Office Work

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Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.  ~Confucius

Seriously, have you gotten your subscription to Uppercase! Magazine, yet?  It’s one of my favorite things to discover in my mailbox!  This graphically rich, whimsical, and all-around cornucopia of all things art-related never fails to make me smile.  I’ve had such a blast responding to their calls for submission.  In issue #18, I was lucky enough to have a piece published in their Handsome Ransom feature. That one was so much fun to create!

This time, the challenge was a call for letterforms and alphabets made with office supplies.  I went out onto my back deck and took some photos of my three vintage staplers in configurations no one had ever imagined before!  The result was unique, and my submission was printed right up-front in the feature.  I love the challenges – they give me an excuse to flex my creative skills.  Thanks Uppercase!

notion004This recent issue is another visual feast. I love the artist profiles, the interesting feature stories, and of course, the snippets of creative and curious things to look at.

#19 cover previewHappy Reading and Happy Working!

Kitchy Cute = doe-c-doe

More Crafts, More Decorating, More Treasures

“Without atmosphere a painting is nothing.”
― Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn

I’m loving by the photos for sale in the Etsy shop doe-c-doe.  First of all, I’m a little obsessed by old Paint-by-Numbers pictures.  I’ve been snagging them at thrift stores and consignment shops lately, and I think they’re just peachy!  I hit a garage sale last a couple of weeks ago and found a vintage kit with the print still in the box – untouched. (I’ve got big plans for sitting down with that bad-boy this winter and trying my hand at a little long-forgotten craft skill.)  Here are three of the kitchy-cute  pieces of photography available from doe-c-doe. red bicycle with paint by number background print

avon camper with paint by number background print

ewe with paint by number background printAdorable, don’t you agree?  Perhaps I’ll get all three!

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.”
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!

My Ideal Bookshelf

More Books, More Decorating, More Miscellaneous

“A man’s bookcase will tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about him.”
― Walter Mosley

Lately, I have become enamored by the ideal bookshelf artwork of Jane Mount.  I stumbled upon her website on a Pinterest binge and suddenly became obsessed with trying to decide what books would go on my ideal bookshelf!  I love the slightly whimsical quality of the paintings, and I could browse the site for hours admiring the “shelves” that have been created for others.

idealbookshelf2I’m thinking I would want to choose books that had important meaning in my life, but of course, I would try to avoid being a book snob and choosing books simply to impress others.  I mean, most folks would know that War and Peace wasn’t really one of my favorite books!

So, off the top of my  head here are a few of my picks:

1.  Where the Lilies Bloom (Cleaver):  I read this book numerous times in my childhood and was enthralled by the way a group of siblings took care of themselves after their parents died.

2.  The Master Butchers Singing Club (Erdrich):  I can’t remember many books that draw me in the way this one did.  When it ended, I felt sad that my time with the characters was over.

3.  Autobiography of a Face (Grealy):  This sad story was written with such honesty and some of the most beautifully crafted language I’ve read.

4.  A Thousand Splendid Suns (Hosseini):  One of the most moving friendship stories I can remember.  This book touched me deeply.

Oh, it’s so hard to pick, but I’m going to keep brainstorming.  I just worry that there will be too many books on my shelf!  I really look forward to having one created just for me, and I think I know exactly where it will go!  Happy reading!

Illustration Eye Candy

More Books

“Who ever converses among old books will be hard to please among the new.”
-William Temple

Of course, I adore everything old.  I love the patina, the layers and the story seemingly contained within anything that had a life before it entered mine.  My love of vintage is especially strong for books.  I cannot stop collecting beautiful old books.  However, I am most enamored by vintage storybooks of a certain era.  I can’t get enough of the graphics from illustrated children’s books from the 60’s and 70’s.  There is just something about the artistic style of the time that reaches out and grabs me.  Here’s one I picked up last weekend.


This lovely book is about a number of things that float and fly in the wind.  Here are a couple of my favorite illustrations. Aren’t they beautiful?



Take a minute to search your attic and old boxes of books.  I’ll bet you have some treasures.  Of course new books are wonderful, but the style of illustrations just can’t compare with some of the gems I find hidden in the dusty corners!  Happy Reading!

The Art of Reading with April from Flourish Cafe

More Books, More Miscellaneous, The Art of Reading

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.

Okay, it’s no surprise that I am passionate about books and reading, but I am also a huge fan of art and great quotes.  I have a journal where I write down all of the best quotes I come across.  I love looking at it from time to time for a little inspiration.  That’s why I absolutely fell in love with the designs of April Starr from her Etsy shop, Flourish Cafe.  Take a look at her stunning artwork, photography and sweet quotes, and I dare you to choose just one that you can’t live without!  All it takes is one visit to her shop to tell that April is also a lover of books.  I’m sure you will enjoy her interview as much as I did!  Happy Reading!

Meet April….

Find April Here:  FlourishCafe: a place for those who love food, books and art

What creativity do you share with the world? I love to create illustrations and graphic design pieces based on things that inspire me – especially food, cooking, books, writing and reading. I sell these art prints in my shop,, along with some recipes and select vintage items. On my blog, I share a wide variety of creative projects, from upcycling old records into side tables, to recipe ideas for serving tea, to my free illustrated planner printables. Basically, I like to explore a lot of different areas of creativity! Some day I hope to share my fiction writing with the world … but I’m not quite there yet.

  • Book OR e-reader? Book!
  • Buy OR lend from the library? Library, unless it is a book I or my family will read multiple times.
  • Hardcover OR paperback? Hardback all the way!
  • One book at a time OR several? One fiction at a time, but I may be reading one fiction, plus some non-fiction.
  • Skip ahead and read the last page OR be patient and wait? Wait!! As a writer myself, I know the work and skill it takes to craft a story leading up to the end and I want to enjoy the story as the author intended it. Don’t take a shortcut, the joy is in the journey!
  • Bookmark or fold over the page corner? Hm, does random scraps of napkins count as a bookmark? Anything but bending the pages!
  • Abandon a bad book OR stick with it no matter what? Abandon. There are too many other worthwhile things to accomplish and other great books to read to stick around in a book that I have no more desire to read.
  • Laugh OR cry? Laugh!
  • Cover Love:  I love the cover of antique books by just about anyone.

What is your favorite place to read? When I was a kid I came across an old poem that I simply fell in love with (and have since made into a print in my shop – it is my single most popular print, in fact) that I think answers this question pretty well:

“Oh for a book and a shady nook,
Either indoors or out,
with the green leaves whispering overhead,
or the street cries all about.
Where I may read at all my ease
both of the new and old,
For a jolly good book whereon to look
is better to me than gold”
-John Wilson 1785-1854

Do you have a book that you love so much that you re-read it periodically?  I don’t really re-read books very much, personally.  Much of the reason I like to read is the discovery of the journey of the characters. Once I read their journey, I rarely go back and read it again.  It’s not that I don’t love the book, it just feels rather like going to visit a friend and having the exact same conversation with them that you had the last time you visited.    This is probably why I am so drawn to books that are in a series, so that I can “visit” again with the characters, without repeating. So that being said, when I DO re-read a book, it has to be a very special book. One that I have read at least 2 or 3 times is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.  Marianne and Col. Brandon remind me very much of my husband and me.

Do you have a childhood favorite? Oh, I had so many childhood favorites. Perhaps my very favorite was Anne of Green Gables. Anne (with an E) is probably the literary character I have identified with the most. I loved her vivid imagination and her ability to have great intentions but still be able to make a complete mess of things. I seemed to do that type of thing a lot, too. I also have a very special place in my heart for Dr. Seuss. I still remember that the first book I ever read completely on my own was Green Eggs and Ham.

Do you have a favorite genre or genres?    I tend to dance around through a few different genre phases.  Every few years I seem to go through a stage of reading a lot of mystery, especially Agatha Christie.  Then I might go through a while where I read a lot of young adult novels, especially fantasy or dystopian pieces.  Then I’ll have period of time where I prefer to read classics and historical fiction. But usually I’m in one of those three categories, and they don’t really overlap much while I am in each one.

Do you have a favorite author or authors? In terms of fiction, Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Agatha Christie, Edward Lear, Louisa May Alcott, O. Henry, Lewis Carroll.  What I love is how they can vividly take you into their imagination, simply and cleanly.

I’m stranded on an island, and I get to have five books.  They are:

The Bible

How-To-Survive-Being-Stranded-On-an-Island (or some such similar title)

How-To-Build-a-Raft-and-1001-Other-Ways-to-Escape-an-Island (or similar)

– A blank book (so that I can write)

– Something lighthearted and humorous to keep up my spirits, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I vividly remember being read aloud to… My Dad used to read aloud to our whole family in the evenings.  One of my favorites was when he read to us from the “Little Britches” series.  It’s very similar to the “Little House on the Prairie” series in that it is based on a true story of a child in the wild west, but this series is about a boy, and happened about 50 or 60 years after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s time. It’s a well written and fascinating series about hard work, adventure, family and history. Plus my dad is really good at doing great voices for the different characters!

One of my favorite quotes from a book is:   Ahh, this is so hard to choose. My shop is full of prints I have made from different book quotes!  But perhaps one of my favorites is: “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.

I love Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Looking Glass. For my senior project in high school, I adapted the book into a script, and directed and acted in our simple production of the book.  It may not have been ground breaking, but it was a lot of fun!

Thanks April for sharing your beautiful artwork and your love of words and books with us. Happy drawing, happy writing and of course, happy reading!

A Place to Hang Your Hat….or Coat….or Scarf…..

More Crafts, More Decorating

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.  ~Thomas Babington Macaulay

Check out my handmade yardstick coat hanger!  I ran across this project idea in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and I instantly loved the look of it, so I set out to collect as many vintage yard-sticks as I could find.  Ultimately, I was hoping to find them all from our local hometown businesses, as well as the small towns where my husband and I grew up, as that would be more sentimental.  However, they were hard to find!  I did find several at some consignment shops from far-away places, but they still had some unique and interesting “patina,” so I picked them up from $5.00 – $10.00. With help from my in-laws, I was able to get one from the Coast-to-Coast store in my husband’s small hometown in Eastern Montana, and of course, I found one in Grandma’s Attic!  (I’m always giving thanks to my Grandma for her collecting spirit!)   I found some antique black coat-hooks on E-Bay that came from an old school.  I love the look of these, because you can see flecks of different colors of paint and a few chips here and there.  We took a board and cut it just slightly larger than the layout of the rulers and painted it with several coats of black spray-paint.  This way it peeks out just a little around the perimeter and “frames” it.  The black also highlights the lettering on the yardsticks and the hooks as well. We have enough yardsticks to make another one, and we’re going to hang them side by side on the long wall in the entry-way at Camp More (the cabin). I think it’s going to add a lot of character to the room, not to mention, it will give us a place to hang our coats after we come back from snowshoeing!

Perfectly Pumpkin

More Crafts, More Decorating, More Nature, More Treasures

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”   -Henry David Thoreau 

I’ve had a lot of fun lately, enjoying some fruitful thrifting, some bountiful fall blooms in the garden, and some happy crafting for Halloween.  First of all, let me say that two years ago, when I toted home a small Chinese Lantern plant from my farmer’s market, I had no idea that it would spread so eagerly.  I has literally taken over my front flower garden.  So, what’s a crafty girl to do?  Find a way to use them for fun fall decorating, and to make cute decorations to give away! I found this cute idea in the Martha Stewart magazine for turning Chinese Lantern pods into small pumpkin favors.  I’ve also had some exceptional luck at the thrift store lately.  The orange pot in the background is McCoy (I’m kind of a pottery snob!) and the pumpkin is a vintage Haeger planter.  I found these things just hiding among all of the other Halloween “crappity-crap.” (thanks for the term, Dottie Angel, it’s perfect!)  Fall decorating is my favorite, and I only wish the season wasn’t so short.  Right now I’m pressing some leaves for another crafty idea I saw on Martha’s website… I’ll be sure to share the results.

Brilliantly Brilliant Dottie Angel!

More Books, More Crafts

“Never doubt your instincts in a thrift store.”  -Dottie Angel

Yes, I’m still talking about the Creative Connection Event.  (It may never end, so hopefully you’re okay with it!) While I was there,  I had the amazing opportunity to meet with the publisher of Uppercase Magazine Janine Vangool for my Pitch Slam.  Her company published the book I want to tell you about….. Dottie Angel: the Peachy Crafty World of Tif Fussell.

I absolutely must borrow from Tif’s super-fun vocabulary to tell you that this book is, “peach, fabby, and brilliantly brilliant!”  I had been saving this treasure since I got home from TCC.  It was perched on top of a pile waiting for a really quiet, special moment when I could settle in for an extended amount of uninterrupted time.  When you hold this book in your hands, you will understand that trying to read it while commuting, or perhaps cramming in a few pages at the doctor’s office, just won’t do this sweet little volume justice.  This book has so many special touches, it feels as if it were handmade just for me.  It wasn’t just rolled off the presses and put in a box.  No,  I’m not going to give away the surprises.  You’ll just have to order one for yourself from Uppercase.  I could go on and on about why I love this book, but most of all, I love that when I read it, I feel like I’m sitting in the Airstream with “Dottie” (Tif)  on a lovingly weathered chair, covered with hand crocheted doilies, drinking a cup of tea,  in a beautifully chipped cup from the thrift store, and gazing at some of her handmade treasures.  When I read the description of the book, I must say, she had me at “thrift store.”  I confess — I’m a complete thrift store junkie!  Tif and I have exactly the same passions:  crocheted covered vintage hangers, ceramic animal figurines and granny squares!  We both have “crafting epiphanies” and an appreciation for anything with “granny chic!” She is “utmost kind” in sharing ideas for fun little treasures to make, and she tells you about her special little world where tools have names and bunnies wear capes.  “Thank you kindly,” Tif, for the crafty ideas, the walks down memory lane, and for letting me into the perfectly blissful world of my new best friend, Dottie Angel!

ReMake It…. from books, of course!

More Books, More Crafts

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a songbird will come.” –Chinese proverb

At The Creative Connection Event in St. Paul, I took a class from Tiffany Threadgould who just published a unique and thoroughly inspirational book published by Sterling called ReMake It!  So, this post is part book-review, and part show-and-tell.  In her class, Tiffany taught us how to do several of the simple crafts from her book, and we had a blast whipping up paper beads, envelopes, gift bows and coasters.  All of the crafts were “green,” but they were much more than that…. they were cool!  They had a hip graphic vibe and could be tailored to fit into any person’s design style.  Personally, I am in love with words, letters, and anything that has to do with books. As a result, this book, and Tiffany’s ideas, really appeal to me, as many of them were made out of old magazines and book pages.  I also have plans to try making a button bracelet, a case for my cell phone from a men’s necktie, and a t-shirt skirt – SO CUTE!  Her book is full of great pictures and easy templates to follow, so many of these projects can be as sophisticated or a simple as you want them to be.  I would definitely recommend picking up this book to use with children for school art activities or craft time!

So, after I returned from the Event, I decided to turn my inspiration from her class into my own unique art.  I went to the local library’s book sale where they were selling thousands of used, donated books to raise money for the Friends of the Library group.  (I brought home a LOT of books, which I have just decided is a sickness I will have to live with.)  I took graphic images from these books, mostly used children’s stories, and cut them out to create note-cards.  Then I went out to my stash of old Saturday Evening Post magazines in the garage (once again, thanks Grandma) and used some of the pages to create envelopes for the note-cards. (Both of these ideas are outlined in Tiffany’s book.)  Together, the cards and envelopes are a visual delight of vintage images, type, words, and graphics.  I’m going to fill them out and get them in the mail.  I hope the recipients enjoy receiving them as much as I enjoyed making them!