Friday, October 28

Handmade Christmas 2011: Mixed Media Advent Calendar Tutorial

Yesterday was Christmas. This came in the mail. finally.

I created this Handmade Advent Calendar Tutorial for this month's Somerset Studio
and {as always} they did an amazingly beautiful job with the photography and the spread.

I thought I'd share this as the first in a series of handmade Christmas projects.
I'll be posting a handmade Christmas tutorial every week for the next 8 weeks.

Don't let the materials list scare you.
Really, just use what you have and it will turn out great.


1 piece 46 x 27 inch unstretched canvas, for the calendar
1 piece 12 x 18 inch unstretched canvas, for the pockets
{You can get unstretched canvas at an art supply store or a fabric store.}


Acrylic paints:
titanium white, blue, green

Gel Medium

Paper towels

Paint brushes

Glue gun

Sewing machine or fabric glue

Patterned paper

Text from old books

50 circle magnets

Card stock



Wooden dowel

2 wooden dowel caps

Step by Step Instructions:

1.Prepare your canvas.
Cut the canvas to your desired size (I chose 46x 27 inches). Iron and create a 1 inch hem on the sides and the bottom of the canvas with a sewing machine or fabric glue. Fold the top 3 inches of the canvas back, making a hole to insert the wooden dowel for hanging. Apply gesso to the entire surface.

2. Create the pockets.

Cover the entire 30x18 piece of canvas with gel medium and apply torn pages of text
from old books in contrasting directions. Apply a layer of gel medium over the text.
The text will wrinkle, adding texture to your piece.

Bunch up a paper towel and dip it in water first, then into unbleached titanium acrylic paint.
Cover the entire piece of canvas with paint and wipe it off, exposing the text.

After the paint has dried, cut the canvas with the text into 30 3x3 inch squares for each pocket,
and 30 2x2 inch squares for the ornaments and snowflakes. Set aside
30 2x2 squares for the ornaments and snowflakes.
Gather several pieces of patterned paper and cut them into 2x2 inch squares.
Adhere each 2x2 inch square onto a 3x3 square of canvas with gel medium.
Print out the numbers 1-25 on card stock. Cut them apart and attach a
number to each square with gel medium.
Paint details on each pocket with gesso and a thin brush. Attach each pocket to the
 bottom portion of the prepared canvas in 4 rows of 6 using a glue gun.
 The 25th pocket will go under the tree.

3. Create the image.

Paint a large rectangle of light blue permanent acrylic paint on the top of the canvas to create the background. Paint a large triangle using hooker’s green hue permanent to create the tree. Outline the tree with titanium white paint. Use a paper towel to smear the white paint into the blue.
Adhere different shades of blue patterned paper to the background and green paper to
the tree with gel medium. Paint over the patterned paper with base color and wipe off
the top coat of paint with a wet paper towel, exposing the paper.
With a thick, dry brush, outline the blue background in burnt umber.
With a small brush, paint small white circles all over the background.
Use the end of the paint brush to create tiny white dots all over the background.

4. Create the ornaments and snowflakes.

Get out the 30 2x2 text-covered, canvas squares from step 2.
Turn the squares over and adhere shades of red and pink patterned paper to
15 squares with gel medium; shades of blue patterned paper to 10 squares.
Cut each square into a circle by cutting off the corners. Paint details on each ornament and snowflake with gesso and a thin brush. Print out numbers 1-25 on card stock and cut them apart. Adhere each number to the text side of the ornament with gel medium. Adhere a small circle magnet next to the number with a glue gun. Adhere a magnet to correspond with each circle on the background of the canvas with a glue gun

5. Add the finishing touches.

Cut the dowel to the appropriate length and feed it through the top portion of the canvas. Attach the dowel caps with a glue gun. Paint it with 2 coats of gesso. Tie several pieces of different colored ribbon to each end of the dowel for hanging.

Tuesday, October 25

A trip to the pumpkin patch & meal planning...

We took the boys to the pumpkin patch this week.
It was hot, hot, hot. The cute long-sleeved fall outfits had to stay home.
I'm so ready for it to start cooling off and be fall already.

I can't believe we got a cute family picture of the 4 of us!

Jack is obssessed with tractors and transportation right now.
He was thrilled to get to drive.

Joshy is all smiles {as long as he's being held.}
And I am still a walking zombie.

After taking about a looooooooooooooooong {6 month} break from
meal planning & cooking anything I'm finally {finally} getting back to it.
And, like everything else in life,
I really don't mind it once I get going.
It's just the getting started part that's hard.
damned inertia.

And it's so satisfying when I actually pull off
making yummy & cheap & healthy meals.
Here's my week...
{It could also be called how to cook chicken 1,000 different ways.}

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Parisian Salad
and Rosemary Sourdough Bread

Easy chicken potpie

 Crockpot barbequed chicken
sweet potato fries

veggies & noodles with thai coconut curry sauce
cucmber, tomato, & feta salad

taco soup
corn bread

Happy fall!

More Christmas Mixed Media Collage Art

I can't believe October is almost over.
I'm on a Christmas roll over here.

Here are some colorful Christmas trees on wood.


Monday, October 24

Christmas Mixed Media Art & Fall Craft Fairs

 I've been in the studio playing hard over here.
(and completely forgetting to take pictures of the process.)
Getting ready for Christmas shows and craft fairs. 

Here's a peak at what I've been working on...

Here's where I'll be this fall.
If you are local, please stop by my booth.
I'd love to meet you.

November 3

November 6

November 12

November 19-20
Still on the list for today:
Make this soup.
Mountains of laundry. (always)
Finish painting Christmas series.
 Scan, edit, & list in shop.
Make more coffee.
Play Thomas the train.
Breathe & enjoy.


Sunday, October 23

Sunday Inspiration: Life and Peace

We've been doing a lot of living and a teeny tiny bit of sleeping over here.
I have a really, really tough time finding time during the day to sit down and read my Bible.
But I just figured this out.
I can listen to the Bible on BibleGateway
I can listen while I paint, while I cook,
while clean up 100 million little toys around the house.

And while it doesn't replace sitting down and being still,
it still gives me good input.
It retrains my thoughts.
And as I am learning,
my thoughts determine my life.

My thoughts either make or break my day.
And days equals weeks and months and years and a lifetime.
And if I'm not filling up my thoughts on the truth of what God says about me,
then, by default, I'm filling up on what the world says about me.
And it gets ugly.

So I've been loving Romans 8.
I've read it 100 times but never like this:
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

STOP! Stop condemning and comparing myself.
There is no  condemnation. That is not of God. That's a lie.

2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life
has set you free from the law of sin and death.

only the Holy Spirit can give me life and set me free.
That's it.

3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,
God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.
And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement
of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh
but according to the Spirit.

Stop! I can't do this on my own. 
I can't will myself to be good enough, or kind enough, or clean enough.
I'm powerless. Stop trying so hard. God has already done it.
I just need to ask the holy spirit for help to come
& do it for me, through me, every single day.
So I can live by the spirit, and not by my flesh.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires;
but those who live in accordance with the Spirit
have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but
the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Life and peace.
That's what I want. That's what I need.
I keep praying for the peace that surpasses all understanding
and trying to get it in my own strength.
But I can't do it. I don't even know "what the spirit desires".
I need his holy spirit in me to give me life and peace
and to set my mind on what it desires.
So, that's where I'm at today.
With help from a really great counselor.
 Happy Sunday bloggy friends.
May you be filled with
life and peace today.


Wednesday, October 5

Trusting God

I've felt overwhelmed for the past months
and I've blamed it on having a baby and going back to work,
which has all contributed, but, it's more than that.
A while back I wrote this post about feeling like
 I really needed to be home with my boys, being their momma,
and ever since then I've been planning and controlling and scheming
ways to get to stay home with them, to work part time,
 to share a teaching contract, for the next 30 years.
And not have to work full time.

But I've also been  freaking out about it on the inside.
freaking out to the point of paralysis
so full of fear about my tomorrows that I can't even enjoy my todays.
Staying up late night trying to figure out how I can make this work,
after all, I'm a pull-yourself-by-your-bootstraps-and-make-it-happen kind of girl.

and I realized that I've been holding this thing so close to my
heart with clenched fists, afraid to give it to God.
{um, no thanks, I can figure this out on my own.}
and I just realized that my fear is me not trusting God.
Not trusting that He is good.
Not trusting that He is in control.
Not trusting that he is for me,
on my side.

and in my brain, I know the truth.
I know that God is good.
I know that He is in control.
I know that he is for me.
I know that he is on my side.
even if I don't get my way all of time.
all of these things remain true.

but I need to surrender this idol to Him.
to bring it to his feet and trust in my heart what I know in my head to be true.
This book is speaking so much truth into my life. 
It's such an encouragement.
I reminder of the truth of who God is.
...we learn to trust God in the midst of our pain, whatever form it may take.
 It doesn't matter whether our pain is trivial or traumatic, temporary or interminable.
Regardless of the nature of the circumstances,
we must learn to trust God if we would glorify God in them.

And what struck me is that trusting God is a learned behavior.
It's not natural. It's something I can get better at. But not by myself.
Learning things takes practice. Daily practice. over and over again.
And so there's hope as I practice placing my trust in God every single day.

and believeing in my heart what I know in my head to be true:
God is good. God is in control. God is for me.
Absolutely nothing can separate me from the love of Christ.
Not even myself.

 What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—
how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
 neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39

We returned home from our beach vacation & collapsed.
Now we're doing all of the coming home work of unpacking &
 laundry & settling back in to life.

I love going away, but even more than that, I love coming home.

Tuesday, October 4

Beach Vacation

I've taken a break from blogging to
start the school year & catch up on sleep & life.

We're on a little vacation at the beach for a few days.

September & October are summer months in San Diego.
Clear, warm and no crowds on the beach.
June & July are overcast and cool.
But, September & October are usually pretty perfect.

Josh is pure joy.
at 3 and a half months old now, he is a
super sweet 16 butterball of smiles.
And I can't wait for him to sleep through the night.

Jack is almost potty trained (wahoo!)
loving preschool.
and giving me a run for money right now.

I've just spent hours editing my photos from the last 6 months on picnik.
Shelly's tutorial is super helpful.
I had no idea that picnik could do all of this.

Hopefully I'll make time to create some art soon.