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?

Documented Life Project- Week 29

Documented Life Project challenge for week 29 was to “Make a wish list – draw pictures or cut out images from magazines.”

There seems to be a lot of variations based off of the old nursery rhyme that starts out, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride …” Fish don’t appear to be part of that original nursery rhyme, but I found many endings to the phrase “If wishes were fishes…” I decided to stick with the beginning of that phrase and let my picture tell the rest. I gelli printed the background to look like water. Using a stamp I made from craft foam, I stamped several fish in the water in various paint colors and then gelli printed some additional waves over the fish. I cut fish shapes out of magazine pages and glued them to card stock to make them more sturdy. On the back of each fish I wrote a wish. I attached a net bag (from fruit produce) to the background and glued my fish inside the bag.


I wanted to draw my wish. We have the van, but we are hoping for the travel trailer to take our family on our trips for our ministry. I sketched first with pencil, then drew with a black Micron pen and colored it in with colored pencil. I’m trying to get myself to be ok with drawing things even without taking too much time for realism or detail and just letting myself sketch.DLP-Week-29-M

Documented Life Project- Week 28

The Documented Life Project challenge for Week 28 was to “Add an Instagram or other tiny photo to your page.”

I love the picture a family member took of my four oldest grandkids walking together down the path after a fun evening of picnic and canoe rides last month. I let the picture be the inspiration for the challenge. I gelli printed my background on a map page from an old atlas. Using a stencil of sun rays, I sponged several colors for the rays, slightly moving the stencil with each color addition. Then I drew lines with a white pen to highlight the rays. The quote was handprinted with a fine point black marking pen, highlighted with white pen, on a piece of translucent vellum cut in a shape to continue the path in the picture.DLP-Week-28-J



I love this picture of Baby Boy at about 4 weeks old. He was being so sweet and calm while laying in my bed one night. I wanted to use this picture for this page to remember those sweet moments. The background is gelli printed with light blue and dark blue paint and bubble wrap. I used black paint and sponge painted lightly over the top of that. I painted the moon and stars with gray paint and brush. The stripes are a patterned scrapbook paper. The cloud is vellum with a white background.


Documented Life Project- Week 27

The challenge for Week 27 in the Documented Life Project was to “Add a crossword puzzle, suduko or word search.”

In pondering what to do for this challenge, I started thinking about my grandma. She loved doing crossword puzzles and any other word games. She was impossible to beat at Scrabble because she knew words that I thought she was making up. Since I recently started trying to draw faces I decided to sketch her face as part of my page. Here are my first three attempts (which are only the 4th, 5th and 6th faces I’ve drawn since learning that I can draw faces.)

Three FacesThey look like they could be three sisters, but they don’t look like my grandma. Here is the picture I was trying to sketch from:GrandmaBesides loving crossword puzzles, my grandma played the piano and organ at her church for over 60 years! My fourth attempt at drawing my grandma’s face looked more like my grandma and I decided to use it. My husband and I did a couple of crossword puzzles that I cut up for the background.DLP-Week-27-J


I’ve been trying to branch out with my art and be able to allow myself to make cutsie, unrealistic drawings. I came across this post from elvie studio on pinterest, which inspired me to do my page. I love my cute little animal blobs!


Documented Life Project- Week 26

The challenge for Week 26 in the Documented Life Project was to “Add a Bible verse that inspires you  – or a line from your favorite book.”

The verse I used is from Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” I wrote the verse on card stock with a marker and used metallic silver thread to machine stitch music staff lines. I cut treble clef and bass clef symbols as well as a few notes from card stock, filled them in with black marker and glued them in place.DLP-Week-26-JMelinda:

I had gelli printed my background a few weeks ago in preparation for the gratitude post, however, I didn’t want to use it for that page. I thought I should use it for my verse. I have had a hard time layering on my pages lately and wanted to work on that with this one. I used some zentangle as inspiration for my flowers. Then I used a cookie cutter as a stencil for the butterfly. I was happy with using more color this time too!DLP-Week-26-M


I Don’t Do Faces

I like to draw and want to increase my drawing skills.  Like anything else, getting better at something means you have to practice. So lately I have been trying to do more sketching of things– objects, landscapes, plants, etc. But I don’t do faces or any other human body parts. They are too hard, and I just wasn’t gifted in that area. Anyway, that’s what I told myself. At the beginning of this year I decided my word for the year was “stretch”. I wanted to stretch my creative self to try new things, learn new skills, and increase the skills I already had (as well as helping other people to stretch themselves creatively).

I recently borrowed a book from the library that has been on my future “someday I might want to buy this book” list for a long time. I think I even looked at it one time in a bookstore and noticed that a big section of it was devoted to drawing faces and hands and that is probably why it got put on the “someday” list. I have seen the book recommended from time to time in articles I’ve read, so I figured it would be a good thing to read…someday.

The book is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. The edition I read is the 1989 edition. I understand there are more current revisions of the book.  Her basic premise is that anyone can learn to draw once they’ve learned the five basic component skills, just like you can learn the basic skills of riding a bike or skiing. She considers them skills of “seeing” rather than skills of “drawing.” They are:

1. The perception of edges.
2. The perception of spaces.
3. The perception of relationships.
4. The perception of lights and shadows.
5. The perception of the whole.

She also explains the process of training your visual, perceptual right brain to take dominance over the verbal, analytic left brain in order to draw what you see rather then what you think something should be. “Drawing is not really very difficult. Seeing is the problem, or, to be more specific, shifting to a particular way of seeing.”

Her techniques have helped creative people in many fields besides art to “get their working skills under better control and learn to overcome blocks to creativity.”

So why does she include drawing faces in a book geared to beginners? Here is her answer:

Let me explain why I think portrait drawing is useful as a subject for beginners in art. Broadly speaking, all drawing is the same. One drawing task is no harder than any other. The same skills and ways of seeing are involved in drawing still-life setups, landscapes, the figure, random objects, even imaginary subjects, and portrait drawing. It’s all the same thing: you see what’s out there…and you draw what you see.

Why, then, have I selected portrait drawing for some of the exercises? For three reasons. First, beginning students of drawing often think that drawing human faces is the hardest of all kinds of drawing. Thus when students see that they can draw portraits, they feel confident and their confidence enhances progress. A second, more important, reason is that the right hemisphere of the human brain is specialized for recognition of faces. Since the right brain is the one we will be trying to gain access to, it makes sense to choose a subject that the right brain is used to working with. And third, faces are fascinating!

The first pre-instruction exercise is to do some drawings of specific things, one of which was to look at someone and draw their head. I was watching my granddaughter and drew her head. The results were no surprise to me because I can’t draw faces! It did not look like her.Pre-drawing Exercise of FaceI proceeded through the book enjoying doing most of the exercises and then came the chapter on faces. After reading through the lessons and doing the exercises, I am no longer saying, “I can’t do faces.” I actually enjoyed it and want to continue practicing and stretching myself.

The following images are my first three faces. I was looking at a couple of magazine pictures and one picture from the internet when I drew them. I started to include the photographs so you could see how close I got to the original, but since I don’t know who to give credit to, I decided to leave them off. Anyway, I am satisfied that my drawings look like they could be actual people!Face Drawings

If you want to learn to see differently as you learn to express your creativity, I recommend getting Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.

Documented Life Project- Week 25

Cover your page with hearts was the challenge for Week 25 in the Documented Life Project.

I like hearts, but I wanted to do something different. My idea was to somehow layer “see through” hearts. It’s been a while since I used my alcohol inks (I am pretty new at using them and not sure what all I can do with them. So I pulled them out along with some scraps of laminating sheets I had saved to see how the ink would work on them. Alcohol inks work best on nonporus items. I “painted” the laminating sheet strips with the alcohol ink by dropping the ink in spots and letting them do their thing. I also added drops of rubbing alcohol for more creative design. After making the green strips, I sprinkled coarse salt on the wet ink for a little different look. (I knew you could do that with watercolor, so thought I’d give it a try.)Laminating Sheet Alcohol InksWhen the ink was completely dry, I cut out heart shapes and leaves and stems and started randomly layering the laminated pieces to make a flower picture. I am really excited about the way it turned out and will probably use some of the leftover pieces (I inked way more than I used) to make some pretty cards.DLP-Week-25-J-Hearts

Melinda:DLP-Week-25-MI had a gift card and a coupon to go shop at Michaels, so I decided to buy Micron pens because the ones I have are almost used up. I’ve been needing to catch up with my pages so I decided to doodle my hearts while I was in a meeting for our ministry.

Documented Life Project- Week 24

Week 24 challenge in the Documented Life Project was to use book text. In case you are just starting to follow our blog, Melinda and I are participating in the Documented Life Project by using the challenges as art projects. This year we have not been doing the journal/planner part of the project. We invite you to join us in doing the challenges to stretch your creativity in new ways. There is no right way or wrong way to do the challenges. You don’t even have to show anyone what you do if you are not comfortable with that yet. Melinda and I are showing you what we come up with for each challenge to help you see how each one can be interpreted in different ways. Sometimes we feel great about what we’ve made and sometimes not so much. But we are trying new things and learning and growing in our creative journeys. Come on the journey with us!

I really did not know what direction I was going to go with this challenge. I had no ideas even roaming around in my head. So I just started gelli printing on some pages from an old book of inspirational quotes and sayings (which I purchased at a yard sale for this purpose) and some card stock. When Melinda saw one of the gelli prints, she said it reminded her of a giraffe. That was all the encouragement I needed.DLP-Week-24-J


I found this quote that I liked in the book mom used for hers. At first I was trying to make flowers out of pages from that book. . .and failed miserably. So I cut the flowers up and mod podged the pieces to the page. After that was dry, I painted over it and finished my page off with the quote.