I love when friends give me a creative challenge. While attending The 2016 Lady Project Summit in Providence, my friend saw a pillow on the stage that she just had to have. (She had just discovered that her husband of 25 years had been cheating on her, so you'll understand why she needed this pillow!) We checked it out and it was from Wayfair. The price tag on the pillow read $200 (say WHAT?); I later found it for $97. My friend asked me if I could make this pillow for her. I said, "heck yes!" I contemplated sewing a pillow, and looked at fabric, but then realized that I could probably buy a cheaper pillow from somewhere else. (I found these little pillows on sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics for $11.99. They have gold dots on one side and are plain on the back—perfect.) Next, I brainstormed with Deanna Agresti, my artist friend extraordinaire, about how to stencil the words on the pillow. She instantly had a solution. We opened Adobe Illustrator and typed in the phrase. I then went through multiple fonts until I found one I liked. From there we turned the font into outlines which made it into a shape so that the Silhouette die cutting machine could recognize the outline to cut it out. If you're not familiar with a Silhouette die cutting machine, check out this blog for the basics: www.iheartorganizing.com. I am saving my pennies for this one, as well as learning how to use Adobe Illustrator because I see a bright future with these two babies in my toolbox. Continue reading DIY Expressive Pillows
My sister recently celebrated her birthday. I wanted to make a special card for her because she was turning the big "6-0"! (Remember when you were younger and that age sounded soooooo old?!) Well, I must say, my sister is one bad ass babe. She teaches children with autism full-time, and for kicks, teaches snowboard lessons twice a week at the local ski bump in MN. I wanted to make a card that reflected her personality and her life. That's why an accordion card is perfect because it's like a mini scrapbook or photo album. There are plenty of on-line tutorials to help you actually make the blank accordion card. Pinterest has great tutorials also for card templates. (See one example here.) Fortunately for me, I bought this blank card several years ago and it came in its own tin case. (Sorry to say I can't find who made this one.) I used StazOn Solvent Ink Pad in Jet Black and rubber stamps to personalize the cover of the tin. The fun part of making this card was its gradual evolution. Every few days I would look through my bag of tricks (i.e., my drawers of odds & ends, ephemera, photo albums, and so forth), and add to the card. I used photos, rubber stamps, a tiny calendar, a scrapbook page with text from Little Women with Beth & Jo's name (my sister & me!), washi tape and more. After I made my sister's card, I decided to make another accordion card for my friend in Chicago. Her card was on a smaller scale to go with a tiny gift I sent her. On the backside, I left space to write a birthday greeting. Useful tools for this project include a paper cutter, a bone folder tool, a ruler, different patterned paper, a glue stick & your creativity.
If we're talking decadent sweets, most certainly truffles come to mind. Godiva and Lindt truffles are some of my favorite store-bought versions, but I must confess that I'm partial to truffles made from cookies, homemade truffles. Once again my teenage daughter has introduced me to something wonderful from her daily commitment (obsession?) to/on social media—the Cookie Butter Truffle. She found this recipe @tastemade and it has ruined all of my Spring good eating intentions. If you and your children are not familiar with Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter or Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookies, I'm not sure if I should encourage you or not. It might just up your sweet tooth quotient. The Speculoos Cookie is great for dipping in strong coffee, and the other is a kind of cookie spread to put on toast, waffles and the like. Combine the two and add white chocolate and you've got a delicious truffle. Here's the recipe: Continue reading Cookie Truffles
I've always loved large black and white abstract paintings. I've been collecting screenshots and pinning different images of black and white abstract art from the Internet. Here are some of my picks. Forgive me for not citing sources. I wasn't even sure why I was collecting these images until I realized I wanted to try my hand at painting one for myself. Continue reading Abstract Black & White Art
My friend, Bridget, is so clever. She is a one-of-a-kind, a skilled Jill of all trades. She's the one you want during the zombie apocalypse. She's a skilled outdoorswoman, a competent motorcyclist, a mean zydeco dancer (see picture at left), a dog whisperer and an unpretentious cook. She's got a hardy laugh and a heart as deep as the Grand Canyon. She's a humanitarian and works as a nurse to earn her keep. She was my college roommate at the University of Minnesota in the 80s, and she's also one of my dearest friends. Recently I spent a few days with Bridget at her VT abode. We entertained ourselves in the day by mountain biking and hiking, and she taught me how to add beaded embellishments to my jacket at night. When I last saw her, I was impressed with what I thought was the Carhartt brand adding a little feminine twist to their rugged, utilitarian clothing line. I should have known better. It was Bridget's own hand who added the beaded trim to her jacket. Being the consummate DIY-er, I told her she needed to show me how to spiff up my outdoor gear. Here are the tools you need:
- a beading needle
- beading thread
- different colored beads
- a scissors
- a small pliers (optional)
- good lighting
I had the privilege of attending the 2016 Lady Project Summit this past weekend in Providence, RI. What a fabulous summit! To begin with, I had had a magical week. My fourteen-year-old daughter wrote a gutsy, badass slam poem and performed it for her English class on being a feminist. It made me realize that my little girl is not a little girl anymore, but rather a young woman to be reckoned with. Going with that optimism, I then went to the Lady Project Summit (LPS) on Saturday. When I walked into the LPS, I was surrounded by an exuberant group of women, mainly younger than myself, all abuzz about the event. I overheard women introducing themselves, networking over breakfast, discussing their work, and so forth, even before the opening keynote speaker, Ann Shoket, Millennial Thought Leader and former Editor-in-Chief at Seventeen, addressed the group. The Lady Project, founded by Sierra Barter, and Julie Sygiel, is a nonprofit organization that brings women together to share ideas and resources, and to connect, inspire and showcase women and their achievements. Attendees to the LPS are able to choose from a variety of workshops and panels given by enthusiastic women from all walks of life. A few of the workshops I signed up for included "Networking Your Way To Success: Play the Long Game" led by Boston-based lawyer, Monica Singh, "Editorial Styling 101: Tips for Defining Your Style + Getting Your Work Published led by Style Me Pretty blog founder Abby Capalbo, and "How to Take Charge of Your Financial Future" led by Maureen Kerrigan and Courtney Chellgren from RBC Wealth Management. I was so inspired and honored to be able to explore ideas with other women, to hear about their triumphs, dreams, and struggles. As a mother/step-mother of three girls, I am encouraged by the prospects that young women have today, especially as women help each other to be their best selves and define their place in society, rather than let men define it for them. In a nutshell, that's what the Lady Project Summit is all about. Here are some of the highlights that I gleaned from the keynote speakers:
- From Ann Shoket: “Women need to help each other to get their big life…you have no idea the adventures around the corner…”
- From Ruma Bose, President of Chobani Ventures and Chobani Foundation: “Aim High, Never Settle, Never Think You’re Done, and Trust Yourself.”
- From Elaine Pouliot, former Sr. Vice President of Training and Development at IBM: “Share your secrets; help other women. Just because you give a muffin recipe to someone, doesn’t mean it will turn out”…or taste the same way as your muffins.
- Mother Theresa: "We each do our best when we help everyone around us do their best."
So I've been hideously MIA, but it doesn't mean I haven't been pondering creative ideas. Today's post is about a children's picture book that I absolutely love, but hesitate to label as a "children's book" because my adult friends have enjoyed it as well. (Isn't that the definition of a good picture book anyway?!) The book is the The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee. Appreciated by both boys and girls, it tells the tale of mysterious paintings whereby the subjects walk off of their canvases and, in some cases, wreak havoc. For a full summary, you can read the Children's Book Review from Publisher's Weekly here. Inspired by my daughter's eclectic project some months back where she re-purposed small plastic toy animals, (See post "Take a Walk on the Wild Side") I decided to take a stab at her project. A friend gave me a bag of very small animals she picked up at a thrift store. If you've read Agee's book, and the above-mentioned blog post, you know where this is going. I headed out to my husband's garage to create mini-art that pairs so beautifully with Agee's book. I think the book and the framed animal will make an exceptional gift. Good clean fun!
I was originally going to title this post "I Hate Corner Cupboards", but as one of my New Year's Resolutions is to be positive, I caught myself. I usually don't make New Year's Resolutions, but this year I've set my sights on four: (1) be more positive, (2) organize my cupboards, (3) drink more water, and (4) try to eat dark chocolate, instead of milk chocolate. This post addresses goal #2. I started with the cupboard in my kitchen that I hate the most, my corner cupboard. Why do I hate it? They become catchalls for EVERYTHING! Does yours look like mine? How does this happen?! Should this Lazy Susan be named Lazy Jo?! And what about the contents of this other corner cupboard? Continue reading New Year’s Goal: Get Organized
Our holiday celebrations are often quite small. Most of my husband's family lives in Southern California and my family all live in Minnesota. Despite the fact that our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations usually involve just the five (and now the six of us, with my new son-in-law), I still like to make creative place cards. We don't need seat assignments, of course, but any excuse to flex my creative muscle makes me happy. They were super easy to make. Last season I bought some 1/2 price Jolee's boutique Santa hat stickers. To make the place cards, I cropped photos of each family member's head and printed them out on card stock paper, and put a Santa hat atop each head. Then I cut around the photo & hat. The silver ornament place card holders from Target purchased several years ago pair perfectly with the photo place cards.
"All of the children wore red-and-white spotted caps. If strangers came into the forest, they curled up, still as stone, for all the world like four red-and-white spotted mushrooms." —from Children of the Forest by Elsa BeskowMy sister, Beth, recently gave me the Red Spotted Mushroom Hat knitting pattern. She bought the pattern from Ingebretsen's, a magnificent Scandinavian store in Minneapolis, Minnesota that my Norwegian family has frequented many times over the years. The pattern was inspired by Elsa Beksow's beloved children's book entitled Children of the Forest. This is a delightful story that revels in childhood and the beauty of nature. The illustrations are simply enchanting. After re-reading the story, I couldn't wait to knit the hat. As mentioned in a previous post, I love knitting baby items because they don't take long to knit, and they're so fun to give away. Paired with the book, this makes a perfect gift for one of my many colleagues that are expecting. You can never predict what toys or gifts a baby or a young child will like, especially when it comes to hats! You can't take it personally. Fortunately for me, this little sweetness likes her hat so much that she wears it both indoors and out!