Journal Making: The Purple and Gold Journal

Hello!  I’m sorry it’s been so long since this blog has been updated, but I wanted to share with you some pictures of some journals I made for my mother to use in her classes.  I used art paper and boards purchased at a local art store images from Graphics Fairy, and some Etsy sellers of digital images.

I am in the process of making my mother three notebooks, each of which will have their own post.  All three are 6 by 9 inch journals.

This journal was made specifically for my mother to use as a sketch book in her mixed media class.  Thus, although I have added images to the pages, the majority of the pages are either blank or have light colored backgrounds that still allow plenty of room to sketch.  She will sketch right on top of the patterned pages.



The clock on the front has movable hands.  This is a coptic stitch bound journal with booktape over the spine to protect it.

Inside Cover

This is the inside of the front cover.  The endpaper is from Graphics 45 Couture Collection.

Inside back cover

This is the inside back cover.  The endpaper is from Graphics 45 Steampunk Spells Collection

The following are some of the interior pages:

















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My Mother vs. Technology Episode 1

My mother is a very intelligent person, yet for some reason, all the education, intelligence, and street smarts she has obtained over the years meets a bottle neck when she applies it to new technology.  Recently, she got a smart phone for the first time.  My task is to teach her how to learn how to use it.  I find the best method is to teach her in an as hands off an approach as possible.  I submit the following to bring a smile to your face, and perhaps remind you of that person you know who, despite their otherwise intelligent mind, gets tangled up in the new wireless age.


“Stop stop stop!  Don’t hit your phone!”

“I’m not hitting it.  I’m tapping.”

“You’re hitting it.”


“Aaaaah!  What did I do?  HALP!  How did I get here?”


“How do I see my pictures?”


Of course, now that she’s used to using her phone and her nook, we had to have this conversation:


“Mom, my laptop is not a touch screen.”

“Oh, right.”

“Mom!  My laptop is not a touch screen!”

“Right right.  Sorry.  How do you make it do the thing?”

L’sigh, “What thing?”

“That…[points]…make it bigger.”

“You have to use the touch pad.”

“I don’t like mice.  You do it.”


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Favorite Coptic Stitch Binding Tutorial

There are many Coptic stitch binding tutorials out there, but this is my favorite.  Since learning how to do this, I have made numerous notebooks.  I like the versatility of making either a blank notebook or one with special pages.  Click on the title to go the tutorial.

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by | December 2, 2013 · 8:21 pm

An Unexpected Journey

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West.  Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure.  If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – Thorin Oakenshield in J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit.

After having seen the first of the three movies in the trilogy “The Hobbit”, I determined to reread the book I’d first read in the 7th grade.  I well remember how I first came to read that book.  I was in English class, and the teacher initiated a silent reading period during which we could read any work of fiction we desired.  Whether or not it was because she had assigned an in-class assignment that some of had finished early, I cannot recall.  I finished the book I was reading, and, not wanting to immediately begin the work again, I had nothing else to do.  The teacher pointed me towards a wheeled cart full of books, and instructed me to select one, and continue reading.  As I browsed the few shelves, I passed over many library rejects and a score of thick fantastical epics that I had not yet learned to love.  With trepidation, I pulled out a small, paperback book called simply The Hobbit, which seemed somehow unlike the rest.  There were no princesses on the cover, or oddly clad warriors standing proudly on a promontory rock.  Until then I had never heard of a Hobbit.

And what is a Hobbit?

Hobbits are little people, smaller than dwarves.  They love peace and quiet, and good tilled earth.  They dislike machines, but they are handy with tools.  They are nimble but don’t like to hurry.  They have sharp ears and eyes.  They are inclined to be fat.  They wear bright colors, but seldom wear shoes.  They like to laugh and eat (six meals a day) and drink.  They like parties and they like to give and receive presents.  They inhabit a land they call The Shire, a place between the River Brandywine and the Far Downs.

The Hobbit is a story of these delightful creatures – a story complete in itself yet full of portent.  For this is the book that tells of Bilbo Baggins, the far-wandering hobbit who discovered (some say stole) the One Ring of Power and brought it back to The Shire.

And so this is the absolutely necessary beginning to the great story of the War of the Rings which  J. R. R. Tolkien completes in his epic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.

It was an odd little book that combined everything I found fascinating about folk tales with a character with whom I could easily sympathize.  It was unlike what I had come to associate with fantasy novels in general.  Mr. Baggins appealed to that part of me that loves to curl up at home with a cup of tea and a cozy blanket, that enjoys my home with guests and without, and that can find joy in a home baked loaf of bread with a nice cheese, and side of mushrooms or tomatoes.

I had not known at the time, that I was reading a very well known book.  I discovered it without any outside recommendations, and read it untainted with other’s opinions in the back of my mind.  I would not have had it any other way.  If only all children could experience this lovely work unbiased and without instruction.

But I digress.

Mr. Bilbo Baggins and the story of his great adventure into the world beyond his shire reminds me that it is possible for someone who enjoys the peace and simple joys of home to go out into the world and come back again, changed perhaps, but not badly so.  I do not have to go without trepidation or hesitation.  I only have to remember that I must take situations as they are and make the best of them, and that it is not crime to think of home with longing and pleasure – even when it seems foolish to dwell on it.

“I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the Kettle Just beginning to sing!”  It was not the last time that he wished that!

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Fear Not, the Blank Page

Who among us has not trembled in fear of marring the first beautiful blank pages of brand-new journal?  Whilst unblemished with our own thoughts and scribbles, the page holds infinite possibility.  The instant we touch pen to paper, that possibility becomes irreparably limited.  But, you did not buy or make that journal to stare at the blank pages!  To let it languish in a drawer awaiting the day when that truly inspired thought comes into being!  No.  It is meant to be used, and used it shall be.

Perhaps you fear your handwriting is not good enough to be inked across the page irrevocably.  Or maybe you fear that the thoughts you carry will not make it to the page in the perfect order, and thus must be scratched out and rewritten, thus blemishing the beautiful page with mistakes.  Perhaps you want your first page, or indeed every page, to look like this:


Well guess what.  That document first looked like this:


If you need more reassurance that you’re in good, scratched out company, check out Fuck Yeah, Manuscripts!  Don’t think that your bad handwriting gets you off the hook either.  The only person who needs to be able to read it is you.  Check out Sylvia Plath’s Draft of “Sheep in Fog” or an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s handwritten manuscript of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Right, now that we’ve established that your handwriting and mistakes are not really obstacles to worry about, lets look at how to break into that endless void of possibility that is the blank page.

What is the purpose of your journal?

A journal can have many uses including but not limited to:

  • A daily record of how you spend your days
  • Thoughts about your personal life that you feel uncomfortable sharing with others
  • recording errant thoughts that have no categorization
  • recording overheard snipits of conversation
  • writing fiction or poetry
  • doodling
  • note-taking
  • all of the above

Knowing the purpose of your journal can help in breaking it in.  If you’re not sure how to begin, try finishing the phrase “The purpose of this journal is…”

The beauty of a journal without lines is that you are not confined to writing in those lines.

Some ideas might be:

  • Paste (literally – find that glue stick) a newspaper article that you found interesting, terrifying, hilarious, or full of spelling and grammatical errors.  Jot down under it, over it, across it, or on the next page why you felt like pasting it in.
  • If you are artistically inclined, sketch that trumpet player playing on the street, and then jot down what you thought of his playing.
  • Write super-duper big

  • or itty-bitty

Sometimes, I just skip the first page all together, and start on the second page.  Sometimes, I jump right in.  There are some journals for which I’ve made a title page that names that journal and states it’s purpose.  Others have no introduction but the writing itself.

When all else fails, write the date at the top of the page to at least get some ink onto that blank nothingness, and go from there.

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When life gives you bitter beer, make hearty bread!

Recently, I fell victim to Trader Joe’s prominent displays celebrating the joys of beer in fall. By the time I came upon the signs, I had already placed several gourds in my cart and a sense of the season had settled over my shopping. I didn’t stand a chance. I looked through several of the lighter ales and decided that, no, this was fall! Fall equals hearty and hearty equals a dark brew. I chose something thick and almost opaque and made my purchase. I drank it with dinner and it was bitter.  Terribly, terribly bitter.  I chugged it, hoping that it would get better with each gulp.  It didn’t.  It just became progressively more bitter.  I realized there was only one thing that I could do with it: Make beer bread.  So, I went to the recipe I always use from (formerly called the cooler name

I’m going to share the recipe with you here.  In the future, if you should ever find yourself in a similar pickle, you can also turn your “OMG, ack, why” into an “OMG, mmm, good.”  While my general rule of thumb is not to cook with alcohol that I would not drink, I make an exception for beer bread.  However, the exception is in taste only and not in quality.  If you have to make this with super cheap beer, I understand.  But don’t expect the best results.  Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!  Weak beer will equal tasteless bread.  It has been foretold.

Beer Bread


  • 3 cups of regular flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter

Allergens: Wheat, dairy


  1. Do your prep work.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a bread pan and put it to aside.  Melt the butter and put it aside.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl.  This may seem like a step you want to skip, but I’m here to let you know, you don’t.  This bread will already be dense and have a crusty exterior when done properly.  So, if you don’t sift, you’ll bake a brick.  For a quick lesson in sifting, click here.
  3. Put the rest of the dry ingredients (baking powder, salt, sugar) and mix well.  Don’t add the butter yet!!!                         dry
  4. Add beer and mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon.  Yes, it’s supposed to bubble and foam like that.
  5. Place the dough (it should not be a liquid, but a dough) into the prepared bread pan and pour the melted butter (NOW, aren’t you glad you waited?) on top.  Place the pan on a tray (Fact: the butter is going to spill over) and the tray into the oven.                                                                                                                                                                      pre-bake
  6. Bake for 1 hour.  After that time has passed, stick a knife in the middle of the bread.  If it comes out clean, it’s cooked!  Take it out of the oven!  If not, keep giving the bread 5 more minutes until the knife comes out clean.  Let it cool for at least 20 minutes and then nom away!                                                                                                                                                                       done

What’s your favorite in-case-of-a-bad-purchase recipe?

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NYC Travel

I apologize for abandoning my post for so long.  I have returned from New York City where I had the time of my life!  The vibrancy and eclectic nature of NYC is beautiful.  I could as easily imagine Spiderman swinging from building to building as Marilyn Monroe strutting about the city like the classy lady she was.  One of the best things about my stay there were the constant exposure to books.  My significant other can not restrain himself from traveling with his own personal library, and of course we had to visit the Strand Bookstore where we purchased more written works.


On the plane ride to New York, I read “Lady Windemere’s Fan” by Oscar Wilde and began reading one of his short stories, “Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime” (which I have now finished – absolutely ridiculous – it’s a great read).  While in New York, I purchased two books:  Writings from the New Yorker 1927-1976 by E. B. White and Daily Rituals:  How Artists Work by Mason Currey, both of which I read in intervals while traveling about and on the plane ride home.  I finished reading Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman, and loved every minute of it.  I have come away from New York with a renewed lust for reading which I hope does not become dulled by the oppressive heat and banalities of Texas.

We briefly explored Central Park on two occasions.  Once, just meandering through it with friends, and once on a group picnic.  I loved the contrast between the city and the park.  It is a great place into which to escape.  The park was more crowded than I thought it would be at first, but then I reasoned, “who could resist a day in such a park?”  We saw several brides and wedding parties having the pictures taken, and kids running around having a grand old time.


I must confess that I was a little jealous of the kids playing in the playground citadel.  What an awesome place to play!  Here we were standing on the rocks with a good view of the buildings and the park.


I mean, come on!  It’s a citadel!  What better way to learn about Rome than to reenact it in your neighborhood playground.  Et tu, Brute?  

IMG_3655 IMG_3620

And of course, what is a trip to New York without seeing Times Square?  Squandered.  Unless you’ve seen it before.  Seriously.  Once is enough, but once was worth it.

The light at the end of the tunnel as we wander through the dark streets of Manhattan:


Behold!  The Platonic Form of Musical Theater!  No shadow on the cave wall!  We have turned around and seen the light!


Here there is daylight where all else fades to night!  The path of righteousness leads us left, while the green arrow tempts us down another route.


I feel as though I am Dorothy, only instead of Oz, I have landed inside the internet.  Flashing ads.  Every major brand you’ve ever heard of.  And every building is a place to itself.  Buy! Buy! Buy!


And the most sinister of all:  Disney FOREVER (Good placing there, Disney) BUY! BUY! BUY!


We escaped, tired, sweaty, and overstimulated.  A giant blow up hand beckoning us outside the subway entrance, explore more, or perhaps waving us farewell.


At one point, we visited the Lego Store outside of Rockefeller square.


That snake like tail in the window?  That’s made from Legos.  The creature winds throughout the store dipping in and out of the ceiling.  The thing behind it?  Also made from Legos.  Inside, there was this bad boy:


I urge you to check out this store if you’re ever in New York, though you may want to leave your credit card behind.  I seriously considered plunking down over $60 for a Lego kit version of the ghost ship from Lord of the Rings, Return of the King because it was that cool, and then there were all of the kits to recreate scenes from The Hobbit.  If you’re a Star Wars fan, they have that too.  However, I do have a bone to pick with the makers of Lego.  The “girls” section.  I, as a female, can attest to the fact that girls can and do appreciate the full spectrum of colors beyond pink and purple.  (I would have taken a picture but there was a little girl with her nose literally pressed against the glass, and I thought it might not go over well shoving her aside for a photo).  More than that though, what really bugged me was that the toys for the girls seemed wholly devoted to doll houses.  Don’t get me wrong:  I love a good dollhouse.  But, I also like to build my own doll houses, especially if I’m playing with Legos.  These houses seemed to be pre-made out of the box.  How about a Little House on the Prairie build your own cabin and woods?  Or a minimalist mansion with endlessly configurable walls, stairs, doors, and windows?  Really, how about a Lego doll house kit that allows the child to build their dream house?  One the that parents can buy expansions for like medieval style doors, Baroque architectural details, straight and circular stairs, etc…


All in all, visiting New York City was absolutely wonderful.  Word of advice for those who have never been there:  bring some hand sanitize for those moments when you are just so tired and are getting off the subway, look up to see the four flights of stairs you now need to climb, and thoughtlessly put your hand on the railing right into some unidentifiable sticky stuff as you try to command your legs to obey and not collapse out from under you.

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