Brush Lettering


Whew! It has been quite some time since I’ve posted anything.  Life sure has been busy lately!
It’s finally starting to settle down though, so I decided to take up a new art – brush lettering.  I’ve always been fascinated by fonts (I have hundreds of fonts downloaded to my computer, and I’ve always been drawn to typography).  Last year, I took a hand lettering class on Skillshare, but that was more how to make signs using various fonts.  I wanted to learn how to actually make the font myself, so I sat down to find the best guide I could to teach myself the art of brush lettering.

What is brush lettering? It is a style of font, with thicks and thins, made by using either a watercolor brush, or a marker that has a brush-like tip (anything that will allow you to make thick and thin lines just depending on the amount of pressure you put onto the tip).

After much research, I decided on learning how to brush letter using Random Olive’s Brush Lettering Practice Guide .  Her guides were by far the most comprehensive I found – not only does it include both upper and lowercase as well as numbers, she also includes two sizes – large to start off with, and then smaller once you gain more control.  All in all, for $27, you get nearly 300 pages of traceable practice sheets as well as a 45 day guide to get it all done in!
You can buy yours by clicking the ‘buy now’ button below: (affiliate link)
Buy Now!
I sent mine off to Office Depot to print, and put it all in a binder for easy organization.  The great thing is that you can print off as many sheets as you want, so if in a few months you decide you need to brush up on your lettering (get it? brush up?), you can print off more; or if you’re having trouble with a certain letter (I’m looking at you lowercase k!), you can print off extra sheets of just that one letter.

The supplies needed to get started are minimal (but, once you become obsessed like me, you’ll see that there’s so much out there that you’ll want errr… need!

I started with a set of Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush and Artist’s Loft Watercolors.  You could use any watercolor brush, but the Pentel Aquash brushes hold water in the barrel so you’re not constantly dipping into a cup of water – definitely a time saver when you’re trying to concentrate on forming your letters!

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When I started lettering, I started a second Instagram user account so I could track my progress (and you can follow along at TheLeftyLetterer !) I recommend this so that you can see just how far you’ve come – and there’s tons of other letterers out there with dedicated accounts so you can follow them to gain inspiration. Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 10.27.49 AM

Once you get into it, you’ll find there’s so many wonderful supplies to assist you in your lettering.  I got into gold leafing (another post on that soon – I was trying to find a way to mimic the Minc Foil Applicator that I couldn’t justify buying….just yet 😉 )

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Hopefully soon I will be confident enough to start offering hand lettered signs in my Etsy shop!Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 10.28.16 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 10.28.29 AM

How about you? Have you started in hand lettering? If not, why? What’s holding you back? Anything you’d like me to cover in a future blog post?

*This post contains affiliate links. It does not cost you any extra to shop via my link, but I get a small percent back to help keep my blog going. Thank you!

The Ultimate “I’m Going to Disney” Gift Set

Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE Disney! I haven’t featured too many Disney crafts on my blog recently and that’s because I haven’t been to Walt Disney World in FOUR years! Four! (We did go to Disneyland twice in there, but they were both real quick trips. Disneyland is still amazing but it’s no Disney World 😉 )

A few months ago, my husband and I were in the car and out of the blue he said those magical words “hey- do you want to plan a trip to Disney this summer?” Is he new around here? Of course I do!  We booked our trip, picked out our restaurants to make ADR’s (Disney-speak for ‘reservations’), carefully chose our Fastpass + selections and more.  Our Magic Bands just came in the mail the other day and now it’s starting to become real!

I’ve been crafting like crazy these days – mostly with my embroidery machine, and I want to share this ultimate “I’m Going To Disney” gift set.  This set would be great for helping get your kids ready for Disney, or to give as a gift for someone you know who’s making the trip, or just  for the Disney fanatic in your life!  I’m a 30-something year old with no kids and I love everything on this list, so its not just for kids! The best part about this list is that it features all small businesses, so instead of supporting large corporations, you’ll be supporting a small business.


1. Yay! You booked your trip!  Now your kids are asking “How many days until we go to Disney?” on a daily (hourly?) basis!  Enter the countdown calendar – make enough paper chains to count down and let them remove one chain a day until it’s time to leave.

Purchase here: Countdown Calendar

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2.  You’re spending hours on My Disney Experience planning your perfect trip when it suddenly hits you how many tens of thousands of people will be in the park with you. What if your little one wanders away and gets separated from you?  Enter this hand stamped necklace.  On the front, it looks like an ordinary necklace, the sturdy washer means it can be worn by both boys and girls, and can be customized with whatever you want – several Disney-like phrases are suggested; hakuna matata, to infinity and beyond, let it go, etc. But the bag is where the magic is – on the back side your phone number is stamped.  Just teach your kids if they get lost to go up to the nearest Disney Cast Member and show them the back of their necklace. You’ll be reunited in no time!

Purchase here: Child Safety Necklace


3. Time to start thinking about how you’ll get to Disney. Will you be traveling by car or plane? Either way, you’ll need some things to keep those little ones occupied! These are also perfect for some quiet time in your hotel room.
For the younger crowd (1-5), this busy book will keep little fingers busy for hours. You can mix and match/ customize the pages to meet the needs of your child.
Read more here: Busy Book
Purchase here: Busy Book

For older children, these crayon holders and covered notepads are great for drawing, playing games, keeping a trip diary and can double as an autograph book once in the Disney parks!

Purchase here: Big Hero :: Elsa


For kids of all ages, these felt ‘non-paper’ dolls will keep you entertained for hours! Perfect for playing dress up, telling stories, etc.
Read more about them here: Non Paper Dolls
Purchase here: Non Paper Dolls

4. Your Magic Bands arrived in the mail today! Vacation must be right around the corner! Don’t want your Magic Bands to look like anyone else’s? Fear not, the company Magic Your Band is here to help. This company makes ‘skins’ that can be applied to your Magic Band- choose from many of their pre-existing designs or if you’re artistically inclined, design your own! They offer discounts when you purchase more than one, and offer free shipping to boot! I had mine in less than a week from ordering.  I cannot say enough about their awesome personalized customer service.  If you are designing your own band, they can even send you a photoshop template to use to help you with your design.  I may have even received a fun surprise or two in my package, but I will leave that for you to find when you order yours 😉
Purchase here: Magic Your Band


5. Woo! Your vacation is almost here! Time to start packing! Every girl (little or full grown) needs a Minnie Bow to complete their outfit, and with all of these designs, you can have one that corresponds to every theme park!
Purchase here: Embroidered Minnie Ears
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Also perfect for wearing in the parks – these embroidered crowns and wands will complete any princess outfit and are much more durable than the plastic ones that are sold in stores.
Purchase here: Princess Wands and Crowns


For adults, these hand stamped necklaces and bracelets are a subtle way of showing your love for Disney. Several sayings are available and are suitable for both men and women (request a longer length for men when ordering).

Purchase here:
Hakuna Matata Bracelet
Just Keep Swimming Bracelet
Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust Bracelet
Dream it, Do it Bracelet
Let It Go Necklace
Just Keep Swimming Necklace
A Dream Is A Wish Your
Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust Necklace
Hakuna Matata Necklace
To Infinity and Beyond Necklace

6. You’re home from your magical Disney vacation and you want a way to remember the fun times you had on all of those attractions. Hang up this Disney themed subway art in your house as a reminder of the memories you created on vacation.
Purchase here: Disney Subway Art

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Which item on the list is your favorite? (Mine has to be those Minnie Mouse hair clips!). Can you think of anything else you’d add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

Craft Show Headband Stand 

I’ve been on such an embroidering kick lately! Over the past few months, I’ve amassed quite the collection of embroidered headbands and it was time I did something about my sad way of displaying them at craft shows (I was using a kiddie inner tube!).

I wasn’t planning on writing a tutorial on how I made the headband stand, but since I didn’t really see any tutorials out there when I was making mine, I figured I should share- hopefully it’ll help even one person.  Since I wasn’t planning on blogging this, I don’t really have any ‘good’ photos – these are just quick snapshots from my cell phone.  But the project is fairly straightforward, so it should be good.

To start, I went to the hardware store and bought the 4 inch PVC pipe that has the holes in it. I asked the employee to cut it down to me – I got two pieces cut to 24 inches and one cut to 18 inches, but you can do whatever works for you.

You will also need some sort of wooden plaque to use as the base, batting (I grabbed some fleece from the remnant bin- works the same and it ended up being cheaper), a hot glue gun, dowels – the same size as the holes in the PVC pipe, scissors, a few nails and some cute fabric to cover your stands in.  Totally optional, but 4 inch wooden circles can be used to cover the ends of the pipe when you’re done to give it a nice finish, and you might want some spray paint to paint the wood. 

Here is the basis for how these are going to be assembled – the dowels are going to go into the PVC pipe, and then nailed into the wooden base.   I measured the distance between the holes, marked it out on my wooden plaque and drilled some starter holes in both the plaque and the dowels so I wouldn’t split them when I was nailing them together. 

Here are both of my stands, assembled and painted.  You’ll notice that the dowels are different widths apart – because of the way the holes fell once the PVC pieces were cut down, the distance was different – make sure you measure each one individually! 

While the base is drying, cover the pipe with your batting (or fleece), and then [not pictured] cover with your fabric.

Using an exacto knife or scissors, cut holes through your fabric where the dowels of the stand will go. Then use a liberal amount of hot glue to secure the dowels from the stand into the holes in the PVC pipe. 

Finish off by adding the wooden circles to the end (you can cover them with fabric if you’d like, or just leave them plain), and allow the glue to dry thoroughly. 

I wish I had a better picture of it all done, but on the right side of the table you’ll see my 3 level headband stand covered in headbands! I already think its time to make a fourth one.

Eggplant Bacon 

Yes- you read that title correctly – Eggplant Bacon!  I first saw the concept on the Ellen Degeneres show, but they ran out of time and never got to make it, so I started looking up some recipes.  After reading through several recipes, I decided to come up with my own – one that could be made with items you most likely already had in your house (most recipes called for liquid smoke, which I don’t normally keep on hand in my house!), and without the need for a dehydrator!  The verdict? This surprisingly does have the taste and texture of bacon! Its probably best used in recipes that you would use bacon for cooking- a BLT, bacon bits over your salad, bacon and green beans, etc.  Although, I did snack on quite a few just on their own!

Keep reading to find out how to make this delicious yet healthy snack!

What you’ll need:

1 large eggplant (about a pound)

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T maple syrup (go with the all-natural one if you have it!)
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 T soy sauce
1/4-1/2 t of chili powder (depending on your level of spice preference)

1. Slice your eggplant lengthwise, very thin (about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick). If you have a mandolin slicer, that would be ideal for creating even, thin, strips.
2. Lay the strips out in a single layer on a drying rack. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let sit for a half hour.

3. While the eggplant is sitting, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce and chili powder in a shallow baking pan. Mix well and set aside.
4. When a half hour has passed, rinse each slice of eggplant well to remove the salt and place in the baking pan with the marinade. Marinate the eggplant in the mixture for 1 to 1.5 hours, stirring often to ensure even coverage.

5. Preheat oven to 250*. Spray a drying rack with nonstick spray and lay the marinated eggplant strips in a single layer on the tray. I spooned about a teaspoon of extra marinade on top of each strip before putting it into the oven, but this is completely optional (be sure to do this step over the sink!).
6. Bake for 1-2 hours – checking on the eggplant often to ensure it is not burning. Eggplant will cook at different times depending on how thick you sliced it.
7. When the eggplant has shriveled up to about half its size and appears crunchy, remove from the oven and let cool. It will crisp up a little bit more as it cools.
Enjoy on soups, salads, pasta, sandwiches or just as a healthy snack!

Go Fund Me

Shameless plug for our Go Fund Me campaign – keep reading to learn more, and if you like what you’ve been seeing on my blog and my Etsy shop, consider making a donation- no donation is too small – even $1 will help us get closer to our goal!

This one time… at band camp…
Two crafty chicks met. They both had a love of sewing and were destined for bigger things.

Fast forward 16 years later; still crafting, still friends, and now both miltary wives on the move every few years looking for that dream job…

Instead of just talking about dreaming big, we thought, ‘why not just go into an online business together?’  The idea seemed perfect because it meant we could have a job no matter where the military sends us in the world.

We both recently jumped into the world of embroidery and loved it, yet were dissapointed because we couldn’t find just the right designs and ideas.  We started talking and realized that between the two of us, we had numerous artistic ideas for embroidery designs in our head, but no way of getting them from paper to reality.

Both having a talent and schooling in the creative arts, the idea of going into embroidery design sounded exciting and goes right along with our passion for embroidery.

As anyone knows, starting a business in today’s economy can be a financial hardship, so we are asking for help starting up our own design business called “Down The Shore Designs”.  The name is a throwback to where we met 16 years ago, and our home, the Jersey Shore.  The money will go toward purchasing digitizing software and supplies so that we can begin creating and selling embroidery designs to others.

We are excited about our new business venture!  Thanks for reading our story and helping our dreams come true.

Thank you!
Dana and Carissa

If you wish to donate to our fund, please visit our Go Fund Me Page

Busy Books / Quiet Book

I haven’t had a chance to share some of the new items in my Etsy shop in awhile, but my new busy books are just too big not to share!  I was asked by a few people to design a felt embroidered busy book / quiet book for toddlers and children, and this is what I came up with!

This is the full set (with even more pages that are shown!) – this is the basic set plus some of the add on pages, which can be purchased here 1DSC_3534

This is the basic book, which can be purchased here. Keep reading to see what each page is all about!1DSC_3556

The basic book comes with the front cover (that features a pocket on the back to store loose pieces) as well as two rings that open up to easily add more pages.1DSC_3562 1DSC_3543

The next page has an embroidered tic tac toe board, as well as 12 tic tac toe pieces for a game on the go! 1DSC_3549

The drawing page comes with a clear dry erase pocket that fits 3×5 index cards – simply slide in a card and play a variety of games – hangman, the dot game, draw a face, or anything else you can think of!1DSC_3551 1DSC_3553 1DSC_3554

The shoelace page helps little hands learn how to independently tie their shoes!1DSC_3547

The clock page features an appliquéd clock face, embroidered numbers and two hands that can move independent from each other to practice telling time.DSC_3563

This page features allover dry erase plastic with embroidered lines behind it to practice writing your alphabet, spelling words, letter writing, etc.1DSC_3550 1DSC_3552

Besides the basic book, I also offer several add on pages. One of my favorites is the dress a Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head!1DSC_3537

The Mr. Potato Head comes with everything pictured below.1DSC_3538

The Mrs. Potato Head comes with everything pictured below1DSC_3540

Both the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head pages come with a pocket on the back to store their pieces.1DSC_3557

To go along with my Non Paper Dolls, I made a doll page, with the doll appliquéd right to the page!1DSC_3545

Dress him or her up with any of my outfits (sold separately)1DSC_3544
The baking page is another one of my favorites – an oven with a clear pocket is appliquéd to the page and comes with 9 cookies. Each cookie has a different number of chips embroidered on to them so your child can practice counting, sequencing and more!DSC_3559 DSC_3561


And the last page is this train buttoning page – the wheels of the train are removable and attach with buttons so your little one can practice buttoning and unbuttoning all on their own!1DSC_3548


I have more pages in the works, so keep checking my Etsy shop to see when they’re listed!  Have an idea for a page? Leave me a message in the comments!

Easy, Portable Non Paper Doll Storage


So you’ve been buying up all those ridiculously adorable Non Paper Dolls for your kiddos (or yourself 😉 I won’t judge!) and you need an quick and inexpensive storage solution that doubles as a felt play mat – I’ve got the easiest solution for you – paper doll storage!  This paper doll storage also doubles as a felt board or flannel board. 

I found this plastic project case at my local Michaels craft store – it is meant for storing scrapbooking supplies, so it is in their paper crafting section (close up of the label below).  If you don’t have a craft store nearby or just prefer to shop on Amazon, they have a similar one here: Slim Scrapbook Case
The best part of this case is that it is about 1.5 inches thick and has a carrying handle. Takes up next to no space and easy to grab for fun on the run!

The price is the same at both – about $10, but at Michaels you can always use that 40% coupon!
You will also need some felt – if you go with the smaller 8×11 case like I did, two felt sheets will suffice – if you go with the larger 12×12 case, you’ll need approximately 1/3 of a yard of felt. Also grab some plastic-safe glue – I love silicone glue or a heavy duty spray adhesive.


Here’s a close up of the label:DSC_2841

The project couldn’t be simpler – trim or cut the felt to fit on the inside of the case, glue down with your glue or spray adhesive and allow to dry.  When dry, your felt dolls and accessories will stick to the felt for easy playing, and when you’re done playing, just close up the case and everything will be stored neatly inside!DSC_2844

Viola! Instant play on the go- great for grabbing on the way to a doctors appointment, a long trip in the car or airplane, or even when you’re visiting a friend’s house who may not have many toys for your kids to play with!


Non Paper Dolls – Use and Care




Welcome to the adorable world of felt ‘non paper’ dolls!  I started stitching these little guys (and gals) up just after Christmas and I’ve become obsessed with them!

Remember the paper dolls of your childhood? These are basically the same thing, but with today’s fashions and icons – and far more durable because they are made out of several layers of felt!

Read on to find out how to use them and how to best care for them.DSC_1809 While today’s electronics and high tech toys have become increasingly popular, I still love the simple pleasures of open-ended play.  As a teacher in the past, I have found that the toys that spark imagination are the ones that kids keep coming back to.  In my classroom the most popular toys were always the felt boards, blocks (and Lego), pretend play (kitchen/dress-up/etc), and race cars.  These paper dolls fit right into those categories- their possibilities for use are endless and are only limited by your little one’s imagination!


These felt paper dolls are made of several layers of felt, and are great for quiet play – car trips, waiting rooms, church, and more. Works best with your felt board or can be used on their own. The inherent nature of felt means the outfits gently “stick” to the dolls without the need for velcro or adhesives (see below regarding adhesives), and the felt makes the dolls far more durable than traditional paper dolls.

The paper dolls are great for open-ended play and your little ones will love using their imagination to mix and match the outfits to create their own unique style! The dolls can be used to tell stories, practice life skills such as color recognition, and are just a blast to play with!

If you don’t have a felt or flannel board, there are tons of tutorials out there, including this easy one that uses a painters canvas and a yard of felt or flannel. 1DSC_2602

Adhesives and Care:

When I ship my paper dolls from my Etsy Shop, I ship them plain, with the option to add a gentle adhesive to the back.  I leave the option of the glue up to the buyer as some people would rather not have any chemicals added to the dolls.  If it is chosen at checkout, the adhesive I use is Aleene’s Tack-It Over & Over . It is a re-positional glue that will help the clothes and accessories ‘stick’ to the doll.  If you pick this option from my shop, please follow the following guidelines to keep your dolls and clothes looking great:
-Wipe the back of the clothes with a slightly damp cloth to remove any debris after play
-The adhesive may wear off over time, and will need to be re-applied. You can purchase this glue at many craft stores or by following the link above. Use a small brush to apply a thin coat to the back of the clothing and allow to dry. Full directions for use come with the glue.

General Care for Dolls:
-Store the dolls and accessories flat. If they become wrinkled, you can lightly iron them with an iron on a low to medium heat setting.
-Dolls can be spot cleaned. I do not recommend putting them in a washing machine.
-A lint roller can be used to remove any pet fur or particles that may ‘stick’ to the felt.


If you have any questions regarding the use and care of your dolls, do not hesitate to contact me through my Etsy shop (use the blue “contact the shop owner” button in my shop ).

With proper care and storage these dolls and outfits can truly become an heirloom piece that gets passed on for generations to come! DSC_1841

These are just some of the many designs I currently offer! NPD3

Handmade Photographer Gifts

With the holidays coming up, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of all the handmade photographer gifts out there – that way it’s easy for you to share this list with your family and friends (and spouses!) as a big ole ‘hint hint’ :)

If you are a handmade artisan and would like me to include your item in this list, please leave me a link in the comments and I’d be happy to add you!

I’m going to start with my favorite hand stamped Photograp(her) necklace

Another version of the Photograp(her) Necklace

Ugly Christmas Sweater parties are becoming more and more popular – here’s the perfect version for the photographer in your life. It features a camera, film and the phrase “Merry Click-mas”.  It comes in many colors and styles (both male and female!)

Ugly Christmas Sweater
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This hand-drawn camera (Zentangle – style) can be purchased on many different items: pillows, tote bags, tablet cases, as a sticker, as a print, etc, but my favorite is the Camera Pillow
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The same design can be purchased on many versions of the iPhone and Samsung phones as a Doodled Camera Cell Phone Case
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Which one is your favorite? I already ordered the Ugly Christmas Sweater and have been wearing it everywhere! I got so many compliments on it at my photo shoots last weekend!

Craft Show Displays : Part 2 – Refinishing Picture Frames

Part 2 of my 3 part Craft Show tips series!  If you haven’t read Part 1, go ahead and do so now, so you can see why I’m doing this!  In part 1, I showed you how I turned two thrift store frames into jewelry stands, and in this part, I’m going to show you how I refinished a bunch of funky frames so that they all matched and had a cohesive look.

But first, let me show you the “before” shot. In part 1, I mentioned that I bought $29 worth of items to refinish, repurpose and reuse in my booth, and here’s everything I scored (at Goodwill) for less than $30!


The Texas shaped basket was the most expensive item at $4, but since we now live in Texas, I’ve learned the people here are fiercely proud of their state!  I intend on making a few Texas themed metal stamped items and displaying them in this basket, and I really thought it would be appropriate.  The two beige frames in the top row are from Part 1 of this series where I turned them into burlap jewelry stands.  The wooden board on the right will be turned into a chalkboard sign (in part 3!), and I’ll also discuss what I’m using the basket and 2 vases for on the middle right in part 3.

Right now, lets focus on all these frames!  I wanted uniquely shaped and decorated frames to showcase some of my photography work, and I knew I’d refinish them, so I didn’t care so much what color they were, but rather their shape and matter of ornate-ness.  Here’s the ones we’re going to refinish:IMG_3650.JPG

To prepare the frames, begin by dismantling them to remove the glass, innards and backing.  You’ll also want to wipe them down with a damp towel, allow them to dry, and lightly sand them with 220 grit sand paper to rough up their surface.  Lay them outside on a tarp or newspaper in a well-ventilated area.  If you have some wooden blocks, you might want to prop them up so you can easily spray the sides, but if not, laying them on your tarp will work just fine.



To get the frames ready for their paint, I highly suggest priming them.  This will help whatever paint you are using better adhere to the frame.  My favorite is Krylon All-Purpose Gray Interior and Exterior Decorator Primer , but if you have a lot of plastic frames, Krylon Plastic Primer might work better for you.  Whatever you go with, read and follow all directions for that product.  For me, it included spraying them and waiting 10 minutes before moving on to the color.


Like I mentioned, I wanted a cohesive look, so I picked two colors to paint all of my frames – I wanted to match the teal in my photography logo, so I went with Krylon Catalina Mist for half of the frames, and plain white for the other half.  Check out how pretty it looks (on my favorite frame of the bunch!)



I ended up needing two coats of spray paint to fully coat the frames.  Make sure you follow the directions for drying time between coats.

Here they are all done!IMG_3655.JPG


I can’t wait to pick out my favorite prints from my sessions to fill these frames with!  The long rectangular one in the front is a mirror so that customers purchasing jewelry can see what it looks like while wearing it.

Stay tuned for part 3!

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