Reduce Reuse Recycle

I am a hoarder of cardboard. I admit to having boxes filled with boxes filled with other boxes filled with more boxes.

When we lived in Florida recycling was so easy. Even when we lived on the military base our first three years in Alaska, recycling was so easy. They give you a separate can, come pick it up. For free. But one of the bummers about living far out of town like we do now is that recycling is a lot of extra work. It isn’t free. The pick up services are not well maintained. The recycling center to drop off at is thirty minutes away. In the winter it’s not very awesome to drive with a truck bed full of cardboard in blowing snow and negative temperatures. And winter here is loooong.

I still save cans and glass because those items don’t accumulate as fast and it can take a month to fill enough bags to make a worth while trip to the recycling center. But the cardboard. Oh the cardboard. Amazon subscriptions. Costco shopping. Food boxes. Stuff boxes. My husband loathes cardboard. A lot of it becomes fire starter.

Looking at our collection of boxes every week I started thinking there was more we could do than burn, throw away, or fill the entire woodshed until spring. So I started coming up with projects and ideas to put this handy material to good use.

My children love to paint when I paint. And when I’m using canvas they don’t want to use paper and I don’t blame them. If they want to use acrylic paint along side me to create a piece of art, they need more than construction paper. But canvas isn’t cheap. So I started cutting down the thicker corrugated boxes into flat panels and saving the panels for the younger kids to use as their very own “canvas.” Sometimes I even make sure to have some gessoed and white for them but other times (especially the two year old) they are perfectly happy with brown. They love having their own canvas and because we have such an abundance and it free, it’s not a big deal if we have mistakes, do overs, or even if they want to paint a dozen pictures in a day.

I’ve also come up with some sculpture projects.


More recently I started saving the light weight boxes from food. I’ve been using these to make hand bound journals and blank books. With Waldorf homeschooling we learned book binding years ago and it was so much fun to put that skill to work creating these sweet little books. Each cover is hand illustrated. To keep with the recycled theme I filled them with recycled manila paper and used buttons from old clothes for the closures.


I originally intended just to make them for my daughters but I shared a photo of them and people started messaging me to buy them. I now have five different sizes available on my Etsy store.

So if you find yourself swimming in cardboard try and think outside the box. You just may turn trash into treasure.


A Year of Firsts

Merry Christmas!  And happy almost New Years!

2018 was a year of firsts. I published my first coloring book, started an Etsy store and became a vender at a local shop, illustrated my first children’s book and novel map. I figured I would add blogging to my list of firsts so here we are. 😊

Our frosty forest wonderland

Our frosty forest wonderland

I don’t know what direction this blog is going to take, if it will be strictly Art, or if motherhood and homeschooling are going to creep in there too. Which is likely because my life, creative and not, revolves around these little (and not so little) humans.

My coloring book was actually inspired by my daughters who are always asking me to draw things for them to color. Tangled up in Alaska was released in April and is a hand drawn book of woodland coloring adventures featuring animals and places from around the state of Alaska. There are 50 pages of 25 images (2 copies each) varying in difficulty level. In the back of the book I also included an information guide that talks about each picture in the book: moose, bears, goats, etc. The book is available on Amazon and a few local Alaska stores. I hope to have the second volume out this coming spring. That book will be a high seas coloring adventure that has an Alaskan ocean theme.  Eventually I plan do a book or two for Florida as well, as that was my home state for 24 years.

Not long after my coloring book was finished I started thinking about what else I could do with the 25 drawings I’d just finished. That led into opening an Etsy store over the summer. I took some of my work from the coloring book and some watercolor paintings I’ve done and partnered with an online on-demand printer to make onesies, shirts, mugs, prints, etc. This winter I added vinyl stickers of some of my watercolor work. I use Sticker Mule for all of my stickers because they are basically awesome.

My favorite part of the Etsy shop experience is that it became a project that my oldest daughter and I took on together. (There’s the motherhood sneaking in 😄 as well as a shameless plug for my daughter’s jewelry, see pictures above.) “E” is 15 and is such a creative soul. She doesn’t enjoy painting and drawing so much but plays the piano effortlessly and beautifully and I could (and do) listen to her for hours everyday. This summer she got really into beading and jewelry making. E started with a fairy tale theme using book shaped lockets and rose charms and all things pretty. We use a lot of essential oils in our home and that inspired her to get into making diffuser jewelry with lava beads. She likes to keep with the all natural theme with those and so uses only wood, coconut shell, sea shell, gemstones, dried açaí berry beads, and glass with the lava. She’s recently gotten into using leather too and I’m excited to see where that takes her. E’s been selling her creations through our Etsy (<this link goes right to her jewelry) shop and loving it. I think she enjoys packaging up the orders with the little bags, stickers, and thank yous as much as making the jewelry itself. She’s also been selling through a local shop and has been really successful there. As a mom been great having a project that keeps us connected which is something I think is good for kids of all ages and their parents, but especially so of the teen years .

The biggest project I completed this year was illustrating my first children’s book and it all happened rather providentially. E’s favorite author is Brittany Fichter. She is amazing. Brittany does the most unique and meaningful fairy tale re-tellings and original tales of fairies that I’ve ever read, check out her books on Amazon here. After finishing her Classical Kingdom series I noticed her bio mentioned that she was an Air Force wife. Being an Air Force wife for the past 16 years myself, I looked up her fan page on Facebook and messaged her. “Love your work blah blah blah. If you ever get stationed here look me up blah blah.” Well we ended up chatting back and forth a bit and I sent her a link to the coloring book I had just self published because I knew she’d understand the excitement of seeing your work on Amazon for the first time. Brittany ended up asking me to design a book plate for her and then decided to write her first children’s book, that she’d been considering for a while, and asked me to illustrate it. Our book is a classic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. After months of work, over 25 watercolor paintings, both of our mom worlds being hit heavy with kid illnesses for months on end, publishing glitches, and lots of other road blocks, we finally released it just before Christmas! Cinderella is the next book we plan to do and hope to have it released by Christmas 2019, giving ourselves a year instead of 6 months this time. It was quite a project to fit in with homeschooling three kids, but I’m so happy I had the chance to do it.  Brittany also created a teacher/parent packet to go along with the picture book. If you’re interested in that free download follow this link to the Children’s Corner of her website.

Cover art for Beauty &amp; the Beast

Cover art for Beauty & the Beast

Because of that project I was introduced to another author and asked to illustrate a map for the inside of a new novel series by fiction author Melanie Cellier. This project was icing on the cake. I mentioned that we are a homeschool family. We have been homeschooling for over ten years. Many families have different techniques or formats or styles they follow. We have a blend of styles but the  primary model we use is Waldorf methodology.  No computers until High school, lots of writing and hand drawn illustrations for work instead of workbooks or worksheets, lots of reading to the kids, and them to me, handwork (knitting, gardening, painting), woodworking, music, and lots of time outside or in the woods of the five acres we’ve been lucky enough to live on for the last 5 years. One of the things I’ve personally enjoyed most about teaching with a Waldorf education approach is map drawing. I  absolutely love it. I hadn’t ever hand drawn a map until we started homeschooling, but I was instantly hooked. So when Melanie asked me if I’d illustrate one for her new series it was a definite and instant yes. 

Map of the Sekali Empire

Map of the Sekali Empire

And that’s where my art for the year has ended up. I’ve got a northern lights acrylic piece I get to go back and finish now, as everything else got put on hold while I finished up the picture book. And I’ve got some ideas brewing for a stack of blank canvas that’s been begging me for some acrylic attention for the last few months while I’ve focused on watercolors.  And I’ve got four picture books of my own that I’ve written and am working on illustrations for that I hope to have published over 2019.

I’ve taken a couple of the book illustrations and turned them into coloring pages that are free for you to share, print and enjoy. And please! Feel free to leave me a comment about things you’d like read about on this blog: Techniques, supplies I use, how to’s, painting with little ones, etc. 

I hope your 2018 was fabulous and that your 2019 brings new ideas, positive challenges, opportunities, and memories. 

Soli deo Gloria


Wedding Kiss from Beauty &amp; the Beast

Wedding Kiss from Beauty & the Beast