My reviews are based on my personal experience with a product or event. I am not a professional product tester nor do I get paid for any of my blog posts.

The items that I post reviews on, have either been purchased on the internet or through a local vendor. Additionally I will review items that I got on sale, as a gift or as a sample from either the manufacurer or some other source.

Note: always read the manufacturers directions on how to properly use a product and craft carefully. Additionally, I am an Amazon Associate and may earn a few cents (literally) from your clicking on my Amazon links. Since they raised the minimum payout from earnings to $10 I haven't seen a credit for a while but eventually I will get one.

Every penny counts when trying to set a budget to get supplies to use for my reviews, tutorials and hauls. However, you do not have to use my links. You can use your favorite search engine to find the best price for your budget.

Zakka Handmades Blog Tour 2013 With Give-A-Ways at Every Stop.

Zakka Handmades Blog Tour 2013, begins today and runs through Wednesday, July 17, 2013.  At every stop, readers get a chance to win a copy of the new book "Zakka Handmades" by Amy Morinaka.

The list below are a very talented group of bloggers and designers who are taking part in the Zakka Handmades Blog Tour:

6/24/13 - Kerry verykerryberry  (interview post)
6/26/13  Sachiko Tea Rose Home 
6/28/13  Jeni In Color Order 
7/1/13 – Amber One Shabby Chick 
7/3/13 – Kristen Feeling Stitchy 
7/5/13 – Hiromi Harujion Design 
7/8/13 – Amy nanaCompany 
7/10/13 – Lisa and Sarah A Spoonful of Sugar 
7/12/13 – Mette Erleperle   
7/15/13 – Sarah and Rachel Roxy Creations 
7/17/13 - Anna Noodlehead

Note: They will have a giveaway at every stop so make sure to follow along with the tour!

chick chick sewing

Feel free to grab the button above at Amy's blog:




Allergy Free "Enjoy Life's (TM) Cupcakes and Sweet Treats For Everyone!"

If you have gluten intolerance's or have to be wary of specific allergens, the book "Enjoy Life's Cupcakes and Sweet Treats for Everyone" will be of interest for you.  The book offers more than 150 recipes that are allergy friendly.   I recently read my friend's copy of the book

"Enjoy Life's(TM) Cupcakes and Sweet Treats for Everyone!: 150 Delicious Treats That Are Safe for Anyone with Food Allergies, Intolerance's, and Sensitivities" and was pleased to find some really easy to follow recipes.  I tried out the Cinnamon Scone recipe and my kids love them.  I have to say that this book has a really good selection of allergy free and gluten free recipes for baked good, cupcakes, scones and more.

If you want to see the sample recipe that I tried from the book, Stefani Girard has posted a great recipe for "Cinnamon Scones" on the Craftside blog for her readers to try.  It will give you a good idea of how good these recipes are for those who need alternatives because of allergy or gluten issues.


Book Review: Art Lab For Little Kids by Susan Schwake

 Art Lab for Little Kids by Susan Schwake is a great resource for home schooling parents who are looking for art book they can use to explore age appropriate art techniques for their preschool aged children.

·      The 52 Labs from Art Lab for Little Kids (Lab Series) are created to stand-alone and are accessible by readers of all ages who work with young children.  This is a technique-based book that offers 52 opportunities to learn different techniques using a variety of materials. Because of this, parents don’t have to worry about their children being exposed to age inappropriate material or nudity. If you go to Amazon, you can see the table of contents for this book.

    Also, even if you don’t have an art background this book is great for parents who want to encourage their young children to explores different areas in art like: collage, drawing, mixed media, painting, paper art, pastels, and even print making.   The book has great photos of what the finished projects might look like (see above), the emphasis being on each child creating their own masterpiece rather than reproducing the author’s work.  Since the author wants to inspire creativity, there are enough step-by-step photo to get an idea of the process without going to the extreme like you might find other craft books.  Each lab gives some background information on the artist who inspired the lab. 

    This is a wonderful way to inspire creativity in young children and encourage them to express themselves through art. Once the lab is mastered, you can work beyond it. 
        It is also a wonderful way to incorporate recycling with kid friendly crafting projects.  My daughter wanted to find a way to use up some of the brown paper bags we get when we go the farmers market.  The bags vary in size but they are all blank. She also wanted to create a project she could do with a four year old she babysits.  
        We took ideas and inspirations from Lab 44 (Torn paper collage) and combined it with Lab 43 (Sewing Cards) and Lab 32 (Fabric Collage) to create a "Father's Day" gift bag from a recycled brown bag.  These labs gave her inspiration to combine color, lines, patterns and squares for her project. Then she reviewed some of the basic techniques for coloring so she could come up with her project using the materials she had on hand which were markers. 
        The book helped her figure out how to create the project and how to teach it to a young child.  The author makes it easy to importance of keeping projects simple and manageable when working with young children.

   Recycled Brown Bag Father's Day Gift Bag project:
   Supplies needed:
   Brown Bag (we used bags from the Farmers Market)
   Paint or markers
   Hole Punch
I  Iron
    Step 1: Iron out the brown bag to remove creases.
    Step 2: Plan out your design and color it in with paints or markers. She choose to add some patterning on top of the colors to make it look more interesting for the 4 year old.

    Step 4: Help the child write "Dad" or personalize it with a name. I find teaching round letters is easier for little ones to learn.  Don't be tempted to personalize it for them.  Let them practice their writing skills.
    Step 5: Punch holes into the top of the bag so there are holes to weave in the ribbon. Once the gift is in the bag, just help the child weave the ribbon into the bag.  Depending on the age of the child, you may want tie it off with a decoration or take this opportunity to practice tying a simple bow.

    This book has a large selection of ideas and projects that are easy to follow. It also offers an accessible list of materials that are easy to find and affordable.  The author provides hints on how to make it easier for parents to be more organized when doing art projects and minimize potential accidents.  I like the fact that the author does not talk down to the reader, like other books do. She also offers some great additional ideas for the parent to try beyond the projects in the book. 


A Review of the Create Mixed Media Retreat 2013 Artist Faire in Irvine, California

  This year's  Create Mixed Media Retreat was held on May 29 through June 2, 2013 in Orange County at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine, California.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the "Create Mixed Media Retreat", it is a great event put on by the people from Interweave Press and Cloth Paper Scissors.  The Create Mixed Media Retreat events take place in various locations the U.S. and offers a variety of classes which can vary from making art journals to jewelry making.  They also have a great selection of technique based classes like art journaling methods, surface designs (including metal work), sewing, collage, polymer clay, power tools, and more.
  Joanne Sharpe (author of Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop Artful Lettering: Tools and Techniques for Discovering Your Style) taught a "Free Motion Tapestry" class where students learned to
Joanne Sharpe
design and create their own hand painted fabric.  They also got to learn some free motion sewing techniques that brought dimension to the finished pieces.  As you can see in the picture below, the pieces came out gorgeous.
Hand painted material by Joanne Sharpe
Lisa Englebrecht (author of Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering: A Mark-Making Workbook for Crafters, Cardmakers, and Journal Artists), also taught three classes at this venue.
Lisa Engelbrecht

Lisa taught a fun class on how to write on fabric and make some pretty terrific banners.  Some of the projects can be viewed on her flicker account.  She also taught a really cool "Hand Lettered" t-Shirt class.  The students got to create their inspiration t-shirt using the techniques that Lisa taught them in class.  In the past Lisa has also taught a variety of calligraphy classes and lettering techniques. Below is a video that is a sample of one of her writing technique demonstrations.

The third class she taught at this show, was a fun "Fascinator" class.
Sample Fascinator from Lisa Engelbrecht's class.

In this class the students learned the basics to designing their own Fascinators from a variety of materials, including feathers from sustainable farm grown flocks.  They were quite impressive to see in person (for pictures from her class, just check out Lisa's FB page to find a link).

Assorted materials and sample Fascinators for Lisa's class
They also have a great "Artist Faire" which is free to the public.  This is a great opportunity for the public to go and make purchases from a wide variety of art materials as well as work from the various artists in attendance.  One set of tables had four different authors in attendance, showing off their their artwork, crafts and books.
Amy Morinaka, Stefanie Girard, Jeannine Stein, and Lisa Englebrecht

I had a chance to talk to each author and take a few pictures of their work.  The first author is Amy

Morinaka, who's first book "Zakka Handmades: 24 Projects Sewn from Natural Fabrics to Help Organize, Adorn, and Simplify Your Life" was just released. For those who are unfamiliar with Zakka style, it is a fashion and home good designs style that has spread from Japan.  It specifically refers to hand-sewn items for the home, as well as simple clothing.  On her blog "Chick Chick Sewing", Amy has some great projects that vary from simple to advanced.  Like her book, the projects include some very clever and lovely designs made from some beautiful fabrics.

Amy Morinaka

Amy is an accountant who's love of fabric combine with her sewing abilities has inspired her to design some very fun projects for this book.

I also got to spend a few moments speaking with Jeannine Stein, the author of two books

(Adventures in Bookbinding: Handcrafting Mixed-Media Books and   Re-Bound: Creating Handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materials ). Recently, her work has also been featured in the "Pages"magazine from Cloth Paper Scissors.

Below is a beautiful examples of the many creative ways, Jeannine uses ephemeral to accent the handmade books she makes.

This is another great example of the books she makes with both new and recycled materials.
The next picture is of a recipe book she made from a recycled box of chocolates.

Here is a peek at the inside of the book.
And a look at some of the ephermal kits she had on hand.
The kit below has some cool recycled materials from books, labels, and more.

Stefanie Girard, who blogs for Craftside blogger and Craft Gossip (recycled crafts), was also on hand.
 If you have never visited the "Craftside" blog or the "Sweater Surgery" blog, you are in for a treat.  Stefanie often posts some tutorials and other tidbits from the new books that are being released.

Stefanie Girard, is also the author of the book "Sweater Surgery: How to Make New Things with Old Sweaters".  In her book, everything is made from recycled sweaters with a fun variety of projects like the messenger bag below and the cute red cowboy boots for infants (behind the purse).

If you like learning new technique from some great teachers then I highly recommend the "Create Mixed Media Retreat".  Check their website to find out when one is coming to your area.