Everyday art with the kiddos

Last night, the boys and I spent about 30 minutes drawing and painting…music on, supplies out and just making. C1 worked on a poster for a story he wrote and C2 played with the watercolors. I looked through some books on hand lettering and worked on that a bit. It only lasted about 20 minutes, but it was a nice 20 minutes.

We are trying to incorporate art time in our daily life more and more. This is something I really have to be intentional about because it isn’t on the “to do” list. It’s as much for me as it is for the kids, as they get art time at school, but I love to see what they create, and I think it’s good for them to see “grown ups” being (or trying to be) creative. Here are some ideas that have worked for us to make this a more regular thing for us.

Keep the supplies handy
It sounds obvious, but sometimes the idea of dragging out the supplies or digging through the craft closet to find the right thing is just too much. We have several pencil boxes and a couple of mason jars that hold our various supplies. Our basic supplies include colored pencils, markers, watercolor paints and brushes and a big bucket of crayons. We also love this inexpensive Ikea paper holder and roll for keeping paper at hand. We’ve started keeping our supplies on the bottom shelf of the shelves in our front room. These are easy for myself or the kids to pull off the shelf so we can use whatever it is that we choose at the time.  It doesn’t always look neat, but I’m okay with that if it means we are creating more often.

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Take an online class together or find tutorials to do together
This has been key for getting my older son to do art more often. We have loved doing several Creativebug classes together. Most recently, we’ve been doing the January Drawing Challenge (art from that seen above). We haven’t been doing it daily, but when we have a minute, I let him pick what he wants to try to draw from the list and we just draw for a bit. A subscription to something like that might not be in the budget, but there are lots of other resources you can use for something similar including YouTube videos, library books, etc.

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Let go of always needing a “project” 
My younger son’s school has really taught me the value of a blank piece of paper. They don’t do coloring pages, only blank pages, giving the kids more freedom to create. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against coloring pages, but this practice has helped me let go of feeling like in order for us to do art, we need a project or a goal. Some days, I just ask the kids what supplies they want to use and let them go. Other days, our art is brought on by a discovery, like the pine cones found on the way home from school. These art times don’t always require my scouring pinterest for ideas, though I still do like doing those projects sometimes, as well.

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Be encouraging
I often find myself wanting to correct or critique, but really, the fun in all of it is seeing what they make without my fuddy-duddy ways interfering, so let them create. Tell them how great the paper that is more water than watercolors turned out. Let them tell you the story of what it shows. Tonight, C2 told me (regarding his monster truck with sea creature stickers stuck to it above) “mom, this is special”. I had to agree. I know I won’t be getting these sorts of creations forever, so I’m trying to let go of critiques and just enjoy what they make.

Planner things I love

I am really loving my Inkwell Press planner. I think my favorite part is the marking of a new month with a new mission board and setting up the new monthly pages.  This month, I spread out every possible thing I might use on my table when getting it going, though some months I keep it more simple.

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Even with all of these things piled on the table (and it got messier before it got better), there were three things that stood out as my current planner favorites.

  1. Top Left: The green ruler
    I keep this ruler in the front pocket of my planner so I always have it on hand. I use it to draw lines to divide my days on my daily pages, add check boxes for my to-do items and to add a little hexagon to the page where I list what we’re having for dinner so it’s easy for me to find.  I didn’t anticipate how much I would use this guy, but I do love it.
  2. Middle: My washi tape dispenser
    Okay, the dispenser itself is nothing special, really, but I do love this washi tape. It is thin enough to use on my monthly page to highlight certain days, has a good variety of colors so I can color code things and it is okay to write on (you just have to let it dry or it will smear).
  3. Top Right: Carpe Diem stickers
    Mary-Heather sent me these and I love them! I use them for birthdays on my monthly calendar and for other reminders and alerts on my daily spread. There are a lot of different stickers to choose from so I can always find something that is applicable to the thing I want to highlight and they are small enough so they fit in okay.

I mostly like to keep things in my planner simple. I’m afraid if I try to make it too complex, I won’t keep up with it. But, it is fun to play with it a bit, too, and these three things are making it fun to play while still allowing me to keep things simple. Here’s a picture of one my daily pages where you can see all of these three things at work.

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I went ahead and drew my little checkboxes ahead of time this week. I only drew three on each side (one is work and one is personal) but I can add more as needed, or erase them since I wrote them in with my Frixion erasable pen (another thing I love). I also put the little barbell sticker in there so I can record what I did for my workout.

Hope this little glimpse into some of my favorite planner things right now is helpful! I’d love to hear about the things you are using in your planner (or bullet journal, etc) that are your current favorites, as well.

Five on Friday

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Just five random things to end the week.

  1. I have been working on an embroidery project and it almost got put in time out last night due to the fact that I couldn’t thread the needle. Mary Heather to the rescue! She suggested I check out this method and it worked like a charm.
  2. I’ve been making my bed almost every day this year, so far. I started doing it before reading this post, but this post really made me think about the positive impacts of small actions and being disciplined in small areas of life.
  3. This weekend it will be time for the boys and I to start talking about what Valentines they want to do for their friends. I have some ideas on my Valentines pinterest board, but would love to hear if you have seen any cute/creative ideas lately.
  4. I’m firing up my Project Life documenting again this weekend, and setting up my planner for next month. With all of the writing down I’m doing lately, I really want to play with hand lettering more, so I have put a couple of books on hold from the library. I’m also hoping to watch more of Shayda Campbell’s videos on hand lettering and to play along. It seems like it will be fun to play with even if my results aren’t spectacular.
  5. It is supposed to be beautiful out this weekend, so we’re going to go pick strawberries! The photo above is from last year’s strawberry picking adventure. I know, it’s crazy early for strawberries, but we are at the beginning of the season for them here, so it’s time to start stocking our freezer with good locally grown strawberries for smoothies the rest of the year. Plus, they have fried pies….man, I love their fried pies.

Inside my Craft Closet

We moved into this house in July, and I’m still not unpacked. As is expected, I unpacked most of the other rooms (there is still a box or two floating around) before getting to my office. One thing about this house is it has great closets, but the closets don’t have any structure built-in.  When I began unpacking things into my office, I knew I was going to have to find a way to add structure and more defined storage to the office closet.  I wanted to do this without spending a lot of money, so of course I hit up IKEA and then hunted around the house for other storage boxes and things I already had to see what would help tame the chaos.

At Ikea, I got the shoe organizer in the upper left. I love this thing, especially for the price. Each little compartment either has an in progress project in it or some notions I want easy access to, like pom pom makers. I also got the Hyllis shelves in the bottom picture. They are very utilitarian but perfect for a project like this, and short enough to fit under the closet railing which was kind of hard to find. I still need to do some organization there, but wanted to show how they turned out.  In the top right picture, I found some dollar store bins and they were perfect to put on top of a small shelf I have. One of them is holding sewing patterns and the other one has stationary and stickers in it. In the middle is one of my favorite little fabric bins that Carolyn gave me years ago.

After months of having my crafty stuff in boxes, it is so nice to see it again! I thought I was fine living out of boxes, but it is really inspiring to have the books and supplies out and within reach. I’m hoping it will provide a little crafty motivation.

All the hats!

We were heading to Colorado for a few days to see friends and play in the snow, so I decided the boys needed hats. Luckily, that was something I could take care of rather quickly, as knits go.

I started C2’s a week or so before our trip, but it took me a while because I was also prepping for the trip and getting the house in order after the holidays. I finished it the night before the trip – just in time!  You can find the pattern/yarn details on my Ravelry project page.

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I started C1’s hat on the plane, so it was knit fast and furious. This was my first time using Anzula’s For Better or Worsted and oh my is it nice. I worked on the hat on the plane, that night while hanging with friends and in the car the next morning on the way up the mountain for sledding and finished it just as we were getting out of the car. The details are on my Ravelry project page.

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I really needed some quick knits to get things rolling, and these hats were just the thing! The boys loved the snow and the hats kept them warm and toasty.

 

Big Plans

I haven’t had a paper planner in years, and have been pretty happy with my bullet journal system.  However, the one hold up for me with the bullet journal was in setting up the new pages, primarily the month at a view calendar pages.  I liked having one each month to consult, but when a new month came and I had to set it up, I never could get going on it.

So, when Mary Heather mentioned that there was a mini-planner for the last few months of the year, I figured it was a good non-committal way of trying out the paper system before investing a lot of money in it.

I tried it and loved it, so in the last two weeks, I’ve been getting set up for 2016.  First off, I ordered the Inkwell Press A5 inserts (they are out of stock now, but they are making quarterly planners that are pretty similar to the mini-planner I have been using).  I decided to go with the inserts thinking it would be easier to also incorporate some standalone lists in a binder, rather than in a bound planner.  I love me some lists, and the bullet journal method really helped me sort out bigger projects, so I still plan to use those strategies in this planner.

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Then, I picked up the pink Carpe Diem planner binder along with a few accessories last week.  The Carpe Diem planner does come with it’s own inserts, and I kept some of the pieces from those inserts in here, while primarily using the Inkwell inserts.  It came in yesterday, so I spent some time last night cutting apart my mini-planner and inserting that along with the inserts for the first three months of next year into my binder.

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I basically saw the polkadots on the inside, and had to have it.  I also love the one large pocket on the inside left, along with the several smaller ones for holding business cards, receipts, etc.  I haven’t used it for long, so can’t really give a product review, but I’m pretty excited about using this for the next year or so!

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I don’t embellish my planner much, but I’m a sucker for cute stationary items, and let’s face it, these stickers had me at “Like a Boss”.  I got the stickers and the post it notes bookmark, which slips in and out of the binder rings really easily so you can move it around as needed.  I liked the idea of having the little post-its handy.

So far, using a paper planner is helping me keep track of my tasks, but also, it is helping me to feel accomplished at the end of the day.  I often feel like I’m not getting enough done, but when I look back at the day and see the things that I did complete, I feel really great about it.  It is also helping me to limit my tasks for each day.  I can always add a post-it note to the page to add more things to my list, but I’ve found that if I fill up the little space available for the day, I’ve probably got enough things lined up, especially since other tasks seem to pop up. A lot of my “to do’s” are big umbrella items – like answer 75 emails – so your mileage may vary.  I didn’t really expect to be a paper planner convert, but it has happened!

Jess reminded me that Inkwell Press has a referral program that enables people to save $10 off of their first purchase of more than $50, and gives me some rewards, too, so here’s my link if you are interested!  :)

Finished Newsom!

I feel like I’ve talked a lot about my Newsom cardigan already, but it is finished now so I had to share the finished item!

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The good: The pattern was really fun! I loved the construction and it was really easy to follow. Thanks for a great pattern, Bristol! Also, the yarn is amazing. It has great drape and is so soft.  I used the yarn called for by the pattern, Mrs. Crosby Hat Box.

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The bad: The bad isn’t really even that bad, as I think I can fix it. I wish the body was a smidge longer. I may try reblocking the body to see if I can make it just a bit longer. Even if I can’t, I think this will be a great everyday sweater that will see a ton of wear this winter.

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The ugly: Nothing ugly here, except maybe the fact that it took me eight months to finish. I have long arms and got stuck on the sleeves. They seemed to take forever. I’m ready to make some quick gratification projects now!

 

Trusting the Swatch

I did a swatch before making my Newsom cardigan.  I washed it and dried it and measured it before and after so I could see how much it grew.  I got gauge and moved forward with my project.

Then, I bound off my cardigan. And panicked a bit.  It didn’t fit! It was way too short in the body.  This is not unusual for me since I’m on the tallish side, which probably makes me all the more worried about it.  And then I remembered, my swatch grew.

To be honest, I still didn’t really trust that my sweater would work out okay.  I feared that my sweater would behave differently from the swatch, but I washed it and sure enough…it grew.

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So, if I’m going to bother to swatch, I should probably trust it.  Not all swatches lie ;)  Finished pictures coming tomorrow, I hope!

 

Frogged

Last night, I had a finished sweater.  With just ends left to weave in before blocking, I had just about reached the finish line on my Newsom cardigan.  Then, this morning, while weaving in ends, I noticed a tension problem at one edge that made it look like there was a hole in the knitting.  No amount of futzing with the problem made it look right.  It was, of course, right on the front edge of the cardigan.  I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I frogged 2″ of garter stitch I had knit at the end of the sweater to get back past the problem spot.  That 2″ took me a long time.  I did all I could to avoid it, but it was inevitable, I had to frog.By the end of my frogging, I had these four little balls of yarn, and 2″ of garter stitch ahead of me, so I got started…again.

I feel like I have knit this sweater at least twice at this point (all of my own doing, my own mistakes, the pattern is great).  It’s a good thing I think I’m going to love this sweater and be able to wear it all the time because that’s the only thing that will make up for all of this frogging.

Scenes from Sunday

Today has included…


Setting up the tent in the front yard so we could clean it out after C1’s camp out this weekend.

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Boys sword fighting in the driveway.

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A little bit of bike riding close to the house.

And, not pictured, a whole lot of knitting in an effort to finish my Newsom Cardigan. Almost there!