january artful bag challenge

Welcome to The 2011 Artful Bag Challenge.
First I'd like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. I hope this year will be fun, inspiring and creative for all of us and what better way to start it off than with a brand new challenge.

January's theme is Playing With Paper. This month we are crafting our bags and purses from paper. Any paper you like can be used: scrapbook paper, book and magazine pages, card stock, etc. Embellish your bag however you like. Try here for a little inspiration.

For January I created a paper 'Winter Opera Bag'. It's inspired by vintage opera bags that are usually highly embellished with beading and jewels. I imagined going to a winter ball or enjoying a night at the opera watching La Boheme. I used a matte silver embossed paper which I dry brushed with gold shimmer and burnt umber paint. I also used a dark distress ink pad in Vintage Photo around the edges. The 'jeweled' borders are a glitter covered snowflake which I cut up and also dry brushed with paint for an antique finish. Finally I added tiny blue paper flowers (my latest addiction) also brushed with gold shimmer and burnt umber paint. The handle is a silver pipe cleaner folded in half, twisted and attached to the back.

I'm also posting the preview bag I made in December to give you more ideas.

To add to the fun and to kick off this challenge I also have exciting news! This month The Artful Bag Challenge is being sponsored by Sandy's Space. The lovely Sandy is kind and gracious enough to offer the book Purse Pizzazz by Marie Browning as a prize. How wonderful is that?! Sandy makes amazingly exquisite paper art so if you haven't visited her yet make sure to go over and say hello.


The winner will be determined by a random drawing. Everyone who creates a paper purse and adds a link will automatically be entered. The winner will be announced when I post next month's project.

To play along this month just add a link to your bag post below. Make sure to add the permalink to your actual post and not just to your blog. Email me if you need to know how to do that.  I added my link first to test it. The Linky is open all month so you can join anytime. However, it's best to join as early in the month as possible as everyone tends to make their rounds the first few days.

For more information on The Artful Bag Challenge
please visit the challenge page here.

Have fun and join me again next month for a new theme!

Update: If you participated in the January challenge and you're wondering
where your bag is please click here.

the journey so far

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and holiday. Ours was lovely and spent visiting our family about 2 hours away. Despite both my son and I coming down with icky bugs it was still nice. I always love seeing my mom and my brother. My microwave and I got sick on Christmas day and though I am better now, sadly (or perhaps not so sadly, hee-hee) the microwave had to be replaced with a new one.

With the year coming to an end I couldn't help but reflect on this past year. It's been quite an amazing journey filled with new adventures, inspiration and new friends. This was a collage I made back in Spring when I first started dabbling in collage and painting. This was also the template for my first paper dress. It's simple but still one of my favorites because 'soar' was the word I constantly thought of while on this journey.

As I look forward to the new year I find myself becoming excited about new goals and seeing where the journey will lead. I'm never one for creating New Year's resolutions but the one I did make for myself this past year is one I'm happy to say I actually did. That was to start living a consciously creative life and it started with my blog. Next month I'm celebrating one year of blogging. Something I'm proud of as I've never been able to stay with a new venture more than 3 or 4 months in the past. I know I was able to do this because of all of you. So again, thank you from the tips of my frosted toes to the bottom of my sparkle covered heart.

There is much for me to look forward to this coming year, starting with my Artful Bag Challenge in just a few days. I will be posting my first project (Playing With Paper) at the end of the week along with a Linky tool so any of you who would like to play along can just add a link to your post any time.

I also have another project going on next month, which I can't tell you too much about yet, but it's going to keep me insanely busy the entire month. All I can say is I'm working on a collaboration with my brother and sister-in-law and it involves me making several pieces of art that have to be done in a few short weeks! I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to take on this challenge, but then I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to push myself. It's definitely out of my comfort zone and I hope the lessons I learned the past year will give me enough confidence to see it through. I will share with you once it all comes together!

So as we countdown to 2011 I'm once again making a mental list of goals I would like to accomplish. I would like to think that my journey so far is only the beginning. I have learned that I can soar when I put my mind to it. Now I can see where my wings take me. What are your goals for the coming year dear friends? How exciting that we can take this journey together and look forward to a brand new start.

I wish you a beautiful post holiday week. Enjoy all the sales if you're out there shopping and I'll see you in a few days for The Artful Bag Challenge!

'twas the night before christmas

I remember the first Christmas my son was old enough to really understand Santa. I think he was 4. I had so many things planned to get ready for Santa and his reindeer. Before tucking Sebastian in for the night we helped him with his letter, picked out cookies, poured the milk and set out a bowl of carrots, grapes and a bucket of water for the reindeer. Sebastian decided reindeer loved grapes.

We watched the news to see how far away Santa was from our house and read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. We will read from the same book again tonight. After much giggling and stalling he would start falling asleep. Just about then I would sneak out the back door and walk by his window shaking jingle bells. Then off to work we would go.

There were cookies to nibble on, half a glass of milk to drink, grapes to gobble up (with a few bits left) and carrots to mash and carve teeth marks into. Then there was the glitter. Santa always left a trail of glitter. Glitter on all the stockings, around the fireplace and all around the plate of cookies and milk. The letter to Santa would be gone and in it's place would be a letter from Santa thanking our son for the yummy treats. The reindeer loved the grapes of course...and spilled some of the water.

Early Christmas morning I would be up before everyone to do one last thing. I had crushed ice waiting in the freezer. (We are snow less here in California) Out on the back patio I would throw all the ice in two long lines. Tracks left by Santa's sleigh. And finally a little bit of muddy reindeer prints and more glitter. Then it was time to wake up my little guy and watch the magic.

It's time to get ready for Santa once again. Even if my little guy isn't so little anymore (as you can see), and I find myself giving Santa a hand, we still love the magic of Christmas Eve. This day is just for our little family before we join the rest of our kin on Christmas day. We open some of our gifts tonight and the rest before breakfast in the morning.

My favorite elf trimming the tree while I work on packing up gifts.

Merry Christmas to all of you dear friends. Thank you for the gift of friendship and inspiration. May you be in the company of those you love, blessed with joy, hope and peace.....and oodles of sparkles all year!

winter moon

Did any of you watch the lunar eclipse last night?

After several days of clouds and rain the sky cleared up enough yesterday to let us see the nearly full moon. I wish I had a better camera because the night sky was so beautiful.

Moonlight gave the clouds a silvery glow that was almost unreal. They looked like Photoshop clouds! Around 10 the eclipse started with a faint shadow appearing near the edge. It slowly worked it's away across the face of the moon over the next hour or so until it completely covered it's light.

A reddish tint also started to appear around the shadow giving it a very eerie glow. It was both mysterious and fascinating. We huddled in our blankets and strained our necks while we looked straight up trying to see through binoculars clearly not made for lunar viewing.

Afterwards, to celebrate this rare event, we had pancakes at midnight to welcome that beautiful winter moon.(And after the pancakes I was inspired to make my January paper purse for my Artful Bag Challenge!)

Tonight on this first day of Winter and the longest night of the year, I wish all of you a beautiful, enchanted Season, a blessed Yule and a very Happy Christmas.

blissfull atc swap - december angels

Just a quick post to share the ATC I recieved from my Blissfull ATC swap partner Karla.I don't have a blog from Karla so there isn't a link but here is her wonderful card.

Her December ATC is also an ornament! The background is clear and the little angel is adorable. I already have it hanging in my chandelier along with other wonderful holiday treasures I recieved. Thank you Karla.

Here is my angel on recycled corrugated cardboard. I used an image from The Graphics Fairy and a page from a vintage German prayer book that was a gift from the wonderful Angelique (For The Love of Creativity).

You can see all the other angel ATCs at Blissfull ATC Swap.

pea soup

Aside from the intense summers here in Sacramento, the other thing we are known for is the fog. Thick, pea soup fog where you can barely see but a few feet in front of you. It rolls in from the river which runs along the city and can get a little scary when you're driving in it.

It came in yesterday as I drove my son to school. It's actually very pretty, giving the tall pine trees in my neighborhood a mystical forest feel. It's even prettier along the river as the fog settles on the water, making me think of misty moors far far away.

Visibility right now is still pretty good. By January I would barely be able to see the outline of the trees. My son and I were caught in the fog on the freeway at night a few years ago. We got lost coming home and the only way I could tell which way to go was to follow the truck in front of me as closely as I could. It's a very surreal feeling when you can't see what's around you. I prayed the whole 60 miles and have never EVER taken that drive in winter again.

What's the scariest weather you have ever driven in? I imagine snow can be even more daunting. I'm a California girl but we don't have typical California weather here so we're more prepared than the people living in the milder areas. You should see them when they get a few inches of rain!

I hope you're having cozy weather where you are. I know some of you are already knee deep in snow. We are 2 hours away from the snow up in the Sierras and on very, very rare occasions we will get a light dusting here in the city. My son is getting over a yucky cold and I'm hoping I'm not getting it too.

Have a comfy, cozy, creative weekend.

dashing through the glitter

Oh my goodness! It's 10 days until Christmas! Eeeekk!!! This is usually when I start to panic just a wee bit. I've been cutting and pasting and glittering like a mad elf and my poor Luna seems to have a permanent patch of glitter on her whiskers and nose. But I've been having so much fun, even if I still have to get through the rest of my gift list.

I want to thank all of you for allowing me to share my Art Saves story with you. Your wonderful comments have meant so much to me. Although it is my art that has saved me from dwelling in doubt, it is you dear friends that inspires me everyday, to create the art that I love to share. Thank you again and again.

Since this is the first year I actually have my own little studio space I had to get a tree in honor of the amazing year I've had creating and blogging. It's just a tiny little thing but I love it. If I can only find tiny tiny fairy lights for it.

I know I've shown you my chandelier a bazillion times but I just love to keep adding stuff to it and the latest are these beads and ornaments, including this sweet little fairy from Wendy from Bliss Angels! Isn't she adorable? (Sweet Pea...and Wendy!)

Now it's time to rush out to the post to send more packages and then back to glittering again! Happy sparkly Wednesday to you, whatever lovely things you're up to today.

My Art Saves story will be up until Sunday if you would like to stop by and see.

art saves and a story to share

Some people know from an early age what it is they are passionate about. I have read stories of artists that knew from the time they picked up their first pencil or paintbrush that art was going to be their life. Others live a life touched with creativity and through a journey of self discovery, realized that their passion for art was quietly waiting inside them all along. In my own life I found the latter to be true. Art for me was a quiet friend.

My journey, like most of you, started when I was very young. Along side my mom who filled my childhood with endless days creating, crafting and decorating our little home.

But the road to finding my passion wasn't always clear. It took many years for me to finally find the courage to express my creativity in a way that truly gave me joy.

Over the past year my journey has taken me here. To my own small corner of Blogland, where each day I have found the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and share a piece of my creative life with you. Last month I found myself writing about my journey, from my childhood experiences to discovering this amazing virtual community of creative souls. I feel the best part has just begun.

This week I am honored to have my story featured in Art Saves, beginning on Monday, December 13. Art Saves is part of Crescendoh, created by the amazing Jenny Doh. There you will find inspiring stories of women touched by art and the difference it has made in their lives. To be among them is something I never could have imagined when I typed my first post nearly a year ago. I hope that by sharing my tale I might inspire some of you to follow your passion, and find whatever it is that makes your heart and soul sing. Your friendship and heartfelt support here gave me my wings.

To read my story please visit Art Saves and click on Readers Share.


time for cake

Wouldn't  it be wonderful if our computers had virtual smell?

I thought it would be fabulous to be able to smell all the wonderful sweet and savory dishes many of you share out there. Chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread would waft through the screen and the wonderful scent of a winter wreathe would slowly seep through our keyboards.

Since I can't send a cake over the internet I hope you can imagine the frosted sweet smell of the best and most delicious birthday cake ever. And I'd like you to join me in wishing my friend Marfi at Incipient Wings a happy, happy, happy birthday today! She's a talented artist, a super sweet person and a kindred soul. Now for some cake. Oh I hope we don't eat it all before Marfi gets here!

playing with pixels, sweet treats and a random picture post

What is it about a cold wintry day that makes you want to stay in your pajamas and fuzzy slippers, sip hot chocolate and make a mess in your studio all day long? Okay, I admit I don't need a cold day to do this but it's been that way for me the last few days. I can't seem to drag myself out of the house (except for the occasional trip to Michaels). I have not done any holiday shopping yet. Have you?

I have, however, managed to keep playing on my computer. Yes, it's another background and banner change! I thought it was time to do a Christmasy theme after leaving the frosty winter one up for a few weeks (it was actually making me cold, lol!).  I tried another yesterday but it still wasn't exactly what I wanted. In the end I decided to go more whimsical and use some of my art work for the banner. This one finally feels like me. I love frost and snow but I was starting to miss color. I think it's fun and festive enough for the holidays but can work through the other seasons.

 My arm is cooperating much more lately. I still have to rest it but was also told to keep moving it and doing exercises to keep my shoulder from getting 'frozen'. I actually tore my rotator cuff which led to all sorts of other problems and the tendonitis (long story) but I'm learning not to over do it. It's vewy, vewy hard.

Sweet treat number one: These just made me smile. Aren't they super adorable? They were made from Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joes. I found them posted at Cupcakes Take the Cake and there's a link there to the person that made them last year. Love the shoes!

Sweet treat number two:  I posted my collage project last time for Cindy's Creative Spirit Challenge and it turned out she wasn't doing it at all this month. I missed the announcement, silly me. But Cindy is such a sweetie and she decided to give me her monthly award, so for December I get to be Miss Creative Spirit. How very sweet indeed! Thank you Cindy.

I like to go through random pictures from my pre-blogging days to find inspiration for a post. This one is from the midnight book release for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007. We went to one of our favorite small indie book stores for their party and I snapped this picture of a door to one of the offices. Yes that is THE Sorting Hat signed by Ms Rowling herself. She visited this store waaay back in 1998 when she was promoting Sorcerer's Stone. She was still unknown and about 20 people showed up! Can you imagine? Oh I would have loved to have been there but I didn't start reading the books until around 2000. I am still amazed by her story and the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. It's truly incredible.

We are having mild weather with some rain so I am going to try to pry my feet out of 
 my fuzzy slippers and put on my boots instead. There's a shopping list I need to start on before things get really crazy. Have a lovely, cozy, chocolatey, artful day!


creative spirit challenge with plenty of glitter

Glitter, glitter everywhere!

I always seem to be happily covered with glitter and with the holidays this is especially true. Seeing that sparkly, shiny stuff everywhere I go makes me want to put it on everything I see.

I always thought it would be fun to carry around a tiny bottle of glitter and stardust and leave the smallest pinch of it in unexpected places. Not so much of course as to make it a nuisance but just a smidge where someone might look and smile and wonder where it came from. On the handle of a shopping cart, the petals of a flower in a nursery, on top of a roll of paper towels on a store shelf. And you should be able to dust it off right away so it would just disappear.

Like magic.

I'm slowly starting to put up my decorations. Garlands and lights drape my mantle and doorway and glittery icicles are ready to go in the windows as soon as I motivate myself to move some furniture out of the way. The first place I decorated was my little studio (aka the dinning room).

My chandelier is dressed for Winter with this frosted leaf garland, drops of silver icicles and gold moons and stars. I also want to add glitter paper fairies I saw at the store last week and I hope they still have them when I go back today.

I've had so much fun dressing up my chandelier this year. I can't believe I've never done it before. Well I use to hang a few ornaments from it for Christmas but never decorated it the rest of the year. Now that this room is also my studio I've been inspired to put things in it all year long.

Inspiration comes in many ways and one I always count on is magazines. Particularly all the Stampington magazines like Somerset and Where Women Create. I just picked up the latest issue of Somerset Workshop which features complete projects by several artists. This issue includes one of my favorite artists, Vanessa Valencia. I have always loved her art, especially the series of paintings with the paper dresses featured this season. After reading her tutorial and drooling over admiring other pieces of her work I was inspired to create a collage using some of the techniques she showed.

I decided not to try the paper dress process she does so beautifully (I think it's so uniquely hers) and instead I used the template from my Dress Up 2010 December paper dress. After all these months of crafting little dresses I finally painted a girl to wear them. This was a fun project I did one night on a whim and I finished it the following morning. I added glitter (Vanessa used mica flakes), painted the ribbon and surrounded her with magical butterflies. I think she could be ready to step onto a stage to sing a beautiful aria.

I'm including this project and the rest of this post in Cindy's Celebrate Your Creative Spirit at Whimsical Musings on the 8th. Her monthly challenge has been doing really well so don't forget to visit her to see all the other inspiring things everyone is doing.

I hopy you're having an amazingly creative and glitter filled Monday!

december dress and the artful bag challenge

It's hard to believe we're at the end of this delightful challenge. I have to thank Margaret of Alice and Camilla for being such a lovely host and inspiring us to create and play this past year. I joined in May and had the best time making my paper frocks and the fun wardrobe to put them in.

For December I created a little vintage Christmas gown with gold trim and lots of old world sparkle. The pearl buttons and paper flower are a nod to my wedding anniversary.

This flower reminded me of my bouquet which had gardenias, calla lilies, white roses, juniper berries and ivy. The scent of gardenias still reminds me of our Winter wedding in an old candlelit stone church 17 years ago.

Here are all of my paper dresses...all 13 of them! (I made 2 for October)

I'm going to miss doing this challenge. In fact I might just keep making a few of them every now and then. But doing this also inspired me to create my own year long project which I'm excited to share with you today.

You're invited to join me for The Artful Bag Challenge, a creative monthly project inspired by my love of bags! Please visit the challenge page here for details and schedule and if you'd like to play along just come back in January and post your first artful bag. There are different types of projects each month ranging from paper purses to altered bags and even an ATC swap.

The first project was inspired by Dress Up 2010 so I made one this month to hopefully inspire you to play along. Although it's not to scale I made this bag to go with my December dress.Doesn't it just make you want to put on a warm velvet coat and furry gloves for an afternoon Christmas tea?

Please visit Alice and Camilla to see all the other pretty dresses and thank you again Margaret for a fun and inspiring year.