2014 Post Round Up

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I've been looking back on 2014, and I think a overall theme for this year was quality over quantity. And that defiantly showed in my blog as well as my life. So when I complied this post round up, it really wasn't that hard to pick out the posts I was really proud of.

We did a lot of things at the library this year. Here are a few of my favorites that I shared on the blog.

My favorite (and largest) event at the library this year HAS to be our Comic Con. It was a day fun of amazing, hectic, awesome fun. I talked about the con itself in this post, and about the comic I made for the con in this post.

As always, we did lots of science-y programs at the library this year, but my favorite had to be this bugs program

My second favorite teen program this year was the Party in the Pit. I even posted a sketch of my very dauntless outfit for that night!

I did a lot more DIY's this year than I have in the past, which was kind of a surprise when I looked back through everything. I'm excited to say that I've got a few more planned for this year, too!

I couldn't find a planner I liked, so I decided to just decorate my own!

I had a lot of fun making this "raw" pleather bag. I love using it, too. It's such a cheap, but stylish, alternative.

I posted this New Year's pinata WAY back in January. Sadly, I'm not allowed to make it again this year. We were finding confetti for months, haha!

My three favorite Ten Things posts were...

My life outside the blog was really exciting, too! I got married (posts of that will be going up in January!), and the tumblr blog I run for my job gained a LOT of followers.

So, 2014 was amazing! And while it will be hard to top getting married, I hope 2015 will be even better. Here's to the new year!
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etsy shop update

Thursday, December 11, 2014

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Preparing for my wedding was such a weirdly inspirational time for me. Since I had to focus on just the wedding for so long, ideas were left to simmer for a while. It made me really excited to start on all of them as soon as I could.
One thing I knew I wanted to do was improve my Etsy shop, and list lots of new items like cards. I've actually been stockpiling cards for about two months. This week I finally photographed some and put them into my shop! They come in packs of three, and they are all handpainted and made out of cardstock.

I also still have some adorable little Wild Things in my shop, ready to be shipped out to a loving home.

There's more card packs not pictured here, so head over to my shop to check them out!

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A Seuss-y Christmas

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

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Since it's almost Christmas time, I thought I'd share what we did for our kid's holiday event last year at the library! We've had a holiday event every year that I've worked at the library, and we are constantly trying to come up with new themes. Last year we finally decided to go with Dr. Seuss, and I'm glad we did. It was a lot of fun!

We kept the decorations simple, with Christmas trees, colorful candy, and a display of our favorite Seuss books. We also got some fun hats from Oriental Trading.

For one of our activities we used the book There's a Wocket in my Pocket! First we read it out loud, then we sent the kids on a scavenger hunt to see how many of the silly monsters they could find.

When they were finished with their scavenger hunt, we had them sit down and make these sweets frames (from Oriental Trading again) while we read them How the Grinch Stole Christmas. For our final activity we had the children pin the heart on the Grinch. This was one of their favorite activities. Many of them asked to have more than one turn!

This was a cute program, with many ideas that could be adapted towards any situation. We kept it rather simple, but there is no end to the activities you could do with an idea like this!

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inspire me... Shintaro Ohata

Monday, December 8, 2014

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This week I've been inspired by the incredibly talented Shintaro Ohata. His whimsical works have a fun quality and a understanding of color that is to die for. With a zoomed picture, you think that his work is a wonderful painting. But zoom out, and you realize that it's a merging of a lovely painting and an even lovelier sculpture. Often focused on a playful moment, these works really capture the day to day and make it into something magical.


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ten [I am NOT okay with winter] things...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

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Some people get really excited about winter. They love snow, and being cold, and sledding, and being cold...

I am not one of those people. I'm one of those people who actually runs more in the winter because it gets me into the heat faster. One of those people who thinks it's perfectly acceptable to wear a beanie inside, no matter what the occasion. One of those people who has blankets stashed in secret spots in every room of the house, and has a heater that follows them from room to room like a well loved pet.

If you're one of those people, too, then this list is for you.

I don't like snow, but I love the snowmen created in the comic Calvin and Hobbes. I thought I was in a pickle until I saw these cupcakes on A Baked Creation. Now I can have my snowmen and eat them, too!

I really enjoy knitting when it gets cold. The bigger the project (aka the more it covers my lap), the better. So when I came across this "Giant Super Chunky Knit Blanket" it was love at first sight. Chunky AND a full sized bed cover? Yes please!

Something about lighting a fire, however small it may be, makes me instantly feel warmer. So candles in the winter are a must. I'm particularly fond of this Hermione one from Fandlemonium, and this Jane Austen one from Paddywax.

What's the winter season without hot chocolate? Cold. That's what. This red velvet hot chocolate from Une-deux Senses is a recipe I've been dying to try.

After all your efforts, people are still telling you you need to go outside? I feel your pain. But have no fear! You can take your favorite blanket with you and still look stylish with the help of this No-Sew Sweater Wrap tutorial from A Beautiful Mess!

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DIY: "raw" pleather bag

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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I love the looks of these raw leather bags (like this LOVELY one from Stash Co.) but I don't have the money to spend on a purse like that, as much as I wish I could. What I do have, though, is a  grand tradition of making my own purses, so I thought that this was a project I could tackle without too much trouble. I ended up taking pictures so I could share my process with you. Here's the finished result!

pleather (1 yard is plenty)
thick needle
nylon strap
2 D-rings
2 trigger hooks
(also a straight edge, something to mark your fabric with, and scissors)

Step One: Draw out your plan.
If you pay close attention to the picture above, you'll see that I actually designed two bags. I made them both, but one held up (the one I'm sharing with you) and one didn't.
When you're thinking about how you want your bag to be, just think of it as a box, or an envelope. Sometimes it helps me to make a version out of paper while I'm planning, just to work out the kinks. You can see here, one thing I'm super bad about is planning out measurements. I usually just wing it. Sometimes it bites me in the butt, and sometimes it works out okay.

Step Two: Pattern (kinda).
Once I had my bag pretty much planned out, I take a look at the lines and make sure everything is going to fit okay. If it looks like everything is going to work out, I move on to patterns. If I were working with normal fabric, I would have drawn this all out on a separate sheet of paper, pinned it on, and then cut it out. But since I was working with pleather, I didn't mind drawing straight onto the fabric itself. (Note: I went into this knowing that my cut/fold/sew lines might be visible in the finished product. If this is something that bugs you, use a pencil instead of a permanent marker.)
For this step, I absolutely recommend using a straight edge as much as possible. Basically, you want to look at the drawing you've created in your plan, and transfer it onto the fabric. Same lines, but bigger and cleaner. A rule of drawing lines: always measure to three points. If you connect three dots, you're less likely to have a crooked line. 
Just a silly little image to show you how my lines were laid out.
Notice I created this pattern to use as much of a rectangle of material as I could. Almost none of the fabric went to waste. You'll also need some extra material the same width to make the flap in the next step.

Step Three: Create the "raw" edge.
I wanted the flap to look as organic as possible. I drew out a basic shape on another piece of paper, and then loosely re-created that shape (backwards) on the back of the fabric by using really messy dots. Then I connected the dots to give myself the line to cut on. This made the edge look less structured, and more natural.
At this point I noticed that the edges of the pleather were very light, and when they were put against the black they were distracting. In the end I just colored all of the edges with black permanent markers. Not the most elegant solution, but it got the job done.

Step Four: Sew everything up!
Next I pinned the flap to the edge of the purse that I had created and started sewing. I like to hand-sew, and it worked really well for a project using such thick material. I made sure to use a big needle
(an upholstery needle, to be exact), so it wouldn't bend when going through multiple layers. For extra reinforcement, and to add a little design flair, I stitched two parallel seams. It's little things like that that make projects look thought out.

Next I sewed the edges using a back stitch. You just need to run a straight seam along the front and back edges. I always go over the beginning and end stitches a few times to reinforce everything. In total you'll have two seams. Leave the extra bit of material as shown. It will come in handy later!

Step Four: Add the hooks.
Okay, So here's where I was a bit of a space case. But we are going to learn from my mistakes. See, originally I sewed the loops without adding the rings first. Bad plan. Add the rings.
So first you fold your loop over the ring, making sure to have enough that you'll be able to get it fastened securely,  then pin it down. Then sew the heck out of it. I did a square around the outside, and then did an x in the middle. I went over everything a few times before tying it off.
Also, if this is a bag you think you're going to use a lot, I might suggest using another layer of fabric on this step, just to add some strength to the loops.

Step Five: Turn it right side out.
This step is really self explanitory. But it's also the most satisfying step by far. So take your time. Enjoy the experience.
Remember how I said you needed to keep those little flaps by the edge of your seams? This is why. If you tuck them inside, they help catch any spare things floating around in the bottom of your bag. This isn't the most polished method of creating the bottom, but doing your seams this way makes the bag infinitely easier to construct.

Step Six: Make the strap.

For this step I used a trigger hook and a nylon strap. To measure for the length of the strap, you can either just wind the strap around you like you would a real bag, and measure that, or use a bag with a strap length that you find comfortable. Remember to add a few inches to attach the strap to the hook.
Once you've decided your strap length, fold the end over the loop, and pin it. Then just sew. I did another box with an x. Attach the strap to the hook on your bag, and you're done!

I'm really happy with how my bag turned out. Doing it again, there are a few things I would change. Pick a more realistic (and stronger) fabric, add a lining, have a more complicated strap, etc. But for a purse I sewed in an afternoon, I think the result was worth the effort.

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ten [Etsy] things...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

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I'm a HUGE fan of all the designs from UnicornEmpirePrints. I especially love this Teen Wolf one!

I would love to own a weaving loom from MaryanneMoodie.

The exact response to this Energy Sword Lamp from TheBackPackShoppe was "duuuude" for both me and my husband, so you know it's gotta be cool.

Sophia finds the greatest vintage clothes for her shop HeartsandHearts. Isn't this 60's dress adorable?

*bonus link* I've got a etsy shop too! You can find under the name JesLesemannArt.

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ten things...

Friday, October 10, 2014

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Pops of neon pink in interiors. Like this room with perfect pillows and this room with a great chair.

Like the headphones above, I'm really loving the trend of making weird things floral. That is especially true when it comes to this skateboard and these gameboys.

More pops of neon with these DIY marbled planters.

I love everything about this church-made-home featured on Design*Sponge.

I've been really considering this hair color. What do you think?
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gettin' buggy with it

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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Creepy, crawly, cool or yucky, bugs are one thing you can count on being interesting to kids. Which is when we were deciding on topics for our science series this summer, bugs couldn't be ignored.

Our program started as it always does: us telling bad jokes while we wait for the kids to get there. We always ask the kids to contribute, and they come up with some great ones! 

"What letter can hurt you if you get to close? B." 
 "What do you call a fly without wings? A walk." 

Once we got everyone sat down, we asked them to build a bug out of the templates we had provided (which you can download for your own use HERE.) While they were building we were given the chance to talk to them about how bugs are put together, how many legs they have, if the size of the wing matters, if the color matters. It was a great way to teach about insect anatomy. And the bugs they came up with were fantastic! A few even made their pictures 3d!

After everyone had gotten their bugs together, we gave them all bug catchers and a magnifying glass (both from Oriental Trading) and sent them on a hunt. Since the tongs have air holes, most of the kids were able to examine the bugs and then let them go, no harm done. We found a lot of spiders, but not a lot of flying bugs. I'd like to do this program again in s different season and see if they get different bugs!

After a half hour if hunting, we brought them in for an "ants on a picnic" snack. Graham crackers with icing and raisins. Yum!

If we did this again: I'd keep a graph of what kind of bugs they found. Disguise the math lesson as a contest, and they won't even know they're doing it!

Reading suggestions:

by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss
by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
by David Shannon

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inspire me... Yao Cheng

Monday, October 6, 2014

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Okay, all of the artists I share on here do beautiful work. A lot of them make me wish that I was as talented as they were, and some of them inspire me to change the way I think about my own work. But very few of them actually make me pick up my paint brush and actually get down to business. Yao Cheng is one of those select few.

I've been into watercolors for a while now, but I'm completely self taught. I was recently asked to teach a watercolor class at a local studio, and I decided that I should probably educate myself a little more on how the pros did it. While on my search, I came across this set of tutorials, and fell in love.

Yao's style is graceful, elegant, light, colorful, and modern. Her invitations are to die for, wonderfully designed and beautifully illustrated, and her abstract work is a dream. She made me totally rethink the watercolor medium with pieces like the one I'm sharing here.

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inspire me... Livio Scarpella

Monday, September 29, 2014

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There's something about fabric and flesh carved in stone that just takes my breath away. Those were always the sculptures that made me stop and look twice at the museum, or actually made me pay attention in art class. It boggles my mind how something so solid can look so soft...

So when I came across Livio Scarpella's series "Ghost Underground," my heart skipped a beat. The real beauty of the series is that it's classic ideas made contemporary by a few minor changes. A bit of detailing in the lace, or the flower crown. And then, the crystals embedded into the heart of the sculpture, representing the soul of the character. Different stones symbolize different moral orientations, which gives these statues a level of humanity.

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ten things...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

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It's been a long long time, haha. So we'll jump right in!

Have you ever wanted a baby dragon? Yes? Well they haven't found those yet, but there is a lizard called the armadillo lizard that is seriously the next best thing.

I love this watercolor mug tutorial from Poppytalk. Simple and messily elegant!

As soon as I saw this post about a Cornershop Stocked with felt goods (all created by Lucy Sparrow), I was immediately jealous. Oh, to live in London!

I really want to try to make some watercolors at home. This tutorial from Premeditated Leftovers for watercolors made from flower petals seems like a great use for my leftover wedding flowers!

I've seen a lot of accent wall tutorials, but I have to say that this Pixelated Wall from Classy Clutter is my favorite. So lovely and unique!
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sketchy outfit thirty : HPLD's Comic Con

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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Here's what I wore to our Comic Con! It is a cosplay of a character of my own creation, who was the face of our con! 

I made a comic to go along with, which I uploaded so you guys could read it. It's silly and cheesy, and I'm kind of okay with that. Enjoy!

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Inspire me: Katherine Sabbath

Monday, August 25, 2014

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I don't really blog about food much, but the artist I want to show you today really takes the cake (groan). I wouldn't usually be THIS excited about dessert, but then again, I never expected dessert design to be so ... edgy. I would go so far as to describe these edible sculptures as rock and roll, which isn't a descriptor I thought I'd ever attach to such colorful and sweet things.

Katherine Sabbath is a baker based in Sydney, Australia. Apparently the whole baking thing is just a hobby, because by day she is a High School teacher. And according to an interview on walterosborne.com, she really likes her teaching job, and wants to keep making changes in the lives of teens. That's something I respect a lot. Also, she likes puns. And has an awesome sense of fashion. So really, she's pretty much the most awesome baker ever. But enough blabbing, on with the yummy stuff.

1 //  2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

Since this is a hobby, Katherine is really only found on Instagram. But if you have an account, you should really go follow her. She will make your mouth water, and your eyes happy.

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HPLD Comic Con

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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For a few years, I've been tossing around a scheme to get a mini-con going at my library. I've been going to cons for many years now (my first was SDCC in 2008), and I had heard whispers of other libraries putting on their own mini comic cons. I have always been one to dream big, so of course I wanted to try this for myself. We live a long way away from the bigger cons (the closest is about 3 hours), and I wanted to show the community how much fun they could be.
Prior to this year, though, the general feeling of everyone at the library was "that seems like a lot of work." I totally understood, but I didn't feel comfortable enough to head up my own event of that size. This year I decided it was time to take on the challenge. So after months of planning and lots of e-mails, phone calls, and research, this spring HPLD Comic Con actually went from being a dream to a reality.

Leading up to the con I tried to do as much advertising as possible. I created a character (shown below) named Maureen who was the face of the con. I put her on all the posters we hung around town, and the bookmarks that we sent home from school with the kids. I also called local businesses, and talked to anyone I could to get the word out.

I went into the day trying to make this feel like a miniature version of the bigger cons. I kept saying that I wanted them to get the "full experience." And that experience started as soon as they walked in the door. We cut out badges for the kids to wear that we printed out on cardstock and added some ribbon to make a lanyard. They got them when they signed in, along with a bag full of flyers and freebies. 

Upstairs we had a sort of "artist ally" full of local art. One of the artists was even selling prints! I was trying to give the students around here some more art recognition, but in a setting that was more their style than the normal coffee house gallery.

Downstairs we had Legos, comic making, diy Minecraft swords, a "flying" photo opportunity, and of course tons of free comics. I was trying to maximize the amount of space we had, while keeping in mind the small number of staff that would be helping, so we had a lot of stations where you could easily entertain yourself without a lot of guidance.

One thing that happened at this con that I really didn't expect was how much epic cosplay we had! Doctors, Spartans, Disney Princesses, Hannibal... we had it all! And there was an extra adorable moment with Spiderman...

This was one of the most satisfying events I've had at the library. One of those events where you really feel like all your hard work paid off. Everyone that helped me was amazing, and they all seemed to be as devoted to the idea as I was. I can't tell you how big my smile got when people told me that this was the first Con they'd been to, but it wouldn't be their last!

The day after our con, we sat down and talked about what worked and what didn't. I had promised myself that if X amount of people came through the doors, we would talk about next year. We hit that goal, so we are already getting into the first stages of planning HPLD Con 2015. This next year will be bigger and better, and if we hit our goals again, this may become a regular thing. Even typing about this now, I can't believe it.

Tips for holding your own con...

It was amazing the help we got from the comic book shops around our area. Make sure to contact them as soon as you start planning. We asked for anything, even just a flyer to stuff our bags with. We wanted to make sure that this con was a starting point for something bigger, a way to introduce the community to the world of comics. The flyers were a great way to give them an idea of the resources that are available even in our rural location!

Contact the 501st. They're an amazing cosplay group based around the Empire from the Star Wars series. As soon as I knew our date for sure, I made sure to contact the Midwest Garrison. They shot out a request, and we actually had a Trooper come to our con! It really added that extra bit of fun for not only the kids, but the adults as well!

Talk to art students in your area. There were a lot of kids that showed up because we did some PR at the local High School's art fair. Half of our artist alley was local students. In my experience, if they are really into the idea you have, they'll try to get anyone they can involved.

Have entertainment going on at all times. This year we had a couple of movies and some comfy couches set up, and some people stayed and watched movies after they had seen all of the stuff we had to offer. We didn't realize people would want to hang around, so I'm glad we decided to show the movies. Next year we want to try to get some panels together to give the kids more things to be involved in.

Be passionate. This con was a lot of work for everyone involved. If you show how much you love it, it will really reflect on the event itself. Think out of the box, solve problems as they come, don't stress over having everything perfect, and most of all HAVE FUN.
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