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!


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.

Summer Guest Post ~ Featuring Cassandra from A Glimpse of Normal

This summer, I have the privilege of hosting some of my blogging friends in our Summer Guest Post Series.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Cassandra from A Glimpse of Normal.  She’s going to share with you a fun craft that she made (because summer is a great time for creativity!), as she helped a bride prepare for her wedding.  Meet Cassandra!

Summer Guest Post banner


Recently I was asked to help with a Bridal Shower at our church. This bridal shower was for a girl who just graduated and she has been a part of my mentoring group throughout her time in our youth group. So I felt honored and excited to help with her shower. We divided up the tasks that needed to be done for the shower. I ended up helping by making the cupcakes and some of the decorations. I will tell you that I completely cheated and just used boxed cake mixes to make the cupcakes so I can’t really share that recipe with you. Instead I thought I would share one of the crafts I made for the bridal shower with you. I made circle streamers that were simple, but quick to put together and they can be used for many different events.


Cassandra 1Circle Streamers

Supplies Needed:

Fishing line – about 20” per streamer
1 1/2” Paper Circles – I cut mine with my Cricut, but you could easily use a circle punch
Sheets of 12×12 paper in assorted colors and/or patterns (the choice is up to you)
Clear Adhesive Dots


1. I picked 20 sheets of 12×12 scrapbooking paper in shades of light blue and green for the brides wedding colors.

2. Using my Cricut (an electronic cutting machine), I cut as many 1 1/2” circles that would fit on each page. My Cricut cutting system makes this easy for me and calculates how many circles fit per page. Then I hit the “Cut” button and it does all the work for me. You can complete this step using a hand punch from the store, but I would recommend cutting your paper in strips first to maximize the space where the punch fits.

Cassandra 2

3. Once the circles are all cut, I cut a length of fishing line about 20” long.


Cassandra 3

4. Next I picked which color I wanted to start with (I alternated between green and blue) and picked up 2 circles the same color and pattern.

5. I put an adhesive dot on the backside of one circle and then attached it about 3 inches from the top of the fishing line onto the line but pushing the fishing line down in the adhesive dot.

Cassandra 4

6. Then I placed the matching circle on top of that one and squished them together.

Cassandra 5

7. I repeated this until I had 10 circles on each streamer and then I cut off any excess fishing line. You could definitely make your circle streamers shorter or longer depending on the height of the ceiling you are hanging them from

8. Repeat steps 3-7 until you have the desired number of circle streamers.

Cassandra 6

I used this simple decoration for a bridal shower (I totally forgot to take a picture of the room we used once it was fully decorated), but it could be used for any type of shower or party. The circle streamers added just a little touch of youth and playfulness to the shower which is what we were going for in the overall them of the shower since this was a young couple. I will definitely make them again for birthday parties as my daughter already told me she wanted them for her party. After the bridal shower, I brought these circle streamers home and made a few more to use for our church Vacation Bible School. Our theme for VBS this year is Ocean Commotion and I though these circle streamers would make great “bubbles” to hang in the class my hubby is helping teach. See, they aren’t just for wedding showers!

I also created another craft for this shower that was simple and quick, but I will be sharing that over at my blog A Glimpse of Normal so you will have to go over there and check it out. Drop by sometime and let me know that Wren sent you! I blog about every day life around our house so you get quite a variety of things to read about. Thank you for reading today and I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Wren for letting me be a guest today!

Such a fun craft!  And in some of my favorite colors, too.  🙂  Be sure to visit Cassandra at A Glimpse of Normal.  She’s just a delight!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Making Christmas Ornaments with Your Kiddos–Guest Post at the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog!

Good morning, everyone!

Paper Casting link banner

We’ve been doing a lot of Christmas, Advent and Hanukkah activities at our home, and today I’d love to share one of them with you!

Jackson and I made some gorgeous paper casting Christmas ornaments together on Monday.  And, if you’d like to see how, hop over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to find out!  I’ve included step-by-step activity instructions as well as lots of pictures.  It’s a wonderful project for ornaments and decorations, plus you have the lovely time together with your children!

I  hope you’re having a lovely December.  And if you visit the paper casting post, let me know what you think—and what you’d like to make!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Things we love….DIY Halloween crafts!

I’m not super crafty and rarely enter places like Michael’s….but my team wanted to have a pumpkin decorating contest (mini) with judging on Friday, so I took the plunge. Michael’s is actually super fun! I spent an hour wandering around finding everything I needed to create my monsterpiece and saw a whole lot of things I really wanted (red boa anyone) but didn’t need.

So on Thursday night after work will absolutely no motivation whatsoever, I began work on Taryn the Tarantula! After I started it really was fun!

What you will need:

  • 1 mini pumpkin
  • Black satin finish acrylic paint (small bottle)
  • Black Glitter glue with multicolor sparkles
  • 1 pkg googly eyes
  • 1 pkg Red sparkly pipe cleaners
  • 1 plastic white fork
  • Tiny red beads
  • Small black beads
  • Tweezers
  • Steel punch
  • Small sponge wedge brush
  • Protective paper
  • HairdryerCraft tools

Place paper on table, set mini pumpkin in center,paint three coats of black paint, covering entire surface including stem, blow drying between each coat. I alternated painting and drying between the top surface and bottom for even coverage.

Paint two coats of Glitter glue over entire surface, blow drying between coats. Then affix googly eyes to the front of the pumpkin using glitter glue (i used the paper surface to have a blob of glue reserved for use). Then take your tweezers and pick up the black beads, dip them in the glitter glue and place in rows (3 deep) from the stem down each crease of the pumpkin. Then take a small handful of red beads and sprinkle them onto the top of the pumpkin (dipped in glue).

Take white plastic fork and break off the two center tines for the fangs cut top of tine to about 1 inch in length. Use the steel punch to form the holes for the fangs (angle it up so they will point down when inserted) push tines into holes.

Then take several small red beads, dipped in glitter glue and affix at the top of the fangs. Take punch and create small holes in either side of the pumpkin for the legs.

Almost there!



Take four pipe cleaners and bend into spider legs, then twist at the top and insert into pumpkin fanning legs out. Repeat on other side.

Voila, 60 minutes later, here she is!

Finished pumpkin


She won second place, painted pumpkin donuts stole the show.



Valentine Fun with Your Family


Valentine's Day roundup

Does your family enjoy celebrating holidays? We always love celebrating Valentine’s Day, and each year we have new ideas!

In past years we’ve:

  • made heart-shaped crayons in cookie molds
  • created art for Jackson’s grannies
  • made Valentines for his friends and family

And as the mom, I’ve had the great pleasure of sneaking out in the early morning for Valentine’s treats for my husband and son; making heart-shaped pancakes or finding perfect gifts and hiding them til the big day.

For someone who’s always looking for new ideas, Pinterest (as always) is full of them!  But this year we decided to make Valentine’s cookie ornaments, using Dollar Store Crafts’ White Clay Ornaments we made at Christmas—with a twist!

We followed the same recipe at first:  mixing the corn starch, baking soda and water over medium heat in a saucepan, til it formed a ball.

Feb 2014 001

Then we covered it with damp paper towels til it was cool enough to handle.

When it had cooled enough, we sprinkled drops of red food coloring into the dough and kneaded it in, til it was pinky-red.

Feb 2014 002Then we rolled it out and cut it with heart-shaped cookie cutters, and used vinyl stamps to put a Valentine’s message on them.  (Message secret!)

Feb 2014 004We poked holes in the hearts with straws so there would be a way to hang them up.

Then, baked them for about an hour (I used my stoneware jelly roll pan, with a sheet of parchment paper to prevent burned edges), flipping them over and pressing down the edges about halfway through that.

Feb 2014 006When they were finished, we threaded ribbon through them for hanging.

Feb 2014 007And, voila!  A fun Valentine that your family can make together!

(As my friend Joy says, if you get one of these from us, act surprised.)  🙂

Would you like to see what some of my TOS Review Crewmates are planning for their Valentine’s Day?  Click here!

Enjoy!  –Wren




Crafts / Handiwork Ideas and Tutorials


Do you know how Amazon always uses the bottom part of their screen to list some recommendations for you, based on your past purchases or clicks?  Well, one day I found Vanessa Christenson of V and CO.’s fantastic sewing book in that horizontal column.  The title, Make It Sew Modern, and the charming cover photo, drew me in immediately.  The book is filled with projects like ruffled scarves and pillows, jewelry, purses and tote bags, and clothing.  I was hooked!

Vanessa Christenson's wonderful book

Vanessa Christenson’s wonderful book

The only problem?

No sewing machine.

Fast-forward a few months…..and my dear aunt Mim offered me her sewing machine.  I accepted with alacrity, and we brought it home with us from a visit one day.

Suddenly, all sorts of options opened up to me!  I had planned to sew about 4 Christmas gifts…..but ran out of time.  (I forgot that, while creating gifts is amazingly fun, it also takes TIME!)

So, I completed two projects in December.  I found this incredible ruffled scarf in Vanessa’s book that I thought might be just perfect for Finch.

However, it involved several steps that I’d never done (or to be honest, never even THOUGHT of doing) before:

  • First, sewing with knit, and….
  • Second, sewing with elastic thread.

I’m not necessarily a novice seamstress….but I would definitely NOT call myself expert.  Or, as Caroline Bingley likes to say, “accomplished.”  That IS how I’d describe my mother, though.  And fortunately, she lives right across the street!  She brought her sewing machine AND her expertise over.

And, because this project was so new to me, I decided to make the ruffled scarf for myself first…..hoping to work out all the bugs on the one that was NOT a gift.

The end result?  I had a great time working with my mom on the scarf, and l loved the whole process of creating.  It was so enjoyable and I ended up with a fantastic accessory for myself…and a gift for my sister (in a different color), created with love.  Here’s mine below, paired with an H&M dress that was a HUGE bargain.

Jan 20 2014 017

I had such a fantastic experience on this project that one of my goals for the year is to sew something new once each month.  I realize I’m getting down to the wire on January….I’d better get moving!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Also—-Vanessa also has a wonderful tutorial blog, if you’re interested in finding some nifty projects yourself