2 Year Fitbit Anniversary

WooHoo! August 10th is my 2 year annivesary on fitbit!

I was very curious to see what my numbers would be this year, since I raised my daily goal of 10,000 steps to 11,500 daily steps starting sometime in February. I was kind of curious if raising my goal would actually increase my overall steps, or if giving myself a higher goal would mean that I would have fewer days where I naturally get higher steps and how it would all average out. I wondered if by increasing my goal to 11,500 steps, I might have fewer 12,000+ step days than when I was only aiming for 10,000. For example I can think of a few times where I had my step goal early in the day and when asked if I’d like to go somewhere or do something that would give me a TON MORE STEPS, I passed because I’d rather do it the next day and get those steps tomorrow. I may get a rare 20,000 step day, but sadly those extra 8,500 steps do not get pushed over to the next day as bonus steps.

Fitbit 2 year anniversary

These numbers and stats might bore you, so feel free to skip over this section. I am proud to say that since getting my fitbit I have walked 8,112,781. If my calculations are correct, that is over 3,840 MILES in 2 years! Last year my steps were at 3,967,584. This year I walked 4,145,197 steps from august 8th 2014-Aug 8th 2015, or 1,962 miles. That’s an increase of 177,613 steps over last year. At 11,500 steps per day that’s an extra 15+ days of steps over the previous year! Go ME! 4,145,197 steps averaged over 365 days (even though I was only doing the 11,500 since February) equals 11,356 daily steps over the year. I can’t wait to see where my steps are next year!

My #fitbit said #woot! 15,000+ steps today

I really am SO PROUD of myself for sticking it out and really dominating this daily goal for TWO YEARS! I really have no idea why I can be in so control of this goal in my life and yet I can’t set and keep other simple goals, to say, um, fold the laundry when it’s straight out of the dryer or not eat that extra piece of pizza when I’m already full. I’ve heard so many people say how they’ve lost weight doing 10,000 daily steps, but yeah, I haven’t had that benefit. I am so in love with my fitbit, but it isn’t easy, I’m telling you! Some days getting in those steps is such a torturous goal, that it makes me want to cry. Many days I am meeting my goal in the last possible minutes of the day. The only reason I really can explain why I’ve stayed on the step tracker bandwagon so religiously is because for soooooo many years I really wanted to track my steps. I went through so many pedometers over the years and was so certain that it was IMPOSSIBLE to reach and maintain 10,000 steps daily. Now that I have a quality product I know that it is possible and it can be fun too. It still feels like a game (almost) everyday.

And speaking of a quality product, I really can’t recommend the fitbit One enough. This little electronic device has been worn daily for two years. It has made it into the washing machine twice, once through 15 minutes of a cycle fully submerged, been dunked in rivers and lakes, and it’s never had a glitch. The folks at Fitbit have been stellar to deal with! A+ customer service! When the fitbit I bought my mom was glitchy from the get go, no questions were asked and they replaced the device. Most recently, my fitbit clip (essentially the cozy my fitbit One lives in) had a piece break off and fitbit fully replaced the whole clip!

Happy New Year!
One highlight from this year was my 30,000 step day! Kind of like how they say a mother forgets the pain of childbirth, it feels like that day was an eternity ago, I actually had to check and make sure it wasn’t a whole year and a half ago. On January 1st, 2015, my sister and I aimed to get our 30,000 step badge. What we didn’t account for beforehand was how horribly cold and miserable it is outside in the winter. It was below freezing with horrible winds and we both suffered from foot pain for quite a while after that day. I still can’t wear the walking shoes I wore on that day without foot pain.

#LittleArtBook watercolor pen flip through

I just found this little art book I made a while ago and then forgot to share. It’s just office scrap paper from my work stapled together with a little white binding cover. The pages are filled with random watercolors, as I experimented with my watercolor pens.

Since I made this book I made the mistake of letting my 5 and 2 year old nephew and niece also paint with my watercolor pens and now I need to buy new ones, sad face. Seriously though, stabbing straight down motions at full force will ruin your watercolor pens, folks!

 

International Zine Month and Grass & Stars III

Zines for #littleartbook
Some of my zine collection
Apparently July is International Zine Month, so I figure no better time than now to announce that (after years’ long hiatus) I have finally created issue 3 of my zine, Grass & Stars.

Grass & Stars my first zineGrass & Stars No. 2

Props to any readers that remember my zine, or have even bought or swapped for one in the past. Here are the first two issues. The first zine I ever made was in a matchbox!

zine swap 2015

The new issue, like my very first one, was made for a swap. I was invited by Lelaina Lloyd late last year to participate in an art zine swap and it was exactly the push I needed to make my next issue. The swap was completed mid June (above) and so I am finally sharing it here. It had a size and page count requirement, and so I’m excited to say this is the largest zine I’ve made so far. At first I had no idea how I was going to fill 20 pages of content, let alone what it was going to be about. When the idea of luck came to me, it made perfect sense and everything else fell into place.

Grass & Stars III zine

I had so much fun working on the zine and it was hard not to spoil it all on instagram. I definitely did share lots of sneak peaks though, so I will share them here too. There are plenty of things that I LOVED SO MUCH that I still want to share pictures but I know it wouldn’t be much fun if someone got the zine and realized they’ve already seen it all on instagram.

A little somethin'-somethin' I've been working on

This is a little thumbnail of a coloring book page. I’ve been kinda obsessed with the idea of a fingers crossed emoji for a while, wishing there was such a thing, making my own fake ones and then this. Just last week I bought an enamel pin that also looks like this.

Here's a little peek of a fun grass brooch I've been working on today.

Yes, a set of felt brooches were made specifically to be featured in the zine.

It's totally a fake, held together with hot glue on the back, but ya know, you gotta make your own #luck sometimes πŸ˜‰πŸ€

A four leaf clover of course, only, it’s fake. I hot glued the fourth petal, as I shared on instagram, sometimes you just have to make your own luck!

Forcing myself to sit here and do something. Working on a night version of the quilt field spread I did before. #LittleArtBook

Here’s another work in progress that made it into the zine.

Of course these are just snippets that I hope entice you into wanting to see more. This issue contains original artwork, articles, a comic, coloring book pages, a lucky penny pinback button and more!

Issue no. 3 is now available in my etsy shop, and as usual (and in the spirit of zine making) I’m always open to swaps! Just leave a comment or message me!

Greeting Card Little Mailart Book tutorial

4.30.11 Mailart little books

In 2011 I had one of those aha moments where I decided to combine my love of small notebook jotters and mailart. I was in the middle of a 365 mailart project and made quite a few of these little books to send out.

7.15.13 books

Over the years since then, I’ve made a few here and there, where I’ve painted and collaged on the covers which were made from blank recycled cardboard.

I even got one back, from Artist Mim Golub Scalin, where she filled it up and sent it back to me. It was completely unexpected, as I send each one as a gift to the recipient.

Then recently, noticing my hoards of greeting cards, I had another aha moment! Turn these cards into easy peasy little (mail) art books.

Greeting card little mail art book

Maybe you’re like me and have a greeting card addiction. Sometimes I deem them too precious to just write in. Sometimes I hang them up in the house like small art prints.

I keep a little handmade jotter on me at all times. I use it for daily list making and for writing down quick ideas or sketches. Recently, it was time to make a new one and I was thinking about what I would do for the cover when I saw the above mentioned (and pictured) hoard.

Even though the covers might be someone else’s art, I still consider a mailart project because the recipient can fill the pages with their own artwork. It’s like a mini sketchbook that came straight through the mail. Maybe you can send it back and forth between friends, filling it up with alternating pages of art. Or, you may decide not to send it away at all, but just keep it for yourself and that is great too! You may decide to alter your card and make it your own, or perhaps recycle a card that was sent to you, cool and cool! Or perhaps you don’t want to use a greeting card at all, and want to make some mailart books with your own art entirely, like how I originally started out, Awesome!

Greeting card little mail art book

Start out with:

A greeting card of your choice
Some plain paper – Often I alternate blank pages with lined paper
A ruler
A self healing mat
A pen knife
A booklet stapler
Stamps
Washi tape
Ribbon

Greeting card little mail art book

Cut letter sized paper in half and then fold in half. Place folded and collated papers inside card. Most likely the paper won’t fit the card and you will need to trim off excess. I would suggest stapling book together first, then trimming away the extra, as seen above.

Little mailart book

One thing I learned from the book Mim returned to me was to add a ribbon for bookmarking. You could staple it into the binding or feed it between the cover and body pages at the staple (like pictured above) and knot it in place.

Tada! You have made a little book! If you want to keep the book for yourself, you may be done at this stage.

Greeting card little mail art book

If you want to mail your book, you can write the addresses right on the back cover of the card, or print out a label, like I did above. For the purpose of sharing here on the blog, I sent this one to myself. For postage I used 2 forever stamps because I could tell it was small and flat enough, but depending on how big or thick your booklet is, you may need more. I think my original mailart books required over a dollar postage. I also seal up the sides, since it is a booklet. Sometimes I will include a note and rubber band inside and the seals help keep it all contained. Make sure that the ribbon is tucked in and not hanging out, as it could get caught on the sorting machines. From working at a company that sends out lots of mail I know a booklet requires the seals to make it through the mail. In the past I’ve used wafer seals, or art tape to close it, but this time I tried washi tape and it worked like a charm and looked cute to boot.

Greeting card little mail art book

You can see they cancelled my stamps.

Little mailart book

The front cover is the beautiful greeting card art, and the back cover is now the postal side. The inside pages are just waiting to be filled! Awesome right? Now get to it, and make some little mailart books to send to your pen pals, or to keep for yourself.

Spring Chalkboard 2015

Spring 2015 chalkboard

Here is a list of what happened this spring. As long as the list is, I’m sure there are dozens of things that I forgot to add. Something is better than nothing, so even if it’s not a complete list, I do enjoy keeping it. Aaand, I know that guests enjoy reading it as well. It’s kind of like a coffee table book, something to browse when folks come over.

It’s been such a busy spring and summer so far. I FINALLY got around to taking down my knick knack wall, which I’ve been saying I need to do for probably over a year. As I’ve probably said in other mantel posts, I’ve found that I am invigorated by changing up the furniture often. Ideally I would rearrange furniture, swap around art and replace the mantel quarterly or at least every six months so things don’t get stale. That doesn’t really happen that frequently, but I’d love it if it did. Sadly, I will have to report back later with what happens over the new mantel as I haven’t put anything up yet. I’m thinking a mirror and garland, but have taken no steps toward that just yet.

More Chalkboard Calendar posts right here!

Phhhoto

I found out about the Phhhoto app last week via Katie of Skunkboy and I’m a bit obsessed now. The app allows you to make a moving picture, kind of like a gif, but actual video. Think about it as if you were going to take a picture, only now you can capture a second before and after the photo, so the resulting picture has movement.

I love this new-to-me app, and want to connect with others on there, but of all the contacts I have on my phone, facebook and twitter, there are are only 4 other people using phhhoto, so, please check it out! I think you’ll love it and then we can be friends! Here are a few Phhhotos that I’ve shared recently.


Creating at my drawing table


Driving through Shabbona Lake State Park yesterday


Flipping through a Pantone color book at work


This was my first phhhoto, I was so proud that I got my niece Gemma’s hair into these baby buns. Her hair is like cotton candy, and I have a whole new respect for when her mother gets it into braids or pigtails, etc. Also, Gemma never objects. I think back to when I was a kid and crying from what felt like hair pulling, getting my hair just so.

There is a publish to instagram option, but it puts a phhhoto logo on the picture, which I’m not crazy about. If you publish the phhhoto in the app, then you can go back in to the post and save the looping video to your camera roll and publish it to instagram without the logo.

Let me know if you create an account!

 

Strike Away Show 2

Last month I posted about the upcoming Strike Away Show. Did anyone else participate? I’d love to see links to your pieces.

It took me forever to come up with an idea for my piece. It took me so long that I debated participating at all. I don’t know why it always takes me so long to have my aha moments. Immediately afterward I will feel like a genius, but then shortly thereafter I realize “that was the most simple idea. Why did it take me so long to go from A to B?” My GENIUS idea was to make a #LittleArtBook from a matchbook cover. Similar to thisΒ  LittleArtBook, I worked almost entirely from my own gelatin print papers.

11.13.09 materials Chalkboard matchbook notepads #littleartbook

The matchbook was actually a perfect theme for me. When my SIL’s parents used to own a local bar/music venue when I was in college, we would sit at the bar and draw on all the matchbook covers. Then, I used to make little matchbook style notebooks to give away as freebies in my etsy orders (pictured above circa 2009 and 2011). And, as I mentioned on the last post, I apparently hoard vintage matchbook covers.

 

While my contribution to the #strikeawayshow is in transit to CA, I thought I'd share a progress photo from when I was working on it. Surprise, surprise, I made a #littleartbbook, accordion style. I had so much fun working on it! #matchbookart

I decided to make an accordion fold book, so that the panels would open up for display purposes, but each page is its own composition.

My contribution to the #strikeawayshow going on right now at Paxton Gate, a little accordion book in a matchbook cover. It was so fun to make! Thank you so much @ccerruti and @adorndesign for all your hard work organizing the show! #littleartbook

As shown in the previous post, I had a lot of vintage matchbook covers to choose from. While many of the books I had were from Ohio Blue Tip, the vintage matchbook I used as a cover was a brand called Superior Match Co., from Chicago, which was perfect because I’m from the Chicagoland area-ish. The book had the remains of the matches that had been pulled and used on the striker pad, so it had plenty of love and use. I was able to remove the staple and take out the old match stumps and staple in my own pages. The cover also had birds on the cover, and for a girl with a bird-like name, I felt it was appropriate. In addition, the cardinal has been a bird with a lot of meanings and symbols in my life. The cover images were so beautiful and I wanted to keep them intact, otherwise I might as well just build a whole matchbook from scratch, so I just did minimal mark making to alter the covers.

Strike Away Show
Strike Away Show
Strike Away Show

Some close ups of the panels. The finished piece was something like 1×2.25 inches. So TINY! It reminded me of back in the day on flickr when I’d see people doing “inchies” and thinking to myself “That looks like fun” but if I sat down and tried to make any it felt like a lost cause. Just way too small. BUT, in an accordion style book, it worked and it was so much fun I might do more!

Here is a little video I captured really quickly to show how it opens. I was going to have Matt help me film a better one, but then I got too impatient to send it off, and forgot to record a new one.

Speaking of mailing, this piece was a nightmare in the postal system. In almost 10 years of running an etsy shop, I have had the utmost faith in the USPS, never losing or damaging any of the hundreds of packages I have sent out. This package, however, has altered my view. The piece had to be in the hands of the curators on May 3rd, which is a Sunday, meaning it needed to arrive in the mail by Saturday May 2nd. I sent the package 2 day priority mail (using a postal machine) on Tuesday, April 28th (I think). That meant the package would arrive in plenty of time, even if it was delayed a day OR TWO, as sometimes happens and is understandable. On the Friday night before it should have arrived, I checked my tracking and it said it was still in the Chicagoland area! I’ve been noticing a nasty trend lately, that all mail going through Chicago is delayed by days, and there is no excuse. I was already pretty annoyed when I checked again right before bed, in hopes that the tracking would be updated and show it had really been in transit to CA all along. Well, it had updated, but not in the direction I had hoped. Somehow it had made its way to FLORIDA! Yes, FLORIDA. My package from Northern Illinois, headed to California, took a trip to Florida. I knew immediately that my piece wasn’t going to make the deadline cut off. I immediately emailed the curators with the tracking info and explained that I would be going to the post office the next morning to find out what happened. The next day I explained to the postal employee at the counter what has happened, in hopes that they would explain that it would still arrive on time and that they just ship things like that sometimes (who knows? I know it doesn’t make sense, but I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, ya know, because of above said utmost faith). As soon as I explained though, the clerk said “oh dear, they’ve made a mistake” and immediately rushed off to get a manager. My eyes got big. The manager took my receipt and came in to tell me in the most positive and happy voice “your package will arrive in 5-7 business days, Mam”. I said “But I paid for 2 day shipping” to which she responded that 2 day is not guaranteed and went on to explain that it even says that it is not guaranteed and is only suggested and that sometimes packages just travel that way (to CA via FL?). I could tell she was trying to defuse me and get me out of there ASAP, even though I had gone in there on their side, not angry at all. Her attempt at trying to make it seem like it was no big deal, and that everything in the world was happy-happy-joy-joy actually worked to make me FURIOUS! It was then that I asked to make a formal complaint and she responded with “you’ll have to do that online” and with tears in my eyes, knowing that my piece wouldn’t arrive in time for the cut off date, I stormed out. When I got to the car I started thinking more clearly and went back into the lobby and photographed each page of the mailing machine that I used and NO WHERE, and on NO PAGE does it say that 2 day is just estimated or suggested. Fortunately, before I got home I received an email from Courtney saying that they would make space in the show for me, and I was so grateful. The package got lost, and really, I understand that, but what really made me angry was this employee’s response. She lied to me and denied any wrong doing, when the previous employee had already told me that it was a mistake. I’ve always heard that taking responsibility and apologizing goes way further than trying to deny guilt, blame shift and redirect anger, and I experienced that first hand here. If she would have said “I’m so sorry, we are going to look into this” and then promptly threw away my tracking info as soon as I left the office I would have still left feeling like they cared. This woman was doing it all wrong and I really hope that it was just this employee’s own way of dealing, and not a reflection of how the USPS teaches their managers to respond to patrons. End rant.

My piece, up at Paxton Gate for the #StrikeAwayShow

The show opened last Friday, May 22nd at Paxton Gate in San Fransisco, CA. It was so much fun to see all the images of the opening and I snagged this picture someone shared that included my piece. If you’d like to see more, use “strikeawayshow” hashtag on instagram. So many of the pieces are just amazing. And tiny! Tiny and Amazing! Just my type of artwork!

Let’s Call it the Little Pencil Pattern Book

Inspired by some of the other #LittleArtBook-ers using spiral bound books, I made this little book tonight. It is filled with roughly and random cut #watercolorpaper. #artbook #bumblebee

It started with a craft night with some girlfriends. I have a hard time focusing on art when I’m around others, so I usually bring something that doesn’t require a lot of attention. This night I brought some regular printer paper and a pencil. While we chatted I scribbled out the flower pattern on a halved sheet of paper (used as a #littleartbook backdrop in the above picture).

I liked how it looked, so I thought it would be fun to make more. So much of my favorite art and design start out that way. No pressure, just fun play. I like how the pencil looked, and went with the bare, basic and scribbly quality of the pattern illustrations.

little pencil pattern book

I folded a bunch of pieces of paper to put together a booklet. Then, I found this 8.5×11 sheet of grid paper I had also scribbled out with pencil for another project, and figured it would make the perfect cover.

little pencil pattern book

Forks, knives and spoons, and few plates for good measure

little pencil pattern book

Some abstract blingy rings

little pencil pattern book

Back to the original pattern, which I had drawn out on the side of paper which would either have to be a left center spread page or a left page in the back. Because I liked it so much I decided to make a center spread and do another pattern on the opposite. They are unrelated, but maybe I should have done another pattern that was meant to work with the first.

little pencil pattern book
Some little houses
little pencil pattern book
And of course, lily of the valley.

Stay tuned as I use some of these patterns for other projects.

Too Little, Too Late

Untitled

Imma jerk and never got to posting about my Big Time sign (on my blog) before the owner of the shop had to call it quits. Above is the picture I shared on instagram last year. I’m so sad because I really wanted to share this with others and order another for myself. Waaaaaaah!

The story is that my friend Joon‘s husband opened up an etsy shop where he was creating all sorts of woodwork pieces and came up with this great design based on National Park signs. I ordered this one for our house that says Big Time because Matt and I use it all the time to mean “a lot” or “REALLY” (not that it is unique, but I’m just saying as opposed to us being big Peter Gabriel fans).

When my nephew (3y/o) was over last weekend we were teaching him how to incorporate the phrase BIG TIME into his everyday conversation. "Do you like the video game Spelunky?" "BIG TIME!"

For the longest time my sister, Matt and I tried to incorporate into my nephew’s dialogue, but he refused. Here’s the caption from the above picture, from over a year ago:

When my nephew (3y/o) was over last weekend we were teaching him how to incorporate the phrase BIG TIME into his everyday conversation. “Do you like the video game Spelunky?” “BIG TIME!”

Back to the signs. Mission Beach Woodwork shop had to close up recently (sadface) Joon recently shared some of the signs that Evan (her husband) made for their house, which reminded me of how I never shared my own sign.Β  It is so beautifully crafted.

#LOVEOURSWIRLINGBLUEPLANET above their headboard. I love this so much! The lettering is this beautiful pale blue color.

And of course one with her nickname, which makes me even more sad because I planned on ordering one with ROBAYRE for my studio.

Think of how much fun it would have been to even make some and place them on trails guerilla art style! Nobody would question it because they were so well made.

Birthday Crowns

I don’t think I’ve ever shared my birthday crowns here. It started with this crown in 2012

Today I made an #upcycle paper crown  for a coworker's birthday.

I made it for a coworker’s office birthday, with materials from the building (big sheets of flat cardboard, paper scraps from the printing presses, adhesive, a sharpie and a stapler). I snapped this picture of myself wearing it, because I was so proud of how it came out.

Madame Alyn's Lid

The inspiration came from the artist Alyn Carlson, pictured above, and her beautiful paper hats. She actually has a book out now and I need to get it!

mailart 129/365

I’ve been inspired by her before, with this series of mailart postcards. You can see more here.

But back to the birthday crowns. I liked that first crown so much I knew I just had to make more.

Erica crown

I wish I would have been better about documenting them as I made them, but here are a few more that I made. This one was for my best friend.

Ann's birthday crown

Here is an expectant Ann (of A Beautiful Party), wearing her birthday crown. I think she was just a week or two away from her due date with her daughter Maybellene, and we were singing her Happy Birthday and I think she was just about to blow out her candles.

Last night's project, a custom requested crown. It's bee a while since I've made one.

This one was a commission, and I can’t remember what it said all the way around. Something like “Your Wonderful Highness”.

me in crown

Of course I had to make one for MeSelf!

2.11 capsule machine

It currently lives on top of my gumball machine.

Progress photos of the most recent birthday crown I made. I'm particularly proud of this one and it fit @shealwayslovedlarking perfectly!

And most recently, I made one for my friend Courtney (of She Always Loved Larking) for her belated birthday party. Here is a progress shot of the crown before I stapled it together.

Courtney birthday crown

And a picture that Ann took of her wearing her crown surrounded by all the beautiful parti-ness.

Emily Neuburger facebook birthday crown

Thank you Emily Neuburger, of Red Bird Crafts, for sharing my crowns on your facebook page too!

I love making crowns as they are super low pressure. I think the scrappiness and playfulness really make the crown.Β  It was also really fun to put together this post and see how they have developed over time.