Monday, July 17, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately: July 2017

It's been another slow reading month for me.  It seems like every time I sit down to read I end up falling asleep.  Such is the season of my life, I suppose.  Knowing that means that these books are good enough to keep me awake. High praise, in my opinion.  What have you been reading lately?

The Nightingale
There are a lot of WWII novels out there. I'm always a bit hesitant to pick up a new one, but I'm so glad I finally read The Nightingale. It's a little bit spy novel, a little bit romance all set in the context of a small town in France during WWII.  It's like a cross between Code Name VeritySarah's Key and The Nazi Officer's Wife.  The story is beautifully told, the characters are endearing and I've found myself thinking about this book often since I finished it.  As a warning, it has some heartbreaking scenes (as you can imagine from a novel of this genre).  I was literally sobbing in the car while I listened to a particularly difficult scene near the end. I loved that the ending seemed very realistic and that everything was not wrapped up in a nice, tidy, happy bow.


This books is about letting go of our sins so we can become who God intended us to be. It is written from an LDS perspective and contains a lot of terminology and references specific to that religion, but I feel like the principles can be applied to any Christian life.  My major takeaway was that we are given our weaknesses in order to bring us closer to Christ.  It contains specific and actionable examples for how to create change and maintain it in our everyday lives.

The Bronte Sisters

I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating biography of some of literature's best-loved sisters. Before reading this book I had a limited knowledge of the Bronte sisters' story. I loved learning more about them and their perseverance in the face of rejection, sexism and health trials. The book explains briefly each of their published works and inspired me to read the books of theirs that I haven't already.

Head to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more quick recommendations.
Read More »

Thursday, July 13, 2017

What I Learned from Failing at my 100 Day Project

Last year I completed a successful 100 Day Project and this year I failed miserably. If you're unfamiliar with the 100 Day Project, it's a pretty simple concept:  you set a goal to work on a creative project every day for 100 consecutive days. It could be anything from writing a novel to trying new recipes.  Head here to learn more.

Last year I did 100 Days of Watercolor Lettering.  It fit in very well with my overall goal for the year of completing a lettering spread every day (scroll back through my Instagram feed to see all 365 lettering pieces from last year).

My project this year was 100 Days of Embroidery Hoops.  I have hundreds of ideas for embroidery patterns that I want to design, stitch and list in my shop.  I felt like this would be the perfect way to crank some of those ideas out and check them off my list. My original plan was to finish one hoop per day.  I quickly learned that this was not a good season for me to be completing a hundred embroidery hoops in a hundred days. I changed my goal to be 100 days of working on embroidery and even that fell by the wayside before too long.

 Here are some things I learned about how to have a successful 100 Day Project:

--My time is finite.  Just because I WANT to do another project and I have many ideas for that project does not mean that now is a good time to make it happen.  I could absolutely have been successful with 100 Days of Embroidery, if I was willing to give up other things. I was unwilling to give up my daily sketchbook practice (that's where all the ideas for the embroidery hoops came from in the first place) and creating content for this blog and the study guide I was writing. I couldn't lock myself in my room and ignore my children or our house or my other responsibilities.  So I had to let the embroidery goal go.

--Do something you are super excited about.  If you are not bubbling over with enthusiasm on day 1 of your 100 Day Project, you will not suddenly find more excitement for it on day 72.

-- Choose something related to what you do everyday. Last year I was successful because I did 100 Days of Watercolor Lettering and I was already working on my Year of Hand Lettering so it was just a more specific version of a project I was already working on.  This year I tried adding a whole new project that would take quite a bit of time each day in addition to my projects that were already going on.

--It's okay to change and adapt your goal. If you find that your original goal was too lofty, it's okay to change it and adapt it to real life.

-- Take some time to think it through and make plans ahead of time.  Your project will go much more smoothly if you do a little pre-planning.  Figure out when and where you'll work on it, purchase supplies you need to get started, make lists of ideas to help you through the days you feel stuck. Brainstorming and preparing ahead of time will make a huge difference in your ability to finish the project.

While I'm a little discouraged that I wasn't able to pull this goal off, I feel like I learned a lot about myself and what my limits are. I'm already dreaming and planning for another (more reasonable) creative challenge next year.
Read More »

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Altered Hymnbook Art Journal

Over the past 2.5 years, I've spent some time creating art every single day.  Some days I have more time than others, but I try to fit in at least one sketchbook page each day.  (You can follow along on Instagram to see my daily pages.)  One of my favorite ongoing projects has been working in an altered hymnbook that I bought used at a thrift store for a couple of dollars.  I try to paint in it each Sunday.   Often the hymn I paint is one we sang at church that day or one that has been running through my mind recently.

I don't typically use gesso, I'm just careful about how much water I apply.  My most-often used supplies are these Prang Watercolors (a really great, inexpensive option) or Winsor Newton watercolors (more expensive, but really lovely),  micron pens and I love my Signo Uniball White gel pen.

Music is powerful and I love the chance to ponder lyrics as I paint.

Read More »