Sue's Happy Thoughts

Just over here blogginn' some of my happy thoughts on LIFE, HOMESCHOOLING, HOME DECOR and more!


noun : a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.


My family belongs to a home school co op group. There are lots of different groups out there, and they all function in different ways. The group we attend is one where the families come together about 3 times a month and different moms prepare lessons for different classes and grade levels.



This school year, I’ve been co-teaching an art class with students between 4th grade and 12th grade. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an artist, but I sure am crafty and have thoroughly enjoyed tapping into a more artsy-fartsy side over the past few months! We have explored figure drawing, watercolor techniques, dabbled in acrylic painting, and the older students tried their hand at screen printing thanks to the Cream City Print Lounge.


My favorite art project so far this year has been linocut block printing. My biggest challenge was the budget constraint of providing supplies to 50 different students. Our budget has to stretch the whole school year, so a one day project has me putting on my DIY thinking cap.


Traditionally, block printing would require (per student) a linoleum block, a carving block, and a lino handle with different cutting/gouging attachments. Our DIY solution? Styrofoam plates and pencils!



We used rubber brayers and speedball brand block printing ink to roll the ink onto our carved foam plates, then used a kitchen rolling pin to apply even pressure when pressing our blocks onto paper.


If a student wasn’t happy with their print, it was super easy to wash the ink off the foam with water and add definition to their carving. It was also completely within our budget to hand them another plate if they wanted to start again.



My 6th grade son is not always confident in art class, but this project was one he asked about trying again at home. The high school age students seemed to really enjoy it as well, creating logos and as intricate of designs as possible with thin foam plates!


My hope is that this little introduction to a DIY version of linocut printing will inspire them to try the real thing, probably surprising them with how much easier it is with the right tools! I know I’m inspired and heading to the craft store to pick up my own supplies soon!

I started my little business back in the fall of 2012. I had person after person telling me to “go for it” and supporting me through making a purchase or sharing about my business to a friend, a coworker or family member.


Since then, I’ve had the awesome privilege of becoming part of a thriving community of super talented artisans in the Milwaukee area.

I’m humbled to be included in their ranks at local makers markets and events. Because I understand first hand, the value of sharing a local artist's work with others, I want to share a few of my favorites with you today.


With the temperatures dropping and snow covering most of the Midwest at this point, I figured you might be ready to start a little holiday shopping, or maybe you cope with the cold weather with a little retail therapy!


So here’s a list of my favorites for you to check out:



Jewelry:

I honestly don’t wear too much of anyone else’s since I make my own… BUT I really love the style of these awesome artists:

Dynamo

Earth and All Stars


Bath and Body:

Handmade soaps, lotions, soaks, etc. are always being restocked in my home by these awesome businesses. I love that they are small batch and chemical free:

Halo Artisan Skincare

Fern & Nettle

Fern & Nettle

Squareone Soapworks

Shade Tree Naturals

Moots Soap




Candles:

I’m addicted to hand poured soy candles

and I don’t care who knows it!

Kinder Brand

Big White Yeti

Lit MKE

Sarah Badera

Farmer Candle Co.

Farmers Candle Co.



Art/Wall Décor:

It’s true, I’m running out of wall space! I think I need more rooms in this house…

Beyaz Bohemia

DSR creative

Hilltop Creations Co

To the Weft

Naomi Paper Co.

James Steeno Gallery


Fun gifts/apparel:

K&C Studios

Row Bears Garage

Row Bears Garage

The Flying Turkey

Ellie Jane Accessories

Knitted What Knot

Rep Wisconsin

Plushzilla


fic·tion

noun

literature in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people.



I’ve always loved reading. Since childhood, I’ve enjoyed going on adventures and solving mysteries while being safely tucked in the same spot in my bedroom for hours and hours.


As a home-school mom, I’ve handpicked favorite books and classic stories to read to my kids or have them read. With daughters in high school, it’s been so much fun to discuss Austen and Bronte and Shakespeare. Books can entertain us, excite us, make us laugh or bring us to tears. For a short time, we live in the world the author has created.



Our bookshelves are filled with much more than Marie Kondo would approve of… and that’s just the “reading library.” We have books in this house that are for reading, for décor (vintage copies and sentimental copies passed down from family members), and for destroying. Yep! It’s true! I confess! I’m a book lover and I have a full collection of my favorite books that are simply for cutting apart. Don’t worry, I’m careful to keep this collection separate from the rest!


Lord of the Rings map bracelet

You see, back in 2012, my mother-in-law was selling doll clothes at a craft fair and invited me and her daughters to join her, selling our crafty creations. I knew right away I would pick up an old thrift store copy of Pride and Prejudice and make Mr. Darcy necklaces. He IS my favorite swoon-worthy fictional character, after all. And yes, I did apologize to Ms. Austen before that first cut… Well, the necklaces were a hit and that was the very beginning of my business, “A Happy Thought Indeed,” which is a quote from Pride and Prejudice and a nod to my appreciation of the very snarky Jane Austen.



Since then, I’ve scoured thrift stores for torn, beat up copies of my favorite books and I give them new life as necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets, key chains and more. Over the years, I’ve added vintage dictionaries, hymnals and one or two torn up Bibles that I hope the Lord is cool with my re-purposing.


Book lover. Book nerd. Book destroyer? Book rescuer, perhaps.



What’s your favorite story?

Stay Tuned, there's more to come!