I love November. And not just because of Thanksgiving (which is my favorite holiday). The last few years I've participated in Picture Book Idea Month over on Tara Lazar's blog. If you haven't heard of it before, the idea is that you write a picture book idea down for every day in November. I love the brainstorming. I love the discipline and deadline. I love the play that comes out with my later ideas. I love it all.

And best of all...
This year I've already written two new picture books as a result of PiBoIdMo. Woo hoo!

Cheers to anyone else who took the challenge.

Bookshelves bookshelves bookshelves

Show and tell time.

These are my family's new bookshelves:


I LOVE them. 

Please note all the picture book shelves. And the face-out picture book rack on the wall to the left of the shelves. I am a proud picture book hoarder. I feel that this is a very fine thing. I have a five-year-old afterall (or maybe, yes, that 's just an excuse...).

Also! These awesome bookshelves do not stand alone.

How about some bookshelves just for all our handmade journals and photo albums?

Are two shelves too many? How about three? How about one for the wall? Face out!

Or maybe four?

Aren't these shelves AWESOME?

They are like half-tables stacked on top of one another.


Now, how about some handmade shelves by yours truly (and my crafty sister):

Patchwork bookshelves for the nook at the top of my stairs.

 Because every crafty lady should try DECOUPAGE at some point.

 Here's the shelves right after I hung them, before I filled them up. My son helped me. He loves helping mommy with projects.

 As long as said projects don't involve trips to the craft store.

Is it embarrassing to realize that this little list does not include the bookshelves in my studio? Or my bedroom? or the one downstairs for cookbooks? I mean, is that too many? Too many bookshelves?


In fact, how about I just add pictures of those shelves too. Why not?

Studio shelves, complete with flying pig light

Cookbooks under the T.V. Wouldn't we rather be reading anyway?

This one houses journals I'm still filling.


"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."
-Anna Quindlen (from an article in the NYT)

Alright. Enough already. Go read a book.

Wish granted: the story of a small curve-ball deadline and a custom order

Regular readers of my blog may remember a wish I asked of the universe a few weeks ago on my blog: "Someone throw a curve-ball deadline at me, will you?"
Well, one of my husband and I's longest-time friends from Bellingham answered that call...
At least in a small way.
This is that story.
*Cue dramatic music.* 
It was to be a weekend away from home without our kid (Thanks Mom!).
My husband and I headed over the mountains to Mazama, WA, where one of our best friends from Bellingham was getting married. I had never ridden the entire way over the pass on highway 20, through the North Cascades Park (I usually head that way in the winter, when the pass is closed). The drive was beautiful. I was in awe of my own home state and feeling very in love with being home.
The wedding was set on a ranch near where my husband and I like to go cross country skiing in the winter. I loved the rustic homey feel of our friends' wedding site. I loved the relaxed feel of everything. I loved the views!

As the sun went down on Friday before the wedding I took in a deep breath and felt happy to be outside without anything to do but breathe and talk with nice people and eat s'mores (lots of people at home have been complaining about our June-uary cold weather, but after living in Malaysia I'm still not over the fact that I can be outside and not break into a sweat when the sun is out, or for that matter when it's not out too).
Over the camp fire that night, the groom said something to me about how he wished he had gotten me to make their guest book, but they hadn't wanted to bug me as I was unpacking and settling back into being home. I asked if they had a guest book. He said no, they never got around to getting one...


Curveball deadline (albeit small) wish granted?

I offered to make something the next morning.

"Really?" He said.

Why the heck not?
So the next morning my retreat to Mazama became: SURVIVOR CRAFT CHALLENGE! MAKE A BOOK IN 5 (ish)  HOURS OR LESS WITH ZERO SUPPLIES!
I loved all the ways my friends decorated for their wedding; isn't this sign great?
And I was all over it.
I felt like someone had gifted me with a surprise treasure hunt or something.

I had already noticed the sort of details and style of the wedding. Rustic. Lots of burlap. Some splashes of color.
And the wedding invitation had had a tandem bike on it.
Yep, this was the alter. So pretty!
I gave myself two hours the next morning to gather whatever I could find in the nearby small (very small) towns of Winthrop and Twisp.
One touristy tea-towel souvenir (with some bikes on it) later, and I had my idea. 
The bride said a lot of these ideas for decoration were from Pinterest. I heart Pinterest.
Using a sketchbook and razor I bought at the only kind-of art supply store around, twine from the general store, and a couple of pretties from the farmer's market (a hand-blown glass bead and a little paper flowerette), I cut, dissected, taped, sewed and put together this last minute guest book:
Here's the guest book I made!
Voila! Crafty challenge met! So fun! Thanks universe (and Stacy) for granting my wish for a curve-ball art deadline, even if it was small. Plus it was fun because I've been out of practice in making guestbooks since letting go of craft shows when my son was born.

Anyway universe, I'll take more challenges like that please. Small or large, whichever.
Because that was super FUN!
Plus it was a super fun wedding. I got to wear pink cowboy boots.
And see a snake eat a mouse (okay, that was kind of gross and I assure you it was not part of the planned activities).
Sigh. Weddings always make me happy.
there was a hoe-down in the barn with a real band and a full moon! Can't beat that.
Of course the drive home wasn't bad either.

My hubby enjoyed it in his way.
And I enjoyed it my way.
(If you've never turned the volume up full blast with one of your favorite bands — in my case this time it was The Wailin' Jennys — when driving through a beautiful mountain pass all by yourself and singing along no matter how much your voice sucks, well then, you should).

Yay for crafty retreats, weddings and the Pacific northwest! It's good to be home.


Recently I filled up the gratitude journal I'd been using for 11 years!
I had filled it sporadically. Some years I'd put 10 entries in. Some years I'd put 50 entries in. Usually an entry consisted of a short list of 5-10 things I felt grateful for that particular day.

A few months ago I started adding an entry every day.
You notice things when you are looking for them. If you look for them daily, you notice them daily. I started looking for blessings daily. So I started noticing them daily. It's kinda life changing to consciously notice your blessings on a daily basis.

So now I write in my gratitude journal every morning after I do 15 minutes of yoga. Combined, the two practices bring me to my center, they put things in perspective, and they help me start my day off right -- with a grateful attitude. It's hard to whine or procrastinate if you are feeling grateful (It's still possible -- just harder).

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this habit.

When I filled my old beloved book up (it filled up fast when I began writing in it everyday!) I stayed up late one night and made myself a new one.
I used some beautiful marbled papers I bought in Italy years ago and was saving for something special.
It's like a little shrine or church -- with a labyrinth ribbon.
How do you count your blessings?
Do you have any habits that keep your heart feeling grateful and your mind focused?
I'd love to hear about them.
"The unthankful heart...discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings." -- Henry Ward Beecher
Happy Thanksgiving!

(the last) SUMMER FRIDAY TRAVEL JOURNAL SERIES (for this year, anyway): When Shape Matches Content

I traveled to China in 2004 with 8 extended family members
(ages 10-81).
My uncle Billy specializes in architectural and stock photography from China.
He speaks Mandarin and he's an awesome tour guide.
So he planned a trip for our family.
My journal from the China trip is probably my favorite travel journal.
And I think this is largely because the shape fits the content.
Think shapes. Now think Great Wall of China or long snaky Dragon. They're both long meandering shapes.
So is this journal.
It's an accordion book with signatures sewn in on both sides.
I made the journal as I went.
I bought the fabric in China.
It stretches out long, and crunches up small.
It's not the only book I've ever made where the shape matches the content. Try this one about a family reunion in Minnesota:
Have you ever made a journal into a shape that somehow matches the content? I'd love to hear about it.
As summer is finishing up, it's time to bid adieu to my
Thanks for joining me! Happy September everybody.


These three journals are all from the same trip:
One is mine, one is my husband's and the third is our's both -- a photo album.
We got engaged during our trip to South America in the year 2000.
I love that our journals tell the same story, from different points of view.
Even though these are three books, they are really one.
Just writing that makes me smile a goofy, dreamy, lovey smile.
It's been a good decade.

My Journal is a Playground

I just filled up my beloved idea journal that I use for writing picture books:
It feels appropriate to put pictures up because of the garden on front. I've been doing a lot of work in my yard on mommy days (as opposed to artist days when my kid is at daycare) while my two-year-old plays with his bike.
You aren't still writing in a journal with lines, are you? Lines are like horizontal prison bars. What do you do when you want to write big? Or write in spirals? or write sideways. If you are an artist especially -- I dare you. Step out of the box. Buy a journal without lines next time and destroy it with your crazy handwriting (no matter if it's ugly).

It's a playground. Play.
I love having patterned paper mixed in with regular (well colorful) plain paper. I normally weave text all around the images or glue stuff down over the patterns.

These pictures were taken last year when I did a big photo blitz and took photos of lots of my personal journals to eventually post here. So the pictures above show empty pages. But I assure you the pages are not empty. They are full of crazy ugly handwriting and cross-outs. And the whole thing is all the more precious because it's where I've let myself go and allowed myself to play.

LATER UPDATE/AFTERTHOUGHT WORTH SHARING: I also should add for anyone interested, that I started calling my journal a playground after hearing George Shannon's phenomenal talk "The Journal as A Playground" several years ago. If you ever have the chance to hear George talk: do! He's an amazing speaker.

When your heart is in your work, your work is better.

I've been making quite a few custom books lately that have been bombdigity fun to make. My photo equipment has not been set up so I keep forgetting to take pictures of these books. Which in turn makes me sad because after I've sent the books off to thier new homes I always wish I could post a picture (even if it's not a super-sleek craft show jury quality picture) and announce to the universe:

"Universe, this is the kind of book I like to make. I can put my heart into this kind of work, and therefore the work has heart too. Please provide my muse with more projects like this one. Thank you."

Today, before I shipped out the latest, I remembered to take pictures, even if the background and lighting weren't ideal because my photography equipment is not set up and I don't have the space or time right now to set the equipment up.
This book was an etsy order for a woman who is planning a unique kite-themed sort of wedding. Awesome! I was so honored that she chose me to make her guest book. She wanted me to have it compliment the invitations that her friend designed. This is what I made:

I LOVE that I got to make this book (thanks, Jenna! I hope you like it).

I'm curious if other etsy artists have found that when you show photos of the work you most like to make (as long as it's your current best) that you tend to get orders that are also of the type you most like to make.

When your heart is in your work, your work is better.

Handmade Book of the Week(s) Feb 7 - Mar 1, 2009

I call this design "Tree Of Life."
I thought I'd put it up because I'm leaving for a big adventure in Spain soon. And adventure gives me life, so why not the Tree Of Life book.

I guess technically I could have had posts scheduled for the weeks I'll be gone. But that's not very much like vacation. I'm taking vacation. So this book will be book of the "week" for several weeks.

I might put up a few posts from Spain though if I feel inspired to share something cool and crafty or awesome and arty that I find. We'll see.

To see more photos or to buy the book go here.

Happy trails!

Handmade Book of the Week Jan 24 - Jan 30, 2009

I'll Fly Away...
(One of my favorite Songs)

My Fly-Away Journal is this week's book of the week in honor of the cool idea that Creative Kismet put on her blog. Many artists all over the internet partook in the "Birds Of Change Giveaway," including my friend, Kim who made an awesome bird with map wings. I was late in learning about it but maybe at a future date I'll give away one of my new Book Birds (click here for a picture of one in an old post).

Anyway, happy hope everybody!

For more pictures of the Fly-Away Journal, or to buy the book, click here.

Handmade Book of the Week Jan 17 - Jan 23, 2009

Because sometimes things take a long time...
A turtle journal is this week's handmade book of the week.
Okay actually, the real inspiration for this book's posting didn't really happen this past week, it happened a couple of weeks ago. But I forgot about it until I was sorting through some photos of Oscar. We were at a restaurant. He likes to have cups with straws:
And he's learning how to share:
To see more photos, or to buy the book, click here.

Handmade Book Of The Week January 10 - January 16, 2009

Sometimes it's nice to take a deep breath...
I chose this week's book of the week because I had a sort of dripping-faucet week.
You know the kind. Nothing really goes that wrong. But a lot of little stuff does. And it feels a bit like a there's a dripping faucet in the background, conspiring to annoy you and trick you into thinking everything sucks when really nothing is that wrong.
Most especially when you compare a dripping faucet to -- literally -- crazy, horrible life-changing floods that are affecting people all around you. My county is badly FLOODED this week. Seriously. Really horribly flooded. Neighborhoods and parks are lakes, streets are rivers -- it's crazy. And my house is all good. As is most of my neighborhood. Whew.
So anyway, this book reminds me of a spa. A nice backrub. I calm walk in the woods. It's the sort of book with the sort of attitude you want when you've had a dripping faucet kind of week. It's the sort of book with the sort of attitude you want when you realize your dripping faucet isn't a flood. Probably the kind of book/attitude you'd want even if you did have a major flood.

So, here's to everyone dealing with floods or drips, large or small.

Click here to see more photos or to buy the book.

A tool to make me drool and a new journal that does the same!

Look at what my awesome husband gave me for Christmas:
I'm not awesome at sewing by any stretch of the imagination, but I wanted a sewing machine that I didn't have to spend hours adjusting the tension every time I used it so I could make crazy fun cloth journals and sew on paper. I tried it out last week on my very own new journal:
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this journal! Let's call it this month's journaling inspiration of the month.
It was sew fun to make.
And true to it's promise, my new sewing machine (named by Singer: Confidence) adjusts the tension automatically.
I switched back and forth from thick fabric to paper without adjusting anything (although I probably should change the needle next time).
I've already filled many pages in my new journal. I'm thinking of it as a "soujourn-al," or maybe a "sew-journal."
I like the word "sojourn." Besides meaning "a temporary stay somwhere," I think of it as a retreat, a break, an excursion outside of the ordinary.
So (Sew), I like my new sojournal (sewjournal).
And my new sewing machine. Did I mention that my new sewing machine makes all sorts of fancy stitches? It's a dream come true. Thanks Bryceroni!
Sorry for the overload of pictures, but the different pages and colors are just too fun not to share.
Almost everytime I develop a new kind of journal to sell it comes from me playing around with my own personal journals first.
Yay for play.
I should really show off the insides of journals with a video instead of 10 pictures. I'll try that out next time.

Now, what else can I sew?
And what do you do to sojourn?

Book of Cards: Journaling Inspiration of the month, December 2008

So here's an inspiration to anyone who wants to make a photo album journal of your Christmas adventures.
It involves the big stack of holiday cards you've received from all your friends and family that you've got sitting around in a basket somewhere.
I love getting holiday cards from my friends and family. They are precious little glimpses into the lives of friends and loved ones who I don't often see.
I like to make my own holiday cards. Usually (this year included) I send out "Happy New Years" cards because I don't get around to making the cards until I'm relaxing for the Christmas break. In fact, guess what I made last week as part of my Christmas crafty craze? Yep. New Year's Cards:
So anyway, one year I made a Christmas album out of the holiday cards I received from friends and family.
Before I go farther I've got to give props to my sister -- like several of my personal albums/books, I started this project, but my sister helped to finish the book. While I came up with the idea for this book, she really should take the credit for this one -- she did most of the work.
The pages of the photo album are the holiday cards people sent me. The cover looks like an envelope.
I didn't write anything on any of the cards, but the signatures or notes others wrote show between the photos on many "pages."
You could make the same kind of book for a graduate or a birthday treat (I made something similar for my son's birthday last year).

This book is one of my favorite Christmas albums.
Happy New Year!