Tag Archives: books

South to Spring – A Travel Journal


Early in April I traveled with some of my fellow retirees to Savannah, Beaufort, and Charleston for an early taste of Spring!  Trees were leafing out, azaleas were blooming and the marshes and Spanish moss added nostalgic atmosphere!

How to save the memories?  In anticipation of the trip, I put together a journal with maps and various papers – graph paper for notes, water color paper, drawing paper, plus a pocket in the back.  It worked very well for notes during the trip.  Once I got home I added photos, some water color sketches from my photographs, and tipped in more maps and brochures. I’m pleased with how it came out.  It’s been a handy tool for remembering all that we did, and for sharing the details with friends and family.

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Free Libraries

Our local county library has been closed since January for renovation.  Sigh.  I read instead of watching that box, and depend on my library for real, hold-in-your-hand books.  So now I have to drive 5 or 6 more miles to the next closest public library.

Then I remembered a recent article I saw somewhere on free libraries.  Do the search – Little Free Libraries pops up! There’s even a map that shows where they are – and there’s one on the street where we used to live in Woodland Heights, right on one of my weekly routes thru town.  I stopped by a couple of times and found several books I’ve enjoyed. I returned them, and stashed a few more of the books that keep accumulating around here.  I had a trip planned to Kilmarnock, checked the LFL map, found a library there, visited and found another great book (and left a couple)!  I’m hooked!  Check your neighborhood – if there’s not one nearby, set up your own.

I first encountered the concept in Chicago in 2007.  Daughter number two and I were in town, stopped by to visit with my neice, and she told us about a news-box-turned-free-library. This was in 2007 and the box was recently set up: write-upwrite-up with photos.  Compliments of Grid magazine, March/April 2014, I’ve learned that in front of Books, Bikes, & Beyond, right here in Richmond town, you’ll find three magazine boxes filled with free books!

So when you’ve misplaced your Kindle and your book-reading software goes kaputz, check out one of these real live FREE book sources!  Keep reading.

Art Journals


As I was waiting out Hurricane Sandy in my studio yesterday, I started playing around with an old strip of bird wallpaper a friend gave me this weekend. I fused tissue paper to Wonder Under, trimmed to 8 1/2″ x 11″, and ran thru our printer/copier to capture some reduced images of the birds. I brushed some paint on watercolor paper as a background, then fused the birds to the paper to make simple cards. Since I have plenty of tiny October calendars from my journaling, I also added one of those and circled the date. I mailed several of them yesterday, and kept one for myself. This morning I added a stamp, then pulled out my cartridge brush to see how it does with Chinese calligraphy. The brush: great; me: not so good! Still everything to learn! But I found the character for ‘hurricane’ and added my scratching of it. Right now the card is slipped in a pocket of my current journal.

Speaking of which, I’ve been very pleased with this one, the fourth I’ve made and worked on this year. The first two were glued together pages that I blogged about last winter. In March I made one with pockets that I enjoyed using, but it was a bit flimsy. So for the next iteration I took apart an old book and stitched pockets to the cover. For the pockets I used large sheets of lightweight watercolor paper. Before folding the pockets, I popped colored bubbles on the sheets for background and to make it easier to get started. Once assembled, I cut a stamp with lines to stamp on each page and entice me to write a sentence or two. Using the same Wonder Under/tissue technique described for the birds, I copied small calendars. As I write a page, I add the appropriate calendar and circle the date. For this journal I also taped out areas for sketching, to encourage myself to draw, with moderate success. My entries are sporatic, but fun to look back on. Days are slipping past so quickly it helps to have reminders!

Journals and Notebooks


Today I’d like to share with you two of my recent notebook/journal discoveries – a handmade approach, and a customized production approach.

Handmade first: I was cruising the web for art journalling techniques and came across an excellent little video of how to make a simple journal from a few pages of standard size paper and glue.  Here’s a link to Laura Tiffany’s web site and video. And here’s the youtube link for the same video.  I like this method because you can do background painting on several full size sheets of paper (I used sketching weight), then cut them in half to make a small journal.  The first one I made just 3″x3″ from cardstock, to make sure I understood how to do it.  The cover is from an old Christmas card.  The second one, that I still have to glue together, is from the last pages of a sketch pad.  I used the cover of the pad, which is watercolor paper weight, to make the cover of the book. To glue the pages and cover together I used my favorite large size glue stick.  Quick and easy!

Now customized production: Shutterfly is a favorite of mine – I love their easy software for making books and calendars, and the finished product is always of excellent quality.  Now they have notebooks!  You can choose lined or unlined pages, and you can compose the cover using your own photos and text.  I ordered the two shown in the photographs above during a half-off sale, so the price was right.  Excellent gift idea!  Size if 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″.

Coast to Coast Journals

Coast to Coast Journals

I’m working on my journals from our cross country trip and thought you might like to see them.  I couldn’t decide what format to use, so wound up with three, each of which had pros and cons. I enjoyed the watercolor paper in the larger journal, but used only a fraction of what I’d included.  The sketch paper was good for journal entries and scraps, and the graph paper worked well for notes.  Two bound-in envelopes were handy for snippets I hadn’t decided what to do with.  I never did use the tracing paper.  I’d originally thought I’d use it to make some stamps in the evenings after our days of driving – yeah, right!  On a good day I did well to make a journal entry.

The small journal was just the right size to slip in my pocket and keep track of our stops and milage.  And afterwards I’ve included photos of our trip – so it’s the most complete.  There’re still some graph paper pages I can use for notes.  I’ll probably add a summary of the trip.

The third spool journal was the coolest looking, but a bit problematic.  I liked that the pencils in the tube were always readily available, but the pages curled, and were challenging to work with.  It was fun, and easy to stow, but didn’t get much use.

If I do this again, I’ll go with the smaller, flat version.

The Mind at Work

So how does your mind work?  Do you have the words to describe its function?  The brain – the next frontier! 

I’ve been reading Musicophilia, Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks.  The case studies that he discusses of music as both plague and savior, and the ways it permeates all we do are fascinating.  Individuals with advanced Parkinson’s disease have experienced smoothing of gait via singing to themselves, and patients with limbs unresponsive to any other stimuli have recovered funtion thru music therapy. 

Did music or speech come first?  Do the brains of professional musicians differ from the rest of us?  Sacks touches on these questions along with many others.  I thought I was a musical type of person, until I discovered real musicians in my husband and daughter.  It seems to be a different world, or are all of us just wired a little differently?

On a slightly different topic, I was thrilled to spend some time this week with our two older grandchildren.  Only slightly differnt, as children are all about the developing mind, and Eli and Lily are often point and counterpoint.  I got my camera out to catch Lily discussing her dinosaur line-up with her mother, then turned around to find Eli absorbed in one of his puzzles.  He starts with the first piece he picks up and works outward – no reference to the picture on the box, just matches up the images.  Amazing, both of them (speaking as the grandma, of course!!)!

Project Update

So here’s the next steps with the tomato, basil and zinnia photo you saw in my last post.  Using just a portion of the image, I traced it to a Wash Away Applique sheet , fused tht sheet to muslin backed with batting, and stitched thru the sheet, muslin and batting with brown thread.  Then I washed the piece and the applique sheet dissolved away! 

The first photo shows before and after washing.  As I mentioned, the sheet washed away, however, the glue from the fusing was a bit stubborn and had to be brushed off.  Next time I’m going to try warmer water, which may help.  

Next I colored the image with fabric crayons, then ironed with a press cloth to brighten the colors.  Now I plan to do some embroidery and embellishment.

I’ve made an enlarged version of the one zinnia image – may do a fabric collage, or maybe some printing.  Hmmmm..

On another project, I made a small book from an empty wooden thread spool!  I think I saw this in Cloth Paper Scissors, but I can’t find the issue to reference.  The one in the photo is made from paper – mulberry paper as the carrier sheet, paper towel as the insert, and an old envelope piece for the closure.  I did another one as an anniversary card from fabric (which unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of), which worked better for me.  With that one I printed the message from the computer – much more legible than my chick scratches.  Good use for all the old wooden spools rolling around the studio!