Book Review: “I Just Like to Make Things” by Lilla Rogers

More Books, More Crafts

As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life. ~John Lubbock

lillarogersbookDo you find your bliss in the process of creating? For some, our little crafty corners serve as a way to unwind from the daily grind, but for others, the dream of turning their art into a career remains constant. Either way, this practical new book by successful artists agent, LIlla Rogers, provides advice that will help aspiring artists focus their creativity and find the courage to pursue their passion. Rogers shares invaluable insight into focusing one’s style, finding the best outlet for specific talents, and ultimately working with an agent to earn an income. She also encourages readers to complete a series of exercises that help identify one’s own unique talents and style. From the samples of artists’ work, to the photo collages, the entire book is eye-candy! So, jump in, read the inspiring interviews by some of your favorite artists, complete the activities; and be delighted by the fresh new direction your artwork takes. (Oh, and don’t forget to send her a thank-you note when you receive your first contract!)

Happy Reading and Happy Creating!

(This book review originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas magazine.  Check out my other book reviews and some beautiful crafts here.)

Oh Christmas Tree….

More Books, More Decorating, More Miscellaneous

“The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!”
-Charles N. Barnard

Inspired by all of the wonderful book trees on Pinterest, we decided to try our own at school this year.  We think it turned out wonderfully!  (Yes, that’s a taxidermy wolf in the background– a donation to our school whose mascot is the Wolfpack.)

May your Christmas holiday be filled with hours of uninterrupted reading time and LOTS of good books!

IMG_0401Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!

Time to Get Inspired!

More Books, More Crafts

“Christmas isn’t a season.  It’s a feeling.” – Edna Ferber

The latest issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas is now available online!  You are going to LOVE this latest treasure trove of crafty holiday inspiration!  I am proud to be a part of putting it all together.  From writing the book reviews to editing the copy, every bit of it was a pleasure!

cover-1One of my favorite projects was Noodle and Lou’s Gift Toppers.  I mean, how cute are these?  Time to start gathering the vintage papers and get to work!

jennsflowersI also have a soft spot in my heart for these adorable vintage ephemera letters by Ashlee Park!  Seriously cute, don’t you think?

ashleeslettersAnd I can’t help but mention the book reviews.  Among several craft-book reviews I wrote for this issue, I also included some great “snow-themed” fiction books – perfect for a cozy afternoon by the fire.

bookclubHurry over to Amy’s site to get this incredible online magazine for only $3.99.  It’s a great bargain for so many great ideas!

christmas2013promoHappy Holidays, Happy Crafting, and of course, Happy Reading!

Book Review: “Rosette Art” by Cathe Holden

More Books, More Crafts, More Miscellaneous

“It is deeply satisfying to win a prize in front of a lot of people.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

I wholeheartedly agree with the above quote by E.B. White.  Each of us should have a chance to win the big prize, shouldn’t we?  Well, there’s no better way to give a fantastic “prize” to someone you love than to make something from Cathe Holden’s recent book, Rosette Art (Chronicle Books).

Rosette-Art-Cover-470We’ve all got them… stashes, boxes, bags and drawers overflowing with simple treasures we can’t bear to part with.  Vintage fabric, ribbon and buttons; lovely papers, pretty pictures and tiny trinkets.  Well, Cathe Holden presents the perfect project for using up some of our beloved scraps…. Rosettes!  Such a simple, but versatile idea! This one-of-a-kind book is more than an assortment of unique rosette crafts; it’s also a collection of lovely papers to incorporate into the designs. For many, the traditional rosette reminds us of the elusive first-place ribbon.  However, with inspiration from this book, you can make a loved-one, or even yourself, feel like the grand-prize winner! The endless list of suggestions will start your own creative juices flowing, and soon you will be hooked-on dreaming up your own clever rosette patterns.   Try a garland, mobile, ornament or wreath.  Whatever you choose, you likely won’t be able to stop with just one!

Head on over to Cathe’s website, Just Something I Made to get started on one of my favorite projects from the book — the Money Rosette.  Wouldn’t this be a perfect “prize” for someone’s special birthday?

cathe_holden_dollar_rosetteShe also shares the directions to make these amazing shelf-paper rosettes.  Can’t you just imagine all of the possibilities?!

CatheHolden-shelfpaper-rosettes-01Pick up a copy of Cathe’s amazing book– complete with papers to get started.  You’re sure to win first place with all of your friends when you whip-up some unique, and thoughtful, gifts!

(This review was originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  For one of Cathe’s projects, as well as some other “prize-winning” crafts, be sure to check out this fantastic issue!)

Book Review: “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

More Books

 

“I would far rather have two or three lilies of the valley gathered for me by a person I like, than the most expensive bouquet that could be bought!”    –Elizabeth Gaskell

 

The Language of Flowers book cover

A foster child for all of her life, eighteen-year-old Victoria is emancipated from the system with few social skills and a bad attitude.  Now all on her own, Victoria can’t help thinking about Elizabeth, the loving woman who once wanted to adopt her – who took her in and taught her the beautiful language of flowers. After a heartbreaking chain of events separates them, Victoria copes by focusing on flowers, and using them to communicate her pain, until a chance encounter brings her face-to-face with her past – challenging her to move forward as she bitterly clings to the past. This beautifully written novel leaves the reader haunted by Victoria’s choices, but hopeful for the second chance she deserves. After taking this journey with her, you won’t look at a yellow rose or a cherry blossom in the same way, and you’ll find yourself thinking about the characters, again and again, wishing them well as if they were old friends.

Check out the website for this lovely book and learn more about the author here.  Happy Reading!

 

Handsome Ransom

More Books, More Crafts, More Miscellaneous

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
Muriel Rukeyser

One of my favorite magazines is UPPERCASE Magazine, a quarterly publication printed in Calgary.  I had the opportunity to meet editor / publisher / designer, Janine Vangool when I attended a conference in St. Paul two  years ago.  I fell in love with the eclectic mix of articles and photography, and I wait anxiously for it to arrive in my mailbox each season. It’s such a work of art, that I can’t bear to part with any of my issues, and I can’t imagine it not being on paper.  It just wouldn’t be the same in a digital format.  (There’s the traditionalist in me coming forward!)  Here is a brief description of UPPERCASE from their website:

UPPERCASE publishes books and magazines for the creative and curious: products that spark the imagination and inspire creativity…Our books profile up-and-coming artists or explore emerging trends in design and creativity….A playful exploration of creativity, an affinity for vintage ephemera, and a love of typography are some elements common to many of our publications.”
UPPERCASE-18-COVER-this-one
Last spring, I noticed a “call for participation”  – a challenge if you will- to submit something for their collage-themed issue.  They called it the “Handsome Ransom” project, and they wanted readers to come up with a creation using cut-up words and letters in a “ransom note” style.  I just couldn’t resist trying my hand at something fun like this.  After all, I’ve been a huge fan of collage over the years and have made a few found poems using cut words from magazines.  I’ve always found it very enjoyable, as it combines my love of words with visual creativity. (I also can’t resist a good challenge!)  So, I spent my spring break this year working on my “masterpiece.”  Imagine my surprise when I returned from vacation yesterday to find my issue of UPPERCASE waiting for me.  I eagerly thumbed through it and voila’, there it was, my version of a “Handsome Ransom.”  I used a page from a falling apart novel, and words from a vintage copy of the Saturday Evening Post to spread a message that I hold dear to my heart…  I hope you like it!
 
 
2013-07-22_0758A big thank you to Janine Vangool and UPPERCASE Magazine for printing my creation.  It was a ton of fun to make, and I hope others will enjoy it!  In the meantime, head over to the website at UPPERCASE, and subscribe to this inspiring and visually stimulating publication.  If you appreciate art, words, photography and interesting bits-and-pieces of this-and-that…. if you have an affinity for nostalgia and appreciate traditional ways of doing things… you will love UPPERCASE!
 
 
 

“Pieography” My life is like a pie!

More Books

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

2013-06-17_1241I’ve recently had an essay published in the Summer 2013 issue of Where Women Cook. The challenge was to write a 500 word essay for “Pieography – If my life were a pie…”  In addition to the essay, contributors were asked to share the recipe for the “life-pie.”  I wrote about my life-long love affair with books and reading, and how it is resembles a yummy brownie-peanut butter pie.  I call it:  “So Many Books, So Little Time, Pie.”  You should definitely buy this issue just to get my recipe! It’s delicious and simple!  You can make this pie to enjoy while you kick your feet up to read a good book! This short essay was so fun to write, and I thank Jo Packham and the editors of WWC for the opportunity to share my life and my pie.

Pieography2Pieography4

If you don’t think your life resembles a pie, think again.  The 42 recipes and essays shared in the book Pieography: Where Pie Meets Biography by Jo Packham will have you thinking otherwise!  Seriously, this book will introduce you to Alice Currah’s Kahlua Chocolate Pecan PIe, and Michelle Muska’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Pie with Rhubarb, Peaches and Raspberries.  Is your mouth watering yet?!

Pieography-cover1-280x280Happy baking and happy reading!

Book Review: “The School of Essential Ingredients”

More Books, More Miscellaneous

“Life is beautiful. Some people just remind you of that more than others.”
― Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

Image

My book club read this lovely title a couple of years ago, and it still stands out as one of my all-time favorite “foodie” novels.  Today I learned that the author has recently published its sequel, and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed it, so I thought I would share a little bit about it with you.  I hope you’ll grab yourself a copy and when your done, please send me a note and share your thoughts.  Happy Reading!

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister  (Putnam Adult)

As a young girl, Lillian learned that by combining certain ingredients in the kitchen she could make a connection with her wounded and withdrawn mother.  As an adult, Lillian uses this gift to run a first-class restaurant as well as a weekly cooking class. On Monday evenings, students are allowed to conquer their fears in the kitchen as well as create delicious, simple food.  In doing so, each of them discovers what “essential ingredients” will not only improve their culinary skills, but also bring flavor to their lives. Told in a series of vignettes, readers will step into the personal struggles of each character and delight in the way stirring, slicing, smelling and tasting can inspire friendship and renewal. This tender novel will seduce your senses and inspire you to create loving menus with enticing ingredients. More importantly, through its tender glimpses into challenges of each character, it will encourage you to embrace your own abundance of small pleasures.  With captivating language and believable characters, this insightful novel will leave you as satisfied as a delicious meal.

Book Review – “Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share”

More Books, More Crafts

“For the person for whom small things do not exist, the great is not great.”
~Jose Ortega y Gasset

 

Microcrafts:  Tiny Treasures to Make and Share  compiled by Margaret McGuire, Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz and Friends (Quirk Books)

micro

Take a regular item, make it smaller, and what do you get?  Something that’s just plain adorable!  Miniatures have always been popular for their “cute-factor” and this book is BIG on cute.  Prepare yourself for the dilemma of deciding which of the twenty-five unique and completely different projects you will want to make first.  Will it be the scrumptious looking candy charms, the adorable little spool dolls, or perhaps the itty-bitty houseplants and terrariums?  Whatever you choose to make, you will have something to decorate your dollhouse, give as a gift, wear as jewelry, or simply add some charm to a darling little shelf.  Each project comes with simple, easy-to-follow directions as well as diagrams and illustrations that will make craft-time a joy.  The photographs are lovely, and the overall feel of the book a blend of sophisticated whimsy.  You will want your own copy of Microcrafts to turn to again-and-again– if for nothing more than to get your daily-dose of cute!  We want to extend a big thank you to Quirk Books for sharing the “Book” and “Deer Head” projects from Microcrafts with us for this issue.  Go ahead, give them a try, and don’t be surprised if you start dreaming up your own microcraft ideas!

(This review was first published in the Christmas issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  The publisher, Quirk Books, was generous enough to share two amazing projects from the book with readers of the magazine. The images below come from the magazine, not the actual book.  Hop on over to Amy’s site to check them out, and then grab yourself a copy of the book to see all of the other amazing projects!)

deerheads-1tinybooks

 

“Inspired Ideas” Spring Issue – It’s Here!

More Books, More Crafts

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  ~Hal Borland

covernoshadowI loved working on the spring issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  Once again, I helped edit the articles and wrote several book reviews.  This issue includes several more book reviews for craft titles as well as three amazing fiction titles. This time I chose three novels with a flower “theme.”  All of them are very different, but very good!  Isn’t this the perfect time of year to settle in a sunny window and crack open a good book?bookclub

My favorite non-fiction book review this go-around was a fantastic little book by Lilla Rogers called I Just Like to Make Things.  This book is just a treasure-trove of advice and inspiration for those of us who want to maximize our creativity.  It’s especially for those who want to turn their creative passion into a career.  Pick up a copy soon.  You won’t be disappointed!lillarogersbookHowever, it’s really the crafts that make Amy’s publication so special.  Each unique craft idea is full of cheer and whimsy.  You’ll have a hard time deciding which project to try first!  To be honest, Amy’s bird nests are at the top of my list, as well as the sweet little Easter cloches designed by Ashlee Parkashleecloche2 nests

If you’re in the mood to bust some of the stashes in your craft closet, head on over and check out all of the great ideas in this issue.  It’s quite an amazing deal for so much loveliness!  Be sure to stop back by and let me know if you read one of the recommended books or whip up something special for spring!

Happy crafting and happy reading!