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:
















Filed under Make it

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.”


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Read it

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Make it

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?

1 Comment

Filed under Cook it

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Upgrade Your Tea Tin Lid into a Small Tray or Fridge Frame


Here are two ways to reuse the lids of tea tins.  You may have seen some of the posts around the internet (specifically on Pinterest) about adhering magnets to tea tins to use them to hold pens on a fridge and using them for herb planters.

diy-repurposed-tins-02_2011 apartment therapy

Source: Apartment Therapy (click picture for link)


Source: (click picture for link)

But what about the lids?  Should we abandon them to a life of unloved obscurity, wasting away in a landfill or the junk drawer, pining for a new life?  I say no!  Love your lids:  upgrade them into small trays or fridge frames.

IMG_3609 IMG_3572

For these projects, I am using Tazo Tea Tin lids.  I swear, I don’t work for Tazo, I just drink a lot of their tea.

Tea Tin Tray


  • Tea Tin Lid
  • Washi Tape
  • Scissors


Start your tea tray tin by wrapping the outside ledge with washi tape.  Your washi tape will probably be wider than the lid of your tea tin lid.  That’s okay!  We’ll fix that later.  Overlap the ends for a continuous look.

IMG_3530 IMG_3531

Your lid will probably look something like this now:


We are going to press that extra washi tape around to what is now the underside of your tray.  The underside of your tray is the top of your tea tin lid.  So, first press down on the tape all around to make sure that it adheres to the metal.  It should look like this:


Next, you need to make three cuts around each corner of the un-adhered washi tape.  One on either side of the corner, and one in the middle of the new corner flap to create two flaps at each corner.  Like so:

IMG_3545 IMG_3546

Now, press down your two corner flaps one at a time.  Do this for each corner.  Doing this will allow the washi tape to lay flatter, and as this will be on the bottom of your tray – flatter is better.

IMG_3549 IMG_3550 

After all the corner flaps are pressed down, it will look similar to this:


Alright, now finish the sides of the tray by pressing the remaining washi tape down.  I used my thumb nail to make sure that it got into the crevice too.

IMG_3560 IMG_3563

Now, cover the inside bottom of your tray with the washi tape of your choice.  I used the same pattern to keep the design simple.

IMG_3564 IMG_3566

Cutting a tiny triangle off the corner edge of your washi tape will make it the rectangular washi tape fit better into rounded corners.


Tea Tin Fridge Frame


  • Tea Tin Lid
  • Washi Tape
  • Scissors
  • Picture (one you don’t mind taping into this frame)
  • Measuring tape
  • Magnets
  • Super glue


First, super glue the magnets to the top side of the tea tin lid (this will become the back of your frame).  I used Gorilla super glue, and discovered that a little goes a very long way.  All the extra glue you see seeping out around the magnets took hours to dry.  The glue between the magnet and the metal – dried in thirty seconds.

IMG_3526 IMG_3575

Next, you’ll need to measure the interior of your tea tin lid.  Whatever picture you plan to use needs to fit with about 1/2 inch of space all around.  If you plan to print out your picture for this project, as I did, you’ll probably want to use the Wallet size on your default printing options.

IMG_3578 IMG_3580

Begin to cover the inside surface of the tea tin lid with washi tape.  Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries before it is lined up inside the lid the way you want it.  If you find yourself getting frustrated, set it aside for a bit.  Have a cup of tea, watch an episode of Mad Men or whatever; then resume your project.  Work on a small project like this while flustered and angry rarely makes the job easier.  Be patient, and work slowly.

Again, to make the rectangular tape fit into the corners more easily, cut a tiny corner off.  You can see the small triangle of the corner on my index finger in the picture below.

IMG_3582 IMG_3583

Here is the finished background of washi tape:


Alright, time to get at picture our!  I covered the edges of my picture with washi tape to give the printed image a more finished look.  This will help disguise any imperfections in the cut edges.

IMG_3586 IMG_3589

I used Scotch brand double sided tape to adhere the picture to the tea tin lid.  If you can get the the double stick tape as flush as possible to the edges of the picture.

IMG_3591 IMG_3592

Stick in the picture, and hang it on the fridge!


Leave a comment

Filed under Make it

Making Paperback Journals


I use my little paperback journals as light-weight journals I can carry with me.  Glue or draw a calendar into the first page.  Jot down appointments or events you’d like to keep track of, tape your favorite picture of your pet or significant other onto a page and use the facing page to write about why you like that picture so much.  Use it as a space to put those annoying thoughts that float through your brain when you’re trying to concentrate (when doing this excercise, don’t even look at the page.  Concentrate on what you’re trying to accomplish and let your writing act as a filter for errant thoughts – giving them a place to go that’s not the back of your brain).


You will need the following items:

Slide 3

  1. A Thimble
  2. Strong thick thread.  Waxed thread is best.
  3. A needle (here shown skewered through an empty half tea bag)
  4. Craft knife
  5. Scissors
  6. A small cutting matt is helpful
  7. Ruler (not pictured)

Of course, you will also need paper for the inside and cover of your journal:

IMG_1533 IMG_1536

I started making these little journals as a way to reuse paper I had cut out of my large Art Journal.  I find it necessary to cut several pages out of my Art Journal every so often to make room for all the stuff glued in and stuffed into pockets.  You may use standard printing paper if you choose, but I encourage you to get creative!  If you use printer paper, use that stack of paper you accidentally printed out that only has the web address at the bottom, but nothing on the page.  Even if you what you printed out looks like random code – that’s cool too!  Paint over, glue stuff over it, and use the blank back side for writing.

For the outside cover of my journal, I used double-sided 12″x12″ craft paper.  Single-sided craft paper works just as well too, and gives you one more blank space to write upon.  I used single-sided craft paper for the yellow journal at the top of the post.  You do not necessarily have to use craft paper, if you have something else you’d like to use in mind.  Just remember that it should be a heavier weight paper, and that you’ll need enough to cover your inside pages plus a little bit.


If you have decided to use paper out of an already existing book, you’ll need to cut it out.

It’s usually a good idea to put a small cutting mat under the pages you wish to cut out, so you don’t inadvertently cut out more than you intended.  I like to use about 7-10 sheets of paper per journal (that’s 14-20 physical pages, 28-40 surfaces to write upon).


Place your ruler along the spine edge  of the pages, and use it to cut a straight line.


You may notice that at least one corner of my pages did not cut off cleanly.  That’s okay!  Consider it a design detail – a mark of a handmade object.  Or, cut it off if it really bothers you.  Or use it as an inspiration to cut funky edges for your journal pages.

Fold your pages in half to create a signature.


When I created this journal, I folded my pages as one.  Since then, however, I have learned that it is more effective to fold each page in half individually.  It is easier to ensure a prominent and visible crease this way, and much easier on the hands.  I highly recommend that, whichever method you choose to fold, you use some kind of object other than your hands to press the fold.  Many crafts people use a bone folder.  Alternatives are:  a metal ruler, the bottom of a heavy glass, a smooth rock, one of Hagrid‘s rock cakes, etc…

Measure, fold, and if necessary, cut your cover paper.

Some quick arithmetic:

We have a 12 inch by 12 inch piece of paper.  We fold it in half to get a cover that is 6 inches wide, and 12 inches tall.  If you are using paper for the inside pages that is about 8.5 by 11, you’ll probably be folding them short side to short side (aka hamburger, not hotdog).  Therefore you’ll have pages that are 5.5 wide, and 8.5 tall.  Now, pages that are 5.5 wide will rest nicely inside a cover that is 6 inches wide.  The pages won’t stick out, and you’ll have a nice little border of the cover around your pages when the journal is open (see the picture of the open journal at the top).  However, you’ll probably want to adjust the height of that cover.


You can either trim off the extra, or fold it up and turn it into a pocket like I did.


Measure and mark the place where you want your journal to end on both sides of the paper.  Do this while the paper is lying flat with the inside surface facing up.  I measured my excess at a little less then three inches.  You do what looks right to you.


Connect the dots with your ruler and grab your craft knife.  Moment of truth:  pocket or no pocket?

To create a pocket, lightly run your craft knife along the ruler edge.  Important:  do not cut all the way through the paper.  You are merely scoring the paper to create a nice straight fold for your pocket.  Fold along the scored line so that the excess paper is inside the journal.  Again, use what you have to press the fold into a nice crease.


No pocket?  press hard enough with the craft knife to cut all the way through the paper.

Sewing the Pages to the Cover

IMPORTANT NOTE:  While making this journal and photographing the process, I accidentally started out the stitch upside-down.  Thus the first few images will show the process with the running stitch on the inside rather than the outside.  I am using a running stitch to sew the pages to the cover.  If you already know how to do the running stitch, then you may proceed without referring to the images.

Secure your interior pages to your cover.  I used binder clips and paper clips.  I highly suggest using just binder clips.  It is very important, VERY IMPORTANT, that the creases in your interior pages and cover paper line up, lest your finished journal be off kilter.


Cut a length of thread about the length of your arm plus some.  I hold the skein of thread right in front of my sternum with one hand and use the other hand to hold the end while I stretch my end hand out to the side to measure.  Tie a double knot on one end and thread the other through the eye of your needle.


You will need to use your thimble to push the needle through the pages.


The running stitch:

Going down

Going down

Notice we're coming up at the halfway point

Coming Up

Remember, that you'll really want to be doing this on the other side of your pages (on the exterior, not the interior)

Going Down

Continue this stitch along the crease until you reach 1/4 of an inch from the edge of the interior pages, and tie off the thread.

IMG_1577 IMG_1578

Come up on the last stitch, but do not pull the thread all the way through.  Leave a loop, as in the picture.  Take your thread around the loop and through it.

IMG_1579 IMG_1580

Pull it tight to create a knot.  You may need to use your fingers to ensure that your knot meets the paper and does not hang on the remaining thread like a sad little hand grasping for a rope.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Use your needle to tease the knot apart and do it over.

Now, weave the excess thread through the spine, always coming through the spine from the same direction.  You’re basically wrapping the excess thread around the running stitch.  In the unlikely event of the knot coming undone, you want some leeway thread to work with to fix the disaster.


You’re almost finished!  It should look something like this:


Now we’re going to cover up your pretty stitch work with some contrasting paper.  Find or cut a two inch (or so – do what you think looks best for you) wide strip of paper that is long enough to cover the length of your journal spine.  It is better for the strip of paper to be longer than your spine so you can trim it after gluing it down.

Fold it in half lengthwise (or hotdog)

IMG_1588 IMG_1589

Test out how it looks, adjust if necessary, and glue it down over the spine.


Trim off the extra, and marvel at what you’ve accomplished!


WAIT!  One more thing!  Remember the pockets we created?  You’ll want to use some tape (I prefer packing tape – it’s clear and extra sticky) to close the edges.  If you would prefer to use some other more decorative tape (I’m thinking washi tape here), that’s awesome too!  I just didn’t want another pattern interfering with what I’ve already got going on.


I hope you enjoy making these little journals as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Make it

Thoughts While Reading Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Today has been a beautiful day.  My significant other and I went out for brunch and stopped by Barnes and Noble – a dangerous place for our wallets.  True to form, I couldn’t leave empty handed.  While browsing, I found a copy of Ex Libris:  Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman, a collection of essays about loving books.  As I flipped through it to see what it was about, I realized I was straight up reading one of the essays.  It totally sucked me in.  I am now on page 45.  I have read now read five of the essays.


It is a beautiful book with a lovely simple cover.  It is slim and portable.  After reading the first two essays while my significant other got his hair cut, I took it home, and settled into it with some Ceylon tea.


The first essay, “Marrying Libraries” is wonderful.  I love that the merging of the writer’s books with her husband’s was such a pivotal moment in her life.  I smiled and chuckled through the next several essays, and have just finished “Never Do That to a Book”.  So far, it is my favorite.  Fadiman presents the two types of book lovers, courtly and carnal, with such a human and personal touch, that I can’t help but reflect on how I, and those around me, treat my books.  Is it a sacred object which must have weights pressed upon it to regain that never opened look it had before reading?  or is it a badge of honor to have memories recorded within by way of margin notes, folded pages, broken spines, and random ephemera floating about in it?

I tend to do both.  There are some books that MUST NEVER HAVE A MARK INTENTIONALLY MADE that was not placed there by the publisher, and must be guarded against circumstances of nature.  These books are usually the hardback books.  The beautiful hard back classics that B&N has begun selling fall into this category with their gilded, tissue-thin pages, the beautiful and elaborate cover art, and the corresponding patterns on the end papers.  These are sacred texts that are to be enjoyed for their exteriors as well as their contents.

Then, there is my copy of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.  It is possibly my favorite book of all time, and one of the most beat up in my collection.  The corner was chewed on by my dog when he was a puppy.  There are marinara spots on one of the pages.  I wrote in the margins where some of the characters discuss the origins of evil in the world.  I was inspired by my Catholic Philosophy class I was taking at the time.  The spine is crinkled and broken in with use.  The pages are warped from inadvertent contact with water.  Each time I read the book, it acquires a new layer of meaning for me, and all of these marks remind me of how I related to it in the past.  Eventually, I’ll want to get a new, fancier hardback copy of the book, but I’ll never throw out my first copy.

There is also the copy of a Hercule Pierrot novel by Agatha Christie, I picked up when desperately searching for something to fill the void after reading Laurie R. King‘s Mary Russell series.  It was desperately disappointing.  I feel like a heretic writing this.  Mystery novels, and PBS Masterpiece theater adaptations of such novels have been omnipresent in my life, thanks to my mother.  However, this particular book was incredibly frustrating to me, especially the court case.  The defense attorney made the palest imitation of a real attempt, that I grabbed the nearest pencil and started writing out what he should have argued instead.  He totally could have won the case – or at least made a decent attempt if he had even tried.  After finishing this book (I had to finish it – I had to know that I was right in supposing who did it), I left it on my parent’s bookshelf and forgot about it until my mother commented that she loved the annotations I made to it.

Other books that I am apt to write notes in are books I read for classes or papers, books that elicit some kind of strong negative reaction that I just have to put into words, and books I feel could have had certain sentences restructured to make the intended meaning more apparent.  Many of the history books I read for classes have brackets around certain paragraphs and words like “No!” or “Yes!” or “But [other author] says this…”

I used to be one of that number who marks their place by putting the open book face down, that is until my copy of The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien completely broke when someone put a moving box on it.  The spine cracked and when I picked up again, pages fluttered out.  I never finished that book, nor did I read the Return of the King.  They are still on my book shelf, waiting for the day I pick them up again, The Two Towers taped back together.  Now, I am a devoted book mark user.  I have used many things as book marks: post-it notes, receipts, folded notebook paper, paperclips, and even a (clean) tissue once.  Let me tell you, there is no greater way to safeguard your book from grabby-hands than to use a kleenex to mark the pages.  I will always find something to mark my pages, but I will never, ever resort to folding the corners to mark the page.  Never.  Ever.  Despite the abuse my copy of Wicked has endured, I will never dog ear her pages.

Last year, I stumbled upon these great bookmarks with titles at the top like “Yes, I am Actually Reading This” and “You Are Here”.


As my New Years resolution was to finish more books, I like to fill these bookmarks out and paste them into my art journal.  It also gives me a place to make my notes without defacing the book.  I can look at the short notes I made, and write more in my journal.  If I had written all of the above in the margins of Anne Fadiman’s book of essays, the original text would impossible to find.

How do you treat your books?  As sacred objects or repositories for thoughts and reactions to the text at hand?


Filed under Read it