Thursday, November 17, 2011

A DIY Gift-a-palooza

What I've been up to is no longer a secret. (Not that it ever really was but..)

A dear friend had a little holiday boutique and asked if I had anything to sell..well, of course.

The above is a little sampling. I love a good diy gift, so I thought I'd share. You have something like 30+ days until Christmas. (No pressure.)

A pillow made from my stash of feedsacks, some scaps, and a Stampin' Up set I've had forever. No tutorial really, but google diy pillow and a million results will come back. Takes about 1/2 hour to sew.

An oilcloth change purse, I used this tutorial.

Again, easy peasy.

DIY Gift wrapping kit; a few deco-d clothespins, some bakers twine, and tags.

(Did I mention I loved kraft paper wrapped presents?)

Tags are pretty simple but you download mine here.

As a self-titled artist, I love this quote by Joyce Myers:

"A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere."

What a simple gift for your artist friends, a teacher, an entreprenuer, or a plain old doodler.
I altered some pencils (here's a great tutorial using paper) with a bit of washi and glitter tape, and made the envelopes.

You can download the envelopes here.

Don't get me started on washi tape--I'm sooooooo addicted.

(...consider this your warning on pretty tape addiction.)

Acrylic paint has never really been on my radar. That is, until I ran across this class.
I loved the original, and mine turned out great. I want to make a million more.

A great girlfriend gift.

{It's official. Now, I'm a Brave Girl addict, too.}

And of course, I try to journal on a weekly 13 in progress.
This pages is about stitiching and life. A 16 square life sampler...

You can make your own art journal too. (Link to the class I took...)
I'd love another filled with someone else's thoughts.

Get crackin'--you can do this. Make something.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Geek Girl Artistry

{Get your very own printable version here.}

Very much still in burn-out (or on the verge of anyways) mode.

I love to design. And I love to learn. Hmmm...learn design.

Today, I set out on trying to learn how to use a clipping mask in my graphics program.

(I don't have Photoshop. Santa, are you listening?)

I run across tutorials for PS and then I have to try and figure out a way to do the same things in Paint Shop Pro. (The ghetto version of PSP--only because I think the license was $47 vs. $470.)

So Ghetto Graphic Designers, your geekery for today:

-a clipping mask tutorial for Paint Shop Pro.

{The word "fork" in the above was a sucess in clipping mask action.}


Besides that....

I've been creating a little......"Paris" (it's an oldie, but a goodie)

And the "Found & Bound Workshop": An e-course in Art Journaling..

I think you can still sign up for the class--there's a little banner on the right side of this blog to take you to the "guru of art journals."

{Page 10..."Smart girls are beautiful." Especially when they wear their glasses.}

{Page 4. The first page I ever did....I feel like this 6/10ths of every day.
I hear the song..."Take me a better place..." every Monday-Friday when I enter my very grey cube.}

{Page 9.."Free of Blah, Blah, Blah...especially like the blue lipstick, (or hair :)}

{The cover--bound by yours truly with waxed cord a la some ancient Japanese bookbinding techniques.}

I'm off to do some more geekery....and meditate.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday: Mental Health Day

After devouring one of my fave magazines yesterday, I came across this sentence from an "Are You on the Road to Burnout?" article:

"It's not that you aren't a caring, compassionate person; it's just that you hate everyone. "

Yep. Pretty much sums it up.

In light of this, I declared today a mental health day and decided to do what I do. Drink coffee, read blogs, and glue the hell out of something.

(Only after I waste some significant life hours on can follow me here, if you like. )

I saw this photo on a blog I read, pinned it, and got down to business...

{Photo courtesy of Allison @ Little Lovelies}

They turned out soooooooooo very cute. While my head was occupied (in a zen-like) state trying not to hot glue my fingers together, I had an idea.

I think we've talked about my obsession with lovely packaging before..and nothing has changed.

These little bookmarkers would make such a cute gift.

{And please don't start the old e-reader spiel. I like real pages, broken spines, notes in the margins, passages highlighted, the smell of the paper, and the whole idea of a real book. Get off my ass. I'm on the road to burnout. Talk to me about the Nook another day.}

Where were we? Oh yes, such a cute gift but presentation is essential when giving a handmade present.

A library card! Yes, attach these little lovelies to an old library card. A special library card that I have designed. A little library card to go with your little lovelies that I am going to share with you!

{Download Library Card Template here}

For the perfect gift for the old school reader in your life:

-Go make your bookmarks. It's felt, hot glue, and paperclips.

-Download and print the library card. I used vanilla-ish colored card stock to print it out on.
-Punch a small hole in the side of the card and clip your book mark to it.

-I found this "Library Card Pocket" template that you could make for you card.

If you are going to use this pocket, the card fits pretty tight. So trim off as much as you can when you cut the library cards apart. Yes, Part of the little girl's body will get cut off. Just follow the lines, it'll be ok.

-For that most special reader, tuck a bookstore gift card in the pocket with the library card. And/or some homemade bookplates...I like these, but I'm sure there are freebies everywhere.

I'd say a successful (if not perfect) mental health day.

I'll leave you and myself this one final reminder:

{Via Lindsey TePastte Kloeckner on Pinterest}

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If you say you are, then maybe you become it.

Here's a lesson...

If you believe in yourself, title yourself, and write about whatever your expertise is in, then one day you actually become it to other people.

As I was following the tangents of the web, I came across a blog.

A blog where a woman takes daily pictures of her outfits she's put together.

This woman's blog bio reads she is a "style and body image expert". Her expertise is "leg lengthening."

{The pictures in this post are all from her daily journals though I've blacked out her face}

Now, I'm all for pursuing dreams, but there needs to be a level of natural ability if you are going to claim the "expert" title.

In my humble opinion, here's my take on how we can get her to that level.

Outfit #1-(far left) The White Tank

It appears as if Mary (I need a name, not her real one.) is a shorter woman. To fix this outfit:

-The Tank top is the problem--way (too big!) looks like she's drowning in it.
-the heavy shoe is cutting her off at the ankles, shortening her legs

Outfit#2-Navy Ensemble

To fix:
-Once again, the top is too big around the hip/thigh area adding bulk. This one is better than the white tank. I would add a wide belt to help cinch it in.

-The capri length is shortening her legs again--

-Too matchy, matchy; a necklace in a contrasting color or texture would give her a bit more pizazz.

Outfit #3-The Olive Bag

-Again, the length of those cropped pants and too heavy shoes coupled with the (again) too large shirt is leaving me wondering if she looks at the pictures before she posts. I'd scrap this entire ensemble and start again. (The bag is cute but I'd ditch the heavy necklace with this neckline and trade it in for a dainty little wrap necklace.)

Outfit#4-The Hot Yellow Mess

It seems to me that Mary wanted to wear her yellow trimmed shoes so badly that she threw all rules to the wind. This is definitely the least flattering of the 4.

The a-line of the yellow shirt peeking out under the jacket is creating the "balloon" effect on her hips. Again, the pant length,and tightness of the legging are creating the "lollipop" shape and her heavy shoes, once again, do nothing for her.

Now, here's where Mary got it right.........

-This navy dress actually fits her and creates a slim silhouette. The jacket hits her at her slimmest part, but doesn't bell out to add girth to her hips. The obi belt adds the pizizzle.

-The skirt is hitting her slightly above the knee (lengthening her legs) and the pop of red on her feet pull the entire outfit together.

-This one too....the "right above the knee" does wonders for her. And the "cinched" waist makes her look teeny, tiny. The boots (although heavy) are a great complimentary color and give her a polished look.

Thank you,

Rebekah A., stylist and blog author

{Believe me yet?}

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Prom Dress Re-Design

Many times I create a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes in my head and then can never find the real thing. I have passed this gene onto my daughter.

As the window of opportunity passed for ordering a prom dress or finding one that Little Miss could deal with, we found ourselves (as always) scrambling for something. "Mom, I think I'm just going to have to settle." Well, yes, my dear. Prom is in 2 weeks and we have today.

We drove to the nearest mall, found a bridal store that guarantees that they will not sell the same dress to anyone at your school, and sifted through the meager 30 dresses left in their inventory.

We found 2-a beautiful blue one with a price tag of $500 and this one.

The zipper was ripped, the clasp in the back was missing. But the price tag reflected the defects with a big red slash through it.

"Ok, baby girl. Let's put our thinking caps on. We CAN fix this." We proceeded to dream up the ways we could alter this into perfect.

Unlike Cinderella, I don't have any little mice to help me. But that big bow had to go. Cutting off anything from a piece of clothing could have disastrous results and the budget of dollars and/or time just didn't allow another purchase. (And the bow was attached to the back seam of the dress--yikes!)

Go big or go home, right?

So off with the thing, with the help of some really sharp scissors.

After a few tries, (ahem, a satin sash dyed gone bad) she settled on a piece of silk ribbon we made into a belt and an old brooch from a box of junk jewelry.

Fixed the clasps and the zipper. And hidden by the mane of hair, I fashioned two lacey straps from lace hem tape.

The results? Lovely. {And a happy daughter not needing to constantly pull up her dress.}

Monday, March 28, 2011

Here's a little known fact. I always wanted to be a hair stylist.

At the time, I thought there was no virtue in attending beauty school. The dumb girls went to cosmetology college and I was no dummy.

Seems to me, now, that a good stylist is really hard to come by. Through personal experience {and trial and error} there is a great need to be properly educated in this craft.

Guess the joke is on me.

Five Finger Tippy Tuva's (as my kitchen salon is dubbed} probably won't make the Aveda salon list but....I can still dream and try. (And collect images of pretty hair.)

via Glamour

This one makes me wish I was one of those dollies we had--the one where you pull her hair and it magically grows.

via Marth Stewart

The perfect shade of red and the perfect bang sweep.

Via The Sartorialist

She looks so cute-the very perfect hairdo. I've always envied dark curly Italian hair. So thick. So unlike my very fine straight locks.

Twiggy--I think she is absolutely beautiful.

And Paris, though I don't personally enjoy her has the cutest hair when it's short. I think I'm just mildly obsessed with SJP but I love her hair here. The whole ensemble is inspiration worthy.

Sense a trend here? Me too but I look terrible as a blond.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Window Shopping-Excursion 1

I caught Suze on public television during a Glee commercial last night. I heard her say, “Live below your means.” I just tallied expenses for tax purposes and man, the $13 here and the $15 there add up into thousands in a year. And if I want to get rid of this "big girl" job, I need to make a plan.

I bet Suze is not obsessed with good design. She for sure doesn’t buy crap just because it has great packaging. And she definitely does not have a stash of crafting supplies that could double as a scale model of Mount Saint Helen.

No, Ms. Orman is probably free from “cute shit” addiction.

This author, I’m afraid, needs to enroll herself into a 12 Step program----I can’t quite put my finger on just what it is, but I’ve come to understand that a bow on anything can drive me over the edge.

Thanks to Google Reader, I have saved the price of a yearly magazine subscription or 2. (or 3, or 6) but now I'm innundated with images of great shit every day, every hour.

What’s a girl to do? Especially a girl who loves expensive perfume, really good coffee, and can’t pass a Barnes & Noble without salivating.

Well, she can window shop. (And collect all the images into a wish list that perhaps her mister friend will peek at before her birthday on May 24th.)

Ms. Kidston, please stop.

Frederic, you, and that Barney friend of yours are indeed killing me.

Dreams of jersey knit tops with a boatneck and 3/4 length sleeves, designed by yours truly.

I know, it's just tape. Pretty tape. Japanese washi tape but when you want the trio in every color....

and the twine to go with it, it's a prime example of this sickness.

And yet another fragrance. I don't even know what this one smells like, the bottle had me hello.

Tom, Glitter and philanthrophy? Yeah, here's my credit card number.

Send me one of each. Size 8 please.

Anthro, I do not need one more reason to stay in bed longer than I should. Does the outdoor space come with it?

Wow, that was fun. Did it help? Maybe.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"The Space Between Us"

"The Space Between Us" by Thrity Umrigar.

I am silently drawn to books written about Indian culture. (Like Mumbai, India Indian culture.)

I'm fascinated by the descriptions of things I've never eaten or places I've never been. Indian authors (or the 2 I have read thus far- "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry was another) have this uncanny ability to transport their readers into the streets of their stories.

I can actually taste the dust in the "jhodpadpattis", smell the urine running through the streets, and feel the greasy heat. Hell, they even trust their readers to define their Indian words. A jjhodpadpatti is a slum, I think.

I recently finished Thrity's book and true to form, she wrote and I got to travel with her.

I read Bhima's story but above all, the "About the Author" pages is what I really want to share...

I might not know what a Parsi is vs. a Hindu, but I do know that Thrity the author is a smart woman.

Excerpts from her "Words to the Wise to the Would-Be Writer":

#1 : "Remember, it is possible to have a perfectly happy and balanced life without ever writing a book. You can take up less dangerous pursuits such as snowboarding, or skydiving, instead. In other words, give yourself permission not to write."

2: " If you are a true writer, you will find what I said laughable. Because for you, writing is a way of surviving in the world, the medium through which you make sense of your life."

#7: "Saying that you don't have time to write is an excuse. The fact is nobody has time to write, other than the miniscule number of writers who make their living from writing full-time. Most writers make the time to write. Their lives are no easier or less busy than anyone else's. They too have dentists appointments and kids who need trips to the emergency room and pets who puke in the kitchen and gardens that have to be watered and weeded. The difference between writers and non-writers is just that writers write. Non-writers talk about wanting to write."

I really want to have lunch with this woman.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Inspired Mini-Book

After I read this, I promptly added it to my list of "to-trys". If you didn't click the link, it's a little mini book of art.

Last Sunday, I pullled out my scraps and got down to business. Cutting and pasting business.
I thought I would share with you my version...Click the photo to get a bigger look.

Once, you cut, print, and fold (according to these directions), you have a little 4 page book that measures about 2" by 1.5". Blue Girl's was birthday themed, mine is to remind me of a few things I sometimes forget.

On a completely separate note:

I value humor. It's essential to my survival. I sent an email to a friend the other day. We share electronic quotes back and forth and a serious love of Glee.

Our last email ended this way....

"P.S. You think there’s a job out that there that needs an obsessed quote regurgitator?"

His response:

"Actually that job was filled- magnetic poetry. "

Happy Weekend-do something you love. Or, laugh. Better yet, try both.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pity Party for One, Please

Somedays, life seems unfair; you're the square peg in the round hole.
Sometimes, on these days, the universe sends you a message. Your job is to pay attention.

Dear Unique Girl,

The very thing that may make you stand out, make you feel peculiar, and maybe even sometimes a little bit like an outcast -- is probably the thing in your life that will have the most impact on others, as well as yourself.

If you are different, embrace it. If you stand out from the crowd, stand a little taller.If your message is new and strange, shout it from the rooftops.Most history-making, life-improving, world-beautifying people were the people who were thought of as strange, bold, and peculiar.

You are one of those amazing big-souled, incredibly brave wonder-women. Of course you stand out from the crowd!And we are so thankful that you do.

Keep shining, you beautiful soul.xoxo
Ok, then. Carry on.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Top 3 Lessons of Being a Small Business Owner

Typically, this blog is filled with photos of my latest artistic/life pursuits and maybe you could say this post is applicable to that but I can't help but hear my mind repeating...

"If you always do what you've always done, you are always gonna get what you've always gotten."

I've been a small business owner for almost 2 years now and I've learned quite a few things about business and myself. There is something both insanely invigorating and begrudgingly exhausting about owning your own business. There are lessons to be learned and to be shared. There are many lessons still to come-lessons I'm sure that will knock me on my "tukes" and lessons that will leave me floating (for a very short time, I'm positive) in sheer satisfaction

If you are contemplating opening a retail store or if you are in the midst of it and need another idea, perhaps my learnings will help.

1.) Before you do anything; know who you are, what you are capable of, what jazzes you, and what defeats you. Make a list. Check it twice. Be honest with yourself. Then make a list of the qualities you believe make for a successful business owner. If you don't have them all, find someone who does. Be patient with yourself but leave no stone unturned. It's ok to ask for help. Find yourself (or create) a group of people who share your passion, your work, and can help you (even if the help is just listening) when the going gets tough. Make a list of your personal cheerleaders and use them often. This gig is not for wimps.

2.) Shopping is more than exchanging money. I could write this whole post from just this lesson. I'll use a specific example of "what not to do" to illustrate this point. Shopping is a very sensory experience. Your shop should provide "delight" not "dismay".

Your shop should not:
-Be without light. Proverbial and literal light. If there is a dark corner, buy a lamp. If the wall color sucks the life out of you, buy some paint. If you are not infusing the place with your own "light", see Lesson #3.

-Smell like a wet basement. For $10, there are numerous "plugin" devices at your disposal. Your shop should smell like a clean house. Your customers are your guests, would you invite guests for dinner if your house wasn't in tip top shape?. If you sell clothing (which we do), the shop should definitely not smell like old garage sale clothes.

-Contain handwritten signs ripped out of an old notebook. Ditto on the signage with mispelled words and grouchy sentiments. IE, this example is pretty much a guarantee that I will never return. "If you try on close, put them back. I'm not your maid."

-Make customers feel like they have no idea what you are selling. I'll use the clothing example again since it's what I know. Upon entry into your shop, it should be apparent that you sell clothes. A customer should feel inspired by the displays, feel comfortable touching and trying things on, know where the dressing rooms are, and be able to easily manuever around. If your shop is multi-level, the "good stuff" should be on the street level. And make sure your customers know that there is another level to look at. Make them want to climb the steps to find the treasures you have to offer. Nothing should look like an afterthought.

3.) A shopowner must be "ON". ALWAYS. I'm an introvert. I know I am most comfortable and efficient when I am working and playing in my own head. However, when the situation deems it necessary, I can swing to the other side. If you can't swing, then don't even open your doors by yourself.
One of the hardest things to do sometimes is to be "On" when you're not. You're worried about your finances, your husband is driving you nuts, your kids are sending you to the brink--and now you have to be "nice."

Your customers are not only buying your inventory--they are buying "You." Negativity is not becoming--and your customers should never feel it. In your shop or from you in the community. You can still be stressed without being rude. Put on your shopowner face and make your customers feel welcome.

You should never under any circumstances:

-Take a phone call when you are checking out a customer.
-Yell at anyone in customer earshot. This includes frustrating phone calls with a vendor who just doesn't get it. Leave the shop, take the call at home, whatever.
-Let a customer enter your shop without greeting them
-Let a customer exit your shop without thanking them-Even if they didn't make a purchase.
-Judge a book by it's cover. All people , even if they don't appear your "target" customer, matter.
-Make someone feel like they are bothering you.
-Say, " I dunno." It's your shop, you know. It's your town you're working in, make it your priority to know. Know 2 places to eat, 2 more shops to stop at, where the nearest gas station is with an ATM, and the cross streets that your shop sits on.

3 lessons is enough for today, we'll pick up where this left off. I'm in the market for question answering if you need it, so don't hesitate to leave a comment or email me.