As I’m sitting here with the most beautiful fall sunset outside my window, I wanted to share with you a bit about a new art medium I’ve been exploring: alcohol inks. Last year, my friend allowed me to use some of her alcohol inks and it was so much fun! We completely lost track of time as we were pouring inks onto paper, letting the colors drip and swirl, and watching it do its magic!
I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. My art style used to be very photo-realistic. Eventually, I didn’t like working in this style as much anymore as it felt I wasn’t putting much of myself into my art and that taking a beautiful photograph was much quicker!
I started working on simplifying my illustrations over time, which to be honest, was also a result of being a new mom and having very little time for creative work.
Working with alcohol inks has added yet another dimension to my creative explorations. Its fluid nature is impossible to control so it’s a perfect medium if you want to loosen up your art.
These art prints are inspired by the beautiful nature here in the Pacific Northwest. Moving here from Holland, I was struck by the vast, open spaces in this area, the mountains, rivers so clear you could see right through to the rocks, as well as the many, many trees! If you’ve been following me on instagram where I post many of my nature photographs, you know I try to get outdoors with my family and enjoy nature as much as I can.
Working in alcohol inks will not be a year-around medium for me as I prefer to work with these materials outdoors. The fumes kind of get to me so since I live in the Pacific Northwest, this art medium will be one for summer only!
This summer, I created three alcohol ink paintings of which I made reproductions which are available in my etsy shop. If you like any of these art prints, please click on the image and you'll be able to check availability on that particular print. As always, thank you so much for your support of my art!
Do these art prints remind you of a favorite place you’ve visited in nature? What is your favorite nature area near where you live?
Would love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks!
I don’t know when it started - my love for nature. Was it when I was little, holding my grandpa’s hand as we walked through the park together, and he told me all about the trees around us? He knew so much about nature, my grandpa. He worked for the Nature & Wildlife Department in Holland so this was kind of his thing.
This love for nature apparently also rubbed off on my dad. When he was a little boy (and super agile!), he’d help his dad with field work. One of my memories growing up is of my dad excitedly spotting a bird of prey while driving and my mom cautioning him to just keep his eyes on the road….
I’m also a bit of a nerd in that I’ve always loved school and learning. Well, this past weekend, I got the chance to sit in a college classroom again. You should’ve seen my smile! I told my husband I was so happy and excited to be there that morning. He responded with “you didn’t have to tell me that!” Okay, besides my smile, I guess I was a bit bouncy in my seat too…
My fascination with nature became stronger after experiencing lots of pain and healing from a spinal surgery. It wasn’t that I didn’t like nature before but having to seriously slow down, I just noticed more. As part of my physical therapy rehab, I needed to walk every day. Being outside didn’t just make my body feel better, but my mind as well.
Anyways, my husband and I took a Naturalist class to learn more about the beautiful nature around us. We signed up for the class because when I’m on a hike, I notice all these beautiful wildflowers or critters or mushrooms and then I want to know what I’m looking at! My husband loves nature too so we thought it’d be even better taking the class together. The class was super helpful in learning about different resources and we got to spend time in nature practicing our identification skills as well.
What I wanted to share with you most of all, was that one central idea of the class was that everyone can be a citizen naturalist! Yes, you too! You might ask what the heck even is that?
Click to tweet:
It basically means someone who loves nature and wants to help make a positive impact on the environment. Depending on your interests, you can choose to help in different ways. You can help scientists with reporting data about wildlife or plants in your area. You can volunteer with a local organization to help clean up an area by removing invasive plants or litter. You can share your love for nature with the community.
This work is increasingly important as people spend more and more time indoors and we’re more removed from nature than ever before.
What are you passionate about? Is it wildflowers? Do you think frogs are cute? Are you fascinated by mushrooms like me? I want to encourage you to continue to explore these areas you feel curious about, learn more and maybe even get involved in what gives you joy while at the same time helping your community.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on the concept of “citizen naturalists” and what area you feel most passionate about. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, please consider sharing it via social media. I appreciate it!
Have a wonderful weekend! I hope you get to spend some of it outside!
I was looking at the calendar this morning and was like…. what?! Are we really THAT close to the end of the school year? This week feels a bit like the calm before the storm.
I’ve been able to keep up with our commitments and feel productive in the important areas of my life. You know as well as I do though, that life has ups and downs. Sometimes you can sit there with your pretty planner and no matter how well you try to plan your schedule and how organized your sock drawer is, wham! Something completely unexpected suddenly throws you off course and leaves you feeling overwhelmed and a hot mess.
Looking ahead this month, I notice a bunch of daytime appointments and evening commitments. I can sense that life will be speeding up! So, while I’m in the position to reflect, I wanted to give some thought for when this rollercoaster called life goes from the steady upward climb (where you feel fairly calm and in control) into the “weeeeeeeee!”
So what can we do to still squeeze in joy, even when we feel overwhelmed?
My short answer is: use your senses.
What’s worked for me is to slow down for a minute and:
Being mindful of the little things can go a long way in finding joy, no matter how hectic our day is shaping up to be. Take the time (which is really not much time) to truly appreciate and savour these small moments.
While these ideas work well in the short-term, how can you fight overwhelm and build more joy into your life in the long-term?
Spend some time reflecting on what’s causing you to feel overwhelmed.
- Are these things you have some control over?
- Can you get rid of any demands on your schedule to accommodate the things you don’t have control over?
- What’s most important to you and what can you say no to?
Would love to hear from you in the comments! If you enjoyed reading this blog post, it'd give me so much joy if you'd share it. Thank you!
With the weather warming up, I want to be outside all the time. Are you with me? I live in Portland so when the sun’s out, I soak it up as much as I can and most definitely don’t take it for granted! I love going on walks in the neighborhood and admiring all the pretty flowers in our neighbors’ gardens.
Our home has a front porch that fits a small coffee table with a wooden swing and sitting bench. The other day, I stepped outside and noticed how dusty our porch had become over winter. I took out the garden hose and the big broom and got the job done! Ah! Now it feels so much better!
Now that our porch is clean, it’s super cozy and welcoming so it’s the perfect spot to hang out at home and still be outside. The reason our porch feels inviting is largely due to our “porch decor.” That’s right. Kind of like home decor but then for the porch!
I have a colorful outdoor rug that feels soft even when we walk outside with bare feet. Bird feeders attract cute song birds that are a joy to watch. I also created a huge stained glass hummingbird mosaic artwork on a vintage window pane that looks especially beautiful when the sunlight shines through.
Have you taken a look at your outdoor space lately?"
Have you taken a look at your outdoor space lately? Does it feel boring and bleh or cozy and inviting? Besides the typical spring cleaning, can the space use a spark of joy?
If you’re looking to make your front porch, garden patio or screened-in porch feel more attractive and cozy, here are a few handmade items from my etsy shop that would add a joyful touch to your outdoor living space:
I created these art pieces from Pacific Northwest foraged driftwood. The designs were permanently burned into the wood through pyrography or wood burning so the art will not disappear even if displayed in outdoor areas.
If you're creating a cozy nook to drink your morning coffee and read a book, this sign is simple and cute!
These pieces of art also make thoughtful gifts for Mom's Day and Dad's Day!
Stained Glass Mosaic Bird Feeders
I have three stained glass mosaic bird feeders left in my shop. I'm not planning on making any more of these in the near future so grab one before they're going....going....gone!
Colorful Driftwood Art
I would recommend these art pieces for covered outdoor spaces as well as indoor home decor. They already have hooks installed on the back for easy hanging.
I hope this blog post gives you some inspiration to make your outdoor living space as joyful as it can be. Even a few small changes or the addition of an attractive art piece can make all the difference.
1. Step outside and take an objective look at your outdoor living space or porch
2. Decide what you can change or how you can add joy to the space
3. If any of the art pieces above might work in your space, click on the individual images or head on over to my etsy shop to see the entire collection.
Also, I'd like to hear from you!
Do you have a patio or porch you enjoy spending time? What activities do you enjoy when you hang out in this outdoor living space?
Leave a comment and if you enjoyed reading this blog post, please share with friends! Thank you so much!
Most of us want to make this world a better place. With all the demands on our schedules and the craziness of everyday life, it can feel overwhelming to figure out how to do this. Taking on a long-term commitment to volunteer for a good cause might not be something you can sign up for right now but know that there are small, but significant ways you can still give joy to others.
Small gestures of kindness can cause a ripple effect. Best part is that lifting others up can be super easy and doable, no matter how busy our schedules are!
Here are five ways to give joy to others:
Have you ever noticed that when you flash a big smile at someone, they can’t help but smile too? Yes, smiling is contagious! What’s so interesting to me, is that smiling doesn’t just make you more attractive on the outside.
Sure, that’s a bonus but apparently, scientists have found that when we smile, a bunch of chemicals are released in the brain that make us feel good, lower our stress levels and boost our immune system. Studies even suggest that simply smiling can possibly prolong our lives.
So, today, make a conscious effort to look others in the eye and smile! It’s good for both of you!
Click to tweet:
You're not too busy to give joy to others!
5 Easy Ways: https://tinyurl.com/y34skvbg
2. Give a Compliment
We all know it feels wonderful when someone gives us a compliment. You can really make a positive (sometimes even lasting) impact on someone by sharing your genuine appreciation for something about them.
While it’s nice to give a compliment when someone wears a cute sweater you like or an eye catching necklace, compliments can be even more meaningful when they’re about an intrinsic value, such as friendship, a job well done, a skill, etc.
Also, turning your compliment from a statement starting with “I” into “you” can help the compliment be more powerful.
Here are a couple of examples:
- “I like your garden” vs. “You have such an amazing green thumb! Look at how you made those flowers bloom!”
- “I like this meal” vs. “You’re an awesome chef!”
4. Make a Gift
Instead of purchasing a gift at the store, try making a gift next time you have the opportunity.
Handmade gifts are the best! My friend is super handy with her sewing machine and has gifted me her crafty creations made out of the cutest fabric. These have been my favorite gifts! No problem if you’re not into sewing, we all have our "gifts" in the other sense of the word!
Here are some ideas:
- arrange flowers from your garden in a cute vase
- paint watercolor greeting cards
- use your pretty handwriting to create pretty gift tags
- record a song
If you’re super short on time, supporting small businesses that offer handmade gifts is the next best thing! Large corporations don’t jump for joy when they receive an order like an etsy shop owner or artist will!
3. Write a Letter
Imagine. You walk to your mailbox for the daily chore of emptying it. Tucked in between the bills and junk mail, you find a hand written envelope from a friend. Wouldn’t you feel instant joy at this unexpected and exciting discovery? Wouldn’t this piece of mail be the first you can’t wait to open? Writing letters or even a card by hand takes a bit of time but is a fabulous way to stay in touch with a far away friend while so much more joyful than a quick email.
Remembering stories that connect us or memories that we’ve made together can bring a smile to our faces. I’m the first to admit that this has not always been an area of strength for me but you can most certainly give joy to others by remembering special dates or even names. I’m pretty good with names but dates…. I’m attempting to get better at this is by writing special dates in my planner. Now I just need to look ahead and remember! Ha!
Which of these joy giving ideas resonates most with you? What compliment have you been given that meant a lot to you? Any other ideas you’ve found to give joy to others? I’d love to hear in the comments!
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, it’d give me so much joy if you share it via the social media buttons.
This blog post is NOT sponsored by the companies mentioned and I did NOT receive free product. Also, I'm NOT an affiliate for these products. This blog post reflects my personal opinion and is not influenced by these companies.
In my last blog post, I shared with you about an important tool I've started to use while I'm wood burning: a smoke absorber. I wanted to continue to share with you about the tools I use to create my wood burning art.
Beginner Wood Burner
When I just learned about wood burning and wanted to give it a try, I started out with a hobby wood burning tool.
I was pleased and to be honest, kind of surprised how inexpensive this tool was! It was only about $10.
I started using the Walnut Hollow Creative Wood Burner. It requires a few minutes to warm up and then you’re ready to burn!
These are my very first pieces I created with this wood burning tool:
What I like about this tool:
The drawbacks of this tool:
Safety Tip: Be sure to tape down the metal stand so you don’t have to worry about a hot burner tipping over!
Professional Wood Burner
Once I realized how much I was enjoying creating art through pyrography and wanted to add more wood burned gifts to my etsy shop, I decided to upgrade to a professional wood burner. I did a good amount of research and ended up choosing the Razertip SS-D10. Since I couldn’t find this tool locally, I purchased it online through treelineusa.com which I can highly recommend as they‘ve provided me with excellent customer service.
What I like about this tool:
Here is an example of the more detailed work possible with a professional wood burning tool:
The drawbacks of this tool:
Honestly, there’s not much I don’t like about this wood burning tool. I’ll just make these two points:
Please note: this Razertip Wood Burner also comes as a single pen option (Razertip SK). This tool is a bit less expensive and may be a good alternative if you don’t think you’ll need to switch between pens very often and would prefer a professional wood burner at a lower price.
To keep my lines sharp looking, I use the Razertip Tip Cleaner to scrape off any build-up. This tool is super easy to use as you just gently scrape the tip along the sharp edge and isn’t too abrasive.
Finally, I use graphite paper to transfer some of my illustrations to the wood. I start all my wood burning projects with sketching my ideas on paper. Depending on the design, I’ll then draw it onto the wood freehand or transfer it with graphite paper before making it permanent with wood burning.
That’s it! Hope you enjoyed reading a bit more about my favorite tools in creating my wood burning art.
Have you tried wood burning before? What type of tool do you use? Do you enjoy filling your spare time with another creative hobby? Would love to hear from you in the comments! If you enjoyed reading this blog post, please share!
Disclaimer: I typically don’t review products on my blog but I’ve been given the Hakko FA-400 smoke absorber to provide you with a product review as part of this blog series. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company. Thank you for reading my blog!
Reflecting on what would be most interesting for you to read on my blog this year, I wanted to share a bit more about my creative process and some of the tools I like to use. You know how they say “safety first” so let me start there. First, some background….
One day last fall, I was busily working on burning lots of wooden ornaments to stock up for the holidays. When I finished, I noticed the room and my clothing smelled a bit like I’d been hanging out near a campfire all afternoon. Now I like camping and roasting marshmallows but I realized that this smoky odor was probably not very healthy to have in our house, let alone in a room adjacent to our bedroom. In summer, I use my art studio in our back porch but right now, it’s too chilly to work there even with my little space heater.
After reading some tips from fellow pyrographers, I’d started working with a small fan that blew the smoke away to avoid it going straight up my nose. However, even though it was helping to move the smoke away from me breathing it in directly, it was still spreading it around the room. Hmmm… I became a lot more concerned about this issue when my family received some devastating, heartbreaking news. My dad was diagnosed not only with pulmonary fibrosis (most easily explained as scarring of the lung tissue), but also a rare type of lung cancer.
Besides searching the internet to look for ways I could help my dad, I began to look for other ways to deal with my wood burning smoke. I had no idea if a better alternative existed but it sure seemed worth the effort.
From the EPA website, I learned that besides giving off particle pollution, wood smoke contains several toxic harmful air pollutants including: benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Reading this information made me think back of last summer. With wildfires often raging the West Coast during the hot months of the year, no wonder we’re advised to stay indoors and limit breathing the polluted air.
In the middle of doing this research, I found a product called a smoke absorber, specifically the Hakko FA-400 Smoke Absorber. Ever heard of it? It has typically been used to absorb soldering smoke but will also work with absorbing smoke from wood burning or pyrography.
So, here’s my two cents after using this product:
The Hakko FA-400 smoke absorber visibly sucks up the smoke. Yay! You can use it in both a vertical and horizontal position. I prefer to use it in a horizontal position which really increases the suction power of this powerful, little machine.
The smoke absorber is pretty compact in size: 5.5”(W) x 3.0”(H) x 7.3”(D). I place the smoke absorber on the tabletop in front of my wood burning project to make sure it “catches” my smoke. You can kind of tell if the distance is right as you want enough space to work comfortably but should be able to see the smoke go into the smoke absorber.
The smoke absorber makes a bit louder sound than my fan but I’d expected it to be much louder than it actually is. I can still easily hear the podcasts or audiobooks I like to listen to while I burn.
Another difference from using my fan is that my fan had a rechargeable battery and therefore could be used cordless. I really liked not having yet another cord to deal with. However, since my wood burning unit needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet as well, I’m always working near one anyways so not that big of deal to me.
I haven’t had to change out the carbon activated filter yet but apparently, you have to change it if white residue starts to build up on the filter. Another way to know if your filter needs replacing is by weighing it. The filter can hold up to 4 grams of noxious material and weighs about 12 grams when it’s new so when the weight of the filter is about 16 grams, replace it with a new one.
The Hakko FA-400 smoke absorber comes with a standard activated carbon filter which easily pops into the unit and is used to absorb 80% of fumes from the air. Getting back to all the icky stuff in wood smoke, not all of the substances are absorbed to the specification of 80% but the air will definitely be cleaner having gone through the filter as compared to unfiltered fumes. Hakko also offers a high efficiency filter that removes 90% of airborne particles but I’ve not personally used this filter with the smoke absorber and can’t comment on it. If you want to get really technical and dig into all the details, I found this article in the Hakko knowledge database helpful.
Overall, I feel a lot more comfortable working on my wood burning art projects inside the house with this smoke absorber. Having this smoke absorber allows me to work on wood burning all year around, instead of just during the warmer months. Who wants to open a window in winter? Besides the fact it’s not comfortable to sit in a cold space, if my hands are freezing, it affects my (detailed) work.
Here is a little video to show you the smoke absorber in action:
I hope this blog post was helpful to you. If it was, please share! I always love to hear from you so please leave me a comment or question. Thanks!!
Happy New Year!
While we’re still finishing up the holiday treats over here and finding bits of New Year’s Eve confetti in the corners of our living room, another major holiday is already sneaking up on us! If your resolution was to be more organized this year (this seems to be the running theme over the years for me!), I’m here to remind you early!
My etsy shop is filled to the brims with Valentine’s Day gifts that won’t add calories to your diet or wilt after just a week.
My wood burned items are lovingly made by hand on Pacific Northwest foraged wood. I also have some upcycled items in the shop, as well as an instant download digital printable for gift tags.
These tags are perfect if you plan on baking cookies to give out, to label kids Valentine’s treats for the classroom, or making DIY handmade gifts this year.
Bonus: I’m continuing to offer free domestic shipping on many, many items!
Here are just a few favorites but please check out my etsy shop to see the whole collection.
How do you plan to celebrate Valentine's Day this year? Would love to hear from you in the comments!
Did you know we brought home a kitten last summer? Some of you may remember from my earlier blog post. Well, in case you’re wondering, Rocket is doing very well. He has grown by leaps and bounds!! He has stolen our hearts and makes us laugh every single day. It’s so nice to come home to his head-butting and purring.
He's so sweet and snuggly but when he’s awake, watch out! That’s when Rocket operates on turbo speed and has more energy than a class of kindergarteners at recess!
If you love a kitten or young cat, you know how much energy they have. To enjoy playtime with your sweet feline, I wanted to share Rocket’s very favorite toys with you - that also happen to be free!
You can hide a favorite toy or ball in a fold of the sheet so that kitty has to find the “treasure.” You can drape it over something so kitty has a “fort” to hide in. Sheets are also perfect for a good game of peekaboo! O, so many possibilities with old sheets!
Since toilet paper tubes roll, they're fun to chase and perfect for wrestling too!
If you have any old corrugated boxes, kittens love to jump in them! Boxes are great to contain balls from rolling underneath the couch. They can be used as a lovely place to nap, and turned over to sit on top or for easy access to a windowsill. A small box with flaps that are mostly closed, can cover a favorite ball or toy to make it more challenging to find. Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?
The crinkly noise of the paper bag and the feeling of a fun hideaway, make paper bags another fun toy! If I’m not there to supervise, I cut off the handles of the paper shopping bag so kitty can’t get hurt and entangled.
All kittens seem to love string! Just be sure to have kitty only play with string supervised as some cats will eat it and taking an emergency vet trip doesn’t sound like fun, does it?
Best toy of all?
Okay, this one isn’t free but you can probably find it cheap at Goodwill or among your kids’ discarded toys (which is where Rocket proudly found it all by himself!). The plastic piece that makes a Beyblade spinning top spin is Rocket's most favorite toy of all! Could it be because it was "stolen loot"?!
No guarantee that it's still usable for its original purpose after kitty chews on it a bit but our kitten loves to carry this toy around. He also purposely sticks it underneath the flap of a box for a fun challenge to retrieve it.
Hope these ideas will lead to lots of fun and bonding with your cat. Now it's your turn!
- what toys does your cat love most of all?
- what is your favorite game to play with your cat?
- any tips for people with a kitten or new cat?
Please share in the comments. Can't wait to hear! Thank you!
It must be the change of the season. Or the kids going back to school. I’ve been on a serious declutter and clean out RAMPAGE. Kind of like spring cleaning, but then in fall!
This is not totally typical for me. Most days, I’d much rather read books about organizing than actually going through that junk drawer in the kitchen. Rather find joy in eating sushi than partake in Marie Kondo style Japanese decluttering. And most definitely, rather hike in the woods or work on a creative project. Lately, however, I’ve been feeling antsy. After a busy summer, I think I need the serenity of an organized space and less clutter, both in my environment as well as in my mind.
Now that I’ve sorted through lots of toys and kids stuff in our home, I started tackling my art studio yesterday. Looking around, I realized my sacred and beloved creative space had become a dumping ground for items the kids wanted to clear out of their rooms, old boxes and piles of charity donations.
After digging in, I can see my desk again! Yay! Is my art studio perfectly clean and organized? No! Will it be messy again in no time? Yes! But I feel a lot more on top of things now than I did a couple of weeks ago. This process of “catching up” after the kids go back to school always takes me longer than I expect it to but I feel I’m finally getting to a better place.
Do you go through a similar process during the fall season? Do you enjoy decluttering? Are you a person who regularly organizes or only once in awhile?
Please share in the comments below. Always love to hear from you! Thanks!
P.S. If you like to check off items on a list as much as I do, I have a "Clean Home Bucket List" printable available in my etsy shop. Check it out! Checking items off makes you feel SO much more productive!
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