Aug 25, 2015

Soul Craft: Once Again Sam

I have a horrible green thumb. I warned my co-worker multiple times before I came to work one day to find a small pot of lemon-balm on my desk. "You can't possibly screw this up," she said, but I said a prayer for my green, leafy friend anyway. 

Taking care of plants is a reflection of how we should take care of the rest of our lives. It's a process and there's a struggle in every handful of soil. No slight of hand can make my green beans grow any faster. I devoted a portion of my time to it everyday. 

There's something to be said for working with your hands especially in a such an automatic culture of today. 

Sam, from Once Again Sam, creates stunning jewelry by pushing the boundaries of traditional materials and creating stunning up-cycled jewelry using paint, wood, and leather. She's graciously provided a peek behind the curtain into her world and how she works with her hands to give people around the world a small piece of her heart. 

Interview with Sarah Mandell: 

How did you begin creating jewelry using natural materials?

I started working with leather because it's a material that doesn't require any sewing, or specialty tools. I was able to cut it with scissors, and it was really straight forward to work with. It's also very easy to get material-I found places where I could buy upholstery scraps by the pound, and I also discovered I could cut up  thrift store clothing and get a lot of material that way. I began working with wood more recently, in the last 2 or 3 years. My husband does some wood working, and I have enjoyed learning this new medium with his guidance. 

What types of wood and tools do you use in your process? 

I use a combination of basic hand tools and high tech equipment. My workshop and studio include all the basic woodworking stuff like drills,  saws, files, sanders, etc. but we also have a 90 watt laser cutter, which is used to make intricate cutouts and engravings. Recently, I learned wood turning, so we invested in a lathe, so that's been fun to learn. 

What inspires your designs?  How do you decide which symbols to engrave? 

Just about everything inspires me. I love nature,  geometry,  textile patterns, name it! I choose images to incorporate into my "Curious Cameo' collection because they're interesting to me, and I feel they may represent someone. THere's truly something for everyone within this collection. I personally were the bee, bunny, and Edgar Allen Poe, and a few of the geometric patterns, because those, for some reason or another, speak to me and represent something about me. 

Who do you idolize as material artists? Would there be anyone with whom you would love to start a collaboration? 

I've had the honor of collaborating with lots of other artists over the years, but right now I'm actually wanting to collaborate more with my husband Josh. I think his wood working and my jewelry & fiber art go together well. We already share ideas now, and help each other all the time, but I want to collaborate more, because we're better together. 

Do you think you will ever incorporate different materials aside from wood and metal? 

I'm always looking to incorporate new materials into my work,  and this summer I spent a week learning to work with copper(forging, enabling, press, etc. ) so that is something I'd like to continue in the future. I also have an interest in learning to weave, carve, cast, and about 1,000 other things! 

What was your first piece and have you kept it or did you give it away? 

My first few pieces of jewelry were ones I actually made for myself, and I still have those somewhere. Once I opened up an Easy shop, and starting doing this as a business. I got better about thinking about these jewelry pieces as an inventory, so I was able to part with them. Once in a while, I still hang onto a piece here and there, but for most part I sell everything online or at craft shows. 

Aug 10, 2015

Celia on the Run

Celia on the Run 

Sarah Mandell 

Untreed Reads


Nick Novaczek is a cautious soul, a 17-year old with a quiet thirst for danger. On the eve of his grandmother’s funeral, danger finds him by the motel swimming pool. Her name is Celia and she’s everything he’s not. This foul-mouthed beauty is hitchhiking across the country to make amends with her estranged father and doesn’t carry an ounce of fear or hesitation in her tattered suitcase. 
Hours after meeting Celia, Nick is hopelessly hooked and “borrows” his parents’ car to join her mission, even though her story is full of holes. It’s the mistake he’s been waiting his whole life to make. After weeks of detours, with hundreds of miles left to go, their wild adventure unravels, but she won’t turn back, no matter how desperate things get. Celia’s got a charming smile to pay her way, a willing accomplice, and an endless supply of lies. Not to mention a gun.


Ideas are what fuel this blog. An open dialogue of thoughts flow between the reader and the author and the result is new perspectives. I love connecting with authors who I normally wouldn't have encountered. Sarah Mandell is a jack-of-all-trades. She owns her own Easy shop and has found time to write a novel with another in the works.  

When Nick meets Celia, teen vagabond, he seizes the chance to ditch his family and go on a road trip. Nick's a good guy trying to be bad so it seems like a good decision and Celia's just a bad girl. As they travel cross country towards their destination, Nick realizes that the secret to forgetting the past is moving forward. Celia can't keep running...

I finished this book in less than a day and found a diamond in the rough. I expected a run-of-the-mill teenage story centered around a road trip. I got so much more. Mandela peels away at the layers of each character and reveals each person's vulnerability. This book is about progress, grief, and change. 

Read this book if you find yourself at the end of the road and you need a fresh perspective. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Aug 5, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Color Me Creative

Color Me Creative

Kristina Webb

PD: 09.29.15 by Harper Collins Publishing


From Instagram sensation Kristina Webb (@colour_me_creative) comes a completely original and unique book to inspire and unlock your creativity.
Color Me Creative gives readers a firsthand look into Kristina's personal life, including her exotic upbringing and the inspirational story of how, at nineteen years old, she has become one of the most popular artists of her generation, with a following in the millions. Readers can then go on their own journey by completing the fifty creative, art-inspired challenges designed by Kristina herself. This is the perfect gift not only for artists but for anyone wanting to awaken their inner creative. Featuring Kristina's beautiful custom art throughout, Color Me Creative will help readers escape the ordinary and unlock their imagination.
This book offers readers the chance to download the free Unbound app to access interactive features and bonus videos by scanning the customized icon that appears throughout the book, including never-before-seen home videos and videos of Kristina drawing.


School will be back in session and it's time to get our creative juices flowing. I used to doodle as a kid and I haven't gotten much better past stick figures. So here's to hoping I can learn about someone new whose changing the world through their talents. 

Jul 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Trouble is a Friend of Mine

Trouble is a Friend of Mine 

Stephanie Tromby 

PD: 04.08.15 by Kathy Dawson Books


Preparing to survive a typical day of being Digbys friend wasn't that different from preparing to survive the apocalypse.

Her first day not in school (because she cut) in her new hometown that will soon be her old hometown (because she's getting out of Dodge as fast as she can) Zoe meets Digby. Or rather, Digby decides he's going to meet Zoe and get her to help him find missing teenager. Zoe isn't sure how, but Digby—the odd and brilliant and somehow…attractive?—Digby always gets what he wants, including her help on several illegal ventures. Before she knows it, Zoe has vandalized an office complex with fake snow, pretended to buy drugs alongside a handsome football player dressed like the Hulk, had a throw-down with a possible cult, and, oh yeah, saved her new hometown (which might be worth making her permanent hometown after all.)

A mystery where catching the crook isn't the only hook, a romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a story about friendship where they aren't even sure they like each other—Trouble is a Friend of Mine is a YA debut you won’t soon forget.


Sherlock meets Veronica Mars meets Ferris Bueller Day's off sounds like the perfect combination and immediately grabbed my attention when I found the description from Barnes and Noble. 

Jul 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Marvels

The Marvels 

Brian Selznick

PD: Scholastic Press 


Caldecott Award winner and bookmaking trailblazer Brian Selznick once again plays with the form he invented and takes readers on a voyage!

Two seemingly unrelated stories--one in words, the other in pictures--come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle's puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries.


I absolutely fell in love with the Invention of Hugo Cabret. It is a testament to illustration that pictures have their own place in books. I cannot wait for this book and I hope it gets made into a fantastic movie. 

Jul 20, 2015

What I'm Reading Monday: Paper Hearts

Paper Hearts 

Courtney Walsh 

Tyndale House Publishing


Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she's poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park's tradition of stamping mail with the city's romantic postmark.When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn't come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail's new landlord, and he's threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail's doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?


Last year I made a goal to read three mysteries and three romance novels in order to broaden my literary horizons. Even though I work in a library and I pride myself in knowing a lot about a little bit of everything,I enjoy more genres than others. There I said it, but it will be our little secret so mums the word! Paper hearts is my last of my three romance choices and I have to say I'm quite smitten. The story flows very nicely with quirky, memorable characters. It would make a great Hallmark movie. You learn new things when you open your heart<3

Jul 16, 2015

Soul Friends

Soul Friends

Dr. Leslie Parrott



Dr. Leslie Parrott is speaking the heart-language of women in her new book that shares how friendships are essential for spiritual formation - for women of all ages.
In Soul Friends, Dr. Leslie Parrott brings you into an intimate and vulnerable conversation about the life-changing value of deep-spirited friendships and soul-altering relationships.
Whether it’s a new friend, a member of a small group, or a friend we’ve had for years, these soul-friends embody the grace that enables us to take a next step in the unfolding journey of our lives. God has great purpose, intention, and fulfillment in the give-and-take of deep-spirited friendships. If we purposely cultivate them, God will bring us soul-friends to help us along our spiritual journey.
Leslie reveals how every woman traverses four stages of growth—quest, calling, crisis, and communion – again and again. And whatever stage you find yourself traveling right now, you need soul friends to help you move forward.
With courageous honesty and heart-felt revelation and reflection, Leslie reminds every woman of the incredibly intimate, intricate, faith-forming work God does in her through the gift of soul friends he places in her life.
If a loved one were to show up at my door, they would find Women who Run with the Wolves and Dance of the Dissident Daughter on a table beside the bed-books that honor the warrior within. I make a point to own works of women who I want to emulate. Women whose words have nurtured my soul and spurred my creativity. I can hear their voices beckoning, "Come join me,dear friend, I have been where you are and I welcome you with open arms. You have a place here." 

I have always admired Leslie Parrot. Her passion for helping others build healthy, lasting relationships is evident in every word she pens. Her thoughts resonate with me like the sound of a shrill whistle from a tea pot. I think of her wisdom and I think of comfort. I hope you will too. 

Rating: 4.5/5

I received a copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review