One (Almost) Down…

busyTo start off, a quick reminder – if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, please consider doing so in the sidebar off to the right.  Last month subscribers were treated to the first unpublished chapter of Shadow World book 6.  I’ve got another cool surprise in store for the February newsletter, which will go out on Monday, as well as a nifty announcement (which I’ll also be detailing here, later in the week).

Here we are at the end of January – already!  Time has been passing very strangely for me since I moved. The workday crawls by one inch at a time and then my off time causes the days to blend together in a blurry mush.  Overall, though, I’m doing a lot better than I was a couple of months ago, and I think living with another human has been good for me; I spend less time in my bed, more time in the craft room (we turned the master bedroom into a huge art/craft/sewing studio (aka the Room of Requirement) and each took one of the smaller bedrooms), more time making things.  That’s why the amount of stuff in my Etsy shop has gone up so quickly – and I’m working on a third set of decorative box stickers now that’s almost done.

Meanwhile, I found I was missing a place to write out a quick review of the prior month and jot down a few goals for the upcoming.  There’s not really a handy space in the Erin Condren Planner for that – there are a few spots I could create a sticker for, but I’m really trying to minimize my sticker usage to the ones that are the most helpful and most inspiring, so the whole thing won’t be eight inches thick by June.  I’ve removed as many extraneous pages as I can, but it’s still going to expand due to the number of layers of paper on every page.

In retrospect making a sticker would probably have been a thinner solution than what I made, but oh well – I can always change it later.  I created a clear-front pocket to clip into my planner (and move each month) that holds a pretty goal-setting graphic (which has a past month review on the reverse side).  I thought it was pretty ingenious, myself, and whether it ends up being a long-term solution or not (I’m constantly, constantly changing how I use this thing, for reasons* I’ll discuss below) I think it’s cool.


The empty pocket.  It’s made of black cardstock covered in decorative paper (which is why I suspect it’ll be too thick to really be practical), and the front frame has been backed with clear plastic I harvested from inside an accordion folder.


The back. I love this paper – I’m going through a teal/purple/green thing these days (wait until you see my new bedroom).  The pocket is held in with two EC Coil Clips; I’ve tried using the DIY clips you can find on YouTube, but they’re awfully flimsy for stuff you’re going to need to move around a lot.  Much better for mementos and pretty decoration stuff like cards and drawings, in my opinion.

I’ve been making a small sleeve similar to this one in my shop, using a photo protector I found online in the perfect size; I just wanted something a little larger.  The whole thing is held together with Scor-Tape, a truly badass double-sided tape I go through like Kleenex.


Last we have the pocket with its insert.  I drew the doodle with pen and scanned it, then added the text, dividing my general goals into categories with space beneath each for an item or two. On the back is a “here’s what went down in January” form.  I plan to color the graphic with fineliner pens once I have everything written out.  Then, if I need to keep ephemera for the month’s goals I can stick it in the pocket and keep stuff together.

You’re welcome to gank this graphic and use it for your own planner, journal, or whatever – just click on the image below and it’ll take you to the full-size, which you can right-click on and save.  The graphic is for personal use only, please, but I really don’t care what that entails as long as you’re not selling stuff made out of it.  I deliberately left it black and white so it’d be easy for anyone to print and personalize.  Enjoy!


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Stuff and Things

Taking a moment from the ongoing circus that is my psyche to show off some new things I made.  Technically my writing hiatus ends on the 31, but as much as I love the idea of a drumroll followed immediately by my leaping to the keyboard where I stay, engaged in joyful detente with my muse…well, it ain’t happening.  I didn’t really expect taking a break to jump start my creativity, and lo and behold, something turned out exactly like I expected it to.

In the meantime, I’ve been altering more composition books and also remaking my recipe binder (again, but this time I mean it) which I’ll show you once it’s closer to finished and I can get some pics.  Today, I’d like to share two projects for myself, one practical and one profound.

First is this mini art kit made from, you guessed it, an Altoids tin.  It’s sparsely decorated because I expect it to take a beating in my bag.  I needed something to hold tiny items that would otherwise get lost in my pencil pouch.

The artwork on top was a card that came free in a washi tape order from the lovely Aimee at  Go see her bright, happy drawings and tapes – a definite mood lifter.

Mini Art TinInside the tin are a few wee essentials:  a broken Prismacolor wrapped in washi tape, some Post-it page flags, a few stickers held inside the lid with a sort of belly-band, and a mini ink cube from Hero Arts in Cornflower blue. There’s also some red double-sided tape, and several tiny stamps (I use them in my planner) that I wood mounted by gluing them to Scrabble tiles.

edart tin int 1

I’m sure there will be more items in it once I reorganize my art bag.

Next up is a journal I made for the month of August, when I intend to do a bit of slightly structured everything-searching.  I’m not 100% sure what all that will encompass, but for now, I’ve got a journal ready to go – each day will have a checklist for things like meditation, glasses of water, fruit and veg, gratitude practice, and then room for me to just write or draw or whatever this turns into.

edsj front cover

The journal, who I am calling Sana (long story), started life as a composition book, and like with the Nefarious Plans book I made I used the Beautiful You paper collection from Creative Imaginations.  The metallic charms and such were all in my stash so I’m not sure where most of them came from, but the sparkly things are Recollections from Michael’s.  It’s overenthusiastically distressed with Black Soot and Vintage Photo Distress Ink.

Inside, there’s an acetate window over a pocket to house affirmation cards I’m making, and a pocket down below to store the extras not on display.

edsj int window open

The back cover has a three-pocket situation for god knows what.  I just had fun making it and thought it looked pretty.

edsj back int full

And last is the back cover, not terribly interesting.

Not pictured, the divider/bookmark I made out of a purloined file folder from my office (it was about 20 years old, and that’s not an exaggeration, so I felt justified offering it new life) sprayed down liberally with Dylusions and Glimmer Mists ink sprays and stencils.  I’ll try to get a pic and post it next time.

As always, if you want to see more about these projects, you can have a look at my Flickr photostream.

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Big Things in Small Packages

If you know anything about me at all you know I a) have been a vegetarian for over a decade b) believe very strongly in ethical veganism and c) have repeatedly tried to go vegan and failed rather spectacularly for going on five years now.  I am convinced, for reasons I won’t go into, that it’s key to moving forward in my life, especially spiritually.

So what’s the problem?  Issues with food, with nourishing myself, with body image, with societal perception, with being too damn lazy to cook…the excuses are legion.  Then a month ago I decided to do a 30 day challenge; putting a time limit on it would trick my brain into not freaking out over “I CAN’T EVER HAVE ICE CREAM AGAIN!” (When the truth is, I can always have ice cream.  Ice cream is legal, widely available.  I am not allergic to it.  If I don’t eat it, it’s because I choose not to; the power is mine, not some omnipotent Vegan Authority’s.)  At the end of the month I could take stock, analyze the results, and go into the next month better prepared.

While I was at it, seemingly out of nowhere I got the mad urge to make something to help the process.  I had been discussing the idea of Books of Hours with my BFF – small books of prayers, usually the liturgical cycle, that people carried around.  There are a lot of them still in existence.  The idea stuck with me; I liked the thought of having a small book to carry with me and reach for whenever I need inspiration.  So, my Ahimsa Book of Hours was born.  Mine’s not nearly as fancy as the medieval versions, but I think it’ll do.

It’s about 3″x5″, made mostly of cardstock and scrapbook paper on a base of chipboard I cut out of a photo-print mailing envelope.  I had an absolute blast making it, because I got to use up all sorts of scraps and bits I had on my desk; and I got to use a lot of techniques, from drawing to distressing to spray inking.  It’s bound using a rather clumsy pamphlet stitch.

I’m including some of the pages here, but to keep this post fairly trim, if you would like to see the whole thing including explanations of what everything is and lists of materials, please head over to my Flickr.

I’m really proud of my little book.  I think it’s beautiful.  I find myself paging through it now and again throughout the day.  It’s a little messy, kind of wonky, and 100% me.  I hope you’ll go look at it more closely – whether veganism is your thing or not, it’s still neat to look at.

1front cover

I tried to achieve a distressed look on the covers and many of the pages.  The resin in the center of the name plate is “ahimsa,” Sanskrit for non-injury, more metaphorically for “dynamic harmlessness.”  It’s the same as the tattoo on the back of my neck.


Some of you will recognize the above prayer – I wrote it years ago, and though I go back and forth over whether I really count myself a Pagan these days, I still find the words moving.


I had a lot of quotes I wanted to include but was running out of pages, so I affixed a cardstock triptych to the last page.  The outside of it, the green panel on the left, is very sparkly as it’s made using Glimmer Mist before stamping with two colors of Distress Ink.  Meanwhile I made the envelope on the right to hold vows, goals, and affirmations; I’m planning some mojo to go with the beginning of my next 30 days.


12back cover

Now, the back cover is probably my favorite idea in the whole book; it looks like decorative brads, but in fact, it’s a mala!  (I dunno, what’s a mala with you?)  I can chant the Lokah Samastha from the front cover (or Green Tara’s mantra, or any repetitive prayer) while touching the metal brads, one per repetition, spiraling in, then out the other way, in and out as many times as I need to.  I was super pleased with myself.

Anyway, hope you like it, and remember you can go see it up close (and see ways you can customize and make your own).

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Makin’ Stuff Monday, 4/14

Most of my art journaling is done the way I did my list books – dry media, no painting, nothing that would require a wagon to carry the supplies to Starbucks. But the traditional art journaling media are a lot of fun; I’ve discovered a fondness for ink sprays, and now have giant splotches of ink all over me at any given moment.

Since the Moleskines I’ve been doing my lists in and the lined journal where I do my other stuff in won’t take wet media without much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I decided to start another journal where I could play with all the messy stuff if I liked.  I took an idea from one of my favorite YouTube journalers, RachO113, and dedicated the journal to song lyrics.

You can find all the pages I’ve done so far over on my Flickr photostream, but I finished one this morning that I really liked so I thought I’d share it here.  As you might guess the text is from Alanis Morissette’s “Thank You.” (Don’t freak out, they’re not in order.) All the materials and such are listed below.


Canson Mixed Media pad, 10×7″
Liquitex gesso (stamped for resist)
Dylusions ink sprays: Postbox Red, Pure Sunshine
Tim Holtz Distress Ink: Barn Door, Vintage Photo, Black Soot
Stamps by Inkadinkadoo (Flourishes), Tim Holtz (Boundless Flight, Nature’s Elements, Urban Grunge)
Alphabet stamps by Studio G (font unknown) and Recollections (Elegant Double Script)
Sharpie pen, fine, black ink
Butterflies by K&Co.
Pitt artist brush pen, black ink

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30 Days Friday #4

Big Header M14small

Just one post left after today – three more lists and it’s over!

20 and 21

Day 20: When I Was Your Age…

My eldest niece is 17.  I was 17 in 1995, so:

  • AOL & Prodigy first started offering www access.  That’s right – there was no Google, no MySpace, no Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Wikipedia.
  • The Oklahoma City bombing occurred.
  • The DVD was introduced.
  • The world population was 5,674,380,000.
  • Gymnast Gabby Douglas was born.
  • Ginger Rogers, Burl Ives, Lana Turner, Bob Ross, Jerry Garcia, and Michael Ende (author of The Neverending Story) died.
  • The Frappuccino was introduced.
  • Toy Story, Pocahontas, and Apollo 13 premiered; Sense & Sensibility won Best Picture.
  • I was into Mercedes Lackey, Alanis Morrisette, Disney, and Witchcraft.

Day 21: The Perfect ______ Involves ______.

  • Sandwich/Spicy mustard
  • Margarita/my mouth
  • Outfit/black
  • Tryst/Candlelight
  • Meal/Dessert
  • Sleep/Thunderstorms
  • Writing session/Losing track of reality
  • Phone call/Texting instead

22 and 23

Day 22: This Week’s Playlist

This was right before Shadowbound‘s release, so of course this playlist was on my mind.

Day 23: It’s Time For…

  • A commitment
  • Movement
  • Integrity
  • Trust
  • Cookies
  • Kitty snuggles
  • My meds
  • A Coke Zero
  • A new approach
  • Grimm

24 and 25

Day 24: Best Ways to Show Love
(according to some of my favorite movies)

  • Pay for my obnoxious sister’s wedding  (Pride & Prejudice)
  • Bring me flours (wheat, barley, etc)  (Stranger Than Fiction)
  • Learn Portuguese (Love Actually)
  • Run after me in your underpants in the snow (Bridget Jones’s Diary)
  • Do the lift (Dirty Dancing)
  • Piss off the spice spirits (The Mistress of Spices)
  • Fill up my mailbox with orange Tic Tacs (Juno)

Day 25: Songs I’ll Record on My Album

Dianne Sylvan Presents her First Album,
Dear God Please Stop! 
Your Voice Frightens Our Children, Animals, and Elderly!

Featuring her favorite covers for in the shower and on the road:

  1. EMF – Unbelievable
  2. Indigo Girls – Closer to Fine and Least Complicated
  3. Savage Garden – I Want You
  4. Melissa Etheridge – Bring Me Some Water
  5. Chumbawumba – Tubthumper
  6. Will Smith – Summer Time and Gettin’ Jiggy With It
  7. Maroon 5 – Misery and One More Night
  8. P!nk – Raise Your Glass, So What, and U + Ur Hand
  9. Passenger – Let Her Go

26 and 27

Day 26: Make Up Your Own Holidays

  • Good Sneeze Appreciation Day
  • Buffy Marathon Week
  • Footie Pajama Day
  • The Running of the Corgis
  • The Moseying of the Sloths
  • Frosting Awareness Month
  • Cherry Limeade Day

Day 27: Go-To Recipes for Guests

I didn’t really care all that much about the list, but I sure did have fun labeling everything in the picture.

  1. Oh, You Beautiful Dhal
  2. Padunkadunks (pumpkin muffins)
  3. 3 Bean Enchilada Chili
  4. Pav Bhaji (Indian sloppy joes)
  5. The Raspberry Pantsoff (alcoholic beverage)

If you want a closer look at any of these, or any of my recent art journal pages, head over to my Flickr photostream.  In the coming days I’ll be talking more about my artistic inclinations.  Really, it’s time I just wrote more, and it may be that the way to do that requires other forms of art.

I’m also conducting a brief experiment in opening comments again, so for the next few posts at least you’ll be able to talk back.  I need to know if avoiding trolls and reviews (both positive and negative) has really helped my work, helped me keep my emotions stable, or just driven away potential fans.  I’m leaning toward the latter.

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