of color and wonky lines and shapes.  Chagall is another favorite artist of mine.  Just to pour over the pages of art books with the vivid colors and shapes and styles makes me want to sit down at my table and make something with my hands.

Another favorite source of inspiration for me is just to get out of the studio.  Several years ago I took a class on The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.  If you've never worked through her book, I highly recommend it!  In fact, I may carve out some time to do it again in the next few months.  I loved it so much.  Two of her practices really resonated with me.  The "morning pages" and "artist dates".  I've got a running list of artist dates I want to take myself on, and when I'm struggling with inspiration, I will go down the list, pick one and take myself on a date. A few artist dates on my list include a trip to our Japanese Garden, a tour of my favorite thrift shops, taking my art journal and markers to my local coffee house for a change of scenery, and a visit to the farmers market in the summer.

I also find that one creative pursuit will inspire another.  I like to dabble in different things: I doodle, I stitch, I knit, I write.  For example, when I'm stitching a bit of embroidery on a purse it might spark an idea for a similar motif on a journal cover, or when I'm doodling in my journal it may lead to a bit of applique for a textile project.  Similarly, I find that putting fabrics together for a quilt will inspire a palette for a painting or page in my art journal.  Just like love, inspiration actually is all around us.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fresh Fabric Posies

You might recognize these from this post.  I made one to go on my new scarf.  I posted that photo on Instagram, and got such enthusiastic IG love from all of you!  Thanks big bunches.  Bunches o' fabric posies, that is!  I made a bouquet of them, and they are available in my Etsy shop now.  Thanks for all the fabric posie love!  You guys are the best!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Quite Possibly the Silliest Thing I've Ever Made

I made this little fabric posie during our big snow extravaganza last weekend.  This is not the silly thing I refer to in my title.  But it gets sillier.

I was also on Pinterest over the weekend.  As I am often.  It's like crack.  But I digress.  Whilst on Pinterest, I saw this:

Upon further investigation, I was clicked through to a lovely little website that is home to Jennifer Jangles, aka Jennifer Heynen.  After falling through that rabbit hole for a lovely visit, I decided to whip up my own Scrappy Happy Scarf.  

I had been gifted a bit of black and cream jersey knit from a friend of mine last fall, and heaven knows I've got enough fabric scraps and doodads to supply a small crafty army!  So, I got scrap happy and went to work.  

Here's how mine turned out.  It is so silly and fun and colorful and I love it so much I could die!!!!  And it's warm!  And cute!

I added my newly bloomed fabric posie instead of making one from felt.  I'm tickled pink!  Proof yet again that time on Pinterest is well spent!  Thanks for the inspiration, Jennifer.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Because Nothing Says "Be Mine" Like a Red Velvet Cake and Buttercream Frosting

Don't you love an excuse to bake a cake on a rainy afternoon?  And to make it extra festive, let's make it Red Velvet!  Yes!!

I thought I'd pass along my red velvet cake love, because after all, this is International Love Fest Day (aka Valentine's Day).  There's really nothing to it.  I simply whip up my favorite chocolate cake recipe, then add a bottle of red food coloring.  Yes friends, you read that right: an entire bottle of red food coloring  That is not a typo.  Here's my recipe (simply leave out the red food coloring for a chocolate cake).

Red Velvet Cake

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 stick of butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup ice water
1 bottle of red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.  

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, then set aside to cool.  (If you don't have a double boiler, simply place a small bowl into a pan of simmering water.)

Cream the butter, then slowly beat in the sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs and the vanilla.  Mix well.  Add the chocolate and continue to mix.  Then mix in the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add the water, then the red food coloring, continuing to mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.

In my world, no cake is complete without buttercream frosting.  Here's how I make mine:

Cream a stick of butter that has warmed to room temperature.  Add 4 cups of powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 3-4 tablespoons of milk.  Beat until smooth.

While you wait for your cake to cool for frosting, cut out "be mine" letters and  heart stencils from paper.  After you've frosted your cake, place them on top, then shake red sugar over the cake.  Carefully remove the stencils, et voila.  

I hope my valentine gets home before I accidentally cut into this!

Happy Valentine's Day!!  xxoo

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Whirling Dervish

I had to sit down the other day and get my thoughts together.  I have been having so many ideas lately!  Top that with an urge to paint, a desire to sew, and wanting just to make stuff in general...well, it can overwhelm a girl!  So, sometimes, I just need sit down and take note.  Or rather, make notes of all the ideas I'm having whilst creating.  I'm afraid some of this brilliance will get lost in the flotsam of my pea brain.  Haha!

Along with the free flowing creative juicy juice, I've been thinking a lot about my creative business.  Which is to say, there hasn't been much of one lately.  I'm okay with that, because I do believe there are times when I need to be still.  Look at pretty pictures on Pinterest.  Watch mindless television.  Read a good book.  Bake something yummy, and then eat it.  And then, rested and revived, the ideas start coming.  A little trickle here and there, so I start a project.  And then another.  Without ties to any outcome, just to make something.  That's when the magic happens.  That's when ideas and projects start to morph into goals and dreams.  At least that's the way it is for me.  And that's when I need to slow down again and get organized.  Whirling Dervish, meet Organized Planner.  So, to make each alter ego happy, instead of just making a to do list, which makes Organized Planner happy and motivated, I created a lovely planner just for my ideas and goals and big picture thoughts, which makes Whirling Dervish slow down long enough to at least drool over the pretty pictures.  It's pretty and colorful and chock full of lists, everyone wins.

About the same time, I ran out of calendar pages for my day planner, so I whipped up one that suits my needs, made many many copies, three-hole punched them and now my planner is full through December 31st.  All ready for me to plot and scheme my way through the year.  In the meantime, I keep on creating, journaling, making, stitching, glueing.  And things in the studio were becoming a titch unkempt.

So, I pulled all of my favorite journalng goodies, and began the process of sorting them all out.  I just hate it when I can't find something, and when I'm whirling about things often get lost.  I pulled a bunch of tiny containers then put them on trays.  I had to use the bed in the guest room as a staging area.  Filling all of the tiny vessels with brads and labels and tags and words cut from magazines was great fun!

And now I have my journaling goodies and glue and papers all together in one place.  I know where everything is, and can put my hands right on it when I need it.  Yahoo!  

I'm making progress on the rest of it, and am just loving the process.  I'm finding that my creativity is flowing more naturally, and more bountifully, right now because I'm not screaming towards a fixed deadline.  I'm more goal-focused than time-focused, and that seems to be good place for me to work from.  I'm having fun today, how about you?  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Be Mine

I did a  little decorating for Valentine's Day this week.  I discovered I don't have nearly enough Valentine's day goodness.  Oh, woe.  On the other hand, I do have a plethora of hearts and am awash in red and white and pink.  Oh, joy!  It's like every day is Valentine's Day around here.  Just more so than usual now.  I love that.

I've got these little pillows tucked all around the house.  I love them so much, if I may say so myself, since I made them.  :)  I was inspired by one of the many boxes of conversation hearts that are purchased throughout the first half of February.  At 51, I still love reading each and every sentiment on each and every heart in the box.  I chose my faves for these little pillows.

I typed up the phrases onto ledger paper, then scanned and printed it onto muslin, cut them out and stitched them onto little calico hearts.  I added vintage trims and buttons, and backed each pillow with a bit of a vintage cutter quilt.  Super precious.  Love them.

This one I made several years ago from felt.  The rocker was my grandmother's.  It was bright red when I was little, but was badly in need of repair.  My dad fixed it all up before he passed away.  I'll give it a fresh coat of red paint this spring.  It will be so fun to have that splash of color in the little corner by my window.

I brought this chippy little table downstairs from the guest room at Christmastime, and loved it so much that I've left it in the kitchen for my cookbooks.  My sweet little Valentine cupcakes print from Jenny and Aaron is a favorite.  The papier mache doll was a long ago Etsy purchase.

Ha!  A little pillow for the Anti-Valentine.  

These are little vignettes of hearts and red that live year-round on my antique hoosier, which by the by, is also getting a splash of cherry red paint this summer.  Have wanted to do it for the longest time.  2014 will be the Summer of Paint Love.

This sweet quilt was made for me by my mama.  I cherish it, and it rests on the back of my chair in my studio.  Sweet.

And that concludes our little Valentine cottage tour.  Thanks for popping in today  Oh, and if you're in need of a little Valentine pillow, there's still time for me to get it to you before the big day!  There are a few left in my Etsy shop for you.  Happy heart, friends.  Until next time...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Heart Month

Spoiler Alert: there will be many, many hearts photographed and posted this month.

Love.  Always.