Bookish Fun: Paper Heart Chains

So I guess calling this craft a bookish project might be a bit of a stretch (ie books are made of paper, har har), but it’s my blog and I do what I want, so here we go.

My daughter begged me to put up a bead curtain between the living room and the toy room, but since we have wee ones in the house, that was a hard no. Not wanting to completely disappoint her, I decided to make some valentine’s inspired paper heart chains to put up instead. They were easy and fun to make. Not to mention the whole project was completed in less than 45 minutes.

What you’ll need:

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A sewing machine (a quilting machine works best for going through thick paper)

Scissors

Quilting thread (you could use regular thread but it’s more likely to break)

Several sheets of card stock (whatever color/pattern you like. I stuck with classic Valentines’ colors: pink, peach, beige, red, coral, cream, etc.)

Step One:

Fold your card stock into uneven thirds. (Shown below) This will help you get the most hearts for your paper and minimize waste. (Be sure to cut hearts from both folds!)

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Here’s another angle so you can tell if you’re doing it right. Unfolded it looks like this:

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Step Two:

Cut out a bazillion hearts. (Not really, but cut a lot. Cut the like wind, very old one. Bonus points if you know what film that’s from.)

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It’s more fun if you cut them into all different sizes. Here’s what I ended up with when mine were all cut:

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Step Three:

Sew those puppies right down the middle, one at a time! If you want some space between each heart, just run the machine for a bit and pull gently on the heart you just sewed through, and then add the next one. (Here are some pictures to demonstrate, because it’s hard to visualize.)

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Tip: Make sure you leave some extra thread at the top of each chain or else you won’t have anything to hang them up by! (Shown below)

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Here’s another shot after I added the second heart. You can kind of see the spacing. I did larger spaces than this too, just remember to pull the preceding heart gently or else you’ll break the thread.

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Step Four:

Once you’ve added all the hearts you want, cut the chain free and see how it looks.

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(Oh, and then repeat until you have all the chains you want.)

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Fun Variant:

If you want to make a “pop-up” heart, sew two hearts that are about the same size (you can match color too, if you like) and then fold it out. (shown below)

(Yes, that’s my toddler trying to free my needle from the machine, lol. He’s a great helper.)

Step Five:

Tape your chains to the place of your choice and enjoy them!

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I think they turned out pretty cute and my daughter likes them much more than the bead curtain!

Happy Bookish (Belated) Valentine’s Day!

 

Book Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

So I’m almost two years too late to this party but I picked this book a) because it had possibly the most breathtaking cover I’ve ever seen in my life, and b) I thought it might make a good comp title. (As it turns out Abigail Rook is a kindred spirit to my own Helena and I consider that a win!)

Jackaby

 

Overall, this story sucks you in and makes it difficult to put down. Abigail is lovable and strong, so tagging along for her adventure was thrilling and at times nerve-wrecking. (So excited the sequel is out! On the other hand, some foreshadowing has me ultimately worried for her.) Jackaby is a refreshing character. Awkward, not necessarily handsome, and NOT a love interest. It was nice to see a relationship between a male and female lead that didn’t turn romantic. He was witty, but not above being teased. So socially inept that it lead to many hilarious interactions with other characters.

I also appreciated the references to several old superstitions and the new spins he put on mythical creatures. Ritter has an interesting way of blending fantasy and history, in a way that makes it feel like the supernatural elements just fit into the existing world. He also did well with making all the side and supporting characters feel distinct and real.

On the downside, there was a lot of passive voice which put distance between the reader and Abigail, sometimes during scenes where I really wanted to feel like I was right next to her, and not being told the story after the fact. (Does that make sense?) There were also several instances where I felt like the language was too modern which pulled me out of the historical feel of the novel.

My biggest complain would be the time it took to wrap up the novel after the climax. Without spoiling anything, the climax has your heart racing, your fingers itching to turn the next page, and then it takes six  more chapters to end the book. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted denouement. I wanted the classic detective story where said detective gets to point out all the clues and state the final connection between the murders and the motives. I didn’t even mind that we got a glimpse into what the next novel would be about. But some of the closing chapters felt like darlings that could have been shortened or cut to keep up the fabulous pace set by the rest of the novel.

Despite my few complaints (honestly, this book was so much fun), I’m very excited to go pick up Beastly Bones and see what Jackaby and Abigail are up to next. If you haven’t read it, read it! And if you’ve already read it, forgive me for being so terribly late to pick it up.

Making Time To Write

People get confused when I tell them I’m a “practically” single mother. To make a long story short, I am married but I’m an oil rig wife. This is a lot like saying my spouse is in the military because he’s never around. He lives on rig and we see him an average of 2-4 days a month, never on any kind of schedule. So taking care of our four children (aged 6.5 years, 5 years, 2 years, and 4 months) falls completely to me.

You can imagine how shocked people are when, after I explain my married-singleness, I also tell them I’m an author trying to become published.

“Where do you find time to read? Let alone write?!?!?!?!?!”

I hear this more often than almost anything else. (What I do hear more? “Wow. You’re busy.” Usually said by strangers as I push two grocery carts through the store, one filled with babies and the other with food.) But you know what? I watched Empire Records with my sister on repeat in middle school and I remember what Liv Tyler’s character said at he beginning of the movie: “There are 24 usable hours in every day.”

Yes, we need to sleep, and work (I do eyelash extensions part-time out of my home), and no, I don’t take speed or live off coffee (I never drink the stuff. I prefer hot chocolate.), but with a few tips I’ve picked up along the way, I’ve managed to not only complete several books on my TBR list, but also complete 3 novels. (WIPs are plentiful and sharing my time, lol.)

So here are some of my tricks/tips to getting my reading and writing done.

One: Never be caught without a book.

I tuck my book into my purse or diaper bag before I leave and also carry it around the house. So, if I get stuck waiting for a doctor’s appointment or have a few minutes while I wait for something to boil, I read. If I can find a middle grade audio book that I feel is appropriate for my kids, I listen to it in the car as we buzz around town or to activities. If you have an iPod (I do not. Yes, I am lame.) you could listen to books while you walk around campus or to work.

Two: Carry a notebook/notepad with you to jot down ideas.

I find this helps a lot when I’m plotting scenes in my head throughout the day as I wash dishes or when my son is doing a homeschooling project he doesn’t need help with. If I think through everything enough during the day, make a few quick notes about exact lines or points of a scene, I’m usually able to bust out the chapter a lot quicker once I finally get to sit down and write it.

Three: Remember that multitasking is your friend.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only with a Must-Get-Done list that’s ten times longer than my Want-To-Do list. I find the best way to knock out the things I have to do is to try and get them done at the same time. (ie, I will start the laundry, then start dinner, and clean the living room while it’s cooking.) That way, once the kiddos are down for bed at 8 pm, I can sit on the couch and read/write to my heart’s content because everything else got done while they were awake! (Oh, and I make them help with picking up and putting things away. Chores are their friends.)

Fun fact: the picture below is a pretty accurate description of how I get most of my reading and writing done.

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Four: Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to weed out or prune down the unnecessary activities in life. This is something that I’ve really had to be strict with since my husband went out into the field three years ago and it’s still a bit of a juggling act.

I realized early on that if I wanted to home-school my children, have a clean house, maintain an active lifestyle, and become a well read, published author, I would have to think long and hard about what I would choose to spend my time on. Every minute is assigned (even if it’s a mind-melting 1/2 hour to unwind), and I have to be dedicated to keeping the assignments.

Things I cut out or cut down on:

Facebook (I’ll post life-changing events, “We had another baby!” or get updated addresses for Christmas cards, but otherwise, I stay off it.)

Movies and television shows (If I have the choice between t.v. or reading, I’ll always choose reading, but my bi-annual date night to the movies is all the more exciting for it!)

Sleep (Joking, but only sort of.)

Drama (Just let it go, okay? The time and energy spent on holding grudges or spending time with people that are awful to you isn’t worth it. Detox your life and don’t feed the trolls.)

Five: Have creative releases

Things I do when I need a break, can’t get into the writing groove, or am waiting for feedback from betas: 

Craft (I make gifts for friends and work on my kids Christmas gifts throughout the year. It’s a creative outlet that has a shorter “baking” time, if you will, and it’s encouraging to mark something off the creative To-Do list.)

Work out (Nothing clears the mind like a Barre/Zumba/Pi-Yo class.)

Edit for CPs (Because fair is fair, and good friends beta for each other, am I right?)

I like to think that all these things are productive, and are things that need to get done, but also provide a  creative release. They’re also all things that I don’t feel guilty assigning time to, and that’s big for me. (Maybe it’s weird, but part of my OCD is feeling guilt about wasted time. It’s like sitting around= missed opportunities.)

We all have different schedules, demands on our time, and things that we want to get done. No matter how different we are though, if you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that we share the dream of being published authors. So if your busy and struggling to make time to write, I hope some of these tips help. I hope you have some creative releases, and most of all, I hope we all get where we want to go.

Write on, friends!

 

 

Bookish Fun: Book Club Schedule Bookmark

I have a confession: I am a craftaholic, which means if I can come up with an excuse to do any kind of craft, I will. So imagine what my brain screamed at me when I had several of the ladies in the book club asking which book was next, and what came the month after (just in case), because apparently our Facebook page is hard to find and they wanted to know. Of course they wanted to know! Can’t read the books if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be reading. So my brain screamed, “Hey, do you know what would be really useful and fun to make? Book club schedule bookmarks!” And I was like, yes. Oh yes.  I shall make them and hand them out and they shall be wonderful.

If you’d like to follow in my useful gifts/craftaholic footsteps, here’s how I made them.

 

What you need:

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The schedules printed out on plain white paper or card stock. (I imagine you could use a any light colored paper too, (blues, yellows, etc.) but I was trying to be cheap and just used what I had on hand.) I made 12 overall, and was able to fit 3 to a sheet when I was printing to save paper.

Card stock- any color/pattern/print you like. But word to the wise! If you use white paper (instead of card stock) to print the schedules and vary dark card stock behind it, you will be able to “see” it through the white paper after it’s laminated.

Glue Dots

Scissors

Hole Punch

Ribbon- any color you like/size you like. I do recommend using a skinny ribbon though, as it’s easier to use.

 

Step One:

Type, print out, and cut the schedules. I did the Month, title, and author. If you wanted them smaller, you could probably just do the month and title though.

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Step Two:

Glue them to the card stock, leaving however thick of an edging you want around and between them. I eyeballed it and tried to give about 1/4 inch edging to each side.

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Tip: You could use wet glue, or hot glue, but it leaves the paper looking wonky. I love glue dots because they’re mess free. You just press a corner of the schedule to a dot and it sticks without messing up the paper! Do this for each corner and then press the the schedule to the card stock.

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This is me trying to one-handledly take a picture of attaching the glue dots. Really though, it’s so easy, I did it one handed, lol.

Step Three:

Once the schedules are attached, cut them out! I was able to fit three schedules for every one piece of card stock (8×10 inches, btw).

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Step Four:

Laminate them! I headed over to my friendly neighborhood FedEx store and used their machine. They charge you per sheet of laminate used. I was able to fit four bookmarks per sheet, so I only had to pay for three sheets. (It cost about $6.)

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Step Five:

Cut them out again! (And yes, the guy working there did look at me like I was nuts for taking pictures while I did this.)

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This was their handy cutting thingy.(No, I don’t know what they’re actually called, and yes, I’m lame.) The guy taught me how to use it and took off. He said to make sure you leave a slight edging around these when you’re cutting as well, about 1/8 of an inch or less.

Step Six:

Punch a hole in the top middle or corner of the bookmark. This is actually harder than it sounds at first. You have to get it just right: not so high as to break your “hole” but not so low as to punch the words. It’s a fine line, people. (Yes, I’m being dramatic.)

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Step Seven:

Cut your ribbon. It can be any length you like, just in case you wondered. (Although I’d air on the side of too long, or else the next steps get hard.) Then fold ribbon in half.

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Step Eight:

Put the loop end through the hole.

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Step Nine:

Put the loose ends through the loop, and pull tight! (This image below is what it should look like right before you tighten it.)

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Step Ten:

Hand the finished bookmarks out to the fabulous women and men in your book club! (Aren’t they cute? AND USEFUL. I love useful.)

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This is super easy, and kid friendly too. My little worker bees even helped finished these up.

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For a variant on this project you could consider doing the following:

-A bookmark with your favorite quote on it, or a friend’s favorite quote and then give it as a gift.

-Printing out your personal TBR list for the month/year (depending on how long it is and how many you want to make).

-Or printing a summer reading list out for students/your children/friend’s children/anyone…. Bueller? Bueller?

Hope you enjoyed this! If you make some, I’d love to see how yours turned out:)