Tag Archives: inspiration

Book Review: Color & Scratch Mindfulness: “Be Inspired. Be Relaxed. Be Creative”

Color and Scratch Mindfulness

By: Dover

Why should kids have all the fun of creating cool pictures with specialized scratch art paper and a stylus? Color & Scratch Mindfulness has pages of Zen pictures to color as well as a packet of scratch art pictures to reveal with the included stylus.

Each picture to color has quotes to help you meditate or just relax while using your favorite colored pencils or paint pens to complete the designs. Such as “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without” – Buddha. There are also quotes from authors and poets.

Color & Scratch Mindfulness gives you 23 coloring pages and 10 scratch art cards. Perhaps you will leave them in the book when finished or maybe frame one or more of them to enjoy. The choice is up to you. All you have to do is eloquently put on the back cover “Be Inspired. Be Relaxed. Be Creative”. I would like to add: Be Joyful.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Art Studio Secrets – Unlock Your Creativity

Art Studio Secrets

By: Majorie Sarnat

How are you creative? Before you say to yourself you are not an artist or creative, think again, outside the box this time. What is your medium? Mine is words and yarn, because writing and knitting allows me to express myself. So, back to you – are you a gardener, baker or woodworker? Then you are an artist. Would you like to become better at what you do or create paintings, sculptures and other works of art? Lucky for us New York Times bestselling author Marjorie Sarnat has compiled over 300 tips and tricks to help you develop your skills as an artist, using many different mediums.

Art Studio Secrets inspires and informs the readers in an easy to read format. While most of the information in the book is aimed at adults, here are some tips that are appropriate children. Each kid-friendly tip is marked as such. You and your budding artist will enjoy spending time with each other. Creativity always trumps electronics. One of my favorite kid tips is using a plastic ice cube tray to hold acrylic paints. This cuts down on messes, keeps the colors separate and can be covered so the paint can be used again within a few days.

Each tip is a paragraph or two in length and organized in chapters for your convenience. All are titled to catch your eye. Such as “Size Matters”, “It’s Good to be Negative” and “Make Things Look Shiny”.  Just reading though the tips you will become excited to put paint to paper or pull out a pencil and sketch.

While reading Art Studio Secrets, I found out that dating back to the 1600’s artists created trading cards. Meant to be given away and not sold, they are the size of baseball cards. In the 1990’s Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) began creating cards that are signed, dated original mini works of art. Ms. Sarnat suggests creating them with your kids to use as Christmas tree decorations. Giving them as gifts would delight grandparents. They would also make the perfect Christmas gift tag that can be cherished by the recipient instead of tossed out with the wrappings.

Even if creating something inspired by this amazing art book is just a few minutes of relaxation for you, never to be seen by anyone else that is okay. I firmly believe that art feeds your soul no matter what medium you choose and it doesn’t matter if it is just for you or to be shared with others. Ms. Sarnat will enlighten and inspire you with ideas and information. Wake up the artist that lives within you and your children by reading this book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Happy, The Journal – Find Your Inner Joy Daily

Happy, The Journal

By: Fearne Cotton

 Fearne Cotton gives the best description of this journal on the cover: “A chance to write joy into every day and let go of perfect” It is a journal that is so much more than blank pages. I don’t know about you, but I have journals that have more empty than full pages. January starts out fine, but about spring my inspiration gives way to spring, then summer and dribbles down to nothing the rest of the year.

Happy will inspire and encourage you to not only journal, but will help you embrace the joy in your life. Sometimes the joy in everyday life is hard to find when you are living it. Looking back to crazy days when my kids were little and money was tight I can see the joy now, but then it was hard to embrace.

There are no blank pages staring at you when you open Happy. January 1st begins with the simple instruction: “Time for that cosmic order list. Write out your wish list for the year ahead….but as if each one WILL happen.” How cool is that!? Every page has some type of inspiration to keep you feeling positive about your day, and consequently your life.

Some days you are asked to doodle a picture. Don’t worry, no one will see it if you make a stick figure or paint a Picasso. This is your journal to keep to yourself or share. Too often we are too hard on ourselves. This journal may give you the inspiration and encouragement to believe in yourself and become someone who is happy more often than not. Who knows what goals you can accomplish in 2019 and beyond? Sometimes we just need that Happy push to make some dreams come true.

There are also full pages of important things to contemplate each month – I like to think of them as profound billboards – throughout the book. A few of my favorites include the following:

           “The first step in getting what you want is getting rid of the things you don’t want”

            “Happiness is handmade”

            “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan”

With January right around the corner, this is the perfect time to order this book. But there isn’t a year anywhere on this book so if you start it in August and let it roll into a different year, go for it! These are your dreams, your goals and your joy to find in your own way.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Art of Hiding – Fab Find!

Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding

By Amanda Prowse

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and Penguin in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Nina lives a charmed life. Her husband owns an extremely successful construction company, she has two sons she adores and spends her days as a housewife and mom. Gone are the difficult days of her childhood. She was so young when her mother died that she only remembers a few things about her. Her dad tried his best, but work was scarce so Nina and her older sister Tiggy were raised by their grandmother. She wasn’t the kindest woman. Undoubtedly she was trying, but there was never enough space or food during those years.

Life changed the moment Nina fell for Finn. He swept her off her feet and promised to give her the world. He followed through on that promise. When they moved into their home, The Tynings, they filled it with high end furniture, lovingly picked out together. Nina no longer worried about money; Finn took care of paying all of the bills and making sure their family had everything they needed and wanted.

Nina was at her son’s high school the day her world began to collapse. She receive a call from the hospital, Finn had been in an accident. She was devastated. Her sons, Conner and Declan were shocked by the news and Nina was determined to keep everything together for them. They only had a few days left until a break from the private school they attended, so both boys returned to their routine to keep things as normal as possible.

Then, to make matters worse, the shattering news that Finn had been hiding something slammed into Nina like a runaway train. The results would change the lives of Nina and her sons forever.

This is an amazing novel. The depth of Nina’s pain is profoundly sad, yet hopeful. She loved and trusted her husband, but now his memory is forever tainted with his deeds. Her life has become a struggle again and she doesn’t know how she will be able to go on. If it weren’t for her two sons she might give up.

The growth and change of the characters is one of the best story lines I have read in a long time. Prowse pulls the reader in and takes you with Nina through the good and bad. It makes the reader think about the most important things in life. You can decide if you think money can buy happiness. I also love the way family and friends play a big part in this novel. Can the love of family transcend years of estrangement and hurtful slights that have piled up over years?

The Art of Hiding is the first book I’ve read by Amanda Prowse, but I guarantee it will not be the last. I cannot express how much I loved this book. The characters, the plot, and the emotions it inspires are a roller coaster ride in reading bliss. I cried when Connor gave his speech at the sports award night, I laughed at the sister’s demolition of an offending wall. The end of the book was realistic and satisfying. I suggest getting this book as soon as possible and carving out time to enjoy Prowse’s expert storytelling.

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Do you push yourself?

Do you push yourself when choosing what to knit? I spent years making easier garments like baby sweaters and winter hats. I might pick an interesting stitch, but honestly didn’t get out of my comfort zone.

Then I started talking with a friend of mine at work who has been knitting for a couple of years and makes beautiful lace shawls, intricate scarves and even writes her own sock patterns. She inspires me. When I told her I couldn’t do lace (never having tried it) she insisted it was really easy and I had to try. I’ve finished a beautiful simple lace scarf for my boss’ Christmas present last year. And currently am working on a my second lace shawl.

She also urged me to start the TKGA Master Knitter’s program. I’ve made 2 of the swatches, but found a lovely wool at Stitches Midwest that I have to use. The stitch definition is exquisite! Of course I didn’t buy it then, but today I ordered it from Unwind Yarn House. It is their “house” yarn – Timothy Street. Check out their website to see what they have to offer. Wendy is great to work with. (www.timothystreetyarns.com & www.unwindyarnhouse.com)

I also draw inspiration to push myself from other knitting blogs, magazines and the current book I’m reading. “Sweater Quest” by Adrienne Martini is the journey she takes during her  “year of knitting dangerously”.  Her challenge was knitting a famous Alice Starmore pattern; her Mary Tudor sweater. Hum, Fair Isle might be my next self-challenge.

In order to grow and learn, I have to move out of my blanket and sock comfort zone. It is almost September and I signed up for a mystery shawl KAL. It has beads (never used them!) and tiny lace yarn (it scares me!). That is my stretch for this year. January 1 will be my “time to get serious” date for the Master’s Program. No excuses like this year!!!

What do you do to inspire yourself and push yourself? Your knitting is art. Most of the time it is ok to do what you know and do it well. Once in a while, it is good to stretch your comfort level to the breaking point and do something you never imagined you could do. If I can do it you can too!

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