Learning a New Craft on Vacation {Part 2}

I had a great time making beads and sweets with the clay (here), but I found my niche when I started sculpting with it. I wanted to make something for my kids and had seen a cute clay figure of Yoda as I searched Pinterest. I took that inspiration and made a little Yoda for Ninja Boy.Clay YodaI didn’t want to stop after Yoda was finished, so I made a Cinderella for My Princess.Clay CinderellaMiss Tickles is a big fan of Daniel Tiger, so I made her a little version of her own.Clay Daniel TigerMy adopted daughter, Jessi, and I have been reading and watching Harry Potter lately, so I had a whole lot of fun making her some little figures.Clay Harry Potter FigurinesAfter playing around with the clay at the cottage, I knew I wanted to get some of my own. I used a coupon to buy some tools, and the clay happened to be on sale! When I got home, I showed Jessi her figures and my new tools. She loved them so much she decided to play around a little too and add to her collection.Clay Voldemort


Learning a New Craft on Vacation {Part 1}

I have often looked down the isle at the craft store displaying clay and sculpting supplies and wondered where to start. I’ve even watched a few videos online about various techniques. Learning how to make things using this meduim has been on my someday list. While on our girl’s vacation I moved that desire to the “now” list. My sister brought along polymer clay and all sorts of clay tools to play with. She just recently became interested in working with clay and wanted to share. The dining room became our craft room for the week. She taught us what she had learned so far and then we played. It was interesting how each of us gravitated to different ways of using the clay.Clay Creation PlayMy sister became interested in clay when she wanted to make food and various items for a doll house she is making for my granddaughters. Someday soon (she hopes) the doll house will be completed and we can share it with you. Here are some plants she was working on for the doll house patio.Clay leaves

After seeing samples of some of the miniature clay food, Melinda and her sister decided to start making play food for their girls tea party sets. Who knew you could make frosting out of clay?Frosting Clay CookiesSoon cookies and cakes and even sushi took shape in their fingers. It all looks good enough to eat!Clay Tea Party FoodMy mom started making hand rolled beads for a necklace and used cookie cutters to make small embellishments to add to her card making creations.Beads and EmbelishmentsMy other sister loves bracelets and used the bead rolling tool to make lots of beads to string.Bead Rolling Tool

Clay Beads ready to bake

Bead Baking Rack


Stringing beads for bracelets

Stringing beads for bracelets with elastic string

While beads were baking my sister decided to create shapes to put on magnets for gifts. Clay MagnetsMy mom thought the flowers looked great and set to work making her own flower magnets.Making Clay FlowersThe possibilities of things to make with clay are endless. We just got a taste of it and are hooked.  We still have more to show you in future posts. I love it that my family is always eager to learn new ways of creating. The credit of course goes to my mom who nurtured the desire to create in my sisters and I from a very young age. And I happily passed that on to my kids.


North Shore Nature

Wherever I go, I am drawn to look for things in nature that will inspire me for future creativity projects. On our North Shore vacation I took more photos of nature than I did of the people I was with (I knew that the rest of my family was taking family shots though.) I wanted to share a few of them with you in hopes that you too will be inspired for projects you are creating.Birch BarkFeather on RockFlowersFlowering GrassFlowers LilliesFlowers on RocksFlowers DaisiesFlowers North ShoreFlowersHeart LeafLichenLichenPlants on Rocks

Inspiration at a Lighthouse

On our vacation at the North Shore we left our beautiful “home” for the week to visit one tourist spot– the Split Rock Lighthouse. Supposedly it is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. Our family certainly added to the number of pictures taken.Split Rock LighthouseHowever, it was not built for the purpose of tourist picture taking. It was built after a terrible storm in 1905 in which 29 ships were sunk or damaged. The cliff is 130 feet high and all of the materials for building the lighthouse and surrounding buildings had to be hoisted up the cliff from boats below (not an easy endeavor.) There were no roads to the lighthouse during the first 20 years of operation but after roads were built tourists began to flock to the lighthouse by the 1930s. Besides the job of keeping the lighthouse functioning properly, the keepers had to also become tour guides.

The lighthouse itself is 54 feet tall so access within the tower is by a narrow spiral staircase. I love the design shapes visible looking down the staircase. The lens for the lighthouse was built in Paris and assembled in the lighthouse. The entire lens weighs in at almost 6.5 tons. Remember that all had to be hoisted up the cliff from boats along with over 300 tons of building materials. The keepers had to keep each lens glass clean along with the lighthouse windows. Notice the rainbow colors on the lens in the upper left side in the picture. The lens revolved once every 20 seconds so a light flashed once every 10 seconds. (Every lighthouse has its own unique signal.) The beacon of light could be seen for 22 miles. The lens assembly was turned by a gear system with weights on cables similar to a grandfather clock. The weights had to be restored to their starting positions every two hours by the keepers.Split Rock Lighthouse InsideWhen the visibility conditions did not allow for the light to be seen, the fog signal building blasted a two second blast every 18 seconds to warn ships up to 5 miles away.Fog Signal Building Split Rock LighthouseThree identical keeper’s houses were built next to the lighthouse for the light house keeper and two assistants along with their families. The families only lived on the property during the shipping season (not the winter months) until the roads were built and they could stay year round. The colors for the rooms of each house were determined by the government and each house had to be identical.Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers Home Of course each home could be personalized with special touches of handmade items.HandworkA large pantry was necessary because running to the grocery store was not an option.Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers HomeCommunication was not as simple as it is for us today. Have you ever seen a typewriter like this one?TypewriterThe views from the lighthouse are spectacular.Lake Superior- Split Rock LighthouseNorth Shore Lake Superior North Shore Lake Superior The Split Rock Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 when modern methods of navigations made lighthouses unnecessary and eventually became a National Historic Landmark.

So besides the breath-taking beauty surrounding the lighthouse and the unique designs of the lens and the spiral staircase, how was I inspired at a lighthouse?

First, the story of how the lighthouse was built even with seemingly impossible obstacles to overcome makes me realize that no matter what obstacles I may face, nothing really is impossible. It may require creativity and ingenuity to figure out alternative ways to do something and sometimes requires much perseverance in the process.

Second, my everyday life is so very easy compared with the way people lived during the early years of the lighthouse operations. I love old houses and antiques, but I also appreciate very much the modern conveniences I have today. I am inspired by the creativity required for their everyday living.

Third, lighthouses have long been used symbolically in the Christian faith as Jesus being the light of the world as a beacon of hope to show people the way. Visiting a lighthouse brings more clarity to that mental image.

I might be inspired to someday paint or draw Split Rock Lighthouse like some of the beautiful artwork I saw in the visitor center. Someone was even inspired to make a Lego Split Rock Lighthouse.Split Rock Lighthouse LegosNext time you visit a tourist spot, open your eyes, mind, and heart to look for inspiration.

Another Memory Making Time

North Shore Lake Superior We just returned from a wonderfully relaxing vacation together on the Minnesota North Shore of Lake Superior. Last summer I shared a post about our annual Mother/Sister/Daughter memory making vacations. This trip was quite different from past years. We stayed in a place so beautiful and relaxing that we did not want to leave to go sight-seeing, so we only did that one afternoon. Our “home” for the week was in a three bedroom cottage at Larsmont Cottages Resort, a place we highly recommend. The weather was perfect, and contrary to what we expected (because we used to live in WI and MN), there were no giant mosquitos waiting to attack bare skin the minute you walked outside. What a blessing! This was our view from the front room…Larsmont Cottages Both of my daughters were able to join us this year on our girls get-away.FamilyWell, it wasn’t exactly girls only, because we had these two adorable boys to entertain us.The BoysWe tried to follow the rules as much as possible.Camp RulesWe took many walks along the lake and around the property.Larsmont Walking TrailAlong the shoreline were six community bonfire pits. When you wanted a fire, the resort staff came out to light a fire for you as well as bring the roasting sticks and supplies for s’mores.North Shore Lake Superior LarsmontCampfireMelinda was our head chef (her sister helped), and we enjoyed delicious home cooked meals three times a day. Larsmont Cottages DinnerWe used the outside dining room most of the time because the inside dining room quickly turned into the craft room. Instead of card making supplies, this year my sister brought polymer clay and all kinds of tools for us to play with. We’ll show you some of the things we made in another post. It was fun creating and learning a new craft.Crafting on vacationThe resort offered free bikes and helmets to the guests, so Melinda, my sisters and I took an “almost” six mile bike ride. There is debate about whether it was five or six miles, but since we don’t have any fish stories to tell, we are going with the six miles. I don’t even remember the last time I was on a bike, but it has to be at least twenty some years ago. We all survived and had a great time. My other daughter probably would have gone with us if she hadn’t been doing an eight mile run that day as part of her marathon training. BikingAround the resort are lawn games to play, puzzles, books to read, scavenger hunts, nature hunts, crafts, and even rock painting for the garden.Painted Garden RocksSitting on a chair or rocks to relax and rejuvenate is greatly encouraged. Peaceful Place to RelaxWith views like this, we all decided we wanted to spend a whole summer there. Even the winter views would be pretty if you did not have to ever go outside! I could picture a wonderful creative studio in the upstairs room looking out over the lake. It’s fun to dream of creating in such an inspiring place, but one reason I don’t live up north any more is because I don’t enjoy being cold for so long.North Shore Lake Superior Some days the lake is calm and other days it sounds like the ocean.North Shore Lake SuperiorNorth Shore Lake SuperiorAnd of course, it wouldn’t be Lake Superior without the big freighters.North Shore Lake Superior ShipOur one sight-seeing adventure while on the North Shore was a visit to Split Rock Light House. I’ll save that for another post.

Once again, so many beautiful memories were written on our hearts as we shared life together last week at our girls get-away. I’m glad my mom, sisters, and daughters love spending time with each other and with me.

Documented Life Project- Week 31

“Create a pocket – fill it with treasures from your week,” was the challenge for the 31st week of the Documented Life Project.

As I pondered what to do for this challenge, I was looking at the postcard I received from Katie at In My Backyard for the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap and inspiration hit me!
Great Big Stitched Postcard SwapI decided to use the birds I received to make a mixed media page. I did a watercolor wash for background. Using denim fabric, I stitched part of a pair of jeans to the page and added a string clothesline and clothespin. The pocket on my jeans was filled with scraps of paper, thread and yarn for a bird’s nest. I cut out the yellow bird from my postcard and glued her in place on the clothesline. The little tags I received with birds stamped on them became my baby birds for mama bird’s nest. Since I am just doing the challenges and not doing the planner/journal part of the Documented Life Project, these birds were just the right thing to collect in my pocket. Thank you, Katie!DLP-Week-31-JMelinda:

I started my pocket with nothing in mind for it other than using some of the paper that I had gelli printed a couple weeks ago. I made this particular print trying to use color combinations that I normally wouldn’t use. I like how it turned out! I used purple cotton fabric to make a pocket on my paper. I sewed a heart piece of paper to the fabric first before sewing the pocket onto my paper. After I was done, I remembered the cards that I had made for my Hubby last week for our 8th Anniversary. I decided that my pocket was the perfect place to store them.


Cool Summer Tops Part 2

Mom showed you the shirt that she had made from this pattern.Summer Top PatternI had been wanting to make a shirt similar to this one that I have.

Sweater top

As I was preparing to make a pattern, I realized that mom’s pattern was almost exactly what I needed. I just had to add some length at the bottom and I didn’t do any gathering.

Summer-TshirtNow I have a comfortable loose top that is perfect with my post baby body.

(I’ll add a pic of it on as soon as I can get a decent one)



Cool Summer Tops

Summer is hot! After looking a short time in the stores for some new summer tops and not finding anything I wanted to spend money on, I decided to make my own. I have a cool comfortable cotton shirt that is starting to get worn out I decided to make a pattern from. I don’t like wearing tank tops and like the little bit of sleeve that this style gives.Original ShirtMelinda recently posted about making a dress pattern for the girls from a thrift store dress she liked. I taped together some newsprint paper and made a basic pattern using the shirt as my guide. After my basic pattern was drawn, I also made a pattern for the neck facing and pattern to cut the front neckline lower than the back.Summer Top PatternThe first shirt I made using some light weight linen fabric I found on clearance. I decided to add a button closure as well as some decorative stitching around the neck using one of the stitches on my sewing machine. Flower Summer TopDecorative StitchingFor the second shirt, I used an old lace collar saved from a dress to embellish the neckline and added a small heart shaped button closure.Summer topThe shirts were easy to make. Melinda will show you in the next post how she took this same basic pattern to make a different shirt.

Have you tried making a pattern from an article of clothing you like?

Documented Life Project- Week 30

Week 30 in the Documented Life Project challenges was to: “Add receipts, labels, business cards – smash books style!”

What is a smash book? Maybe like us you have seen smash books and various accessories in your craft store, but were not sure what they were all about. Melinda found a blog post at Crafts Unleashed that made sense of it all. Basically it is a style of scrapbooking for the un-scrapbooker.

I’ve got lots of scrapbook stuff from many years waiting to be organized. The problem is I did not want to start digging through it to find something for this challenge that I wanted to put on a small page. I also have not gone anywhere recently (or the week of the challenge) that I would want to “smash”. Grocery receipts were not inspiring me. Instead I decided to make a smash style page documenting all of the states I have lived in over the years. My dad was a teacher and he also loved going to school himself, adding to his degrees. Some of the states I lived in were places he taught and some he was attending school for a year. Many summers we also packed up and lived in a different state while he took summer classes. As a kid I did not like leaving my friends for the summer, but looking back I am grateful for the many experiences and memories living in those places.

Kraft paper was my choice for the background because most of the smash books I had seen were brown paper or chipboard. I cut the states from colors out of a painting one of my grandkids had made (that had torn) and printed the state names from my computer. The road was black ribbon painted with white stripes. I cut out letters and words from magazines and added extra doodle lines.DLP-Week-30-J


While organizing my office/craft stuff recently, I came across a pile of memorabilia from my sister’s wedding five years ago. I wanted to do something with it to remember that special occasion, but I gave up on scrap booking when Ninja Boy was 6 months old. I have been keeping it in a box on top of my desk for several months now. When this challenge came up, I knew it was the perfect time to use the stuff! I placed all the pieces of memorabilia and then printed off a picture from her big day!DLP-Week-30-M

Create Your Own Mancala Game

A couple of years ago, I started playing a game called Mancala with Ninja Boy. It’s a simple enough game that younger kids can play but continue enjoying as they get older by learning more strategy. There are a few different variations of game play, but the basic version is the one that comes with the game if you buy it.

Mancala GameWhen my sister and I were little, we would play the game using an egg carton and pennies. I realized after reading the instructions that we had a “Johnson house rules” version of the game.

Penny Mancala Egg CartonInstead of capturing the stones in the opposite side if you land in an empty hole on your side, it was just the end of your turn. And whoever emptied their side first got the stones on the opposing side. This is also the version I have taught my kids because until writing this post, I didn’t know of any other way! That is the beauty of these kinds of games. You can adapt the rules however you want (as long as everyone agrees to follow the same rules).

Playing Penny Mancala

Ninja Boy counting his “stones”

Penny MancalaOne day while we were playing with our board and marbles that came in the box, we realized that we were missing one of the marbles. There just happened to be a Lego minifig on the counter beside our table, so I just popped the head off to use instead. This gave me an idea that it would be fun to use only Lego heads to play with sometime!

Lego MancalaSo of course, we had to try it!

Lego Head MancalaIt was fun, but they had a tendency to bounce out of the holes in the wood.

Lego MancalaThe fun of this game is that it is simple to play, and you don’t have to buy a board (use an egg carton and 2 bowls). You can use just about anything as pieces! All you need is 48 of something. You could try…

  • Pennies, nickels, dimes
  • Lego heads, bodies, legs, hats
  • Marbles
  • Nuts (if no one is allergic!)
  • Plastic beads
  • Buttons

Can you think of something else creative you could use?