Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours by Christine Schmidt ~ A Review

I love art books, craft books, creative how-to books. So when I had the opportunity to review Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours by Christine Schmidt, I was ecstatic…because this book is all those things in one!  Blogging For Books was kind enough to provide a free copy of this amazing book so that I could try it out and review it, and share my thoughts with you!

 

 

What is Make It Yours?

Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours
is a beautifully photographed, clearly written project and idea manual for those who love to craft or create…whether they’d consider themselves creative or not.  Each project contains photos of the process itself as well as the finished version of the project.  These range from stationery, to kitchen items, to home decorative furnishings, to gifts, and more!

Author and artist Christine Schmidt intros the book with a chapter that’s all about how to use the book, making it perfect for the seasoned artist and crafter and the newbie alike.  She talks about ways the reader can use the book and describes all the various art media and crafting supplies mentioned and utilized.  From that brief introduction, she jumps right into creative instruction.  The projects are divided into these six broad categories, with each chapter containing 4-7 different ideas:

  • Abstract & Geometric Patterns
  • Everyday Patterns
  • Custom Motifs
  • Occasions & Celebrations
  • Flora & Fauna
  • Travel-Inspired Patterns

 

 

Here’s what you’ll find in it:

  • Step-by-step instructions for 31 different extremely cool projects
  • Gorgeous, full-color pictures of projects the author has made
  • A complete list of supplies needed for each project
  • Instead of a slipcover, the softcover book’s front and back have 3″ wide bent covers that you can use instead of bookmarks to mark your place
  • Templates for various designs
  • Photos of supplies needed for design categories
  • Recommended reading
  • And more!

 

Some of my favorites…

Well…how would you like to learn how to gold-leaf a table?  Or carve your own stamp?  Make fondant cake decorations?  (Because, really, isn’t fondant the coolest??)  What about painting decorative plates, or doing a new sort of tie-dye?  This book is so packed full of so many different types of projects, the reader will never get tired of using it!  Because of course, if one completed every project in the book, she’d then have the mastery to start back over again and tweak the projects with her own learned skill and creativity!

 

And things I’m looking forward to making myself!

I received this book for review at sort of a challenging moment.  I love art and teaching art.  But during the time when I could have whipped out some of these amazing home and gift ideas, I had surgery which turned into almost 2 weeks in the hospital, followed by weeks of at-home recuperation.  So I haven’t yet been able to make ANY of these!  But here’s a short list of some I’d like to try first!

  • Shibori pattern tie-dyeing with indigo dye
  • Painting decorative plates with markers
  • Making my own stamps and stamping clay ornaments
  • I’m also hoping to adapt the leather-working aspects of Schmidt’s plaid tote to create an art display board for next year’s art classes
  • And more!  What a drool-worthy book!

 

Who would enjoy Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours?

  • Artists
  • Crafty folk
  • Homeschoolers
  • Art teachers (oh yes, there’s so much in this book to adapt for your classes!)
  • Families who like to do art together
  • Those who aren’t crafty or artistic but would love to be
  • Someone who’d like to update or personalize her home’s look or furnishings
  • A book club; what about reading this book together then doing some projects?

 

And my conclusions:

I think that Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours is a fantastic resource, well worth its purchase price of $22!  It’s easy to read and use, and gorgeous to look at.  Readers have the opportunity to learn printmaking, clay work, stamping (including how to make your own stamps), painting, dying…and so much more!  Really, it’s like a year-long art class packed into one nice thick book.  I am happy to recommend it!

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this brief glance of a wonderfully creative how-to book!  Thanks for joining me today!

–Wren

Disclosure:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Kwik Stix now at Toys “R” Us ~ And You Can Win a Set! (Giveaway ends 4/30/17)

Guess what??  Kwik Stix, our family’s favorite tempera paint sticks, are now available at Toys “R” Us!  And the lovely folks at The Pencil Grip, Inc. are providing a set of Kwik Stix for one giveaway winner here at the FINCHNWREN blog!

 

 

What are Kwik Stix?

Kwik Stix are wonderful solid tempera paint sticks that are perfect for children (ages 3 and up), families, and adults who love to create beautiful art!  They work like glue sticks, in that they’re encased in a plastic container with a cap.  To use, you simply remove the cap, roll the paint stick up, and you’re ready to color.  There is virtually no scent (like you’d find with most tempera paints), and you get the rich texture and color of liquid paint without the mess.  All you need are Kwik Stix and whatever medium you’d like to draw on, which could be anything from paper (of all kinds), canvas, wood, and more!

Kwik Stix come in two size types, the Kwik Stix Classic and Kwik Stix Thin Stix.  The Classic version sticks are 3 1/2″ long, with a chubby paint stick width of almost 3/4″.  This width is perfect for little hands, but also is great for coloring large areas quickly and easily.  The Kwik Stix Thin Stix are longer and thinner than the Classic ones, measuring in length at 5 1/2″ with a paint tip of 1/2″ wide.  These are wonderful for coloring in small areas, without getting outside the lines.  Personally, our family loves working with both types at once!

And what about colors?  There are so many to choose from, such as:

  • Kwik Stix Classics and Thin Stix come in 6-packs or 24-packs
  • Both the Thin Stix and Classics come in white, yellow, orange, red, pink, lime green, green, light blue, blue, purple, brown, and black.
  • The Kwik Stix Metalix packs include gold, silver, fuchsia, deep green, deep blue, and deep purple, all of which feature metallic or glittery accents
  • The Kwik Stix Neons packs are filled with bright orange, vivid purple, lime green, light blue, yellow, and bright pink…in brilliant neon hues.

How we’ve used Kwik Stix

We have loved allowing our imaginations to run wild with our Kwik Stix, not only in the surface we’ve drawn on but in the art movements we were studying in our art lessons.  Here are some ways we used them as we learned about Vincent van Gogh, Pop Art, and still life paintings:

 

 

We also love using them for creating art in our art journals.  They’re also wonderful for Bible journaling!

 

And now…the giveaway!

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is providing one set of Kwik Stix (size, style, and colors to be selected by The Pencil Grip, Inc.) for one FINCHNWREN blog reader!  Just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes on April 30, 2017 at 11:59PM.

And don’t forget to check out Kwik Stix at Toys “R” Us!

Enter here!

Best wishes, and enjoy!  –Wren

From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Can There Be Creativity in Prayer? ~ Reviewing DESIGNED TO PRAY & Giveaway (CLOSED)

How is your prayer life going?  Do you need a boost?  Are things there seeming like the same old, same old?  If you’re needing something in this area, but you don’t know exactly what, then you’re going to love this book.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network was so very kind to send me a copy of Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s Designed to Pray: Creative Ways to Engage With God to use myself–as well as a copy for one special reader to win!

 

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So how is your prayer life, anyway?

I will admit to you that my own times of prayer have really undergone a beating in the last four years.  Two abdominal surgeries (which left quite a mark on my overall stamina and energy) plus job challenges took my own faith to a place that I never expected it would go.  Did I believe in God?  Yes, of course.  Did I spend time in God’s Word?  Yes.  But even as I read the Bible’s truths, I struggled to apply them to myself; to believe that God really was FOR me, in my corner, loving and upholding me.

Hard times.

But (and here’s where we insert a “yay!”), I’m journeying back.  Receiving healing.  Able more and more to receive God’s truths for myself.  But I still could see that my prayer life needed…life.

 

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Enter Designed to Pray: Creative Ways to Engage With God

I will not be exaggerating if I tell you that this book has made more of an impact on my prayer life than any other resource I’ve ever found on prayer.  It has been a delight.  It has caused me to see God differently–more truly what He is.  It has enabled me to desire prayer more fully, and to enjoy connecting with Him.  It has made my morning prayer time SO FUN.

It has been just what I needed at a moment when I really needed SOMEthing, but didn’t know exactly what.

 

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So how can a book do all that?

Kelly O’Dell Stanley, who already authored a book on prayer called Praying Upside Down, kept having ideas about journaling prayer.  Designing something for people to use that would help them see God, hear Him, know Him, get closer to Him, that could engage them both individually and creatively.  A book that could take the reader on an interactive & joyful journey.

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Designed to Pray provides a unique journey on prayer that I’m pretty sure nobody has ever taken before.  O’Dell Stanley has designed 8 weeks’ worth of daily exercises on prayer which will enable the reader to use her own creativity, colored pencils and pens to venture into prayer in ways that are exciting, encouraging, and uplifting.  The weeks’ titles include:

  • “Fumbling into God’s Presence”
  • “The Faith of a Child”
  • “Creativity…or Connecting the Dots to See God”
  • “We’re All in This Together (Praying with or for Others)”
  • “A Personal God (Knowing God, Knowing Yourself)”
  • and three more

Each of these chapters begins with an introduction from O’Dell Stanley that sets the tone for the week’s activities and prayers.  Then, the reader is given 7 different activities, one each for every day that week, Sunday through Saturday.

 

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How can art & creativity take you into God’s presence?

It’s all about the activities, the grace and fun behind them, and what Kelly O’Dell Stanley has designed them to do; engage with God on a heart level.  Sometimes, I started with a page the author designed with some beautiful doodles in one corner, and doodled more…then wrote prayer items in the spaces.  Another time, I wrote lists of things I was thankful for like rays of the sun.  Once I lettered the words to a children’s song about Jesus’ love.  Sometimes I got to color!

One pivotal day, I wrote down fears that kept me from praying.  Honestly, these were sort of buried in my mind and I wasn’t consciously aware of them.  But when the author asked the right questions, out they came…and I was able to progress beyond them.

 

designed-to-pray-4My conclusions

I like artsy stuff.  I teach art at our homeschool coop.  I have just jumped into Bible journaling.  I like to “do” art with my child.

I am not, however, a “trained” artist.  But I’ve found over my years as a mom and a homeschooling mom in particular, that art does something in me that nothing else does.  It encourages me.  It removes me a step from life’s pressures and helps me to take a breath.  It provides cool times for connection with my son.

So, combining creativity with prayer?  It felt very natural.  It created real connection points between me and God (okay, He was there already, but it helped me to reach for Him).  It moved me to pray and think about things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Best of all, it breathed new life into my prayer times.  It made me WANT to pray.  It showed me that connecting with God can happen in new and beautiful ways.  It helped me to start my days with joy and a real knowing that He is there.

To me, that’s an amazing outcome from a book!  (I have to tell you that when I finish this book, I am thinking that I need to purchase a fresh one and work thru all the exercises and activities again!)

 

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Who could use this book?

  • Someone who is worn out with legalism and the “right” way to do things
  • A mom who wants to pray but doesn’t feel like she has a lot of time
  • A person who’d like to pray but doesn’t know how
  • Someone whose soul needs touches of beauty
  • And anyone else who’d like to know that God loves and cares for them

 

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My recommendations…and a chance for you to win!

If you see yourself in the list above…if you’d like to bring more beauty and joy to your prayer times…or if you’d just like to connect with the God who loves you in a new way, get a copy of Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s Designed to Pray: Creative Ways to Engage With God!

And, you can enter to win a copy now!  (Giveaway ends February 10, 2017.)  Just click on the pink link below to go to the Giveaway Tools form to enter!

Enter here!

 

WINNERS SELECTED:

I loved DESIGNED TO PRAY so much that I selected 3 winners!  (1 gets the copy from Blog about Network, and the others from FINCHNWREN.)  Congratulations to Diane P, Kayla F, and Savannah H!

Enjoy!  –Wren

 
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DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

The Fabulous New Kwik Stix Thin Stix ~ My Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc. produces some of my most favorite art supplies, which we have adored using in our home.  Recently, they sent me their newest version to review: the Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12 pk.  I’m so excited to share our thoughts and art results with you!

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What are Kwik Stix, anyway?

If these amazing art media are new to you, you really will want to know all about them!  Kwik Stix are solid tempera paint sticks which can be used in any situation that the artist would normally use regular paint.  The paint sticks roll up and down (sort of like a glue stick, but with paint instead of glue!) and have a cap which helps keep the paint moist when not in use.  They are safe to use for children from ages 3 and up.

Best of all, you get all the benefits of paint without the mess!  You don’t need paintbrushes, water, painting smocks, or all the other equipment you’d normally need for a paint adventure.  All you need are the Thin Stix and something to paint on!  In our home, we’ve used everything from art journals, to canvas, to stock card, to regular paper, and more.  (Read on to learn about our newest discovery!)

The 12-pk we received contains the following colors:  white, yellow, orange, red, pink, lime green, green, light blue, blue, purple, brown, and black.  Unlike the regular-sized Kwik Stix, which are shorter and chubbier (which enables little hands to hold them well plus provides a nice thick line when painting), the Thin Stix are longer and thinner, measuring at 5 1/2″ long with a 1/2 wide paint tip.  They apply paint that’s both rich and vivid, which a variety of surfaces take well.  The Thin Stix glide smoothly across the page and are just a pleasure to use.

You can read about our experience with the regular-sized Kwik Stix in Metalix and Neon, which we tried and loved last fall.  We used them as we did an art study of Pop Art and two of Vincent Van Gogh’s master works, and they were just incredible!

 

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 Kwik Stix’ Thin Stix are wonderful for:

  • Art Journals

Since we’d used our Kwik Stix beautifully for artist study when we reviewed the Neon and Metalix versions in the fall, I wanted to try the Thin Stix for different types of projects.  This time, my son and I used them in our art journals, which have a thick, creamy, textured feel to the pages:

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You can see some of that texture in the tulips picture above, which took the Thin Stix paint quite well.  The paint dried quickly (Kwik Stix’ paint sticks are designed to dry in about 90 seconds), so there was no ending up with paint on my hand from working in a small surface.  I was also able to layer additional color over the tulips to add a bit of shadow and shading; you can see the orange I applied on the left side of both the red tulips and the yellow ones.  This was a free-hand project; we just decided what we wanted to draw and went to town.  Fun!

  • Coloring books

I’m sure you’re familiar with the whole coloring-books-for-grownups movement that’s been so popular lately.  I have a couple of those, and my newest one seemed that it would be perfect for my new Thin Stix!  Because coloring books have more lines that you’ve got to work within, I imagined that these Kwik Stix, which have a narrower tip, could work well within those margins.  I was pleased with the outcome!

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  • Art lettering

Recently, I’ve been venturing into the world of creative lettering.  I started with some calligraphy in the fall and, last week, tried a new font that starts with a big penciled letter with space inside.  After you have your outlined letters, you take a fine felt-tip marker and doodle inside the spaces.  Then, the doodles become the letters.

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I thought I’d add some paint and color to my recent word doodle BRAVE.  I used the Thin Stix to make the colors pop.  Actually, this is a photocopy on card stock of my original doodle.  The Thin Stix didn’t smear the copy at all, just slid right over it!

 

  • and even Bible journaling!

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It occurred to me when we received the Thin Stix that they might work well for Bible journaling.  One challenge with Bible journaling is finding art media that doesn’t bleed through the thin Bible pages to make the other side unreadable.  I’ve wanted to use paint for awhile in this journaling but have limited myself to colored pencils and felt-tipped markers, just because of the thin pages.  I not only loved the way the Kwik Stix brightened up my drawing, I was astonished at how little they showed up on the preceding page!  (You can see the back side in the photo below on the right.)

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Really, your own imagination and the sky are the limit!

 

ks-thin-stix-pic-3A few more thoughts…

My son, who’s a 9th grader, really liked the new Thin Stix a lot.  He says that they are more accurate, and he likes them even more than our original ones.  (No doubt due to the thinner tips!)

So…who would enjoy these fabulous new Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12 pk?

  • Parents with little ones
  • Homeschoolers
  • Art teachers
  • Bible journal aficionados
  • Any kids, from toddlers all the way up to high schoolers!
  • Basically, anyone who loves working with quality art tools

We love them.  Honestly, every time we have gotten a new set of Kwik Stix paint sticks, we have fallen more in love with the company.  I regularly make art on my own, and I teach art at our local homeschool coop.  But I also like sitting down with my son to create, whether we’re working on an artist study project or just sitting down to play with creating.  It’s a high value for me, because it gives the two of us time for great side conversations.  I also find that creating art is healing, encouraging, uplifting.  Just the process of it builds something in your soul, I believe.  So having our amazing Kwik Stix products, especially our newest Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12 pk, makes creating art so easy and so mess-free.  Plus, in addition to all these great reasons to create, you also end up with beautiful artwork that it’s a pleasure to display!

We happily recommend all the Kwik Stix art media, and especially their newest Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12 pk!

 

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Where can you purchase Kwik Stix Thin Stix?

Kwik Stix Thin Stix at Amazon
Other Kwik Stix products by The Pencil Grip, Inc. at Amazon
The Pencil Grip, Inc.
Kwik Stix on Pinterest
The Pencil Grip, Inc. on Facebook

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

B is for Bible Journaling: Blogging Through the Alphabet

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  My friends My friends Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time are co-hosting Blogging Through The Alphabet.  This week’s letter is B.

 

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When I first saw examples of Bible journaling on Pinterest, I was immediately captivated.  Then, I was blessed to win my very own Bible journal in a giveaway.  It’s an NKJV Bible designed especially for journaling and creativity, with two-inch wide blank margins on each page.  Some pages have lines for writing.

 

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How does Bible journaling work?

So how does one use a journaling Bible?  You can highlight verses that are special to you.  You can letter a key word or words.  Or you can illustrate a scene from the Bible.  Personally, I’ve been jotting down verses that are meaningful to me as they come to me.  Sometimes, images pop into my mind along with the verses, or that are connected to them in some way.  Then, I’ve drawn them into the blank spaces provided in the Bible.  Sometimes I’ve drawn them on printer paper first, then traced them into my Bible.  I’ve also traced images from a coloring book, then colored them in.  I’ve used colored pencils, erasable colored pencils, Micron pens for outlining and lettering, and I’m looking forward to using paints as well.

 

blogging-thru-alpha-b-pic-2Why Bible journal?

I can only speak to my own experience.  But sitting down with art media and my Bible is the most wonderful and beautiful adventure for me.  Engaging creative work with Bible meditation (which really does happen as one sits down to illustrate a verse) is peaceful.  Encouraging.  And a new way of worship, for me; another method I can use to seek God in my relationship with Him.  It can bring God’s Word to  life for me in rich and vivid ways.

You don’t need to be a fabulous or experienced artist to Bible journal either; I am neither of those.  But the experience is truly enriching and grace-filled.

 

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Blogging Through the Alphabet Linkup

Just click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the linkup.  You’ll be able to see lots of others’ ideas about the letter B!

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Enjoy!  –Wren

 

I’m Guest Posting at my friend Annette’s blog: A Net in Time

Good morning!

I just wanted to share a link with you to my guest post at my friend Annette’s blog, A Net in Time.

 

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She has a fabulous blog series called Art Books from My House to Yours, and I was able to join in for that!  In this series, Annette shares many amazing books that you can use with your children in exploring art together (you must explore more posts in this series–I found cool artsy books I’d never heard of before, that I’d love to use myself!).

If you click on Wren’s Guest Post in Art Lab for Kids, you can check out one of my favorite go-to books for teaching art to kids.  And, you’ll get to meet Annette at the same time!

Enjoy, and happy Friday!  –Wren

Win a gift bag of lovely greeting cards from Paper Doll Greetings! (Ends 12/14)

My amazing and creative friend Julie is the artist behind Paper Doll Greetings, and just in time for Christmas, she has provided a collection of beautiful handmade cards and a mini-journal for one special reader to win!

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What is Paper Doll Greetings?

It’s my friend Julie’s Etsy shop, where she sells her handmade, beautifully created cards, journals, and mixed media art!  Each card and journal is handcrafted from the most beautiful papers, ribbons, and ephemera.  They make incredible gifts for your loved ones—or ways you can bless yourself!

 

julie-giveaway-pic-1What’s in this giveaway?

Beautiful cards and a mini-journal, all handmade (and some, hand-painted!) by Julie herself.  One winner will receive:

  • A blue mini-journal, beautifully inscribed with Psalm 20:4
  • A “note of support card,” decorated with satin ribbon and roses
  • A “journey” card, illustrated with Judges 18:6
  • A beautiful floral birthday card, with gold lettering and a green satin ribbon
  • A lovely blank card with die-cut and ribbon decoration

Just enter here!

This giveaway closes on December 14 at 11:59P.  Just follow the pink link to the giveaway form below to enter.  One winner will be selected and notified at the close of the giveaway.  Best wishes!

Enjoy!  –Wren