Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What ordinary-ness makes you *gasp*?

What is it about seeing ordinary things out of context that makes me *gasp*?

I had an extra 30 minutes in New York City last week (okay, I blatantly stole the time from my babysitter) and I happened to stroll into JCrew (busted again: I was looking for sunglasses I didn't need). Walking up their stairs, I *gasped*, nearly missed a stair and fell over. Hanging above the rail were gloves. Hundreds of them. Antique ones, all different patterns and colors and sizes. Lined up against each other. Stunning, even in their ordinary-ness.
So it got me to thinking... what is is about seeing {art} like that? The creativity of color and pattern, the feeling of days gone by, the essence of a time when women were more formal, and deliberate attention was paid to what covered their delicate hands.
Which brings me to ask:
What makes you *gasp* in your ordinary days? (You are gasping, right?...)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

That Is Ridiculous

Many things in my life are ridiculous.  Being the parent of two small children means my day is awash in funny, exasperating, ridiculous moments.  Case in point:  As a single childless woman, at the merest suggestion of vomit I would instinctively recoil; as a parent, my instinct is to catch it in my hand.  That is ridiculous.

Last week, as I was heading out the door, my daughter asked me "Mommy, can I lick the furniture?"   I'm not sure which was more ridiculous:  the question, or the fact that I then had a 10 minute discussion wherein I tried to explain why licking the furniture wasn't a good idea.  (Turns out, there really isn't a reason that is compelling to a 3-year-old.)  That is ridiculous.

It's ridiculous that, as we drive down the highway, my furniture-licking daughter yells out a running commentary which amounts to an account of my consumption habits that would make Google envious:  "...the train goes fast on theBARNES-AND-OBULL!tracks and Thomas went to pick up the brass band forSTARBUCKS!Mr. Toppenhat and can I have a playdate withHOMEDEPOT!and can we go to the playgroundIKEA!......"  That is ridiculous.

There are other kinds of ridiculous.  It's ridiculous how today that car swerved unexpectedly into my lane, raced to pass two cars in the middle lane, and then wildly veered over two more busy lanes to an exit ramp which apparently was SUPER important to get to within the next .3 microseconds.  That is ridiculous.

It's ridiculous to stand in line at the DMV for 3 hours.  Nothing funny about that.  Just ridiculous.  Just mutter-under-your-breath, text-everyone-you-know, read-every-magazine-in-your-purse, stare-daggers-at-the-gum-chewer, still-have-90-minutes-to-go ridiculous.

It's ridiculous how I cannot seem to correctly type the word "ridiculous" despite having grossly overused it in this post.  Totally ridubiouls.

It's ridiculous how cute it is when my youngest daughter nods and says the word "yes"-- it comes out as a solemn "Yish" and instead of nodding her chin up and down, she bobs her whole upper body.  That is ridiculously cute.

It's ridiculous that I once lived on a street with a slightly unusual name, so I spelled out the address whenever ordering by phone, which resulted in my receiving a package addressed to me at "Warbler Next Word Way."  That is ridiculous.

These little pockets of ridiculousness are gifts.  A momentary jolt of humor or unexpectedness snaps us out of our routine and focuses our attention on what's happening right now.  Don't let them slip away.  Honor these ridiculous gems in your life by crafting a visual journal page, or keeping a blackboard chalked with your children's funny sayings, or snapping a photograph and pasting it to card with a caption.  Just appreciate them, savor them.  (Except maybe the DMV one.  I'll give you a free pass on that one.)  They keep our lives fresh, unpredictable, and unique.

Share some of your ridiculous moments with us, and send us pictures of your craft creation!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A journal by any other name is not as sweet

I do "visual journaling". It's a new-fangled word for something artists have been doing for years, which is basically, journaling visually. Just like it sounds. There's some writing, some images and almost always a thought or a question prompting it.

I started doing it about 3 years ago and my practice survived largely due to taking Kelly Kilmer's online "A Prompt a Day" class. It really took off when my "real" artist friend challenged me to create art -- anything -- every single day for one year. She gave me a big beautiful journal in which to do it. And I did. Crazy.
Now, I find visual journaling is what keeps me sane half of the time. It's where I get my ya-ya's out. 

Sometimes it happens to come out pretty, but mostly it's simply for me. One of the biggest challenges has been to share my pages. I feel raw and cut open putting my real (often ugly) feelings out into the world to be judged, praised, dismissed. But that's part of being on my journey: staying vulnerable. Even when it's scary. Even when it hurts.

Do you journal? Do you feel in images? Take a leap and start doing it daily. Rip, paste, write, breathe. Even a teeny little notebook can hold a whole lot.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I am my mother's daughter. I say it loud; I say it proud!

I am my mother's daughter. I'm sure of that. One hundred percent. I got my dad's chest, legs, and love for salting beer, but I got my mother's soul-filled creative whimsy. She loves tap dancing in elevators and marching down the sidewalk with her folded umbrella held high. She bursts into show tunes mid sentence. She can stop any battery-operated clock cold. But best of all, she can take anything simple and make it look fabulous, all on budget.

I was raised in a small Iowa town where we were always well taken care of and well fed, but we didn't have a lot of money-- my dad was a tractor salesman. But somehow, everything looked great: Mom's magic touch.

Recently, in our new home, My Man and I decided to put our huge L.A. dining room table in the attic and use my butcher's block art table for eating, and we needed new chairs. Following a Design*Sponge lead, I found these pretty, classic chiavari chairs at Gala Source on-line for a good price. I primed them and jazzed them up with blue spray paint.

I love the way they turned out!

All the while I was fixing them, I thought about Mom and how she worked her magic with paint, wallpaper, duct tape, and her sewing machine. (To this day, the smell of fresh paint transports me -- it reminds me of the summers when she'd repaint my room, and made me feel like a princess!) We're all on a budget these days, and reclaiming, refurnishing, redoing is becoming standard. Having learned it at my mother's knee, I'm so glad to be my mother's daughter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roll 'Em Coasters!

Oooooh boy!  Look what I found at my local TJMaxx:

Your perplexed silence tells me that you may not yet feel my same enthusiasm for this wondrous discovery.  But oh, the possibilities!  First of all, this cute container, once empty, will be a terrific ribbon dispenser.  Second, about a krafillion paper coasters, which means:   TAGS!  Super easy tags!  Take 3 tools, 2 minutes, and tada!-- tags galore.  I'll show you how.

Step one:  Take one paper coaster.

Step two:  Punch a hole in it.

Step three:  Stamp or write "To:"  and "From:".
(I constantly use my "To From" stamp, and highly recommend getting one or several.  The ink is ColorBox Moss green, which happened to coordinate perfectly.)

Step four:  Tie a ribbon through the hole

Step five:  Do a whole bunch more!

How simple and awesome is that?  Pretty, multi-purpose tags ready to label that last minute present.  (In fact, make about 20 and package them together in a handmade pocket, and that could BE the present!)

You don't have to limit yourself to tags, either.  I took home a coaster from my local diner, stamped a design on it, and glued it on a journal.

Periodically peruse the stationery sections of your local Home Goods or TJMaxx for real treasures.  (I got my coasters for $2 on the clearance shelf!  Woohoo!)  But if you are itching to make some coaster tags and your grocery store doesn't carry any, try here and here for cute, moderately priced coasters.

And of course, they work just fine under drinks too.

Create something fun with your coasters and send us the pictures!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Paper the House

I really like paper.  It borders on a fetish.  Some people binge-eat, some overtan, some drink too much wine...I buy paper.  It's a general crafting product weakness--Michael's might as well slap on a cover charge as I walk in the door, because I never leave without dropping some serious bucks--but paper is my particular Achilles Heel.  It doesn't matter where I am (do you know anyone else who impulse buys paper at the grocery store?), if there is a paper product in the vicinity, especially in a conveniently themed pad or attractively packaged box, I will own it.  Sometimes I even use it, crafting cards, journals, and tags, or in my business (we host creative crafting workshops--we need paper! she justifies strenuously).  But mostly?  I hoard it.  I just...like to have it.  I like to know I have it and to look at it and to think that I might use it for that mythical perfect project.  Don't judge.  Just join me in my obsession and take a look at just a few of my favorite paper sites and products.

Seven Gypsies is a beautiful site, crammed with amazing things.  Take a look at this and this and this, and tell me you aren't filled with greed.

Etsy is an obvious destination, although potentially overwhelming with literally tens of thousands of choices just for paper products.  But here are a few items I love:  paper and tags and cards and sundry.

Oh, the damage I can do on these sites.  Take a look and share some of your favorites with us!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

being imperfect sucks. (or does it?)

Struggle struggle struggle. Seems like I'm struggling all day long. Why? To be perfect, of course. I want to be perfect. The job/presentation/art/book has to be *perfect*. My hair/bed/outfit/home/car/bag has to be *perfect*. And the funny thing? It never is. Hello, Frustration, my name is Emily.

So with the wise, guiding help of Brene Brown and her book, "The Gift of Imperfection",

I'm taking a good look at my imperfections and my constant (annoying) strive for perfection. I'm learning to live with -- and enjoy! -- being imperfect. For example:

     *I did a "cleanse" and included all my daily doses of chocolate, blue corn chips, cheese, and coffee. Easiest cleanse I've ever done.
     *We recently moved and I'm embracing the imperfections of not having great furniture, enough furniture, or the right color furniture. or curtains. or rugs. I'm loving the space and ease of our "beach house".
     *The previously blogged-about blocks I gifted to my partner Deborah were silly lessons in imperfections. She loves them - and me - warts and all.

And then I heard from a few friendly clients how much they love Doodlebugheart's Basic Bug Craft Box, but they just can't seem to start work on it because it's too white and clean (read: too "perfect") and knew something had to be done! Come along with me as I discover making my own imperfect 'Bug Box. Maybe you'll get some ideas of your own.

The Doodlebugheart Basic Bug Craft Kit, as it begins. Pretty!

Below is the box with peach-colored gesso on it -- this is special gesso I scored from the Gorgeous Suzy Foy at Lisa Sonora Beam's Gorgeous Genius Workshop in Puerta Vallarta! (btw, gesso is simply a fancy name for primer. It makes the surface more tactile and things stick better on it than the 'Box's original gloss surface. I gesso everything.)

Peach gesso-ed 'Box

This is the ephemera (paper cuttings and photographs) I chose to work with today.
I roughly lay out the photos and words where I think I might want them before I glue them down.

Emphera laid out on the box.

Emphera glued on.
I also beat the box with a hammer before gluing things down, just to soften it a bit. It felt very risky -- would the box hold? - but it also felt good. And kinda naughty.

Don't forget the inside! I put this fun hot pink duct tape (wrapped around a piece of cardboard) to give it compartments.
Then I painted and stamped the inside.

The inside's finished!
And voila! I painted dots and added stamped on words to finish up the outside. I might add a little tab of fabric (via staple mosh pit of course!) on the lid, but this is it! A perfectly imperfect Doodlebugheart Basic Bug Box. Now show me yours!

Finished Imperfection box!
Who wants it? Join our blog's mailing list, send us a comment and/or a photo of your imperfections, and we'll enter you in the raffle!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I'm a grownup.  I have the tax returns to prove it. But I wanted a set of blocks sooooooo bad.  Not kiddie blocks, with glaring primary colors and goofy numbers and letters.  No, I wanted a sophisticated set of blocks, preferably white, with...ok, with numbers and letters.  I saw a set of adorable wooden alphabet blocks in a catalog, and immediately I had to have them.  I had so many creative, artistic, useful tasks in mind for them, not the least of which was spelling out inspirational words while looking cute on my mantle.  But the ones I wanted were pricey.  Far too pricey for far too frivolous an item.  I might neeeeeeed them, but I didn't really need them.  So I ripped the page out of the catalog and put it in my wish list file.  I showed it to Emily first (my best friend and business partner, and co-founder of this blog and Doodlebugheart)--she agreed they were fabulous and that we neeeeeeded them at some point, but our business budget didn't allow for unnecessary splurges at this point.


Jump cut: 6 months later.  Emily comes over for a work session, bearing a large, beautifully wrapped box.  She hands it to me with a big smile, wishing me a belated birthday.

I open it up, and there they lay, nestled beautifully in an assortment of rich gold tissue papers:  Blocks.  Not just any blocks.  The perfect blocks.  White, clean, with letters and numbers of the perfect font, and best of all--handcrafted by Emily.  They are gorgeous and artistic and exactly what I had envisioned.  Better than the ones in the catalog, because they were made just for me by someone who cares for me and who knows what I like.

Now, my birthday was two months ago.  So Emily explained she started well before my birthday, but went through a bit of an ordeal to get the blocks made.  First challenge:  finding blocks the right size in the right quantity.  Found them--ugly, but nothing a little paint wouldn't fix.  But apparently these were made from some crazy, sponge-aspiring absorbent wood that ate up multiple coats of paint, requiring many trips to the store and a few searches to match the shade, not to mention dry time.  Then the letters she tried to adhere initially wouldn't stick, so she had to repaint and start over, ordering new letters.  Another two weeks pass before they are delivered.  Then the painstaking transfer process, making sure there is enough variety and repetition of letters for spelling out the most important words (she made a list beforehand to make sure she knew which letters would repeat the most).  And then the final finishing stage, not to mention the box decorating.  A fairly involved project.  But oh.  The final product so very worth it.  So beautiful and so meaningful and touching. 

This little saga, told by Emily with a great deal of laughing exasperation, made me start thinking about blocks.  About these particular blocks, in their concrete form.  About the potential in them.  Just a jumble of nonsense letters until I have an idea, a purpose, and then they become a lovely expression of that intention.  We have so many of these building blocks in our lives, resources that are just jumbled up, not useful or meaningful to us, until we can clarify our thoughts and organize those resources into something that speaks to us.  Maybe it's people in our lives that we haven't brought together, or whose experiences we don't draw upon to help us in our endeavors.  Maybe it's clutter on our desk that prevents us from accomplishing tasks efficiently.  Maybe it's a closet of clothes that need to laundered, repaired, donated, sorted.  Or maybe the building blocks are more esoteric, education we've accumulated that we don't utilize; money we let slip through our fingers; time we spend with tv or internet instead of projects or people that might satisfy us more. There are so many areas of our lives where we have building blocks just waiting for us to arrange them in a meaningful way.  It's the difference between a mantle of blocks that says "aemrd", and one that says "dream".

And then there's another kind of block.  A block that means you are stuck.  Writer's block.  Creative blocks.  Financial blocks.  And one of the things Doodlebugheart talks about, especially in our workshops, is how these blocks and the transitions between them are the opportunity, the moment to create, both literally and figuratively.  Blocks can be so useful.  (Doesn't mean you have to like them.  Just that they can be a good thing ultimately.) The financial block meant I didn't have immediate gratification, didn't buy the product right then, which gave Emily the opportunity to make them for me instead, and I ended up with something so much more tailored to what I wanted, and so much more meaningful to me.  The creative blocks Emily ran into meant that she had to be more inventive, give up the "perfection need" and problem-solve, and she had to practice persistence.

(As for writer's block:  clearly I didn't have any this time!  Not every post will be this long, but I had a lot of ideas I wanted to share, and which I hope to explore more along the way.  But rest assured, some light-hearted brevity is in store, too!)

That's why I chose this for our very first post, because it's everything we talk about:  overcoming blocks and hurdles; process; creativity and self-expression; and generosity and fulfillment from giving time and energy and connection.  That's what this blog, what our company Doodlebugheart, is all about. Creating.  Blocks.  Process.  Fulfillment. 

Share with us blocks that have ended up being a blessing in your life.  And join us in this journey of self-discovery and self-espression that we call Doodlebugheart.